Archive for the Alan Kerr Category

Alan Kerr’s Vintages November 28th Release Notes

I do not have a lot of notes on the featured release, Holiday Finery, but they do prove that this is the time of the year the LCBO puts its serious stuff onto the shelves. The release on November 28th is an assembly of fine juice from all parts of the wine making world. There are several stellar Napa Valley Cabs to be found, but regrettably one wine that I was hoping would be part of the lineup was absent, Ridge’s 2013 Geyserville. Now this wine carries a price tag of $63.00. Ouch, I will not be buying mine from the LCBO! (Click images to enlarge.)

722470 ORNELLAIA 2012 Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy
This is an absolute treat to taste. For some reason, the board, in full seasonal spirit, sent all three formats that will be available. One can buy a single bottle for $195.95, a Magnum for $465.95 or a half bottle stocking stuffer for $103.95. I do not understand the vast pricing difference for the larger format, but hey, it is what it is. Tasting all three together, the magnum does seem to be tighter and more structured than the other two. The half bottle and 750 ml size show no difference at all. There is smoke, dark fruit, mint, violet, smoked meat, Asian spice, in particular Star Anise, and pure blackcurrant on the nose. There are flavours of dark fruit, spice, bitter chocolate and mineral. It is an attack on the senses, chewy and ripe, but the dusty silky tannins are planning on sticking around for a while. This is a wine clearly made to age and age well it will. Find this wine

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Alan Kerr’s Vintages November 14th Release Notes

There were many great wines released on the 14th, all just in time for gifting and drinking over the holidays. Big wines, big bottles and of course big prices, but the “Star Studded” line up and the “Big Bottles For Entertaining” both have some stellar wines. (Click on images to enlarge.)

November 14th release.

186171 DECOY CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 2013, Sonoma County, California $35.95
A lovely nose showing ripe dark fruit, but with accents of dusty soil, mineral, dark chocolate and leather. Superb balance, gorgeous layers of dark fruit, some tannins, but drinking nicely already. Find this wine

206409 CONVENTO SAN FRANCISCO CRIANZA 2009 Ribera del Duero, Spain $19.95
A heady wine boasting aromas of black cherry, plum, black licorice and sweet oak. It has purity on the palate; black fruit and plum are discernible, acids are fine-tuned, there is some tannin, but time in a decanter will soften. Find this wine


265090 LA CHABLISIENNE MONTMAINS CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2012, Burgundy, France $32.95
Tight nose at first, some apple and unripe pear aromas appear and meld well with the shingle, stony and mineral elements. Acidity is sharp, but not over the top and the fruit is in the background. Needs a little time I think. Find this wine

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Alan Kerr’s Vintages October 31st Release Notes

Sophisticated, singular wines. That is the heading on the brochure of the Vintages release on October 31st. This release features some of the “Super Tuscan” wines of Italy. There will be some really tasty wines that should complement any super scary Halloween bash or would be nice to sip a glass whilst handing out Halloween treats to the kiddies. (Click images to enlarge.)


Cherry and alcohol at first, then some notes of red fruit, cigar leaf and black raspberry arise. Not too much excitement on the palate either, it lacks oomph, has some heat and it finishes thin. Find this wine

Lovely earthy, sewer, mineral and clay aromas are soon overshadowed by wave after wave of dark berry, blackcurrant, anise and sour cherry. It has great texture; the Asian spice, black cherry and currant flavours shine. There is tannin, but it is silky. A super Halloween counterpart for liver and fava beans. Find this wine

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Sipping in Cincinnati

One of the numerous benefits to living in a country where one can experience the value of non-government controlled wine sales is being able to sample wines in store. Should they chose to, a privately run business can offer customers the opportunity to experience, learn from and enjoy an in-store public tasting.

I know several product consultants working for the LCBO who have amazing palates. I have been fortunate to taste with them on many occasions. However, due to the LCBO’s backward and archaic methods of retailing wine in Ontario, wine shoppers never get to witness and benefit from the skills these product consultants could convey.

