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Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – April 2015

Fashionable Spirits
by Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

In my constant travels around the globe, I often come across hot new trends in drinking. Sometimes the connection with the place seems natural such as the prohibition style bars (a password required to enter) in North America and the growing farm to shaker movement among mixologists in the hip hoods in America. Other trends are head-scratchers.

How did the mania for Gin-Tonic bars in Spain start? England surely has top claims to that drink – but no. Spain is now the world’s biggest gin consumer per capita, with demand increasing at an average of 18 percent over the past five years. (The Philippines consume the largest volume of gin: the local Ginebra San Miguel celebrates its 181 birthday this year.) I’ll write more about this trend when we finally head into warmer weather.

In Charleston when I saw a flight of Grand Marnier on the drink menu in Belmond hotel’s Charleston Grill, I got curious. Grand Marnier, a cognac based orange liqueur first created in 1880, is a fine French tipple but to offer three versions of it in a flight is unusual.

Locals informed me that Charleston has such a craze for Grand Marnier that the city is the number one consumer of it per capita in the world. They call it GrandMa and mostly drink it like a shooter. I tracked down this trend to an odd law and a chef.

A South Carolina law restricted bars and restaurants to serving liquor from mini-bottles until 2005. Chef Bob Carter, at the helm of the highly popular Peninsula Grill in the late nineties (until 2011) used to show up at events with minis of GrandMa and cajole colleagues into taking shots with him. He started a mania that is only now beginning to slow.

Fireball, a Canadian whisky punched up with a strong hit of cinnamon, is fast becoming the shooter of choice not only in Charleston but throughout North America: it’s one of the most successful liquor brands in decades. Sales have reached the million cases level and it all started in Canada.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Barrel Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon

It began as a Dr. McGillicuddy’s brand but really took off when it was renamed Fireball. It’s now owned by Sazerac North America Inc which also owns well-loved bourbons such as Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s, Eagle Rare and “1792” Ridgemont Reserve. I’ve met recently with the master distillers and blenders in the company and tasted through a lot of their products, but no one presented Fireball to me at that time. Now having just tasted it – I can see why. It’s so powerfully cinnamon with a burning finale it would kill the palate for their more “subtle” whiskies.

As to the Kentucky whiskies, Buffalo Trace’s first official registration of still 113 was in 1787 though it’s very likely they were distilling before then. By the mid 1800’s there were over 300 registered stills in Kentucky. Almost all were forced to cease during Prohibition between 1919 and 1933. Only four, including Buffalo Trace, were allowed to continue distilling for medicinal purposes. People must have been mighty sick at the time. Over six million prescriptions were written during Prohibition entitling the bearer to a pint of whiskey.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight BourbonEagle Rare Single Barrel 10 Years Old Kentucky Straight BourbonW. L. Weller 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight BourbonSazerac 6 Years Old Straight Rye Whiskey

Buffalo Trace gets its name from the pathway taken by buffalo on their ancient Westerly migratory route. The company claims to be the only producer using five recipes for whiskey products: three rye recipe bourbons, one barley and one wheat bourbon. These five recipes create a matrix under which the individual brands are made.

For example Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg all are made according to Buffalo Trace rye recipe #1, the key difference is length of time in wood which changes the balance and flavour profile of them. Buffalo Trace rye recipe #2 is used to make Elmer T. Lee, Hancocks Reserve and Rock Hill.

The wheat bourbon recipe make W.L. Weller and Pappy Van Winkle. The wheat gives a mellower, softer profile which softens the wood effect allowing Pappy to be aged more than 20 years without being overly oaky. The straight rye recipe, a spicy, peppery brew, is used for Sazerac and Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year Old.

Master Blender at Buffalo Trace, Drew Mayville (a Canadian who started at Seagram’s in Waterloo about 34 years ago) told me the key to the success of the company is innovation. They continually try out new ways to make whiskey to come up with an ever better product. One example is a “cured oak” whiskey aged in barrels made from oak staves that have been aged (seasoned) outdoors for 13 months instead of their average of six. They have micro-distilleries to try out for example brown rice bourbon recipes and the like.

Ken Pierce, Director of Distillation at Barton, said that the Sazerac Company has a good eight to nine ideas to innovate the Canadian whiskey category. I doubt that will mean more Fireball type recipes, despite that liquor’s runaway success. We can only bid our time like a barrel in a warehouse until the big reveal.

Cheers,

Margaret Swaine

To find these and other picks at stores near you, click on: Margaret’s Whisky and Spirits

Editors Note: You can read Margaret Swaine’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great spirits!


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WineAlign Bus Tour - Prince Edward County


VINTAGES Presents: Primum Familiae Vini

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Second annual WineAlign Bus Tour to the Terroir Wine Festival and Much More! – Saturday May 9th.

Please join us for a fun (and wine) filled day in the ‘County’. We’ve planned an excellent adventure to Terroir, the County’s premier wine festival, as well as stops for lunch and dinner and wine tasting at several of our favourite wineries. Terroir is the annual showcase for new County wines.

Last year’s sold-out trip was so much fun and the feedback so overwhelmingly positive, that we decided to add a second bus this year.

Get on the bus!It’s a full day including:

  • Luxury coach travel between Toronto & Prince Edward County
  • Sparkling wine introduction to the county at Hinterland Estates
  • Gourmet lunch/dinner with wine at Rosehall Run Winery
  • Gourmet pizza lunch/dinner with wine at Norman Hardie Winery
  • Terroir Wine Festival in Picton, Ontario
  • Colour commentary by WineAlign’s David Lawrason & Sara d’Amato

Note that both buses will be visiting all the places listed above, only the order will be slightly different for each bus.

We’ve put together a fantastic day.  The cost of the sparkling welcome, lunch, Terroir and dinner including all taxes and gratuities is about $130.00.  Add onto the expense of driving from Toronto and you’re north of $200.00.  The price of our trip is $175.00 which includes all wine, food, taxes, fees and gratuities.  On top of that you’ll have room on the bus to store any wine you purchased at our stops, not to mention the peace of mind of not having to drive.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Sparkling Introduction the County – Hinterland Winery

If you haven’t already had the chance to try one of Hinterland‘s sparkling wines, you are definitely in for a treat as we sample wines currently available at the winery. “Vicky Samaras and Jonas Newman decided to focus on sparkling wine from the start in 2007, and today make an excellent range of traditional, charmat and ancestral method bubbly.” – John Szabo, MS.

Terroir Wine Festival 

The Terroir Wine Festival is held annually in the historic Crystal Palace in Picton Ontario.  Many County wineries will introduce their new spring releases and serve their own unique wines paired with delicious cheeses and other gourmet food tastings.  We’ll spend two and a half hours enjoying and sampling the best wines the County has to offer.

