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Canadian Wine Guy

Gray Monk Cabernet/Merlot 2013

We don’t get enough Okanagan wines in Ontario, so when I get a chance I jump in with both feet. Inky dark in color with a mild dark berry nose, about the only thing mild about this wine. On the mid palate the wine displays lovely black berries to match the nose, some nice mocha and oak. On the medium length finish the wine displays some lovely rich tannins and bold acidity. This is a slightly young wine, but I like my wines bigger anyway. I would give it an 88+ Very nice for the price. It should have some good longevity as well! The LCO say medium bodied and fruity? It’s a lot bigger than that would suggest IMHO. I would give it an 88+

From the LCBO web site:
Gray Monk Cabernet/Merlot 2013 — VINTAGES#: 464123
STYLE – Medium-bodied & Fruity
Celebrating its 45th year of vineyard operations in 2017, Gray Monk is the oldest family-owned winery in British Columbia. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot shows juicy cherry and plum with a touch of oak influence and supple tannins. Pair with barbecued lamb chops and bell peppers. (Vintages panel, March 2017)
Release Date:August 19, 2017
Alcohol/Vol 13.4% Made in:British Columbia, Canada By: Gray Monk Cellars Ltd. Sugar Content:2 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra Dry Style:Medium-bodied & Fruity

-- Sun, 15 Oct 2017 22:39:25 +0000

2014 Miner Wild yeast Chard (mini review)

Another one from the Profile Group portfolio tasting, in fact my favorite of the night. Slightly golden in color with a lovely varietal chard nose with lots of apple and pear coming through. On the mid palate the wine matches the nose with lovely rich apple and pear. On the medium length finish the wine’s elegance and complexity comes through. This not a over oaked chard but instead is rich and full bodied with lovely acidity. I would give this a solid 90. Available in cases of 6 for $63.95 a bottle.

from the winery’s web site:
Full-bodied and lush, yet never heavy, our Wild Yeast Chardonnay shows off flavors of ripe pear and melon with butterscotch and hazelnut notes balanced by oak spice and bright acidity. This is a wildly expressive wine that will reward a few years of patient cellaring, but can be enjoyed today, as well. The grapes are fermented using only indigenous or "wild" yeast cultures found on the skins of the grapes themselves, in the vineyards and within the walls of our winery.

-- Thu, 12 Oct 2017 12:08:33 +0000

2016 Flaxbourne Sauv Blanc (mini review)

Pale in color with a mild slightly grassy nose. On the mid palate the wine matches the nose with lovely rich grassy notes. On the medium length finish the wine displays some lovely grapefruit and firm acidity that build nicely in the mouth. This is a bigger bolder edgy sauv blanc. Yum, just the way I like them! I would give it an 88+ $18.95 a bottle in cases of 6 from Profile Wine group.

-- Tue, 10 Oct 2017 12:28:32 +0000

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2014 Vinetti De Fiorini Chianti Superiore Docg Chianti

A while back I did a tasting and write up on chiantis. I enjoy them, they pair well with rabbit and pastas. I even use a chianti to marinate my rabbit stew! This on is dark in color with a mild nose of red cherries and some dried fruits. On the mid palate the wine displays some lively vibrant cherry and dried fruits to match the nose along with a hint of sweetness. This is definitely a fruit forward varietal chianti. On the medium length finish there’s some mild tannins and acidity. A very food friendly wine. I paired it with veal schnitzel and it went well. I would give it an -88 which is not a bad deal. This is in the general list at the LCBO.

From the LCBO web site:
Vinetti De Fiorini Chianti Superiore Docg — LCBO#: 488577
STYLE – Full-bodied & Firm
Alcohol/Vol 12.5% Made in: Tuscany, Italy By: Gustinvest Spa Sugar Content:2 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra Dry

