Ask Chuck

Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

These Iconic Agencies Will Be Present at the International Wine and Spirits Festival

The Wine and Spirits Festival will take place on Saturday, November 2nd at the R.S. McLaughlin Art Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario from 2 PM to 6 PM.  
Wine is a sharing experience! I write about, not only the organoleptic qualities of wine that pleases me, but also its background, historically, geographically, scientifically and culturally. 

This sharing comes partly from traveling to various global wine destinations, attending wine expositions and personal tastings with friends and groups. Ironically some of my most “learned” situations came about from innocent questions from neophytes.

One of my biggest sources of my education in wine is the support of the various wineries and agencies which allow me to objectively taste their products.  With this I would be severely handicapped!

Agencies are the life blood of suppliers who, without them, would have a very difficult time in marketing their wine. 

By allowing me to impartially taste their products they allow for a continuous flow of information that allows me in turn to develop a sense of what is happening in the wine world.

Wines that I especially enjoy will be written about in my columns and blogs. I steer away from negative comments leaving consumers to be their own judge.       

The most important critical sentence/phrase that a consumer can make about wine “I like it!” thus, making other descriptions irrelevant!   

I believe that all wine no matter how good ----or not—serves a purpose in the education of one’s palate! The more one is exposed to different wines from different locales; the more educated the palate becomes. Palates do change with experience!   

This November 2nd the People of Oshawa will get a marvelous chance to challenge their palate and widen their scope at a new, improved and wider International Wine Festival which will be held at the R. S. McLaughlin Art Gallery from 2 to 6 PM.

Attending this exhibit and also purchasing potential will be several important and amazing wine and spirit agencies as well as a number of embassies/consulates from around the world. 

The embassies/consulates of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, France, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and United States, have been invited to attend.

A number of agencies have confirmed their involvement.
Noble Estates

Wine and Spirits

3000 Steeles Ave East Suite 203
Markham , ON L3R 4T9
Google Map
(905) 943-7272

Craig de Blois is building on the very successful first 25 years. Noble is recognized as having a dynamic sales force, and is proud to represent many of the top wine and spirits producers from around the world, offering full service sales and marketing.

With a sole focus on the Ontario market and the LCBO, we promise to deliver world class Sales and Brand Management to both our suppliers and the LCBO. We pride ourselves on building and maintaining strong, long-term relationships with all of our suppliers and customers. Noble strives to exceed client expectations by continually adjusting to their need.
I am a great fan of several of Noble’s profiled wines. One of them that I tried recently was the Crozes-Hermitage Cave de Tain (Vintages #572230, $24.95) with oodles of dark berry fruit and flavor. Syrah is the grape and is well represented here.  Noble Estates offers a wide selection of wines such as the amazing sparkling wines of Bottega (Veneto), the tasteful wines of Cabriz (Dao) and Catena (Argentina) and others world wide!
The Case for Wine

1305 Pickering Parkway, Suite 105

Pickering, ON



Ruben Elmer

Roberto Albis

The Case for Wine, has been importing quality artisanal wine for over 20 years. Founded in 1998, It sells its products through an assortment of channels including LCBO Vintages, LCBO General Products, the Consignment channel and to private collectors.

They now import one of my favourite wines from Argentina. The Bodegas Weinert “Carascal” Malbec is an amazing wine with the ability to age and develop well. At $20.95 it is great value!  The 2008 Weinert Cabernet Sauvignon (Vintages #656363, $27.95) is also a super value.
The Case for Wine also has Spanish “Cimal Garnacha” from La Mancha (Vintages #646836, $15.95) and an Italian “Carpazo Toscana Sangiovese” (LCBO #361022, $12.00).

Trajectory Beverage Partners

435 North Service Road West, Unit 100
Oakville, ON 


(905) 849-4346 ext.150

Trajectory Beverage Partners is a 100% Canadian sales and marketing company that is dedicated to providing Canadians with a selection of some of the best wine, beer and spirits products and experiences the world has to offer.

