CERRO AŃON RESERVA 2014, Doca Rioja, Spain


Cost: $20.95
Grape: 80% Tempranillo, 20% Graciano & Mazuelo
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Spain
Region: Rioja
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Bodegas Olarra
Alcohol:  14.0% Alcohol/Vol.

Delicious, Rioja at its best

Positives: Deep ruby to garnet in colour with medium tannin this wine features cherry, raspberry, plum, ripe tamarind, Kirsch, sandalwood, leather, champagne mushroom, sage, arugula, cinnamon and cloves.

Negatives: Slight heat from the 14% alcohol

Interesting Point: Spent 20 months in American and French oak

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 7-10 years on its own or pair it with macadamia nut encrusted rack of lamb.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick

Tasted: October 4, 2019

LCBO: 114306

BURIED CANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017, Columbia Valley, Washington State, United States of America


Cost: $19.95
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: United States of America
Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Buried Cane Winery
Alcohol:  13.9% Alcohol/Vol.

A full body, smooth & expressive Cab that’s is also well balanced

Positives: Medium+ purple to ruby in colour with medium tannin, this wine features dark cherry, plum, tamarind, blackberry, blueberry, cassis, turmeric, leather, cedar, spinach leaves

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: “Buried Cane” refers to the practice of burying grapevine canes to protect them from freezing the cold Washington winters.

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 3-5 years on its own or pair it with beef ribs.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: September 27, 2019

LCBO: 402081

13th STREET WINERY GAMAY BLANC DE NOIR 2017, Méthode Traditionnelle, VQA Creek Shores, Niagara, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $34.95
Grape: Gamay
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Creek Shores, Niagara, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: 13th Street Winery
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Clean, finesse & elegance, a true delight

Positives: Light gold in colour with a fine mousse. This wine features lemon/lime, strawberry, Rainier cherries, light dough, almonds and honeysuckle on the nose.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: 13th Street has become the quintessential winery in Canada for making the highest quality of sparkling wines thanks to winery maker Jean Pierre Colas.

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 3-5 years on its own or pair it with Thanksgiving turkey.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick

Tasted: September 22, 2019

RUTHERFORD RANCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016, Napa Valley, California, United States of America


Cost: $39.95 (Clearance Price: $32.00)
Grape: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Merlot
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: United States
Region: Napa Valley, California
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Rutherford Ranch
Alcohol:  13.9% Alcohol/Vol.

Not your typical plush high alcohol Napa Cab, this one is bright, juicy with finesse

Positives: Medium to dark ruby in colour, this wine features, black & red currants, black cherry, red plums, spearmint, vanilla and dark chocolate.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: It’s becoming a rarity now days to have a red wine from California below 14% alcohol.

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 10 years on its own or pair it with Rib-eye steak.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick

Tasted: September 11, 2019

LCBO: 73817

BELLA TERRA CHARDONNAY 2017, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $34.95
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Pondview Winery
Alcohol:  14.0% Alcohol/Vol.

A beautiful, well balanced rich & buttery Chard that’s worth the price

Positives: New gold in colour, this wine features lemon tart, golden apple, yellow plum, mango, peach, light dill, caramel and white roses on the nose.

Negatives: None

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 3-5 years on its own or pair it with lobster and drawn butter.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick

Tasted: September 13, 2019

CHÂTEAU VAL JOANIS CUVÉE JOANIS 2018, AOC Luberon, Provence, France


Cost: $25.95 (Clearance Price: $20.80)
Grape: Syrah, Grenache & Vermentino
Category: Rosé Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: France
Region: Luberon, Provence
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Château Val Joanis
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Bone dry rosé that is more apt for food than drinking own its own

Positives: Light salmon in colour, wine features grapefruit, white cranberry, gooseberry and wet stone on the finish.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Love the shape of the bottle and label.

Ageability: Drink now or over the next couple of years on its own or pair it with grilled pork chops.

