Winexpert World Vineyard Washington Riesling 2015

Date August 13, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Homebrew | Wine Kits

Since my first kit of RJ Spagnols Aglianico 2015 tastes very good at 2 months (should be excellent with age), I figure it's time to start on a white wine.  I've chosen an off-dry Riesling with juice coming from Washington, USA.  Of course I'll be tweaking the kit.  It's what I do (or can't not do)


How to make wine at home from a kit:


Winexpert World Vineyard Washington Riesling 2015


Inside the box ($75CDN):

  • bag of grape juice (10 litres)
  • f-pack (juice concentrate to sweeten - 1 litre)
  • bentonite (10 grams)
  • potassium metabisulfite (4 grams)
  • potassium sorbate (5.5 grams)
  • isinglass (45 mL / 1.5 oz)
  • yeast (Lalvin EC-1118)
  • instructions


This will be a split batch to try two different yeasts.  One fermenter will receive Lalvin ICV D-47 and the other Lalvin QA23.  Each will receive a 1/2 tsp dose of Wyeast yeast nutrient blend on day 1 and a 1/2 tsp dose on day 3.  I will try and ferment these around 65F.  Since there is an F-Pack (this wine is off-dry) I cannot skip the potassium sorbate addition as I do with wine that is fermented dry.


Lalvin ICV D-47

Lalvin QA23

  • OG: 1.097
  • SG at 2 weeks: (upcoming)
  • FG at 6 weeks: (upcoming)
  • Activity at 15 hours (zero foam / krausen)
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected on day 4.  Added 1/2 tsp nutrient and swirled carboy well.  Gone in 1.5 days after that.
  • Some foam on day 6


  • OG: 1.097
  • SG at 2 weeks: (upcoming)
  • FG at 6 weeks: (upcoming)
  • Activity at 8 hours (zero foam / krausen)
  • Added 1/4 tsp nutrient as routine.
Day 11 (degassed sample)
  • Gravity: 1.08 (medium sweet - wouldn't be upset if it hovered around here)
  • Colour: medium gold hay.  cloudy like milk.
  • Aroma: honey, honeydew, light mineral
  • Taste: very much like aroma with some pear.  slight syrup but not bad at all


  • Gravity: 0.992 (extra dry - will sorbate and f-pack)
  • Colour: pale straw, slight greenish tinge.  half as cloudy as D-47.
  • Aroma: light grapefruit, light mineral
  • Taste: tart, lemon, orange zest, thinner than D-47.






Oak Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

Date August 7, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Cabernet Sauvignon | Canada | Red Wine | USA

Smooth and easy drinking.  Has some structure, slightly more than it price range peers.  Found at the wine rack store. 
Juice from California and Canada.  Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, spice, cherry
Smell blueberry, blackberry, spice
Food american
Sweetness off dry
Price $12.00
LCBO# n/a


Trius Rosé 2012

Date July 20, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Canada | Rosé | White Wine

This is a dry rose.  Not a cavity generating white zinfandel.
Made using juice from: Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol/Vol 12.1%
At a Glance
Taste raspberry, strawberry, cherry
Smell strawberry, raspberry, citrus
Food salads, vegetables
Sweetness dry
Price $15.95
LCBO# 341743


Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti 2011

Date June 30, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Chianti | Italy | Red Wine

This bottle is marked DOCG and is a well rounded Italian Chianti.  It goes well with any Italian food (especially with red sauce).  Drinks best on the first day, do-able on the second.
Alcohol/Vol 12.5%
At a Glance
Taste dried fruit, oak, black cherry
Smell black cherry, tobacco, leather
Food lasagna
Sweetness dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 545319


Megalomaniac Homegrown Riesling VQA 2013

Date June 18, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Canada | Riesling | White Wine

I had no idea this was going to be a sweet riesling but I enjoyed it for a glass and a half regardless.  It was liked by non wine lovers as well.  I would sip this on its own ice cold.  Keeps pretty well for 2 days in the fridge.
Alcohol/Vol 10.5%
At a Glance
Taste sweet white grape, pear, floral
Smell pear, mineral, sweet syrup
Food chinese
Sweetness sweet
Price $13.95
LCBO# 183061


RJ Spagnols Aglianico 2015

Date June 8, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Homebrew | Wine Kits

We're all about good wine for a great price here, so what better way is there to get the price of wine down than to make your own?  I visited my local brew-your-own wine shop and chose one of their premium boxed kits.


