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Season 5, Table 7 of “So, You Think you Know Wine?”

Shocking Chablis (a.k.a. Chainsaw Wine)

Will “So, You Think You Know Wine?” contestants Jennifer Huether, MS, Bill Zacharkiw, and Chris McDonald be able to chainsaw their way through the wine at Table 7?

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.


Click here to watch Table 7 or read on to learn more about the contestants and the scoring method.

Table 7

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.

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.


Jennifer Huether, MS

Jennifer is the first and only female Master Sommelier in Canada. She has a wealth of experience in hospitality and restaurant managment which includes creating award-winning wine program as head sommelier for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. She then went on to become brand ambassador and education director for Cliff Lede Vineyards and now is brand ambassador for Jackson Family Wines.


Bill Zacharkiw

Bill is a partner and principal critic at Chacun son vin. His writing career began in 2004 with The Caveman’s Wine Blog, one of the first on the internet. For the last 5 years he has been the weekly wine writer for the Montreal Gazette. His articles are carried across Canada via and other newspapers. Bill can be heard on CHOM FM (Montreal) every Friday morning to talk about Wine that Rocks.


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 5.

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
Table 4 – The Grinder Pinotage 2013
Table 5 – Faustino VII Tempranillo 2012
Table 6 – Gnarly Head Pinot Noir 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 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.

Balderson Cheese

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British Columbia Critics’ Picks : May 2015

Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics – wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution through BCLDB or VQA stores. All are currently available for sale in BC.

We’re coming off of the Victoria Day long weekend in BC, and you can tell the WineAlign West team has been drinking – and eating – well, as usual. We’re all looking forward to next month and re-aligning at The Nationals, held for the first time in Niagara Falls. I suspect many trips to wine country are in our future, a treat for us westerners to taste the small scale, singular wines of the area. Of course, we’ll all excited to taste wines from coast to coast (ahem – Nova Scotia), especially ones like the trio from the Wine Islands that I share below.

There will be much more on the Nationals over the coming weeks. If you have a favourite Canadian winery, especially a small, under-the-radar one, please pass along the news that we’re keenly anticipating their entry and opportunity to taste and learn about them. These are the special wines we seek out to write on in columns just like this.

Cheers ~ TR

BC Critic Team

Anthony Gismondi

Serious summer wines. Now that’s a section of shelf space you seldom see in a retail wine shop. I mean summer wines are all about light and breezy and fun and fresh and – well you get the picture – but every once in a while you need a wine that reminds you that you care about wine. You need a wine that will test your tasting faculties and frankly those one or two meals a month where you decide the burgers or ribs won’t cut it. So for those nights when the street party is not on, here’s three delicious, summery wines that could qualify as seriously summer.

Descendientes De J. Palacios Pétalos 2012 Joseph Drouhin Chablis Drouhin Vaudon 2013 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale 2011Chianti Classico is all about class, balance and florality and the Ruffino Chianti 2011 Classico Riserva Ducale brings a bright core of fruit mixed with meaty forest floor notes to turn a late summer afternoon barbecue into an intimate, late-night, dinner party for two.

Chablis has a similar outcome on dining. In this case a bottle Drouhin Vaudon 2013 Chablis Reserve de Vaudon may convince you to forgo dinner and served freshly shucked oysters until the wine runs out.

Finally, at some point a grilled steak will appeal but you can dress up the evening with a Caesar salad and fresh chimichurri sauce and go for mencia over cabernet sauvignon, by opening a fabulous bottle of Pétalos 2012. Pétalos is all about the old vine 60-years plus mencia grape that is bio-dynamically farmed on several small, rocky slate-y hillside plots. It’s seriously summer (and seriously great). You very well may drink the entire bottle.

Rhys Pender, MW

Bernard Baudry Les Grézeaux 2011 Marqués De Cáceres Gran Reserva 2005 Arras Grand Vintage 2004This month I’m picking a couple of classics and something a little more out there on the edge. Good bubble is always a great find. Tasmania in Australia is often considered as the closest thing to Champagne in the style of wine it can produce and one of the legends is now in BC. Not only has the Arras Grand Vintage 2004 arrived in LDB stores but it is also an 11 year old example. Not cheap at $61 plus tax but worth a splurge.

Another classic offering good value is the Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva Rioja 2005. At $35 plus tax it isn’t crazy pricing and the wine is solid, complex and interesting.

If you feel like pushing your wine tasting comforts and boundaries and are a little bored by fruity, same tasting wines you will often find something interesting in the Loire. Not for the faint of heart, the Bernard Baudry Les Grézeaux Chinon has plenty of eyebrow raising, but surprisingly pleasant, aromas and flavours.

(You might find both the 2010 and 2011 in the market.)

Burrowing Owl Syrah 2012

Ravenswood Teldeschi Single Vineyard Zinfandel 2012 Howling Bluff Summa Quies Rosé 2014DJ Kearney

My three choices offered delightful surprises when I cracked them open last weekend, all displaying light, ethereal facets that were thoroughly unexpected.

The inaugural Howling Bluff Summa Quies Rosé 2014 is all-pinot noir and struts some serious structure, while a Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel 2012 is one of the most elegant and restrained of its kind.

An impeccable match for steak au poivre is Burrowing Owl’s recently released 2012 Syrah, an alpha wine with a contemplative side. 

Treve Ring

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been travelling pretty solidly the past few months, but so far in May I’ve been focusing on wines from home – specifically my coastal home – the Wine Islands of BC. Often out of mind, out of sight, these small-production, family owned and operated wineries are worth seeking out for a taste of the authentic and unique maritime winegrowing climate of Vancouver and the Gulf Islands of BC. Ask your private wine shop or wine-smart local restos to stock the below, and more.

Sea Star Vineyards Ortega 2014 Unsworth Vineyards Petit Milo Vintners Selection 2014 Averill Creek Gewurztraminer 2014Cowichan Valley’s Averill Creek Gewurztraminer 2014 impressed with its cool climate stylings, transforming gew’s flabbiness into a tight, energetic and vibrant spiced white, ideal for Vietnamese flavours or a summer al fresco seafood dinner.

From nearby Unsworth Vineyards (one of the leading spotlights for the region) comes the unique Petit Milo Vintners Selection 2014, a crisp, mid-sweet, pure-fruited white from the hybrid petit milo grape. This is a lovely aperitif wine, especially with melon and prosciutto – and a patio.

Ortega is one of the finer calling cards of the Wine Islands – a coastal, bright, aromatic white grape native to Germany, and a cross between müller-thurgau and siegerrebe. Pender Island’s Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards crisp, lively 2014 Ortega is an excellent introduction to the grape, and beauty with papaya salad.