Its success comes from working with a limited number of partners that produce a variety of popular brands and products thus is focused on a select group and partnerships.
Trajectory is one amazing company that represents iconic wines from Canada, Europe, South America, and the United States. Some of my favourites are the wines of Francois Lurton, Lakeview Cellars and Josh. Old time favourite is Germanys Blue Nun. 

Escalade Wine and Spirits  

5006 Timberlea Blvd

Mississauga ON

L4W 5C6


Escalade Wines & Spirits is a national wine and spirit agency bringing top quality Canadian representation to our suppliers and parent company. A joint venture between global wine conglomerate Viña Concha y Toro and long standing Canadian company Charton-Hobbs, Escalade combines a portfolio of successful brands and proven excellence in distribution and marketing.

Founded in 2015, Escalade developed a focused method of portfolio management by carefully selecting the brands we work with. Our curated portfolio allows us to build brands and provide them with the attention they deserve. We pride ourselves with an entrepreneurial approach to business and a growth obsessed and customer-first attitude. With the knowledge and expertise from sales, marketing and business intelligence teams, we are keen to deliver the support that brands deserve.

I recently attended a wine pairing dinner/tasting tutored by Marcelo Papa, winemaker at Marques de Casa Concha from the famed Chilean winery.
One of my favourite grape varieties is the Carmenere and Casa Concha produces a very fine one!   The Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2017 (Vintages #169842, $21.95) is superb! The Marques Cabernet Sauvignon (Vintages #337228, $22.95) 

and Syrah (Vintages #19042) are also excellent. Keep your eye out for the 2018 Winemaker’s Lot-Carmenere! Escalade also represents other top brands from California and Italy.

J. Cipelli Wine and Spirits Inc.

109 Woodbine Downs Boulevard, Unit #6


M9W 6Y1

(416) 798-9463

Cipelli Wine has been in existence for many years and has provided me with such a wide range of pleasure. My favourite has always been the many wines of Zenato especially the Zenato “Amarone” (Vintages #413179, $45.95) as well as Zenato “Ripassa” (Vintages #479766, $26.95).

Nicholas Pearce Wines

111 Ferris Rd

Toronto, ON

M4B 1G6

 (416) 918-6425

Nicholas Pearce Wines is a premier Ontario based wine agency acting as a consulting firm, wine broker and distributor with offices based in Toronto, Canada. We are working with some of the most exciting wineries around the world and certainly the most knowledgeable wine buyers in our market.
Nicholas moved back to Ontario from France 10 years ago and started importing wines from small properties around Europe. Armed with his MBA from the Bordeaux International Wine Institute and experience in both winemaking & négociant activities, he began building the NPW business, case by case. He has built an impressive team, as you can see below, backed by an amazing collection of winemakers and vigneron from around the world.
You can catch him tasting his favs with all the best sommeliers in Ontario.

Nicholas Pearce has many premium and great value wine. Among my favourites are Westmount Pinot Noir from Oregon (Vintages #10704, $19.95) and Sister’s
Run Epiphany Shiraz from Australia (Vintages #269464, $17.95).

ALCOHL Wine and Spirits

1200 Bay St.

Toronto, Ontario

M5R 2A5
Tel: +1-647-654-4849

ALCOHL is a luxury & ultra premium alcoholic beverages company with an exceptional collection of spirits and wine brands.

ALCOHL's wine collection consists of White Wine, Red Wine, Specialty Wine, Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Icewine. 

ALCOHOL has over 20 outstanding brands – new, small to large, local to global, with brands sold in over 30+ countries at various price points, in various categories to suit consumer demand
ALCOHL is a Global Distributor for the World’s largest estate producer of Icewine:  Pillitteri Estates Winery located near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.


