Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Toronto Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2012: Tasted 1 of 1

I left Clarkson on the 10:36 GO Train arriving on time at 11:11 at the Union Station. Toronto's Santa Claus Parade was held on the Sunday and the 10:36 Train, normally an Express missing Clarkson, was changed to a regular run making all stops on its way to the Union. Every car was crowded although I didn't actually know what crowded was until the return trip.

The 3 block walk from Bay Street to the Toronto North Convention Centre west of Lower Simcoe had bursts of warm and bright sunshine with intermittent and brief stretches of cooling shade.

Arriving 30 minutes early I used the time to rest my aching Sciatic nerve using the plush seating in the large reception area. At noon friends arrived and we briefly welcomed each other then went our separate ways heading for the booths browsing for lunchtime munchies then on to wine samples. We were to join up later, 1:30, to enjoy a sitdown tasting of 8 economical wines, listed below, selected by Gord Stimmell, wine columnist/critic for the Toronto Star, for his session titled 'Mining Those Buried Gems'. 

If you've attended the Expo before,
my last was in 2009, compared with previous years I think you'll agree it was larger, more varied and, as the afternoon progressed, the aisles became filled with groups of a younger generation, all having a great time and, in fact, depleting many of the Booths of some of their wines. Unchanged from 2009 was a predominance of commercial wines although, hidden in the aisles, there were 'Gems' as well.

Gord Stimmell's "Mining Those Buried Gems":

  • Citra Pinot Grigio 2011, GS89 --  G, Abruzzo, Italy, #017483 $8.25
  • Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay 2010, GS89+ --  G, Chile, #230565 $11.95
  • Henry of Pelham Riesling 2011 VQA, GS89+ --  G, Niagara, #268375 $13.95
  • Chateau des Charmes Aligote 2010 VQA St David's Bench, GS89+ --  G, Niagara, #296848  $13.95
  • Spinelli Quartana Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2011, GS88-89 --  G, Abruzzo, Italy,  #454629 $7.60
  • Volcanes Summit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2011,  GS89  --  G, Chile, #292607  $9.95
  • Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2010, GS90 --  G, California, #272393  $14.95
  • Errazuriz Max Reserve Syrah 2010, GS91 --  G, Chile, #614750  $18.95

Stimmell kept the chatter going with side comments about his personal history as a journalist and wine critic, his notes on the wines tasted and, briefly, of LCBO's relationship with agents and critics. By 3pm everyone came away satisfied with the session, their questions answered in a calm, folksy style. 

One conclusion is that tasting is based on a set of  personal preferences which I'll summarize as: flavour can vary widely from fruity to earthy, balance from sweet to acidic and character perceived as simple, full or complex. A highly rated (low 90's) wine will be appealing based on each of these. An exceptional (mid to high 90's) wine will add the chameleon character of evolving as it asserts itself in any circumstance. All wines should be given time for self expression, to realize that it's free from the bottle and ready to perform in a mystical genre: whatever the vintage and winemaker has given to his product whether intentional or not.

Current day ratings in certain instances, often those of regional wine critics, are compressed into the mid 90's. Certainly a matter of opinion rather than any statistical finding and is inconsequential if one follows several critics or puts no weight on numbers. My own conclusion, having tasted each of these eight wines, is that the ratings (GSxx) are compressed at the high 80s. One exception is the Errazuriz that crept in accidentally. 

Cheers, Ww 


My favourite Booth selection
DOMAINE DE FUSSIACUS  MACON-FUISSÉ 2009, Burgundy, France,  13.3% XD 2g/L, #279000   $16.95  (Tasted December 5, 2012)

Released by Vintages on September 29, 2012.  My notes: A mid gold leaving a firm film with a smooth rim that slowly fragments by hanging tiny tears. Let this Chardonnay go offchill, 15oC+, to develop a honey scented nose. The first sip is softly textured, has a mild tang and a dry mineral edge on subtle pear flavours. Some of the flavours subside exposing more of a soft mineral tang. A sipper in a quiet crowd or with fresh oysters, grilled scallops or coconut shrimp. Pair with a tray of soft cheeses. A drink now. 86  


Glass, Metal and Concrete
The Tower

New Condos everywhere

Reception area - Before the crowd
Skyview above the Convention Hall

The Convention Floor
802 Barefoot Wines

211 Diamond Wines

411 France
Time to buy a Shaka T

Winemaker Derek Barnett at the Lailey Booth

1119 Rosewood Wines & Mead

501 Ubiquitous...Vintages

4PM Arrivals

Monday, November 05, 2012

November 2012 Wines: 21 Tasted of 21

50 Shades
This is a collection of whites, mostly Pinot Gris/Grigio single grape or blended, and a visit to the wines tasted when this blog was started in January 2005 up to December 2005. Of the 247 wines in that year there were 111 reds and 102 whites the remainder being sparklings, rosés and some selections sourced from other than the LCBO. Of the 213 there were forty three Favourites. Of the forty three, 12 wines were available locally of which 9 were selected at their current vintage. (numbers numbers...)

