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Sortilege

I was talking to a distributor in Toronto recently who is planning to bring Sortilege to the LCBO by the new year.

LCBO New Releases

My ‘Selections’ this weekend include two red: the first of which is a fun Shiraz from south Australia followed by a another red, this time from Bordeaux and the first wine available in Ontario from the highly acclaimed 2009 vintage. Of course, I have two white for you as well: a fantastic Alsatian Gewurztraminer and a Chardonnay from Chile in addition to a lovely bottle of Sherry and finally, an unbelievable bargain from Burgundy for your cellar.

Red:

2008 Jim Jim, Shiraz
Very reflective of the big Aussie style; dark fruits on the nose: current, cassis, though not as much spice as one might expect of the variety. Full bodied, with great fruit and lots of chocolate; lip-smacking good wine here. LCBO # 682005 / $15.95 (D)

2009 La Patache, Bordeaux
Lovely ruby red colour with hints of raspberry on the nose. Medium bodied and rather modern for Bordeaux but not in the heavy California sense; smooth structure and easy drinking. A blend of 85% Cab Sauv with 15% Merlot. LCBO #217307 / $14.95 (XD)

White:

2008 Domaine Saint-Rémy Réserve, Gewurztraminer
The North of 9 tasting group sampled five different ‘Gewurtz’ last week at our monthly tasting session and unfortunately this Alsace label was unavailable at the time. Wonderful fruit – peach, lychee, and some grapefruit; sweeter than most with great balance and a lovely aftertaste. Nice on its own or with an Asian dish. I really enjoyed this! LCBO # 061150 / $18.95 (MD)

2009 Viña Los Vascos, Chardonnay
This Chilean winery is managed by the great French estate of Lafite which produces what is arguably the most sought after label in Bordeaux. Here in Chile though, Lafite is striving for something of a more modernistic approach. The wine is very clean almost transparent in colour; unoaked with pronounced green apples and lemon on the nose followed by more of the same taste. Good acidity will pair this wine with many rich foods. LCBO # 206342 / $13.95 (D)

Fortified/Dessert

Gonzalez Byass, Elegante Sherry
This is a nice wine to sip before dinner with a variety of old cheeses. Elegante is sherry made in the Amontillado style which means the wine is relatively oxidized. The initial aroma is more of a nuttiness than the typical sherry tang. Soft and delicate in the mouth. Quite nice. LCBO 196816 / $14.95 (MD)

One for the Cellar

2007 Nicolas Potel, Les Grèves, Beaune 1er Cru
Burgundy, France is the home of Pinot Noir and this wine is from the vineyard of Les Grèves which is classified as a premier plot of land for both its soil and exposure. Expect a medium body with notes of sour cherry, raspberry, and a touch of black pepper on the finish. Burgundy reds are best consumed with food. Premier cru Burgundy at this price is very rare. A lovely wine indeed but let it sit for a while. Enjoy it after 2012. LCBO # 196899 / $29.92 (XD)

Some wine suggestions for Valentine's day ?

Yes, I understood your point completely.... My blurb above is simply to explain why I order or choose to serve the sweeter style of bubbly - that's all... I wasn't questioning you in the least. Sorry...

cheers

Feb 09, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Some wine suggestions for Valentine's day ?

Sure, many people are intimidated by the preconceived formality of champagne and would never consider it outside the ‘toasting environment’. But the touch of sweetness livens the group every time and gets your taste buds all spooled up for the appetizers – at least that is my experience.

Feb 09, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Pairing challenge.. Venison ragu & pulled pork...Help a relative Newb!?

ChefJune, FYI: The term 'blush wine' is an American term first used by Sutter Home. Like Fume Blanc (Mondavi), another American term, it duplicates a process invented elsewhere, in this case high quality rosé wine, the product of Loire. Traditional rose and the original blush plonk whether you like it or not had the same origin; they are a made by either minimal skin contact or run-off juice to enhance the remaining red wine in the vat. The fact that several producers bottle a sweeter wine and call it 'blush' is simply the product of stopped fermentation, residual sugar, and marketing. Rosé is not the product of a specific grape variety, it is a style of wine.

Feb 09, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Funny or outrageous?

Recently, I disguised and entered a bottle of Two Buck Chuck in a Merlot tasting that I was hosting. I kept my negative opinion of the Charles Shaw line to myself so not to influence that of the club members. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the bottle finished in the top three wines of the day. We all had a good laugh when I revealed the label and one person asked me to pick up a case the next time I was in the States!! Oh well, it’s a matter of personal taste; drink what you like, I tell them… To charge $6 for a glass of it though - I hope the establishment reinvests some of that profit in their cellar.