Lunch or Dinner at Rosehall Run

Rosehall Run is one of our favourite wineries in the County crafting a wide range of critically aclaimed wines.

Food will be provided by Picnic catering.  Picnic PEC is a food truck operating out of Prince Edward County, ON. They offer picnic style lunches using the freshest, local produce and artisanal ingredients with a focus on healthy and tasty.

Lunch: (includes a gourmet sandwich, salad & wine)

Sandwiches:  Banh Mi, Caprese, Salami ; Salads: Kale Salad, French Fingerling Potato Salad, Quinoa Salad

Dinner: (served buffet style and includes wine)

Choice of pan seared pickerel or Cajun-spiced fried chicken. Salads: Pasta limone with asparagus, Kale salad, Mixed greens salad.

When purchasing tickets you will be able to see more details on the food options and you will be able to choose your lunch or dinner options.

Lunch or Dinner at Norman Hardie Winery

Norm’s gourmet wood-oven pizzas are almost as famous as his Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  As his guest you’ll get to enjoy a pizza, salad, wine (and Norm!) during our visit.

Norm Hardie

 

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Itinerary: 

Itenary

We want to make our bus trip a great experience for everyone.  The last thing we want to do is deal with anyone who has over-indulged.  So while there will be lots of wine to drink, we encourage our members to spit in order to keep their palates sharp and better enjoy the amazing wines available in the County.

WineAlign promotes the responsible, legal and enjoyable consumption of wine to adults over 19 years of age. Please drink responsibly. Please arrange a designated driver to and from Yorkdale, or take public transit.  We will be emailing a RELEASE, WAIVER OF LIABILITY, AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK AGREEMENT out to all participants that will have to be signed and collected when boarding in Toronto.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Below are comments and survey results from last year’s inaugural bus trip to the county.  We expect many people from last year’s trip to come back… that’s why we added the second bus.  Last year’s bus sold out in only a few days.  If you are interested in attending, please purchase your ticket quickly to avoid disappointment.

Terroir 2014 CommentsSource: 2014 WineAlign County Bus Tour Survey Comments

2014 PEC Bus Trip - Survey Results

Source: 2014 WIneAlign County Bus Tour Survey Results

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

 


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES April 18th – Part One

The Old World
By John Szabo MS with notes from David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

This week’s report cherry picks the top smart buys from the Old World in the April 18th release. We’ve highlighted a fine collection of classics from familiar friends like Italy and France (including one triple alignment), while Spain gets a nod with wines ranging from $14 up to $90, for one of the best bottles from the Iberian Peninsula. Adventurous drinkers will find discoveries from Slovakia and Hungary. Next week David will lead the discerning charge into the new world.

If it’s not already in your google calendar, be sure to carve out some time to attend the “County in the City” tasting of Prince Edward County wines on April 16th in Toronto, details here. The WineAlign crü will be there scouring the room for the best from Canada’s coolest and stoniest region. And on April 14th, for our members in Ottawa, WineAlign is hosting Beringer Winemaker Laurie Hook. Got to love a tasting that showcases wines from volcanic, cobbled rock and alluvial soils (details here).

Whites and a Rosé

Trimbach 2011 Réserve Riesling, Alsace France ($29.95)

John Szabo – You have to appreciate that the Trimbach house style has remained virtually unchanged over several centuries. Here, the wines are decidedly dry and austere in the best sense, relying on sheer density rather than sugar for their weight. The grapes for the reserve are source entirely from the village of Ribeauvillé, mainly old vines (40 years average), on clay-limestone soils. And although this usually ages magnificently (and slowly), the 2011 is surprisingly ready to enjoy, and won’t require, nor benefit much from long term cellaring. Best 2015-2026.

Tokaj Kereskedoház 2012 Grand Selection Semi-Dry Tokaji Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary ($16.95)

John Szabo – Don’t be put off by the semi-dry designation; this is drier than most purportedly “dry” commercial chardonnays, not to mention more complex. 2012 was the first vintage for well-regarded winemaker Károly Áts, who brings over two decades experience to Tokaj’s largest producer. This plump, pineapple, pear and sage flavoured wine is well worth a look, especially with some lightly spiced southeast Asian dishes or salty west coast oysters.

Trimbach Réserve Riesling 2011 Tokaj Kereskedoház Grand Selection Semi Dry Tokaji Furmint 2012 Hugel Riesling 2012 Vignerons De Buxy Buissonnier Montagny 2011 Château Belá Riesling 2012

Hugel 2012 Riesling, Alsace, France ($24.95)

David Lawrason – That Hugel riesling and other Hugel labels like Gentil (also on this release) are not available continuously in Ontario is a travesty of our system. This is so refined, layered and downright delicious – textbook Alsatian styling with a modern sensibility. It could make a riesling-lover out of the most reticent.

Vignerons de Buxy 2011 Buissonnier Montagny, Burgundy, France  ($19.95)

David Lawrason – This tender and nicely polished young chardonnay makes a return engagement after a debut last autumn. Glad to see quality and value being rewarded. The Buxy Co-op (located in the Côte Châlonnaise) is one of the largest in Burgundy and an evident success.

Château Belá 2012 Riesling, Muzla, Slovakia ($24.95)

Muga Rosé 2014 Gradis'ciutta Pinot Grigio 2013Sara d’Amato – A Slovakian riesling made under the guidance of renowned Mosel producer Egon Müller, co-owner of Chateau Belá. This must-try, drop-dead beauty is edgy and tense with outstanding length. Off-the-beaten-path but certainly not a gamble.

Gradis’ciutta 2013 Pinot Grigio, Collio, Friuli, Italy ($19.95)

Sara d’Amato – The sur-lie aging of this pinot grigio has created the presence and texture to balance the wine’s razor sharp acids. Immensely attractive, this punchy grigio is no pushover.

Muga 2014 Rosé, Rioja Spain ($13.95)

John Szabo – A genuinely dry, simple but highly appealing, strawberry and red cherry-scented rosé from one of the region’s most reliable producers. Full stop. A perfect start to spring.

