Karlo Estates Cabernet Franc 2016

13.0% Alcohol./Vol.

A medium-bodied Cab Franc with aromas of ripe srawberry, lilac, earthy beets, sweet spice, and herbal notes. It is also nicely rustic with a subtle hay barn quality.

In terms of flavour, there’s tart plum and chocolate, with faint floral notes seeping through.  It has wonderful acidity and the tannins are well integrated. The flavours linger.

Wine-Food Pairing: Roasted duck or lamb. 

Score: 89

Stags’ Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

14.1% alcohol/vol.


On the nose, this full-bodied Red has aromas of ripe blueberry and jammy cassis spread, with notes of menthol, cinnamon, violet, potpourri, cocoa, and hints of black pepper and vanilla.

With flavours of cassis,  plum, cinnamon, floral notes and cocoa, it has fresh acidity and velvety tannins that are well incorporated. At the finish there is a touch of oak and black pepper. A nice Californian wine!

Tasted November 2018

Wine-Food Pairing: I paired this with roast beef and potatoes. It was delicious!

Score: 91

Chateau Grange Cochard Morgon Vielles Vignes 2014


I am surprised that this wine has 13% alcohol as it doesn’t feel like it has that much, and it certainly doesn’t taste like it. This light bodied Red made from Gamay is juicy on the palate, fresh, and the tannins are silky smooth.

On the nose, we have aromas of violet, dark cherry, and plum with hints of black pepper, sweet spice, and milk chocolate. The juicy fruit aromas follow through on the palate as well as a touch of cloves and cinnamon.

Tasted October 2018

Score: 88

Wine-Food Pairing: Good on its own. I paired mine with tuna steak grilled on a charcoal barbecue. It was delicious! This would also pair well with roasted pork.

Bouvet Excellence Brut Crémant de Loire


This straw coloured crémant has delicate aromas of baked apple, crème brûlée, freshly baked bread, citrus, and almond.

It is medium bodied and creamy on the palate, with flavours of lemon, baked pie crust, and almond at the finish.

Tasted October 2018

Wine-Food Pairing: Great on its own, with pan-seared fish, or fried seafood or vegetable appetizers.

Score: 89

Primarius Pinot Noir 2015



This Pinot Noir from Oregon has a beautiful ruby colour in the glass. It is elegant and fragrant with aromas of plum and sour cherry, along with delicate floral notes, subtle underwood, earthy beets, leather, and sweet spice. On the palate, it is light bodied with silky tannins and flavours of sour cherry, tart plum, cranberry, and floral notes with a slightly bitter finish.

Tasted October 2018.

Wine and Food Pairing: Roasted turkey, roasted duck, salmon.

Score: 90

Wolfberger Crémant d’Alsace Brut


Straw coloured with delicate bubbles. Aromas of baked pear, apple pie, biscuit, and spearmint. Flavours of baked apple, biscuit, citrus, and mint with a bitter and lingering nutty finish. Medium bodied and very creamy on the palate.

Tasted October 2018

Wine-Food Pairing: Enjoyable on its own, with fried chicken, or with other salty fried food.

Score: 89


M XX270 Syrah 2015


When I first tried this wine, I ran back to the LCBO to get more bottles. I enjoyed it very much. This full-bodied Corsica Syrah has dark fruit aromas with violet, subtle wood, vanilla, and just a hint of sharp cheese but not in a negative way.

On the palate, it has velvety tannins and flavours of juicy blueberry, cassis, wood, and smoke.

Tasted September 2018

Wine-Food Pairing: Barbecued Steak. I had mine with a 5-layer Mexican dip and it paired wonderfully.

Score: 91

LCBO M XX270 2015

Castello Di Albola Chianti Classico 2013


This Chianti Classico is fruit forward with aromas of blueberry, cassis, blackberry, cherry, and red berries. In addition to fruit on the nose,  it also has cinnamon, floral notes, earthy beets, and chocolate.

On the palate, it is medium bodied with silky tannins. The flavours are of dark berries and dark chocolate. The floral quality is also present in terms of flavours.

