Villa Maria is celebrating its 50th vintage - the winery was founded by George Fistonich when he was just 21 and when wine in NZ was a strange, foreign concept to most people. The winery has flourished over the years and there are two solid examples of its wines on the shelves right now. The sauvignon blanc, from Marlborough region is big and tropical, but the merlot manages to be both "New World" fruity and lighter bodied - and both wines are priced in the mid-teens.
A couple of years ago, G. Marquis wines started to appear at the LCBO tastings. I thought they were great value and I wondered who made them, as I know pretty much everyone in Niagara. They keep it quiet on both the website and the bottles, G. Marquis is actually a brand made by...
The team from Stratus came up to town in March and put on a terrific spread at Daisho, a very trendy glass box next door to the new Shangri La hotel on University. The food was creative and delicious and the setting spectacular on a bright day. The set-up is the communal table style currently in vogue, and the attention to detail and quality is impressive.
And so were the wines of Stratus. The winery on Niagara Stone Road is one of the poshest in the region and it’s known mainly for its blends, Stratus Red and Stratus White. Most of the winery’s production goes into the blends, but each year winemaker JL Groux sets aside good examples of individual component grapes for bottling as single varietals. In 2010, there was a bumper crop.
One of the city's finer wine agencies, Woodman Wines and Spirits, hosts a Burgundy tasting every spring. Among the wines on show were those of top producers William Fevre and Bouchard et Fils.
Quite a few 2011s are out now and the quality is excellent - it was a fairly typical year in Burgundy, though more on the cool side. Expect good crisp acidity and a degree of austerity in the whites and fresh delicacy in the reds.
Much of the Woodman line is quite pricey, but don't worry, there are some affordable ones too, including an actual bargain.
Hurry the warmth along with California's own grape: zinfandel. America's go-to barbecue wine has a wide range of styles, from sweetish fruit bombs to darkly serious and robust. The affordable Pepperwoodgrove Old Vine zin strikes a nice balance at a very nice price.
It's a 'B' grape in Burgundy, rightly overshadowed by some of the finest chardonnay in the world, but here in Ontario there's a fine example of Aligote at a decent price. Chateau des Charmes makes it crisp, fresh, fruity and, in 2011, quite full...
But the LCBO has an ominous warning in red on its website: This product may be seasonal and/or in limited quantities, and is available for purchase in select stores while quantities last.
Get ready for the biggest California wine promotion ever... starting on March 3, a "high impact, multi-channel campaign" will roll out across Ontario.
Around a hundred wines will be featured in the promotion, from new Vintages releases of premium wines to Limted Time Offer specials in the LCBO. There'll also be special events, including promotions of "California Cuisine". But more about the wines...
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