Reds

M. Chapoutier 2013 Les Vignes De Bila-Haut, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France ($15.95)

John Szabo – While Chapoutier’s Rhône wines are rightfully admired widely, his Roussillon operation is where I go shopping for the top values in the portfolio. Bila Haut is regularly a terrifically fruity, dense and compact, savoury and complex southern French red, which delivers an extra gear and flavor dimension above the price category.
David Lawrason – It’s hard to choose between this and the neighboring, fresh, elegant fruit driven Roussillon Le Cirque, so don’t choose. Buy some of each! “Bila haut” by tres serieux, biodynaminista Michel Chapoutier has been a great buy in juicy yet well-formed southern French reds for a decade. This vintage is very satisfying once again.
Sara d’Amato – Southern French charm bottled at an indisputable price. A hand-harvested blend of syrah, grenache and carignan offering a real sense of place with enticing aromas of lavender, pepper, earth, smoky meat, underbrush and wild berries.

Alión 2011, Ribera Del Duero, Spain ($89.95)

John Szabo – Top Spanish reds have yet to command the cache of certain other celebrated regions for myriad reasons, but the wines of Vega Sicilia come as close as any. Considering the superlative quality of the 2011 Alión, a tempranillo of massive structure, complexity and ageability, this remains a very smart buy. Revisit after 2020 for best enjoyment.
Sara d’Amato – Drink now or anticipate the delight it will bring in a decade or more. The 2011 Alión exhibits all those exciting little faults that make for a brilliant, compelling and all-consuming experience.

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes De Bila Haut Côtes Du Roussillon Villages 2013 Alión 2011 Torres Celeste Crianza 2011 Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino 2009

Torres 2011 Celeste Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain ($20.95)

John Szabo – I admit I greatly admire Miguel Torres, one of the most consistent and reliable names in the global wine industry. Every wine, it seems, is crafted in an appealing style that at the same time manages not to sacrifice the regional identity of its respective appellation. This 2011 Ribera Del Duero does the job nicely, delivering plenty of engaging and fresh red and black berry fruit with a significant but balanced dose of wood in the Spanish style. Best now-2025.

Fattoria Dei Barbi 2009 Brunello Di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy ($49.95)

John Szabo – Barbi does old school style Brunello very well, the way sangiovese was intended to be rendered in my view. This 2009 has evolved nicely, delivering engaging candied red fruit flavours, dried earth, zesty herbs, faded flowers and so much more. I love the delicate tannins, the balanced acids and the exceptional length – a very harmonious wine all in all. Best now-2025. 2025

Le Cirque 2013 Grenache/Noir/Carignan/Syrah, Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France ($16.95)

David Lawrason – Here is yet another success from a French co-op – Les Vignerons de Tautavel Vingrau, located in the village of Tautavel in Languedoc-Roussillon. For archaeology buffs this village houses the European Centre for Prehistoric Research. Tautavel Man, an early hominid, unearthed near here is perhaps the oldest human remain in Europe. Nothing prehistoric about this wine however.  It is a pretty, poised and fresh young, modern southern French blend with an easy, breezy drinkability.

Joseph Drouhin 2012 Côtes De Nuits-Villages, Burgundy, France ($34.95)

David Lawrason – Drouhin is another class act from France that for my entire career has been badly represented in Ontario. The house possesses such fine, white gloved hand interpretation of Burgundy, without sacrificing appellation character. Côtes de Nuits-Village will never deliver profound pinot, but I really like the refinement here. A bit pricy but a textural masterpiece.

Le Cirque Carignan Mourvèdre Syrah 2013 Joseph Drouhin Côtes De Nuits Villages 2012 Château Bonnin Pichon 2010 Brigaldara Valpolicella 2013

Château Bonnin Pichon 2010, Lussac St Emilion, Bordeaux, France ($21.95)

Sara d’Amato – Like me, you might find yourself double checking both the price and the appellation of this right bank blend from the Lussac satellite region of St Emilion. Age-worthy, complex and maturing with grace – a wine that exceeds all expectations.

Brigaldara 2013 Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy ($14.95)

Sara d’Amato – A textbook Venetian blend that refreshingly tries to be nothing but a juicy, honest wine offering simple pleasures. One could expect no greater refinement and appeal from a $15 bottle of Valpolicella.

That’s all for this week. See you over the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

From VINTAGES April 18th, 2015:

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Lawrason’s Take
All Reviews

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2011


County in the City - Toronto - April 16


Exclusive Beringer Winemaker’s Dinner – April 14 – Ottawa

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20 Under $20 in BC : April 2015

April Fools in BC

If you’re reading this column, you are interested in wine. If you are from BC, you doubtlessly know about the recent changes to our liquor laws (yes, more changes) as of April 1, 2015. As part of the government’s effort to “level the playing field”, all the prices of wine in the BC Liquor Stores is now displayed without taxes, as Anthony notes below. This means that you have to be quick on your feet or have calculator in hand to know the price for your purchases (multiply the shelf price by 1.15). Private wine stores have followed suit, as the optics of having shelf prices 15 percent higher than your major competitor (your elected government) isn’t a positive.

For now, we’ve decided to try to keep our 20 Under $20 wine picks under $20 ALL IN (including the taxes), meaning the shelf prices of the wines below will be approximately $17.40 or less. We’re waiting to see how it all shuffles out over the coming weeks, and while the dust settles, WineAlign West is still hard at work to find you the best wines that you can purchase with a $20 dollar bill.

~ TR

BC Critic Team

Anthony Gismondi

It’s no secret that it’s getting harder and harder to find wines under $20 a bottle in BC and this month it looks as if government clearly agrees after it removed the PST and GST from its display price, dropping prices, at least for a few feet, by 15 percent. It’s a sleight of hand we could live without but when the taxes are as high as they are in BC what else can they do but try to deceive customers by hiding the ultimate price of its products. This month my picks are truly under $20 taxes all in. But I’m not sure how long that can continue as wine prices and taxes soar in BC.

Sumac Ridge Estate Winery Private Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 Santa Carolina Reserva Pinot Noir Casablanca Estate 2013 Pentâge Pinot Gris Estate Bottled 2013 Dunavár Pinot Grigio 2013

Pinot noir is never cheap but two bottles worth looking for as mid-week reds are the Sumac Ridge 2013 Pinot Noir Private Reserve and the Santa Carolina Reserva Pinot Noir Casablanca Estate 2013. Both offer a modicum of pinot noir flavour and would be perfect with a Margarita style pizza or a salmon salad.

Still with pinot, this time gris or grigio, it looks as if it is the only variety that consistently sells for less than $20. We love the latest Pentâge Winery 2013 Pinot Gris with its mineral salty notes and candied red apple flavours. Speaking of bargains, the Dunavár 2013 Pinot Grigio is as fresh and bright as you could want for $10.