On a recent visit to the land of Cincinnati, and home of great friends Cyndi and Mike Hughes, we were able to visit one such store. The Wine Merchant on Cincinnati’s East Side is one of several stores in the city that offer a more progressive means to retail their wares. Here one can taste numerous wines for fifty cents at the tasting bar or grab an ounce or two of something premium poured from their nifty Napa Technology Wine Station. Early on a balmy Saturday afternoon in late October we attended the store’s “ultra-premium” tasting that is held every Saturday from noon to five or until the wines run out.

Each week the wine consultants showcase a different theme. On this visit we tasted generous pours of four wines entitled “Undiscovered Italians”. All had been decanted in the early hours of the day. To stifle any hunger, there was cheese, an assortment of salumi and baguette included for nibbling. The cost of this event is a mere $15.00 and should one decide to purchase any of the wines, they are offered at a seriously discounted prices.

These are my observations. All were exceedingly good, but my notes are in order of my personal preference, starting with my least favourite, although I must point out I enjoyed them all, but one has to come in fourth spot, does it not?

Capezzana Ghiaie della Furba, Tuscany 2008. $54.99 Tasting price $48.99
A rustic wine showing plenty of spice, cigar leaf, black pepper, cherry and Kirsch aromas. The palate starts out as a power house, tannins are still quite evident, it parades its fruit nicely at first while anise and sweet spice enhance. It is tasty and chewy, but the fruit soon fades as the tannins overpower. Find this wine

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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s October 17th Release Notes

It has been too long since I had the privilege to shoot to London and taste some of the juice flowing onto the LCBO’s Vintages shelving this coming Saturday. As a bonus, the feature release is Napa Gold Rush, a region I have many fond memories of travelling around and tasting. Also there are several Piedmontese wines from the highly touted 2010 vintage to be had. Overall, there are many great wines to be found, the prices are steeper than some of the Napa valley slopes, but Napa has always carried high price tags for their premium wines. (Click images to enlarge.)

Wines of the month.

256768 BLACK STALLION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Napa Valley, California $32.95
Minty and chocolate aromas, toasty oak, currant and dark fruit, mocha and nutmeg; the palate shows plum and dusty tannin, with good acidity to keep it lively, but mid palate struggles to live up to the nose. Find this wine

222877 CAYMUS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 Napa Valley $99.95
Sweet dark berry pie, vanilla, buttery and laden with aromas of cola, thyme, black toffee and black licorice; showing heaps of blackcurrant, blueberry, sweet chewy nougat and chocolate in the mouth. A bit of a monster, but showing well already. Find this wine

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Three From Tom Gore

I had a great opportunity to sample three wines from Tom Gore Vineyards. Tom Gore was and still is a Californian farmer who has recently added wine making to his curriculum vitae by making what he sees as farm to glass wines.

Gore comes from a family with a long history of growing grapes in Sonoma Valley, but is the first of the family to venture into taking his juice a few steps further by turning it into wine of his own. His twenty year career began at the age of seven. Slave labour no, just a kid showing interest in what his father and forefathers have done for decades to make a living.

Gore studied at Cal Poly, where he earned a degree in fruit science then teamed up with Gary Sitton of Clos du Bois notoriety to start producing his brand of wines. Here are my impressions of these three.

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Go Trains, Streetcars and Automobiles

I love finding little restaurants off the beaten track that offer honest and well prepared dishes, use seasonal stuff and have enthusiastic and professional staff in both front and back of the house. Mr. Flamingo, located in Little Portugal, a neighbourhood and ethnic enclave in Toronto’s west end, is one such place. (Click images to enlarge.)

In this restaurant a decade or so ago, locals would frequent to tell stories, drink a Metaxa brandy or two, maybe sip heady espressos and chew the bones of a plate of Piri Piri chicken. Ten years later, it is a modest little eatery serving boldly flavoured foods in a trendy and voguish, but casual, atmosphere. The 30-something seat room has a stark look to it at first, but it is thoughtfully and nicely furbished.

Tables are lined against the view of Dundas St. West and tattooed hipsters sit opposite at the bar, sipping cocktails while facing a painted brick wall upon which hangs an illuminated sign claiming “We Serve The World’s Worst Barbecued Ribs.”

