Atticus John Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007


Brand: Atticus John is only made during the best harvests in Napa Valley. Although the actual vineyards [near St. Helena] and winemaker have managed to stay anonymous, there are only so many options, so it’s possible to theorize quite accurately. ☺

The accepted account behind the brand is that when this rather famous winemaker has a fantastic harvest, rather then bottle too many of his high priced wines [making them less rare and less in cost] he bottles the extra wine under a different label and price point. Essentially a $25 bottle that really is a $75 bottle. I consider this a win.

The name Atticus John is in honor to a local Napa Valley legend, Atticus John. According to the legend told by many Napa farmers, “he was a recluse who lived in the valley around the turn of the 20th century. He had several dozen large dogs and lived his whole life off of what the bountiful Napa soil had to offer.”

Winemaking: “Almost 32 barrels were blended with no fining, no filtration and one final racking to bottle.” From the front label: “Old vines and minimal wood secure the generous spirit of Atticus John Cabernet”.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with cozy aromas of dark berries and autumn woods. An herbaceous streak runs thru blackberry, tobacco and vanilla notes, evolving into spiced oak and berry fruit on the plush finish. Well balanced, with complimentary velvety tannins and good acidity. Versatile and easy drinking, great on its own or with a wide array of dishes.

Cabernet Sauvignon [I could not verify varietal percentage.]
Napa Valley
Vinted and Bottled by Brandon Cellars, Suisun City
14.3% Alcohol
Enjoy now

Pillitteri Estates Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2013


Estate: Committed to creating a legacy for the generations to follow him, 3rd generation wine grower Gary Pillitteri founded the Pillitteri Winery in 1993. Gary began working in the vineyards alongside his grandfather and father in his native Sicily, and carried his passion for viticulture to Canada. Initially he and his wife grew fruits and vegetables on the estate, but in 1998 Gary decided to experiment with making a small batch of Vidal Icewine. Upon winning a gold medal right out of the starting gate, Gary decided to plant vines and open a winery. Today there are just over 100 acres of vineyards, and Gary’s grandchildren [who grew up working in the vineyards] are managing the export side of the winery, establishing themselves as the 5th generation of the Pillitteri winemaking family. Alongside their renowned Icewine, [which is currently receiving many accolades in the UK] the estate also crafts traditional Niagara wines such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Winemaking: This Cabernet Sauvignon is part of the Carretto line, which is the “table wine” range of Pillitteri. “The wines under this series are versatile enough to be consumed now or can be aged to enjoy in the coming years.” The label depicts a carretto, a colorful, horse or donkey drawn cart native to Sicily and represents an actual “cherished heirloom” of the Pillitteri family.

Vineyard soil is a mix of clay Queenston Red Shale atop clay loam and silt. Grapes were harvested in early November; they were actually the very last grapes to be harvested. “The patience paid off as the fruit yielded reserve quality juices.” Aged for 19 months in oak.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, cinnamon and green peppercorn. A layer of flinty minerals underscores cherry [all the cherries really; red, black and sour], black pepper and green olive notes. Baking spices and fruit comprise the dry finish. Easy drinking and a versatile companion at the table.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Stewed meats, BBQ, tomato based dishes and medium aged cheeses.

Cabernet Sauvignon [I could not confirm varietal percentage.]
Niagara on the Lake VQA
13.5% Alcohol
$25 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now

Montes Trio Tasting: Three Diverse Wines to Enjoy All Summer


Estate: Montes was established in the late 1980’s by four wine professionals with the goal of crafting “Chilean wines a quantum-leap higher in quality than the standards” that were currently in practice. Founder and winemaker Aurelio Montes professes “80% of good wine comes from the vineyards and only 20% from the cellar”. With that in mind, the estate not only employs sustainable viticulture, they also aim at conserving the environment. Currently they have conserved 400 hectares of indigenous forest in the Maule region, along with protecting biological corridors that enable the natural development of both plant and animal life. Preservation of the environment has resulted in the estate [including both farming and winemaking activities] to be Carbon Neutral as the forest absorbs all of the CO2 produced from both agricultural and winemaking activities. [Certified Sustainable, Carbon Neutral and Fair for Life]

Philosophy: “To make wines of the highest quality while caring for the environment and our people and developing a sustainable culture in every phase of production.”

The following 3 wines are wonderful companions to summer activities, from patio sipping to barbecues to quiet dinners.

Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards with granite and clay soils located in the Leyda Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc is unique in that it is harvested 21 days earlier then normal. Similar to Beaujolais Nouveau, it is the very first Chilean Sauvignon Blanc to hit the shelves each year.
100% Sauvignon Blanc
12% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Pale straw in colour with sunny aromas of lemon, white flowers and grass. Bright and crisp, with fresh tropical fruit [pineapple, kiwi] gliding over an herbaceous, lemon drenched backbone complimented by a food friendly acidity. Lemon and lime notes linger on the zippy finish. A perfect pairing with salty foods, it was fantastic with buttery popcorn.