From the winery:
AGE OF VINES: 20-30 years old
HARVEST TIME: Last ten days of September; manual
VINIFICATION METHOD: Special rolling presses are used to treat the grapes as gently as possible. Fruit is then placed in temperature-controlled tanks. After fermentation, the wine is filtered and fine-tuned in casks located in cellars provided with temperature and humidity control, where it remains for at least 12 months — until sampled by the Official DOCG Commission for final approval before bottling.
SERVING TEMPERATURE: 17-180 C (62.6-64.40 F)
FOOD PAIRINGS: Red meat, roasts, spicy or flavorful pasta and Mediterranean dishes.
COLOR: Deep ruby red with purple reflections
BOUQUET: Intense and characteristic, fruity with violet notes
PALATE: Round and fruity, well balanced components fine-tuned by ageing in traditional casks; long, consistent finish

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-- Sat, 07 Oct 2017 19:15:59 +0000

2016 Chateau Haut Selve white (mini review)

Pale in color with a slightly floral and citrus nose. On the mid palate the wine matches the nose with lovely crisp citrus notes. On the medium length finish the wine displays some lively food friendly acidity. A beautiful expression of sauv blanc with floral notes coming through from the semillon and sauv gris. I would give it an 88+ $26.95 a bottle from Profile Wine Group

From the winery’s web site:
Unique creation in the 20th century in Bordeaux, Château Haut Selve offers a Graves Blanc with a citrus attack that develops in roundness, due to an assemblage that gives pride to the supple grape varieties that are the Sauvignon blanc, semillon, and sauv gris (50%/40%/10%) and ends slowly on a mineral note, echoing the rocky soil where its grapes grow.

-- Wed, 04 Oct 2017 12:23:40 +0000

Mionetto Prestige Prosecco Treviso Doc Brut (mini review)

I enjoy Proseccos … super food friendly. The other night I had a little dinner part complete with charcuterie platter and started off with a Proseco. They are super food friendly cut through fatty or spicy foods easily. Yum. This one pale in color with nice crisp nose. On the mid palate it matches the nose with lovely crisp dry notes, some citrus flavors and lovely minerality. On the medium length finish the wine displays some lovey acidity, another lovely Prosecco. I would give it an 88 or so which for the price is a good deal!

From the LCBO web site:
Mionetto Prestige Prosecco Treviso Doc Brut — LCBO#: 483339
STYLE – Light & Fruity
$13.95WAS $16.95 SAVE $3.00 Limited Time Offer Until October 8, 2017
Alcohol/Vol 11.0% Made in: Veneto, Italy By:Henkell & Sohnlein Sektkellereien Sugar Content:11 g/L Sweetness Descriptor:D – Dry Style:Light & Fruity

-- Mon, 02 Oct 2017 13:13:09 +0000

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2014 Redstone cab franc

3 images in all.

Every now and then my hobbies overlap. In this case I was down in Niagara to paddle Jordan Harbour in my Kayak. Afterwards I was hungry so slipped over to Redstone’s patio for lunch and some tasting. I had previously stopped by Redstone and was impressed so decided to stop by again and was rewarded. They have a lovely patio and I chose this wine to go with Elk Stroganoff. Both were positively delicious. Staff on the patio were attentive and knowledgeable.

Inky dark in color with a lovely expressive cab franc nose. On the mid palate the wine matches the nose with lovely varietal cab franc flavors. This is a spot on, well made bold wine. On the medium length finish the wine displays some lovely tanins and bright acidity. It paired perfectly with the elk. I would give it -89. $39.95 at the winery. Unfortunately when I went into the tasting bar it was stupid busy, staff were distracted and not able to answer questions, so I didn’t get a chance to try any others 🙁

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-- Sat, 30 Sep 2017 00:26:05 +0000

2016 Alois Laegder Pinot Grigio (mini review)

Another one from the Mark Anthony portfolio tasting. Pale in color with a nice peach/stone fruit nose. On the mid palate the wine spot on matches the nose with peach and stone fruits dominating a nice fruit forward wine. It’s spot on what I look for in a grigio. On the medium length finish the wine displays some nice food friendly acidity. I would give it an 88 or so. $22 a bottle from Mark Anthony .