Torres Viña Esmeralda 2014 Wild Goose Autumn Gold 2013Matua Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014Château St. Jean Fumé Blanc 2012

If spicy, Pan-Asian take-out is on your mind you can pair it up with the exotic, generous, spicy/limey litchi fruit flavours of the Torres 2014 Viña Esmeralda or a personal, local favourite, Wild Goose Autumn Gold 2013, the latter a delicious mix of roughly one-third gewürztraminer, riesling and pinot blanc, just sweet enough to tame any spice.

Finally, the lighter dishes of spring will work better with clean, fresh sauvignon blanc such as the crisp, mouth-watering, tropical fruit scented Matua Valley 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Or in a slightly richer category, consider the Chateau St. Jean 2012 Fumé Blanc out of Sonoma County, California. It works well with goat cheese, pasta or shellfish dishes. 

Rhys Pender MW

This month’s selections are partially inspired by recent visits to Argentina and Alsace. There are many amazing wines, and while the best can set you back a few dollars, there is also a theme of great value in these areas. The best and most expensive wines are rarely crazy prices and this translates to the value range as well, where you get a lot of quality for the price.

I’m starting off with a pair from Alsace. Domaine Zinck is now run by Philippe and Pascale Zinck after taking over from Philippe’s father, Paul, who started the domain in 1964. They have expanded the estate vineyards and modernized things but kept making serious wines. Available at the BC Liquor Stores is the 2012 Pinot Blanc, a great way to compare an Alsace version with some of the quality BC wines made from the same variety.

Another great variety in Alsace is Gewurztraminer. Not for everyone’s taste because of its lush richness and often with a bit of residual sugar, there is no doubt it is the best wine to pair with richer, spicier foods. Foie gras is also a great match with sweeter versions. Try the 2013 Kuhlmann-Platz for a great priced version.

Paul & Phillipe Zinck Pinot Blanc 2012 Kuhlmann Platz Gewurztraminer 2013 Michel Torino Cuma Organic Torrontés 2013 Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2012

In Argentina, when the weather warms up you crave juicy, refreshing Torrontés. It is aromatic but not sweet and is a fantastic aperitif wine or one to just sip on its own for refreshment. The Michel Torino Cuma brand is not only great value but also organically grown.

From BC, one of the benchmark wines has always been Tinhorn Creek Merlot. It has always been great value and had a strong following. After a couple of tough vintages on the Bordeaux grape varieties (2010 and 2011 were very cool vintages), 2012 was much better and the Tinhorn Creek Merlot is the best it has been in many years.

DJ Kearney

Self-imposed frugality will govern my wine spending now as I look towards summer and the holidays I dream of taking. As the weather gets a little brighter, the frisky Fritz 2013 Riesling from Gunderloch buoys my spirits with its cheeky fruit and sheer ease of drinking. No food required, but a fiery black bean and mango salsa and good corn chips would be the ticket.

Two local aromatic whites are also in my fridge: Mission Hill’s 2013 Reserve Pinot Gris for when I need dry, assertive white wine, and the expressive Quails’ Gate 2014 Gewurztraminer which packs a punch of fruit in a confident off-dry style for a simple (and budget) chickpea curry or lettuce wraps.

Gunderloch Fritz's Riesling 2013 Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris 2013 Quails Gate Gewurztraminer 2014 Vina Chela Reserve Malbec 2013 Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel

I’ve also selected a couple of reds that will keep my piggy bank bulging, including Viña Chela’s cheerful Malbec 2013 – smooth, smoky and organic for spicy grilled chorizo-in-a-bun. Also watch for the Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel, holding 4 bottles-worth of good tasting red in a bag-in-box offering that over delivers.

Treve Ring

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Trapiche Pure Malbec 2012 Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2010With a jump on this month’s World Malbec Day, stock up on Norton 2010 Malbec Barrel Select and pour its smoky tobacco and cassis with a thick wedge of BBQ beef. For a few bucks more, I recommend grabbing the Trapiche 2012 Pure Malbec – a chance to taste what pure Malbec is like, unharnessed and unsuppressed by oak.

Of course, there are more colours in the rainbow than malbec blue. A quick hop over the Andes lands you in Aconcagua Valley, and as you continue towards the coast you’ll come across this vibrant, spring fresh Errazuriz Don Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013, tropical-fruit ready to meet your fruit chutneys or white fish. 

~

WineAlign in BC

In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report and include the wines across any price point and channel that excite us each month, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.


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Laughing Stock Wine Club

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C’est le printemps, enfin ! Les choix de Nadia pour avril

par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

La semaine dernière, mon collègue Bill Zacharkiw vous a déjà communiqué ses coups de cœur, parmi les vins du Nouvel arrivage Cellier, mis en vente les 2 et 16 avril.

Sans doute inspirée par le début imminent des séries éliminatoires de la Ligue nationale – avec ou sans la participation de Pacioretty aux côtés du CH –, j’ai choisi de vous présenter ma sélection hebdomadaire sous la forme d’une série de trios.

Un panaché de produits du présent Cellier et d’autres belles bouteilles fraîchement arrivées en succursales et une petite thématique légère en ces temps d’austérité économique et climatique.

Trio Beaujo

Aussi élève du regretté Jules Chauvet, Jean Foillard est un nom important de l’appellation Morgon, où il façonne des vins plutôt raffinés, élégants et dotés d’un excellent potentiel de garde. Son simple Beaujolais 2013 (23,70 $) est à découvrir. Servir frais et boire avec un plaisir gourmand.

Georges Descombes Brouilly 2013 Château Cambon Beaujolais 2013 Jean Foillard Beaujolais 2013Sous la gouverne de Marie Lapierre – veuve du regretté Marcel Lapierre – et de Jean-Claude Chanudet, le Château Cambon est lui aussi exploité en agriculture biologique. On y produit un très bon Beaujolais 2013 générique (23,45 $), passablement substantiel et doté d’une personnalité affirmée.

Georges Descombes applique la même philosophie peu interventionniste dans l’élaboration de ses vins du Beaujolais. Plus étoffé et concentré que la moyenne de l’appellation, son Brouilly 2013 (24,80 $) mise néanmoins à fond sur la rondeur fruitée du gamay.

Trio « Rhone Rangers » 

Comme Bordeaux avec ses cabernet et merlot, le Rhône et ses cépages inspirent un nombre croissant de producteurs étrangers. Constatant que leur climat était plus comparable à celui d’Avignon qu’à ceux de Beaune ou de Margaux, un groupe de producteurs californiens, comiquement surnommé Rhone Rangers, a commencé à implanter les cépages rhodaniens dans différents secteurs de la Côte Ouest américaine.

