February 16, 2017 Newsletter

Newsletter highlights include:

Australia FlagVic Harradine files his first report from the Geographical Indication of Padthaway, one of South Australia’s premium GIs. He visited and tasted wine at Jip Jip Rocks; some available now in Vintages and others that are on the way. Click here to read their story—it will hopefully enhance your wine knowledge—along with reviews providing guidance for your wine-tasting pleasure.

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 4 of 36 wines meet the strict quality-price guidelines. They’re easily found throughout the newsletter via the exceptional-value checkmark above. Which strict quality-price guidelines? Click here. 
  • 5-star Wine – only one rang the 5-star bell. Rockway Vineyards ‘Wild Ferment’ Chardonnay 2014 @ $22.95 found under Ontario: White Wine.
  • Lisa Likes – Dandelion Vineyards ‘Lioness of McLaren Vale’ Shiraz 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $21.95 found under Feature: Australia Wine; Boodles ‘London Dry’ Gin earned 4 ½ stars @ $29.95 found under New in Vintages: Spirits; Paolo Conterno ‘Riva del Bric’ Barolo 2012 earned 4 ½ stars @ $44.95 found under Italy: Red Wine.
  • Vic Picks – Jip Jip Rocks Padthaway Chardonnay 2015 earned 4 ½ stars @ $16.95 found in Jip Jip Rocks article; Jim Barry ‘The Lodge Hill’ Shiraz 2013 earned 4 ½ stars @ $24.95 found under Feature: Australia Wine; Henry of Pelham ‘Speck Family - Reserve’ Baco Noir 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $24.95 found under Ontario: Red Wines; Gérard Bertrand ‘Grand Terroir Les Aspres’ Syrah/Mourvèdre/Grenache 2013 earned 4 ½ stars @ $18.95 found under France: Red Wine.

Access the LCBO store nearest you with stock of any wine with an LCBO product number by clicking on the number shown in brackets in wine reviews then clicking on ‘Select Stores’ and entering your postal code—the number of bottles available stock in stores near you is displayed—or by clicking ‘Check all stores’ where you’ll see stock available in all LCBO stores. For Vintages Release wines, stock should be displayed the Friday before a Saturday release, updated every 24 hours, some stores post earlier. LCBO Portfolio wines (not Vintages) should always closely reflect stock in stores, updated every 24 hours. However, it’s always best to phone stores showing stock before you go.

Vintages Release: February 18, 2017

• Lisa Isabelle provides comments, reviews and evaluations on wines she tasted at the current Vintages Release wine tasting while both Dave Isaacs and Lisa got into the spirit of things with reviews on some very good-value Tequila, Black Spiced Rum, Irish Whiskey and Gin.

Feature: Australian Wine

****1/2 drink now
Jansz ‘Premium Cuvée’ Sparkling Non-Vintage
Tasmania $26.95 (566828) 12.5% alcohol
One of Australia’s premium producers of bubbly, Jansz produced this in the rigorous Traditional Method with the final blend spending just over two years in bottle on its lees before being disgorged. It fills the glass with a generous mousse with fine-bead bubbles persisting throughout. Look for citrus tang, wisps of red berry fruit and notions of nutty notes on the crisp, clean finish. A terrific sparkler with which to greet guests. (Vic Harradine)

• The following wine’s fruit was sourced from an area dubbed, ‘Victoria’s High Country’—generally speaking high-altitude wines have a higher diurnal temperature range meaning there is a widened spread between the highs of the daily temperature and the cool of the night allowing fruit to remain on the vine longer to ripen—you’ll find vineyards at 150m to 650m here, low humidity, hills strewn with granite boulders, granitic soils and the near-perfect meso climate for crisp, well-balanced wine. The name of this wine tells a story—the ‘Stone Dwellers’ were the aboriginal people who originally lived here amongst the huge granite boulders.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Fowles ‘Stone Dwellers’ Shiraz 2013

Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria $19.95 (265967) 14.0% alcohol

This is very good value. Complex aromas of cedar, savory herbs and red cherry unleash a torrent of red current, briary black berry and chocolate-dipped black cherry. This is juicy, medium bodied, nicely textured and well balanced with a finish of cherry pie filling and blueberry jam. Pour alongside grilled strip loin. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Jim Barry ‘The Lodge Hill’ Shiraz 2013