Other wines have been added as a result of mentions in tweets or because the label was attractive.

Many things have changed and it's not likely that I'll be able to distinguish those having the most influence. But I'm hoping there will be a thread after all tasting notes have been completed. What's the point of looking at the past if it doesn't give some perspective of where you are today and what you should plan for tomorrow? 

Salut, Ww

PS. Three wines were moved to December's List.

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés and bubblies:

  • Stone Dwellers Strathbogie Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 92-2  --  G, Victoria, Australia, #212761  $20.15
  • Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  91-2  --  G,  Aconcagua Valley, Chile, #335174 $18.95 
  • Pasqua Black Label Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2009, 90-2  --  V, Verona, Italy, #203968  $18.95
  • *Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  88a-1  --  V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #337238 $19.95 
  • *Blue Pyrenees Shiraz 2009, 87a  --  V, Victoria, Australia,  #935890  $19.95
  • *Wolf Blass Yellow Label Yarra Pinot Noir 2010,  85  --  G,  South  Australia, #611509  $17.95
  • Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2010,  84  --  G, Napa Valley, California, #272393  $14.95
  • *Monte Zovo Sa' Solin Ripasso Valpolicella 2009,  78  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #650713  $16.95*     
  • *Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 90-2  --  G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #275677  $13.95
  • Tommasi Viticoltori Vigneto le Rosse Pinot Grigio 2011,  89-2  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #270082 $14.95
  • Jean-Marc Brocard Kimmeridgian Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008,  89-2  --  V,  Burgundy, France, #290049   $17.95
  • *Anselmi San Vincenzo 2011, 85  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #948158  $14.95 
  • Greenlane Estate Pinot Gris/Riesling 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, 85  --  G,  Beamsville, Ontario, #283721 $16.95
  • Bollini Trentino Pinot Grigio 2011,  84  --  V, Trentino, Italy, #951319  $16.95
  • McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2011, 83  --  V, Ripon, California, #181453  $17.95 
  • *Konzelmann Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  82 (85a)  --  G,  NOTL, Ontario, #200535   $11.95 
  • l'Escargot Côtes de Gascogne Sauvignon Blanc 2010,  82  --  G,  Bordeaux, France, #289116   $9.95 
  • *Santa Julia[+] Pinot Grigio NV,  82  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #270314   $10.95
  • Pasqua Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2011,  82  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #213496 $12.45 
  • Fuzion Alta Torrontes Pinot Grigio 2012, 81  --  G,  Mendoza, Argentina, #168419   $8.95
  • *Argento Pinot Grigio 2012, 75  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #620492  $9.95 

(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS  PINOT GRIGIO 2011, Ripon, California, 11.5%  D  xg/L, #181453  $17.95  (Tasted November 26, 2012)  CS

Release by Vintages on October 13, 2012.  My notes:  Serve chilled and note the slight changes as it warms. This has a neutral nose or perhaps of soft orange petals and shows a pale golden colour with a few tiny bubbles on the glass. A swirl leaves a thin film and lacy rim with falling tears introducing this unassuming white. The flavour is a delicate blend of peach, melon and white grapefruit matching its silky texture and shallow nutty finish - overall an nonintrusive sipper. Pair with cauliflower and leek soup, crumble some mild cheddar and accompany with broiled Artisano's rosemary/onion bread. A drink now.  83

ARGENTO  PINOT GRIGIO 2012, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0%  XD  2.7g/L, #620492 $9.95  (Tasted December 1, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  The 2004 vintage priced the same was tasted in January 2005.  For a modicum of nose give this ten minutes to release a light perfumed aroma with a hint of spice. The  colour is a crystal clear mid golden and a lacy edge having fast legs is left by swirling the glass. A mild silky texture with an appealing dryness starts the first sip. A chalk edged pithy citrus leaves a mineral taste that changes with each sip reinforcing a tart chemical aspect. If served as a sipper look for nibbles from a buffet table or add a lemon slice. Mainly a meal white, seafood or chicken breast... or switch to Perrier. 75    