Dans son vignoble de Santa Cruz (Bonny Doon Vineyard), Randall Grahm ne jure que par les syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, counoise, carignan et autres variétés méditerranéennes. Adepte de la biodynamie depuis plusieurs années maintenant, le créateur du très populaire Cigare Volant atteint selon moi un nouveau sommet cette annnée avec le Cigare Volant 2009 (49,50 $). Tout aussi séduisant que par le passé, mais surtout plus complexe et multidimensionnel, il repose sur des tanins d’une grande finesse.

Yangarra Shiraz 2012 Birichino Besson Grenache Vineyard Vigne Centenaire 2012 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2009Sous l’étiquette Birichino, John Locke – ancien vinificateur chez Bonny Doon – commercialise le Grenache 2012 Besson Vineyard (24 $). Un grenache hors norme, ne serait-ce que par sa couleur très pâle. Souple, rond et relevé de bons goûts de kirsch et de cacao, il donne presque l’impression de croquer un Cherry Blossom, sucrosité et mal de dents en moins.

Je triche un peu ici en vous amenant en Australie, mais pas tant que ça, puisque Yangarra appartient à des intérêts californiens depuis 2001. Racheté par Jess Jackson et Barbara Banke (Jackson Family Wines), ce domaine de McLaren Vale est maintenant conduit en biodynamie et donne ici un vin d’un équilibre exemplaire. Dégustée à trois reprises depuis février, le Shiraz 2012 me plaît davantage à chaque fois. Tanins serrés, pureté et un registre aromatique complexe, que les Anglais décriraient comme «savory» et les Japonais, «umami». L’une des meilleures syrahs du Nouveau Monde dégustées au cours des derniers mois, et pas la plus chère… 

Trio sud-ouest de la France 

Château Larose Trintaudon 2009 Château Laroque 2009 Domaine Elian da Ros le Vin est une Fête 2013Au sud-est de Bordeaux, sur la rive gauche de la Garonne, les Côtes du Marmandais sont très largement dominée par une importante cave coopérative. De retour au vignoble familial après avoir fait ses classes en Alsace (Zind-Humbrecht), Élian Da Ros n’a pas tardé à s’imposer comme un leader qualitatif de l’appellation. Assemblage de merlot, de cabernet franc et d’abouriou, Le Vin est une Fête 2013 (21,05 $) a tout pour plaire. Un vin de soif, façon Sud-Ouest; charnu, plein de vitalité et abordable.

À l’abri des courants de mode qui ont soufflé sur la Gironde depuis une vingtaine d’années, la famille Beaumartin veille sur cette propriété de Saint-Christophe-des-Bardes, à l’est de Saint-Émilion. Son Château Laroque 2009 (66,50 $) est déjà excellent, mais il a l’équilibre et la matière nécessaires pour gagner en profondeur et en nuances au cours de 5-7 prochaines années. 

Château Larose Trintaudon est la plus vaste propriété médocaine, avec ses 175 hectares. Son Haut-Médoc 2009 (26,05 $) porte l’empreinte du cabernet sauvignon, tant par ses senteurs de cuir et de poivron rouge, que par son cadre tannique très droit. Très bon 2009 sur un mode plus classique qu’exubérant.

Trio mencia

Ronsel Do Sil Vel'uveyra Ribeira Sacra 2012 Gotín del Risc Mencía 2010 Enedina 2012Située tout au nord de l’Espagne, entre la Galice et la Rioja, la petite appellation Bierzo a le vent dans les voiles depuis une dizaine d’années. Principal outil des vignerons, le cépage mencía est aussi connu sous le nom de jaén dans la région du Dão.

Projet commun de Raúl Pérez et de Pablo Frías (bodegas Tilenus), deux œnologues vedettes de la région. Ensemble, ils signent le Enedina Bierzo 2012, un vin de facture moderne, stylistiquement à mi-chemin entre Bierzo et les vins de la Rioja.

Sur un mode encore plus costaud et mettant davantage le bois de chêne à contribution, le Bodega del Abad Gotín Del Risc 2010 (17,90 $) est assez flatteur, avec son attaque en bouche ronde, mais repose sur des tanins fermes, qui assurent son tonus.

Enfin, je dois avouer un penchant tout naturel pour le délicieux Mencía 2012, Vel’ Uveyra de Ronsel do Sil, le projet de Pablo Blanco et Olivier Rivière dans la Ribeira Sacra, une appellation de création récente (1996) et seule D.O. galicienne consacrée au vin rouge.

Trio rosé : pied de nez à la grisaille

Pétale de Rose 2014 Le Pive Gris Vin Rosé 2014 Domaine de la Rectorie Côté Mer Collioure Rosé 2013Les frères Parcé n’ont plus à prouver leur talent dans l’élaboration de vins racés et distinctifs. Leur Côté Mer Rosé 2013 Collioure (27 $), en soi, donne envie de célébrer le retour des beaux jours. Salin comme une brise marine, pimpant, plein de vitalité, il fait néanmoins preuve d’un registre de saveurs complexes et d’une tenue de bouche digne de mention. Plus cher que la moyenne, mais impeccable!

Parmi les valeurs sûres à la SAQ en matière de rosé, le Pive Gris 2014 est toujours aussi satisfaisant dans sa catégorie. Issu de l’agriculture biologique, désaltérant et parfumé comme il se doit. D’autant plus recommandable qu’il est vendu sous la barre des 15 $ (avec un rabais de 1 $), jusqu’au 19 avril 2015.

Lui aussi en promotion jusqu’au 19 avril, le Pétale de Rose 2014 (20,25 $ moins 1 $) de Régine Sumeire ne connaît aucun fléchissement. Animé d’un léger reste de gaz, frais et délicatement vineux, c’est l’archétype du bon rosé de Provence.

Santé!

Nadia Fournier

~

Présentation dela fonction CELLIER

Nouvel arrivage CELLIERAfin de vous guider encore mieux dans vous achats et faciliter vos emplettes, nous avons ajouté une fonction spéciale au site Chacun son vin pour nos membres Privilège.

Chaque fois que la SAQ met en vente ces nouveaux arrivages, vous n’aurez qu’à visiter notre site et cliquer sur l’onglet «Vin» puis sur «Nouvel arrivage CELLIER», dans le menu déroulant. Aussi simple que cela !

Vous pourrez ainsi lire mes notes de dégustation sur tous les vins du CELLIER, en un seul et même endroit.

À la vôtre!

Nadia Fournier

Les favoris de Nadia – Cellier 2 avril
Les favoris de Nadia – Cellier 16 avril

Note de la rédaction: Cet accès exclusif, ainsi que la possibilité de lire dès leur publication tous les commentaires de dégustation publiés sur Chacun son Vin, est offert à nos membres Privilège pour la somme de 40 $ par année. (Les membres inscrits bénéficiant d’un accès gratuit doivent, pour leur part, attendre 60 jours avant de pouvoir accéder à tout notre contenu.)