Clare Valley, South Australia $24.95 (998476) 14.0% alcohol

Legions of red wine-lovers anxiously await each release of this well-priced, Aussie Shiraz from cooler-climate Clare Valley—this won’t disappoint. It opens with aromas of red and black berry fruit, licorice, spice and grilled herbs. A balanced-on-a-pin, medium-plus bodied wash of ripe mulberry and black currant is joined by racy red currant on the palate along with peppery spice. It finishes dry and mouth-watering good. Good to go now, a two-hour aeration/decant amplifies its many attributes. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Dandelion Vineyards ‘Lioness of McLaren Vale’ Shiraz 2014
McLaren Vale $21.95 (357475) 14.0% alcohol
Hand-picked grapes from a single vineyard are whole-bunch fermented before being pressed then aged in both new and old French oak barrel for 18 months. The wine is not filtered before bottling so as to capture the unique character of the vineyard. Aromas of cassis and dark plum accented with notes of cedar, mint and violet dominate the nose. A stream of vibrant, ripe dark fruit, spiced plum jam and vanilla bathes the palate and lingers through the long finish. Dry, full-bodied and smooth with a generous texture, this will not disappoint. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink now
Small Gully ‘Oscar’s Estate Vineyard’ Shiraz/Viognier 2013

Barossa Valley, South Australia $18.95 (287961) 15.0% alcohol

Spice-laden black currant and plum aromas are amplified on the palate by a gusher of ripe mulberry, black cherry and bramble berry tart. It’s full bodied and fully textured, balanced and structured. The purity of fruit mingles with peppery spice and persists through the lingering aftertaste. This is excellent value and well worth a multiple purchase; it’s drinking now to 2019. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

New in Vintages: Spirits

1800 Silver Tequila
Mexico $36.95 (227678) 750 mL 40.0 % alcohol
Made from 100% Weber Blue Agave and double distilled in copper pot stills, it’s named after the initial year this brand’s tequila was produced. Herbaceous aromas of agave meld with geranium, smoke and sea salt on the nose. Dry, mid-weight, fresh and smooth on the palate, agave dominates with hints of prune, black pepper and vanilla through the mid-length finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink now
The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
Trinidad and Tobago $30.95 (225698) 47% alcohol
Dark rum traditionally has flavour based on caramel and molasses. In this spiced version, flavours and aromas of toffee and burnt sugar are prominent with undertones of coffee, vanilla and cloves that make this as interesting as the legendary sea monster whose name it shares. If sipping straight or over ice, there’ll be a long spicy finish with an alcohol warmth to highlight the 94 proof. The Kraken website has lively, creative cocktail recipes. (Dave Isaacs)

Boodles ‘London Dry’ Gin
United Kingdom $29.95 (397539) 750 mL 45.2% alcohol
Boodles Gin, named after a Gentleman’s Club in London at one time frequented by author, Ian Fleming and Winston Churchill, is produced from British wheat and double distilled in a copper pot still with a unique botanical recipe. Light on the nose, it offers aromas of juniper, coriander, rosemary, nutmeg and acacia flower. Juniper takes the lead across the palate supported by sage, rosemary, coriander and a slight citrus peel bitterness. It’s smooth and elegant and can be enjoyed straight up with a slice of lemon or lime or paired with tonic water. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink now
Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Ireland $31.95 (14910) 40% alcohol
There’s excellent value here for anyone looking for a whiskey that’s as easy on the palette as it is on the wallet. It has an attractive bright-golden hue in the glass with aromas of lemon peel and steel cut oats on the nose. It's full bodied with citrus flavours and a warm smooth finish. While it's easy to drink straight, sipping this as the base for some hot Irish coffee is a fine way to while away time. (Dave Isaacs)

Sparkling Wine

**** drink now
Domaine J. Laurens ‘le Moulin’ Blanquette de Limoux Brut Non-vintage

AOC Blanquette de Limoux, France $19.95 (180323) $16.95 12.0% alcohol

This area is noted as the first in France to make sparkling wine and is vinified using at least 90% of the local Mauzac grape. This sparkling wine dishes up a nose of yeasty notes, citrus and peach before unleashing a profusion of glorious bubbles riding a wave of flavour—succulent white peach, racy lemon yoghurt and zesty pineapple. The crisp, refreshing aftertaste also makes its mark. This pours well as an aperitif or alongside roast fowl or seafood; it has the oomph and charm to handle both. (Vic Harradine

Ontario: White Wine

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Rockway Vineyards ‘Wild Ferment’ Chardonnay 2014

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $22.95 (484626) 13.5% alcohol

