Stratus Vineyards ‘Red’ Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA 2012

Estate: Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, Stratus Vineyards was the world’s first fully LEED-certified winery in the world in 2005. The 62 acres of vineyards “are divided into 44 distinct blocs. Each one, its own small ‘somewhereness’.” The soil consists of layers of mineral-rich earth, resting on a limestone foundation, resulting in a “clay-loam mosaic” of individual soil types. The sustainable estate grows 10 varieties of red grapes and 6 varieties of white. In 2009 Stratus enlisted famed winemaker/viticulturist Paul Hobbs “to bring additional international perspective to its operations”.

Philosophy: “The wine we grow is dependent on the health of the land on which it is grown. We farm our vineyard and guide our winemaking as though our children’s future depends on it. Each vintage bottled is a reflection of this ongoing commitment.”

Winemaking: Sustainable and minimalist methods are followed. Aged 622 days in French oak, 35% new.

Harvest Note from the Winery: Summer temperatures continued to be above average with July being much drier than normal. Overall, the hot, dry climate resulted in the best growing season for Stratus to date and provided flawless fruit for an impressive lineup of wines.

Tasting Notes: Inky red violet in colour with aromas of vanilla, chocolate, cherry, strawberry, black pepper and a savoury wisp. Strawberry and raspberry glide over a mocha frame, supported by velvety tannins and good acidity. Black pepper, black cherry and a hint of earth comprise the lengthy finish. Decadent and suave, great on its own, with spicy dishes or rich chocolate desserts.

Blend of 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 3% Tannat
Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA
13.8% Alcohol
$44 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2022

Tenuta San Guido ‘Guidalberto’ Toscana IGT 2015

Estate: The Tenuta San Guido property entered the Incisa della Rocchetta family holdings in 1930, when Mario Incisa della Rocchetta’s married Marchesa Clarice della Gherardesca. The property provided ample room for his extremely successful career in breeding thoroughbred racehorses, and for winemaking. The estate is named after Saint Guido della Gherardesca who lived during the 11th century. The 4,500-acre property [180 of which are vineyards] is located on the Tyrrhenian coast, between Leghorn and Grosseto, in Maremma, and stretches for 13 km from the sea up to the hills.

Hailed as “the standard-bearer of Italian enology”, the historic estate is known for crafting the legendary Sassicaia, the world’s first Super Tuscan and revolutionizing fine wine production in Tuscany. For the past 40 years, Mario’s son, Marchese Nicoló Incisa della Rochetta runs the estate, and now his daughter, Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta has joined him in.

Named after Guidalberto della Gherardesca, a maternal ancestor of Nicoló Incisa who cultivated vines in Bolgheri in the 19th century, the estate introduced ‘Guidalberto’ in 2000. In addition to honoring his ancestor, Nicolò gives two reasons for its creation; “The desire to see what we could accomplish with Merlot, a grape that we had never used before; second, the desire to offer the consumer a wine which could be appreciated at a younger age compared to our veteran Sassicaia.” Indeed, the wine already has a reputation for being both easy drinking at a young age and having the ability to age significantly longer, if desired.

Winemaking: Hand harvested grapes are from soil rich in clay and stones, with areas of limestone, located between 100-300 meters in elevation, facing south/south-west. Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts. The maceration on the skins lasted 10 to 11 days for Merlot and lasted 10 to 14 days for Cabernet Sauvignon. It was followed by pump overs of the musts and délestages in order to soften the wine tannins. After malolactic fermentation the wine was aged 15 months in French and partially American oak barrels, by a few additional months in the bottle before release.

2015 Harvest Note from the Winery: In June and mid- July temperatures were above the seasonal average, but by the end of July the temperatures got lowered returning to the average thanks to a long rainy day, really good for the vines. Rains helped a lot avoiding any physiological stress for the vines and helping them growing the grapes favoring veraison. The good temperature range between day and night that occurred from late August helped an optimal phenolic ripeness of the grapes. Grapes were of an excellent quality, perfectly ripened, pretty cool and crisp. The great structure and the elegant, soft tannins are the main elements of this vintage.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour, highly aromatic with cherry, baking spices, leather and forest aromas. Spice driven with cherry, raspberry, black pepper and a trace of tarry earth accented by a savory nuance. Well structured, firm tannins and fresh acidity meld into cherry, black pepper and anise on the lengthy, dry finish. Plush, super easy drinking, an approachable crowd pleaser now, and for many years to come.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Traditional Italian dishes, such as zampone and lentils, also with Bolognese and other meat sauce pastas, grilled pork and beef, and roasts. Open it just before pouring, serve at 63-64 F [17 C].