Feb 09, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Pairing challenge.. Venison ragu & pulled pork...Help a relative Newb!?

Newtothegame, Zinfandel is a red grape variety that produces both red and rosé wine. If the juice from the grapes (all grape juice is whiteish in colour) has only minimal contact with the dark skins, the wine is termed 'White Zinfandel' or rosé since it receives only a portion of the skin's colour pigment. One must be careful though, some producers will mix inferior bulk red and white wine together to create rosé or blush wine - which is not the real thing.

To answer your question though, I'd choose a Zinfandel with the pork not a White Zin.

Cheers!

Feb 09, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Help! Need your best recs for champagne/dessert wines from 2003 for my anniversary.

I have the ideal wine for you: Moulin Touchais

It is referred to as the 'Jewel of Anjou". The wines of 2003 will not be released until 2013 and will last for a lifetime. The producer guarantees the freshness of the wine for 100 years (assuming storage conditions). The cost is $35 -40 per bottle on average.

The text below is pasted from the web but there is much more literature available online...

Only the best vintages will ever leave the cellars under the Moulin Touchais name and only after a minimum of ten years cellarage. The Chenin Blanc grape, brought to an overripe stage but generally unaffected by noble rot due to the geographic situation of the area gives Moulin Touchais its outstanding freshness and typically fine, beautifully balanced acidity which lingers on the lips and on the palate.

The wines of Moulin Touchais begin reaching their peak after twenty years, although many of the great vintages take much longer. Great vintages such as the 1953, 1959, 1964, 1969 are still maturing. The 1945, 1947 and 1949 have become classics.

I have enjoyed this wine (vintages 1989, 1992, 1996) many times. It's sweet but not over-the-top and the older it gets, the better it tastes!

Feb 08, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Pairing challenge.. Venison ragu & pulled pork...Help a relative Newb!?

You might consider a nice Chianti with the pasta dish and with the BBQ'd pulled pork affair, Zinfandel for sure.

Enjoy!

Feb 08, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Some wine suggestions for Valentine's day ?

Veuve Clicquot's demi-sec Champagne as an aperitif and a Spanish Gran Reserva like Marqués de Murrieta, Castillo Ygay with the meal - both spectacular wines!

Feb 08, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Wine discussion from LCBO

From the February 5th 2011 LCBO Vintages Release

With the focus on Tuscany in this weekend’s release, if your preference is for a traditional grape varietal such as Sangiovese or even the more international flare of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, there are many intriguing wines to choose from. But of course, in our quest for discovery, North of 9 Selections has turned up a few ‘other’ interesting tasting opportunities. Let me show you a few...

Red:

2008 Pirramimma, Shiraz
You’ll have to move quickly if you want to get your hands on a bottle of this full-bodied Aussie gem. Port-like qualities here: thick, rich, and concentrated. Black fruit on the nose and lots of cocoa as it flows across the palate. At $24, this is underpriced. Decant 1-2 hours before serving. LCBO #987784/ $23.95 (D)

2007 Columbia Crest, H3 Merlot
Plenty of spice and black fruit on the nose. Medium bodied with initially an earthy taste which is followed quickly by more of the dark fruit. Quite dry on the finish. A very nice merlot. LCBO #209874 / $19.95 (XD)

White:

2009 Kleine Zalze, Chardonnay
This was really nice. Initially, some peach and apple on the nose followed by a touch of vanilla and almond indicating time spent in oak, but on the palate, the flavours integrate nicely. Lovely; perfectly balanced Chardonnay from South Africa. LCBO #096495 / $15.95 (D)

2009 Ferraton Père & Fils, Samorëns Blanc
From the Rhône valley in France, the style is not normally available at the LCBO. Samorëns Blanc is a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 40% Clairette. With several bottles open on the table as I tasted, the floral aromas from this particular bottle overpowered the others: Flowers and tropical fruit notes followed by a medium body and the taste of apples and pineapple wrapped up by a crisp acidity. Try this one purely out of curiosity. LCBO #073916 / $13.95 (D)

Sparkling:

Pierre Sparr, Rosè Brut, Crémant d’Alsace
Champagne is from Champagne; bubbles from elsewhere, no matter how good, cannot be called Champagne – it’s the law. This Alsatian crémant however, is made with the same care and technique though for a fraction of the price. The term brut implies dry. Fine bubbles are an indication of care taken during production whereas oxygen infused rapidly by carbonation would produce larger bubbles similar to a soft-drink. The aroma of strawberries hits you immediately followed by cherries and a toasty roundness in the mouth. Nice, but don’t over chill this one; try it at 10ºC. LCBO #039016 / $18.95 (D)

