Category Archives: Red wine

J. Lohr 2015 Los Osos Merlot

Here we are in south Texas drinking J. Lohr 2015 Los Osos Merlot, which we buy at the local grocery store for $11.68 American dollars.  You can get it at Ontario’s LCBO for $22.95, and it would probably be worth it :-).  It’s a lovely wine, tasting of black cherry and chocolate, with decent tannins.  We found the 2015 is a bit bolder than the 2014, but I guess the grocery store must have run out of the 2014 (I suppose we contributed to that, we’ve been drinking it for the last 5 or so weeks).

He said: The 2015 is much nicer than the 2014.  Great value – it’s affordable.

She said:  Shut up already, you do run on!

We actually went to J. Lohr winery a few years ago in the Paso Robles wine region in southern California.  Their tasting room isn’t a giant chateau or anything, but their wines have been consistently yummy and really great value, and I believe they produce quite a lot of wine.  We got started on their Zinfandel, but this Merlot has become a real favorite.  We’ve tried other reds, but keep coming back to this one.  Personally, I like both the 2014 and the 2015.

If you have the chance, give it a try, and be ready to grab a couple of extras! And if you’re wondering where to go in California, the Paso Robles wine region is a real gem.  Lots of wineries, but still not as touristy as wine regions to the north, so you often have a more leisurely tasting with lots of personal attention.


Another wonderful Canadian red wine, this one on our doorstep! This wine is a Bordeaux style red, and is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petit Verdot.  It shows cherry and other berries on the palate, with soft tannins which make it nice and drinkable with a variety of foods.  We sipped our first glass with snacks, and had the rest with roast chicken and oven fries.

She said: It’s a bit peppery, and I though I got a sense of truffles.

He said: The berries are most noticeable to me.  It’s a decent wine at a very reasonable price point – we paid $19.95 at the winery.

She said: We should have bought more than 2 bottles! It’s worth a trip to Pelee Island Winery for this wine!

From the wine description on the company’s web site:

The Vinedressers series is a Premium and Exclusive line up of wines only available at Pelee Island Winery in limited quantities. The series obtained its name through the history of grape growing and maintenance on Pelee Island in the 1880’s.At that time, the ongoing sound of pruning shears could be heard in the Vineyard. Pelee Islander’s referred to this task as “trimming grapes” and those who did this work, were referred to as “The Vinedressers”.

The details:

  • Pelee Island Vinedressers 20012 Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot
  • 13% alcohol
  • 70% barrel aged in French and European oak for 12 months
  • Available at Pelee Island Winery in Kingsville, Ontario

The Wanted Zin

Wanted Zin

When we were at the London Wine and Food Show in early 2016, we tried this wine and spoke to the person who imports it.  He told us that it’s an Italian wine, made in the American style, for a Scandinavian market.  Wow, how international! Check out their web site, which is aimed at Swedish wine lovers.


But at $14.10 at the LCBO,  it’s an amazing value.  If you like California Zinfandels, with their juicy, robust fruit, you will love this wine.

Jackson Triggs Delaine 2012 Syrah

We call this the “other” amazing red by Jackson Triggs, as we originally met their reds through a Delaine SyrahReserve Shiraz that isn’t made every year. It was a number of years ago that I’d organized an executive wine tour for a client, and we stopped at JT for a tour and tasting. I tried the Shiraz and just loved it – think it was around $50/bottle at the time.

But this wine really worth a discussion all its own. Here’s what the winery says about the wine:

“The Delaine Syrah is overflowing with delicious aromas and flavours. Spice and ripe dark fruit with hints of chocolate and coffee dominate the nose with flavours on the palate following suit. This intense Syrah has good balanced weight and smooth tannins making for a luscious sip from start to long, lingering finish.”

She said: Personally, it’s more robust that I’m used to seeing out of the Niagara region, and while it reminds me of Syrah/Shiraz from warmer areas like Australia or California, it’s a bit more refined. I agree with the description – it’s luscious! Dave, can we get more please?

He said: Ditto. The bottle says “Displays white pepper and red fruit on the nose with flavours of red berries, pepper and mocha with velvety tannins on the finish.”

She said: Love the pepper!

He said: Next time we’re in the Toronto area we’ll try to hunt some down, I promise. Not really a steak wine but it would go good with cheeses & breads – definitely wouldn’t do well in a duel with spicy food.

She said: It’s going just fine with the peanuts and pretzels!


  • Delaine by Jackson Triggs
  • 2012 Syrah VQA Niagara Peninsula
  • $32.95/bottle from the winery in Niagara


You can get a 2010 vintage at LCBO for $33.95 (Vintages #86553). But very few stores carry it, so you might be better off making a road trip J to Niagara!


Bordeaux Futures

Have you ever seen the LCBO advertising Bordeaux futures and wondered what it meant?  Essentially, it means buying a wine while it’s still in the barrel, taking the risk that once it’s bottled it will be as good as you think. Also known as “en primeur” in France, the wine is purchased 12 to 18 months prior to the official release of a vintage – so you’re essentially betting that you’ll get a good wine, likely for a bit less than once it’s bottled.

But there’s not as much risk as you might think.  Vineyards know whether they’ve had a good year, which is usually an indicator of the quality they expect from their wines.  So LCBO representatives will participate in futures tastings, and purchase the wines “on spec.”  They pass the risk on to the public by selling the wines as “futures.”

Today, we drank bottle #2 of a 3-bottle lot we bought of a Bordeaux future from ChateauDSC01150 Dalem.  It’s a 2009 Fronsac which we received in 2014 – but we put the order in for the wine in 2013 before it was bottled. It’s 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, from a winery founded in 1610, near St. Emilion and Pomerol, both wonderful wine producing regions. Suggested drinking window is 2015 to 2025 – this type of lifespan is another reason why many will invest in Bordeaux wines.