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Gabbiano - Emmène-moi en Toscane !

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Season 5, Table 4 of “So, You Think you Know Wine?”

Grinding to a Halt (a.k.a. The Crusher)

Will “So, You Think You Know Wine?” contestants Zoltan Szabo, Brad Royale, and Chris McDonald be stoked or stumped by the mystery wine at Table 4?

Without any clues, host Seán Cullen takes each table through the swirling, sniffing, and gurgling ritual of wine tasting—asking them to correctly identify the grape, country, region, vintage, and price of the wine. Cullen then issues each player a score but not without, first, testing a few of his own theories against the experts. A champion eventually emerges.

So, You Think You Know Wine? Table 4

You may have noticed that the first few rounds have been challenging for everyone. It is important to note that some of these crowd-pleasing wines, while tasting good, may lack some of the varietal characteristics that would lead our experts to the correct answer. The tables get better and better as the varietal character of future wines shines through. We thought it would still be fun to share these first few rounds with you.

Click here to watch Table 4 or read on to learn more about the contestants and the scoring method.

Table 4

As always, the video series brings together Canada’s top wine experts, but this time a few well-known food personalities have taken on the daunting task of competing against wine critics, sommeliers, and wine educators.

Zoltan Szabo

Zoltan has worked in the hospitality industry for two decades and on three continents.  He worked his way up from dishwasher to sommelier to general manager.  Nowadays he’s a consultant, wine judge, educator, and journalist. In 2009, he won the title of Grand Champion in the prestigious Wine Tasting Challenge.

Zoltan Szabo

Chris McDonald

Chris has worked in Toronto restaurants for 40 years. He started out as a busboy and quickly traveled up the ranks eventually becoming chef and owner of two of Toronto’s most loved restaurants – Avalon and Cava.  He’s now taking a well-deserved break before he starts his next adventure.

Chris McDonald

Brad Royale

Brad has been involved in retail and restaurant management for fifteen years and he is now the Wine Director for Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. He has won multiple awards for his wine programs. In 2012 Brad launched his own wine label, Kitten Swish…it’s delicious.

Brad Royale

The Scoring

The scoring on each wine remains similar to past seasons with points for Variety, Country, Region, Appellation, Vintage and Price.

Variety:  3 points
Country, Region, Appellation:  up to 4 points
Vintage:  up to 2 points
Price (within 10% on either side): 1 point

Let the games begin! Pour yourself a glass of wine and watch table 4.

For those of you new to our video series, “So, You Think You Know Wine?”, we have saved all previous episodes under the Videos tab.

Previously on Season 5 of “So, You Think You Know Wine?”:

Table 1 – Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013
Table 2 – Creekside Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Table 3 – Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

We hope that you find this new series entertaining and that you have as much fun watching as we did filming. As usual, please send your comments to feedback@winealign.com and feel free to share this video with your friends and family.

Special thanks to our glassware sponsor, Schott Zwiesel, for their beautiful glasses and carafes used during filming.


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Balderson Cheese

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Final Blend: Niagara Falls, Step by Step, Inch by Inch

by Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi

It’s that time of the year again when the WineAlign team gears up in preparation for the National Wine Awards of Canada. The annual search for the best wine in the country is now in its 15th year at least for David Lawrason and me. It started back in Toronto in 2001 under the aegis of the now defunct Wine Access Magazine and for the last three years the WineAlign team has picked up the Canadian wine baton and run with it.

The Nationals have never been an easy feat to pull off. It’s not like the Canadian wine industry is one big happy bunch of folks who can’t wait to get into a room and work together. In fact, the wine scene very much mirrors the convoluted, patchwork quilt of people who make up this country and its culture. Every year when David and I sit down to prepare for The Nationals we feel a great deal of pressure to make sure all of the country’s wines can be brought together in one room to be assessed over one week and produce what we hope are unimpeachable results.

But getting everyone to buy in is tough.

Wineries have their reasons for entering or not entering competitions. All we can do is run the most rigourous tasting in the county, if not the world. After that, all we can hope for is that by applying the highest standards to our work, we convince everyone that getting their wine in front of a broad selection of experienced tasters from across the country is good for consumers, wineries and Canadian wine culture.

By the time we assemble 18 judges and an equal amount of people in the back room for a full week of work we are happy not to lose too much money. But on the bright side this spring we want to explore the real reasons the entire WineAlign team will be in Niagara Falls this June. We love wine and we can’t wait to find out who is making the best examples of Canadian wine in 2015.

Nk'mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir 2012 Norman Hardie County Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2012 Painted Rock Red Icon 2011 Hidden Bench Tête De Cuvée Chardonnay 2011

We can’t wait to see who will top the competition this year. Could this be the breakthrough for Nk’Mip Cellars or Norman Hardie, Painted Rock or Hidden Bench – I’m sure Mission Hill and/or last year’s winner Peller Estates Winery Niagara-on-the-Lake will have something to say about that. Will the syrah flights grab the highest marks; will Laughing Stock top the charts again? Will Canadian chardonnay continue its ascension to a place we can all be excited about? It’s what makes this the most important week in wine in Canada.

Mission Hill Perpetua Osoyoos Vineyard Estate 2011Andrew Peller Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc 2012Laughing Stock Vineyards Syrah Perfect Hedge Vineyard 2012

With the doors now open to the National Wine Awards of Canada 2015 it will be interesting to see if we can entice more entries from Quebec and Nova Scotia. Both regions have been working hard at raising their game and there’s no better proving ground than our five-day blind tasting, where every wine is given equal and fair shot at showing its best.

What we do know is the quality level of the wines entered has risen exponentially in recent years as all the work going on in Canadian vineyards is finally coming to fruition. It’s not easy to make the finals and it’s even tougher to win against all the other finalists but that’s what makes it worth entering.

Maclean's - WineAlign Awards ResultsThere’s no better benchmark for Canadian wine producers to discover how they measure up against their neighbours and competitors across the country, and frankly there is no better tool for Canadian wine drinkers to use then the results of the Nationals to see how their favourites measure up.

Speaking of results, each year we continue to speed up the process of getting the story out sooner than later. We expect to publish the full results, including awarding the prestigious Canadian Winery of the Year, online at WineAlign by the end of July 2015. That should help everyone find more of the winning wines over the summer and busy fall/harvest season and hopefully inspire many of you visit one of Canada’s spectacular wine regions.

