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Une soirée de dégustation de vins et repas quatre services avec William Hardy de Hardys Wines Australia – Montréal

Chacun son vin a le plaisir de vous proposer, le mercredi 4 mars, un repas quatre services avec une dégustation de vins du célèbre producteur australien Hardys.

Bill Hardy, ambassadeur de Hardys Wines Australia en collaboration avec l’agence Mondia Alliance vous convie à une soirée de dégustation de vins de la maison Hardys accompagnée d’un souper.

Nadia Fournier, partenaire et critique principale pour Chacun son vin sera aussi des vôtres pour la soirée. Veuillez aussi noter que Bill fera sa présentation en anglais, mais que Nadia sera heureuse d’assurer la traduction, si nécessaire.

Achetez vos billets ici

Quand:  Le 4 mars de 18h30 à 21h30

TymeOù:  Au restaurant O’Thym, 1112 boulevard de Maisonneuve Est, Montréal

Coût:  75 $ par personne (incluant un repas 4 services en accord avec les vins)

Veuillez noter que les places sont limitées à 50; réservez rapidement.

Vins Hardys en dégustation:

Hardys Butcher’s Gold 2012
Hardys The Gamble 2013
William Hardys Sauvignon Blanc 2013
HRB Riesling 2014
Eileen Chardonnay 2013
William Hardy Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Eileen Shiraz 2010
Whiskers Blake

Achetez vos billets ici

William David Hardy, ou Bill comme il préfère qu’on l’appelle, fait partie de la cinquième génération de la famille Hardy travaillant pour le compte des vins Hardys. En tant qu’expert actuel de la famille de vins Hardys, Bill continue de s’appuyer sur l’héritage établi en 1853 par Thomas Hardy. L’entreprise internationale de vins Hardys s’est développée grâce à la direction d’une lignée de la famille Hardy, dont le membre la plus connue est possiblement Eileen Hardy, la grand-mère de Bill.

Bill a commencé son travail au sein de l’entreprise familiale à titre de vinificateur stagiaire en 1972, puis, après un premier millésime aux Tintara Cellars de l’entreprise, à McLaren Vale, il s’est rendu à Bordeaux, en France, afin d’obtenir le Diplôme national d’œnologue de l’Université de Bordeaux, obtenant le titre de major de la promotion. Il a poursuivi sa carrière d’œnologue dans plusieurs propriétés de la maison Hardys.

Bill HardyAu même moment, Bill poursuivait son engagement à l’égard de l’industrie vinicole australienne tant sur la scène nationale que régionale, occupant les postes de président de la société australienne de viticulture et d’œnologie (Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology) et de président de l’association des vinificateurs de McLaren Vale (McLaren Vale Winemakers’ Association).

Au total, à titre de vinificateur, Bill a produit 12 millésimes en Australie-Méridionale, 6 en Australie-Occidentale et 8 en France avant de remettre les rênes de la vinification à la génération suivante. En 2012, Bill a franchi une étape encore plus impressionnante lorsqu’il a atteint la marque de 40 ans de service continu pour l’entreprise.

Plus récemment, Bill a reçu un grand hommage, alors qu’on a donné son nom à la gamme de vins William Hardy, qui fait partie de la gamme Hardys, cette année.

Bill a maintenu un engagement familial tant à l’égard de l’industrie vinicole australienne que de l’environnement. Au cours des dernières années, il a siégé à titre de membre du Australian Wine Industry Technical Advisory Committee et il a occupé les fonctions de délégué australien de la Commission Œnologie de l’Organisation internationale de la vigne et du vin et de président de Wetland Care Australia.

Achetez vos billets ici




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Bill’s Best Bets – February

The winter nebbiolo cure
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Brrr, or rather, grrrrr. It’s the dog days of winter folks and I am starting to get a touch cranky with the unending cold. So for putting up with all this, I tend to spend a little more time treating myself with wine. And recently, I went back to one of my favourite regions – Piedmonte.

Located in northwestern Italy, this is the home to one of my favourite red wines and adored grape varieties – Barolo and nebbiolo. Those who appreciate more fragrant wine with delicate textures usually fall on either side of the pinot noir/nebbiolo fence. As one who doesn’t mind some tannin, and loves the sensual aromas of faded roses and cherry that would make most real cherries jealous, I’m a nebbiolo man.

There is almost a tortured sensuality about nebbiolo. Something distant, melancholic but entirely provocative. I wrote of one Barolo, a 2005 made by Silvio Grasso : “young Barolo challenges, older versions caress.” The common complaint against nebbiolo is that when young, Barolo can have high acidity and lots of mouth numbing tannin which can take years in bottle to soften up.

And true, these are wines that ideally should be drunk 8-10 years after vintage. But I still love them in their youth. All I do is give them a few hours of air and ideally a piece of veal and mushrooms, and I couldn’t be happier.

Hillsides filled with nebbiolo grapes in Barolo

Hillsides filled with nebbiolo grapes in Barolo

But there are other ways to enjoy nebbiolo, wines that are able to be drunk earlier. The broader Langhe appellation offers up nebbiolo, or nebbiolo-based wines that are ready to drink right away. These are wines that are often made with either declassified grapes that the winery doesn’t want to include in their Barolo – they may be younger vines or perhaps less complex. They may also have been grown outside of either the Barolo , or neighbouring Barbaresco region.

The Langhe appellation allows for the winery to put to market their wines earlier. To qualify as Barolo, the wine must stay at the winery for a minimum of 3 years, with 18 months of that in barrel. To qualify for Riserva status, the wine must be aged for five years before hitting the market.

Mascarello Nebbiolo 2012 Pio Cesare Nebbiolo Langhe 2011 Produttori Del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2013So where to start? Look no further than the 2013 Langhe from Produttori del Barbaresco. Made by one of the world’s best co-operatives this wine is, simply put, killer value and traditionally styled.

On a slightly more modern taste profile, the 2011 from Pio Cesare offers up notes of vanilla to give the wine a touch more accessibility.

Worth noting, even though at $54 it is at the price of many Barolos, is the 2012 Langhe from Giuseppe Mascarello. Beautiful lines on this wine. So sensual and delicate.

But Borolo is my love so let’s get to it. The starting point for Barolo is around $30 and the prices can easily attain $100. But around $40, you can start getting some serious wine. Case in point is the 2010 from Principiano Ferdinando. Gorgeous aromatics and a beautiful, sensual texture.

If you are looking for a wine with some age on it, the 2006 from Aurelio Settimo offers up those characteristic aromas of faded roses, with a texture that is very traditional. Slightly tannic and with refreshing acids.

Ferdinando Principiano Serralunga Barolo 2010 Aurelio Settimo Barolo 2006 Paolo Scavino Barolo 2009Silvio Grasso Barolo 2009

One of my favourite wines that I have tasted recently was the 2009 Barolo from Paolo Scavino. While less traditional in terms of flavour profile and texture than the previous two wines, it walks the line nicely between traditional tannic structure and more modern notes of vanilla and a richer mid-palate.

If you don’t mind the tannin, the 2009 from Silvio Grasso might require a bit of prodding (I opened it up 24 hours before drinking), but the complexity here was mind blowing. I would ideally keep it in the cellar for a while before drinking, or give it a fatty cut of beef.

Follìa Barolo 2009 Beni Di Batasiolo Riserva Barolo 2005 Pio Cesare Barolo 2010If you want a more powerful Barolo, with a weightier texture, then the 2010 from Pio Cesare is your wine. Drinking well now, it will easily cellar for another decade. But the Pio is at $58. If you want a wine that is in a similar style but with a touch more age on it, then the Batasiolo 2005 Riserva, at $37, is a nicely aged wine that shows a more modern styling, but still faithful to the Barolo character.

And finally, for those of you who are looking to keep it around $30, the 2009 Follia from Podere Castorani is a ready to drink, and an inexpensive entry point into this grand appellation.

Stay warm and drink well folks,


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

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. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

Gabbiano - Take me to Tuscany

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES February 21st – Part One

A Great Australian Vintage
by David Lawrason, with notes from Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

The most interesting aspect of VINTAGES feature on Australian wines on the February 21 release is that it is focused around a single vintage – 2012. This is a very welcome development because rarely in the past has VINTAGES talked about vintages in regions outside of Europe.

There is a deeply held view – perhaps even a cultural bias – within the Euro-centric wine establishment (in which, until now, I would have lumped the LCBO) that vintages don’t matter in the New World. Europe has been steeped for so long in the annual vintage assessment of Bordeaux and Burgundy, and perhaps Barolo, Tuscany and Rioja, that denial of vintage variation anywhere else is an off-handed way of saying that those wines cannot be as good or pedigreed, because, well, vintages don’t vary. That’s nonsense. Vintage variation occurs everywhere – no two years are ever the same. And this could be even more true now as erratic climate change sponsored events settle in. So it is high time that New World producers and pundits made much more of this variation so that we can all get the most out of experiencing their wines. Good on VINTAGES for swinging the bat this time out.