One for the Cellar:

2007 Ciacci Piccolomini, D’Aragona, Ateo
The Vintages release indicates DOC status for this wine but it is actually IGT which implies a deviation from traditional approved winemaking practices. This wine varies from what might be viewed as ‘religious’ in terms of wine production in Sant Antino,Italy. For this, Ciacci has named this wine Ateo which translates as ‘atheist’. This is the first year that Sangiovese has not been included in the blend leaving only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create an international style that will appeal to many ‘big red’ enthusiasts. Expect a full-bodied wine dominated by dark fruit and spice. This will be lovely with a few years in the cellar; right now though, the tannic structure of the Cab. Sav. dominates. A great investment in taste at this price. Best after 2013. LCBO #211623 / $24.95 (D)

Cheers!

LCBO New Releases

From the February 5th 2011 LCBO Vintages Release

With the focus on Tuscany in this weekend’s release, if your preference is for a traditional grape varietal such as Sangiovese or even the more international flare of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, there are many intriguing wines to choose from. But of course, in our quest for discovery, North of 9 Selections has turned up a few ‘other’ interesting tasting opportunities. Let me show you a few...

Red:

2008 Pirramimma, Shiraz
You’ll have to move quickly if you want to get your hands on a bottle of this full-bodied Aussie gem. Port-like qualities here: thick, rich, and concentrated. Black fruit on the nose and lots of cocoa as it flows across the palate. At $24, this is underpriced. Decant 1-2 hours before serving. LCBO #987784/ $23.95 (D)

2007 Columbia Crest, H3 Merlot
Plenty of spice and black fruit on the nose. Medium bodied with initially an earthy taste which is followed quickly by more of the dark fruit. Quite dry on the finish. A very nice merlot. LCBO #209874 / $19.95 (XD)

White:

2009 Kleine Zalze, Chardonnay
This was really nice. Initially, some peach and apple on the nose followed by a touch of vanilla and almond indicating time spent in oak, but on the palate, the flavours integrate nicely. Lovely; perfectly balanced Chardonnay from South Africa. LCBO #096495 / $15.95 (D)

2009 Ferraton Père & Fils, Samorëns Blanc
From the Rhône valley in France, the style is not normally available at the LCBO. Samorëns Blanc is a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 40% Clairette. With several bottles open on the table as I tasted, the floral aromas from this particular bottle overpowered the others: Flowers and tropical fruit notes followed by a medium body and the taste of apples and pineapple wrapped up by a crisp acidity. Try this one purely out of curiosity. LCBO #073916 / $13.95 (D)

Sparkling:

Pierre Sparr, Rosè Brut, Crémant d’Alsace
Champagne is from Champagne; bubbles from elsewhere, no matter how good, cannot be called Champagne – it’s the law. This Alsatian crémant however, is made with the same care and technique though for a fraction of the price. The term brut implies dry. Fine bubbles are an indication of care taken during production whereas oxygen infused rapidly by carbonation would produce larger bubbles similar to a soft-drink. The aroma of strawberries hits you immediately followed by cherries and a toasty roundness in the mouth. Nice, but don’t over chill this one; try it at 10ºC. LCBO #039016 / $18.95 (D)

One for the Cellar:

2007 Ciacci Piccolomini, D’Aragona, Ateo
The Vintages release indicates DOC status for this wine but it is actually IGT which implies a deviation from traditional approved winemaking practices. This wine varies from what might be viewed as ‘religious’ in terms of wine production in Sant Antino,Italy. For this, Ciacci has named this wine Ateo which translates as ‘atheist’. This is the first year that Sangiovese has not been included in the blend leaving only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create an international style that will appeal to many ‘big red’ enthusiasts. Expect a full-bodied wine dominated by dark fruit and spice. This will be lovely with a few years in the cellar; right now though, the tannic structure of the Cab. Sav. dominates. A great investment in taste at this price. Best after 2013. LCBO #211623 / $24.95 (D)

Cheers!

