CLARENDELLE ROUGE 2015, AC Bordeaux, France


Cost: $24.95
Grape: 83% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: France
Region: Bordeaux
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Clarence Dillion Wines
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Impressive: If you want a $50 Bordeaux wine, but pay half the price, then this wine is it. Score: 95/100

Tasting Note: Medium ruby to garnet in colour with good acidity, a medium+ intense nose, round tannin & a long length on the finish. Wine features plum, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, blackcurrants, anise, licorice, leather, anise, pipe tobacco, Allspice & sandalwood.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Love the bottle: elegant & classic.

Pairings: Drink this now or in 3-5 yrs. on its own or pair it with Beef bourguignon.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Best Buy & Top Pick

Tasted: September 10, 2020

LCBO: 28837

RIVERA IL FALCONE CASTEL DEL MONTE ROSSO RISERVA 2014, DOCG Castel del Monte, Apulia, Italy


Cost: $24.95 (Clearance Price: $20.00)
Grape: 70% Nero di Troia – 30% Other local varieties
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Italy
Region: Castel del Monte, Apulia
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Rivera
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

A mix of berries, spice & leather. Score: 89/100

Tasting Note: Medium ruby to garnet in colour with good acidity, a medium+ intense nose, firm tannin & a fairly long length on the finish. Wine features raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, redcurrants, leather, anise, tobacco leaves & Allspice.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Aged in French oak for at least 14 months and for a further year in bottle.

Pairings: Drink this now or in 7- 10 yrs. on its own or pair it with marinated venison steak.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: September 5, 2020

LCBO: 177295

LEEUWENKUIL RESERVE WHITE 2017, Swartland, South Africa


Cost: $19.95
Grape: 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% blend of: Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Verdelho, Clairette, Chardonnay, Colombard, Viognier
Category: White Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: South Africa
Region: Swartland
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Leeuwenkuil Family Winery
Alcohol:  13.0% Alcohol/Vol.

An interesting wine with good complexity & full of array of taste. Score: 90/100

Tasting Note: Gold in colour with good acidity, a medium+ intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features lemon pith, pineapple, peach, green apples, mandarin, white pepper, limestone, white blossoms on the nose.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Nice classic style of the Southern France rosé bottles.

Pairings: Drink this now or in 3 – 4 yrs. on its own or pair it with Cayman style conch ceviche.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: August 27, 2020 LCBO: 14937

SARDUS PATER IS SOLUS 2017, DOC Carignano del Sulcis, Sardega, Italy


Cost: $19.95 (Clearance Price: $16.00)
Grape: Carignano 100%
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Italy
Region: Carignano del Sulcis, Sardega
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Sardus Pater
Alcohol:  14.0% Alcohol/Vol.

And now for something completely different, but in a good way. Score: 89/100

Tasting Note: Light ruby to garnet in colour with good acidity, a medium+ intense nose, mild tannin & a fairly long length on the finish. Wine features tart cherry, plum, blackberry, mulberry, arugula, white pepper, peppercorn, licorice & oregano.

Negatives: There’s some heat coming from the 14% alcohol

Interesting Point: Is Solus is a fountain of Roman origin present in the historic center of the town of Sant’Antioco. The label shows a mosaic present in the city archaeological museum, which depicts two wild beasts drinking from the vase from which the tree of life rises.

Pairings: Drink this now or in 3 – 4 yrs. on its own or pair it with brisket.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: September 1, 2020

LCBO: 13452

22 PIRATES RED BLEND 2017, Central Coast, California, United States of America


Cost: $25.95
Grape: Red blend
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: United States of America
Region: Central Coast, California
Format: 750 mL
Producer: 22 Pirates
Alcohol:  14.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Ok I confess, I bought this wine because I loved the name, the picture on the front label & the rear label summarizing the wine, even though it’s at 14.5% alcohol, & those that read my reviews know I’m not a person that likes high alcohol wines. After tasting this wine, I still don’t like the high alcohol, but I really like this wine. Score: 90/100

Tasting Note: Dark purple to ruby in colour with good acidity, a medium+ intense nose, soft tannin & a long length on the finish. Wine features plum, blackcurrant, dark cherry, raspberry, blackberry, thyme, oregano, eucalyptus, white & black peppers, cigar box & lilac on the nose.

Negatives: Heat from the 14.5% alcohol.

Interesting Point: 1) Every bottle introduces you to a different member of the crew with a customized cork listing his name and role aboard the ship. Unfortunately, mine was Rusty Latches aka The Swab. 2) There may be up to 22 Rhône Valley varietals, but that’s a secret, as Pirates don’t tell. 3) “The label is an original artwork created by a French painter named Francois-Auguste Biard in 1855. Biard’s work tells the tale of treachery, as the thieving crew lures a passing ship to come closer with the promise of companionship and music. Completely unaware those are not women or fanciful passengers, but a crew lying in wait.” www.22pirates.com

Pairings: Drink this now or in 5 – 7 yrs. on its own or pair it with Roasted Quail with Rosemary Thyme and Garlic.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: August 25, 2020

LCBO: 14384

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY FOOD TRUCK 101


The newest edition to Niagara College Teaching winery is their Food Truck 101 with Chef Tarun cooking up some amazing food Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm. The food truck is located at the back of the Teaching Winery’s boutique, where you can enjoy some of the best foods this side of Toronto on their large patio, along with some amazing wines which I have reviewed, and not only was I incredibly impressed with the wineries 2014 Balance Blanc de Blanc Brut, but it won Double Gold and Sparkling Wine of the Year at this years Canadian Wine Championships. Congrats to wine maker Gavin Robertson. My pairing suggestion would be with any of the fries on the menu, as there’s nothing like pairing fries with Champagne/Sparkling wines.

