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Jan. 26 - 2005 A Miracle Vintage ~ Tumultuous Week of Highs and Lows

Jan. 19 - Looking for Value? ~ Wines from Argentina to the Rescue

Jan. 12 - Looking Back - Looking Ahead ~ Spanish Wines Looking Up

Jan. 5 - New Year Bargains

Dec. 29 - Having a Sparkling New Year's Eve

Dec. 22 - Sumptuous Sippers ~ For days with Slippers

Dec. 15 - Wine Awards Canada - Charting 339 of Ontario's Best ~ Toasting Ontario's Best Sparklers from Brut to Gently Sweet

Dec. 8 - A Sparkling Vintages Release ~ But buy carefully

Dec. 1 - Holiday Gifting ~ The twin pack is the way to go

Nov. 24 - Eight Buys from Today's Vintages Release

Nov. 17 - Introducing the Signature Selection

Nov. 10 - 2005 Burgundy ~ The wine gurus like it!

Nov. 3 - Magic in Montreal ~ Le Marché an Inspiration for Local Wineries

Oct. 27 - Scary Times at Vintages ~ From Tricks to Treats

Oct. 20 -Best of the West

Oct. 13 -Today at Vintages ~ Bordeaux and Much More

Oct. 6 - Wine Auction Fever ~ Confessions of a Wine Auction Junkie ~ Forget Screaming Eagle and pass the Rum

Sep. 29 - Southern French Accents

Sep. 22 - Perfect for an Autumn day ~ Is that a bottle of spicy wine under your kilt?

Sep. 15 - A Celebration of the Ontario's harvest ~ Faces behind great wines

Sep. 8 - Reel Wines for Real Film Lovers ~ Can't snuggle? Here's what to smuggle! ~ Plus Ontario Recommendations

Sep. 1 - Dust off your Lederhosen ~ Austrian Wines Finally Unleashed in Vintages

Aug. 25 - Summer Twilight Selections ~ Spanish Synergy

Aug. 18 - The Wines of Chile ~ Soaring to the peaks of the Andes

Aug. 11 - Discovering Greece - a wine odyssey ~ Splendid Assyrtiko from Santorini

Aug. 4 - Spain - From the Classics to the Cutting Edge ~ Revving up for Rioja

Jul. 28 - Days of Wine & Roses no more! ~ Under $10 wines a rare breed

Jul. 21 - Que Sera, Syrah ~  Big, Smoky and Beautiful

Jul. 14 - Finding the best wine matches ~ Sizzling Seafood at Scaramouche

Jul. 7 - Sizzling Sauvignon Blanc ~ Vintages Best Buy Whites

Jun. 30 - In search of the Ontario Idol ~ Tracking down the best for Canada Day

Jun. 23 - Vintages Price Hikes ~ Hitting the customer where it hurts

Jun. 16 - Life After Yellow Tail

Jun. 9 - Rosé Rules ~ From serious to casual, unearthing that ambidextrous rosé

Jun. 2 - The ones that didn't get away! ~ Unearthing recent best buys - all under $20

May. 26 - New Zealand’s Natural Gems ~ The best of whites

May. 19 - Alsatian with that Crustacean?

May. 12 - Paradoxical Portugal ~ Old World Grapes with New World Appeal

May. 5 - Toronto's First Private Import Wine Fair ~ Private Imports Picking up Steam Despite LCBO Bullying

Apr. 28 - Toasting Mom with France’s Finest

Apr. 21 - Prime Time for California

Apr. 14 - Victims of Vintages

Apr. 7 - Delicious Ciders that won't break the Easter bank

Mar. 31 - Racy Rieslings ~ Perfect Springtime Sippers

Mar. 24 - Quest for the Best of Portable Potables ~ The Battle of the Boxes

Mar. 17 - For the love of the Irish ~ A Greek wine for St. Patrick's Day

Mar. 10 - VDN to the rescue ~ Sublime sweet bargains from southwestern France

Mar. 3 - Canada's greatest pinot noir? ~ If you can’t find the best, try LCJ’s less expensive bargains

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A Celebration of the Ontario's harvest
Faces behind great wines

© Michael Vaughan 2007
National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, September 15, 2007

To see this article as it appears in the National Post click here 

All listings are automatically linked to the LCBO database
If there is a product that interests you, just click on the name below and you will instantaneously connected with the LCBO database. The product will appear in blue and all you have to do is click on the name again and then the next screen will provide details along with the store search. Just click on store search. The number of bottles in each store is updated nightly. Call the store first to see if stock still remains (each store phone number is listed).