WineAlign in BC

In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, 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.

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



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Special Event: Wines of Portugal, A World of Difference.

Challenge Your Senses, Enjoy the Unique and Taste the Soul of Portugal!

You’re invited to discover the exceptional diversity of Portuguese wines during this exciting night where you will meet winery principals and winemakers, travelling to Toronto for this special event. WineAlign members enjoy a special discount on the ticket price.


“Here’s your chance to kick the varietal habit and come to terms with regional identity instead. Portugal has 200+ grapes, and all old vineyards (and there are many in Portugal) are field blends, like the wines. It’s the region that makes the style difference. This is the way wine has always been made, and understood. We should get back there.” – John Szabo, Master Sommelier

Seize this opportunity to taste more than 250 wines from 34 wineries in one of Toronto’s most historic buildings with a unique range of renowned grape varieties and appellations from Portugal!

In addition to a vast selection of wines, The Food Dudes, one of Toronto’s top caterers will be on hand preparing an array of tasty food pairings. Give in to temptation and be enticed!

Event Details:

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015
Location: The Burroughes Building, 639 Queen St W., 6th floor, Toronto
Time:  7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Tickets: $65.00 with access code WINEALIGN (Regular price $75)

250 Wines from 34 Wineries 


Tickets on Sale now.
Click here to purchase tickets.



Spread the word.

Facebook:   Wines of Portugal Canada
Twitter:      @winesportugalCA

For additional information, contact Dominique Landry at Sopexa E:

Wines obtained through diplomatic privilege, courtesy of the Consul General of Portugal.

Please Drink Responsibly

Taste the Soul of Portugal

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Acclaimed UK Wine Journalist Jamie Goode joins the Judging Team for the Nationals

National Wine Awards of Canada 2015May 19, 2015


We are delighted to announce that, for the second year in a row, acclaimed UK-based wine journalist Dr. Jamie Goode will be a part of our panel of judges in Niagara Falls, Ontario at the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada.

Jamie Goode new

Dr. Jamie Goode

Jamie’s experience in wine very much mirrors that of our regular judges, which made for a seamless fit inside the tasting room in 2014. Of course another view, and one from Europe, should prove useful to those wineries engaged in the competition and hoping to expand their export horizons.

Jamie first visited Ontario wine regions in 2013 during The International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration and British Columbia wineries during his time at the Nationals in 2014. This year, he will again visit Ontario wineries as part of the judges’ tour.

After last year’s trip to the Okanagan to judge the National Wine Awards of Canada 2014, Jamie published “Thinking out loud about Canadian wine” on his blog He had this to say about the Nationals:

“The WineAlign judges are highly competent and well travelled, and it was painless judging with them. The organization of these wine awards, which involved opening over 4,000 bottles, pouring flights for each judge, and then collating the results in real time, was superb. Which means that judges can get on with the process of judging wine. The process was thorough, and every wine was given respect and time to show its best.” – Dr. Jamie Goode

Dr. Goode completed a PhD in plant biology and worked as a science editor before switching careers to wine writing. He’s a book author (The Science of Wine and Authentic Wine – both with University of California Press), writes a weekly wine column for a national newspaper (The Sunday Express), and blogs daily at, one of the world’s most popular wine websites. An experienced wine judge, he’s a panel chair for the International Wine Challenge each year, and has judged wine in France, Australia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia. He tweets as @jamiegoode.

National Wine Awards of Canada 2015

The National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC), held annually in June, is only open to wines grown and produced in Canada. The goal of ‘The Nationals’ is to expose Canadian wine drinkers to the best in Canadian wines. There is no restriction on price, leaving each winery the opportunity to compete with and against the best wines in the country. More importantly, as barriers to ship wines across the country come down, the combination of winning recognition at The Nationals and WineAlign’s ability to display the results alongside your key retail outlets, from the winery direct to across the country, makes it the only competition with enduring post competition sales opportunities.

The 2015 tastings will take place from June 23 to 27 in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Registration is now open. Click here for more information and to register.

The Judges

There are subtle changes to our panel each year but for the most part the judges are comprised of some of Canada’s leading wine writers, journalists, sommeliers, buyers and industry professionals. The competition also seeks out new and emerging talent in the industry to be part of the panel. This blend of experience and enthusiasm, brought by judges from many regions across Canada, ensures a comprehensive view of the wine world’s most current state. (NWAC15 Judges)

You can follow the 2015 NWAC and our judges’ tweets from start to finish on Twitter @WineAlign and look for the hashtag #NWAC15 .

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES May 16 – Part Two

Fresh and Fruity Whites and the Best of the Rest
By Sara d’Amato, with notes from David Lawrason and John Szabo MS

Sara d’Amato

Sara d’Amato

Wines for spring cleaning, wines for sunshine or wines for being social on the porch again, this week’s VINTAGES release theme of “Fresh and Fruity Whites” is a sure sign that the warm weather is upon us. As John Szabo completes his tour of the world’s most spectacular volcanic peaks (somebody’s got to do it) I sit grounded in Toronto, for at least the time being, choosing from among our top picks of this most anticipated change of the season.

In addition to these ephemeral selections, we bring you what impressed us most from this release, wines with both staying power and those we think you shouldn’t overlook. Unlike the whites, the reds available have not yet caught up with trend of warmer weather and I both hope and expect to see lighter, fresher reds in the next release. We will certainly see more gamay, primitivo/zinfandel and sangiovese on the shelves that are ready-to-drink and do best with a slight chill.

Fresh and Fruity Whites

Stoneleigh 2014 Latitude Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, ($21.95)

David Lawrason – The 2014 vintage was considered excellent in Marlborough with a bumper crop that ripened in “near perfect’ conditions – until the tail end of a cyclone came through late in the harvest. It’s hard to say which wines were picked soon enough of course. I have found many of the 2014 sauvignons a bit leaner, cooler and more compact – of which this an example. And that’s not a bad thing.
Sara d’Amato – A classic, elegant sauvignon blanc that rivals the best of Marlborough at a fraction of the price. Bring on the seafood kabobs!

Tiefenbrunner 2014 Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy ($19.95)

Sara d’Amato – It wouldn’t be a “fresh and fruity” release without a solid pinot grigio. Tiefenbrunner is located in a picturesque spot fixed in the Italian Alps and is known for its meticulous winemaking and control from grape to bottle. Because of its reliable quality and its price point, it has frequently been a staple for me when creating wine lists.