My Opinion: On the Fence

Tasted: September 12, 2019

LCBO: 556233

ICELLARS – Niagara-on-the-Lake


I was driving around Niagara-On-The-Lake on a beautiful September day, and saw a sign for a winery that I was not familiar with, that being Icellars. Intrigued I decided to investigate. As I entered the driveway there were only a few cars, which I like. Inside the winery I met Elif and her husband, Adnan, the winemaker and owner who came by and showcased all his wines for me.

Adnan Icel was born in Ankara, Turkey and immigrated to Canada. A mechanical engineer by trade, he has a passion for wines, and as such originally made wines in his cellar. Now being retired, in 2010 he had the opportunity to buy a parcel of land on Concession 6, Niagara-on-the-Lake. His first vintage was in 2014, and the retail store opened in 2016. The winery is helped by his family, Elif his wife, his son Tolga, their eldest son, Arda who is studying in Ottawa and their beautiful golden retriever, Simba who greats visitors with a wag of his tail.

Adnan focus is on red wines; however, he does have a Sauvignon Blanc whose grapes are outsourced and Chardonnay grapes that are picked on site. Speaking of the Chard, full body, unfiltered and delicious. Cabernet Sauvignon is his passion grape, and it as with all his wines are very elegant, beautiful, delicious and unfiltered, except for the Sauvignon Blanc. Two of his wines are named for his native Turkey: Arinna is a winemaking state in Turkey, and his top wine, Wiyana Wanda means “Land of Wine” in the ancient Hittite language of central Anatolia, the birthplace of wine.

The winery is run by a Geothermal system, and soon Adnan wants to have solar panels. All the grapes are small crop and handpicked on the 40 acres of land.

Conclusion

What I really liked about this winery is that it’s a boutique style winery, open 7 days a week, and no tour busses coming in. It’s what you want when you visit a winery; quaint, not pretentious, a warm family atmosphere and a dog that is very friendly to visitors. Can you tell I’m a dog lover?! His wines are all very good & some even exceptional, and with high quality and low quantity for availability the prices are on the higher end. But what a great wine experience and a special bottle to get for yourself or someone special. Check out their winery by visiting the winery or their website at: https://www.icellars.ca/wines

Visited: September 7,2019

13th STREET WINERY GRAND CUVÉE BLANC DE NOIR 2013, Méthode Tradionnelle, VQA Creek Shores, Niagara, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $59.95
Grape: Pinot Noir
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Creek Shores, Niagara, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: 13th Street Winery
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Finesse, complexity, richness and freshness. It’s simply delicious, maybe Canada’s best Blanc de Noir

Positives: Gold with pink tinge in colour with a fine mousse. The wine features light brioche & toast, lemon, apples, pear, white cranberry, white cherry and limestone.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Another winner by winemaker Jean Pierre.

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 5-7 years on its own or pair it with grilled cheese.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick

Tasted: September 1, 2019 (Pre-release date to public)

PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA PINOT NOIR 2014, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $50.20
Grape: Pinot Noir
Category: Red Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Pondview Estate Winery
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Lot of tart on the taste, which mostly goes away when it opens up. Nice Pinot but the price is to too high for what you’re getting

Positives: Pale garnet in colour featuring cranberry, pomegranate, cherry and light tobacco on the nose.

Negatives: Too expensive

Interesting Point: Let it open out or else it will be too tart, and lightly chill it.

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 5-7 years on its own or pair it with smoked oysters.

My Opinion: On the fence

Tasted: September 1, 2019

HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2013, Traditional Method, VQA Short Hills, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $49.95
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Canada
Region: Short Hills Bench, Niagara, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Henry of Pelham
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

A high-quality Canadian Blanc de Blanc in a Champagne style with a Champagne price

Positives: Golden apple in colour with a fine mousse. The wine features brioche, toast, lemon, apple pie, pear, honey, hazelnut, limestone with an oxidative nose.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Picked by hand on the estate and matured in the bottle on the lees for 60 months.

Ageability: Drink now or over the next 10 years on its own or pair it with caviar.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick

Tasted: August 25, 2019

LCBO: 315200