The cover of the VINTAGES magazine calls Australia’s 2012 “The Best Vintage in 20 Years”, but doesn’t quote any specific local sources. The claim does however line up with my experience in Australia in Jan 2014, where producers were falling over themselves in excitement. Part of this may have been a bit of a rebound reaction due to the fact that 2011 had been the wettest, coolest vintage in their lifetimes, with many wines showing some greenness. (Interestingly 2011 also produced many under-ripe reds in Chile, Argentina and California as well). But yes, as the magazine spells out on page 4, 2012 did indeed bring ideal conditions to Australia, a good balance of moisture and sunshine with moderated temperatures and no searing heat waves (whew!). Long and slow and even ripening is always the best formula for ripe and balanced wines, and if yields are also lower those wines should have better concentration. This was the case when a late spring frost lowered the yield in some areas.

The irony is that some of the wines in this release fail to make the case for the excellence of 2012. Mainly because the average $20 price point of wine landed in Canada is not going to deliver balance and depth as easily. Some are marketing driven brands attempting to adhere to a style rather than show the variation of place or vintage, and they are very ripe, high in alcohol and tending to confection. The examples I have highlighted below are essentially single-site wines that do begin to show the evenness and balance of this vintage. Above all Australia’s reds need tension and structure – that is the on-going struggle for quality in one of the world’s hottest regions.

Just before getting to my picks (which include some good buys from California), a note that Australia will be all the buzz later this month as the theme country of the Vancouver International Wine Festival which runs the week of February 20. Our B.C. Editor and recently appointed National Managing Editor Treve Ring has already published a two part perspective on Australia Today, that includes some of her picks from the hundreds that will be poured at the Festival, as well as wines she encountered in Australia recently that she “Wishes They Were Here”. She has also just edited and published a Valentine Day compendium of romantic picks from WineAligners in three provinces in Canada – all the while being in Argentina.


Heartland Directors' Cut Shiraz 2012

Yangarra 2012 ShirazYangarra Shiraz 2012, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($32.95)
David Lawrason – Once again a biodynamically grown wine tops my charts, its bio-ness being unbeknownst to me when I tasted it. This shiraz was grown at fairly high, cooler altitude near the South Lofty Ranges, which combined with balance of the vintage and healthy viticulture has given it real class.  The focus and length are excellent. Supple and balanced enough to drink now; should hold three years at least.

Heartland 2012 Directors’ Cut Shiraz, Langhorne Creek, South Australia ($35.95)
David Lawrason – Heartland is a project by highly regarded winemaker Ben Glaetzer and his team (which includes John Glaetzer who was the man behind the success of Wolf Blass in its formative years). Director’s Cut is 100% Langhorne Creek fruit – the same region that supplied the backbone of Wolf Blass’ award winning wines. There is a fair bit of oak showing here, but in the end this big shiraz pivots on good acidity and firm tannin. Impressive!

Bleasdale 2012 Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, Langhorne Creek, South Australia ($17.95).
David Lawrason –  Cabernet Sauvignon is the staple variety of this small cooler, maritime region on Lake Alexandria a stone’s throw from the Southern Ocean. Bleasdale was founded in the 19th C but a new viticultural regime introduced late last decade has resulted in wines with good tension and structure. Not huge depth here, but just fine for the price. And it’s unmistakably cab.

Dutschke 2012 80 Block St. Jakobi Vineyard Merlot, Lyndoch, Barossa Valley, South Australia ($23.95)
David Lawrason – Varietally labelled merlot is rare in Australia, but this comes from one of the oldest plantings in Barossa. It struck me as particularly well composed and balanced merlot; all rather understated but quite delicious. As good merlot should be.

Penny’s Hill 2012 Cracking Black Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($22.95)
Sara d’Amato No, ‘cracking black’ does not, in fact, refer to shiraz’s distinctive notes of cracked black pepper but rather to the infertile, cracking, grey-black soil of the Bay of Biscay where this hand-picked shiraz is planted. This crackling soil severs the surplus root structure of the vines, lessening vigor and enhancing grape quality. As dynamic as the soil in which it is grown, this aromatic and compelling shiraz deserves attention.

Bleasdale Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Dutschke 80 Block St. Jakobi Vineyard Merlot 2012 Penny's Hill Cracking Black Shiraz 2012 Schild Estate GMS Fowles Stone Dwellers Shiraz 2012

Schild Estate 2012 Grenache Mourvèdre Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato – The grenache in this “GMS” is delightfully dominant giving the wine a crunchy saline texture, beautiful floral notes and plump red plum. Inspired by the blends of the Southern Rhone, this old-world-meets-new style is highly engaging. A Category Champion at WineAlign’s 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada.

Fowles 2012 Stone Dwellers Shiraz, Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato – Cooler climate Australia is home to some dynamite shiraz that is exuberantly peppery and shows plenty of restraint, most notably in the alcohol department. If you normally stay far away from Aussie shiraz, give this one a try.

California Reds


Hartley-Ostini 2013 Hitching Post Hometown Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County ($28.95)
David Lawrason – I have always been a fan of well-made California pinot for its sheer drinkability. The problem of course is that high alcohol, sweetness and oak too often overwhelm the fruit. This nifty example from the company that starred in the Academy Award nominated wine flick “Sideways” manages to stay in fruit first focus.  A delightful, heart on its sleeve pinot – kinda like the movie.

Melville Estate 2012 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County ($49.95)
David Lawrason - And from the same region is southern California comes yet another intriguing pinot that goes for elegance and structure. Melville is a small estate-fruit only operation specializing in pinot. They have gone to the trouble of planting 16 different clones in an effort to build up complexity, and it works so well. Wonderful aromatics and silky texture.

Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Hometown Pinot Noir 2013 Melville Estate Pinot Noir 2012 Kunde Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon 2010


Kunde Family 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley ($26.95)
David Lawrason – This does not have the depth and structure to hit 90 points, but it is an honest, fairly priced cabernet with typical blackcurrant fruit and just enough firmness to announce its cab-ness. Kunde is based on a large sustainably farmed property in the hills above the Valley of the Moon. I have been liking their recent offerings, and the value is peaking these days.

Volker Eisele 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($68.95)
David Lawrason – Collectors of California cabernet may want to make some room in the cellar for this powerful, complex well attenuated blend of cabernet and merlot (14%) grown in the Chiles Valley up in the eastern hills above Napa Valley. The Volker Eisele family has farmed the site organically for over 40 years. Aged 24 months in French oak, it has plenty of fruit support, cabernet complexity and excellent length.

And that’s it for this edition. Tune in next week as John Szabo leads off on the rest of this release with a look at Euro reds and a selection of whites.


David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From VINTAGES Feb 21st release:

Lawrason’s Take
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
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!

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012





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Valentines Wines

To woo your beloved, or intended, with wine

Chocolates are cliché and rosés win out over roses any day. What about swapping the overpriced heart shaped box for something that will get your Valentine’s heart, and palate, racing? A little thought goes a long way with wine, especially if you gift these along with a home-cooked meal, or card with the promise of a future pairing to come (the wine, and you).

Ontario’s Sara d’Amato (SD), Quebec’s Bill Zacharkiw (BZ) and I (TR) from British Columbia offer up suggestions to woo your beloved or intended with wine.

~ Treve Ring

All That Sparkles Are Not Diamonds

Forget expensive jewellery. Nothing signals celebration more than a flute of sparkling wine, and our choices below won’t cost two months salary (and some will last longer than most marriages). Ideal any time of day or night, there is a sparkling wine to pair with any dish, and every person.

Chandon Rosé Sparkling Huff Cuvee-Janine Sparkling Rose-2012SD. Let this lovely Prince Edward County Huff 2012 Cuvée Janine Sparkling Rosé do the charming for you. This local find features dried red fruit and fragrant floral notes, laced with the County’s elegant mineral character. Starting off your day with the traditional method Chandon Rosé Sparkling from California will save yourself from the cost of Champagne, and if your thrifty ways aren’t enough to impress, this sensational, pink-hue delicacy is sure to amp up the romance

BZ. Celebrate love with Champagne. I have always maintained that great Champagne is best drunk with one other person, so a little tête a tête will get the proper lift with the right Champagne. If you want to go all in, my favourite cuvée of love is Perrier Jouet 2006 Belle Epoque. From the flowers on the bottle to the refined elegance, you can do no wrong pooping the cork on this bottle. At close to $200, Belle Époque can be a bit pricey. But you can still get elegance and finesse at a more reasonable price with Henriot’s Blanc de Blanc.