Wine discussion from LCBO

Thanks for the tip, I'll look the Wine Spectator forum up today... Cheers

Wine discussion from LCBO

From the January 22, 2011 LCBO Vintages Release

Red:

2007 Messias, Grande Escolha
For most of us, Portugal represents Vintage and Tawny Port, the thick, rich and greatest example of fortified wine. But are you aware that the Portuguese also make really good dry red wine? This one is from Douro and is made with the same grape varietals used in the production of port except it’s not fortified with brandy spirits. Aromas of highly concentrated dark fruit with a hint of dark chocolate precede smooth blackberries accented by black pepper and spice. Try it with prime rib. LCBO #064691 / $17.95 (XD)

2009 Rolling Shiraz
Rich red fruit greets you right off the top combined with some earthiness. The two actually balance each other out nicely. On the palate, sweetness and lots of it coats your tongue with ripe juicy fruit and a hint of spice. It is by no means a full-bodied Shiraz; the style is much lighter and very easy to drink. A bargain at this price. LCBO #203133 / $14.95 (D)

White:

2009 St. Donatus Irsai Oliver, Balatonlellei
Irsai Oliver is a type of white grape native to central Europe and in this example, Hungary. The awkwardness of the name has not added to the appeal of this very fragrant varietal though that should not deter your interest in trying something new. On the nose: Aroma is not the correct word; perfume is more accurate and you must try it to believe how pronounced the fragrance actually is. Crushed rose petal bath soap, if you can imagine it – very interesting. On the palate: fresh acidity highlighted with touch of lime on the finish. Can I say that it even tastes like flowers? Delicate but very pronounced and recommended. LCBO #012070 / $12.95 (D)

2009 Terres Blanches, Muscat Sec
From the south of France, this wine greets you with aromas of lemon and orange. There is also a floral note which is very typical of the Muscat grape. Sec implies a dry wine but this one is not overly-so. Serve this alongside lemon chicken to someone who will only drink Chardonnay and watch their expression. A perfectly balanced wine. LCBO #200048 / $13.95 (D)

Fortified:

2004 Croft LBV Porto
Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) is port which is ready to drink much earlier than the traditional vintage port style. LBV has been filtered and/or fined and therefore will not benefit from additional bottle age and at 6 years old, this one is quite rich and smooth offering up chewy dark fruit with a touch of pepper and some heat. The open air did seem to take the spicy edge off within an hour or so. LCBO #087601 / $17.95 (S)

One for the Cellar:

2008 Domaine Bernard Defaix, Côte de Lechet, Chablis, 1er Cru
Chablis is a satellite of the French appellation of Burgundy. The Chardonnay here has a pronounced minerality and freshness when compared to its buttery counterparts in the Côte de Beaune. This premier cru will benefit from 2 to 5 years in the cellar over which it will develop a fullness on the palate to balance out the crisp acidity right now. Aged Chablis is always worth the wait. LCBO #950667 / $31.95 (XD)

Cheers!

LCBO New Releases

From the January 22, 2011 LCBO Vintages Release

Red:

2007 Messias, Grande Escolha
For most of us, Portugal represents Vintage and Tawny Port, the thick, rich and greatest example of fortified wine. But are you aware that the Portuguese also make really good dry red wine? This one is from Douro and is made with the same grape varietals used in the production of port except it’s not fortified with brandy spirits. Aromas of highly concentrated dark fruit with a hint of dark chocolate precede smooth blackberries accented by black pepper and spice. Try it with prime rib. LCBO #064691 / $17.95 (XD)

2009 Rolling Shiraz
Rich red fruit greets you right off the top combined with some earthiness. The two actually balance each other out nicely. On the palate, sweetness and lots of it coats your tongue with ripe juicy fruit and a hint of spice. It is by no means a full-bodied Shiraz; the style is much lighter and very easy to drink. A bargain at this price. LCBO #203133 / $14.95 (D)

White:

2009 St. Donatus Irsai Oliver, Balatonlellei
Irsai Oliver is a type of white grape native to central Europe and in this example, Hungary. The awkwardness of the name has not added to the appeal of this very fragrant varietal though that should not deter your interest in trying something new. On the nose: Aroma is not the correct word; perfume is more accurate and you must try it to believe how pronounced the fragrance actually is. Crushed rose petal bath soap, if you can imagine it – very interesting. On the palate: fresh acidity highlighted with touch of lime on the finish. Can I say that it even tastes like flowers? Delicate but very pronounced and recommended. LCBO #012070 / $12.95 (D)

2009 Terres Blanches, Muscat Sec
From the south of France, this wine greets you with aromas of lemon and orange. There is also a floral note which is very typical of the Muscat grape. Sec implies a dry wine but this one is not overly-so. Serve this alongside lemon chicken to someone who will only drink Chardonnay and watch their expression. A perfectly balanced wine. LCBO #200048 / $13.95 (D)

Fortified:

2004 Croft LBV Porto
Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) is port which is ready to drink much earlier than the traditional vintage port style. LBV has been filtered and/or fined and therefore will not benefit from additional bottle age and at 6 years old, this one is quite rich and smooth offering up chewy dark fruit with a touch of pepper and heat. The open air did seem to take the spicy edge off within an hour or so. LCBO #087601 / $17.95 (S)

One for the Cellar:

2008 Domaine Bernard Defaix, Côte de Lechet, Chablis, 1er Cru
Chablis is a satellite of the French appellation of Burgundy. The Chardonnay here has a pronounced minerality and freshness when compared to its buttery counterparts in the Côte de Beaune. This premier cru will benefit from 2 to 5 years in the cellar over which it will develop a fullness on the palate to balance out the crisp acidity right now. Aged Chablis is always worth the wait. LCBO #950667 / $31.95 (XD)

Cheers!