Finca El Origin 2014 Reserva Torrontés, Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina ($15.95)

Sara d’Amato – Although there are many obstacles to the further development of this remote wine-growing region, the wines, short in supply, are as uniquely arresting as the landscape. This is the home of the exotic torrontés, light, fresh and fragrant. The best examples, such as this, show some restraint and mystique.
David Lawrason – If you have not yet put Argentine torrontés in your summer patio repertoire don’t hesitate with this classic example from the Cafayate Valley in northern Argentina. A citrus explosion! Bring on the ceviche.

Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio 2014 Finca El Origin Reserva Torrontés 2014 Matetic Corralillo Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Creekside Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Matetic 2014 Corralillo Sauvignon Blanc, San Antonio Valley, Chile ($13.95)

John Szabo – Tough to beat this crunchy, green apple and green pepper-flavoured sauvignon for sheer value, another welcome release from biodynamic producer Matetic in the cool, coastal San Antonio Valley. This tops many wines asking $5 more.
David Lawrason – A great buy here in a brilliant, juicy sauvignon that bristles with intense grapefruit/lime, nettles and passion fruit. It’s from an excellent, biodynamic producer that is the sole owner of the isolated Rosario Valley right on the edge of the San Antonio and Casablanca Valley appellations. It is a cool coastal site that has infused great energy.

Creekside 2013 Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc, VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula Canada ($17.95)

John Szabo – Creekside has made sauvignon a specialty, but there appears to have been a slight style shift in 2013 – this is less effusively aromatic and tropical than previous vintages, and I must say I like the more subtle and crisp profile. A mix of citrus and green apple, and gentle green herbs makes this a lively and pleasant wine, a little more “grown up” in my view.

Best of the Rest

Simonsig 2012 Kaapse Vonkel Brut Cap Classique, WO Western Cape, South Africa ($19.95)

John Szabo – From the house that first made traditional method sparkling wine in South Africa, this pinot-chardonnay blend with a splash of pinot meunier offers considerable toasty richness in a broad and mouth-filling style, notably dry despite the richness.

Vinum 2012 Africa Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($15.95)

Sara d’Amato – Incorrectly slotted into the VINTAGES “fresh and fruity” feature, this rich and savory chenin blanc still deserves recognition. Body, texture, viscosity – all of these are impressively featured at such an unassuming price.
John Szabo – Fans of complex, wood aged whites will rejoice at the quality/price of this chenin. Made in a “natural” (nothing added or subtracted) and idiosyncratic style, it’s a wine of texture more than immediate fruitiness, balancing ripeness with both acids and salinity. There’s loads of character for $16 in any case.

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Cap Classique 2012 Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2012 Hillebrand Showcase Series Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2011

Hillebrand 2011 Showcase Wild Ferment Chardonnay, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Canada ($36.20)

John Szabo – As far as premium chardonnay goes, I’d say that winemaker Craig MacDonald has nailed this beautifully, and kept the price fair. As with most great chardonnay, this is a wine of mainly textural interest, offering a rich and complete mouth full of just-ripe orchard fruit, balanced with high quality wood. I like the succulent acids that prop up this flavour-heavy ensemble, and the excellent length. A very serious, accomplished cuvée all in all. Unfortunately the fruit source is not revealed – it’s labeled only as “Niagara Peninsula Vineyards” – but I’d be curious to know from where this hails exactly. Best 2015-2020.

Tawse 2011 Growers Blend Pinot Noir, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada ($24.95)

Sara d’Amato  – A wine that has experienced impressive evolution – with a cohesive palate of wood, fruit and acids and much smoother tannins than its jerky beginning. A gem of a pinot that still has years to come.

Corvidae 2013 Lenore Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA ($19.95)

David Lawrason – Here’s a rarely seen (at the LCBO) great buy in Washington syrah – which in my mind is the premier red grape of eastern Washington and the southern Okanagan in BC. It’s a medium to full bodied, classic cool climate syrah with deep colour, considerable density and ripeness, yet just enough cool climate black pepper, licorice and smoked meat to please northern Rhone syrah fans.

Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir 2011 Corvidae Lenore Syrah 2013 Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Château Haut Peyraud 2010

Lapostolle 2012 Cuvée Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon, Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($24.95).

David Lawrason –  Yet another biodynamically-grown Chilean wine shines on this release – from a great estate occupying one of the great vineyard sites in the country. The depth, harmony and complexity here are remarkable for a $25 wine.

Château Haut Peyraud 2010, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux, France ($16.95)

David Lawrason – I love the sense of poise and subtlety in this ‘petit’ 2010. What a wonderful vintage. This is a Bordeaux bargain, a lightweight, fairly supple merlot that is moving into prime.

Château De Gourgazaud 2013 Cuvée Mathilde Minervois, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($14.95)

Sara d’Amato – A spicy, peppery, musky and sweaty blend from southern France – unpretentious, raw and rustic. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Château De Gourgazaud Cuvée Mathilde Minervois 2013 Meandro Do Vale Meão 2012 Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2008

Meandro 2012 Do Vale Meão, Douro, Portugal ($24.95)

David Lawrason – This is a very high energy red, bristling with wild berry and woodsy aromas, and all kinds of zesty acid and tannin. So you may want to age it, but I really feel that this vibrancy is key to its enjoyment. Chill just a bit and pair it with savoury seasoned red meats.
John Szabo – Even more impressive than the excellent 2011, this is another top value, complex, concentrated and structured Douro red blend from Vale Meão. Although considered the “second label”, this is better than most from the valley, especially at the price. Best 2015-2022.

Coppi Peucetico 2008 Primitivo, Gioia Del Colle, Puglia, Italy ($13.95)

Sara d’Amato – Vibrant and peppery, this mid-weight primitivo exhibits lovely, lingering floral and cherry notes. Savory, fun and summery – a wine that can take a slight chill for added refreshment.

That’s all folks! David Lawrason will highlight the best of the May 30th release and features next week along with an Ontario Wine Report with news on new wineries and trends in Prince Edward County.

From VINTAGES May 16, 2015

Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Buyers’ Guide Part One: Australia First Families
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!

Beringer Knights Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Australia's First Families of Wine

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20 Under $20 in BC : May 2015

Embrace the Change

Change. We all know it’s inevitable, unavoidable, even annoying.

The sentiment is true for change in routine (like with BC’s new liquor laws) as well as pocket change (who carries coins?)

However, you’ll have to embrace change both coinage and taxation for this column now, as we’re moving to 20 Under $20 before tax. I know, it doesn’t have the same ring to it, and now the wines we recommend may actually cost you $23 and up when you’re at the till. But we’ve been closely monitoring wine sales in BC since the April 1st Fools Day announcement, and it makes the most sense for all to make the pricing shift to reflect what you’re seeing on store shelves.