Today Vintages launches their Ontario wine focus "faces behind the wine" - homage to our own local wines. The timing is perfect as the grape harvest is now underway and Niagara Grape & Wine festivities will be running from September 21 -30 (to see click here).

It's also the time that makes or breaks the wine. The whether during this critical ripening period determines quality. Having survived one of the driest summers on record, things look great. Darryl Brooker, winemaker at Hillebrand, has been running around the various vineyards like a squirrel on steroids trying to figure out where and when to pick what.

Each grape has its own schedule for ripening, which is dependent on the specific site. The key is to pick on flavour before acidity starts dropping out. Brooker reports that his year heat has reduced grape and bunch size. The whites will be harvested over the next two weeks (yields about 20% below normal). Unless it rains, flavours are developing beautifully - so keep your fingers crossed.

The reds are the best this decade and, thankfully, there will finally be a decently sized harvest. Picking on Pinot Noir is just starting on the warmer sites and Merlot will begin by the end of the month. It is still too early to say how good they will be.

I was impressed with Brooker's Hillebrand Artist Series. If you enjoy rosé, make a beeline to Hillebrand 2006 Gamay Noir Rosé Artist Series (49742) at $12.15 at the LCBO. This seasonal item is surprisingly delicious with fragrant ripe plums and wild strawberry flavours.

Another winner is Hillebrand 2006 Trius White (54957) at $18.95 in Vintages. This blend of 33% Gewurztraminer, 30% Riesling, 28% Pinot Gris and 9% unoaked Chardonnay is very spicy, bright and fairly dry with honeyed, ripe melon-lemon-apricot flavours. A versatile, crowd-pleaser, which would be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.

Chateau des Charmes 2005 Gewürztraminer (453472) at $19.95 should not be missed. The Bosc family has always done a great job with this gape and this may be the best ever. It drips with spicy lychees-rosehip flavours and is surprisingly dry with a long, lingering finish. Perfection with hot Thai dishes be careful - it has 14.5% alcohol.

Two great buys are in today's Vintages release. Mike Weir 2006 Pinot Gris (43364) at $14.95 is a remarkable effort - dry, well structured and fairly spicy with delicious ripe melon and yellow grapefruit flavours along with a very crisp finish. Terrific! Ditto for the bright, flavourful Peninsula Ridge 2006 Viognier (662601) at $13.95. You will be unable to resist its crisp, lively, melon, rhubarb and dried ripe pear flavours.

In terms of Vintages reds, my choice is Henry of Pelham 2005 Reserve Baco Noir (461699) at $24.95 - a French hybrid grape is loved by some and despised by others. I am in the first camp. The 2005 has an extremely intense deep dark purple colour - watch out for stains. On the palate it is very dry and tangy with concentrated, plummy, juicy, black cherry flavours with a lingering, cedary finish. Best with robust stews, braised ribs or a rack of lamb, it is capable of aging for up to a decade.

Finally, as a toast to the 2007 vintage, let me recommend a unique sparkler called Peller Estate Ice Cuvée (18986) at $30.15, which is only available at the winery or at Peller retail stores. Light straw in colour, it has honeyed, spicy, faintly sweet, ripe melon flavours with good effervescence. Some lemony acidity on the finish keeps it fresh and food friendly. Made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes in the classic Champagne "méthode". After the lees are disgorged, a small quantity of Vidal Icewine (called the 'dosage') is added, making it slightly sweet and fruity. This versatile crowd pleaser would be great for appetizers, soups and poultry - perhaps at your Thanksgiving dinner.

Coming up on Monday, September 17 is the LCBO Delist Sale (69 items), which readers can access using our npreader password (to see click here).

Coming up

Thursday, September 27 - Australian Regional Heroes Tasting
[Toronto] Held at the Design Exchange - 234 Bay St., from 6:30 to 9:00 pm.Tickets are $60 per person, for reservation and information contact Wine Australia at 416-323-3016 or visit

2001 - 2007 Tasting Note Database
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