Two years ago we instituted the first full integration of the results into the WineAlign website and have had nothing but positive feedback from you, our readers, who enjoy being able to access the results while standing in wine shops and wineries. Last year, the results of both of our awards The Nationals and the World Wine Awards of Canada were printed in a special section of Maclean’s magazine and we are pursuing similar options in 2015.

In 2014, we had 1,335 different wines entered from 219 wineries across Canada. (Click here to see the results from the 2014 National Wine Awards of Canada.) This year, we expect to be bigger and better than ever, with a new record for entries.

You can follow all the action at #NWAC15 as we prepare for the awards throughout the spring right through the judging where up to the minute thoughts fly from the front room judges and back room organisers. As I finish this piece, the first riesling entry for 2015 has just been entered. Last year we were privileged to taste 96 different riesling from all over the country. If that doesn’t inspire you to be a part of the 2015 National Wine Awards of Canada, we are not sure what ever will.

See you all (virtually) in Niagara Falls in June.

 

~ Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic. Click here to visit his WineAlign profile page.

 


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Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (April)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers & Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials Collection. This month, most of the wines selected are wines that are also on Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. (You can read in detail how the Top 50 works below).

There are many wines on promotion in April, such that eight on today’s Top 20 list have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (Limited Time Offer), making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so. You may notice that two wines come from the VINTAGES section of the store. I normally don’t include wines from here, except for VINTAGES Essentials, since they rarely offer as much value as those in the LCBO’s general list section and they tend to sell through very quickly. However, I made an exception here since there are large stocks and they both offer great value. I was in Chile and Argentina for the last three weeks leading a wine tour and had the chance to re-taste both of them.

April’s promotional period runs until the 26th, so don’t miss your chance to make these wines even more affordable. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure that there were stocks available, when we published, of every wine that I highlight.

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 (1000ml), Greece ($10.15 + 4 BAMs). New to Top 50: Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best red grapes. This is a clean fresh red wine that is fruity, midweight and well balanced making it a good everyday red.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012, Calabria, Italy ($8.50 + 3 BAMs). Top 50 April: A recent listing that shows plummy fresh aromas with no oak and a midweight juicy palate. Try with burgers.

Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal ($9.30). New to Top 50: This is a ripe, fleshy, clean, easy-drinking wine with soft tannins and fresh red berry fruit flavours with some complexity and good depth of flavour.

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012 J. Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013 Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013

Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013, South Eastern Australia ($9.85 + 5 BAMs). A  fresh pure syrah/cabernet blend, very linear with great focus. Good depth of flavour with lots of fruit and very good length.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($9.95 + 5 BAMs). Top 50 April: A soft flavourful and well structured cabernet for a good price.

Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva 2010 Douro Valley, Portugal ($11.20 was $12.20). Top 50 April: An opaque full-bodied purple wine with a fragrant pure nose of blackberry fruit with well integrated oak spice plus vanilla and herbal tones. Decant for an hour and enjoy with a steak.

Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45). New to Top 50: An aromatic carmenère with just the right amount of ripeness. Very good length.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45). New to Top 50: A well priced fragrant caberent that’s full-bodied and deeply flavoured. Try with lamb cutlets.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010 Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013 Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95 was $14.95). Top 50 April: A fruity malbec with herbal and floral tones and, though full-bodied, seems lighter due to vibrant lemony acidity. It finishes firm and dry with very good length.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile ($13.05 + 8 BAMs). New to Top 50 EARTH DAY SPECIAL DURING APRIL: A lot of depth and complexity for such an inexpensive wine. Its clean lively with pure aromas and flavours and very good  length.

Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan 2010, Cauquenes Valley, Chile ($17.95). VINTAGES EXCEPTIONAL VALUE: A beautiful full-bodied vibrant red that’s elegant with a wild character. Try with lamb cutlets.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan 2010 Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA ($19.90). New to Top 50: An elegant refined cabernet that’s ripe without being overripe with just enough oak, finely balanced with excellent length.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra, South Australia ($27.95). New to Top 50 from VINTAGES Essentials: First a disclaimer. This is more than $20. But it is so awesome and such great value that it got into my Top 50 list this month and I wanted to tell you all about it. So if you want to splurge a little and enjoy, this is a superb, very drinkable, very classy cabernet with layers of flavour and a refined very appealing pureness. Finely balanced with excellent length.

Whites

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 (1000ml), Greece ($9.95 + 4 BAMs). New to Top 50: Moschofilero is one of Greece’s best indigenous grapes. This is a fresh dry white that pinot grigio adherents should try.

K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape, South Africa ($9.45 + 4 BAMs). Top 50 April: Clean well made white at a great price. Good depth of flavour and palate length. Try with seafood or mildly flavoured chicken dishes.

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014 Frisky Beaver White 2013 The Wolftrap White 2013

Frisky Beaver White 2013, VQA Ontario ($13.95). New to Top 50: An aromatic off-dry white which is smooth and juicy. A nice aperitif or try with seafood. Don’t be misled by the wacky packaging; there is some quite serious wine inside.

The Wolftrap White 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($13.95). New to Top 50: A very aromatic intensely flavoured pure white, that is rich and very creamy. Try with pork chops.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand ($13.95). New to Top 50: A good basic pinot grigio with a fragrant, floral, peachy nose with some minerality. It is clean, fresh with a crisp almost dry finish.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2012

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Spain ($14.45). New to Top 50: Best value bubbly under $15 at LCBO. Fresh nose with pure apple pear flavour, a soft creamy texture and very good length.

Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2012, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($15.95). VINTAGES EXCEPTIONAL VALUE: Fantastic value for a serious very bold chardonnay for rich white meat dishes.

How does a wine get selected for the Top 20 under $20.

Top 20 Under 20There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either on the LCBO “General List” or the VINTAGES Essential Collection.

– On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 wines. I have looked through the current batch and have highlighted some of my favourites that offer better value at present…. so stock up now.

– Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect Air Miles then you will be getting Bonus Air Miles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

– Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection (Top 50,) that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time and read more about it now.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

I am pleased to tell you that we have now worked through the massive recent delist at the LCBO, such that none of the wines currently on the Top 50 list rely on a delist price to be there. In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 33 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, dip into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), since it is always changing. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. Moreover if you disagree with our reviews, tell us please us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

The Top 50 changes all the time, so remember to check before shopping. I will be back next month with more news on value arrivals to Essentials and the LCBO.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
Top 50 Value Wines

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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Montresor Soave Classico 2013

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Bill’s Best Bets – April CELLIER Arrivals

Festive Wines for your Gatherings
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Leading up to Easter weekend, the SAQ has released a new batch of wines in their most recent CELLIER magazine. While I wasn’t able to taste all the wines available, I did cut through a number of them, and many are worthy of your attention.

