Sep 16, 2015

40 Years of Bordeaux Tastings!

Toronto Vintners Club turned 40 years in June of 2015 and we’ve celebrated throughout the year.  TVC’s inaugural event was a tasting of Bordeaux wines in 1975 and we’ve hosted a Bordeaux event every year since then.  The initial occasion cost $6.50 per person ($7 at the door). The average cost of the wines consumed that evening was $5.82.  Mind you, they weren’t top Bordeaux by any means.  The club served a Colona Sommet Rouge for $2.15 (it was once the world’s biggest selling wine) and the priciest was the 1966 Chateau Rauzan Segla at $17.70. A 1966 Rauzan Segla would set you back about $325 if purchased today and if you still want a Sommet Rouge, you’ll have to travel to BC to buy it where it sells for $6.50/litre.  Oh we’ve come a long way baby!!!

On Monday, September 28, we'll be tasting a line-up of 2006 red Bordeaux. We have 2 Grand Cru Classé (GCC) wines and second (2e) to fifth (5e) growth wines mainly from the Left Bank.  The average cost of the wines for this tasting is $79 (based on futures’ prices) compared to $6 in 1975!

Theme:  2006 Bordeaux
Cost:  Members $90; Guests / Non-Members:  $120  - includes light appetizers
Date:   Monday, September 28/15
Time: 6:00 PM for reception wine; formal tasting usually starts at 6:20
Location:   Faculty Club, Univ. of Toronto, 41 Willcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1C7  - Map 
Register / Buy Tickets  Please note that all ticket sales are FINAL; we cannot provide refunds unless we are oversold and have a wait list.

May 21, 2015

Summer is Riesling Time!

Next month in June, we will usher in summer with some refreshing dry Rieslings - a grape that Jancis Robinson, one of the world's most

important wine critic considers the world's greatest white wine grape.  Read more about why on our website by clicking the link below. It will be a bit of a world tour since we have Rieslings from several different countries and wine growing regions. Hope to see you on June 16th.  We will take a break over the summer and then return in September.

Date: June 16, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
PlaceFaculty Club, Univ. of Toronto, 41 Willcocks Street, Toronto  Map
Fees: Members: $60; Non-members & guests: $75
Register/Buy Tickets - NOTE - ALL ticket sales are FINAL.  We cannot issue refunds unless we are oversold & have a wait list. 

Our event includes appetizers with the main tasting event.  Dress is business casual. Please refrain from wearing cologne and other scented products to our events.

Apr 26, 2015

Barolo vs Barbaresco, May 12

Barbaresco and Barolo communes are situated in the Piedmont area of Italy about 10 miles apart and both produce wine from 100% Nebbiolo grapes.  Yet, despite the proximity of these two wine producing zones that use the same grape, they produce two distinct styles.  Many refer to Barolo as ‘masculine’ and the Wine of the King and Barbesco as “feminine” and wine of the Queen. Or to draw from the title of a popular book, “Barbaresco is from Mars, Barolo is from Venus”.

On May 12, Toronto Vintners Club explores these two communes with 8 wines (5 Barolos and 3 Barbarescos) from the 2004 vintage, a year described as "excellent" and "classic" with the wines expected to age for several decades.

Theme:  Barbaresco vs Barolo (2004 Vintage) Open this link for more information about the areas, wines and the list of wines we'll be tasting
Date: May 12, 2015
Time: 6 PM
LocationFaculty Club, Univ. of Toronto, 41 Willcocks Street, Toronto
Fee: TVC Member: $82; Non-Members/Guests: $110
Register / Buy Tickets 
Note: All ticket sales are FINAL.  We cannot refund any ticket sales unless we are sold out and have a wait list.

Apr 22, 2015

An evening with Thomas Bachelder

An eager crowd of almost 50 wine lovers gathered to sample a rare vertical of Le Clos Jordanne pinot noir and to hear winemaker Thomas Bachelder speak about recent vintages and his adventures making these stunning wines.

Bachelder Sanders Vineyard Chardonnay

The evening started off with reception wine samples of two new Chardonnays for Bachelder wines, Thomas’ current wine project.  The 2011 Niagara chardonnay is a full-bodied and rich that the crowd really enjoyed.  But the single vineyard 2012 Saunders Vineyard chardonnay got people really really talking… there were murmurs of the wine tasting like a high end Meursault.  Expect to find these delicious wines in the LCBO soon.