SANTA JULIA [+] PINOT GRIGIO NV, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0% XD  7g/L,  #270314  $10.95  (Tasted November 19, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A lightish mid golden with mild spice on faint apple and melon aromas. A touch of silk on tangy flavours of faint quince and lemon continuing to an ending that's chalk dry and somewhat grassy the fruit shifting to a pulpy remnant. A meal white to have with seafood dishes, mild fowl or, if you're near a buffet table, with tomato and bacon bit bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms or prosciutto on a baguette. A drink now to a year.  82 

BOLLINI TRENTINO PINOT GRIGIO 2011, Trentino, Italy, 13.5%  XD  4g/L,  #951319   $16.95  (Tasted December 2, 2012)   CS

Released by Vintages on September 29, 2012.  My notes:  There's a slight green tint in the crystal clear midgold colour and the nose has a slight floral to fresh pear aroma. A swirl leaves a lacy rim dropping slow legs. The first sip shows a mineral edge to flavours of white grapefruit with some tangy lemon zest starting a long finish, extra dry, retaining a chalky note.  A meal white - pair with sushi, grilled tilapia filet or cod on vegetable stir fried rice. A drink now. 84

PASQUA PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2011, Veneto, Italy, 12.0% D  8g/L, #213496  $12.45  (Tasted November 22, 2012)  CS 

A General listing.  My notes:  A light straw with an equally light aroma of dried straw with some spicy citrus - a film lays thin accumulating running tears. Off chill the nose intensifies while retaining the basic straw and citrus. Lemon nudged with lime, a sharpness to prod the taste buds and a moderate fullness to carry through a long finish ending with citrus and spice. A fish white that held its own while not contributing much paired with grilled Rainbow trout and pan fried veggies. Try with grilled scallops or shrimps. A drink now with a hint of sweet to take a bit off the acid edge. 82

TOMMASI VITICOLTORI LE VIGNETO LE ROSSE PINOT GRIGIO 2011,  Veneto, Italy, 12.0%  D  8g/L, #270082  $14.95  (Tasted November 24, 2012) 


A General listing.  My notes: A faint straw colour with a firm film that leaves a smooth rim and slowly running tears. The nose has the scent of paraffin and apple, a slight spice adds to the nasal awakening. A moderate fullness with mineral and pear with almost a salty edge starts the first sip then mellows slowly to a nip and mineral finish. Well balanced the slight sugar softens more than sweetens. Delay sipping for a  fuller nose and broader flavour or pair with a seafood grilled or with a creamy pasta. This may cellar well for a few years - drinking well now. 89

FUZION ALTA TORRONTES PINOT GRIGIO 2012,  Maipu, Argentina,  13.5%  XD 4g/L,  #168419  $8.95  (Tasted November 26, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A mid new gold colour and faint passion fruit aroma. The film shows some viscosity through slowly falling legs and tiny tears around a solid rim. A silky textured and medium-body gives the first sip substance with flavour verging on the bland side especially as it goes through a short finish. Appealing if quaffed as a sipper where flavour has opportunity to build. Have with mild seafood entrees with a creamy pastas or pair with buffet minced chicken or ham sandwiches. A drink now.  81

GREENLANE ESTATE PINOT GRIS/RIESLING 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore,  Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5%  D  8g/L,  #283721 $16.95  (Tasted November 12, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release date isn't available.  My notes:  A new-for-me Niagara winery recently mentioned in a tweet. A light golden colour and a swirl leaves a thin film with a quickly receding lacy rim. Served chilled the nose has a subtle pineapple pear scent - allow a few minutes to develop.  There's a suspicion of sugar in the first sip and a mild tang to go with gentle flavours of pear and apple. The finish is moderate ending on a dry mineral note. A possible summer cooler or social mixer anytime - add a lime slice or a shot of cointreau and crushed ice for a stronger presence. Have with scallops on a stick or Tiger shrimp with bean sprouts and a light soy. Went well with Mushroom Stuffed Chicken w/White Wine sauce. A drink now.  85

KONZELMANN ESTATE WINERY CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  NOTL, Ontario, 13.5%  XD  7g/L, #200535   $11.95  (Tasted November 14, 2012)  CS 

A General listing.  My notes: The 2002 vintage was tasted in August 2005 - priced at $10.60.  This vintage has a light golden colour and negligible aromas of lemon, almond and butter - better served offchill.  A swirl leaves a firm film and combination of slow tears and fast legs from a continuous rim. The first sip is noticeably tangy with flavours of a light caramel and citrus that opens for a long, extra dry, sharp finish ending slightly grassy. A meal white to have with roast chicken or turkey, or crab cakes with aioli sauce. Cellaring short term may mellow out some acid but mainly a drink now. 82  PS.  Aerating integrates the acid with the flavours and there's a mineral aspect to the finish replacing the 'grass'.  85a