Pairing suggestion from the Winery: Sushi, ceaser salad, ceviche, shellfish, veggie pastas, lemon chicken.


Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2016

The Montes ‘Alpha’ line was the first premium Chilean wine. The line is also noted for its sustainable dry farming method developed by Aurelio Montes, where “nature waters the vines. If rainfall is insufficient for vine growth and development, the winery supplements with minimal irrigation to compensate for the difference. The result: 65% less water usage, and lush, elegant wines.” Grapes for both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are sourced from the Colchagua Valley vineyards, specifically from the Finca Apalta and Marchigüe properties.

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Winemaking: 55% of the wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.
90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
14.3% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with tempting aromas of wild berry jam black pepper and hints of vanilla. Silky layers of fresh blackberry, raspberry, nutmeg and vanilla laced oak evolve into a dry, baking spice and crushed white peppercorn finish. Well balanced and silky smooth, this is a fantastically versatile Cab that can be paired with just about any dish, or lovely sipping on its own. [I paired with a super dense, creamy alfredo pasta topped with peppery grilled tempeh.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Dishes with red sauce and mushroom sauce, all red meats.


Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Montes Alpha Syrah 2013
Winemaking: 55% of the wine was aged for 12 months in first and second use French oak barrels.
90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Viognier
14.5% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with aromas of blackberry, blueberry, vanilla and spiced oak. Dark berry jam flavours saturate the core of caramel laced peppery spice and velvety tannins. Jammy fruit and spice notes carry thru and are joined by toasted oak on the lengthy finish. Concentrated and velvety, this is a plush Syrah that can make the transition from dinner to dessert. [I paired with cheese manicotti dinner and then followed with a dark chocolate and hazelnut bar dessert.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Chinese dishes, pasta, all meat, especially red meat.


Montes Alpha Syrah 2013




Samples submitted for review purpose.

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2014


Brand: 19 Crimes is a brand of Treasury Wine Estates, a global wine giant with an international portfolio of over 80 brands of wine, including Rosemount Estate, Penfolds, Beringer, and Stags Leap. The wine takes its inspiration from the list of 19 Crimes that were drawn up to assist the overcrowded British prison system and send felons to Australia beginning in 1788. With real mug shots being used on the labels, the wine “celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built”. Winemaker Paul Dahlenburg uses “careful tendering and a simple touch” to craft the 19 Crimes wines, as he believes “big, bold reds” naturally occur in the Victoria region of southeastern Australia.

Each cork is printed with one of the 19 Crimes; it’s a fun activity to see how many different crimes you can collect. Over the past year or so I have acquired a few, my favourites being: #5. Impersonating an Egyptian, #7. Setting Fire to Underwood and #17. Watermen Carrying Too Many Passengers on the Thames, if Any Drowned.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with robust aromas of sweet mixed berry jam, herbs and hints of oak. Coffee notes accent bold red fruit flavours, firm tannins harmonize with white pepper and mocha elements on the lengthy finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon [I could not verify varietal percentage.]
Produced and Bottled by Baileys of Glenrowan Wines
13.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2017

Old York Cellars Gold Medal Winning Pinot Gris & Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting


Two fantastic wines for summer bbq, patio and roof deck sipping. [Photobomb by Violet]

I had the pleasure of participating in a Virtual Vines discussion last month with winemaker Scott Gares of Old York Cellars and sommelier Laurin Dorman. Old York Cellars is located in the Ringoes section of Hunterdon County and contains some of the oldest vineyards in New Jersey. Owner David Wolin currently has 12 acres of vineyards, cultivating a diverse selection including Barbera, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Syrah and Riesling. In addition to award winning wines and a lovely tasting room, they also hold special events such as art exhibits, yoga classes and Master Chef Dinners. Check out their website for current special offers and to purchase the wines below.


Old York Cellars Pinot Gris 2013
Crafted in the French style, this is a heartier version of Pinot Grigio. A interesting example of winemaker prowess, Scott used R-2 Yeast, a yeast that is typically paired with Riesling; the result is the crisp apple character and the clean, dry finish. Incredibly pale gold in colour, this Pinot Gris exudes tart granny smith apple flavours that are backed by grapefruit zest, minerals and the tiniest trace of coconut. Lemon and pink grapefruit shine on the dry finish. Super refreshing, like taking a bite out of a granny smith apple. [Gold Medal Winner of the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition]
100% Pinot Gris


Old York Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
Aged for 8 months in American oak, which Scott explained imparts a little less vanilla flavour to the wine then French oak. A juicy summer red that is light on its feet with ripe cherry and blackberry flavours, hints of oak, soft tannins and a fantastic spicy dry finish. One of the signs of good winemaking, the 15.6% alcohol is unnoticeable [so watch out, it does sneak up on you!]
100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Media event hosted by Old York Cellars