From the winery’s web site:
Description: Brillant, clear, straw yellow with a golden shimmer delicate aromas, pronounced bouquet, fruity (peach, melone) exotic spices, mineral
Mouth: Medium bodied, quite rich, fruity, spicy, fresh, dry. Best to be drunk: 1-5 years
Origin: Selected vineyard sites in the southern part of the Alto Adige appellation, 230 to 420 metres a.s.l. (750 – 1,380 feet) rocky, sandy soil and with an important content of limes tone. Age of the vines: 5 – 62 years
Harvested: 30 August – 3 October 2016
Vinification: Fermentation: temperature control, in stainless steel tanks Maturation: on the lees in stainless steel tanks (approximately 4 months)
Alcohol: 12.5 % by vol.
Acidity: 5.2 g / litre
Bottled: February 2017

-- Wed, 27 Sep 2017 12:58:31 +0000

2012 Mission Hill Compendium (mini review)

Inky dark in color with a lovely black berry nose. On the mid palate the wine matches the nose with lovely rich bold black berries. This wine, like a lot of Oakanagan wines is a big wine. If you like soft, gentle elegant wines … eh give it ten years 🙂 On the long finish the wine displays some lovely firm velvety tanins, rich dryness and vibrant acidity that linger in the mouth. I would give this a solid 89+, but make sure you serve this with something equally rich! It’s not available in the LCBO but available from Mark Anthony for ~$60 a bottle in cases of 6. Did I mention Yumm?

From the winery’s web site:
The 2012 season started well and early Spring conditions were settled with a couple of chilly mornings, but no frost damage. Bud break was nearly on time, but June brought cooler weather with consistent, intermittent rainfall – nearly half of the normal annual precipitation. A warm and dry summer ensured ideal fruit development. The continuation of mild, sunny autumn weather allowed the grapes to develop thick skins and gave rise to expectations of flavourful, extracted wines.

Tasting Notes
The 2012 is distinctive, with black currant and Italian plum aromas and flavours up front, but also displays blackberry, with wild herb and star anise notes. Elegant and concentrated, this wine presents a core of fruit accented by youthful tannins that will soften in the short term.
Winemaker Notes
Harvested October 2012 from Oliver (5%) and Osoyoss (95%) vineyards
Aging Aged in French oak barrels for 14 months
Alcohol % 14.2
TA 5.6 g/L
Bottling Date December 9, 2014
Production 103 barrels produced.

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-- Mon, 25 Sep 2017 13:24:43 +0000

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2016 Matua Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Pale in color with a nice grassy nose, leaping up at you. On the mid palate the wine matches the nose with nice grassy notes along with citrus flavors. On the medium length finish the wine displays some lovely crisp acidity, and maybe even some pineapple. This is a typical, food friendly, New Zealand sauv blanc. I would give it an 88 or so. The LCBO say Aromatic and Flavourful and couldn’t agree more!

From the LCBO web site:
Matua Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc — LCBO#: 619452
STYLE – Aromatic & Flavourful
Sauvignon Blanc Crafted off the beaten track in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay, this crisp Sauvignon Blanc boasts classic regional flavours, from pear to pineapple. $16.95
Release Date:November 18, 2016
Alcohol/Vol 13.0% Made in: New Zealand By: Matua Valley Wines Ltd Sugar Content:5 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra Dry Style:Aromatic & Flavourful

-- Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:58:13 +0000

2010 Hidden Bench La Brunante

This past weekend started on the Friday with the iconic ’09 Insignia so I thought on Saturday it would be worth pulling out one of the best Bordeaux style blends Canada has to offer. A great many Ontarians, let alone Canadians, have little understanding of the quality wine that our country produces. For every bottle of plonk that is made domestically (marketed to a bargain basement price point) there are tremendous examples of craftsmanship and excellence that are tucked away from plain sight. Hidden Bench is one of those producers that few are vaguely aware of, and only if they peruse the local Vintages section of their LCBO . The winery only has, on occasion, three wines that grace the shelves of the LCBO and the two principle staples are estate blends. The wine today is Hidden Bench’s answer to the Insignia, and while people may scoff at the concept, it is not a far off idea that the quality of the two are similar. The variation in growing conditions, volume of growing land and the regions terroir are what make the differences. La Brunante (as well as wines like Fielding ‘s Chosen Few and even Trius ‘ Grand Red to name a few others) is a shining of example of how solid the Niagara region can be on big reds.

