Caliterra Bio Sur Reserva Carmenere

2010 Caliterra Bio Sur Reserva Carmenere, $10.65. LCBO#142711.

The beginning of BBQ season appears to have woken me from my blogging coma. It’s not that I haven’t cooked something tasty, or taken a picture of it, since February. I’ve certainly drank quite a few lovely things as well. But I just haven’t been in the mood to write about it until now. After a long weekend of fabulous weather, we’ve got a fresh new BBQ and I’m full of inspiration. Tonight’s menu included some grilled veggies and cedar planked salmon, but that’s so simple it is hardly worth posting about- the wine was the star of the show.

Kevin was recently given this bottle as a work gift, which always makes me eye it cautiously as I put it in the wine rack. But I shouldn’t have worried, it’s a great affordable bottle, and the smoky oak notes went perfectly with the cedar planked salmon. It is a smooth, dry, full bodied red; dark purple with lots of deep fruit flavours. I plan to grab this one again on the way to a summer get together. Super reasonable price and a great match for anything smoky and flame grilled.

Overall, I give this wine 8.5/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.

Summer Wine Picks Wrap Up

On the eve of my official return to work, post-summer break, it seems fitting to weigh in on the last of the CBC “All in a Day” summer wine picks. We managed to try all 6 bottles since we found the list in July, and included a few friends along the way in our taste testing. I got around to formally reviewing 4 of them, which are all linked below. The final 2 were a bit lack lustre, so I’ve just included a few notes on them below.

To Recap: “All in a Day” Wine Panel’s Summer Picks

Rod’s Picks:

Stacey’s Picks:

  • White: Grooner Gruner Veltliner (Austria) $13.30– 8/10 for taste and 3.5/5 for value.
  • Rosé: The Beach House Rosé (South Africa) $9.95- Overly sweet and a bit yeasty. Felt like a cheap bottle of flavoured wine, it was just missing the fake strawberry taste. Would not buy again, although would never have bought it, had it not been on the list.
  • Red: Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere (Chile) $11.95- A dry red, spicy and peppery. Had a high alcohol content that took a long time to dissipate. Not the greatest because the alcohol really overwhelmed the flavour.

Trying these new bottles was a fun experiment, although it was not extremely useful in finding wines I would buy again. I think my wine taste is closer to Rod’s, I would buy both his red and white recommendation again, probably next summer. Stacey’s picks weren’t my favourite, all of them were a bit blah or cheap feeling, which is disappointing, because there are lots of $10 wines out there worth buying.

I think the verdict is, there are lots of wines on my $10 list that I would recommend ahead of these 6.

Thanks to Joe Shlabotnik for the photo.

Cono Sur Bicycle Viognier

2010 Cono Sur Bicycle Viognier, $9.95. LCBO#64287.

We are making good progress on the “All in a Day” summer wine list, having polished off 4 of the 6 bottles so far. We tested bottle number 4 out at a BBQ hosted by white wine loving friends. The wine was served well chilled while we nibbled on some Fifth Town goat cheese, with crackers and olive tapenade from Tuscany. Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

The wine went wonderfully with the cheese, and was also great on its own.  A medium golden colour with plenty of ripe fruit on the nose, some peach and melon for sure. The taste is full of orchard fruit as well as something a bit tropical, with a nice citrus acidity. It is a 1 in sugar content, but is well balanced and not overly sweet.

It’s a really fresh and fruity wine that is optimally consumed with bare toes touching the grass, and one’s bottom cushioned by a comfy deck chair. It’s backyard gathering wine for sure. I don’t know if I would pick it up in the winter, it probably would not be as fun to drink.

This wine went well with goat cheese, both sharp and mild, and would also be a great pair to some spicy asian takeout, seafood or fried chicken. At the $10 price tag, you can’t go wrong.

Overall, I give this wine 8.5/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.

Summer Wine Picks

I had the good fortune this afternoon of tuning in to “All in a Day” on CBC Radio One. I’m a big fan of the program, and the host, Alan Neal. Today, he had a wine panel on to discuss summer wines. Unfortunately, I came in half way through the program, so I can’t tell you much about the sommeliers that were on to share their opinions. However, after visiting the All in a Day website, I see that this is an ongoing feature, and that the recommended wines tend to be $13 or under, which definitely piqued my interest.