Thomas Bachelder
Before we started tasting the wines, Thomas gave a short introduction to the wines and their respective vintages.  Thomas also offered some insights into his fascinating process of discovering the unique Niagara terroirs.  He explained that the approach with Le Clos Jordanne was to separate grapes into east West and Centre blocks in a year in year out process to find the best parcels and site characteristics.  He offered some fresh insight into the mysterious process of uncovering terroir.

As a vintage overview, Thomas suggested that the 2005 wines would be most concentrated and dark.  2006 was a good year with lighter color.  2008 was a tougher year, so lighter color and perhaps some leafiness.  2009 was expected to be ripe and dark with the most smoky characteristics.

The tasting revealed a great variety of wines as Thomas had suggested.  Some really ripe, dark wines, some a little green and a few with a pronounced smokiness.  All wines had really lively acidity.  It happens quite rarely, but our group scored all of these wines remarkably consistently with our guest speaker with Thomas and the group showing definite preference for the 2005 and 2006 wines.  In fact, the 2005 and 2006 wines were all in the top 4.  It was great to see 10 year old Niagara Pinot Noirs still presenting so well.

At the end of the tasting, Thomas surprised us with a few bottles of his soon to be released 2012 Lowrey Vineyards Pinot Noir.  This fruity, aromatic red will be released through Vintages in May and it was a special treat to get a sneak peak of this fantastic wine.

Raffle winnder David Turgeon (L)
And finally, as part of our 40th Anniversary/Birthday celebrations, we raffled off a bottle of 2006 Grand Clos Chardonnay. Fortunately, the winemaker was on hand to sign the bottle for the occasion. Congratulations to TVC club member David Turgeon for winning this very special bottle of Niagara chardonnay.

And here is how the wines were ranked.

2005 La Petite Vineyard $35: Group 1 / Speaker 5

2008 Talon Ridge Vineyard $40: Group 7 /  Speaker 7

2005 Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard $35:  Group 1 / Speaker 5

2006 Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard $ 40:  Group 3 /  Speaker 1

2009 Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard $ 45:  Group 6  / Speaker 6

2006 Le Grand Clos $70:  Group 3 /  Speaker 3

2008 Le Grand Clos $70: Group 5 / Speaker 4

2009 Le Grand Clos $ 75:  Group 8 / Speaker 8

Mar 17, 2015

Chilean Reds Tasting March 17th

On St. Patrick’s Day evening, 40 members of Toronto Vintners Club and guests gathered at the University of Toronto Faculty Club, not to drink pints of Guinness or glasses of whiskey but to taste 8 great Chilean reds. The wines promised to provide a real treat – new world wines, many influenced by old world Bordeaux techniques and blending styles. Today Chilean reds are considered some of the best in the world, even beating out top French wineries for top honours in 2004. Of the 8 Chilean’s in the tasting, 4 were from the 2007 vintage which according to our guest speaker Howard Kaman of Charton Hobbs, was considered a vintage of the century.

Guests were also treated to a bonus, as part of the Club’s 40th anniversary, a 9th mystery wine which turned out in the end to be a 1997 Chateau la Croix duCasse, Pomerol. It was a fitting end to the tasting and provided a real contrast to the younger Chilean wines in terms of nose, palette and colour. Such was the contrast, the group didn't have much difficulty identifying it as the mystery wine.
Following a brief introduction to Chile by Howard where he identified some of the regions and the grapes primarily used in the production of its wine, the group got down to the business of the tasting. 

The wines in pouring order were;

1.      2005 Altair Tinto. Cachapoal Valley. $ 42
“From a small, very classy winery focused on high end blends only, this combines 85% cab sauvignon with syrah and carmenere. It’s a super rich red with a saturated nose of cassis/rhubarb jam, mincemeat and chocolate fudge. It’s full bodied, very dense, soft and supple with great fruit. Chilean to its core. Excellent to outstanding length. It should age well for a decade but it’s not a requirement for enjoying it. (They need to lose the overweight bottle). Best 2012 to 2020. Tasted February 2011. 94 pts.” David Lawrasson,

2006 Perez Cruz, Quelen Special Selection. $49
“. . . blend of Petit Verdot, Cot (Malbec), and Carmenere. It offers up an inviting nose of licorice, tar, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. Dense, rich, and muscular on the palate, this is a large-scaled effort with impeccable balance and exceptional length. It will require 4-6 years of additional cellaring to reveal its full potential but has the balance to become something special.” 94 pts”. Jay Miller,, #192, Dec. 2010

