Californian Style


IMG_5339Starting with the March 2nd and continuing with March 16th by-weekly vintages releases, together with LCBO’s spring issue of Food & Drink Magazine showcasing two articles; the LCBO kicked-off a full-on promotion of Californian wines under the ‘Californian Style’ branding. For nearly a month, the LCBO has promotions and free tastings across 630 LCBO stores and features over 100 products, of which 22 are new. The LCBO also organized three high-profile events.  The first took place on March 8th at the ’flagship’ Summerhill store, with celebrity chef Duskie Estes pairing her two signature dishes with seven wines.


Duskie Estes and her team
Duskie Estes and her team
Before the event opened to the public, I was able to take several pictures and to briefly meet and chat with the charming and energetic Duskie Estes.  Duskie is a celebrity chef, having been on Food Network’s ‘The Next Iron Chef’ in 2010 and in 2012.  Currently, she lives in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, where she owns the Zazu Restaurant + pig farm and is no stranger to the surrounding wine country.  She was chosen as THE celebrity chef to represent California’s style and to cook-up two of her signature dishes that pair well with the featured Californian wines.




I mentioned that I am intrigued with her choice of brussel sprouts and since I am not a fan of them, I normally can only eat one or two. She told me “Most people have been eating overcooked brussel sprouts since childhood and for that reason they hate them”. Just like other passer-by’s, I’ve enjoyed the salad – YES including the brussel sprouts. Both recipes were available on a printed card to take home.  Scanned version of Duskie’s recipes can be viewed here.


On a way out, we were able to pick an item from a basket full of Duskie’s line of packaged products, including pork filled chocolates (Porky Pops), black pig bacon + chiccharon peanut butter cups (Swine Sweets) and a can of meat spices (Pinot Noir Rub).




The LCBO’s ‘Californian Style’ promotion continues with a second tasting event, the ‘California Legends’ that is to take place at the Royal Ontario Museum on March 21st and the last event being the Annual California Wine Fair to take a place at the Fairmont Royal York on April 8th. If this was not enough, everyone has a chance to win a trip for two (inclusive airfare) on a road trip through Napa and Sonoma, stopping at several wineries and getting the VIP treatment + receiving a designer luggage set. – all of which is sponsored by Wine Institute of California.




Now onto the reviews of the 7 wines (in the same order as tasted):


The 2010 Ghost Pine Chardonnay, sourced from Sonoma, Monterey and Napa Counties and aged in both French and American oak after fermentation, has intense aromas of ripe pear, citrus, butter and subtle oak. It is medium bodied with good fruit intensity, has a good structure and a long and smooth finish. Pair with salty meat dishes, but rather enjoy sipping it by itself; drink now to 2017. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 90 pts – it is recommended especially because currently it is on Limited Time Offer for $2 off.
Recommended: Score 90 pts California $17.95 (was $19.95) LCBO# 308122
Also recommended on my ‘LCBO deals‘ page.


The 2010 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay, sourced mainly from cooler regions in southern Napa Valley and aged in French oak after fermentation, has nice notes of subtle tangerine, yellow apple and subtle oak. It is light bodied, acid forward and has a finish of short to medium length. It is food friendly; drink now or for the next couple of years. My impression: NOTHING SPECIAL, 87 pts – on Limited Time Offer for $2 off until April 1st/13.
Score 87 pts. California $23.95 (was $25.95) LCBO# 310409


The 2011 Hahn Chardonnay, sourced from Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey and aged in neutral French Oak barrels, has intense floral, honey and ripe pear notes. It is light to medium bodied, has a good acidity and a short to medium finish. It is food friendly; drink now and for the next couple of years. My impression: NICE, 88 pts – on Limited Time Offer for $1 off until April 1st/13.
Score 88 pts. California $16.05 (was $17.05) LCBO# 234393


The 2011 Hahn Pinot Noir, sourced from Monterey County and aged in French Oak before bottling, has intense aromas of smoke, ripe dates and pomegranate. It is medium bodied, fruity to integrated, acid forward, has refined tannins (decant for 15-30 min) and a smooth finish of medium length. Drink now or hold for the next 3-5 years. My impression: NICE, 89 pts – on Limited Time Offer for $1 off until April 1st/13.
Score 89 pts. California $18.05 (was $19.05) LCBO# 226555


The 181 Merlot 2010, sourced from the Lodi Valley and made in Bordeaux style, has intense aromas of toasted oak, black cherry liqueur, blackberry and faint pine needle notes. It is medium bodied, fruity, has good acidity, refined tannins (decant for 15 min) and a medium, silky finish. It can be drunk by itself or with food; good to drink now, but will be in its prime from 2015-2020. My opinion: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 89 pts – recommended due to its value.
Score 89 pts. California $18.05 (was $19.05) LCBO# 226530
Also recommended on my ‘LCBO deals‘ page.


The 2010 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon is composed of undisclosed amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petit Syrah and Teroldego – all sourced from the Napa Valley. It has intense, lifted aromas of cherry, black currant, pine, oak and vanilla. It has a medium to full, integrated body, structure that still needs to come together with refined tannins (decant for 30 min) and somewhat lacking acidity, and a medium to long, silky finish. Enjoy as a sipper; drink now to 2020+. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 90-91 pts – recommended based on quality – on Limited Time Offer for $3 off until April 1st/13.
Recommended: Score 90-91 pts. California $31.95 (was $34.95) LCBO# 255513
Also recommended on my ‘LCBO deals‘ page.


The 2010 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from the Sonoma County, has intense aromas of blackberry, black currant, toasted oak, coconut and vanilla. It is medium bodied, integrated, has good acidity and refined tannins (decant for 15 min), and a long silky finish. It is food friendly; drink now to 2018. My impression: NICE, 89 pts – recommended based on quality/value ratio – on Limited Time Offer for $2 off until April 1st/13.
Recommended: Score 89 pts. California $16.95 (was $18.95) LCBO# 292151
Also recommended on my ‘LCBO deals‘ page.



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