Believe me, we’re still tasting and searching to bring you the best value buys in wide scale distribution that we can find for this column. It’s just that, in this province, the searching has become a little more challenging. No worries – the WineAlign West team is up for the challenge, and never been afraid of a little change.

~ TR

BC Critic Team

Anthony Gismondi

It’s the first long weekend of the year. Temperatures are soaring and the barbecues are in full heat. This month we turn to some friendly, affordable ‘barbecue’ reds and whites you can take with you to a neighbourhood bash so that look like you know what you are doing around the grill. My secret: I have always thought the first duty of any barbecue red is to be affordable, if only because it complements the casual nature of most ‘cues. It also allows the host to accommodate last minute additional guests with minimal damage to the pocketbook. Since wineries seldom characterize their wines as “barbecue reds,” lest you think of them as not serious, I have selected a handful of affordable labels you can proudly term barbecue red or white. All you need to add is the guest list.

The Devil’s Rock Pfalz Riesling 2013 is crazy good for the price, bringing super fresh flavours to the table. Pop this open early for appetizers or bring it out with a piece of cheese.

Serious wine folk will be knocked out by M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Blanc 2013. This is a seamless mix of juicy grenache blanc, grenache gris and macabeu. Pour this into a glass hand it to your guest and walk away like you are the king of wine.

Devil's Rock Pfalz Riesling 2013 M. Chapoutier Bila Haut Côtes Du Roussillon Blanc 2013 Santa Rita Merlot Reserva 2011 Sinfonia Monastrell Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Whiplash Lodi Zinfandel 2012

People turn their nose up at merlot for various reasons although none will turn away from the Santa Rita Merlot Reserva 2011. Play up the soft textures and the savoury black cherry flavours. You can’t miss with grilled sausages here.

Next up is Sinfonia Monastrell Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Floral, blueberry, cranberry fruit with good acidity make this an easy wine to pair with grilled meats.

Finally you can’t have a barbecue without zinfandel. My pick is the tasty Whiplash Lodi Zinfandel 2012. Lodi zinfandel can be rich, ripe and spicy. In the case the tannins are moderate but nothing a big slab of ribs wouldn’t defeat easily. Have a great long weekend.

Rhys Pender MW

The weather has been stunning lately in the Similkameen Valley and I just want to be outside doing two things. One is drinking crisp, dry, refreshing zippy whites, preferably in the hammock and the other is drinking dry, savoury, meaty reds while grilling meat over an open fire. Here are some wines that fit those two scenarios nicely and all under $20.

Great value freshness for the price is the Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014. For something a little more mineral try the Château De La Gravelle Muscadet Sèvre & Maine 2013.

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Château De La Gravelle Muscadet Sèvre & Maine 2013 Paz De Finca Las Moras Malbec 2013 Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2012 Lovico Gamza 2011

I also seem to be spending a lot of time standing around the BBQ or fire pit eating smoky, grilled meat. The natural pairing is a red wine with plenty of character and a savoury edge. These two from Argentina – Paz de Finca Las Moras Malbec 2013 and Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2012 will do nicely.

You are probably less familiar with Bulgarian wine but some of the native grapes are delicious. The Lovico Gamza 2011 is both cheap and perfect with a meaty evening around the BBQ.

DJ Kearney

My value picks this month are wines that I want to drink outdoors while I am fussing over food on the grill. Or perhaps sipping and relaxing while David fusses over the grill…

To start, maybe while menu scheming, I’ll drink a glass of the Kim Crawford Pansy! Rosé 2013, a watermelon-hued New Zealand rosé with a grown-up dry finish.

An appetizer might be grilled peaches wrapped in prosciutto, and the Lake Breeze The Spice Jar 2013 aromatic white blend with lush fruit and overt fruity finish will work a treat.

If grilled oysters or salad with goat’s cheese follow, so will the La Chablisienne Saint Bris Sauvignon Blanc 2013, a delicate, tangy wine that is also lean and saline.

Kim Crawford Pansy! Rosé 2014Lake Breeze Winemaker Series The Spice Jar 2013La Chablisienne Sauvignon Saint Bris 2013 Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2011 Almansa Laya 2013

Lamb chops rubbed in Italian herbs and Tuscan olive will be a fine match for the earthy and nicely developed Gabbiano Chianto Classico 2011. I love how authentic, light yet ripe this vintage presents.

If lusty bacon burgers are sizzling away, awaiting a thick slice of aged cheddar, then the full-figured Laya 2013 will fill a big glass and its massive fruit, generous oak and thick texture will be just the thing for the burgers, and to sit by the Weber kettle when dinner is over and watch the coals glow.

Treve Ring

Glorious spring weather has equaled an over-abundance of asparagus, halibut, al fresco dinners (twice this past week alone) and fresh, bright wines worthy of the season.

I’ve been tasting a lot of BC 2014’s this month, and two northern Okanagan whites that stood out in a field of impressive wines is the Spierhead Riesling Gentleman Farmer Vineyard 2014 with its streamlined, crisp, cool orchard fruit, and 50th Parallel Estate Grown Pinot Gris 2014, deftly blending herbal intrigue with ripe peach and white florals.

Spierhead Riesling Gentleman Farmer Vineyard 2014 50th Parallel Pinot Gris 2014 See Ya Later Ranch Gewurztraminer 2014Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling 2014Steller's Jay Brut Sparkling Wine 2009

If fragrant orange sauced Chinese flavours are in your bowl, you should splash some See Ya Later Ranch Gewurztaminer 2014 into your glass. Ripe lychee, melon and white peach are overlaid with fine ginger spices. Though if you’re in the mood for sushi or sashimi instead, I recommend the pithy tangerine and green apple lean (but not mean) verve of Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling 2014.

Of course, not all the current local releases are 2014. Traditional method sparkling wine takes time, and with Steller’s Jay Brut Méthode Classique 2009, you can expect green apple, lemon pith and a white grapefruit cushion of fruit on the medium bodied palate. There is always time for bubble – and I recommend this with brunch or canapés. Preferably outside in the spring sun.

Here’s a short-cut to the complete list searchable by store: 20 under $20 in British Columbia


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.

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

Balderson Cheese

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Les choix de Nadia pour mai

Amants  de la  du nature
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

Hier soir, j’ai soupé avec une amie. Une amie qui ne travaille pas du tout dans le monde du vin, mais qui m’étonne toujours par la justesse et la pertinence de ses observations en la matière. Sans le vouloir, elle me confronte souvent avec ses questions.

