Liz Palmer

LCBO is launching a new “sweetness descriptors” program starting April 29.  This program will provide useful tasting information to assist consumers when purchasing wine.

The new program will replace the current sugar code numbering system, which currently indicates wines as being a “0”, “1” or “2”…

This program, a first for LCBO, will consists of two elements. The first is a science-based descriptor system that reflects on how dry or sweet a wine tastes. There are five sweetness descriptors:

Extra Dry (XD) – No perceived sweetness, clean crisp acidic finish.
Dry (D) – No sweetness perceived, well rounded with balanced acidity
Medium (M) – Slight sweetness perceived
Medium Sweet (MS) – Noticeably sweet
Sweet (S) – Distinctively sweet

The second is a listing of the actual sugar content as  “grams of sugar per litre”. Both of these elements will be displayed on the redesigned bin tags located on store shelves, and in-store signs.

Initially, the sweetness descriptors and sugar content information will be used for all LCBO table wines, however, only the sugar content information will be available for LCBO non-table wines including sparkling, dessert and fortified wines. The program will also be extended to include all VINTAGES and VINTAGES ESSENTIALS wines as new releases are issued.

The sweetness descriptors initiative is part of “Wine Shopping Made Easy”, a promotion designed to help customers shop for wine in new ways and make shopping simpler. This promotion will be in all 622 LCBO stores across the province from April 29 to May 26.

“Austria Uncorked” Trump Hotel, Toronto …..where Canadian wine experts got their grüv on!


 Photo by Liz Palmer

This year “Austria Uncorked” has travelled north, and has chosen the newly launched Trump Hotel, Toronto to present their top Austrian wines.  On April 16, 2012 Canadian wine experts tasted the vintages of 30 wine makers from the famous wine growing regions of Lower Austria (Wachau, Kamptal, Kremstal, Traisental, Weinviertel, the hot spring region Tattendorf), the Burgenland (Neusiedlersee, Carnuntum), the south part of Styria (also referred to as the Styrian Tuscany) and Vienna.

Along with Grüner Veltliner, Blaufränkisch and Riesling the much-anticipated 2011 vintage, was poured and paired with cuisine from EDO Sushi, Amaya express and Mengrai Gourmet.

Participating Agents and Wineries:

H.H.D. Imports Inc.
Lamprecht International Ltd.
Lifford Wine Agency
B & W Wines
David Thompson Vintage Trade LTD
Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.
The Small Winemakers Collection Inc.
Maison InVino Inc.
Kylix Wines-Grape Expectations
Le Sommelier Inc.
Company Violet Hill Wine Imports Ltd.
Mark Anthony Group
Woodman Wines & Spirits Inc.
The case for Wine Vin Passion
J. Cipelli Wines & Spirits
Grape Wines
Family Wine Merchants
Dionysus Wines & Spirits Ltd.
Weingut Markowitsch Gerhard
Weingut Loimer
Weingut Leopold
Weingut Jurtschitsch
Weingut Angerer Kurt
Weingut Rabl
Weingut Steininger
Weingut Bründlmayer
Laurenz Five Fine Wine
Weingut Forstreiter
Winzer Krems
Weinkellerei Lenz Moser
Wein-Gut Nigl
Weingut Müller
Salomon Undhof
Arachon T.FX.T
Weingut Weninger
Weingut Heinrich Gernot und Heike
HAFNER – Family Estate
Weingut Angerhof Tschida
Weingut Andert
Weingut Nittnaus Hans u. Christine
Weingut Beck
Weingut Tement
Johanneshof Reinisch
Weingut Huber Markus
Domäne Wachau
Weingut Pfaffl
Weingut Zahel

Liz Palmer

A Photo Essay Capturing Richard Geoffroy’s (le chef de cave de Dom Pérignon) Natural Character

Written and Photographed by Liz Palmer


This photo essay is a collection of images of my interview with Richard Geoffrey, Chef de Cave, Dom Pérignon, capturing his expressions and movements.

Outside on the grounds of the Abbey

I met Richard Geoffroy at the Abbey of Hautvillers, the celestial home of Champagne, where in the 17th century the Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon conducted research and experiments on the wines of Champagne.



Richard Geoffroy has been the head winemaker for over 20 years of Moët & Chandon’s Cuvée Dom Pérignon, and shows no signs of slowing down. He greets me with a warm smile, quite personable and relaxed.