TR. Perfect way to kick off a special date, or make a regular day special instantly? Fresh oysters and champagne. Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Cuis 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut is pristine elegance, and worthy of the occasion. This linear, vibrant Grower Champagne is crisp green apple, mineral, white flowers and lemon pith, with a clean, pure delivery and lengthy mineral finish. Pass the oysters.

Perrier Jouet La Belle Epoque 2006 Henriot Blanc De Blancs Brut Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuis 1er Cru Lini 910 Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso

And for Sunday brunch on the 15th, pop the cork on a bottle of Lini 910 Labrusca Rosso. This dry, fruity Lambrusco has plum, blueberry and cherry compote depth, tannin to tackle foods plus fresh and taut acidity to carry them. And bubbles! Pour with savoury waffles with blackberry and bacon, or mushroom and spicy sausage poached eggs.

Wooing Whites

These white wines are versatile, friendly and alluring, a bit adventurous, a lot electric and memorable – just like your sweetheart.

Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2012 Château De Jurque Fantaisie Jurançon Sec 2012SD. Unique, relatively rare to find in these parts and terrifically compelling, the dry whites of Jurançon also have a very sexy reputation. Produced from grapes gros and petit manseng grapes and grown on the foothills of the Pyrenees, the wine was historically thought to contribute to virility. The early 20th century French poet Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette seemed to agree and famously spoke of the provocative nature of Jurançon wine as “séduction du vert gallant”. In an effort to fight obscurity, producers of the region came out with an advertisement claiming: “Jurancon = Manseng = Sex” – a plain and simple equation. Think you can handle the power of the seductive Château De Jurque 2012 Fantaisie Jurançon Sec?

Nervy, electric and exciting, Niagara riesling is sharp as a whip and irresistibly flirtatious. Vineland Estates 2012 Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling from Vineland Estates hails from some of the oldest riesling plantings in the region and delivers a spine chilling sensation sure to make your date cozy up.

BZ. If bubbles aren’t your thing, how about a rich and seductive white? Pierre Gaillard’s 2013 Condrieu is a thought provoking and sensual wine that is like an hour long hug in front of a fire. Try it with tender seared scallops.

If you want a touch more freshness, but still luxurious and rich, the Schug’s 2013 Chardonnay will do the job. Can California make balanced and interesting chardonnay? You bet they can. Break out the lobster for this creamy white.

TR. The full, creamy, textured palate of Pentage Winery 2011 Roussanne Marsanne Viognier is not a shy wine; fortunately, Valentine’s Day is not the day to be shy. With heady seashell, peach fuzz and honeysuckle, this intriguing wine from the Okanagan’s Skaha Bench is best discussed with someone, preferably over prosciutto and melon.

Pierre Gaillard Condrieu 2013 Schug Chardonnay Carneros 2013 Pentage Roussanne Marsanne Viognier 2011 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Vinho Branco 2012

Part of the fun of being a couple is adventuring together. The Luis Pato 2012 Vinhas Velhas Branco, a blend of indigenous Portuguese grapes becal, cerceal and sercialinho is a wine adventure worth exploring. Lose yourselves in this bright, crisp and herbal kissed wine, textured with white peach and quince and finishing with beauty freshness and energy. Pour this with confidence (and grilled white fish and walnut arugula salad) and a second date is yours, confirmed.

Romantic Reds

When things are getting serious, it’s time to bring out the big guns, or at least, the main course (and some tannins to cut to the chase). These reds range from fresh and spicy, to sultry and seductive, to age-worthy and rare.

Argentiera Poggio Ai Ginepri 2011 Casas Del Bosque Gran Reserva Syrah 2012SD. There is little sexier than a musky, peppery, evocative red from Chile’s coastal region of Casablanca. Cool climate syrah has a uniquely titillating quality that can give you goosebumps in the same way that only a lover’s first touch can provoke. With Casas Del Bosque 2012 Gran Reserva Syrah, perhaps a date this Valentine’s isn’t required . . .

Super Tuscans were created to be powerful, forthright and a blend of modern inspiration with old world character. For these reasons, they are almost universally appreciated and a great example, such as Argentiera 2011 Poggio Ai Ginepri, a densely concentrated blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot, is sure to make an impact on even the pickiest of dates.

BZ. If you want to go red, there is no lack of love bottles out there. If you want to go delicate, perfumed and romantic, the 2013 Frappato from COS is ideal. So delicate, and with very potent aromatics it will take you from a lighter meal to the couch with ease.

But if you want a wine that will ignite the passion with a touch more torque, then Bill Easton’s Terre Rouge Tête a Tête is a great choice. Cold foie gras, braised meats, richer cheeses, this Rhone styled blend will handle them all with confidence, allowing you an easy evening tête a tête with your Valentine.

TR. Diamonds may be forever, but Golden Stones are for sharing, and isn’t that what this is about. Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorèes l’Ancien Beaujolais 2012 comes from a limestone-rich area known as the Region of the Golden Stones. From vines 50-80 years old, this biodynamically farmed wine opens with potent white pepper and fine rasped cloves before bright cherry, dried sage and sea salt on the juicy palate. Elegant and honest; a beautiful match for your herb trussed poultry or pork tenderloin.

Azienda Agricola Cos Frappato 2013 Terre Rouge Tête à Tête 2010 Jean Paul Brun L'ancien Beaujolais 2012 Marqués De Murrieta Finca Ygay Reserva 2008

Special times call for special wines. Marquès de Murrieta Rioja Reserva Finca Ygay 2008 comes from a pristine, peaceful, unhurried and untouched estate in Rioja, and is a memorable and thoughtful way to set the stage for a lingering date. The quietly confident blend of tempranillo, garnacha, mazuelo and graciano carries worn leather, fragrant red florals and sun warmed pottery across long, fine tannins. Drinking lovely now with tender young lamb or truffles, but will continue to gain complexity over the next five-ten years (your anniversary?)

And if you are still looking for ideas, take our advice with rosés over roses for Valentine’s Day. Here are Treve’s rosé picks for Valentine’s Day from last year for inspiration.

Cheers ~

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!

Trapiche Extravaganza

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Treve’s Travels – Australia Today – Part II

Australia Today – Part IIFebruary 11, 2015

Text and photographs by Treve Ring

In Part I of this series, I highlighted a few regions in Western Australia and South Australia, recommending producers and wines I recommend seeking out and noting which was available at the upcoming Vancouver International Wine Festival.

Here I continue the tasting trek east, with a snapshot of what you can expect from each region, and some of the wines that I wish were here in Canada.

McWilliams Wines

New World? 6th generation Scott McWilliams
McWilliams Wines, Hunter Valley

But First, A Brief Rant

I get that consumers can be confused about the messaging of Australian wine. First impressions matter, and if your primary Aussie wine experience came via a bright kangaroo label for a handful of dollars plucked from a display larger than your car, you may be imprinted on cheap and cheerful (and sweet) Aussie wines. I encourage you to keep reading – read this report, my colleagues here and around the globe, and educated sources that matter. Taste some wines for yourself, talk up your trusted local wine store staff, and allow yourself to be open to the reality beyond the brand.

As for wine trade, I am beyond tired of hearing your sad excuses how all Australian wine is slutty, or sweet, or fruit bombed, or alcoholic. I get that you’re excited by the obscure rarities of innovative, envelope pushing producers. What about organic old ungrafted bush vine grenache, whole-cluster fermentation with wild yeast and 82 days on skins made by a surfing musician living in cool climate Adelaide Hills ? (Ochota Barrels – two wines are here for a limited time for VIWF).

We all take things for granted, including our own memories of place and taste. I gently encourage you (well, for trade I strongly encourage you) to pick up and taste again Australia TODAY.

To help you with this report

VIWF indicates wines and/or producers present at Vancouver International Wine Festival.
Wish You Were Here is part of WineAlign’s ongoing series signifying wines not yet available in Canada.
If no title noted, you can purchase this wine in Canada now.





Tasting with Mac Forbes winemaker Austin Black

Yarra Valley

The birthplace of Victoria’s wine industry is now recognized as one of Australia’s foremost cool climate regions. As such, sparkling wine features here as does perfumed and elegant pinot noir and fine, restrained chardonnay.

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2012

Wish They Were Here
Mac Forbes Woori Yallock Pinot Noir 2013

Goulburn Valley


Treve with 1860 planted shiraz at Tahbilk Winery, Nagambie Lakes

This historic region was first planted in the 1860’s. The warm climate and sandy soils are influenced by the Goulburn River and numerous smaller lakes and rivers crossing the inland valley floor. Ripe, rich, darker fruited, dark chocolate shiraz is renown throughout. Nagambie Lakes is a registered subregion, and home to the oldest and largest planting of Marsanne in the world.


