Armas de Guerra Mencia Tinto 2014


Winery: Don Antonio Guerra founded Vinos Guerra in 1879, making it the oldest winery in the Bierzo region of northwest Spain. Today the estate’s 2471 acres of vineyards are one third of all the vineyards Bierzo. The winery is known for its highly selective processes of only using the best 10% of grapes, which translate into wines with consistent “extraordinary quality”. The estate also possesses “the oldest and most precious Mencia and Dona Blanca vines in the Bierzo region”.

Winemaking: All of the vineyards are dry farmed and cultivated using only organic methods. Grapes were sourced from vineyards with calcareous clay and slate soils, planted in 1955-65.

Tasting Notes: Dark red violet in colour with aromas of cherry, spice, sweet rose and a hint of mint. Fruit forward with cherry, raspberry and blackberry underscored by fresh, herbaceous notes and a shake of black pepper. A streak of chalky minerality joins black cherry on the wonderfully dry finish. Not just an engaging sip, this is a fantastic value well worth seeking out.

100% Mencia
Bottled by Vinos Guerra
13% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2017

Luigi Scavino Azelia Barolo DOCG 2003


Estate: Azelia di Luigi Scavino was established in 1920 when Cavalier Lorenzo Scavino began to make wine from the grapes in his family’s vineyards. Today, his grandson and 5th generation winemaker Luigi heads the 16 hectare estate, along with his wife and son. Luigi’s wines are renowned for their classical character and superb quality.

Philosophy: A combination of respect for tradition and modern techniques that allow the wine to express itself.

Winemaking: Luigi’s father Lorenzo planted the vineyards in the 1940’s. These old vines are known for “their lower yields and their deeper roots, which produce amazing grapes”. Organic and sustainable farming is practiced; absolutely no chemicals are added to the soil. Natural manure is added only to the poorest soils every 3-4 years; native grasses are left to flourish between the rows. Only wild fermentation is used, the wine is not filtered or clarified and enzymes are not added. Grapes were sourced from Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba vineyards. The soils are white calcareous and a clay mix. Aged for 2 years in large casks. This is the estate’s entry, or “base” Barolo; it is only made in the years that the Barolo Riserva Bricco Voghera is not produced.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with beckoning aromas of roses, cherry, peat laced spice and traces of tar. Elegant and classical in character with a cherry, leather and spice trifecta complimented by silky smooth, firm tannins. Vanilla, sweet fennel and cedar comprise the lengthy, dry finish. A fantastic opportunity to enjoy Barolo without breaking the bank.

100% Nebbiolo
Barolo DOCG
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Azelia di Luigi Scavino
14.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2023

Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2013

masciarelli copy

Estate: The Masciarelli estate was founded in 1978 by pioneer winemaker Gianni Masciarelli. Located in central Italy on the Adriatic Coast, Gianni was passionate about raising the quality and potential of Abruzzo’s indigenous varietals, including Montepulciano. Established with only 2.5 hectares, the estate now includes about 320 hectares of vineyards that spread throughout 14 different towns within the 4 Abruzzo regions. With Gianni’s love of and respect for land and grapes, all vineyards are farmed organically, making it one of the largest organically farmed estates in Italy. Gianni passed away at the early age of 52, his wife Marina Cvetić, who was always by his side, now heads the estate.

Philosophy: Passionate about the Abruzzo region “with intense flavours, tastes and scents”, the estate focuses on native varietals, “great importance is given to the land and to its wine culture and tradition”.

Winemaking: The organically farmed vineyards are spread across 4 Abruzzo provinces and have their own individual characteristics, from different mineral/soil compositions to varying altitudes. The ‘Linea Classica’ is the first line created by Gianni Masciarelli has become over the years “a landmark for the company”. It makes up one of the 5 wine labels of the estate and is “the most consistent and known, in Italy and abroad”. Grapes were sourced from vineyards with clay soils, fermented and aged in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, black currant and traces of candied violet. Fruit forward with cherry, black cherry and black currant accented by peppery spice and earthy tree bark. Wrapping up nicely with a fruity finish. Consistently a good value, and gluggable companion to simple dishes. [Notice the redesigned label and new screwtop.]

100% Montepulciano
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC
Estate Bottled by Masciarelli Tenute Agricole
13% Alcohol
Enjoy now

Orin Swift ‘Machete’ 2014


Winery: Progressive winemaker David Swift Phinney was “introduced to wine, how it was made, and got hooked” during time spent in Italy in 1995, upon his return to the States he took a job as a harvest worker at Robert Mondavi. It was there that he decided “that if he was going to work this hard, it would eventually have to be for himself”, and in 1998 Orin Swift Cellars was founded [Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name]. Today the company has grown into an international brand that includes 300 acres in southwest France along with projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica, Argentina and other locations. However, his mission still remains a small, “passionate team of friends and family dedicated to making great wine”. He is renowned for wines that “are unapologetically full-flavored and intense, yet with a backbone of structure that holds it all in place”.

