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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


1. Passion of Portugal, +146449, $7.65, at entry level price for the
LCBO General List. One of the first of the new bread from Europe to
counteract Fuzion and similar wines. This one, imported by Majestic
Wine, comes from Lisboa region. It is a charming blend of Tinta Roriz,
Tinta Barroca, and Pinot Noir. It shows rich red fruit, like strawbs
and rasps, with some overtones of vanilla. Upfront and juicy.
Complemented by the softer tannins, this wine can be used with parties
or sippers rather than food. Not very Euro in style, more a New World
2. Stratus Gamay 2007 Niagara, $29 winery only: Ontario is doing some
fantastic things with longer aged gamay, a sort of over-the-top Morgon.
Stratus has its cooperage here set at 639 days in all French oak (43%
new), 14% ABV. A super-blast of red fruit density from the charming
2007 vintage, but needs keeping awhile. My bottle was opened and
savoured for a week.
3. Stratus Cabernet Franc 2007 Niagara, $38 winery only, with a small
amount in Vintages in 2010: Ontario makes superb Cabernet Franc (it
seems to be our signature grape), and this one has spent 630 days in
all new French oak. Expect toastiness and some red fruit tones, as well
as mocha and vanills. 2007 was a long hot growing season. Needs keeping
awhile. My bottle was opened and savoured for a week. The winery has
the cellar potential at 10+ years.
4. Frei Joao Bairrada Portugal 2006, +144469, $14.95 Vintages Nov
21/09, very much on the food wine side with early harvested Baga grapes
(40% of the cuvee). Also here: 30% Touriga Nacional, 15% Tinta Roriz,
and 15% Merlot to soften the finish. It can age well, will be drinking
better next year. Expect some fried figs, mocha, and light vanilla
tones from partial wood aging for 1 year. 13% ABV.
From Applewood Farm Winery (Stouffville), each fall brings new wines
from the fruit harvest. High on my list is the Mac Meade sparkler,
about 7% ABV with a sugar code of 3, priced at $12.95 retail at the
winery (all products are sold at the winery). This is a combo of
Macintosh apples and honey, sweet but also crisp in the finish. Good as
aperitif or with cheeses later in the meal. It is complemented to some
extent by the sparkling raspberry cider, termed Crazy Eight because of
its 8.8% ABV. The raspberry is available by the 341 mL "beer bottle"
format with a twist crown cap: expect mounds of raspberry flavour with
a finishing crispness. Refreshing on its own, or with food. $3 a
bottle, or on sale at $50 for a "two-four".

Applewood Farm Winery also has some heavy hitters for the end of the
dinner feast. There's an Iced Apple Cider 2007, a bit syrupy with sweet
caramel, only $14.95 for a 375mL bottle. It is good competition for
Quebec at 13% ABV with a sugar code of 18. It won a Silver Medal at the
All-Canada Wine Awards held earlier this year at Windsor. The 2008
version will be out next month; it is just being bottled, and it is
more over the top. My first impression was a syrup for a pancake
brunch, thick viscosity, heavy caramel and vanilla aromas. Apparently,
there are 46 apples used in every half-bottle of the 2008, which will
increase the price to just under $20. Also for dessert there is Black
Forest Cherry 2007 (13% ABV, $12.95, 375mL) with highly aromatic black
cherry scents and flavours following through with an added real 
chocolate component (hence the name: you supply your own whipped
And Applewood likes to experiment with port-style wines. There's a Pear
Port which I have enjoyed in the past; it is now joined by and intense
Black Currant Port (20% ABV, $19.95, 750 mL) and an amazing Small Cask
Buckwheat Honey 2005 (20% ABV, $19.95, 500 mL) redolent of buckwheat
tones and oaking, another pancake topper.

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