Hier soir donc, alors qu’on partageait, accessoirement, une bonne bouteille de vin, elle me dit à propos d’un vin que je vous nommerai plus tard :

« C’était du nature, vraiment? Me semble que ça ne goûtait pas comme du nature… »

Je savais exactement ce qu’elle voulait dire, mais lui ai quand même demandé de développer. Ce qu’elle fit : « disons que c’est très clean pour du nature. »

Voilà, c’était dit.

Mon amie, comme tant d’amateurs de vins et plusieurs professionnels même, reconnaît souvent les vins naturels à leurs défauts. De sorte que lorsqu’un vin sans soufre ne présente aucune déviation, elle doute qu’il puisse s’agir d’un vin nature.

C’est triste, mais surtout symptomatique de la perception générale et d’un certain cynisme qui anime beaucoup de gens de l’industrie quand il est question de « vins nature ».

Vous les entendrez dire que le vinaigre, il le préfère dans leur salade, plutôt que dans leur verre, qu’une odeur de sueur de cheval appartient à l’écurie et les relents de pets au cabinet d’aisance. Sur le principe, je comprends. Après tout, qui aurait envie de boire du vinaigre aromatisé à la sueur de cheval?

Sauf que le vin nature ne se limite pas à ces quelques défauts et autres clichés véhiculés par ses détracteurs. Oui, il y a de mauvais vins naturels. Tout comme il y a de mauvais vins industriels. Et des vins d’un ennui abominable. De plus en plus, malheureusement, avec l’essor de la technique et des produits œnologiques qui envahissent les chais, permettant ainsi aux grosses entreprises de tourner les coins ronds et d’accélérer les processus de production.

D’un côté comme de l’autre, de bons et de mauvais vins. Un excès de technologie peut tuer l’expression du terroir. Un excès de défauts aussi.

N’empêche qu’à leur meilleur, lorsqu’ils sont élaborés dans les règles de l’art, par des vignerons talentueux, méticuleux, les vins naturels atteignent des degrés de pureté qui n’ont peu ou pas d‘égal. Comme le délicieux Épaulé Jeté 2012 Beaumont de Catherine et Pierre Breton. Celui-là même dont mon amie doutait qu’il était « nature », tant il est d’une élégance et d’une netteté aromatique irréprochable. L’un des bons vins de cabernet franc que j’ai bus récemment. Tout ça à 22,70 $.

Voici un exemple. Il y en a des centaines sur le marché. Presque tous disponibles en importation privée pour le moment, à l’exception de ces quelques cuvées, mises en vente le 23 avril dernier, dans quelques succursales de la SAQ.

Domaine Catherine Et Pierre Breton Chinon Beaumont 2012 Maison B Perraud Le P'tit Poquelin 2013Henry Marionnet Première Vendange 2013Terra Del Noce Trinchero Barbera D'asti 2008Jean Foillard Morgon 2013Domaine Olivier Pithon Cuvée Lais 2012

Plus souple et tout en fruit – c’est du Beaujolais après tout –, le P’tit Poquelin 2013 se boit sans soif. Isabelle et Bruno Perraud ont fait le saut dans le vin bio en 1999, après que Bruno ait subi une intoxication causée par un insecticide. Plutôt que de se limiter à la vigne, le couple a étendu la révolution jusqu’au chai et repensé ses méthodes de vinification.

Lui aussi composé de gamay, mais produit dans la Loire, en Touraine plus précisément, le Première Vendange 2013 d’Henry Marionnet est à retenir avant tout pour son attaque en bouche charnue et vigoureuse.

Du Piémont, le Barbera d’Asti 2008 du domaine Trinchero (à ne pas confondre avec le géant américain du même nom) se montrait sous un jour un peu austère lorsque goûté il y a quelques semaines. Une bonne heure en carafe le rendra plus volubile. 

Dans le même registre, surveillez de près l’arrivée, ce jeudi, du Morgon 2013 de Jean Foillard et la Cuvée Laïs 2012 d’Olivier Pithon. Deux grands noms du vin nature, l’un dans le Beaujolais, l’autre dans le Roussillon.

Profil grec

Ce jeudi, la SAQ mettra aussi en vente ces quatre vins grecs, dont deux qui étaient distribués depuis quelques années déjà.

Sur les flancs du mont Helmos, à mi-chemin entre Patras et Corinthe le domaine Tetramythos renaît littéralement de ses cendres depuis cinq ans. Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos a perdu sa cave et une majeure partie de ses vignes dans les feux de forêt qui ont ravagé le Péloponnèse à l’été 2007. Issu de l’agriculture biologique, le Roditis 2013, Patras est léger comme une plume, mais savoureux et désaltérant.

Au nord de la Grèce, dans le secteur d’Amyndeon, Alpha Estate commercialise des vins de facture moderne, passablement corpulents. Bien qu’abordable, leur Axia Red 2010, issu d’un assemblage de syrah et de xinomavro, ne m’a paru spécialement réussi. Quelques mois de repos arrangeront peut-être les choses.

Domaine Tetramythos Roditis 2013Alpha Estate Axia Red Blend 2010Domaine Tselepos Nemea Driopi Agiorgitiko 2012Thymiopoulos Vineyards Yn Kai Oupavós Xinomavro 2012

Enfin, même sans avoir pu avoir accès à des bouteilles du présent millésime, qui sera de retour à la SAQ à compter de ce jeudi, je me permets d’attirer votre attention sur les deux vins suivants, dont la feuille de route est impeccable.

Tselepos Driopi 2012, Nemea – Yannis Tselepos a fait ses études d’œnologie à Dijon et a travaillé pendant plusieurs années en Bourgogne avant de fonder son propre domaine, dans le Péloponnèse. Issu de vignes d’une quarantaine d’années et toujours très satisfaisant.

Thymiopoulos, Naoussa 2012, Terre et Ciel – Apostolos Thymiopoulos est déjà l’un des jeunes vignerons les plus talentueux du pays. Ses vins rouges issus de xinomavro font à la fois preuve d’authenticité, de pureté, de profondeur. De manière générale, sa cuvée Terre et Ciel a la charpente nécessaire pour vieillir avec grâce. Je vous en direz plus jeudi, quand je courrai en succursales m’en procurer quelques bouteilles…

Vins de barbecue

Pour accompagner les grillades sur le barbecue, la SAQ a choisi de miser, cette année encore, sur la générosité des vins californiens.

Les fans de Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon Vineyard), qui connaissent son attachement pour les cépages rhodaniens – tout sauf du cabernet et du chardonnay! – seront sans doute surpris de voir que l’excentrique personnage signe désormais un claret. Well… à sa façon. Assemblage hétéroclite de cabernet, merlot, tannat, syrah et petite sirah, son Proper Claret 2012 a toute la droiture escomptée d’un méritage, avec un petit accent méditerranéen.