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from vineyards located throughout Northern California. Aged for 10 months in French oak, 40% new. 2014 had an “exceptional harvest” which resulted in a “wine with attitude” that was bottled with 12 different labels.

Tasting Notes: Inky violet in colour with aromas of berry jam, vanilla and a hint of oak. Rich and soave, with tarry earth and tree bark draped around a core of plush blueberry, raspberry and soft black cherry. Black tea tannins, dark chocolate and baking spices saturate the lengthy finish. An engaging alliance of muscular and satiny flavours and textures, making it nearly impossible to put the glass down.

Blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache
Bottled by Orin Swift Cellars
15.7% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2019

Between the Lines Winery

Located in Niagara on the Lake in Ontario, Canada, Between the Lines Winery is run by brothers Greg and Yannick Wertsch. They grew up in Germany working their grandfather’s vineyards, when the family came to Canada their father purchased land in order to carry on the family’s winemaking traditions. The name of the winery is a reflection of the roads in the area, which are labeled north/south as Line 1 Rd, Line 2 Rd, etc. [If they had used their surname, the pronunciation would have resulted in it sounding like “Worst Winery”]

Greg studied Wine Economics at Geisenheim University in Germany. He is the more public face of the winery and manages the marketing and day-to-day operations. Yannick studied winemaking and viticulture at Niagara College, and then continued at Weinbauschule University in Weinsberg, Germany. He is known as “the quiet one” and focuses on winemaking, “allowing the region to speak for itself instead of influencing it through aging or other winemaking processes”. Their red wines are only briefly barrel aged in order to maintain the terroir and preserve the fruit character.


Greg explaining his innovative ‘Origin’, sparkling Vidal single serving cans.. At the time of my visit it was unreleased. It is now taking the market by storm and receiving fantastic reviews.

During our visit*, I had the immense pleasure of a private tasting with Greg. Knowing your soil is one of the foundations of winemaking and Greg provided in-depth detail about the distinctive terroir of their 40 acres of vineyards. Pockets of glacial deposits cut across the land, so the soil can dramatically change every couple of feet. The main soil is mixed, sandy loam, whilst the glacial deposits are heavy clay. They take advantage of these contrasting characteristics to suit different varietals needs. Cabernet Franc is planted in the lighter soils, as it receives more heat, whilst Chardonnay is grown in the clay deposits, as clay remains cooler in the heat.


Between the Lines Riesling 2014
Their Riesling is the result of years of listening to what their customers are looking for and experimenting with different fermentation approaches. People were not interested in a dry Riesling, so they use maolactic fermentation on half the volume of the wine. Malic acid confers granny smith and buttery notes and removes some of the acidity and dryness.
Fresh and fruity with citrus, apples and minerals. Light, clean and crisp, this is perfect for summer sipping.
$15 [Canadian Dollars]

Between the Lines Gewurztraminer 2014
Well balanced, with a fantastic play of sweetness and acidity. Loaded with fresh fruit [peach, apricot traces of mango] along with hints of buttery fruit tart, culminating in a fruity finish.
11.5% Alcohol
$15 [Canadian Dollars]


Between the Lines Pinot Noir 2013
The 2013 harvest saw the Pinot Noir grapes coming in with high alcohol; they did open fermentation in order to reduce the level. Aged for 3 months in French oak barrels, the wine was very aromatic with aromas of cherry and sun warmed bricks. Soft cherry and black cherry flavours are backed by a food friendly acidity, finishing with hints of earth and dried cherry. [The brothers are honored that this has been selected as the official Red Wine served and sold at Ontario’s Legislative Assembly for 2016. In fact, during our visit, they were in the process of removing the original label and replacing it with one chosen by the Assembly.]
13% Alcohol
$16 [Canadian Dollars]


Between the Lines Meritage Reserve 2013
Aged for 18 months in oak, Cabernet Franc is the star of this blend. Bright tart fruit harmonizes with a streak of almost smoky minerality. Fantastic with hearty dishes.
12.5% Alcohol
$28 [Canadian Dollars]


Between the Lines Vidal Icewine 2013
Decidedly different from many Icewines, this is wonderfully balanced with a vibrant acidity to break up the sugar. Gorgeous, rich pear, peach, and honey flavours are never overwhelming. This is fantastic with both sweet and savory dishes.
11% Alcohol

*During our visit to NOTL [Niagara on the Lake] in Ontario, my husband and I booked an all day, private winery tour with Niagara Vintage Tours. Check out their fantastic array of tours and packages here. Our driver Chris, was incredibly engaging and all around fantastic. He took the time to learn what we were most interested in, and focused the tour around those aspects.