The scientist at work: focused, attention to detail and perfection – wines often mirror their maker. I was absolutely thrilled to taste with one of the world’s premier Champagne artists. I paced myself in elegant moderation.

Richard Geoffroy’s comments:

“A seamless, silky texture is what I’m looking for –

I am not looking for weight or power.”

“Dom Pérignon must be vibrant and long.”

 “Dom Pérignon is all about pleasure and joy!” Richard Geoffroy

“Perfectly Balanced!” Liz Palmer



















8 Wine Trends To Watch in 2012 by Liz Palmer

Since the plunge in world markets, the wine market has not only bounced back, but is on a steady uphill rise. The market in fine wines has become reliable and with such potential for growth that no respectable financial portfolio should be without a select stock of first growth Bordeaux. Along with an increased awareness of fine wines for investment purposes, here are some further trends that seem to be gaining strength:

1.      Local Wines – The movement to reduce carbon emissions and consume locally grown products has extended to the wine industry in the past few years and this will continue to grow.

2.      Less is More – New world wines with overripe grapes and high alcohol contents have lost their popularity and will be replaced by classic, elegant wines with less alcohol levels (below 13 or 14%). This style marks the return to the tradition of flavorful, balanced wines. There will also be less wood flavors with more clear fruit forward wines.

3.      Retailers Resurgent – Employees have never been more knowledgeable and have become less snobby.  There will be more in-store tastings with a culture of service becoming more important.

4.      Burgundy is the New Bordeaux – As prices for Bordeaux continue to rise, more wine lovers are choosing wines from Burgundy. This is evidenced at some recent New York and Hong Kong wine auctions.

 5.   Sustainable Wines – The desire to make more natural wines, from organic or biodynamic vineyards with minimal intervention, including the addition of chemicals, is gaining more recognition.

New Zealand is set on becoming the first country with a fully sustainable wine industry by 2013, with many of the country’s big winemakers already producing organic wines. Expect this trend to continue growing in the coming years.

6.  Value – Although we seem to be out of the worst of the recession, we are looking for good mid-priced wines that offer great value for the price. Wines from the regions of South America, Australia, and Spain offer such value without the high price tag.

7.    Bends –  There is some truth to the power of blending to build better wine.  This is true for both whites and reds. It is worth watching the renewed market power of non-varietal wines. The average consumer is more willing to buy wine without it being marked chardonnay or merlot – this is a crucial shift.  We’ve transcended our neuroses about blended wines — insecurities that grew out of pre-1980s fondness for things like hearty burgundy. It also means that we won’t be intimidated to try wines from elsewhere in the world that doesn’t proclaim varietal identity on the label.

8.    Artisan Wine – Artisan wine trend gains momentum on either continent. You will find more of these wines on the shelf and wine lists.  This trend shows no signs of slowing down.


Liz Palmer




Taittinger is the Champagne of choice for SAG Awards















During the 18th Annual Screen Actor Guild Awards ceremony behind the scenes event at The Shrine Auditorium Champagne Taittinger is the Champagne of choice.

The results are in after months and weeks of voting, Hollywood’s actors finally name their picks for the best performances in the films and TV shows of 2011 at the annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The SAG honors, which are closely watched in the race for Oscars, follow the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice given by media watchers, as well as acknowledgements from the U.S. Producers Guild and Directors Guild, which represent their respective professional groups in industry matters.

The SAG Awards are a key barometer of which films and actors have a good chance at winning Oscars, the world’s top film honors given on February 26 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, because performers make up the largest voting branch of the academy.

The SAG Awards air on U.S. TV on Sunday night from Los Angeles on cable networks TNT and TBS, and on Global Television in Canada.

Liz Palmer

Wine Trends To Watch in 2012 – Part 1

As we enter 2012 with unsteady markets, it seems appropriate to make a guess at what the wine trends will be and what wines we should be looking for.  After some initial research, I have spotted some common wine trends:

1.      Local Wines – The movement to reduce carbon emissions and consume locally grown products has extended to the wine industry in the past few years and this will continue to grow.

2.      Less is More – New world wines with overripe grapes and high alcohol contents have lost their popularity and will be replaced by classic, elegant wines with less alcohol levels (below 13 or 14%). This style marks the return to the tradition of flavorful, balanced wines. There will also be less wood flavors with more clear fruit forward wines.

3.      Retailers Resurgent – Employees have never been more knowledgeable and have become less snobby.  There will be more in-store tastings with a culture of service becoming more important.