Bonny Doon A Proper Claret 2012 Zaca Mesa Z Cuvée 2009 Lake Sonoma Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2010Chardonnay Plume 2012

Dans le comté de Santa Barbara, Zaca Mesa se consacre essentiellement aux variétés rhodaniennes, mais produit aussi le Z Cuvée 2009, un bon zinfandel gourmand et juteux qui plaira à l’amateur de Zin.

Hormis un arôme de butterscotsch en attaque, le Lake Sonoma Winery Zinfandel 2010 est assez fidèle à ce que l’on peut espérer d’un zinfandel de Dry creek.

Enfin, en blanc, le Plume Chardonnay 2012 est tout à fait caractéristique d’un chardonnay de la vallée de Napa, sans verser dans la démesure.

Moi de mai, mois du rosé !

En 2002, après quelques années à restructurer le domaine en partenariat avec la maison Chapoutier, la famille Terrat a acquis la totalité des parts de ce vignoble cultivé en biodynamie. Les Béatines 2014 est un très bel exemple de rosé de Provence, tant par sa couleur pâle, que par sa texture et sa minéralité.

Sur un mode plus mûr et capiteux, la Cuvée Clarendon 2013 du Domaine Gavoty manque un peu d’acidité, mais il compense par sa tenue en bouche et ses notes minérales.

Les Béatines Rosé 2014 Domaine Gavoty Cuvée Clarendon 2013 Domaine De La Mordorée La Dame Rousse Rosé 2014

Enfin, dans un registre tout à fait différent, quasi tannique tant il a de la matière et de la mâche, La Dame Rousse 2014 du Domaine de La Mordorée fera un malheur avec une pissaladière, ou même des côtelettes d’agneau grillées.


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 votre santé!

Nadia Fournier

Les favoris de Nadia – Cellier 30 avril
Les favoris de Nadia – Cellier 14 mai

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.)

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

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What’s New at the LCBO – May 2015

Between our VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide and Steve Thurlow’s top picks from the LCBO’s general list, we have the whole store covered each and every month.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosés
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

It is spring at last in my part of Canada, and summer will not be far behind. So that means one thing at the LCBO – it’s time for rosé wines. Most places in the world enjoy rosé wines all year round but we are programmed by the LCBO only to seek them out for the few months of the year that comprise our summer. As a consequence the vast majority of rosés now arriving in the stores are seasonal listings and will disappear from the shelves come fall.

Rosés are light red wines. Usually they are made from red or black grapes with minimal skin contact between juice and skins after pressing. Hence you get the flavour of the wine grape, with only a splash of red colour and a hint of the vegetal flavours and tannin that comes from the skins. They can be sweet or dry, just like red wines. The dry ones, for me, are perfect for alfresco dining, slightly chilled, with mildly flavoured meat dishes.

Rosé wines are increasingly popular and there is a record number of new ones this year. WineAlign colleague, Sara d’Amato has already highlighted several pinks from recent VINTAGES releases and I have tasted and reviewed about 40 from the LCBO’s general list in the last few weeks alone. Sadly many failed to impress despite some beautiful packaging which will help some no doubt sell well. However those of you who care about quality and value will zero in on the six that I have selected below.

The wines on the shelves at the LCBO are constantly changing and I am tasting the new ones all the time. Many favourites are always there but the range and variety is gradually being updated. In addition to my six rosé picks I have chosen to highlight another seven new wines that have refreshed the system out of the more than 70 that I have tried since I last reported. Most are on shelf already; the rest will arrive over next few weeks.

I suggest that you read on, pick a few that appeal and then check on inventory at your local LCBO which should be set up as your Favourite Store in Find Wine at WineAlign. You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names or bottle images highlighted below. 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 reviews of great value wines!


Citra Cerasuolo Rosé d’Abruzzo 2014, Abruzzo, Italy ($8.45) – A great price for a nice fresh rosé. Try with baked salmon or seared tuna. Best 2015 to 2016.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rosé 2014, Bio Bio Valley, Chile ($9.95) – Delicate rhubarb and cherry fruit aromas lead to finely balanced palate with very good length. Try with roast chicken. Best 2015 to 2016.

Bodega Volcanes Summit Reserva Rosé 2014, Central Valley, Chile ($9.95) – A very fruity rosé with a lot of flavour and creamy smooth rich palate. Enjoy with baked ham. Best 2015 to 2017.

Citra Cerasuolo Rose d'Abruzzo 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rose 2014 Bodega Volcanes Summit Reserva Rose 2014 La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux Rosé Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014 Henry Of Pelham Rose 2014

La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux Rosé 2014, Rhone Valley, France ($10.95) – This is a typical Rhone rosé with lots of flavour and a long dry fruity finish. Try with roast chicken or veal. Best 2015 to 2016.

Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014, Rioja, Spain ($12.90) – This shocking pink rosé is hard to miss on the shelf in its distinctive tall bottle, so grab a few and enjoy with mildly flavoured meat dishes. Don’t overchill or you might miss the good stuff! Best 2015 to 2016.

Henry Of Pelham Rosé 2014, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($12.95 until May 24th was $13.95) – Consistently this is a good rosé every year with a dried herbal tone to red fruit flavours. It is vibrant in colour and mouthfeel. Lots going on for the money, so pick up a few while on offer. Best 2015 to 2017.


Mcguigan Black Label Shiraz 2013, South East Australia ($10.90 and 1500mL $19.85) – I know this well-balanced fruity shiraz has been on the shelves for years but the 1500mL format is new and makes for even better value if you can find enough friends to help you enjoy all that wine. Best 2015 to 2016.

Luccarelli Primitivo 2013, Puglia, Italy ($10.95 and 1500ml $19.95) – The 750mL bottle is joined on the shelf by a 1500mL version making this full-bodied ripe lively opaque wine even better value. Best 2015 to 2016.

Mcguigan Black Label Shiraz 2013 Luccarelli Primitivo 2013 Cliff 79 Cabernet Shiraz Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2013 Dominio Del Plata Crios Limited Edition Red Blend 2013

Cliff 79 Cabernet Shiraz, South East Australia ($10.95) – This non-vintage red blend is quite drinkable when lightly chilled despite being a little sweet, since there is enough mild tannin and acidity for balance. Very good length. Try with mildly spicy meaty sauces. Best 2015 to 2016.

Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95) – Lots here for the money. Deeply flavoured with fine tannin and soft acidity, though sweetish it is balanced. Chill a little and enjoy on its own or with mildly flavoured cheese. Best 2015 to 2017.