This displays stunning purity of fruit, balance, structure and charm—huge kudos to Rockway winemaker, David Stasiuk. Hand-harvested fruit was whole-cluster pressed, racked off coarse lees into French oak barrel where fermentation and malolactic conversion were followed by seven-months oak aging with lees stirring before bottling. Aromas of baking spice and orchard fruit give way to a gorgeously textured and complex, medium-bodied river of pineapple, lemon-lime and quince jelly. Pour alongside roast pork tenderloin. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse Winery ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2014

VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (89029) 10.0% alcohol

Opening with delicate aromas of Key lime, lemon and notions of flint and slate, this coats the palate with a deliriously delicious, sweet and tang flow of lime cordial, lemon curd and grilled pineapple. It’s balanced on a pin with persistent purity of fruit and lingering aftertaste that’s to die for. Exceptional wine at a wonderful price; pick up a few for easy drinking now to 2018. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham Estate Pinot Noir 2012

VQA Short Hills Bench (268391) $24.95 13.5 % alcohol

Delicate aromas of red cherry, pomegranate and red currant accented with floral notes and earthy forest floor float from the glass. Flavours of ripe red cherry, raspberry, sweet pipe tobacco and cloves bathe the palate. This well-balanced, medium-light bodied Pinot is dry and finishes mid length with fresh acidity and subtle tannins. Pair with roast duck with cranberry compote. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Speck Family - Reserve’ Baco Noir 2014

VQA Ontario $24.95 (461699) 13.5% alcohol

Here’s another gem from a series of fabulous, recent Baco Noir releases by this premium producer. Pipe tobacco, roasted herbs and exotic incense aromas abound. It bathes the palate with a full-fruited, beautifully textured stream of boysenberry jam, sweet black plum compote and oodles of spice. This is medium-plus bodied with a lingering finish. Poured perfectly with grilled, smoked back ribs slathered in spicy barbecue sauce. This was aged +18 months in premium American oak – now fully integrated. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellarOh Canada!
Huff Estates ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2014

VQA Prince Edward County $35.00 (489708) 12.0% alcohol

This was aged 18 months in French oak barrel before bottling—all seamlessly integrated now. Grilled herbs, hi-toned spice and cherry/berry fruit aromas grace the nose of this tang-laden, County Pinot. It dishes up racy pomegranate and spice-laden red cherry on the palate with wisps of sour cherry and plum skin on the finish. It’s mid weight with a mouth-watering aftertaste. Very good now, this will benefit from a bit more time to knit together, perhaps a further 6 -12 months in bottle—it’ll reward patience. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

**** drink now
Lander-Jenkins Chardonnay 2014
California $18.95 (162651) 13.0% alcohol
The nose on this creamy-textured Chardonnay is rich with Granny Smith apple, lemon zest and guava along with vanilla and butterscotch notes. Full bodied and dry, the palate showcases riper flavours of spice baked apple and lemon curd balanced by a mouth-watering citrus tang which lingers through the lengthy finish. Enjoy with roast fowl or veal. (Lisa Isabelle)

California: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Irony Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Napa Valley $22.95 (25106) 14.5% alcohol
Enticing aromas of blackberry and chocolate-dipped cherries with notions of mint, cedar and vanilla leap from the glass of this dry, medium-full bodied, good-value red. The juicy dark berry fruit washes over the palate while a touch of well-integrated oak provides a pleasant, polished mid-length finish. Serve with braised beef short ribs. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar
Joseph Carr Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $38.95 (409151) 13.9 % alcohol
Aromas of cassis and plum preserves with hints of mint and violet are revealed in this dry, full-bodied red. With firm tannins, fresh acidity and a refined structure; it offers a flavourful blend of dark berry fruit, grilled herbs and baking spices on the palate which persist through the lingering aftertaste. Serve with a seasoned grilled steak. (Lisa Isabelle)

Argentina: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Finca Flichman Expresiones Reserve Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Mendoza $15.95 (17111) 14.5 % alcohol
Savoury grilled herbs, black pepper and spicy salami meld with ripe blackberry and red cherry on the nose of this medium-full bodied, tangy blend. This dry red shows good value, length and structure, showcasing flavours of ripe berries, baking spices and mint through the medium-long finish. Serve with your choice of grilled red meat. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink now
Versado Malbec 2013

Luján de Cuyo $25.95 (317008) 14.8% alcohol

Canada’s Ann Sperling and husband, Peter Gamble, are the magicians behind this big, bold Malbec. Inky, opaque, the basket of aromas includes a bevy of black fruits, sweet spice and notions of cedar. Dry, full bodied, the palate is awash with plush, velvety black fruit, while fine-grained underlying tannins and fine acidity create balance. There’s warmth on the finish and appealing notes of vanilla, toast, dried fruits and white pepper adding to the intensity of the wine. Savour and serve with rare grilled meats. (Susan Desjardins)