Tasted September 2018

Score: 89

Wine-Food Pairing: I enjoyed mine with a barbecued  black bean burger served with spicy mayonnaise. This would pair just as well with barbecued pork chops, or with Italian sausage penne.

LCBO Castello Di Albola Chianti Classico 2013


Red Wine from Ottawa-Gatineau: Embracing the Uniqueness

By Melanie Lloyd 

Over the past few months, I had the opportunity to sample wine from the Ottawa-Gatineau area through a couple of tastings and a wine expo.

This  blog will focus on red wine and is simply a starting point to the many wines from the area. A special shout out goes to Donna Henhoeffer who hosted the tasting that included the bottles reviewed here. There are more wineries from the area that I look forward to writing about in the future.

Cold climate wine tends to be tarter than cool climate wine and is quite distinct on the nose and on the palate. This uniqueness is due in part to the climate and terroir found in colder regions.

It is also due to the use, in many cases, of hybrid grape varieties that are more resistant to the cold. All of the following wine contains hybrid grapes with the exception of the Pinot Noir.

Although cold climate wine is distinct, there are similarities when it comes to the aromas we typically associate with both warm and cool climate wine. Here are my observations to share:


A bright pale ruby coloured Pinot Noir that is earthy with aromas of sweet tobacco, musk, and tart red berries.

On the palate, it has sour field cherry flavours. It has invigorating acidity levels and silky tannins. The flavours linger on the palate.

Wine-Food Pairing: This wine would pair well with salmon or with a cheese platter that includes Wensleydale Cranberry Cheese served with cranberry hazelnut crackers.


This Red is a blend made from Frontenac Noir, Sainte-Croix, and Sabrevois, all hybrid grape varieties. On the nose, there are aromas of jalapeño and red bell pepper, earthy beets, and hints of mint.

On the palate, there are flavours of sour cherries, red field berries, and a kick of black pepper. It has subtle metallic undertones, silky tannins, and tart acidity. Overall, an enjoyable wine!

Wine-Food Pairing: A barbecued steak would pair well with this wine.


This tart bio wine is made from Frontenac Noir, a hybrid grape that can stand the cooler climate of Western Quebec.

On the nose, there are aromas of bell pepper, strawberry, cherry, wet cedar, and hints of vanilla, sweet spice, and cocoa.

On the palate, there are flavours of sour ground cherries and a touch of bell pepper. It is light bodied with silky tannins, invigorating acidity, and a slight bitter finish. The flavours linger. I love the tartness of this wine!

Wine-Food Pairing: Pair with a charcuterie plate that includes salty dried sausage.


This wine is made with Marquette, a hybrid grape, and with Cabernet Sauvignon. Visually, it is purple with a light blue rim.

On the nose, there are aromas of Christmas cake, dried prunes, blackstrap molasses, and hints of black licorice.

On the palate, it is very tart with flavours of dark berries, butterscotch, vanilla, and subtle notes of black licorice. The tannins are structured but well balanced by the acidity of the wine.

Wine-Food Pairing: This wine would pair well with braised beef.


Made from Sabrevois hybrid grapes, this garnet coloured Red is meaty and fairly complex on the nose with aromas of ripe raspberry, leather, black licorice, sweet spice, truffle, and hints of vanilla and smoke.

On the palate, the tannins are well integrated with the fresh acidity and it has flavours of blackcurrant and sour cherries.

Wine-Food Pairing: A barbecued steak would pair well with this wine.


This fortified Red has dried prune and date aromas as well as sweet tobacco, butterscotch, and licorice.

It is sweet on the palate with flavours of dried dates, black licorice, molasses, black pepper, and a touch of butterscotch and oak. Overall, a nice product!

Wine-Food Pairing: This wine would pair wonderfully with dark chocolate.

I look forward to writing more on the subject in the future. I will include other wineries from the area, as I am impressed by some that are not listed here. 

Continue reading “Red Wine from Ottawa-Gatineau: Embracing the Uniqueness”

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!