3.      2010 Santa Rita, Casa Real. Maipo. $60
Cabernet Sauvignon “After a rooty, spicy opening that includes aromas of tree bark, leather, marzipan and ripe berry fruits, this perennial winner shows superb balance, mouthfeel and overall integration. Flavors of cassis, cherry, plum, dry spice and chocolate finish long, lightly herbal and with complexities. Drink through 2020. 93 pts.” Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast, Dec. 31, 2013

4.      2007 Montes Alpha, Alpha M. Santa Cruz. $79
“Blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, with the balance Merlot and Petit Verdot aged for 18 months in new French oak. It exhibits a striking perfume of pain grille, pencil lead, herbs, spices, a hint of balsamic, and assorted black fruits. Dense, structured, and incipiently complex, this velvety textured wine conceals enough structure to evolve for another 5-6 years. It offers a drinking window extending from 2017 to 2027.” 94 pts Jay Miller, Feb. 2012,

5.      2007 Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, Puente Alto. $80
“Blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc aged in French oak (78% new) and one-year old oak. It has a rounded, smooth tobacco and cedar scented bouquet with plush red fruit. The palate is full-bodied with chalky tannins, smoky black tarry fruit and a reserved, slightly austere finish with dark chocolate lingering on the aftertaste. It has Old World sensibility and is well crafted. Drink now-2016. 90 pts.” Neal Martin. #204, Dec. 2012

6.      2009 Viña Errázuriz, Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, Aconcagua Valley. $80
“Blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Carmenere, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc from the Maximiano vineyard, aged for 20 months in new French oak. It has a more elegant, fresher nose than the 2008 with a red rather than black fruit profile: wild strawberry, raspberry, kirsch and a touch of shortcake. The palate is medium-bodied with finer tannins than the 2008, with ripe graphite infused black fruit and a masculine, tannic finish that is still continuing to show too much oak in proportion to the fruit. Drink 2015-2022. 88 pts.” Neal Martin.

7.      2007 Viña Seña, Aroncagua Valley. $85
“57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carmenere, 12% Merlot, with the balance Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It puts forth an enthralling bouquet of sandalwood, underbrush, exotic spices, incense, floral notes, blueberry, and blackcurrant that borders on kinky. Already remarkably complex on the palate, with layered flavors, a plush palate feel, and precision balance, this beautifully rendered offering will evolve for another 6-8 years and provide a drinking window extending from 2016 to 2032. 96 pts.” Jay Miller,, #192, Dec. 2010

8.      2007 Cousiño-Macul, Lota. Maipo. Blend $ 87
“Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot. The “LOTA” project started in 2003, when the Cousiño family decided to create a world class wine to celebrate the 150th anniversary. “The 2007 Lota, again raised entirely in new French oak, has a ripe blueberry and cassis nose augmented by orange zest and shoe polish. There seems to be a little more volatility here. The palate is sweet and peppery on the entry. It has ripe, plump tannins, plenty of spicy fruit and aniseed. It is endowed with a dense, oaky finish that is balanced and clean, offering a sweet kirsch-tinged aftertaste. Drink 2015-2025. 88 pts.” Neal Martin. #204, Dec. 2012

Pour Order
Name Group Rank Speaker Rank
1 Altair Tinto 8 7
2 Perez Cruz 3 8
3 Santa Rita Casa Real 5 4
4 Montes Alpha 6 5
5 Concha y Toro Don Melchor 7 3
6 Vina Errazuriz 1 6
7 Vina Sena 2 1
8 Cousino-Macul Lota 4 2
9 97 Ch La Croix du Casse (Pomerol) Mystery Wine 9 NR *

* No rank

The assembled group agreed that all of the Chilean wines were well balanced and structured with no faults. All were drinking well now but still had a number of years of good drinking left in them. The same however could not be said about the mystery wine which the group ranked last out of all the wines. May be it was a result of being overpowered by its far fresher Chilean predecessors, but the majority of the room felt this Pomerol was past its prime in terms of drinkability.

Chile beats Bordeaux once again!!!