We have recently amassed almost $100 in gift cards to the LCBO (what can I say, our friends know exactly what to buy us), and have decided to put some of that to good use and try out these wines. Hopefully there will still be all 6 of these available at the LCBO after the region heard about these picks today!

Here is what the panel recommended:

The “All in a Day” Wine Panel’s Summer Picks

Rod’s Picks:

  • White: Cono Sur Viognier (Chile) $9.95
  • Rosé: MASI Modello Rosato (Italy) $10.95
  • Red: Antonin Rodet Cotes du Rhone (France) $12.95

Stacey’s Picks:

  • White: Grooner Gruner Veltliner (Austria) $13.30
  • Rosé: The Beach House Rosé (South Africa) $9.95
  • Red: Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere (Chile) $11.95

The plan is to buy all 6 and report back over the course of the summer. I’m headed to the LCBO tomorrow in an attempt to beat other CBC Radio fans to the punch. Stay tuned for some summer wine reviews!

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc

2010 Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc, $9.00. LCBO#275909.

I think I have the recipe to recovery after a very disheartening day at the office: Have your significant other make you dinner, drink some cheap wine, eat a Cadbury cream egg and watch Law & Order. The wine will relax you, the dinner & chocolate will cheer you up, and Law & Order will reassure you that your life is really not that bad. You could be on trial for murder, after all. Even the worst of work days must be better than a day in the courts.

I grabbed this wine yesterday in the LCBO, it was right beside my favourite affordable Sauvignon Blanc, Cocha y Toro, which recently moved from $10 to $11. I was curious if this $9 Chilean bottle could live up to my reliable cooking and drinking white wine.

The wine is a pale straw colour, with lots of tropical fruit and herbs on the nose. Those same notes show up in the taste, with some papaya and pineapple coming through. I find it slightly lacking in zip, with a need for more citus punch. It’s a teensy bit light, flat or watery…hard to pinpoint which.

With all that said, it is still highly drinkable, just not as special as my go-to white wine. I am sad to report that I’ll need to keep paying a few bucks more to get the exact balance and flavour I’m looking for.

Overall, I give this bottle 7.5/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.


Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc

2010 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, $9.95. LCBO#578641.

I am always on the hunt for an affordable, yet crisp and zippy, sauvignon blanc. Ever since discovering Kim Crawford’s Marlborough, New Zealand sauvignon blanc perfection, I’ve been out to beat it’s $19 price tag. Which reminds me- I’ve never blogged about that bottle, and should very soon. I almost always have one in my fridge, it’s that good.

But back on the topic of a cheaper cousin. I’ve been let down in the past. But I think I may have found my new go-to sauvignon blanc, and it hails from Chile. Concha y Toro is a pretty reliable winery, so when I saw a Casillero del Diablo sauvignon blanc on Wine Align’s top 50 buys list, I thought I’d give it a try. The fact that it is currently on sale for $1 off at the LCBO helped my decision making as well.

The wine is a nice pale straw colour, and the nose is bursting with tropical fruit. This made me a bit worried that the wine would be sweet, but it didn’t let me down. The taste is crisp and fresh with lots of citrus flavours. The tropical fruit is in there too- definitely some pineapple. The finish is zippy- just enough tartness without being sour. It certainly doesn’t beat my favourite Kim Crawford. But, for half the price, I think this bottle may find itself next to Kim more often in the door of my fridge.

Overall, I give this wine 9/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.

Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon


I was first introduced to Casa Lapostolle a few years ago at a wine tasting event, and was charmed by the fact that this Chilean winery has links to the Marnier family in France– makers of Grand Marnier. I have tried a few of their Cuvee Alexandre bottles from the Vintages section, and have not been let down.  This bottle caught my eye last week in the Chile aisle at the LCBO, and the $16 price point was very attractive.

The wine is a satifyingly deep ruby-purple, somewhat like pouring a fresh glass of grape juice. The nose is light and a bit earthy, and the taste is very ripe. It is medium-bodied, and not overly heavy or full of oak. Flavours of berries and a touch of wood come through, while not overwhelming the palate. The finish is quite smooth and well balanced, making it great to sip on its own.