Tahbilk Marsanne 2010

Mornington Peninsula

Gentle rolling hills and open pastures mark this tranquil region. Relatively small wineries take advantage of the complex soils, with many variations affected by the maritime cool climate. Elegant, alluring and delicate pinot noir and mineral and flinty marked chardonnay are flagship grapes.

Kooyong Single Vineyard Selection Ferrous Pinot Noir 2012

Wish They Were Here
Moorooduc Estate Robinson Pinot Noir 2012 *here for a limited time for VIWF



Idyllic Curly Flat, Macedon Ranges

Macedon Ranges

Australia’s coolest mainland wine region ranges from extremely cold in the windswept south-east to very cold in the north-west. Well suited to sparkling wine, though intense riesling, elegant chardonnay and lighter bodied pinot noir do well.

Wish They Were Here
Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2012 *here for a limited time for VIWF



Situated in central Victoria, Bendigo is afforded a healthy Mediterranean climate. Gentle rolling hills fold out from the granite ranges of central Victoria and vines were first planted here in the 1850’s. Deep, voluptuous shiraz and intense eucalypt cabernet sauvignon rule the reds, while intense, creamy chardonnay leads whites.

Wish They Were Here
Bress Harcourt Valley Riesling 2014



Strathbogie Ranges

Strathbogie Ranges

This distinct, high altitude region rises above the surrounding valleys, with vineyards reaching up to 700m. Rocky outcrops and decomposed, ancient granite soils cover wide, windswept vistas and provide the wines with intense aromatics, high acid and distinct savoury notes.

Fowles Wine Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2010



Rutherglen is synonymous with explosively rich and luscious dessert wines, layered with complexity and afforded great longevity. A classic continental climate of very hot summer days and cold nights yield grapes for fortified muscat, muscadelle and topaque, on par with the world’s best.

Wish They Were Here
Campbell’s Rutherglen Topaque NV




The Riverina grows 15% of the total Australian grape production ([yellow tail] winery Casella is headquartered here), and it is the largest wine producing region in New South Wales. This flat plane is also world-renowned for its sweet, botrytis-affected white wines.

De Bortoli Wines Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2009



line up of semillon, McGuigan Wines

Hunter Valley

Australia’s oldest wine region, with layers of vine history dating back to the 1820’s. Huddled around the Hunter Valley River, soils range from sandy alluvial flats to red clay loams. Semillon is benchmarked around the world by the examples found here, crisp and lively when young and complex, deep and honeyed with age.

Brokenwood Semillon 2014

Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2005
McGuigan Wines Bin 9000 Semillon 2014
McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2007



With its cool, marine-blown climate and long sunny autumns for ripening, Tasmania has pristine growing conditions for intense, fresh pinot noir and chardonnay – both ideal for premium sparkling wine.

Jansz Premium Cuvee NV



Check out Treve’s Travels feature on Australia TODAY Part I here. In addition, DJ Kearney is previewing her Oceans, Altitudes & Attitudes seminar that she is presenting alongside Rhys Pender, Treve will be talking all about the Global Focus, Shiraz/Syrah in a look at this grape in all its forms, as well and sharing what top sommeliers and wine professionals are excited about this year with a recap of the popular trade seminar, Excitement in a Glass. All critics’ shared their top 20 Under $20 at the VIWF, and will chime in on their top 3 wines to taste at the festival in our joint BC Critics’ Report coming out shortly. Finally, Anthony Gismondi’s Final Blend column will take an insightful look at the festival and where wine culture and private liquor retail is in BC today.

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Taste of Maclean’s Dining Series – Toronto – March 9, 2015

Enjoy a unique fine dining experience and benchmark Australian wines at Toronto’s Nota Bene restaurant as curated by Maclean’s and hosted by outstanding sommeliers and culinary talent.

Taste_WA-Promo_Header_v2 (1)

You’ll love the sumptuous four-course meal paired with premier Australian wines.  Joined by Master Sommelier John Szabo and Nota Bene’s chef, David Lee, guests are invited to learn the subtleties of the pairings from the experts.

WineAlign members enjoy an exclusive discount and can purchase tickets at the Maclean’s subscriber rate of just $99+HST (regular price $149).

Purchase Your Tickets Here

John Szabo MS and Chef David Lee

Event Details:

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Location:  Nota Bene (180 Queen  St W., Toronto, ON)

Cocktail Reception: 6:30pm

Dinner: 7:00pm – 10pm

Tickets:  $99 plus HST

*Please note tickets are limited to 100, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Wines to be featured Include:

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon
Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2011
Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Purchase Your Tickets Here

*A vegetarian option will be available.  To provide the highest quality food and wine experience, your chef and sommelier are carefully curating the menu in advance of the evening.  Unfortunately, this means that substitutions, food restrictions, and allergy considerations cannot be accommodated.*

About Nota Bene

Nota Bene was named Canada’s best new restaurant by Toronto Life and Air Canada’s EnRoute Magazine and was voted as one of Canada’s Top Ten New Restaurants by Where Magazine.  Located at 180 Queen Street West, Nota Bene bridges the Toronto business district with funky Queen West; steps away from the Theatre district and the Opera House.


Purchase Your Tickets Here


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Les bons achats de Marc – Février

La caverne d’Ali Baba
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau sm

Marc Chapleau

Caverne, c’est vite dit – d’autant qu’il s’agit d’une armoire réfrigérée. N’empêche : il y avait un peu de tout et quelques petits trésors dans le cellier de mon frère, à qui j’ai rendu visite samedi soir dernier.

C’était une réunion de famille en fait, quelque chose de convivial, chacun — on est cinq en tout dans la fratrie — apportant sa quote-part, qui du fromage, qui des huîtres, qui des charcuteries.

J’étais dans la cuisine, il était 18 heures, dans ces eaux-là, et j’ouvrais allègrement de bonnes vieilles malpèques en trichant de temps en temps, en avalant une couple en cachette au lieu de les déposer à chaque fois dans le plateau, sur leur lit de gros sel.

C’est alors que mon frangin m’a fait un discret signe de la main.

— Viens avec moi une minute, on a une décision à prendre…

Il m’emmène alors jusqu’à son cellier, en ouvre la porte et commence à faire coulisser les clayettes.

— On ouvre quoi ce soir ? demande-t-il. J’ai quelques bons bordeaux rouges par exemple, tiens, regarde ça… J’ai même un magnum, un cru bourgeois, rien de fantastique, mais un 2005 quand même, ça pourrait être bien, non ?

— Hmm, pas sûr, que je lui réponds. Avec ce qu’on mange, les charcuteries, les fromages, les crudités, tout ça mêlé, ce serait mieux quelque chose de moins tannique, de plus coulant, si tu vois ce que je veux dire.

— Un bourgogne alors ?

— Ce serait déjà mieux, c’est certain…

Mais on n’a pas le temps d’explorer cette dernière piste qu’André — c’est son nom — tire une tablette du bas en pointant une bouteille.

— J’ai aussi ça, je l’avais oubliée, c’est sûrement passé date et complètement défraîchi…

Ferraton Père & Fils La Matinière Crozes Hermitage

Un 750 ml de crozes-hermitage La Matinière 1989 de chez Ferraton !

Grand millésime, qui plus est. Et aujourd’hui 25 ans dans le corps pour cette bouteille qui, en principe, devait tenir le coup au plus une quinzaine d’années.

Le niveau était bon, et la couleur, mirée par transparence à la hauteur du goulot, laissant voir encore un peu de rouge, je n’ai fait ni une ni deux. J’étais même excité comme une puce.

— Bingo, bro ! On ouvre ça. Bien hâte de voir comment ça se comporte après tout ce temps. S’il est encore ok, on va se régaler.

Nous retournons en cuisine avec ledit flacon, je chipe une huître au passage, je lui en offre obligeamment une, et on entreprend d’extirper le bouchon. Contre toute attente, celui-ci n’est pas en lambeaux et il s’extrait facilement.

Un coup de nez rapide au-dessus du verre, je passe le flambeau au frérot, on se fait mutuellement signe de la tête — le vin est sain, on peut poursuivre.

Même un peu énervé, même pressé, j’insiste pour qu’on prenne un bout de pain avant de goûter. Rapport aux huîtres, vous comprenez, au salé et au iodé qui pourraient tout bousiller.