LCBO New Releases

jayt90: You are absolutely correct, there are no Grand Cru vineyards within Savigny-lès-Beaune. The term in the tasting note above is simply used in an effort to explain what a 1er Cru is in general. I should have been more specific. Thanks for the observation.

Do you really find it pricey (for a premier cru)? This is arguably the top vineyard in Savigny and compared to the asking prices of many 'new-world' pinot producers, I think this, an example of tradition, is well under the radar: In Ontario alone, Tawse Winery 17th St. 2007 Pinot Noir is $58 and Le Clos Jordanne's top Pinot is $75.

LCBO New Releases

From the January 8th 2011 LCBO Vintages Release

It's been almost a month since the LCBO issued a Vintages release so I'm rather keen to taste the latest offerings. The January 8th issue brings good value for your money and rightfully so, December for most of us is a very expensive month. If you're like me, you also ate too much food over the holidays and have (or had) great intentions of living life on the leaner side this month. With that, can I recommend a few labels to pair with a healthier fare:

I picked up several bottles for sample from the Jan 8th Vintages release catalogue and the following two red, two white, one fortified selection, and one for the cellar, are in my opinion, good value for the varietal and region.

Red:

2008 Tolloy, Pinot Noir
If you're up on your heart-smart reading you'll realize that grape skins contains an antioxidant known as Reversatrol and since the juice for a red wine spends considerably longer soaking with the grape skins, a greater amount of this antioxidant is found in the wine. There is much debate on the benefits of Reversatrol but research does show that Resveratrol may be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease. Interestingly, of all the red wines, Pinot Noir typically contains the highest degree of antioxidants, so I thought I'd do you a favour and recommend this nice Italian Pinot. This one is interesting for a couple of reasons: In Italy, Pinot Noir is also known as Pinot Nero which at the LCBO we don't see very often. The 2009 Tolloy is very much an old world wine: you will find it soft and very light in both colour and body. The fruit hides behind a very dry core of earthy notes. Enjoy this one with a grilled chicken salad and sprinkle a bit of the wine on the salad instead of dressing. LCBO #193441 / $15.95 (XD)

2008 St. Hallett, Shiraz/Grenache
When you've had enough of the 'smart food' and decide to return to normal living, try this Australian blend of Shiraz and Grenache along side a beef tenderloin smothered with a peppercorn sauce. There's lots of fruit here but not overpowering and it's followed by a hint of black pepper. Nice round mouth-feel and lots of black fruit and cassis on the finish. Very easy to drink. LCBO #024117 / $14.95 (D)

White:

2009 Chateau Les Bertrands, Cuvee Tradition
Though you won't find it in bold print anywhere on the label, dry white wine from Bordeaux is almost always Sauvignon Blanc; this one has a touch of Muscadelle added to it. The French have been crafting great Sauvignon for longer than anyone else, they just don't market it with fancy advertising campaigns. The '09 Chateau les Bertrands shows very fragrant floral aromas with a hint of pear. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied and beautifully balanced with rather pronounced lime on the finish which I really enjoyed. This wine will go beautifully with white fish or sea scallops. LCBO #190967 / $14.95 (XD)

2009 Domaine du Vieux Chai, Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine
This light-bodied white is from Sevre-et-Maine, a sub-region in Loire, France. The term Sur-Lie (on lees) is a style of winemaking where the wine ages in a vat or barrel which also contains the sediment produced during the winemaking process. Normally, the clear wine is pumped off into a new barrel after which the sediment is discarded. In this example, the wine was left 'sur-lie' to absorbed additional flavour. This selection has pronounced pears and citrus notes but even more interesting is the slight effervescence or carbonation which adds a nice tingle as you sip. This will pair well with a variety of seafood dishes. LCBO #200048 / $13.95 (D)

Fortified:

Leacock's Rainwater Maderia
There really isn't much in this release in terms of sweet/dessert wines so I'll dig a bit deeper... Back in the October 16th, 2010 release, I was thrilled to see the return of Leacock's Rainwater Maderia. The term 'rainwater' is actually a designation of the Maderia's style, this one being very light on the palate; not like a Vintage Port or Oloroso Sherry. And it's not as sweet as you might expect either, Leacock's has a slight tang that works well on its own as an aperitif or paired with a semi-sweet dessert. Interestingly, the oldest wines in the world are all Maderia and once open, a bottle will last well over a month. Serve it slightly chilled. LCBO #189159 / $21.95 (MD)

One for the Cellar:

2007 Domaine Pavelot, Savigny-les-Beaune, 1er Cru aux Gravains
Yes I know the name is a lot to swallow, but the LCBO has it in the wrong order in their magazine. Pavelot is the last name of the producer, Savigny-les-Beaune is the name of a village at the top of Burgundy's Côte de Beaune where truly beautiful Pinot Noir is made, and aux Gravains is the name of the vineyard where the grapes are grown. The 1er Cru translates as 'premier vineyard or plot' meaning the vines are ideally positioned on the hill or côte and in terms of quality, the only designation greater is Grand-cru but for that, you must pay dearly. Pinot from Burgundy is my absolute favourite and I'll tell you from experience that Savigny-les-Beaune is a lovely wine for a special occasion. At the moment, this one is a rather bold but let it mellow in the bottle for a while and enjoy it perhaps with your turkey feast in 2013. You'll be sorry if you only buy one! LCBO #206136 / $47.95 (D)

Cheers!

Experience with wine cooling units?

Kaleokahu: I agree with the thermal dynamics here: the liquid mass will retain a given temperature for longer than the air within the cellar and so the unit may indeed cycle on/off less often if you regulate the temp via the PDT thermostat. The bottom line is that we are attempting to stabilize/preserve the temperature of the wine not the air and you are simply looking for the most efficient means of doing so. At 55deg/70%, your cellar is ideal but if the ambient conditions in your area are unfavourable then yes, i think the PDT might not be a bad decision - again, think worst case scenario: if the whole show quits on you, what will the temperature stabilize at? In my case, the answer is 11C/52F so i don't need the technology but in many cases (and perhaps yours), cellar conditions would spike and that will cause fluid expansion and the possibility of seepage.

Btw. the barriques are a nice addition to your cellar, i'm sure.

Cheers!

Jan 01, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Experience with wine cooling units?

Thanks Kaleokahu: yes, I understand clearly, you are placing the bottle with probe-in-place wherever you wish in the cellar and this will seemingly increase the efficiency of your cooling unit. Your W8000 is an expensive wall-mount unit, I can't imagine why this add-on would increase the lifespan of the machine if it is positioned correctly in the cellar. Just out of curiosity, at what temperature and %humidity do you maintain your cellar?

Jan 01, 2011
Northof9 in Wine

Experience with wine cooling units?

Sedimental/Kaleokahu,

Be careful with the household air conditioner, it removes ALL the moisture from your cellar. Within a year, your corks will dry out and the possibility of seepage will be significantly increased. Moisture contact only from the liquid inside the bottle is insufficient for longterm storage; humidity is necessary on both ends of the cork. It is far better to have a humid environment at a constant 16degC than one chilled to10deg with no moisture content whatsoever. The only effect of a warmer cellar is increased molecular movement and therefore, more rapidly maturing wine. Incidentally, the ideal conditions are 11degC with between 65-80% relative humidity.

Cheers!

Dec 31, 2010
Northof9 in Wine

Experience with wine cooling units?

Bottle probes: The idea seems reasonable but in reality, unless you are cellaring for investment purposes and temperature tracking is essential for bottle providence, how accurate does this really need to be? Wine cellars have existed for centuries and temperature variation is inevitable, the chalk caverns in Champagne and Spain's endless underground wine caves are perfect examples. While temperature is indeed a critical component, if you are cellaring for the long term, it is no more important that humidity and for that matter light and vibration. Keep all these factors in check and your wine will age gracefully but consider the big picture. My wife and I are drinking 15 year old bottles from our passive (natural) cellar and they are absolutely perfect! Our cellar has an earth floor and 160 year old stone walls, it's cool, dark, damp, and to most people dingy but for the wine, its flawless! As for the probe question: to have one or two strategically placed might provide a point of interest, but beyond that, I think it's just a gadget. Last time i checked, the in-bottle probe thermostat system was not wireless technology and is therefore rather unsightly in terms of presentation (in my opinion).

Control Box vs. Chiller unit: This depends entirely on the type of system that you buy: If the two components are separate then yes, your method will work but most of the inexpensive systems are self-contained ie. the controls are on the cooling component itself. In this case, the unit should be installed relatively close to the ceiling.