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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s May 16th Release Notes

G’day mates, a few Aussie wines are to be rocked up on the shelves of your local bottle-O store this coming weekend. Stylistically, Australian wines have changed over the past few years, much to this cobber’s liking. Many of these wines are totally bonza and some even got the old fella excited! Perfect to sip on a sunny arvo with some tucker on the Barbie, and you’ll have a ripper of a time. (Click images to enlarge.)

943399 D’ARENBERG THE COPPERMINE ROAD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 McLaren Vale, South Australia mL $49.95
Power packed, aromas of eucalyptus, mint, Ribena, black sweet cherry, mineral and smoke. Rich and chewy palate, with gorgeous layers of red and dark fruit, some spiciness, ground black pepper and ripe dusty tannins that stick to your teeth like candy. A very good price too as it is considerably more expensive elsewhere. Find this wine

048785 D’ARENBERG THE LOVE GRASS SHIRAZ 2011 McLaren Vale, South Australia $25.95
Some funk, muddy wet soil and mineral, but a solid background of dark fruit and blackberry lurks beneath. A touch of coffee grounds, very tasty black raspberry and blackberry flavours, with good acidity and a sprinkle of dark chocolate on the finish. Find this wine

408328 DE BORTOLI GULF STATION SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2010 Yarra Valley, Victoria$19.95
Earthy, floral and mineral aromas give way to prune, tar, cigar box and forest floor; lots of juicy cherry and plum flavours, chewy tannins and good length. Find this wine

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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s May 2nd Release Notes

The release for May 2nd has three features. One can choose to peruse through some wines from New Zealand, a small allotment yes, but there are some tasty Sauv Blancs. Fans of Germanic wines can sample some of Germany’s next generation’s style of wine. Or, to make us really believe that summer is just around the corner, there are several Rosé wines to chill down and assist with some long awaited patio sipping. (Click images to enlarge.)


095679 SAINT CLAIR PIONEER BLOCK 2 SWAMP BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 Dillons Point, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand $24.95
Far from the typical in your face Sauvignon Blanc here. This has aromas of earth, apple orchard, tangerine, tomato leaf and citrus. The palate is rich with concentrated tropical fruit, kiwi, Meyer lemons, papaya and baked apple. I really like this style of sauvignon Blanc. Find this wine

063941 MAHI SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 Marlborough, South Island $19.95
Very brazen, showing grassy, gooseberry, thyme and cumquat aromas; palate offers great acidity, lots of candied citrus notes and a herbaceous character that runs well into the finish. Find this wine

411603 TE WHARE RA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 Marlborough, South Island $24.95
Stony mineral, candied lime and gooseberry, quite grassy. Fresh squeezed grapefruit is the featured flavour on the palate, acidity is crisp, with hints of melon and papaya on the finish. Find this wine

408625 OPAWA PINOT GRIS 2014 Marlborough, South Island$16.95
Floral, stone fruit, toffee and apple candy aromas; nicely set palate, well balanced with apple and nectarine flavours, a rich chewy texture and caramel note on the finish. Find this wine

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There are few moments of pleasure and satisfaction that are better than going to eat at a restaurant where a former student is in charge of the kitchen. Even better, my great friend and fellow chef Ruth Nixon and I were able to prop ourselves at the counter of the open kitchen and gaze at the goings on at the pass. As a topper, local lad makes good, Chef Anthony Greco (shown below, photo courtesy of, suggested we abandon menus, throw caution to the wind and trust him to serve what he felt would be his unsurpassed and finest food. (Click images to enlarge.)

Anthony Greco graduated from Niagara College eight years ago. Having apprenticed in numerous eateries in and around the region, he is now in charge of the stoves at Zest, a highly touted restaurant in Fonthill, a small hamlet just outside of Niagara.

Within minutes of being seated, a plate of P.E.IShiny Seas” briny and aromatic oysters arrived, all perfectly shucked, plump, juicy and neatly garnished with freshly grated horseradish and lemons.

Zest is one of numerous restaurants in the Niagara area that offers its clients the option to bring their own wine, aka corkage, so I had grabbed a couple of bottles from the cellar before we left.

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Good Reads!