Puis on déguste, en silence, dix secondes. Large sourire de part et d’autre…

Le crozes ressemblait à s’y méprendre, comme c’est souvent le cas avec quantité de vieux vins rouges et même de bordeaux, à un vieux bourgogne. Un côté dépouillé, sans tannins, fondu, très digeste. Rien pour tomber par terre, restons calmes, mais dieu que c’était bon et que la bouteille s’est sifflée rapidement. En passant, ce rouge du Rhône ne titrait que 12 % d’alcool… (Et le vin se vendait 17 $ au début des années 1990, comparé à 24 $ aujourd’hui, une augmentation très raisonnable.)

Moralité : de temps à autre, il faut acheter du vin, ne pas le consigner sur une liste quelconque, et le stocker dans le cellier, dans de bonnes conditions, mais à un endroit bizarre, là, disons si c’est un crozes-hermitage, où on ne s’attendrait pas à le trouver en farfouillant dans sa caverne d’Ali Baba — avec les sauternes ou les portos, par exemple, ou sous une caisse en bois, caché à la vue.

À boire, aubergiste !

La grande question, maintenant : les vins d’aujourd’hui, souvent conçus pour plaire immédiatement, vieilliront-ils aussi longtemps ?

Petrolo Torrione 2011 Foradori Teroldego Rotaliano 2011 Taurino Notarpanaro 2006Seul moyen de le savoir, oublier des bouteilles ici et là et les exhumer quand les poules auront des dents — enfin, on se comprend.

Je vais perso tenter l’expérience avec le très bon Notarpanaro Taurino 2006, un généreux rouge des Pouilles d’appellation Salento et produit par la maison Taurino. À seulement 20,90 $, et pour avoir goûté dans le passé de vieux millésimes de cette cuvée, m’est avis que le pari est déjà à moitié gagné, le vin devrait tenir la route jusqu’aux abords de 2020, ce qui n’est tout de même pas rien.

Autrement, parmi les vins goûtés récemment et qui pourraient se conserver un bout de temps, bien qu’ils soient tous déjà accessibles, je retiens d’abord, d’Italie, le rouge Foradori Teroldego Rotaliano 2011 : du coffre, de la poigne et une superbe acidité. Toujours du même pays, le Petrolo Sangiovese Torrione 2011 est un savoureux assemblage toscan de sangiovese et de merlot.

Du côté de la France, le chinon Bernard Baudry Les Grézeaux 2011 est peut-être un peu fermé et pour l’heure plutôt monolithique, mais il est promis à un très bel avenir ; le carafer une bonne demi-journée à l’avance, pour le réveiller un peu.

On quitte la Loire pour le Rhône avec le châteauneuf-du-pape rouge Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe « La Crau » 2010, pas donné, assez cher même, mais on est ici dans les ligues majeures. Puissance, fraîcheur et profondeurs conjuguées avec maestria par la famille Brunier. Plus au sud, avec un crochet vers l’ouest, on débarque dans le territoire du savoureux côtes-du-roussillon Mas Amiel « Notre Terre » 2010, dont j’ai déjà parlé mais qui vient de réapparaître à la SAQ. Du corps, de l’élégance, une texture suave, de la minéralité. Et le prix est bon !

Bernard Baudry Les Grézeaux 2011 Domaine Du Vieux Télégraphe La Crau Châteauneuf Du Pape 2010 Mas Amiel Notre Terre 2010Pithon Paillé Chenin Blanc 2010Mas Amiel Prestige 15 Ans d'Age

En blanc sec, j’ai retenu le Pithon Paillé Chenin Blanc 2010, de la Loire. Un chenin boisé, qui déroute par ses accents toastés, mais la fraîcheur est également au rendez-vous, tout plein. Celui-là donne envie d’un bon chèvre, comme un crottin de Chavignol.

Dernière suggestion et non la moindre, le Mas Amiel Maury Prestige 15 ans d’âge. Bon, c’est vrai, je triche un peu avec celui-ci vu qu’il a déjà vieilli, 15 ans en fût, et qu’en principe il ne bougera à peu près plus.

Prenons-le donc comme ceci : le producteur a fait le travail pour nous, ce vin de dessert a déjà de l’âge, on peut en profiter tout de suite, sans devoir attendre toutes ces années. Pas mal, non ?

Santé !


Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 60 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de bons vins !

Castello di Gabbiano - Emmène-moi en Tuscane !


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Cellier : le nouvel arrivage du 5 février

Il y a du nouveau, sur Chacun son Vin ! À compter de cette semaine, nos membres Privilège bénéficient d’un accès immédiat et exclusif aux commentaires de dégustation liés aux nouveaux arrivages Cellier.

Chaque fois que la SAQ mettra en vente ces vins spéciaux, vous n’aurez sur notre site qu’à cliquer sur l’onglet «Vin» puis sur «Nouvel arrivage Cellier», dans le menu déroulant. Aussi simple que cela !

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 modique somme de 40 $ par année. (Pour leur part, les membres inscrits bénéficiant d’un accès gratuit doivent attendre 60 jours avant de pouvoir accéder à tout notre contenu.)

En ce début de février, Nadia Fournier nous recommande, justement, de belles bouteilles qu’elle a pu déguster parmi le tout dernier nouvel arrivage Cellier. Elle nous emmène notamment aux Îles Canaries… 

Suivez le guide !


Les Choix de Nadia
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

Le monde du vin foisonne de contradictions, de paradoxes. L’idée de produire du vin à quelques centaines de kilomètres au large du Maroc et du Sahara Occidental aurait, par exemple, raison de vous faire sourciller. Après tout, comment des plantations de bananes et de mangue ainsi que des vignobles peuvent-ils cohabiter dans un même village ? Parfaitement, en fait. C’est là toute la magie des micro-climats des Îles Canaries.

La semaine dernière, je vous écrivais en direct de Barcelone et je vous confiais avoir encore la tête sur cet archipel, où j’ai fait escale pendant quelques jours. Je vous ai déjà parlé du temps étonnamment frais qui y sévissait en janvier dernier, du Teide et des autres pics volcaniques qui façonnent le paysage de Tenerife, mais j’ai omis de vous mentionner à quel point j’ai été emballée par l’originalité des vins goûtés sur place.

Et j’ai maintenant le prétexte idéal pour le faire, puisque le premier vin des Canaries arrive à la SAQ aujourd’hui même!

Produit dans le secteur de la vallée de la Orotava, sur le flanc nord du Teide, le Suertes Del Marqués 7 Fuentes 2013 ne pèse pas plus de 13 % d’alcool et regorge de fraîcheur. Le cépage listan negro, dont il est composé à 90 %, lui confère par ailleurs une personnalité d’enfer, avec des tonalités sauvages un peu rustiques, mais combien sympathiques. Un vent d’exotisme à prix doux. Moi, je ne demande pas mieux!

Deux autres vins rouges de soleil

Pilheiros Douro 2011 Vignoble Du Loup Blanc Méchant Loup 2010 Valle De La Orotava Tenerife 7 Fuentes Suertes Del Marques 2013Partenaires en affaires depuis plusieurs années déjà, Alain Rochard et Laurent Farre, propriétaires du regretté restaurant Le Continental à Montréal, ont acquis une exploitation viticole dans le midi de la France. Leur vignoble est certifié biologique depuis 2010.

Goûté il y a quelques semaines lors d’une dégustation organisée par la SAQ, le Méchant Loup 2010 se montrait sous un jour un peu timide. Correct, mais sans la profondeur et la longueur escomptées dans un vin de ce prix. Alain Rochard a eu vent de notre ambivalence à l’endroit de son vin et a proposé de nous ouvrir une nouvelle bouteille. Quelle bonne idée!  Le vin goûté hier était l’exemple même d’un bon vin méridional issu de carignan. Charnu, ample, long en bouche et gorgé des accents de la garrigue. Déjà si agréable à boire, mais assez substantiel pour tenir la route pendant encore cinq ans, au moins.

Sur le domaine dont il est copropriétaire, le Québécois André Tremblay mise sur la singularité des cépages traditionnels du Douro (tinta roriz, touriga franca et touriga nacional), dont il tire le Pilheiros 2011, à la fois charnu, tannique et enrobé d’une chair fruitée bien mûre.

Bordeaux en cinq temps

Propriété du groupe Taillan (Châteaux Ferrière, Gruaud-Larose, Chasse-Spleen et Haut-Bages-Libéral), ce cru bourgeois situé près de Margaux est lui aussi administré par Céline Villars. En 2005, on a produit un excellent second vin sous l’étiquette Moulins de Citran. Le vin est parfaitement ouvert et prêt à boire, mais n’accuse aucune fatigue, contrairement à ceux de Château Simard.

