February Vintages Release! What’s Hot!!!

By Melanie Lloyd

Last month, I sampled a selection of wines from both of the LCBO’s February Vintages releases. Here are my top five!

Number 1:
Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

LCBO price: $69.95

This wine is simply wow!!! A keeper for your wine cellar. It is beautifully complex and absolutely marvelous.

On the nose, it has loads of ripe blueberries and dark berry aromas, as well as jalapeño, violet, underwood, potpourri, and hints of vanilla and chocolate.

On the palate, it is full bodied and has structured tannins which are balanced by the acidity and body of this wine. In terms of flavours, there are juicy blueberries, blackcurrant, hints of wood, as well as subtle notes of black olives and cocoa at the finish.

Although yummy now, this wine will taste even better over time so keep it in your cellar to enjoy over the next couple of decades.

Number 2:
Lornano Chianti Classico 2013

LCBO price: $17.95

This is a fabulous wine at such a great price. Buy more than one bottle if you can get your hands on it. It seems to be flying off the shelves!

Aromas of blueberry preserves, cedar, cinnamon and floral notes with hints of vanilla bean.

On the palate, there are blackberry and blackcurrant flavours, as well as black pepper, subtle coffee notes, and a slightly bitter finish.

It is medium bodied and has a wonderful harmony between the fairly structured tannins, the fresh but not overly tart acidity, and the juicy flavours. This wine is smooth and easy to drink.

Number 3:
Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

LCBO price: $20.95

Lovely and complex with earthy beet aromas, as well as blueberry, mint, violet, potpourri, cedar, autumn leaves, bell pepper, and hints of vanilla.

The earthy quality follows through on the palate. In terms of flavours, there are tart yet ripe blackberries and cocoa at the finish.

The tannins are medium and well integrated with the fresh acidity. It is a great product that won’t break the bank.

Number 4:
Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2015

LCBO price: $18.95

An excellent example of a lovely Canadian Riesling. On the nose, there are lots of mineral notes, as well as dried apricots, orange marmalade, honey, and hints of almond.

On the palate, there are tart flavours of lemon, clementine, as well as stone fruit. It is marvellously fresh and crisp.

Number 5:
Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenère 2014

LCBO price: $19.95

You can taste the Chilean warmth in this wine. Aromas of sun-soaked blueberries, sweet tobacco, cedar, dried eucalyptus leaves, dried petals, and hints of cinnamon.

On the palate, it has velvety tannins, dark berry flavours, subtle floral notes, sweet spice, and a touch of cedar. Overall, a lovely wine!

Wines To Warm Up Your Winterlude Party

By Melanie Lloyd

Ottawa is a wonderful city for experiencing winter in all of its splendor. With Winterlude here, the time has come to gather friends for a skate on the Canal and a viewing of the ice sculptures. Whether you live in Ottawa or any other city that offers outside winter activities, this blog will offer easy wine and food suggestions for your winter after-party.

So go on, breath in the crisp fresh air and get a hefty amount of exercise. Then, gather your friends in your cozy home and light up the fireplace! Time to warm up the soul with some nice toasty wines and nibbles.

Food wise, keep it simple; Charcuterie boards, cheese boards, and plates to share are quick and perfect for snacking.

Here are a few cost-friendly recommendations that are sure to thaw out the chilliest of guests while not breaking the bank. For folks who are in Ontario, these wines are available through the LCBO.

Dry or Off-Dry Riesling:  Sunshine in a Glass to Bring Back Warmth

I Iove dry and off-dry Rieslings. Ontario has some wonderful options in terms of these wines and one of my favourites comes from Norman Hardie.

The Norman Hardie Riesling 2016 is a zesty off-dry White with plenty of minerality on the nose. It also has orchard fruit such as peach and apple, hints of tropical fruit, and some citrus notes.

On the palate, it is beautifully vibrant and the small amount of residual sugar is nicely balanced with the tart flavours of the wine. The fruit aromas follow through on the palate and it has a nice lemon finish. It is a beautiful product.

I paired this wine with a platter of various dry sausages, Gouda, Camembert, and roasted garlic crostini. My favourite pairing was with a mildly spicy dry sausage.

Oaky Chardonnay: A Toasty Wine for Sipping by the Fireplace

An oaky, full-bodied Chardonnay will bring some heat on any cold day. It is rich, has a good amount of alcohol, and lots of toasty aromas and flavours.

The wine I sampled for this blog is the Ghost Pines Chardonnay Winemakers Blend 2014 from California. This toasty wine has aromas of baked apple, oak, pineapple, caramel, herbs, a touch of truffle, sweet spice, and hints of white pepper.

On the palate, it is rich, creamy, buttery, and has apple, pear, and nutty flavours which linger at the finish.

I paired this Chardonnay with a fruit and cheese platter that included smoked Gouda, Brie, dried apricots, and hazelnuts, perfect for a night in front of the fireplace. I also served a platter of bacon wrapped scallops which went well with this wine.

The most phenomenal pairing was with the smoked gouda. This wine and cheese combo brought out the best from each other, mostly because of the smoky flavours and creamy texture found in both.

Californian Cabernet Sauvignon:  California Dreaming On Such a Winterlude Day

For this blog, I sampled the SIMI Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County 2014. On the nose, this full-bodied Red has aromas of blackcurrant jam, ripe blackberry, raspberry, as well as hints of vanilla, cedar and sweet spice.

On the palate, we get tart blackberries and bitter espresso notes at the finish. The tannins are smooth and nicely balanced by the acidity which brings an enjoyable harmony to the wine.

I paired this with a platter of blue cheese, cranberry and hazelnut crackers, walnuts, and a cassis spread. The food flavours were a  perfect match for this wine.

A Tawny Port: A Strong Wine that Feels Like a Cozy Blanket

Feel free to splurge on a 20 year old Port or older, they tend to be best, but for those on a tighter budget, a 10 year old Port can still provide similar aromas and flavours.

For this blog, I chose the 10 year old Tawny Port from Taylor Fladgate. It has aromas of dates, fruit cake, honey, vanilla, and walnut.

In terms of flavours, there’s dried fruit, mostly dates and sun dried raisins, as well as nut, oak, and vanilla. The tannins are velvety and the flavours linger on the palate.

This was paired with a platter of dried fruit including dates, dried apricot, dried cherries, hazelnut, and dark Venezuelan chocolate. The pairing was beautiful, especially with the dark chocolate. This is a fun and easy desert to end the night.

LCBO links to the wines sampled:
Ghost Pines Chardonnay Winemaker’s Blend

Norman Hardie Riesling 2016

SIMI Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port