4.      Burgundy is the New Bordeaux – As prices for Bordeaux continue to rise, more wine lovers are choosing wines from Burgundy. This is evidenced at some recent New York and Hong Kong wine auctions.

Liz Palmer


LCBO’s “Holiday Wrapped Up” promotion offers a wide range of gift packs and entertaining ideas to make holiday shopping easier. This seasonal promotion runs until December 31 in all 620 LCBO stores across Ontario.

“Our customers want help deciding what to buy and their holiday shopping made as simple as possible,” says Bob Downey, LCBO Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “This promotion does that by providing a range of gift packs at different prices, highlighting top seasonal product picks and a free holiday brochure with tips on how to entertain responsibly and with ease.”

LCBO is offering more than 190 gift packs, including larger-size and limited edition bottles, and multi-bottle packs that are ready-made for entertaining and gift giving. The full selection can be found at and at New gift packs this year include:


  • Go Local Holiday Discovery Multi-Pack (four 750 mL VQA wines from four Ontario producers) $49.95
  • Woodbridge Entertaining Pack (four 750 mL bottles of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet and Shiraz from the popular California winery) $48.95
  • Veuve Clicquot Brut Shopping Bag (a 750 mL bottle with a gift bag) $65.15


  • Smirnoff Vodka Sonic Gift Pack (limited edition 750 bottle in MP3 speaker bag) $29.95
  • Skate Canadian Whisky (in an ice-skate-shaped 750 mL bottle) $49.95
  • Glenmorangie Discovery Gift Set (750 ml bottle and three 50 mL sampler bottles of aged single malts from the renowned Scottish distillery) $71.95


  • Holiday Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) Discovery Pack (six beers from different brewers) $11.95
  • Belgian Exclusive Ales Six-Pack Sampler $18.95
  • Unibroue17 Grand Reserve (750 mL bottle of acclaimed Quebec craft beer which is only available at LCBO this holiday season) $9.95


  • Stratus Winery Red and White VQA Icewine Gift Pack (two 200 mL bottles) $79.95
  • Mike Weir 2009 Gift Pack (750 mL bottles of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc with Golfer’s Shoe Bag) $39.95
  • Zuccardi Series A Gift Pack (Two 750 mL bottles of Malbec and Syrah with olive oil) $39.95

“One way to make holiday shopping and entertaining simple and support our domestic producers is to go local,” notes Downey. “Our large range of Ontario VQA wines, local craft beers and Canadian whiskies and spirits makes it easy to celebrate the season with a national flavor.”

Are you looking for some  unique products or do you need some advice on holiday entertaining?  Find a range of products recommended for holiday entertaining by LCBO’s experts at and a free holiday brochure called “12 ways to an easy holiday” is also available in larger LCBO stores. Visit for festive drinks and   holiday entertaining ideas. The Vintages Gift Finder at is a mobile-friendly site that also provides gifting solutions for hard to buy for people.

LCBO also offers gift cards at its stores and at all Shoppers Drug Mart and select Longos locations.  In December 2010, LCBO gift card sales rose more than 25 per cent to $19.8 million, up from $15.8 million in December 2009.

LCBO Facts:

–  In 2010, sales of Champagnes and sparkling wines increased to $22.5 million in December from $4.6 million in October.  The holiday period accounts for 30 to 35 per cent of annual LCBO Champagne and sparkling wine sales. Last year, liqueurs rose to $41 million in December from $15 million in October. December accounts for 28 per cent of annual sales of classic liqueurs (e.g. Baileys, Grand Marnier).

–  Twenty-five per cent of LCBO Cognac sales and more than 15 per cent of whisky sales occur in December.  Spiced rum is also expected to be a holiday favourite with sales growth up 30 per cent leading into December. Sales of fine wines and premium spirits in LCBO Vintages’ sections also typically see double-digit growth in December.

–  Last December, LCBO sales topped $600 million or almost 15 per cent of the year’s business.  The average per person transaction in December 2010 was $48 versus $36 the rest of the year.  Last year, December 23 was the biggest selling day ($48 million) and December 24 was next ($42 million).


“Deflate the Elephant”, LCBO’s social responsibility public information campaign, will again hit the web, airwaves, street and LCBO stores to promote safe and enjoyable celebrations this holiday season. Consumers can visit for a one-stop source for responsible hosting solutions and more than 50 non-alcoholic mocktail recipes.