Michel Delon est décédé au tournant du millénaire après une brillante carrière à la barre de Potensac, et surtout de Léoville Las Cases. Aujourd’hui, son fils Jean-Hubert a pris la relève et maintient la qualité de ce que plusieurs considèrent l’un des meilleurs crus bourgeois de l’appellation Médoc. La Chapelle de Potensac 2010 s’inscrit dans la lignée des derniers millésimes et répond à toutes les attentes. Surtout à moins de 30 $.

Château Citran Moulins De Citran 2005 La Chapelle De Potensac 2010 La Bravoure De La Tour Carnet 2010 Château Pedesclaux Pauillac La Fleur Pedesclaux 2010 Les Demoiselles De Larrivet Haut Brion 2010

De plus en plus d’œnologues soutiennent que le terroir ne s’exprime vraiment que lorsque les raisins sont cueillis à parfaite maturité. Pas trop tôt ni trop tard, juste à point. La Bravoure de la Tour Carnet 2010 du magnat Bernard Magrez illustre assez bien ce fait. Un bon vin, techniquement irréprochable, mais beaucoup plus près d’un cabernet sauvignon générique que d’un bon cru bourgeois authentique…

Dans la même veine, plus rond et séduisant que typiquement médocain, le Fleur de Pédesclaux 2010 est tout de même très agréable et fort bien tourné dans un style moderne, misant sur une proportion importante de merlot (45 %).

Enfin, bien que plus vigoureux et un peu plus bourru que La Réserve de Malartic – qui sera mise en vente le 19 février prochain –, Les Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion 2010 s’avère franchement satisfaisant. Un autre excellent vin de Pessac Léognan en devenir, à laisser reposer en cave encore quelques années.

Trois vins blancs de terroir

Tantalus Riesling 2012 Domaine Des Huards François 1er 2008 Bachelder Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay 2011Avec sa conjointe Mary Delaney, le Montréalais Thomas Bachelder a démarré une entreprise de négoce haute couture, basée en Bourgogne, en Ontario (sur la péninsule du Niagara) et en Oregon. Leur Bourgogne blanc 2011 générique répond aux attentes. Rien de bien complexe, mais une expression nette et typée du cépage chardonnay.

Le cépage romorantin contribue à l’originalité des vins de Cour-Cheverny, une minuscule appellation qui totalise à peine 50 hectares au nord-est de la Touraine. Au Domaine des Huards, Jocelyne et Michel Gendrier pratiquent une agriculture biologique et signent la cuvée François 1er Vieilles vignes 2008, un vin blanc somptueux et singulier, dont on ne cesse d’avoir soif.

La vallée de l’Okanagan a connu une forte influence germanique à ses débuts, surtout dans sa partie septentrionale. Dans le secteur de Kelowna, David Paterson, l’œnologue de Tantalus, s’est vite forgé une réputation de « terroiriste », ayant à cœur de traduire le goût du lieu dans ses vins. Lauréat d’une médaille d’or au Concours Wine Align des meilleurs vins du Canada en 2013, et pour cause, son Riesling 2012 est certainement à retenir parmi les meilleurs rieslings du pays.

L’Italie, du nord au sud

De Toscane, le Poggio ai Ginepri est le vin d’entrée de gamme d’Argentiera, un domaine situé aux limites sud de l’appellation Bolgheri et né d’un partenariat entre les frères Corrado et Marcello Fratini, d’importants entrepreneurs florentins, et le marquis Piero Antinori. Le 2012 est on ne peut plus rassasiant; du vin plein la bouche et un rapport qualité-prix hors pair.

Après avoir fait fortune dans l’industrie pharmaceutique (Biochem Pharma), le Québécois d’origine italienne Francesco Bellini a acquis une vaste propriété viticole sur la commune de Montefiore dell’Aso, en bordure de la mer Adriatique. On appréciera sa cuvée Picens 2011 à la fois pour sa charpente tannique et pour la générosité de ses saveurs de fruits noirs.

Tenuta Argentiera Poggio Ai Ginepri 2012 Domodimonti Picens 2011 Pala I Fiori Nuragus 2013 Tami' Nero D'avola 2013

Bien qu’il soit surtout réputé pour donner des vins insipides et sans grand intérêt, le nuragus – cépage blanc de Sardaigne dont les origines remontent au temps des colonies phéniciennes – adopte une allure particulièrement étoffée entre les mains talentueuses de la famille Pala. Tout à fait satisfaisant à 16 $ et des poussières.

Tami Nero d’Avola 2013, c’est le vin de soif, façon Sicile. Débordant de fruit et soutenu par des tanins juste assez fermes pour assurer un certain tonus en bouche. Pas étonnant qu’Arianna Occhipinti, la jeune vigneronne qui mène cette entreprise de négoce, soit la coqueluche des bars à vins, de Montréal à Tokyo.

À votre santé !

Nadia Fournier

Tous les vins mis en vente le 5 février
Les favoris de Nadia

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 60 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de grands vins!

Beringer Founders' Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

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15 Great South African Wine Values

Photos and text by David Lawrason
with notes from John Szabo and Steve Thurlow

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

In a recent Newsletter called the New World Order (VINTAGES Jan 10) I made the statement that South Africa currently heads the list of the best sources of wine value in the world; followed by Argentina and Chile. I stand by that statement and want to elaborate, then to point out 15 South African wines currently at the LCBO or VINTAGES Stores that stand as evidence. The WineAlign team recently had an opportunity to taste the entire South African General List category, plus some recent VINTAGES releases.

First, I want to define value. It doesn’t solely mean wines that are the lowest price. Value juxtaposes quality and cost, at any price level. Quality I define as true, balanced, complex and generous expression of grape and place. The problem for South Africa – and in the end for consumers – is that so many of the wines bought by the LCBO are based on low price only. They will claim we consumers won’t pay more for South African wine. I contend that we will gladly pay more once exposed to the right wines. I spent three weeks in South Africa last year, and was stunned by how many “more expensive” wines showed great quality, and were still good value. And I tasted hundreds.

This is of course the age-old problem with the LCBO one-buyer monopoly system. They simply don’t have shelf space for more than a token representation from any one country and to be fair to all they must list wines from all countries. South Africa has suffered most from this because their supply and quality was interrupted when in 1987 Canada stopped buying to protest racist Apartheid policies. To regain market share after the sanctions were lifted in 1994 the LCBO bought the cheapest and often least good quality wines – which left a poor impression. The industry was stuck in a quality rut during the sanctions period, which I witnessed on my first visit just after Nelson Mandela was elected president.

South Africa

Fynbos, a collective term for the varied native vegetation of the Cape, can lend its wild aromas to the wines.

But those days are history, and since then quality has improved dramatically, particularly in the last five years. I noticed it during a visit in 2011, and by the time I visited again last March it was crystal clear. The same conclusions have been reached by all WineAlign colleagues who have also recently been to South Africa – John Szabo, Anthony Gismondi, Steve Thurlow and Janet Dorozynski. Each of them has come back writing about how South Africa has turned the corner. You can scan our archives for their articles.

The current situation is that the LCBO selection is still ridiculously small given what is available to the buyers; and the selection is still governed to a large degree by low prices, with some loyalty being shown to brands that have just always been around, which makes entry more difficult for new brands that are upping their game. Even VINTAGES, with its average bottle price of $18.95, lists few South African wines that are over $20. But, the good news is that quality within that price band has increased a great deal. To me the average $15 Cape wine is on a quality level of the average $30 French or California wine.

The complex terrain of Stellenbosch creates many sub-appellations

The complex terrain of Stellenbosch creates many sub-appellations

The quality surge has everything to do with better, often more natural grape growing. I was impressed by the level of ecological awareness in South Africa. It is also a result of better winemaking, with far fewer faulted “meaty and rubbery” wines. And there is also much more attention being paid to better location of specific varieties in the right climatic zones. I could go on and on about the latter in particular – the emergence of well-defined wine regions and regional styles – but that has already been covered before by our correspondents. And I will shortly be posting a detailed essay on pinotage which, by example, demonstrates these themes.

For now, I simply want to encourage those of you who have not tried South African wines to do so. To dip into our list of the best values on the shelf today. If you want an opportunity to sample first, some LCBO stores will be doing that on Saturday, Feb 14; and LCBOs with event kitchens will be staging mini-South African fairs.

