Churton Wines

The current LCBO CLASSICS catalogue features a great assortment of wonderful Le Sommelier wines, spanning the globe from Italy’s Piedmont and Tuscany, to Portugal’s warm Alentejo, to the highest altitude vineyard in New Zealand’s Marlborough. See below for detailed reviews on these four wines, all of which scored extremely well by North America’s top reviewers, as well as on my own personal score chart!

Purchasing wines through Classics is a bit of a lottery, so please order your selections by 6pm on Tuesday, May 7. This can now be done quite easily online on Once logged on, click on DIRECT SALES, then PLACE YOUR ORDER, and you’ll be on your way.

On another note, I will be hosting an Italian themed dinner at L’Avenue Bistro on Tuesday, May 21. The dinner will consist of five courses, all of which will be paired to a wine I sourced from some of my favourite Italian wine regions, including Piedmont, Le Marche and Tuscany! It won’t kill your wallet either… only $95+ tax & gratuities. It is destined to be a memorable night, with great wines and food, in a casual atmosphere. If you haven’t been before, L’Avenue Bistro is a lot of fun, and has been rated 5/5 on TripAdvisor and ranked #18 of 4,000 restaurants in Toronto! Reception starts at 6:30pm, dinner served at 7:00pm. For reservations, please call the restaurant at 416.485.1568.


Bernard Stramwasser

Le Sommelier


Churton Wines Pinot Noir Malborough 2009
Churton Pinot NoirThese Pinot Noir grapes are grown on an exceptional hillside vineyard above the Waihopai Valley on the north side of New Zealand’s south island. The vineyard lies on a loess outcrop of the Southern Marlborough hills at 200m ABL with a very favourable North Easterly aspect. Pinot vines were first planted in 2000 with a European approach, close vine spacing and high density (approx 5,000/ha) using a wide variety of clones. The vineyard is run using a biodynamic philosophy and is in organic conversion. The focus is enhancing the soil structure and microbiology, and encouraging vine health through making compost and applying the biodynamic preparations. Churton works with the vines growth cycles and natural rhythms to achieve the best quality of fruit and truest expression of the vineyard.

“Aged 14 months in 100% French oak barrels, 18% new, the 2009 Pinot Noir has a medium ruby-purple color and expressive notes of black cherries, black raspberries and mulberries over allspice, cinnamon stick and milk chocolate. Full bodied with a medium level of finely grained tannins, it has a generous amount of berry and spice flavors in the mouth nicely offset by crisp acid. It finishes long with lingering baking spice and mulberry notes. Drinking now, it should cellar to 2016+.” (Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW,, Oct. 2011)

Score: 91+

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Region: Marlborrough, New Zealand
Price: $39.00 (per bottle)
LCBO #237164

Sottimano Barbaresco Cottá DOCG 2008
Sottimano CottaThe Cottá vineyard is located between Barbaresco and Neive. This wine is full bodied and rich in polyphenol, which is typical of the Neive area, whilst the well-balanced, tannic structure is definitely a mark of the Barbaresco area. The fermentation and the maceration on the skins normally takes about 22-24 days. No selected yeasts are used. The malolactic fermentation happens naturally in French barrels coopered expressively for the winery by Francois Frères in Burgundy. The wine stays in these barrels for 18-20 months, half of this time on its lees. 25% of the barrels used for aging are new, the remaining 75% have previously been used up to 4 times. There is no filtering and no fining prior to bottling.

“There is nothing subtle about the 2008 Barbaresco Cotta. Waves of fruit hit the palate in this rich, juicy Barbaresco. Forward fruit is one of the hallmarks of Cotta, and there is no shortage of it in the 2008. Sweet dark plums, cherries, mint and licorice are some of the notes that flesh out in the glass. The mid-weight style of the vintage nevertheless comes through. With some air, the Cotta is enjoyable even at this early stage. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2028.” (Antonio Galloni,, Oct. 2011)

Score: 92

Varietal: 100% Nebbiolo
Region: Piedmont, Italy
Price: $66 (per bottle)
LCBO #115857

FitaPreta Vinhos Palpite Red Reserva Alentejo
Palpite ReservaBlend of 50% Aragonês, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Touriga Nacional, where grapes develop and mature in the hot and dry Mediterranean climate of the southern Portuguese plateau. The cool nights serve to retain acidity. Soils are infertile rocky schists, producing naturally low yields of concentrated, healthy fruit. Palpite is the reserve red wine produced from a selection of the best vineyard blocks and finest barrels from every vintage. Production follows the protocols of sustainable agriculture with yields being controlled for top quality by hard pruning, removal of secondary shoots, and bunch thinning. At optimum maturity the grapes are hand-picked in small boxes permitting the quality control operations of bunch selection in the vineyard and on the sorting table. After sorting and crushing the grapes are conveyed by gravity into small vats and fermented by only indigenous yeast at 27C. Post fermentation maceration lasts for 21 days. The wine is matured for 18 months in French oak barrels. Palpite is a Portuguese word meaning a good hunch or intuition and acknowledges the importance of these feelings in the craft of winemaking.
“Concentrated and impressive, this has dark fruit and layers of wood, with a dense texture. Dominated by its opulent black fruits, this full-bodied wine is sustained by its tannins and acids. It should age for many years.” (Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast, Aug. 2012)

Score: 93

Varietals: 50% Aragonês, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Touriga Nacional
Region: Alentejo, Portugal
Price: $36 (per bottle)
LCBO #326645

Podere Il Carnasciale Il Caberlot IGT Toscana 2009
Il Caberlot“Il Caberlot” and its baby brother, “Carnasciale” are the only commercialized wines in the world that are made from a unique clone of Cabernet Franc discovered four decades ago, named “Caberlot”. These wines are hand bottled in magnums and up until 2005, were only available in small quantities in a few restaurants in Florence and Paris. With a limited production of approximately 2,000 magnums, the Il Caberlot has become one of Italy’s most sought after wines, with cult status in Europe.
“This is fabulous as always. Gorgeous aromas of flavors of blackberries and mint. Full-bodied. Seamless tannins flow over your palate and caress every bit. Wonderful length. One of Tuscany’s cult wines. Better in 2015.”  (James Suckling,, Aug. 29, 2012)

Score: 96

Varietal: 100% Caberlot
Region: Tuscany, Italy
Price: $329 (per 1.5L bottle – Magnum)
LCBO #167296

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