Was it worth it?  We paid $32 for a wine that’s likely worth more than that today.  For one thing, it’s not available at LCBO, so it’s a rare find.  But more importantly, we’ve babied this wine in the cellar, waiting until it was deemed drinkable, keeping our fingers crossed that it would prove to be a good investment.  It was a wonderful wine, and went really well with the filet mignon for dinner. Definitely worth it!

Bordeaux futures usually come out in the fall at the LCBO.  By purchasing as 3-bottle lots, we keep our investment reasonable, while still having the chance to experience some exceptional wines.


Novas Gran Reserva Carmenère Cab Sauvignon Organic 2013

It’s always wonderful when you taste a wine that inspires you to share with others.  And Novasthat’s why we are sitting here, watching golf, sipping wine at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon.  Our friend Mary suggested we try it – we’ve shared many wines with her and Mark, so they’re pretty good judges of what will get us excited.

And this one’s a definite winner! Rich and deep, it’s got wonderful body, but isn’t so robust that it needs food.

He said, “That’s different, I’m picking up some tannins that are lingering but overall it’s a quite peasant, enjoyable wine. Look forward to trying the other 2 bottles in upcoming years (see our thoughts on the 3-bottle lot). The tannins should mellow out and the wine will get smoother. It’s a flavour I haven’t come across in any other wine  – I occasionally pick up a bit of strawberry and cherry, but the taste I get isn’t one that I’ve encountered with another wine. Might be the blend…”

She said, “First mouthful was red cherries and a bit of plum too.  But what really does it for me is the fig on the nose – the scent of figs is one of my favorites. I suppose some might characterize it as “herbal” or “vegetal.”  I’ll stick with yummy. More please, Dave.”

The wine is found in the Chile section of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), not the Vintages section, and we got it for $15.80.  There is another wine by the same producer in the Vintages section – a different blend – that might be worth trying as well. LCBO doesn’t have a lot to say about it, but here’s what John Szabo had to say on the 2010 version on Wine Align:

A forward, very fruity and spicy, vegetal and floral, bold but certainly not subtle blend here from Emiliana’s organically famed vineyard in the Colchagua Valley. This is full, rich, rather thick and suave on the palate, with abundant black and blue fruit flavours and long finish. A terrific value for fans of full flavoured wines at a very fair price. Tasted January 2013. Value Rating: ***

The details:

  • Vinedos Emiliana S.A., Novas Gran Reserva Carmenère Cab Sauvignon Organic 2013
  • 14.5% Alcohol
  • Colchagua Valley, Chile
  • LCBO #434662

Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Vina Tarapaca Gran ReservaI received an email describing this wine as part of the Wine of the Weekend service, which highlights wines available at the LCBO that are:

  • less than $25 retail
  • readily available in Ontario
  • over-deliver on quality and value
  • fit the season or what is happening that weekend
  • are approachable and perfect for sharing and celebrating

Dave went off and bought our standard 3-bottle lot at an LCBO store in London Ontario, and we tried the first bottle tonight.  All I can say is “Honey, get in the car and get some more!”

This is a lovely wine, lots of berries when you open the bottle, which for me turned into violets on the nose as the wine opened.  It’s robust, with good tannins, but is extremely drinkable right away, with lots of blackberry flavours. While it was robust, I was quite happy to drink the first half of the bottle before dinner – it doesn’t absolutely cry out for food to accompany it, like some wines do.  But I can also see drinking this with a nice steak, or some super aged cheddar.  Here’s the Wine of the Weekend writeup.

Dave was getting “nuts” when he was drinking it.  Honey, I think that was the nutmeg flavour, or maybe the cocoa coming through.  While it’s complex enough to suit those with sophisticated tastes, it’s just a wonderful wine for the rest of us too!

The Details:




Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2014, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina

We’ve been periodically trying wines recommended in the Wine of the Weekend email service – some are stars, others, meh…Santa-Julia-Reserva-Malbec-LCBO

This week’s wine is Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2014, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina – another Malbec.  While in our opinion, it doesn’t hold a flame to our last Malbec, it’s not a bad wine, especially for the price.

She said: “It reminds me a bit of Beaujolais Nouveau, there’s a flavour in there that you find with younger wines (reminds me of Turkish Delight.)

He said: “This might not be a Malbec to introduce yourself to Malbec – I’d suggest that the last Malbec we tested is a much better example of just how good this varietal can be.”

Do you agree?  Why not try both wines and see which you like, and why.  Here’s the details:

  • This week’s wine:  Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2014, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina LCBO #429761 $12.95
  • Our preferred wine:      Catena Malbec 2012, Vintages 478727, $19.95


Catena Malbec 2012

For less than $20, this wine is a wonderful find.  It’s also a good lesson in looking for the less expensive wines from the top tier wineries.


Catena classifies its wines: the regular Catena (like this wine) is from the family vineyards, Catena Alta is a limited production wine, while Catena Zapata is their premium wine, designed to compete on the world wine stage at the highest tiers.

He said: I remember thinking when I bought this that it was a bit of a steal, as the Catena wines are usually more.  Catena – located in Argentina – is renowned for its Malbec.

She said: Too bad we don’t have any more, the 2011 Catena Alta – available in Vintages – is $49.95 per bottle.

He said: That’s a bit steep for us – we’ll keep our eyes open for the next regular Catena offering.

She said: Well, I think this $20 wine stacks up really well against many more expensive wines we’ve tried.  I wouldn’t mind trying the Catena Alta, assuming that it should be better than this one.  Maybe I’ll ask Santa Claus for one!