680 NEWS wine reviews, June 15–17, 2018

Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenère 2015
Chile’s vineyards were originally planted in the 1850s with Bordeaux varieties – among them was Carmenère. For 150 years Chilean growers thought they had a clone of Merlot in their vineyards. DNA testing proved it to be an ancient Bordeaux variety grape that had been wiped out by the phylloxera blight in the late 1860s. Now Carmenère has become Chile’s signature variety. A terrific example is Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenère 2015. Dense purple-ruby in colour, it has a cedary, blackcurrant leaf nose with vanilla oak note; medium to full-bodied, its juicy black currant and plum flavours fill the mouth finishing on firm but not aggressive tannins. It’s available at Vintages outlets for $21.95. Match it with red meat dishes. That’s Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenère 2015 from Chile. For post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($21.95, Vintages #546424) (90)

Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Ontario is making some very tasty Sauvignon Blanc these days. I was very impressed by a well-priced 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from Château des Charmes I tasted recently. Very pale in colour with a grassy green plum and green apple nose, it’s medium-bodied, crisply dry with grapefruit and green plum flavours and fresh citrus acidity. It’s got an intriguing touch of bitterness on the end taste to give added interest. It costs $15.95 on the LCBO’s general list. That’s Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc 2017 from Ontario. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($15.95, LCBO #391300) (89)

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680 NEWS wine reviews, June 8–10, 2018

Susanna Balbo Signature Malbec 2015
Susanna Balbo was Argentina’s first female winemaker. She makes impressive wines in the Uco Valley of Mendoza. Currently at Vintages is her Signature Malbec 2015. Opaque purple in colour, it has earthy, black fruits on the nose, which is both spicy and slightly reductive. It’s medium to full-bodied with savoury but fruity plum and black cherry flavours and a mocha chocolate note on a firm finish with lively acidity. It costs $19.95 at Vintages outlets. Serve it with red meat dishes or game. That’s Susanna Balbo Signature Malbec 2015 from Argentina. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($19.95, Vintages #79798) (89)

Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
The Maipo Valley, the birthplace of Chilean wine, is the closest wine region to the capital, Santiago. There are nearly 3,000 hectares of vines here, more than half of are Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the earliest Maipo wineries, Viña Tarapacá, was established in 1874. Their Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is currently available at Vintages outlets. Dense purple in colour, the wine has a cedary, blackcurrant bouquet with vanilla oak notes; it’s medium to full-bodied, with a richly-extracted blackcurrant flavour, firmly structured with lively acidity and a herb-tinged finish. It costs $17.95 a bottle. Serve it with lamb dishes. That’s Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 from Chile. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler 680 NEWS. ($17.95, Vintages #18721) (89)

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680 NEWS wine reviews, June 1–3, 2018

Château d’Aigueville Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2016
The Côtes du Rhône-Villages appellation offers some of the best values in full-bodied dry red wines. Currently on the LCBO’s general product list is Château d’Aigueville Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2016. This blend of Grenache and Syrah weighs in at a hefty 15% alcohol so expect a board-shouldered wine that’s ideal for your barbecued steaks and ribs. Dense purple-violet in colour, it offers a floral, spicy, blackberry nose with notes of licorice and tobacco; full on the palate, it’s richly extracted black plum flavour has a spicy, cinnamon finish carried on fresh acidity. It costs $16.15 and is worth every penny. That’s Château d’Aigueville Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2016 from France. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($16.15, LCBO #544031) (89)

Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Réserve
The term “Crémant” on a bottle of French wine means that it’s a sparkling wine made outside the Champagne region but using the champagne method of secondary fermentation in bottle. Alsace, Burgundy, and the Loire all make these crémant wines but they use different grape varieties from those grown in the Champagne region. And they’re less costly than champagne. For example, Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Réserve costs $19.95 at the LCBO. Pale straw colour with tiny bubbles, this non-vintage bubbly has a minerally, white peach nose with citrus notes; light to medium-bodied it tastes like crab apples with fresh, balancing acidity. That’s Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Réserve from France. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($19.95, LCBO #388603) (89)

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A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 697: Loire Valley

Thursday, May 17: Moira and Martin Malivoire ordered a car for the airport which picked us up first. An Air France flight overnight to Paris. At Charles de Gaulle Airport we had a couple of hours layover before our flight to Nantes. At Paul bakery I ordered coffee and croissants, which restored my faith in humanity. (The croissants were amazing.)

