August 31, 2016

LCBO Sale Pick of the Week: Red Wine

Viña Real 2012 Rioja Crianza
Rioja, Spain

Sale: $17.95
Regular: $18.95
Discount (until Sept. 11, 2016): $1.00
Vintages #657411 | 750 mL bottle

Tastes like: That lovely balance between fresh plum and cherry and the mature woody elements that are pure Rioja goodness.
Pairs with: Grilled meats and poultry, charcuterie, pigs in a blanket, burgers.
Good for: An easy Friday night in the backyard (or at the cottage) with friends, a grill full of food, and not a care in the world.
Drink: Ready right now.

Why were drinking this
Quite simply, Rioja is a reliable (and delicious) wine. The rules governing its production matched with fierce Spanish pride mean you can’t really go wrong with any legitimate Rioja. The term itself indicates the region of Spain, which has been producing wine for centuries (possibly even a millennium). The wines are usually a mix of grapes, with Tempranillo leading the way in the reds, and are released at different levels of aging. This one, a Crianza, has enjoyed 12 months in French and American oak barrels and then a further year of age in bottles before being released. This time and care produces a notable smoothness, with well-integrated flavours and texture elements.

Tasting note
This is a modern Rioja produced in a fresh, lighter style. Being Crianza, it’s more fruity and less earthy than the more aged Riojas (Reserva and Gran Reserva). It’s a really nice style, meant for easy drinking (or daily drinking if you’re so inclined). Expect lots of black and red berries, cherry and plum, plus some gently earthy notes of tobacco leaf, dust and black tea. It’s very dry and a bit rustic — great with big meaty dishes.


August 25, 2016

LCBO Sale Pick of the Week: White Wine (Essentials)

Flat Rock 2014 Twisted White
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

Sale: $16.15
Regular: $17.15
Discount (until Sept. 11, 2016): $1.00
Vintages (Essentials) #1578 | 750 mL bottle

Tastes like: Crisply tropical flavours of banana, grapefruit, mango, melon and apple, with lots of lime and sweet honey overtones.
Pairs with: Pad thai or pho, spicy calamari, pulled pork, lobster/crab, very good cheeses.
Good for: Mid-week take out or trolling Netflix for some good stand up.
Drink: Ready right now.

Why were drinking this
We’re huge fans of anything Twisted. Flat Rock has arguably pioneered creative blending in Ontario and this fetching mix of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay is a perennial favourite. It’s just this side of off dry, which means you’ll notice the sweetness but it’s wonderfully balanced with the fruit and acidity. Truly, you can’t not like this wine.

Tasting note
A really pretty nose of lime and tropical fruits, green apple and honey, and lots of mango and melon. Yeah, it’s a bit of a fruit salad, until you take a taste and notice that there’s also alcohol in there. (OK, arguably, Grand Marnier in a bowl of cut fruit would get you pretty close.) But don’t sell this wine short: it’s a seriously crafted and thoroughly delightful blend, drawing on Ontario’s best-performing white grape varieties and giving them a sweet little symphony to play along with. Sip this wine and you’ll be happy. Or pair it with some creatively spiced dishes or serious cheese and get ready to have some fun.


August 24, 2016

LCBO Sale Pick of the Week: White Wine (Vintages)

Mission Hill 2014 Chardonnay Reserve
Okanagan Valley, B.C.

Sale: $19.95
Regular: $21.95
Discount (until Sept. 11, 2016): $2.00
Vintages (Essentials) 545004| 750 mL bottle

Tastes like: Fresh apple, bright citrus and lemon curd, and a touch of green herbs.
Pairs with: Roast chicken, souvlaki, risotto, mushroom omelet, quiche, pork tenderloin.
Good for: A sip on a warm day after a cooling dip in a lake or pool.
Drink: Now through 2020.

Why were drinking this
The folks at Mission Hill sure know Chardonnay. It’s now been more than 20 years since Mission Hill won the Best Chardonnay in the World award at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in the United Kingdom. You get grapes from some of those same vines in this value-packed Chardonnay Reserve. Located in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, Mission Hill spends considerable time and effort on studying and understating the soils and microclimates of the region. The grapes in this wine come from vineyards in Oliver, Osoyoos and the Naramata Bench, just about spanning the entire length of the valley and providing a diverse array of flavours.

Tasting note
Fresh apple leaps from the glass, followed by notes of melon, citrus, lemon curd and lime. It’s just kissed with a little vanilla and sweet oak. The palate is dry, with medium acidity and body. It’s a bracing wine, focused and quite tight, with wet stone and sappy green herbs. It’s lip-smackingly good. It’s also still quite young, and will soften and mellow nicely over the next few years.





August 24, 2016

LCBO Sale Pick of the Week: Red Wine (General List)

La Vieille Ferme 2015 Cotes Du Ventoux AOC
Rhône, France

Sale: $11.10
Regular: $12.60
Discount (until Sept. 11, 2016): $1.50
LCBO #263640 | 750 mL bottle

Tastes like: Straight-up fresh raspberry/cherry with a little bit of earthiness and some nice fresh herbs.
Pairs with: Easy bites and canapés, tea sandwiches, mixed nuts, good crackers and cheese.
Good for: Garden or patio parties when you just want a nice and easy drinker (no, we don’t mean your crazy uncle).
Drink: Now thru 2018.

Why were drinking this
La Vieille Ferme is the entry level wine from the venerable Perrin family that has been making wine in the Rhone Valley of the south of France for centuries. It’s never a blockbuster, but it’s always good and it’s always cheap. And it varies year to year, some being better than others, which is an honest reflection of the vagaries of vintage variation. No guff, this is a pretty good wine to have on hand at all times. Anyone who complains about it is a snob, and you might not want him or her around anyway.

Tasting note
This is a wine that enjoys a nice chill. Take it down a few degrees below room temperature to enhance the fresh fruit on the nose and brighten up the palate. The grapes are Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah. They provide lots of raspberry- cherry aromas, and more of the same on the palate, though it’s not quite as lively in the mouth. It’s a lean wine, a bit crisp and steely, and with not a hint of oak. So if you like big bruisers, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But this is more than appropriate for a summer afternoon with cheese, charcuterie and other snacks — and it’ll refresh just fine.