Hope this helps,
Cheers

Dec 31, 2010
Northof9 in Wine

Experience with wine cooling units?

If you decide to go the inexpensive route, consider the consequences if and when the cooling unit fails on you. With all six surfaces insulated (walls, ceiling and perhaps the floor though not necessary in the basement) your wine should be okay and it does sound like you do plan to put the effort into this project. Rapid temperature fluctuations are a wine's worst enemy and with an OAT of -25 degrees and the temperature in your basement (outside the cellar) set around 20 deg, we are considering an almost 50 degree differential. If you are out of town for a week in January and the unit quits - Ugh!

The most basic systems are self-contained and vent into an adjoining room. Other options are stand-alone units varying in size depending on the volume of the cellar. For larger cellars, split-refrigeration units vent warmer air from the cellar to the outdoors while providing cool air via a fan and condensing system. Additionally, this system allows for a wall mounted thermostat and temperature monitoring system. Beyond split-refrigeration, larger, more complex systems similar to central air conditioners are available which remove air to a remote cooling unit and then return it at a lower temperature to the cellar. Again, requirements will vary depending on the size, location and ambient conditions of your cellar. Reliability is the underlying question with lower-end units and several consumer product reviews detailing mechanical failure after only two or three years of operation are available online. Expect to pay at least $1000 and well beyond that for a product you can rely on. This subject does require research and attention to detail prior to purchasing and depending on your needs, some units are better suited than others. In terms of installation, a basic system is easily set up and wired while larger units may require professional assistance. Cool air will tend to settle on the floor and therefore, whenever possible, locate a basic self-contained cooling system close to the ceiling. If the unit is mounted too low, the thermostat generally located within the cooler itself, may trip the unit off prematurely.

Dec 31, 2010
Northof9 in Wine

LCBO New Releases

From the Dec 11th LCBO Release

Red:

2008 Yalumba, Shiraz/Viognier
Viognier is a white grape varietal which makes this Aussie red a touch unusual. Yalumba has blended a very small amount of the fragrant Viognier with their mighty Shiraz, a varietal typical of south Australia. The result is a powerhouse wine which I found a touch aggressive straight out of the bottle. After an hour of breathing time however, the deep inky purple Shiraz began to show its softer side. This full bodied wine seemed to mellow nicely in the glass with some air though make no mistake, while it is very good, it is also a very dry Shiraz and not one to sip on its own but instead, will pair perfectly with a rich red meat dish. Decant 1-2 hours before serving. LCBO #524926 / $19.95 (XD)

2008 De Martino Legado, Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon
Opened at lunch, the nose was quite fragrant but the mid palate was flat - nothing to write home about was my initial reaction but later in the day - Wow! The nose exploded with peppermint and the mouth-feel rounded out nicely. It is bone dry with dark fruit and an earthy aftertaste. A very interesting Chilean wine for sure! Decant 2 hours before serving LCBO #205674 / $14.95 (XD)

White:

2009 Bougrier, Vouvray
'Consistently excellent' best describes this Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. Bougrier's Vouvray is one of my 'go-to' wines and it never disappoints. The style is off-dry with notes of exotic fruit and a hint of honey plus just the right amount of acidity to pair will a multitude of foods or simply on its own as an aperitif. Save yourself the trip back to the store and buy a few bottles. LCBO #106880 / $13.95 (MD)

2008 Jackson-Triggs, Proprietors' Grand Reserve Chardonnay
This Niagara Chardonnay has spent 8 months in new oak and that style is quite prevalent in the vanilla and almond extract notes but these characteristics are balance by some nice tropical fruit and good acidity. This is a big wine and a rare opportunity where a white will also benefit from decanting. Let it breath for an hour. Very good. LCBO #593996 / $20.95 (D)

Fortified:

Royal Oporto 10-year old Tawny Port
The LCBO called this 200ml bottle a 'Stocking Stuffer' and I agree whole-heartedly. If you have not yet tried Tawny Port, this is the perfect place to start. Tawny is an oak-aged fortified wine and the 10-year designation is the average time the wine has spent aging in wood. The oak softens the wine's hard edges and slowly changes its colour to a soft tawny-brown. Traditionally, port is served on the cool side but I prefer mine at room temperature with milk chocolate - Wow! LCBO #661223 / $12.95 (S)

One for the Cellar:

2005 Ascheri Vigna dei Pola, Barolo
The 2000 version of Ascheri's Vigna dei Pola was voted top wine at the North of 9 Fine Wine Barolo tasting last March. Italy's Barolo is a product of the Nebbiolo grape varietal and wines from the 2005 vintage will benefit from at least 7-10 years in the bottle. Vigna dei Pola is aged as separate components in large Slovenian oak, new barriques, and stainless steel and then rejoined before bottling. Expect a big wine which is surprisingly light in colour filled with red fruit, subtle earthy notes, and a touch of spice. Cellar it until 2012 - It's worth the wait. LCBO #739920 / $41.95 (XD)

Cheers!