How to make wine at home from a kit:


RJ Spagnols - Italian Aglianico 2015


Inside the box ($139 CDN):

  • bag of grape juice (16 litres)
  • assorted additives & stabilizers
  • oak chips (3.5 oz medium toast french)
  • dried grape skins
  • yeast (Lalvin EC-1118)
  • instructions


What makes this kit a premium kit besides the price?  The fact that you get more grape juice and therefore need to add less water to reach your target volume.  There are other factors such as varietal, grape skins, oak chips etc... but I believe the type of concentrate plays a big factor.  You'll need some equiptment listed in the instructions but it's fairly inexpensive and lasts decades if treated properly.  If you're not looking to put in the elbow grease, the brew-it-yourself shops can do it for you (for a small fee) and then you come back in about 2 months to bottle it up and take it home.


As a 3rd year beer homebrewer (all-grain) I figure that the manufacturer of this kit wants to make it easy for the masses to produce palatable wine, but since I can never leave well enough alone, I've made the following (warranty breaking) tweaks to my kit:


Alteration #1: Replace the provided yeast with one that's designed only for red wines (Lalvin RC-212 Bourgovin) and instead of sprinkling the yeast on the must (grape juice) I re-hydrated it in 95F water for 15 minutes.  This allows the yeast to wake up in a mild environment and not be shocked by diving into sugary juice while dry and thereby killing off a percentage of cells.  Substituting yeast is a huge change and can really make or break your wine.  Yeast plays a huge factor in fermentation and thus your end result.  Extra 3/4 tsp nutrient added on day 3.


Alteration #2: You're supposed to add water so your kit reaches 6 US gallons (23L).  I added less, so the kit is now 5.5 US gallons (20.8L).  This will make a stronger and fuller overall wine.  My specific gravity (SG) reading: 1.097


Alteration #3: When I pitched the yeast, I also added 3/4 tsp of Wyeast Nutrient Blend.  This yeast is a bit weaker than the monster that is EC-1118 so this should help it out.  The airlock was ripping in under 20 hours so I'm pleased with the minimal lag time.


Alteration #4: The kit says to ferment the wine in primary for 2 weeks.  I'm probably going to sample it at 3 and likely leave it for 4.  I like oak and tannins.  These will both fade with age so a little more is better at this stage.


Alteration #5: There's a good chance I'll bulk condition this wine in secondary for more than the recommended 1 month.  Target 4 months. 


Pro-Tip: Manage your fermentation temperature based on the advice of the yeast strain's manufacturer.  The yeast I used has a range of 68F-86F.  Ambient temperature: 67F.  Wine temperature: 74F on day 2 (high krausen for homebrewers).  Fermentation being an exothermic process raised the temperature +7F.  The temperature will calm down around day 4 so you may need to keep the carboy in a warmer area of the house.



This is what you'll end up with 1 day after assembly: 



 Watch on YouTube 



3 Days Old:

  • Add 3/4 tsp yeast nutrient (added to boiled water first).


1 Month Old: 

  • OG 1.097 -> 0.998 SG.  
  • Tastes very rich.  
  • Glad I used the RC-212, diluted less and left it on the oak and skins an extra two weeks.  
  • Rack wine to brew kettle.
  • Add potassium sulphite (skip potassium sorbate)
  • Degas it with a whip (this took almost 40 minutes with a drill mounted whip.  Had to use a fast drill to get the co2 to foam out)
  • Mix in clearing agents
  • Rack to smaller 5 US Gal (19L) carboy [remember this kit is supposed to make 6 US Gal, but I made 5.5 and you lose wine to yeast, skins and oak]. 
  • Top off to neck of carboy with similar wine (I used a whole 750mL bottle)


2 Months Old: 

  • SG 0.998 -> 0.996 FG.  13.2% ABV
  • Colour: Deep rich purple.  No legs
  • Aroma: Cherry (youngish), bluberry, mild oak/vanilla
  • Taste: Extra dry.  Aroma better than taste.  Full bodied.  Very mild heat.  Good lingering grippy tannins.  Mildly tangy finish.
  • Very good potential.  Interested in how it ages.  Wouldn't guess it was homemade.
  • An extra oz of 50/50 medium/heavy oak cubes in secondary wouldn't be a bad thing.
  • No detectable co2 in suspension (degassing successful)


2.5 Months Old: 

  • Begin cold stabilization for 2 weeks in fridge


3 Months Old: 

  • Add 1/4 tsp dissolved potassium meta 
  • Rack to bottling bucket
  • Test for residual co2 and degas if needed
  • Bottle


6 Months Old: 

  • First taste test


Thoughts & Notes for next time:

  • Primary for 2 weeks (instead for 4 to help avoid any excess grape skin breakdown)
  • Chips in primary are important for reds.
  • Oak for 2-3 months in topped secondary if needed.  Suspend a weighted mesh bag of cubes.
  • Skip fining agents for reds and just cold stabilize for 2 weeks.
  • Chips release their oak essense in 4-5 days fully by 7.  Add 1oz per week, stir and taste.
  • Cubes are better for bulk aging.  Remember this is the second oak addition start slow (1-2oz per 6gal)
  • I would make this to a full 6Gal (23L) next time or 5.75gal depending on must.
  • Nutrients on Day 2 (1 tsp - full dose) and day 4 (3/4 tsp)


Angels Gate Merlot VQA

Date June 2, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Canada | Merlot | Red Wine

Fusels are a problem with this wine making it taste hot and thin.  Firm tannins but they aren't being backed up with flavour.  This wine was also hurt by the price point, too high for what you get.
VQA wine.  Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste cherry, vanilla, alcohol heat
Smell blackcurrant, vanilla, spice
Food sandwiches
Sweetness dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 107722


Pillitteri Gewurztraminer Riesling 2012

Date May 5, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Canada | White Blend | White Wine

A medium-sweet flavourful white wine.  Sip this on it's own or enjoy it with apps or a ham dinner.  Keeps pretty well for 2 days in the fridge.
VQA wine.  Alcohol/Vol 12%
At a Glance
Taste pear, peach, honeydew
Smell pear, peach, honeydew
Food ham
Sweetness medium sweet
Price $12.95
LCBO# 349126


Trius Chardonnay 2013

Date April 22, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Canada | Chardonnay | White Wine

The description on the bottle is fairly accurate but this wine is one of those wines where the aroma is very different from the flavour.  It smells more like a riesling/sauv blanc than a chardonnay, but the flavour and mouthfeel is mistakenly a chard.
VQA wine.  Cool fermented on lees (sur lie).  Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste melon, oak, vanilla
Smell pineapple, mineral, lime
Food sipper
Sweetness dry
Price $13.95
LCBO# 497248


Yellow Tail Merlot 2014

Date March 27, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Australia | Merlot | Red Wine

Well, trying this bottle was a long time coming.  Yellow Tail certainly has their fans, but I am not one of them.  You don't need to be a wine taster to notice there's a noticeable heat (alcohol) on the nose and palate.  Along with overwhelming notes of vanilla and oak to throw this wine completely off balance.
When you get into mass produced wine, you're likely blending juices from various sources.  Like too many cooks in the kitchen, it makes a mess.  Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste young cherry, alcohol, vanilla
Smell vanilla, mulberry, oak
Food hotdogs
Sweetness off dry
Price $11.95
LCBO# 625350

Monte Antico Toscana IGT 2010

Date March 23, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Italy | Red Blend | Red Wine

Firm tannins with an extra dry finish.  Tannis from the barrels come through moderately strong.  This wine is unmistakenly a Tuscan style blend.  

85% Sangiovese with 10% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon


Alcohol/Vol 12.9% from Tuscany, Italy.

At a Glance
Taste ripe berries, leather, vanilla
Smell oak, black cherry, earth
Food pasta with red sauce
Sweetness extra dry
Price $15.95
LCBO# 69377

Pietra Pura Mandus Primitivo di Manduria 2008

Date February 5, 2015 Author Chuck Categories Italy | Primitivo | Red Wine

Not a red to be taken lightly. This wine is easily one of the most complex I've had for under twenty dollars. Most notable is this bottle's firm lingering tannins and nice peppery-blackberry finish.
Alcohol/Vol 13.8% from Puglia, Italy
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, black tea, vanilla
Smell blackberry, anise, earthy
Food italian, game
Sweetness extra dry
Price $15.95
LCBO# 216457

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Date December 29, 2014 Author Chuck Categories New Zealand | Sauvignon Blanc | White Wine

A bright citrus aroma is very noticeable right away followed by a mineral mouthfeel. On the finish you get the classic grass/hay flavour you'd expect from a nice sauvignon blanc. The overall profile is very crisp and dry.
Alcohol/Vol: 11.0%
At a Glance
Taste passion fruit, mineral, citrus
Smell lime, pineapple, mineral
Food scallops
Sweetness extra dry
Price $18.95
LCBO# 316570

Ironstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Date December 3, 2014 Author Chuck Categories Cabernet Sauvignon | Red Wine | USA

If you're looking for a cab which is less fruit forward and more leathery/tobacco-like, this is a good choice.  Not overpowering but present with good blackberry character to round things out.
One site (lcbo) reports that there is some merlot blended into this vintage.
Alcohol/Vol: 13.0%
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, leather, tobacco
Smell blackberry, vanilla, leather
Food red meat, bbq
Sweetness dry
Price $18.95
LCBO# 537597