Usually I go into the a bit of detail on the winemaking overview or ideas, but I thought I’d share the winemaker’s words on this in verbatim:

La Brunante is the flagship Bordeaux style blend from Hidden Bench made only in the best years where optimum maturity and flavour development are achieved in the vineyard. This small‐lot wine was harvested from our highest performing Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc parcels across our three show/hide remainder of description Estate vineyards. Yields from this blocks were extremely low (less than 1.5 metric tonne per acre on average) which contributes to the concentration and power of the wine. All blocks used in this assemblage were fermented separately in small batches, hand‐plunged to gently extract ripe tannins, and then gravity transferred to barrel. Malolactic fermentation occurred spontaneously in barrel via natural bacteria. The wine was blended at the first racking of the six barrels in April 2011, and then returned to the same barrels. After a further 13 months in barrel, the wine was bottled using gravity. This wine has never been pumped, fined or filtered.

So what did it taste like and what were the thoughts? Here you go:

On the decant the inky violet colour stood out, I often take this to indicate solid fruit and youth, something I was not expecting from a 7 year old wine. The nose had currants and black pepper, and was surprising "soft". That was the last time I’d use the word soft when it came to this wine. The initial tastes were raspberries, black currants and plum. It was bold on the palate to start with a long finish. The tannins were still very solid and this wine has more time in bottle to be had. The fruit was still strong and the word deep and heavy come to mind. The more time in glass eased this complex wine and brought out more subtleties, including more pepper and hints of tobacco. This is a very good wine, it has excellent structure and great fruit. If you own some bottles you should be richly rewarded by properly cellaring them for 2-5 more years. However, it is drinking brilliantly now with a good 20 minute decant. Open this wine to fool your friends who are California or old world wine snobs, as it will shock them to find out the origin.

The CWG Subjective Rating is 95 out of 100. 2010 La Brunante

-- Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:24:06 +0000

2009 Joseph Phelps Insignia

"Time improves most things" a quote which can be debated in almost any scenario, including those concerning wine. Some wine simply will never get better with time, while some can improve drastically with some care and patience. This 2009 Joseph Phelps Insignia was not in need of large improvements, however 7+ years of deep slumber have softened this giant to the point of near perfection. I was fortunate to have tried this from the barrel and soon after bottling, both of which hinted at a big wine in need of some settling. Last year I opened one from the cellar and even with a long decant the wine was still young and precocious. All of the previous encounters screamed "lay this down for much longer"; but this time around the porridge tasted "just right" after a brief decant.

For those not familiar with one of Napa’s top offerings here is a bit of history. Starting with its release in 1978 (of 1974 vintage), Joseph Phelps has produced this Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, Bordeaux style blend on an annual basis. Their flagship wine has been a consistent top product for the region, even earning perfect scores of 100 over several vintages as recently as 2002 from Robert E Parker, a rare feat. These wines are 100% estate grown and every year it varies, as the winemaker takes the best of the best to blend these beauties.

For 2009, this is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec from 100% estate-grown Napa Valley vineyards that break down as follows: Stags Leap District (26% Barboza Vineyard and 24% Las Rocas Vineyard), St. Helena (27% Spring Valley Ranch Vineyard), Napa Valley (11% Suscol Vineyard) and Oak Knoll District (6% Yountville Vineyard).

So what did it look and taste like? Off the decant the deep purple, fruit forward colour was vibrant. The initial nose had hints of cherry, blackberry and tobacco. The first few sips were full mouthed and chewy, with the fruit still very big show/hide remainder of description and in your face. The cherry persisted with cassis, shades of vanilla and a bit of blackberry remained. The tannins were pleasantly firm to start and soft (yet long) to finish. I would highly recommend 25-30 minutes of decanting to start, as the wine is still quite youthful, and truly this wine could handle 3-5 more years of cellaring. With such amazing structure, phenomenal fruit and the excellent winemaking, the 2009 Insignia is a superstar in your cellar if you own it.

