D’ARENBERG THE HERMIT CRAB VIOGNIER MARSANNE 2017, McLaren Vale, Australia


Cost: $17.95
Grape: Viognier, Marsanne
Category: White Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Australia
Region: McLaren Vale
Format: 750 mL
Producer: D’Arenberg Winery
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

A wine that is better with food

Positives: Bright gold in colour featuring apricot, grapefruit, orange pith, ginger and peach pit.

Negatives: Lots of bitter notes

Ageability: Drink now or in the next couple of years on its own or pair it with pizza with tomatoes and pepperoni.

My Opinion: On the Fence

Tasted: January 16, 2020

LCBO: 662775

HAVENS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States of America


Cost: $27.95
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon with some Petit Syrah
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: United States
Region: Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Havens Winery
Alcohol:  14.2% Alcohol/Vol.

A California Cab with substance and under $30

Positives: Inky ruby to purple in colour this wine features plum, dark cherry, bramble fruit, dark chocolate, leather, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, pencil shavings and smoked amber on the nose.

Negatives: None

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 3-5 years on its own or pair it with rib-eye steak.

My Opinion: Recommended

Tasted: January 14, 2020

LCBO: 13241

BATTLE OF CHAMPAGNES Part 1: TAITTINGER PRESTIGE ROSÉ vs BOLLINGER ROSÉ


 

TAITTINGER ROSÉ BRUT

$99.95

 

BOLLINGER ROSÉ BRUT

$113.95

 

40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier 62% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Meunier
Colour: Cherry-Salmon Colour: Pale copper
Cherry, strawberry, wild raspberry, blackberry, hazelnut, clementine, cherry tomatoes Apricots, apple (red & yellow), brioche, tangerine, peach,
Elegant, creamy Luminous, yeasty with good acidic
Pairs well with mussels in a red wine butter garlic broth Pairs well with Escargot in garlic butter sauce
Both complex in a different way Both complex in a different way

Winner: In a head to head comparison, in several different stemware, it was determined for pure drinkability that Bollinger came out ahead. However, in food pairings it was equally enjoyable depending on what you paired the Champagne with. For example, the Bollinger, being higher in acidity paired better with fatty foods. The creaminess of the Taittinger was the perfect foil for other milder savory food items.  Overall the Bollinger is slightly more expensive but worth the price, therefore the nod goes to Bollinger.

My opinion: Highly recommended for both

Top Pick for both

Tasted: December 29, 2019

L’HOSTE CHAMPANGE TRADITON BRUT NV, AOC Champagne, France


Cost: $54.75 US (Sale price for December: $38.08 US)
Grape: 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir
Category: Champagne
Location: Jacques Scott, Cayman Islands
Country: France
Region: Champagne
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Père & Fils
Alcohol:  13% Alcohol/Vol.

Simple yet classic Champagne

Positives: Bright gold in colour with fine mousse, this wine features yeast, brioche, white peach, apricot, honeydew melon, lemon and limestone.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: At the regular price there are several better Champagne options. However, at the sale price it’s a good buy.

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 5-7 years on its own or pair it with seared scallops with creamy lemon sauce.

My Opinion: Recommended

Tasted: December 25, 2019

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY BALANCE VIOGNIER 2017, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $19.15
Grape: Viognier
Category: White Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol:  13% Alcohol/Vol.

Excellent value for a quality Viognier

Positives: Bright new gold in colour this wine features peach, apricot, honeydew melon, orange rind, nutmeg and peach pit.

Negatives: None

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 3-5 years on its own or pair it with Coquilles St. Jacques.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: December 17, 2019

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY – A Hidden Gem


Staff, wine club members & patrons at the winery’s open house

This past Saturday, December 7th, 2019, was an open house at Niagara College Teaching Winery. It was a fun filled day with tastings of wine & cheese, patrons being educated in wine and all the wine was discounted 15% to 20%. Full disclosure; I graduated from Niagara College Sommelier certification back in 2008, and I fully support the great working of this winery and their students who produce amazing wines at great prices.

Earlier this year I became a wine club member. Why? Customer service is great, and where else can you get quality Ontario wines and not spending premium price? The staff really appreciate club members, and we appreciate them. Just a side note: “Lokesh (who is front-centre & in front of me), it’s been hours, where’s my Blanc de Blanc and Brut Sparkling wines for tastings?!” (I always start my visit double fisting with these two great sparkling wines)

Lastly, I would like to thank Chetan, the manager who is to the left with the X on his sweater and beside another club member Brian, for creating a great vibe at the winery, and for keeping his staff’s morale high. Those smiles in the picture are genuine.

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY BALANCE CHARDONNAY 2013, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $19.15
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: St. David’s Bench Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol:  13% Alcohol/Vol.

Creamy but with good backbone acidity to this aged Ontario Chard, which is oak driven with tropical fruit is a great value for under $20

Positives: Bright gold in colour this wine features lemon tart, mango, peach, pineapple, golden apple, ginger, dill, oak spice, butterscotch, roasted almonds.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: I first reviewed Balance Brut in August 2016. I enjoyed it then, but more so today as I feel the wine making it has come of age.

Ageability: Drink now or in the next couple of years on its own or pair it with poulet de bresse,

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: December 8, 2019

RED STONE SPARKLING ROSÉ NV, Traditional Method, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $30.15
Grape: Pinot Noir
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Red Stone Winery
Alcohol:  12.% Alcohol/Vol.

A pleasant rosé sparkler that will please those that don’t like the yeastiness in sparkling wine or Champagnes

Positives: Bright salmon to copper in colour with a fine mousse this wine features strawberry, lime, Gala apples and limestone.

Negatives: None

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 4-6 years on its own or pair it with tuna tartare.

My Opinion: Recommended

Tasted: December 8, 2019

13th STEET WINERY BLANC DE BLANC 2017, Traditional Method, VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $29.95
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Creek Shores, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: 13th Street Winery
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Not complex but high quality of this well balanced, crisp & refreshing Blanc de Blanc

Positives: Light straw in colour with a fine mousse this wine features green apples, lemon, lemon zest and limestone.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: From winemaker’s notes: “Second Blanc de Blanc made from our neighbor Lado Viscek’s meticulously farmed vineyard, the fruit was hand-harvested in the second week of September 2017. The grapes were transferred gently into the press and the free run juice was captured separately to preserve the elegant profile. Primary fermentation was kept cool and in 100% stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation was suppressed to keep the fresh fruit character in the wine. The secondary fermentation took place in bottle and the wine was aged sur lattes for a minimum of 12 months. After the lees was removed, winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas felt an addition of two grams per litre of sweetness was the perfect balance to the bracing acidity in the wine. The wine was disgorged in August 2019.”

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 4-6 years on its own or pair it with smoked oysters on Ritz crackers.

My Opinion: Recommended


 

Cost: $25.15
Grape: Chardonnay & Pinot Noir
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol:  12% Alcohol/Vol.

True to its namesake, the sparkler is balanced between classic toasted fermentation, fruit, crispness, dryness and acidity

Positives: Golden straw with a slight pink tinge in colour, fine mousse this wine features toasted hazel nuts, brioche, lemon, green apples, pear, blood orange and limestone.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: I first reviewed Balance Brut in August 2016. I enjoyed it then, but more so today as I feel the wine making it has come of age.

Ageability: Drink now or in the next 7-10 years on its own or pair it with Raspberry Point oysters.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: November 24, 2019