About the guest speaker

Howard Kaman has worked in the wine industry for over 20 years, the past 10.5 years as the Specialty Brands Manager (or Vintages Specialist) at Charton Hobbs – agents for Perez Cruz winery whose Quelen we are tasting this evening. He has worked as a Cellar Hand in both the Languedoc (at Mas de Daumas Gassac) and in the Willamette Valley in Oregon (at Amity Vineyards), and also spent a year in Niagara as an Assistant Winemaker and two years in Harrods’ Wine Department, in London England. He is a graduate of the Diploma program of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

Mar 9, 2015

Tasting of Chilean Bordeaux Blends

Chile’s wine history has been most profoundly influenced by the French, particularly Bordeaux. The result is that today Chilean reds are considered some of the best in the world. In January 2004 at what became known as the Berlin Tasting featuring 2000 and 2001 vintages (this tasting was fashioned along the lines of the Judgement of Paris pitting French Bordeaux against California), Chilean reds took 1st, 2nd place beating out Ch Lafite Rothschild and Ch Margaux. Second place went to Chile’s Viña Seña, one of the wines in our lineup. In 9th place was Don Maximiano, another wine in our tasting, which beat Ch Latour. In 2011, Chilean wineries earned a total of 206 gold metals from 10 prominent international competitions. Consistency is the hallmark of great wine making and the vintages from our Chilean tasting event demonstrate the world class quality of these wines. Our 5 different vintages are rated as “Excellent” to “Outstanding” by Robert Parker: 2005 – 90 pts; 2006 – 89 pts; 2007 – 88; 2009- 88 and 2010 – 90. 

Toronto Vintners has amassed some of the very best red wines from Chile. Light appetizers will accompany the main tasting portion of the event. The wines we are featuring are:

2005 Altair Tinto. Cachapoal Valley
2006 Perez Cruz, Quelen Special Selection
2007 Viña Seña, Aroncagua Valley
2007 Montes Alpha, Alpha M. Santa Cruz
2007 Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, Puente Alto
2007 Cousiño-Macul, Lota. Maipo
2009 Viña Errázuriz, Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, Aconcagua Valley
2010 Santa Rita, Casa Real. Maipo

For tasting notes on these wines and more about our event, please visit: 

Theme:  Chilean Bordeaux Blends
Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Location:  University of Toronto Faculty Club, 43 Willcocks St., Toronto ON   Map
Cost:  TVC Members:  $77; Non-Members & Guests:  $97
Register / Buy Tickets - NOTE that all ticket sales are final. No refunds can be issued.

Jan 27, 2015

'07 Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Nest month on February 17, Toronto Vintners Club will sample 8 red Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines from the outstanding 2007 vintage. Robert Parker Jr., a Châteauneuf lover, wrote: "This is the greatest vintage I've ever tasted in the southern Rhone." He called the 2007’s “a truly historic and profoundly great vintage.”  This vintage has received many, many accolades not just from the wine critics such as Parker and Jancis Robinson, but from the winemakers themselves from such esteemed producers as Rasteau, Perrin, and Guigal.  Similarities have been made to the outstanding 1999 and 2001 vintages in N. Rhône and 2000, 1998 and 1990 vintages in the South.

If you're into ratings, all 8 of our wines have received 90+ points.  Château de la Gardine was acquired in 1945 by the Brunel family, active in winegrowing since 1670.  Patrick Lesec ‘s operation is artisanal, small, focused, and consistently reliable.  Cuvee du Vatican’s vines are over 100 years old but the Diffonty family’s agricultural roots go back to the 17th century.  Domaine Giraud started in 1974 after the owners changed from the distillery business to wine making.   Clos St. Jean began in the 20th century and its fame took off following Robert Parker’s evaluation of their ’03 wine.  Domaine de la Cote de l’Ange is quite young but the wife’s family previously owned the esteemed Monpertuis domaine.  Domaine la Roquète was taken over in 1986 by the rising stars, Daniel and Frédéric Brunier,  whose family produces the celebrated Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe.  Lastly, we have Beaucastel, one of the great estates of the Rhone Valley, owned by the Perrin family.

We're very excited not only to have wines of this calibre but also to have what might be an historic vintage to sample.

Date:  Tuesday, Feburary 17, 2015
Time: 6 PM (our event starts with an informal gathering and a reception wine)
Location:  Faculty Club, Univ. of Toronto, 41 Willcocks Street Toronto, Ontario
Fees:  TVC Members:  $74; Non-Members & Guests:  $94
Register/Buy Tickets  Please note that ALL ticket sales are final and we are unable to issue any refunds unless we are sold out and have a waiting list.

If you would like to JOIN or RENEW your membership in the Toronto Vintners Club, please click on the links on the side bar (right side).