Friday, May 18: Early afternoon arrival in the Atlantic seaport of Nantes, where our deluxe private coach was waiting to take our group to the Radisson Blu Hotel, our base for the next three nights. The hotel is in a former courthouse, ideally situated in the city centre.

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Radisson Blu hotel, Nantes

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680 NEWS wine reviews, May 25–27, 2018

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Regular listeners to these wine reviews will know by now that I’m a great fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region. Just released at Vintages is Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016. Very pale in colour with a hint of lime, grassy, passionfruit aromas with notes of green beans fill the nostrils. Medium-bodied, and dry, grapefruit and green plum flavours excite your taste buds. And the flavour goes on and on. It costs $21.95 a bottle at Vintages outlets. Serve it with fish dishes or goat’s cheese. That’s Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 from New Zealand. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($21.95, Vintages #686675) (89)

Tapiz Alta Collection Malbec 2015
The price of good Argentinian Malbec is creeping up there are still some great buys in the under $20 range. Tapiz Alta Collection Malbec 2015 from Mendoza costs $19.95 at Vintages outlets. Dense purple in colour, it has a cedary, spicy nose of blackberries with a floral top note; it’s medium to full-bodied, dry and fruity with lively acidity. Another terrific BBQ wine for your red meat dishes. That’s Tapiz Alta Collection Malbec 2015 from Argentina at Vintages. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($19.95, Vintages #450155) (89)

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680 NEWS wine reviews, May 18–20, 2018

Duca Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio Rosé 2017
The two most popular categories at the LCBO are Pinot Grigio and Rosé, so you don’t have to be a marketing genius to come up with a winning concept of a Pinot Grigio Rosé. Take a bow, Duca Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio Rosé 2017 from Friuli, the home of Pinot Grigio in north-eastern Italy. Palest pink in colour, the scent of apple peel and rhubarb rise from the glass. Medium-bodied and dry on the palate, expect citrus and green plum flavours with zesty acidity. It costs $14.95 a bottle at Vintages outlets. A great aperitif wine as you wait for the BBQ to heat up. That’s Duca Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio Rosé 2017. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($14.95, Vintages #451146) (88)

Turkey Flat Butchers Block Shiraz/Grenache/ Mourvèdre 2015
If big, bold red wines are your bag, pick a bottle of Turkey Flat Butchers Block Shiraz-Grenache-Mourvèdre 2015 from Australia’s Barossa Valley. Deep purple in colour, it has a rich nose of blackberries and cedar with a note of iodine. Medium to full-bodied, you get concentrated flavours of sweet blackberry and plum with a chocolate note. An ideal BBQ wine, especially for pepper steak. It costs $19.95 at Vintages outlets. That’s Turkey Flat Butchers Block Shiraz-Grenache-Mourvédre 2015 from Australia. 2017. For Post City Magazines, I’m Tony Aspler, 680 NEWS. ($19.95, Vintages #90241) (89)

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Wines of the Week for May 17, 2018

Trius Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2016, Niagara
($19.95, Vintages #251470)
Winemaker Craig Macdonald makes rich and compelling Chardonnays. His Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2016 is a wine that’s drinking well now but will age beautifully with a year or two in bottle. Bright straw in colour, it shows a toasty apple and citrus nose. Medium-bodied and dry spicy flavours of apple and green pineapple fill the mouth, buttressed by well-integrated oak.
Food Match: chicken; ripe Camembert. (89)

Turkey Flat Butchers Block Shiraz/Grenache/ Mourvèdre 2015, Barossa Valley
($19.95, Vintages #90241)
If big, bold red wines are your bag, this is your wine. Deep purple in colour, it has a rich nose of blackberries and cedar with a note of iodine. Medium to full-bodied, you get concentrated flavours of sweet blackberry and plum with a chocolate note. An ideal BBQ wine, especially for pepper steak. (89)

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