JEAN-MARC BROCARD KIMMERIDGIAN BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2008, Burgundy, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L, #290049  $17.95  (Tasted November 19, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on October 27, 2012.  My notes:  'Brocard' wines were mentioned in a tweet from @Timatkin (Tim Atkin).  A soft vanilla and pastry nose with a natural tang to get attention. A mid gold and a lacy rim that sheds long tears very slowly as it recedes. Green apple, some lime and light grapefruit flavours start from the first sip and changes to mostly apple for a long extra dry finish. Served off chill with SupperWorks chicken breast in a blanket and complemented the meal well. Have with seafood or white fowl. Sushi or Bento Box fare could be a stretch.  Cellaring or holding over a few years should work.  89

SANTA RITA RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.5%  XD 2g/L,  #275677  $13.95  (Tasted November 24, 2012)  CS

A General listing. My notes:   The 2004 vintage was tasted in April 2005. The 2011 has the same light blond colour and lays a thin film that leaves a lacy rim to slowly clear to fragments. Serve chilled then enjoy changes in nose and flavours. A fresh gooseberry fragrance comes forward over a slight grass and becomes fuller in the first sip. Kiwi fruit adds interest as it balances with a mild acid of tropical fruit. Becomes full flavoured in a long drying finish ending dry on the palate. A drink now either sipping or paired with white fish filets, shrimp kebobs or scallops with lemon squeezes. An alternative if a definite fruit is preferred.  90

L'ESCARGOT CÔTES DE GASCOGNE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010,  Bordeaux, France, 12.0% XD 5g/L,  #289116   $9.95  (Tasted November 16, 2012)  CS

A General listing and a product of Domaine de l'Herré.  Mentioned in a tweet.  The colour is a mid golden and a swirl leaves a lacy rim to fragment as it recedes. A hint of pea to a mild scent of citrus and kiwi, a neutral  intro to the first sip arriving as chalky kiwi going into a slippery gooseberry focus. The finish is primarily NZ slowly heading to a tart melon and dry chalk ending - somewhat cloying at the end and making a buffet selection or seafood fare a must companion. OK with broiled Atlantic salmon filets. A drink now.  82

ANSELMI SAN VINCENZO 2011,  Veneto, Italy, 13.0%  XD  8g/L, #948158  $14.95    (Tasted November 29, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on April 18, 2012.  My notes:  Previous vintages tasted were 2002, 2003 and 2004 each priced at $15.95. If served chilled let warm - up to 20 minutes. A nutty, spicy quince, new straw aroma from a bright gold colour and a film that lays a fragmented rim slowly receding and shedding tiny tears. A blend of 70% Garganega and 30% Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc grown on volcanic soils. A silky, dry, nutty, lemon flavour that refreshes then shifts to long finish of muted citrus and limestone. An acquired taste if served as a sipper (460,000 bottles) - better paired with seafoods and creamy pastas. Nicely complemented a Metro's sushi tray with green salad pear and blue cheese dressing.  A commercial drink now but could cellar several years. 85

WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL YARRA PINOT NOIR 2010,  South Australia,  13.5%  D  6g/L,  #611509   $17.95  (Tasted November 13, 2012)  CS

A General listing. My notes:  The 2001 vintage priced at $16.95 was tasted in March 2005.  There's a sombre tint to the see through ruby and the film is viscous on the glass leaving a smooth rim and flowing slow tears. The nose takes time to develop then is an subtle earthy strawberry, more earth than berry. Very smooth, fine tannins, a firm tang and a touch of spice all broaden the character of mild berries. A brooding sipper - a book & fireplace or bridge hand soother. Have with a pork slices with beets or sliced chicken or turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Cellaring for a few years could work to its benefit but I don't think so.  85

BLUE PYRENEES SHIRAZ 2009, Victoria, Australia,   14.0%  XD  3g/L, #935890   $19.95  (Tasted November 11, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on September 29, 2012 and rated 90 by James Halliday  (August 11, 2011).  My notes:  The 2001 vintage priced the same was tasted in August 2005.  The 2009 has a deep ruby colour with a thin film that quickly separates into lacy islands. The aroma has some brightness with spicy, soft berries - just discernible to start then building slightly. The first sip is soft, fine tannins, tangy and saturates the palate with a dry berry flavour. A moderate finish starts with mild fruit and gradually declines to a brambly layering. Aerating removed much of the initial tang and finishing roughness for a more acceptable sipper and is preferred. Have with roast turkey meat, a beef lovers pizza or bbq'd ribs. Cellaring a few years may soften bite as does aerating.  87a

CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.5%  XD  4g/L, #337238  $19.95  (Tasted November 22, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 25, 2012 and rated 91 by Michael Schacher Wine Enthusiast (June 20122).  My notes:  The 2003 vintage priced at $17.95 was tasted in 2005. A dense ruby colour with a black cherry nose and some cinnamon. A swirl lays a firm film that quickly sheds long legs from a smooth rim.  The first sip is smooth followed by conspicuous fine tannins and warmth. The flavours go undeveloped through a long finish ending with a mineral dryness and mostly an earthy plum. Full-bodied to have with anything beefy or a to-the-edge pepperoni pizza. Aerating smoothes minor roughness while retaining the mild fruit in nose and flavour, for a sipper, is well worth the trouble.  A drink now.  88a

MONTE ZOVO SA' SOLIN RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA 2009, Veneto, Italy, 14.5%  D  9g/L,  #650713   $16.95*  (Tasted November 19, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on September 29, 2012.  My notes:  *Regularly priced at $17.95.  The 2001 vintage was appropriately priced at $11.95. Black cherry and plum just discernible on the nose with a lacy rim that quickly recedes until a few small islands remain. Smooth and medium-bodied with liquorice predominant masking some tangy black fruit. The smoothness layers the palate and a musty liquorice takes over the earthy finish. I didn't find it appealing as a sipper start to finish. A spaghetti and tomato sauce meal or pepperoni pizza may overcome its flaws, however, there's alternative reds at this price point.  78

PASQUA BLACK LABEL RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2009, Verona, Italy, 13.5%  D  12g/L, #203968  $18.95  (Tasted November 21, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 18, 2012.  My notes: A blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone and Negra grapes.  A light and fruity blending with body added by the Ripasso process. Bright cherry colour with warm scent of cherry and spicy plum - serve at room temperature. Leaves a lacy rim to drop strings of  tiny tears. The flavours continue through a long finish until spent they succumb to the dryness of grape skins and pucker of fine tannins and acid. Sipping before and during Italian fare of tomato sauced pastas or crock potted sliced beef, veal shank or lamb. Share liberally with a sweet basmati pork rib barbecue. Cellaring for several years should work or drink now as a young playful red full of vigour and smooth on the swallow.  90

STONE DWELLERS STRATHBOGIE RANGES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009,  Victoria, Australia,  14.5%  XD  0g/L, #212761   $20.15  (Tasted November 25, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  Produced by the Plunkett & Fowles family from grapes grown in granite rich soils. It's refreshing to see so much detail on the back label.  A deep crushed blackberry in colour and somewhat reserved nose leaving a continuous rim that slowly sheds long legs and short viscous tears. The first sip is full-bodied with a salty touch to spicy blackberry flavours. The warmth continues through a long flavourful finish, smooth as velvet, tart with a mild fuzz. Enjoyable as a sipper if you prefer some heat with your berries. Now 3 years and still young - could do another several years for peak. Aerating polishes the nose a tad.  92

SMOKING LOON OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2010, Napa Valley, California, 14.0%  D  8g/L. #272393   $14.95  (Tasted November 27, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  Swirling leaves a smooth rim dropping many slow tears from a firm black cherry film. An aroma of crushed black cherries with a dusty edge is just distinguishable. Very smooth with fine tannins that carry a crushed cherry flavour to the palate leaving it there a short while then ebbing to a soft hollow finish. A sipper for a social get together, not to impress but to start the conservation or prelude to a repast and not to be analyzed but enjoyed. A commercial drink now.  84

ERRAZURIZ MAX RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, Aconcagua Valley, Chile,  14.0% XD  4g/L,  #335174  $18.95  (Tasted November 29, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:A ripe raspberry and black currant combination on the nose and a deep granite cast ruby colour is attractive to start. The film is modest and sheds fast legs from a smooth rim. The first sip is rich with a blackberry/currant flavour, a firm bite and a drying layer of fine tannins. Moderately textured, not smooth, not rough and finishing similarly with fruit losing some of its freshness but still enjoyable. This is a grilled rack of lamb or T-bone steak partner, any red meat grilled or roasted. Primarily a drink now but could cellar several years and become smoother - aerating, as well, does some minor smoothing.  91