Best dinner for two $300 limit all in

Bistro Seven Seven in Alliston is phenomenal and they have a BYOB policy as well so you can take your favourite bottle with you. Dinner for two will cost approx $100 + drinks. Corkage is $20.

Wine discussion from LCBO

From the Dec 11th LCBO Release

Red:

2008 Yalumba, Shiraz/Viognier
Viognier is a white grape varietal which makes this Aussie red a touch unusual. Yalumba has blended a very small amount of the fragrant Viognier with their mighty Shiraz, a varietal typical of south Australia. The result is a powerhouse wine which I found a touch aggressive straight out of the bottle. After an hour of breathing time however, the deep inky purple Shiraz began to show its softer side. This full bodied wine seemed to mellow nicely in the glass with some air though make no mistake, while it is very good, it is also a very dry Shiraz and not one to sip on its own but instead, will pair perfectly with a rich red meat dish. Decant 1-2 hours before serving. LCBO #524926 / $19.95 (XD)

2008 De Martino Legado, Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon
Opened at lunch, the nose was quite fragrant but the mid palate was flat - nothing to write home about was my initial reaction but later in the day - Wow! The nose exploded with peppermint and the mouth-feel rounded out nicely. It is bone dry with dark fruit and an earthy aftertaste. A very interesting Chilean wine for sure! Decant 2 hours before serving LCBO #205674 / $14.95 (XD)

White:

2009 Bougrier, Vouvray
'Consistently excellent' best describes this Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. Bougrier's Vouvray is one of my 'go-to' wines and it never disappoints. The style is off-dry with notes of exotic fruit and a hint of honey plus just the right amount of acidity to pair will a multitude of foods or simply on its own as an aperitif. Save yourself the trip back to the store and buy a few bottles. LCBO #106880 / $13.95 (MD)

2008 Jackson-Triggs, Proprietors' Grand Reserve Chardonnay
This Niagara Chardonnay has spent 8 months in new oak and that style is quite prevalent in the vanilla and almond extract notes but these characteristics are balance by some nice tropical fruit and good acidity. This is a big wine and a rare opportunity where a white will also benefit from decanting. Let it breath for an hour. Very good. LCBO #593996 / $20.95 (D)

Fortified:

Royal Oporto 10-year old Tawny Port
The LCBO called this 200ml bottle a 'Stocking Stuffer' and I agree whole-heartedly. If you have not yet tried Tawny Port, this is the perfect place to start. Tawny is an oak-aged fortified wine and the 10-year designation is the average time the wine has spent aging in wood. The oak softens the wine's hard edges and slowly changes its colour to a soft tawny-brown. Traditionally, port is served on the cool side but I prefer mine at room temperature with milk chocolate - Wow! LCBO #661223 / $12.95 (S)

One for the Cellar:

2005 Ascheri Vigna dei Pola, Barolo
The 2000 version of Ascheri's Vigna dei Pola was voted top wine at the North of 9 Fine Wine Barolo tasting last March. Italy's Barolo is a product of the Nebbiolo grape varietal and wines from the 2005 vintage will benefit from at least 7-10 years in the bottle. Vigna dei Pola is aged as separate components in large Slovenian oak, new barriques, and stainless steel and then rejoined before bottling. Expect a big wine which is surprisingly light in colour filled with red fruit, subtle earthy notes, and a touch of spice. Cellar it until 2012 - It's worth the wait. LCBO #739920 / $41.95 (XD)

Cheers!

Canadian Wine Content Only Please

I think it is fair to say that in Ontario we do a very good job of the white varietals (Riesling, Gewurst, Chardonnay to a certain degree, and blends thereof (Inniskilin's Late Autumn Riesling is nice). In terms of Red wine, Gamay seems to be quite successful (I enjoy the Henry of Pelham Gamay) but to tackle Cab Sauv, Syrah, or any other thick-skinned varietal, we need an atypically warm growing season; 2007 did meet the criteria. Hillebrand's '07 Trius Grand Red is very good, a touch expensive for an Ontario wine but this one will stand up to most Bordeaux labels in the same price range. Avoid the big Ontario reds in cool years, they risk tasting vegetal.

ISO tasing glasses

Stokes in the Cookstown Outlet Mall carries ISO tasting glasses and their price is very reasonable - I bought 200