And if you really want to dig into this subject by flying to South Africa itself, Wines of South Africa has a contest running until March 3rd that will send two people to the Cape with airfare, accommodation, meals and wine tours included. Enter at

The Whites

Goats Do Roam White 2013

The Wolftrap 2013 WhiteThe Wolftrap White 2013, Western Cape ($13.95)
Steve Thurlow – This is an amazing white for the money with its intensely flavoured palate and pure complex nose. Expect aromas of melon and baked pear fruit with lemongrass and floral heather plus some typical South African minerality. The palate is intense and very solid with some bitter tones nicely closing the finish. It’s a bit chunky and does not have the elegance of the 2012 vintage. Very good to excellent length. Match with sautéed pork chops.
David Lawrason – Totally agree on the value quotient of this intriguing white blend that is built around viognier (60%),  chenin blanc (21%) and less seldom seen grenache blanc (19%). It’s a combination of warmer climate (Rhone)varieties that provide opulence anchored in chenin blanc acidity. Partial fermentation and ageing in French oak adds even ore layers.  The emergence of Rhone varieties grown in inland areas is one of the great stories of the new South Africa

Goats do Roam 2013 White, Western Cape ($11.95)
John Szabo
– The first vintage of this whimsically-named, Rhône-inspired blend was 1998, and the quality has steadily risen. And now that the vines are over 15 years old, there’s more than enough complexity to put this into the sharp value category. It’s about 2/3rds viognier with roussanne and grenache blanc, mainly from the Fairview property in Paarl with a small percentage from Swartland, delivering pleasant citrus-pear-apple fruit, savoury herbs and light floral-blossom aromatics on a mid-weight, essentially dry and fleshy frame. This will please widely.
Steve Thurlow – This is a consistently great value white. I love the pureness and the vibrancy of the 2013 vintage. It is an aromatic blend of three white grapes with lifted floral fruity aromas and an intensely flavoured palate. The nose shows apple and custard with pasty, floral orange and white peach fruit. It is medium-full bodied with firm balancing acidity and a long firm finish. Very good length. Enjoy as an aperitif with pastry nibbles or try with mildly spicy Asian cuisine.

Fleur du Cap 2013 Chardonnay, Western Cape ($12.85)
Steve Thurlow – This wine has been sadly absent from our market for a few years and it is a welcome return to the LCBO list. It is an oaked chardonnay with just enough oak to add complexity to the nose and palate. Expect aromas of baked apple with vanilla, caramel, with lemon and cinnamon notes. The palate is rich and very smooth with intense flavours and very good length. It is old school but well done. Try with fish and chips.

Mulderbosch 2012 Chenin Blanc, Western Cape  ($14.95)
John Szabo
– Mulderbosch is happy to pay a premium price for this fruit, sourced almost exclusively from bush vines, many over 30 years old and all dry farmed (Swartland, Malmesbury). The extra concentration shows through on the palate with its rich, succulent texture and very good to excellent length. 20% gets barrel treatment, though wood is not a player in the profile, and this is virtually bone dry. A wine with genuine depth and character, drinking now, but better in a year or two.

Boschendal The Pavillion 2014 Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, ($10.95)
John Szabo
– Here’s a lovely little value from Boschendal, one of South Africa’s oldest farms founded in 1685 and set in the dramatic Drakenstein Valley surrounded by the Cape’s staggeringly beautiful landscape. There’s genuine substance on the palate and plenty of ripe citrus, pineapple and melon flavours bolstered by a welcome impression of sweetness. I’d happily sip this, a wine to keep around the house to pull out on those ‘whenever’ occasions.

Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2012 Boschendal The Pavillion Chenin Blanc 2014 Simonsig Chenin Avec Chêne Chenin Blanc 2012 K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014

Simonsig Chenin 2012 Avec Chêne Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch  ($25.95)
David Lawrason – This is a fine example of Cape chenin, a quite full bodied, fleshy yet balanced example with classic green pear/honeydew melon fruit sewn with subtle fine French oak spice  and vanilla in the background. With chenin’s growing popularity, different styles are also proliferating, with varying levels of oak involvent. So check out labels before you buy. VINTAGES Feb 7.

K W V Contemporary Collection 2014 Chenin Blanc, Western Cape ($9.45)
Steve Thurlow – This is a delicious amazingly well priced alternative for pinot grigio lovers. The 2014 vintage of this wine shows that South Africa can make good inexpensive chenin with a good depth of flavour and well structured. The nose shows fresh melon pear fruit with grapefruit and mineral notes. The palate is midweight with ripe fruit balanced by lemony acidity. Very good length with a nice bitter tone to the finish. Try with seafood or white meats.

The Reds

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013

Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2013Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2013, Swartland, Swartland ($14.95)
John Szabo
– Mark Kent of Boekenhootskloof settled in the Franschhoek Valley, but has slowly come to terms with the fact that it’s a difficult region in which to grow grapes. Slowly but surely he’s pulled out vineyards (with the exception of some exquisite, old vine semillon) and replanted in other regions, especially Swartland, which he believes has enormous potential. And this all-Swartland syrah is a very strong argument in his favour, a wine that delivers all one could want at the price and more. The palate is rich and mouth filling, ripe but still grippy, with substantial flavour intensity and depth, as well as length. You won’t go wrong here.
David Lawrason – Not much to add here except “a high five”, especially if you are one who likes your syrah meaty, big and bouncy. This has been going strong since WineAlign first went on the air – scoring 87 points or better in every vintage since 2007.

The Wolftrap 2013 Syrah Mourvedre Viognier, Western Cape ($13.95)
John Szabo – Although a small step below Boekenhootskloof’s Porcupine Ridge range in terms of depth and complexity (and price), this is a thoroughly delicious, savoury-fruity, well-balanced blend that hits all of the right notes. It’s also less oak-influenced, and as such will appeal to fans of classic Mediterranean blends (i.e. Côtes du Rhône). Infinitely drinkable all in all, especially with a light chill.
Steve Thurlow – This wine captures in each vintage the essence of a Rhone red and this is probably the best yet. It is made mostly from syrah with about 30% mouverdre and a splash of viognier. There are no jammy tones and the palate is firm with acid and tannin for balance. The tannins are ripe which gives it structure for food balance. Expect earthy black cherry and bramble fruit aromas with some smoke and black pepper spice and hints of dark chocolate. The palate is full-bodied yet it feels lighter and the length is very good to excellent. Try with BBQ meats.

Thelema 2012 Mountain Red, Stellensbosch ($12.95)
Steve Thurlow – This delightful blend of shiraz and 5 other grapes comes from high mountain vineyards above Stellenbosch. The lifted nose shows ripe blackberry and blueberry fruit with black pepper, mild oak spice and floral complexity. It is very smooth and quite dense with a degree of elegance. Very good length. Try with pizza or burgers.
David Lawrason – Excellent value, once again from a leading producer that was among the first to upgrade its style and quality in the post-Apartheid era. (I first tasted and was thoroughly impressed by their wines at a trade tasting in Toronto in 1995 – I believe). The blending of several grapes is very much in vogue in South Africa and this a good example.

Goats do Roam 2013 Red, Western Cape  ($11.95)
Steve Thurlow – Fantastic value here. The 2013 is another excellent vintage with its lifted aromas of plum and black cherry, dark chocolate, mild oak spice, and smokey blackberry jam. It is midweight and well balanced with lively acidity and spicy black fruit and soft tannin. Very good to excellent length. It is a great food wine to be enjoyed with a wide variety of meat and cheese dishes.

Thelema Mountain Red 2012 Goats Do Roam Red 2013 Boschendal The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Avondale Jonty's Ducks Pekin Red 2011

Boschendal The Pavillion 2013 Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch ($11.95)
Steve Thurlow – I love the zippy juicy vibrant palate to this exuberant red. It is midweight with aromas of red cherry with white pepper spice, and modest oak treatment, so the fruit shines through. The fruity palate is well balanced by soft tannin and some racy acidity makes it feel quite light. Good focus and very good length. Try with grilled meats.

Avondale Jonty’s Ducks 2011 Pekin Red, Paarl ($14.95)
John Szabo -
Well, this is quite a wine for $15. John and Ginny Grieve, owners of Vital Health Foods, bought the 300 year-old Avondale farm in 1997 and set about converting it to organic/biodynamic culture (actually, they’ve invented their own system called BioLogic). The same balanced approach is taken in the winery. And the results? Well, everything I’ve tasted from Avondale has been worth a look. Jonty’s Ducks is a second label of sorts, which blends about 2/3 Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest of the Bordeaux grapes. It’s wholly satisfying and highly drinkable, either on its own for contemplation or with roasted meat preparations.

K W V Roodeberg 2012

Rustenberg 2011 ShirazRustenberg Shiraz 2011, Stellenbosch ($19.95)
David Lawrason – This is from of the oldest wine estates in Stellenbosch that first bottled wine in 1892!  It is also the site of one of the finest restaurants and tasting facilities in South Africa (I was stunned by the sophistication of the hospitality scene in and around Stellenbosch.) Because Rustenberg is a classic old-school estate expect leaner, very Euro and very complex reds. VINTAGES Feb 7.