France: White Wine

**** drink now
Allimant-Laugner Pinot Gris 2014
AOC Alsace $20.95 (61317) 12.5 % alcohol
Delicate, pure fruit aromas of peach, pear and quince highlighted by notes of honeysuckle lift easily from the glass. This is off-dry and medium bodied with a smooth, round texture balanced stream of racy acidity. The orchard fruit replays on the palate and persists through the medium-long finish. It pours well with spicy shrimp spring rolls. (Lisa Isabelle)

France: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Gérard Bertrand ‘Grand Terroir Les Aspres’ Syrah/Mourvèdre/Grenache 2013

AOC Côtes du Roussillon $18.95 (413245) 14.0% alcohol

This is value-laden, balanced on a pin and fully fruited with depth and concentration. Aromas of baking spice, roasted herbs and dark berry fruit introduce a creamy smooth surge of black currant, bittersweet chocolate-dipped cherries and wisps of fennel and mineral notes. It’s full bodied with a lengthy mouth-watering aftertaste and a boatload of charm. Dare I say… yummy. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Tenuta di Ghizzano Veneroso 2012
DOC Terre di Pisa $29.95 (103218) 13.0% alcohol
This expressive Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend shows intense purity of fruit and substantial concentration of flavour. The aromas are complex and layered with red cherry, Damson plum and blackberry leading the charge followed by nuances of tea, lavender and an earthy minerality. Succulent red and dark fruit, violet and cloves, framed by a well-defined structure and well-integrated use of oak, linger through the long, enlivening finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Paolo Conterno ‘Riva del Bric’ Barolo 2012
DOCG Barolo $44.95 (172783) 14.5 % alcohol
Pale garnet in colour, this good-value Barolo offers subtle notes of red cherry, red currant and fig with notes of roses and tar, typical for the Nebbiolo grape. There’s a firm wash of tangy tart cherry, raspberry and dark plum with an undercurrent of pipe tobacco, truffles and a mineral quality that engulfs the palate. This well-balanced red is dry, full-bodied with velvety, fined-grained tannin and a long warm finish. Enjoy with braised veal with mushrooms. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar
Casa Girelli ‘Virtuoso’ Primitivo 2013
IGT Puglia $16.95 (23424) 14.0% alcohol
The 100% Primitivo fruit in this wine was sourced from 35-year-old vines from two vineyards, each having their own distinct soil and microclimate. Inky and opaque, it opens with intense ripe dark fruit aromas interwoven with fruitcake spice, cocoa and vanilla. This easy-drinking, very good value red is dry and full bodied with soft, silky texture and concentrated flavours of blackberry, blackcurrant, plums and baking spice persisting through the long finish. Pair with Chile con Carne. (Lisa Isabelle)

Portugal: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Symington Altano 2014
DOC Douro $12.95 (579862) 13.5% alcohol
This blend of premium Port grapes—Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Tinta Barocca—from the pioneering Symington family in the Douro region—offers a lifted nose of spiced red fruit with vanilla and floral notes. A river of juicy red and dark cherry mingling with spice and cocoa wash over the palate. This dry, medium-bodied, lively red offers exceptional value and a delicious compliment to grilled Chorizo sausages or simply enjoy as a weeknight sipper. (Lisa Isabelle)

Spain: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Abad Dom Bueno Crianza 2006 

DO Bierzo $15.95 (244699) 13.6% alcohol 

This is highly and heavenly aromatic—a bouquet of cedar, floral notes and spice-infused dark berry fruit waft over the glass of this well-aged ‘Mencia’, an ancient grape recently identified as being DNA-similar to the Portuguese, Jaen do Dão. There’s mid weight, nice texture, deft balance and depth here. The red cherry, black currant and ripe mulberry dazzle the palate and senses then dominate the long tangy aftertaste along with wisps of still-resolving tannin—aerate/decant a couple of hours before serving to ameliorate them. Terrific value here. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rioja Bordón Reserva 2009

DOCa Rioja $19.95 (194753) 14.0% alcohol

Primarily Tempranillo, there’s Garnacha and Mazuelo in here, as well—the fruit was aged 18 months in American oak. Aromas of red cherry, mixed spice and cedar open the floodgates to a nicely balanced fruit-forward wash of black berry, pomegranate and black plum entwined with spice and notes of truffles. It’s mid weight with good texture and a fruity finish showcasing balance and lip-smacking tang. Good to go now, pour with prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Ramirez de la Piscina Crianza 2012
DOCa Rioja $15.95 (383018) 14.0% alcohol
This 100% Tempranillo spent 15 months in French and American oak barrel and another eight months in bottle before release. Dense and opaque, ruby red in colour, it highlights alluring aromas of spice-laden berry fruit, vanilla and red licorice. Dry, medium-full bodied, the perceptible tannins combine with mouth-watering ripe berry fruit and spice flavours persisting through the mid-length finish. Pour this with sausage marinara over penne pasta. (Lisa Isabelle)

Wines reviewed in the Jip Jip Rocks feature follow. Click here for the full story.