Dominio Del Plata Crios Limited Edition Red Blend 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($14.95) – A cellar worthy red that needs an hour or two in a decanter if consumed now to fully open up. It is an opaque purple-red with loads of flavour with a sweetish fruity appeal, though the tannins kick in big time on the finish. Best 2016 to 2020.

Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Nugan Estate Third Generation Chardonnay 2013Whites

Nugan Third Generation Chardonnay 2013, New South Wales, Australia ($11.95) – A rich powerful fully oaked chardonnay with very good length and a long intense fruity finale. Try with strongly flavoured white meats like roast pork or veal.

Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95) – A very harmonious fairly typical Kiwi sauvignon with a zesty lemony fruit palate and very good length. Try with rich creamy cheese sauces.


We would love to get your feedback on this report. Meanwhile check our my list of Top 50 wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. In two week’s time I will be back with a look at the updated Top 50 list in our WineAlign’s Top 20 Under $20 report.


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!

Bottega Prosecco

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Bill’s Best Bets – Apr/May CELLIER Release

Respect for the primary ingredient
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

As I write this, I am in Toronto at the 9th edition of the Terroir symposium. This is my first time attending this event and I am really impressed by the collection of food and wine people attending. I have spent time with a Norwegian urchin fisherman, a Hawaiian spear-fisher, an ancient grain bread specialist, and a dude who is the reference in Arctic gardening. There is a real common bond here – a love and respect for the primary ingredients in what we eat and cook.

What does this have to do with wine? Well, the SAQ has taken a dive into the world of no-sulphite wines. These are wines which are made without the use of sulphur, which acts as a preservative for the wine. I wrote a few months back in these pages why I love these wines so much, so I won’t rehash it again. But suffice to say that the care and respect for the primary ingredient that many of these non-interventionist wine makers show when making these wines is no different than the characters I have been hanging with here in at Terroir.

Terroir symposium

While I am a proponent of wines made as naturally as possible, simply because the wines are made this way does not make them automatically good. Of the four wines that were released, two wines from the Loire Valley are excellent and worthy of your attention. Made with Gamay, the Premiere Vendange from Henry Marionnet shows a beautifully restrained yet chirpy fruited version of the grape.

The second comes from one of my favourite wineries, Catherine and Pierre Breton. Their 2012 Chinon Beaumont has everything I love about great cabernet franc – superb drinkability with just enough tannin to keep the wine tight.

Henry Marionnet Première Vendange 2013Domaine Catherine Et Pierre Breton Chinon Beaumont 2012Domaine De La Mordorée La Dame Rousse Rosé 2014Les Béatines Rosé 2014

So while the spotlight on the latest CELLIER release were these natural wines, there is something for everybody here. For you fans of rosé, both the Dame Rose from La Mordoree and Les Beatines from Domaine des Béates offer up finely honed, dry, superbly restrained and delicate pinks. Remember that these are made with red grapes so like any good rosé, drink them a touch warmer (10C) if you want to fully appreciate the aromatics.

For those of you who are looking for something to groove with your BBQ, and are fans of flavourful and spicy BBQ basting sauces, then you have a choice of some big-styled Californian wines. The first should be commended for its finesse and restraint and that is the 2012 Proper Claret by Bonny Doon. The Cuvee Z from Zeca Mesa also works very well.

Bonny Doon A Proper Claret 2012Zaca Mesa Z Cuvée 2009Lake Sonoma Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2010

But if you want that pedal to the metal, full on fruit, spice and oak, then zinfandel is what you need. While I find many zins are overly sweet and oaked up for my fragile, white wine loving palate, there is one wine that I would like to highlight. The the Dry Creek Zin from Lake Sonoma Winery offers up the dark, brambly fruit and spice that makes zinfandel so interesting, while keeping all the make-up to a minimum. Crank out the smoked ribs and sweet and spicy BBQ sauce!

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 our CELLIER tasting notes on all the wines in one place.



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

From CELLIER May 2015:

Bill’s Best Bets May 14
Bill’s Best Bets Apr 30
All Reviews

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!

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon

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Buy The Case: Trialto Wine Group

A Report on Consignment Wines in Ontario


Each month we will taste wines submitted by one importing agent. WineAlign core critics will independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews will be posted to WineAlign. We will then independently recommend wines to appear in our Buy The Case report. Importers pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, if any, is entirely up to each critic, as it is with our reviews of in-store wines.

These recommended wines can only be purchased by the case from importers registered in the LCBO’s Consignment Program. They are ‘already landed and stocked’ wines that can be delivered directly to your restaurant, home or office. For an explanation of the program, the process and our 10 Good Reasons to Buy the Case, please click here.

May 2015 – Trialto Wine Group

Trialto is Canada’s largest national purveyor of premium wines. Their Consignment selection in Ontario is quite extensive. Three WineAlign critics sat down in late April to taste 15 Trialto submissions. Italy has shone through in this report. Here are our recommendations, grouped loosely under reasons why we would buy the wine by the case.

Click on the wine name or bottle image to see full reviews by the WineAlign team. Prices shown below are retail and do not include taxes (licensee prices may be less). Trialto has submitted their agency profile with more details below.

Restaurant Pours by the Glass

Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barbera D'alba 2013

Joseph Faiveley 2012 BourgogneJoseph Faiveley Bourgogne 2012, France ($23.95)

Sara d’Amato – A dynamite entry-level Burgundy offered in an easy-to-swallow 6-pack case. If you’re a lover of pinot noir, you’ll know that you can spend a great deal of time and money finding a great example, so take advantage of this pre-screened beauty.
Michael Godel – Crafted as if to the letter of entry-level Bourgogne law. Bright, animated, ripe, affable, under-currant earthy and wholly, purposefully, decidedly approachable.

Borgogno 2013 Barbera D’alba, Piedmont, Italy ($19.95)

David Lawrason – This is a classic barbera; such a great food wine. It’s jammed with berry fruit that assuages the grape’s natural acidity. This a classy yet friendly wine to stock for casual Italian dinners. Should be on any Italian wine list, and even personal house wine for any Italian food lover. It’s available in six-bottle cases, but I would buy 12.
Michael Godel – Popping Barbera full of strapping substantial fruit, mind-meddling acidity and thankfully, playful rhythm and blues chords.

Cellaring Wine

Montresor 2011 Castelliere delle Guaite Primo Ripasso

Neal Cabernet 2009 SauvignonNeal Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley, California ($59.00)
Michael Godel – Spirited, elevated tones and full, fleshy fruit endow this Neal with long-term capabilities. Somehow you just yet know it will evolve in this exact state for another 10 years…cellaring or gifting wine.