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot
Toscana IGT
Bottled by Tenuta San Guido
13% Alcohol
$40 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2027

Rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast



Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

Gran Passione Rosso Veneto IGT 2016

Brand: Gran Passione is a label of the Botter family, who since 1928 have been producing wines under environmentally friendly practices. Today the company is managed by the family’s third generation, with a “multi-territorial approach that spans the whole of Italy”, focusing on native vines and organic viticulture. Gran Passione sets out to express the passion, devotion and tradition of vine growers.

Winemaking: Crafted in the Apassimento tradition, grapes are naturally dried on the vines until about 50% of their weight has vaporized. Grapes are then hand harvested, pressed, with the skins being left in the must for a time during fermentation “to extract and intensify the flavours and the characteristic ruby red color”. Aged in oak vats for 3-4 months.

Tasting Notes: Dark transparent garnet in colour with inviting aromas of baked cherry, roasted herbs and truffle honey. Tasting similar to the aromas, with black cherry and strawberry compote, black pepper and a wisp of roasted herbs. Soft, velvety tannins frame fruit and baking spice on the lengthy finish. Plush and so easy drinking, great on its own or with hearty dishes like stews and casseroles.

Pairing Suggestions from the Importer: Great wine for roasted and grilled meats. Ideal with game dishes. Excellent with mature hard cheeses.

60% Merlot, 40% Corvina
Veneto IGT
Produced by Casa Vinicola Botter & C. S.P.A.
14% Alcohol
$13 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2020


Sample submitted for review purpose.

Capezzana Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC 2014

Estate: Wine production in the Carmignano region of northern Tuscany dates to around 1000 B.C. when the Etruscans inhabited the area. The Capezzana estate, located 20 km from Florence, on the slopes of Monte Albano and close to the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, has been making wine for over 1200 years. A preserved rent contract now in the Florence Archives details the production of wine and olive oil specifically at Capezzana, dated 804 AD. Since the 1920’s, the Contini Bonacossi family have owned and run this celebrated, historical estate. Today, the estate consists of 670 hectares, of which approximately 100 are vineyards and 140 are olive groves. Barco Reale di Carmignano is the estate’s “everyday wine”, although grapes are from vineyards in historic Medici Royal lands, from the property “Barco Reale” or “Royal property” mentioned in Cosimo de Medici’s “Decreto Motu Proprio” in 1716 [where it takes its name from].

Winemaking: Sustainable viticulture. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, aged in Allier barrels for 6 months, followed by at least 3 months in bottle prior to release.

Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with inviting aromas of cherry, strawberry, autumn woods and spice. Rich cherry and strawberry fuse with an undercurrent of sour cherry and woodsy spice. Smooth tannins and peppery spice highlight the dry, fruity finish. Well balanced and super versatile at the table.

Wine Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Wonderful with first courses, pastas and red and white meat entrees.

70% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Canaiolo, 5% Cabernet Franc
Carmignano DOC
Estate Bottled by Tenuta Capezzana S.R.L.
13.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now

19 Crimes ‘The Uprising’ Australia 2016

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. Recently 19 Crimes was named ‘Wine Brand of the Year’ by leading US wine industry title Market Watch.

The various wines of 19 Crimes take 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”. ‘The Uprising’ pays homage to Australia’s “Rum Rebellion” where soldiers and citizens united together to overthrow the government. A portion of the wine was aged for 30 days in rum barrels.

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with aromas of jammy, dark fruit and cigar box spice. Concentrated blueberry, black cherry, raspberry and black pepper flavours are wrapped in velvety tannins. S’mores like finish, with chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow smothered in black cherry sauce. Not for the faint of heart [don’t’ forget about the 15% alcohol!] an intense dessert in a glass.

50% Shiraz, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Grenache
Produced and Bottled by 19 Crimes
15% Alcohol
Enjoy now