• The following two Jip Jip Rocks wines were recently released and are available Now in Vintages

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Jip Jip Rocks Chardonnay 2015

Padthaway, South Australia $16.95 (175752) 12.5% alcohol

Proving once again that Jip Jip rocks, this fully textured, nicely balanced 2015 Chardonnay punches well above the price—we need to see more Chardonnay from Padthaway. Orchard and tropical fruit aromas make way for a mid-weight, nicely textured wash of ripe red apple, juicy pear and lemon citrus setting up a crisp refreshing aftertaste. Pour with pan-seared fish or supermarket, rotisserie roast chicken. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz/Cabernet 2014

Padthaway, South Australia $16.95 (186114) 14.5% alcohol

This crowd-friendly red blend—60% Shiraz/40% Cabernet Sauvignon—was produced from the 5th generation Bryson family’s estate fruit spending 13 months in French and American oak before bottling. Aromas and flavours of peppery spice, dark berry fruit and excellent tang abound. A rich luscious wave of bramble berry, black Bing cherry and baking spice show great balance, depth and satin-smooth texture on the palate and lingering, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Very good value here. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release dates: TBD

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Jip Jip Rocks Chardonnay 2016

Padthaway, South Australia $16.95 (175752) 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of tropical fruit, floral notes and wisps of honey furl from the nose of this medium-bodied, value-packed Chardonnay. It bathes the palate with a nicely balanced, textured and tangy stream of white peach and yellow plum juxtaposed with racy lemon pie filling. Clean, crisp and refreshing, it finishes with a delightful wisp of ginger, it pours exceptionally well on its own and pairs with grilled calamari, roast pork or chicken. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2015

Padthaway, South Australia $16.95 (673897) 14.5% alcohol
This complex, delectable red shimmers with ripe, black fruit, deft balance and excellent tang. Aromas of juicy black currant and mulberry interlace with floral notes. A generous mouthful of currant and mulberry coat the palate mingling with good acidity and baking spice—it spent 12 – 13 months in 75% French and 25% American oak that’s now nicely integrated. Fruit and tang persist through the lengthy finish. This punches well above the price. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Padthaway, South Australia $16.95 (186114) 14.5% alcohol
This’ll knock your socks off given the price-quality balance tipped so wildly in your favour. It’s rich, ripe and rarin’ to go, dripping with juicy ripe fruit along with balancing tang and acidity bathing the palate—red and black currant with wisps of peppery spice and minty notes. It’s medium-full bodied with good texture and complexity throughout. The finish lingers, lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Morambro Creek Chardonnay from Jip Jip Rocks aged 10 months in French oak, 35% new, 65% second fill. Fruit selected from prime blocks on the Estate using ambient and cultured yeasts, partial barrel ferment, left on lees and stirred with partial malolactic conversion. The final wine was carefully assembled from select barrels.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Morambro Creek Chardonnay 2014
Padthaway, South Australia $35.00 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of nutmeg and cinnamon interweave with wisps of orchard fruit on the nose of this deftly balanced, medium-plus weight, gorgeously textured Chardonnay. A profusion of fruit and tang envelope the palate with juicy ripe pear and white nectarine juxtaposed with lemony tang, mineral notes, racy white grapefruit and a ginger snap on the long luxurious aftertaste. This is complex with persistent purity of fruit and considerable structure. Fabulous now, even better in 2018. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

• The following Martini Cab is $3.00 off the regular price shown below from now until Feb. 26, 2017 making it an extremely attractive buy at $16.45

**** drink or cellar
Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Sonoma County $19.45 (292151) 14.0 % alcohol
This approachable, versatile red offers intense aromas of blackberry, cassis, roasted red pepper and cedar. Dry, medium-full bodied, with perceptible tannin, the palate is supple and juicy with ripe dark plums, blackberry coulis, tobacco and a hint of vanilla. Pour alongside peppercorn steak. (Lisa Isabelle)

Cheers, Vic and Lisa