I wished it was a bit more full bodied, but that’s just my love of big, bold reds.  This is a mellow, easy to drink cabernet sauvignon. I’m a bit torn about the price point, I think I expected to be more excited by this bottle. You could most likely find something quite comparable in the $12 range from Chile or California.

Overall, I give this wine 8.5/10 for taste and 3/5 for value.

Concha Y Toro Sunrise Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Concha Y Toro Sunrise Cabernet Sauvignon, $8.95. LCBO#47951.

I’ve been spending a lot of time solo of late, as Kevin has been working quite a bit. Last week, I had a bad day at work, and with no one to share my woes with when I came home, I decided that cooking and wine would have to be my therapists. Although I sometimes complain about being left alone, I have to say that there is something wonderful about being alone in the house, turning your music on as loud as you want, and getting out the cutting board and a wine glass.

And, so, to the sounds of Ray LaMontagne, I opened a bottle of Sunrise Cab Sav and started making a wholesome favourite, Saucy Pork Chops.  I love chopping veggies and the colours of them mixing around in the pan, the sizzle of pork chops browning, the sounds of rummaging through cupboards to find the ingredients for the sauce. Add in the music, the wine and the smells of dinner cooking, and you have a soothing sensory masterpiece.  I don’t think anything calms me down quite like cooking dinner.

That evening was my first time trying this wine, and I have to say it was a good match for my mood.  It’s quite mellow, easy to drink, doesn’t make you think too much. It was a bit too light bodied to be a bottle I’ll buy again, but for $9, it was reliable, smooth, somewhat fruity and not too tart. I didn’t pick up much on the nose or even in the taste, so I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who takes pleasure in decoding the mysteries of a wine bottle.  But for someone who wants an easy, affordable and reliable bottle, this one would do nicely.

Overall, I give this wine an 8/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.

Concha y Toro Trio Cabernet

2008 Concha y Toro Cabernet Trio, $14.95. LCBO#433912.

I bought this bottle on a whim. I was browsing the LCBO’s new Vintages release, and this bottle was the last of its kind left on the shelf. It was marked as a 90+ by Jay Miller, and I thought since it was clearly popular, it might be a worthwhile buy.

It has a promising blend of wines- Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc, and has a big, ripe 14% alcohol content. The label had me feeling optimistic.  And my optimism was not misplaced- it really is a fantastic bottle. So fantastic that I’m going to take a moment to gripe that all the bottles in Kingston are sold and I will probably never get to drink this beauty again.

It started with a nice, earthy nose and was big, ripe and full-bodied, with a spicy-peppery finish. At first pour, the alcohol content had a bit of a bite, but once left in the glass to mellow a while, it was much smoother and more balanced.

It has all the best of the 3 grapes- Cab Sav for fruit, Shiraz for spice, and Cab Franc for smoothness.  Well blended, Concha Y Toro. If only I could get 5 more of this bottle. Because for $15, this bottle is well worth stocking up on.

Overall, I give this bottle 9/10 for taste and 4.5 for value.

Cono Sur Bicycle Merlot

2008 Cono Sur Bicycle Merlot, $9.95. LCBO#457176.

I found this bottle in a list from Wine Align. It scored 88/100 for the 2007 vintage, and I thought it was a worthy candidate for the $10 wine list. It is the first bottle from Chile that I’ve tried on my quest for a cheap and worthy wine.

I’m disappointed to report that I found the bottle to be only average. It starts out well, the colour is a deep and satisfying purple, but it doesn’t have much of a nose.  The taste is very even, and the wine is medium bodied and soft, as you would expect in a merlot. I don’t have much else to say about it.

Maybe the problem is that I like things a bit fruitier, a bit deeper and more complex than the average merlot can deliver. There’s nothing offensive about this wine, it’s easy drinking with almost no hint of tannins.  It’s a bit on the dry side, so that might be a turn-off for some, but it’s very smooth and would probably pair well with most food.

I would say this is a decent wine, but not one that’s interesting enough to make it into my wine basket on future trips to the LCBO.

Overall, I give this wine 7.5/10 for taste and 3.5/5 for value.