For more information on the “Holiday Wrapped Up” promotion, entertaining ideas and responsible hosting tips, customers can call helloLCBO (formerly LCBO Contact Centre) at 1-800-ONT-LCBO (668-5226).  In Toronto, call 416 365-5900, visit your nearest LCBO store or go online to The TTY number for people who are deaf or hard of hearing is 416 864-6898 or 1-800-361-3291. Customers can also access the LCBO website at and Vintages information at

Liz Palmer, Wine Writer








Trying to figure out what to give the wine lover in your life takes some thought. The obvious choice, of course, is a bottle of wine. Wine books are an wonderful alternative gift choice. Not only are they perfect for the novice, enthusiast and expert, they can be read over and over again, you don’t have to replace the cork, and the pages are always full!

Here is a collection of wine books released in 2011 that should satisfy the intellectual palate of any wine lover in your life:

The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine by Karen Page; Andrew Dorenburg

The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain by Jesus Barquin, Luis Gutierrez, and Victor de la Serna

Unquenchable by Natalie MacLean

Creating Wine – The Emergence of a World Industry, 1840-1914 by James Simpson

An Ideal Wine One Generation’s Pursuit of Perfection – and Profit – in California by David Darlington

Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers by Katherine Cole

1000 Great Everyday Wines From the World’s Best Wineries by Jim Gordon

The Finest Wines of California: A Regional Guide to the Best Producers and Their Wines by Stephen Brook

Liz Palmer
Wine and Lifestyle Writer



REVIEWS ON Two Oceans 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Brut and Two Oceans 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

















Picture by Liz Palmer

Two Oceans 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Brut

Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Country: South Africa
Producer: Two Oceans
Alcohol: 11.52  % vol
Appellation : Coastal
Cost: $11.95

Winemaker’s Notes:

Colour: Brilliant, clear, almost pale straw

Bouquet: An elegant melange of tropical fruits, litchis, green peppers,

pineapples and granadilla

Taste: Fresh, fruity and zesty with a crisp bubble and clean palate

My Review:

Pale straw colour with small lively bubbles; aromas of crisp citrus fruits, herbs, and green apples; on the palate tangy flavours of lemon and green apples, good length to finish – 86/100


A refreshing crisp and versatile sparkling wine that works well with brunch, lunch or light dinners including: seafood dishes; salads; oysters; tapas; and light desserts.      Chill and enjoy!



Two Oceans 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Country: South Africa
Producer: Two Oceans
Alcohol : 11.71  % vol
Appellation : Coastal
Cost: $9.95

Winemaker’s Notes:

Colour: Brilliant light green tint

Bouquet: Upfront tropical fruit flavours, gooseberries followed with a hint of green fig

Taste: An elegant, crisp wine displaying ripe gooseberry flavours on the fore palate backed by tropical fruit and a hint of grassiness that lingers long on the aftertaste.

My Review:

This wine boasts an intense nose exuding floral, tropical fruits and vegetal aromas; is a medium-bodied, elegantly crisp wine with lively acidity which reveals a lingering finish


Two Oceans 2010 Sauvignon Blanc lives in the best of both worlds, it can accompany shellfish and it also fits well with light meats such as pork, lamb and veal; it also matches well with salads, light cheeses, or as a summer patio wine.

Liz Palmer,
Wine Writer

For All the Women: The Association “Femmes de Vin” at Vinexpo

For the second year the “Femmes de Vin” Association was present at Vinexpo, Palace of Congress in Bordeaux-Lac on Monday 20th June 2011 showcasing their wines.

The Circle of “Femmes de Vin” was created in 2009 by two passionate wine producers; Chantal Pégaz from Beaujolais and Marie-Laurence Saladin from Côtes du Rhône. The Circle of “Femmes de Vin” brings together regional associations of female wine producers, who have common passions for defending, on a daily basis, the land, the countryside, the environment; wine production and the flavours of the French appellations.

The regional associations consist of:

•  Les Aliénor du Vin de Bordeaux
•  Les DiVINes d’Alsace
•  Les Eléonores de Provence,
•  Les Etoiles en Beaujolais,
•  Les Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne,
•  Femmes Vignes Rhône,
•  Les Vinifilles en Languedoc-Roussillon,

“Divided, but not against”, the men…fathers, brothers, husbands, friends… they won’t be far away! Each of these women, who are content and blossoming in their work, has a story and a clear career path. “Girls of”, “women of” or “business women from elsewhere” are all “creators of wine” fulfilling their dreams!

Liz Palmer

Wine and Travel Writer