The April 2nd wines are in the stores now and the April 16th selection will go on pre-order later next week. Nothing like having a step up on the rest as many of these wines have limited stock available, and will undoubtably fly off the shelves. Here are my picks:

April 2

The first wine I want to mention I have yet to taste, but would buy without a second thought. One of my favourite wines from France’s Southwest, Elian da Ros’ Le Vin Est un Fete. I have tasted every vintage over the past 5 years and few wines offer so much joy for around $20. Biodynamically grown and the wine is made with little intervention – like I like it!

On the subject of fruit, the 2013 Brouilly from Georges Descombes is a marvel from Beaujolais’ best known Cru. Superb fruit and depth, and will work wonders if you are looking for a red with your Easter meal.

On a similar note, but for those of you who love an earthier feel to their wines, the 2013 Beaujolais from Chateau Cambon will do the trick. While pricier than most Beaujolais, this offers more texture and depth.

Domaine Elian Da Ros Le Vin Est Une Fête 2013 Georges Descombes Brouilly 2013 Château Cambon Beaujolais 2013 Birichino Besson Grenache Vineyard Vigne Centenaire 2012 Enedina 2012

If you are wanting a bigger, more powerful red, I have two selections that impressed. One hails from California’s Central Coast, the 2012 Grenache, Vines Centenaries from Birichino is an exceptional take on the grape. Silky and suave, but without any excess, these 100+ year old vines offer some great balance and fruit. Grenache fans should take note here.

From Spain, there is the 2012 Bierzo from Enedina. Made with the Mencia grape, this is much more concentration and power than what I am used to drinking from wines of the region. But it works, with exceptional balance and finesse.

April 16

The second release date also offers up a number of interesting wines. One of my favourites is from Piedmont rockstar winemaker Angelo Gaja. While most Gaja wines are extremely expensive, his 2009 Barolo, Dagromis is a marvel and at an accessible price. Full on tar and roses, and relatively open and ready to drink.

Another wine which impressed me was from Bibi Graetz. The 2013 “It’s a Game” is a classic Tuscan blend that shows remarkable freshness and power. Good now, it will only get even better of over the next decade. If you are looking for an under $40 wine for your cellar, this would be my choice.

One of the bargains of the release is the 2009 Haut-Medoc from Château Larose-Trintaudon. This Cru Bourgeois shows remarkable finesse for a wine from such a ripe and powerful vintage as 2009. It is ready to drink and for $26, a real find.

Gaja Dagromis Barolo 2009 Bibi Graetz It's a Game 2013 Château Larose Trintaudon 2009 Logonovo 2011Domaine De La Rectorie Côté Mer Collioure Rosé 2013

One of the stranger wines in this release is the 2011 Logonovo. Choosing to forgo the Brunello appellation, the wine breaks new ground by blending the sangiovese with merlot, petit verdot, syrah and sagrantino. The results are very good – a full bodied wine that is both refined and powerful.

And despite our winter that seems to know no end, Spring temperatures are on the way. That means we can finally get back to rosé drinking. And what better way to start than with one of the best? While at $27 the price might shock those who believe that pink wines should be only cheap and cheerful, the 2013 Domaine de la Rectorie Côté Mer Collioure Rosé is a marvel of fruit and depth. This will age even more, but just try to stop drinking this! An exceptional pink wine to kick off the summer.

CELLIER Premium Feature

CELLIER New ArrivalsFor Chacun son Vin Premium members, we have added something new to the site to make your CELLIER shopping even easier. Now if you look under the Wine tab in the menu bar, you will see an option for <<CELLIER New Arrivals>>. By clicking here, you will be brought to a new page where we have grouped all of the new release wines and reviews together by date.

So you can check out my tasting notes on all the wines in one place.

Winemaker Dinner Events

For our members in and around Ottawa, here’s a chance to explore the regional estates of Beringer with winemaker herself, Laurie Hook. WineAlign’s Rod Phillips will be your host as Laurie takes you through a tasting that showcases the volcanic, cobbled rock and alluvial soils of Knights Valley, the highest elevations of Napa’s Howell Mountain and the sun-drenched valley floor of Napa’s Oak Knoll district. (Find out more here.)

Let us know if you like events like this and we’ll try to bring you more.

Enjoy the first true days of Spring!

Bill

“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial

From CELLIER April Releases:

Bill’s Best Bets – April 2
Bill’s Best Bets – April 16

Editors Note: You can find Bill’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. Premium subscribers to Chacun son Vin see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Exclusive Beringer Winemaker’s Dinner with Laurie Hook – April 14 – Ottawa

Exploring Regional Estates with Beringer

Beringer_luxury_logo-high-res

Since 1876 Beringer has been a pioneer in California winemaking and for more than 30 years, Winemaker Laurie Hook has walked the vineyards of Beringer. From this intimate experience, these wines are born from a desire to highlight the most remarkable of vineyard lots. Join Laurie at SIDEDOOR in Ottawa on April 14 for a tasting that showcases the volcanic, cobbled rock and alluvial soils of Knights Valley, the highest elevations of Napa’s Howell Mountain and the sun-drenched valley floor of Napa’s Oak Knoll district. Laurie will be joined by WineAlign’s Rod Phillips.

PURCHASE TICKETS

Event Details:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Location: SIDEDOOR (Byward Market, Ottawa)
Reception: 6:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Dinner and Tasting: 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Tickets: $75.00 plus fees and taxes

Please note tickets are limited to 60. Our events sell out quickly so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Lauire Hook - Beringer Winemaker

Wine List:

Reception wines: to be paired with passed canapés
Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Grigio
Beringer Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Course 1: to be paired with a chef created tapas dish
Beringer Founders’ Estate Chardonnay
Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay
Beringer Luminus Oak Knoll District Chardonnay

Course 2: A choice between braised beef, cornish hen, or tofu
Beringer Napa Valley Merlot
Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Beringer Knights Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Cheese Course:  to be paired with chef’s choice of artisan cheeses
Beringer Napa Valley Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

PURCHASE TICKETS

About SIDEDOOR

Located in the Byward Market, SIDEDOOR’s menu is inspired by the cuisine of Southeast Asia. With each dish, diners are introduced to a combination of flavors and concepts adopted and refined by our Chefs. Opened in 2011, SIDEDOOR has quickly become famous for unique and memorable sharing style menu options created by executive chef Jonathan Korecki, fan favorite and second runner up on Top Chef Canada season two.

SIDEDOOR contemporary kitchen & bar

PURCHASE TICKETS


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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008