Chef Tarun was born in India where he studied hotel management in IHM Mumbai and came to Canada in the Fall of 2018 where he studied culinary management at Niagara College. His goal is to open his own fine dining, fusion cuisine restaurant somewhere in Ontario where he can be close to local farms in order to provide patrons farm to table experiences and sustainable food options.

Chef Tarun makes everything fresh from scratch every morning

Lets talk about some of the delicious food that I tasted recently:

The Tacos are messy, but oh so good. Out of the four that he cooks, I would give the nod to the pulled pork as that is probably the best pulled pork I’ve ever had, so moist, tender & flavourful. His Baja fish tacos come a close second. The fish is marinated and so very moist and flavourful. Chef Tarun makes his tacos very spicy probably a few notches hotter than most people would be expecting from a food truck at a winery, so if you like it hot, leave it be, but if you want it toned down, please let your server know how you like it.

Left: Chicken Tikka, Centre: Pulled Pork, Right: Baja Fish
(Soy-glazed Tofu not Pictured)

Now, let’s talk about fries. One word describes them: amazing. Thinly sliced, with crunchy exterior, yet perfectly tender inside and spices to match your palate. My favourite is his Cajun. He can up the heat if you like it, as I did as the top of my head was sweating, but I couldn’t stop eating them, so delicious. Masala spiced is my 2nd favourite followed by a tie with the salt n’ pepper and smoked paprika.

 

Chef Tarun’s nachos platter, which is a fusion cuisine dish influenced by his Indian culture and Tex Mex fusion, is deceiving large, and generally to be shared unless you’re really hungry.

Outside his regular menu, Chef Tarun will be featuring new options each week, I had the privilege to sample his Ice wine panna cotta with berry coulis, salted chocolate, strawberries, dehydrated mint and dill flowers. It was very flavourful, elegant and delicious. A true Niagara winery pleasure.

In conclusion Chef Tarun runs a great kitchen because he cares. There’s soul in his food and you feel that when you eat it; you just feel fulfilled.

Enjoying the Evening on the Patio with the Boutique Winery’s Manager; Chetan Chandratre and Chef Tarun

MAESTRAL ROSÉ 2109, IGP Gard, Southern France


Cost: $16.95
Grape: Grenache blend
Category: Rosé Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: France
Region: Gard, Southern France
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Maison Sinnae
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

A fresh, delicious, elegant rosé. Score: 90/100

Tasting Note: Rose gold in colour with good acidity, a medium intense nose & a fairly long length on the finish. Wine features Rainier cherries, pink grapefruit, watermelon, peach, wet stone & roses on the nose.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Nice classic style of the Southern France rosé bottles.

Pairings: Drink this now or in 3 – 4 yrs. on its own or pair it with Soupe au Pistou (Pistou Soup).

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: August 17, 2020

LCBO: 15135

FAUSTINO I GRAN RESERVA 2006, DOC Rioja, Spain


Cost: $31.95 (Clearance Price: $25.55)
Grape: Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Spain
Region: Rioja
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Faustino
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Very rustic in nature, which one would expect from a Gran Reserva 14 yrs in age, but still very youthful.  Score: 89/100

Tasting Note: Medium bright ruby in colour with good acidity, a medium intense nose, fine tannin & a long length on the finish. Wine features dried cherry & cranberry, Allspice, Star Anise, leather, cedar, oak resin, vanilla and cigar box on the nose.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Love the bottle

Pairings: Drink this now or in 10 yrs. on its own or pair it with Pisto Manchego.

My Opinion: Recommended

Tasted: August 14, 2020

LCBO: 976662

BORD ELEGANCE LAUDUN CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES 2018, AC Côtes du Rhône, France


Cost: $17.95
Grape: Mainly Grenache
Category: White Wine
Location: LCBO General List
Country: France
Region: Côtes du Rhône
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Brotte
Alcohol:  14% Alcohol/Vol.

It starts with roundness & elegance in the mouth & finishes with a nice clean crispness. Score: 89/100

Tasting Note: Light gold in colour with good acidity, a Low to medium intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features yellow plum, pear, white peach, apricot, green apple, wet stone & honeysuckle on the nose.

Negatives: None

Pairings: Drink this now or in 3 – 4 yrs. on its own or pair it with Crawfish Gumbo.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: August 13, 2020

LCBO: 644385

YALUMBA ORGANIC SHIRAZ 2018, South Australia, Australia


Cost: $17.95
Grape: Shiraz
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO General List
Country: Australia
Region: South Australia
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Yalumba
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Even though there’s a lot of spice, which is to be expected from Shiraz, this wine is very smooth & nice to see that it’s under 14% alcohol. Score: 89/100

Tasting Note: Medium to dark ruby with some purple in colour with good acidity, a Low to medium intense nose, mild tannins & a good length on the finish. Wine features plum, blackberry, mulberry, blueberry, peppercorn, Allspice & violets on the nose.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Shiraz & Syrah are the same grape, but generally Australia’s Shiraz is different from the Rhône style Syrah. This is very noticeable if you compare these grape styles with their appreciate glassware. I tried this wine in both style stemware & found that when I had it in the Syrah style, it should more roughness, so I chose the Shiraz style. Other interesting point is that the wine is Vegan friendly and organic.

Pairings: Drink this now or in 3 – 4 yrs. on its own or pair it with Roasted Duck Breasts with spiced blackberry Au Jus.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: August 12, 2020

LCBO: 280883