K W V 2012 Roodeberg, Western Cape ($12.45)
Steve Thurlow – This is a medium bodied Cape classic that as usual offers good value with the 2012 vintage. It is well balanced and quite complex. It is styled like a French southern Rhône red with red and black cherry fruit, white pepper, with herbal and mineral tones. Good to very good length, try with rack of lamb.


David Lawrason
VP of Wine

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!

WOSA Canada Competition

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES February 7th – Part Two

Righteous Reds from South of Zero
by David Lawrason, with notes from John Szabo and Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

It’s Feburrrrr-ary in Ontario, so it doesn’t take too much encouragement to think about warmer climes; which VINTAGES invites us to do by grouping a handful of well-known producers into a South of the Equator mini-feature. And the selections, although few, are very good.

You may have noticed a trend so far in 2015 where John (the Vulcan) Szabo tackles Euro-featured wines (Italy last week), and I lead off with New World/Southern Hemisphere wines. It’s not quite by design, but it suits me fine because I love the energy and advancement of the southern zones. By chance more than design I have crossed the equator six times since January 2012; sixteen times in my career: and I will take two more trips over the line before April this year to South America and New Zealand. So one begins to get a real sense of what’s going on in the Southern Hemisphere. These nations are beyond the days of producing cookie-cutter jammy, hot and oaky red wines. There is exciting stuff afoot; they are on that journey of self-discovery that Europe completed long ago. Witness the Concha Y Toro Carmenère below that earned an aligned opinion from all three of us. But there were some Northern Hemisphere reds that also excited us.

South of the Equator

Concha Y Toro Terrunyo 2011 Peumo Vineyard Block 27 Carmenère, Cachapoal Valley ($29.95)

Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Peumo Vineyard Block 27 Carmenère 2011David Lawrason - I have not rated this 95 like Wine & Spirits Magazine, but this is a textbook carmenère from a fine single vineyard. Chile is drilling down! Not only is it varietally and technically correct, it displays a sense of elegance as well. Really very fine!
John Szabo – Winemaker Ignacio Recabarren blends a splash of old vine cabernet sauvignon from Pirque (Maipo Valley) with this single block of terraced carmenère from Peumo to create this exceptional wine. 2011 was an unusually cool vintage, which for Chile simply means a great, long growing season. It shows in this lovely, crunchy, vibrant yet richly extracted wine, with terrific length and depth. I’d wait 2-3 years at least before drinking for maximum complexity.
Sara d’Amato – For six consistent years on the VINTAGES shelves, the Terrunyo, site-specific, carmenère proves to be one of Chile’s top examples of this highly aromatic varietal. With exceptional balance, of acids, tannin and fruit, here is a class act that can be enjoyed now with decanting or put on hold for another 3-4 years.

Katnook Estate 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia ($29.95)
David Lawrason – Coonawarra, in my view, is one of the great pure cabernet sauvignon regions in the world. Its moderate, almost coastal climate perfectly ripens cab – not too green, not overripe. And the terra rosa soils pack in complexity and structure. Katnook has delivered a soaring cab here with a riot of blackcurrant, mint/menthol, graphite, white pepper and oak. Plus cabernet lead pencil and rubber eraser.

Fabre Montmayou 2011 Gran Reserva Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, ($22.95)

Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva Malbec 2011

La Posta Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec 2013

David Lawrason – On recent travels to Argentina I really began to break Mendoza’s malbecs into sub-regional and stylistic chunks. This is a lush, rich and cuddly, wooded style from lower altitude vineyards (whereas the wine featured by John below is from higher altitude Uco). The other learning was that vintages matter in Argentina, and 2011 was one of the coolest on record, with this wine, despite its girth, showing a telltale tinge of greenness on the finish.

La Posta 2013 Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina ($15.95)
John Szabo
– Although the wood influence is still strong, beneath the oaky veneer is a wine of pleasant herbal, lavender, cracked black pepper and oregano-type flavours along with fresh dark fruit, characteristics often encountered in the cooler, high elevations of the Uco Valley (these vines are at over 900 meters in Altamira, La Consulta). This over-delivers on intensity and length for the money.
Sara d’Amato – A wine so easy to fall in love with (and perhaps to), due in part to the aromatic garrigue (notes of lavender, sage and dried brush) that are oh-so evocative of the blends of the southern Rhône. I can’t imagine that this appealing red for under $16 wouldn’t be an enormous hit with just about any crowd.

North of the Equator

Faiveley 2012 Mercurey, Burgundy, France ($24.95)

Domaine Beau Mistral Vieilles Vignes Rasteau Côtes Du Rhône Villages 2012 Foris Pinot Noir 2011 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey 2012David Lawrason – This is a cool climate pinot-lovers pinot, a lean, spry example with almost crystalline cran-raspberry fruit nicely etched with oak spice. Mercurey is the lead village for reds in the Côte Chalonnaise. Its pinot may not always have the structure of peers from the Cote d’Or to the north, but watch it carefully for Burgundy value.
John Szabo – Quality at Faiveley’s historic Mercurey base has risen nicely in the last couple of vintages, and this 2012, although not transcendental, is delicious. I love the delicate, lacy tannins and crisp acids, the way classic pinot should always be.

Foris 2011 Pinot Noir Rogue Valley, Oregon, USA ($24.95)
John Szabo - From a vineyard initially established in 1974 (winery in 1986) in the remote Rogue Valley in the southwest corner of Oregon, this is a fine entry-level pinot. It has all of the vibrant berry fruit one hopes for without significant interference from wood, plus an intriguing savoury edge and juicy acids.

Domaine Beau Mistral  2012 Vieilles Vignes Rasteau, Rhône, France ($23.95)
Sara d’Amato – Rasteau is an appellation to watch and one of the last villages in the southern Rhône to receive its own AOC status (in 2010). Formerly thought to be too hot to compete with the best south of Montelimar, there has been a recent shift away from the rustic styles of wine previously produced. The wines still have an appealing generosity and density but top examples, such as this, can also show lovely balance, elegant mineral character, notes of wild flower and a distinctive musky, peppery feature.

Finca La Cuesta 2011

Pinyolet Selección 2010

Château La Bienfaisance 2008Finca La Cuesta 2011 Bierzo, Castilla y Léon, Spain ($19.95)
John Szabo
– This is a part of Spain where things generally get interesting for fans of fruit and floral perfume on a balanced frame. This Bierzo, made by the established estate of Luna Berberide from old vines at up to 750 meters, smells like violets and blackberry, carried on the palate by the lively acids of mencía. A tasty value.

Pinyolet 2010 Selección, Montsant, Spain ($26.95)
David Lawrason - Pinyolet is the local name for the limestone soils of Montsant, an appellation in the shadow of its more famous neighbour Priorat. Both sit high in the arid hills of southern Catalonia, with Priorat’s best sites having steeper altitude and prominent slate soils that create wines with a tighter grain. I have always enjoyed Montsant’s more open-hearted yet still refined ambiance (thanks limestone), especially with garnacha involved.

Château La Bienfaisance 2008 Saint Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France ($31.95)
Sara d’Amato – Over the past ten years, there has been a concerted effort to craft very fine wines from high-cropped, low yielding vines at this estate. Produced from vines averaging 30 years, the 2008 Chateau La Bienfaisance is maturing slowly and gracefully. Drink now or hold another 4-5 years.

And for Valentine’s Day or Any Day

Rustico Valdobbiadene Prosecco SuperioreRustico Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Veneto, Italy ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato – This frothy, sophisticated Prosecco immediately floated my boat upon tasting this past month and I distinctly remember feeling the same way having also tasted it a year ago. A successful pioneer in the introduction of non-Champagne sparkling wines to the international market, Nino Franco made the world take note of Prosecco in the 1980s. Consistently elegant, the wine remains a top example of this affordable bubbly.

There was a nod to Valentine’s Day in this release, with a bouquet of sparklers on the docket, but we defer to a nationally posted article en route next week that will compile the romantic musings of WineAlign correspondents in three provinces, and recommend wines available country-wide. Meanwhile, Steve Thurlow has just posted the February edition of Top 20 under 20 Values at the LCBO.

For those of you in the Toronto area, I hope that I’ll see you at the Wynns’ Gourmet Dinner & Tutored Tasting on Feb 19th where I’ll be co-hosting with winemaker Sue Hodder. Wynns is the Coonawarra region’s pre-eminent wine producer, with the largest holding of the region’s best and longest established vineyard sites. As I mentioned in a review above, Connawarra, in my view, is one of the great pure cabernet sauvignon regions in the world. This will be a great opportunity to try some.


David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From VINTAGES Feb 7th release:

Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES Feb 7th – Part One
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!

Stags' Leap Napa Valley Chardonnay





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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008