As a note, it is difficult to get Insignias in Canada, and sadly the LCBO in Ontario makes a large margin on them when they do have them. Currently they have 2008 and 2013 available, both of which are at hefty price increases. If you do have the ability to travel to Napa or somewhere in the United States that does not want to double/triple the costs, I highly recommend buying your personal allowance and bringing them back, they are one of those wines you will be richly rewarded with for your effort.

The CWG Subjective Rating is 97 out of 100. 09′ Insignia

-- Mon, 18 Sep 2017 14:24:35 +0000

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2006 Meerlust Rubicon

I had the pleasure of attending my first ever South African Wine Society event where they were featuring a vertical of 10 of Meerlust’s Rubicon Bordeaux blend wine. This one was the star of the night for me. Inky dark in color with a mild cab franc dominant nose. On the mid palate the wine displays some beautiful bold, rich cab franc dominate flavors, black berries and the like. On the medium length finish the wine displays some lovely bold tannins, great complexity and beautiful mouth puckering dryness. If your getting a hint that I liked this wine … I did! If you like your wines smooth and elegant … ahh this ain’t the wine for you. But if your up to a wine that offers big bold flavors from start to finish, then it’s perfect … This wine should have lots of life left in it, in spite of already being 11 years old. Very impressive. Right now I would give it a 90 or so … Sadly not only not in the LCBO, but you can buy it from Lifford for $54.99 (for the current 2014 vintage). I would have to say this is hands down one of the best South African reds I’ve had to date. Yumm…

By the way if your ever looking for a wine rep here in Ontario to buy a case from you can use Drinks Ontario to search.

Winery’s notes:
2006 – 74% cab sauvignon, 8% merlot and 18% cab franc. Very deep, youthful colour, intense almost purple hue. Very classic Rubicon nose with violets, ripe plum, cedar wood and intense spiceyness. Still very young but brooding, promising further maturation potential. The palate is full bodied, structured but packed with fresh dark fruit and rounded, linear tannins.

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-- Sun, 17 Sep 2017 21:23:02 +0000

2016 Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon

Inky dark in color with a black berry nose. On the mid palate the wine matches the nose with black berries screaming through. While this is a blend with Cab, the shiraz is the dominant flavor. You could easily close your eyes and not know there was any cab … On the medium length finish the wine displays some smooth tannins, and some acidity. There’s no pepper on this one at all. Alcohol is well under control. This is a good, softer, fruit forward shiraz. The LCBO describe it as full bodied and smooth, I think that’s pretty accurate. I would give it an -88.

From the LCBO web site:
Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon — LCBO#: 311795
Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon
STYLE – Full-bodied & Smooth
Deep ruby purple colour; dry and full-bodied with medium tannins, ripe blackberry and oaky vanilla aromas and flavours; long finish $14.95
Release Date:January 1, 2001
Alcohol/Vol 13.5% Made in: Australia By: Mildara Blass Limited Sugar Content: 6 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra Dry Style:Full-bodied & Smooth

-- Wed, 13 Sep 2017 15:30:47 +0000

Watchdog Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Dark in color with a mild cherry nose. On the mid palate the wine displays some lovely red cherries to match the nose. On the mid palate the wine displays some very nice smooth tannins and acidity. This is a lovely varietal well made cab. Super food friendly. I paired it with spaghetti and meat sauce (I know a little pedestrian) and it went very well. I would give it an 88+ which for the price is excellent. I would guess it will easily keep a couple years. The LCBO say full bodied and smooth and I totally agree!

From the LCBO web site:
Watchdog Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 — VINTAGES#: 461178
STYLE – Full-bodied & Smooth
This is a nicely slender, balanced, quite typically built Washington cabernet that combines currant/cherry fruit, herbs, cedary oak and a touch of pencil lead. Really like the balance, with firm acidity and tannin, but nothing overplayed. Not flamboyant or deep but solid, and it does not kowtow to the sweetness trend among inexpensive Washington cabs. Very good length. Score – 89. (David Lawrason,, July 20, 2016) $17.95

Release Date:September 2, 2017
Alcohol/Vol 13.5% Made in: Washington, USA By:Constellation Brands Inc. (Us) Sugar Content: 4 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra Dry Style:Full-bodied & Smooth

-- Mon, 11 Sep 2017 13:30:19 +0000

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