Inniskillin Unoaked Chardonnay 2012

Date November 14, 2014 Author Chuck Categories Canada | Chardonnay | White Wine

This unoaked chardonnay is quite crisp and not at all buttery.  The lemon and citrus are sharp and would go well with a fatty seafood or fish dish. 
One of the better wines we've seen from Inniskillin (not a favourite around here).  I think this wine is weighing in a bit too heavy at 13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
At a Glance
Taste lemon, mineral, green apple
Smell lemon, grapefruit, mineral
Food fish
Sweetness dry
Price $11.95
LCBO# 66266


Farnese Sangiovese IGT 2014

Date October 14, 2014 Author Chuck Categories Italy | Red Wine | Sangiovese

The house red lives. I've been recommending this wine for 5 years now and will continue to do so. This is the bottle that I always keep stock of because not only is it an amazing wine for $7.95 but it's a crowd pleaser that's very versatile.
This also comes in a large format bottle (1.5L) for 13.05.
Alcohol/Vol: 12.5%
At a Glance
Taste black cherry, tobacco, leather
Smell black cherry, tobacco, oak
Food lasagna
Sweetness dry
Price $7.95
LCBO# 512327

Sawmill Creek Riesling

Date August 15, 2014 Author Chuck Categories Canada | Riesling | White Wine

Look at us staying true to our roots after all these years! This large format bottle (1.5L) was a bargain and a crowd pleaser.
Breaking News: this wine also comes as bag-in-a-box! (4L for $36.95 is a mega score...not counting the impending walk of shame)
Editors Note: a 'walk of shame' can be caused by any beverage with a percent sign on the label (not just this wine)
At a Glance
Taste peach, melon, mineral
Smell honeydew, peach, citrus
Food appetizers, fish
Sweetness medium sweet
Price $16.00
LCBO# 263079

Ironstone Old Vine Zinfandel 2012

Date July 20, 2014 Author Chuck Categories Red Wine | USA | Zinfandel

Whenever I see Ironstone in the vintages section I always pick-up a bottle and yet again I was not disappointed. This zin is a full bodied, lush fruit forward drinker with a great mouth-feel.
Released: May 10, 2014
Alcohol/Vol: 14.5%
At a Glance
Taste boysenberry, blackberry, oak
Smell blackberry, cassis, vanilla
Food red meat
Sweetness dry
Price $17.00
LCBO# 951889


Reif Estate Riesling 2011

Date June 29, 2014 Author Chuck Categories Canada | Riesling | White Wine

This bottle was discovered by my Mom and is a great find. The wine was very crisp and had plenty of depth from first sip to the end of a long finish. Lime and stone-fruit push through most in this slightly off dry Riesling
Pick up a few bottles if you see it on the shelves (it's a crowd pleaser).
Serve in a chilled wine glass. Alcohol/Vol 12.0%
At a Glance
Taste lime, honeydew, mineral
Smell mineral, peach, lime
Food appetizers
Sweetness off dry - medium sweet
Price $12.95
LCBO# 111799


Ruffino Chianti DOCG 2012

Date April 10, 2014 Author Chuck Categories Chianti | Italy | Red Wine

I was pleasantly surprised by this entry level chianti from the large producer Ruffino.
Overall this is a good value chianti for the price and availability. 13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Tip: balloon glass
At a Glance
Taste raspberry, vanilla, cherry
Smell strawberry, black cherry, sweet oak
Food italian, cheese
Sweetness extra dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 1743


PKNT Carmenere 2010

Date February 14, 2014 Author Chuck Categories Carmenere | Chile | Red Wine

Wow there is a stock photo of a chili pepper on the bottle, I better by this for someone I know who likes spicy foods!
Editor's note: that is a horrible idea
Could someone explain to me why the label says "contains eggs"?
At a Glance
Taste spicy, dark fruit, vanilla
Smell blueberry, vanilla, oak
Food tex-mex
Sweetness dry
Price $10.95
LCBO# 191858

Mill Street Barley Wine 2013

Date December 12, 2013 Author Chuck Categories Barley | Canada | White Wine

Well is this beer or wine or something else altogether? My Answer: something else.  My final thought: Glad I tried it but not worth the price of admission for the non-adventurous.
It's made from barley and not grapes so really it's more beer than wine.  It's very lightly carbonated and has few traces of hops besides early bittering hops (guessing noble hops).  However this beer weighs in at 11.5% so you better sip it like a wine...or else you're gonna lose the night.
Tip: Be a gentleman (gentlewoman?) and serve it in a chilled wine glass.  You'll get about two 8oz pours.
At a Glance
Taste tobacco, earth, oak
Smell leather, caramel, sweet orange
Food aperitif or digestif
Sweetness medium sweet
Price $13.95
LCBO# 70359

Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2012

Date November 8, 2013 Author Chuck Categories Italy | Montepulciano | Red Wine

A swing and a miss by the winery of my house wine. With no depth in the nose or on the palate, this wine is very mundane.
It's one of the cheapest reds in the LCBO, so there is that. 12.5%
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste red berry,vanilla,plum
Smell pomegranate,vanilla,oak
Food italian, pizza
Sweetness off dry
Price $7.95
LCBO# 621912

Ravine Vineyard Redcoat 2007

Date September 25, 2013 Author Chuck Categories Canada | Red Blend | Red Wine

With a medium body this 2007 red blend is very bright and has some nice acidity lighten it even further.
Alcohol Content: 12.4%
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste red fruit, earth, oak
Smell licorice, red fruit, vanilla
Food pepper steak
Sweetness dry
Price $17.95
LCBO# 260406

J.J. McWilliams Cabernet Merlot 2011

Date July 12, 2013 Author Chuck Categories Australia | Red Blend | Red Wine

Pickup a few bottles of this well rounded value red wine.  It was easy drinking and turned out to be a crowd pleaser.
Alcohol Content: 13%
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste pomegranate, oak. blueberry
Smell blackberry, cherry, spice
Food pizza
Sweetness dry
Price $10.45
LCBO# 621599

McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Date May 16, 2013 Author Chuck Categories Australia | Cabernet Sauvignon | Red Wine

Overall a decent weekday wine.  Not a lot of structure or depth but worth picking up a bottle if you're looking for a different general list cabernet sauvignon priced around 15 bucks.
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste strawberry, raspberry, spice
Smell blueberry, oak, dark cherry
Food sandwiches
Sweetness dry
Price $15.00
LCBO# 214577

Barefoot Merlot

Date April 11, 2013 Author Chuck Categories Merlot | Red Wine | USA

I've had better bottles from Barefoot.  This one is a pretty simple medium bodied off dry weekday merlot.  Give their Shiraz a go.
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste cherry, vanilla, chocolate
Smell dark berry, cherry, raspberry
Food bbq lunch
Sweetness off dry
Price $9.95
LCBO# 53991

Red Rock Malbec Reserve 2010

Date December 16, 2012 Author Chuck Categories Malbec | Red Wine | USA

While typically not a fan of malbecs, this one is quite good. I liked the fruit forward characteristics of it - which aren't seen in malbecs from places like South America, making this bottle...very...Californian.
I disagree with the LCBO's sweetness descriptor of Extra Dry. Dry it is, Extra it is not.
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste mulberry, oak, cherry
Smell mulberry, currant, oak
Food beef, asiago
Sweetness dry
Price $16.95
LCBO# 284315

Barefoot Shiraz

Date December 8, 2012 Author Chuck Categories Red Wine | Shiraz | USA

Barefoot could very well be leading the way on value wines nowadays (Yellow Tail fans...take note)
Having a value shiraz on hand that's also a crowd pleaser is always handy. Pickup a few bottles since they are currently under $10 in Ontario.
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste dark berry jam, spice, vanilla oak
Smell blackberry, jammy, spice
Food french onion soup
Sweetness off dry
Price $9.95
LCBO# 54015

Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2010

Date October 6, 2012 Author Chuck Categories Red Wine | USA | Zinfandel

This wine has a great profile however while drinking it I found it lacks mouthfeel and depth. Both key aspects this California Zinfandel lover craves.
I will say Dancing Bull is a good value if you are just getting into zins. (Expect to pay an extra 5 to 6 dollars to get the depth).
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste spice, raspberry, oak
Smell blueberry, cherry, oak
Food anything grilled, asiago
Sweetness dry
Price $12.95
LCBO# 669499


Poderi Angelini Primitivo Di Manduria 2008

Date September 20, 2012 Author Chuck Categories Italy | Primitivo | Red Wine

Easily the best Primitivo we've reviewed on this site. Extra dry, firm tannins and plenty of depth makes this a great match for fans of Italian reds and Italian food.
Special thanks to Nurse Nancy for the bottle! It was enjoyed with family and Sunday lunch.
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste ripe strawberry, oak, light vanilla
Smell mulberry, dark cherry, light oak
Food italian
Sweetness extra dry
Price $17.95
LCBO# 268136

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