Montresor 2011 Castelliere delle Guaite Primo Ripasso, Valpolicella Superiore, Italy ($24.95)
Michael Godel – So much flavour and a Quintarelli style, of rust, antiquity and liqueur. Buy a case, wait up to 10 years and drink it over the next 10. You’ll revel in telling everyone how much you paid in back in 2015…curio selections or cellaring wine.

Function Wines

Pares Balta Brut Cava, Spain ($13.95)

David Lawrason – This is a rare organically produced cava, that captures both a light, racy feel and complex flavours. With good stony acidity and only 11.5% alcohol there is a fine sense of tenderness and raciness. Excellent pricing here. Purchase by the case for a larger function where guests will be impressed by something a bit different.

Vietti 2012 Perbaco Nebbiolo Delle Langhe, Piedmont, Italy ($28.95)

David Lawrason – Perbacco is a fine value intro to Piemontese nebbiolo. It could lead off the Piedmont nebbiolo section of an Italian wine list, or in-fill a personal cellar with a shorter term Piemonte red.  It is actually a de-classified Barolo, from 35-year-old vines in the Barolo region. Balanced to drink now with some aeration but this will age nicely through 2020.
Michael Godel – A prevailing and concurrent nebbiolo presence, of tar and roses, is modern, magnified and inextricably tied to its declassified single Barolo vineyard. Makes for great value in young nebbiolo (think classy Italian wedding).
Sara d’Amato – A ready-to-drink nebbiolo with softer than the norm tannins but delivering loads of concentration. Entice your friends to pool funds with the explanation that this is a declassified Barolo offering a great deal of complexity at a much better price.

Parés Baltà Cava Brut Vietti Perbacco Langhe Nebbiolo 2012 Terras Gauda Abadia San Campio Albariño Rias Baixas 2014 Montresor Valpolicella 2012

Seasonal Wines

Terras Gauda Abadia San Campio 2014 Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain ($21.95)

Michael Godel – Highly complex aromatics, as if by blend. Lingers for longer than expected. A bright, spirited, fine example of Albariño and ideal for the warm months.

Personal House Wines

Montresor 2012 Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy ($12.95)
David Lawrason – If I was running an Italian/Mediterranean restaurant this would be my bargain priced ace-in-the-hole red for those ordering lighter fare. It is classic/traditional Valpolicella, and great value! It’s only mid-weight but carries a sense of compactness and balance. Not a sipping red. 12 bottle case.
Sara d’Amato – Frankly, Valpolicella, from the northeastern region of Veneto, is not often the most exciting of Italian reds nor is it highly coveted. I was thus doubly surprised when I tasted this well-priced and impressive example from Montresor. Punchy, flavourful and easy to drink, keep this around for everyday pasta and pizza nights.

Curio Selections

Montresor Capitel Alto 2013

Giacomo Borgogno & Figli No Name 2011Giacomo Borgogno & Figli 2011 “No Name”, Piedmont, Italy ($39.95)
Sara d’Amato – Purposefully unnamed as to protest Italian wine bureaucracy, here’s a great find for pre-demonstration drinks or election watching. Not only is it a compelling wine made from Northern Italy’s choice grape varietal, nebbiolo, but it is available in a rare 3-bottle case making it a much more affordable prospect.

Montresor 2013 Capitel Alto Soave, Veneto, Italy ($16.95)

David Lawrason – Soave may be known for inexpensive, everyday whites but better examples like this offer weight, substance and complexity. Performs above its price, and should work well with richer white meat and risotto dishes. A hand-sell in restaurants but worth it; home chefs will find it a great addition to the repertoire. Available in a six bottle case.
Sara d’Amato – ‘Tis the season for delectable whites and if the recent heat doesn’t melt you than this doozy of a Soave will certainly do the trick. Despite its refreshing nature, it is certainly not light and trivial – there is real power and character here that will make the most refined palate take note.
Michael Godel – Quite the salubrious Soave, purveyor of good feelings and with the words party pleaser inscribed across its Veronese face.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. 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!

This report was sponsored by the Trialto Wine Group. WineAlign critics have independently recommended the above wines based on reviews that are posted on WineAlign as part of this sponsored tasting. Trialto has provided the following agency profile with more details on their consignment program and delivery options.

Trialto Wine Group

TrialtoTrialto is a team of passionate wine professionals representing the most prestigious premium wines from around the world, and serving the Canadian market by helping liquor boards, retailers and restaurants source, market and sell these wines. We are a small independent company, run by the owners and built to serve the small and medium sized family owned wineries we represent; helping them succeed in a world that is increasingly becoming dominated by vertically integrated, global giant corporations. Trialto works exclusively with premium wines; no beer, no volume spirits, no bulk wines. We have 60 employees in offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal and “feet on the street” in 12 major cities.

Trialto represents “wine of people, place and time”. Our wines tell a story about people; the families who make the wine, their values, history and culture. We connect the people who make the wine to the people who buy, sell, drink and write about the wine; our relationships and networks are our business. Wines that authentically represent a place play an important role in preserving the culture and history of that place. We are all about telling a story through place, and allowing people to experience place through wine.  At Trialto our goal is to spend time with the people behind the wines, learn their stories, and convey their stories through the wines we represent.

Liquid Art Selections is Trialto’s dedicated portfolio of rare, special and allocated wines. A separate portfolio of some of the world’s most sought after wines supported by a team of Canada’s finest wine professionals. Liquid Art began with just a handful of undiscovered producers in 1989 and has since grown to represent some of the world’s most sought-after estates, from the traditional to the cutting edge. Behind the Liquid Art success story is a well-defined goal of providing lovers of fine wines with top quality products that consistently deliver. We are the exclusive representatives for our Partner producer’s wines in our markets and have grown to be one of our market’s most respected wine importers, specializing in sourcing impeccably cellared examples of the world’s greatest and most sought-after wines.

You can subscribe to Trialto’s newsletters and receive exclusive offers here.

How to order wine from Trialto:

For consumers living within the GTA area we offer daytime delivery to your home or office free of charge, regardless of how many cases are purchased. For clients in in the outer GTA/Oakville/Mississauga/Brampton/Burlington/Hamilton we offer delivery for a $15 flat rate (including HST), regardless of case volume. For all other parts of Ontario we offer delivery for a $25 flat rate (including HST) regardless of case volume. Generally orders can be delivered within 5 business days.

For all clients we can also ship wines to an LCBO of your choice at no extra cost. The shipment usually takes 2-4 weeks, but may take up to 8 in peak seasons or based on distance. The cases arrive pre-paid, we e-mail you the invoice and credit card slip and the store should give you a call to let you know they’ve arrived.

If you have any questions, you can direct them to us at Trialto Wine Group at (416)532-8565 or by email at


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