431 Route 202

Hemmingford, QC


Since 1920, we have been perfecting the art of growing mouth-watering apples. Located in the idyllic town of Hemmingford, Quebec, our orchards are currently being tended to by the fourth generation of the Petch family. Cidrerie et Distillerie C.E.Petch was established in 2017 and is dedicated to producing cider of the utmost quality. Our ciders are the ultimate product of a region known for its apple orchards and beautiful landscape. We have created a selection of unique beverages that can be enjoyed on various occasions, from ice cider to sparkling ciders made from heritage apple varieties.
Every tree in our apple orchard is planted, trimmed, and personally cared for by our very own cider-makers throughout the year. After the apples are pressed, we take care to ferment the juice under cold temperatures, and age the resulting cider for several months before bottling.

Orchidea Spirits Corp

1131 Steeles Ave. West Suite 1212,

Toronto ON
Orchidea Spirits Corp. (Orchidea Group) was formed as an Ontario agency in 2011. Over the years and as its sales in the LCBO grew and expanded to cover different brands from all over the world, it developed a portfolio of 50+ wineries, breweries and distilleries from 25+ countries. After successfully introducing a number of renowned world brands in LCBO (including Padre Azul, Dictador, Askaneli Brothers and others), the company expanded its focus to manufacturing.

Over the past year, the agency's CEO Danny Golnik acted as an independent consultant to groups lobbying the Ontario government for changes in the provincial alcohol regulations and has put forward several recommendations, some of which have been accepted by the provincial government. These recommendations were put forward as a facility to help independently owned businesses increase their bottom line from liquor sales, both for manufacturers and liquor-licensed establishments.
Currently, Orchidea Group is focused on developing liquor sales through alternative channels, such as ecommerce group-buying platforms, optimizing both the process and the costs of selling for all manufacturers and agents.
Direct Cellars                Joel Hooper Brand Partner
1627 Main Street, Suite 901     21-110 Rossland Rd. W.
Kansas City, MO                       Whitby, ON
U.S.A.                                          Canada
64108                                           L1N9H3
Sorry it took so long to get back to you, Direct Cellars has been around since 2014, they began as a small internet wine club.  Because of their unique marketing concept, they grew very rapidly!  Direct Cellars does not use the usual advertising routes like Radio, or TV.  Direct Cellars strictly advertises by "word of mouth."

Direct Cellars is currently in United States, Australia, UK, and is in pre-launch in Canada.  We anticipate to be launching very soon in Canada.  We are in the last stages of pre-launch.  

In every monthly order included with the wines are tasting notes, which include the Grapes, Origin, as well as what food the particular wine is best paired wth.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Francois Lurton Carries On With The Lurton Saga

The Scarborough Bluffs stood tall against the wide expanse of Lake Ontario making the people near the shore below them looked like miniature creations in an artist’s painting.
A flock of Canada Geese flew in formation above the waves—almost parallel to the green and wooded grounds of the Toronto Hunt.  
Inside one of the many private rooms of this historic club, wine magnate, Francois Lurton quietly viewed the geese in formation above Lake Ontario as they made their way across the horizon.   
“It is rare to see those birds flying at eye level over the water!” M. Lurton pensively remarked as he looked out toward the flock flying almost at the edge of the Bluffs’ surface! 
The locale of the Toronto Hunt with its green expanse of perfectly trimmed lawn, golf course and expansive woods along with the historic Hunt building itself had the air of a Raymond Chandler novel that befitted the garden event about to take place. The rays of the Sun filtering through the majestic window of the southern facing interview room accentuated the feeling.
As the Sun nurtures wine, wine runs in the blood of the Lurton family. While Francois Lurton is a fourth generation of a huge family engaged in wine since 1897, his heritage can be traced back to the 17th Century St. Emilion, where the Recapet family began planting vines.
The marriage of great grandfather Leonce Recapet (B. 1858) to the daughter of a vineyard owner/grower/winemaker in 1894 and subsequent investment in Bordeaux wineries actually began the Lurton legacy.
Leonce’s daughter Denise later married Francois Lurton who assisted Leonce until Leonce’s death in 1943.  She and Francois had four children: Andre, Lucien, Simone and Dominique. The family estates were divided among the four children in 1953.  Francois died in 1971.  
One of Andre’s seven children is the present Francois Lurton (B. 1958).
The 20 properties which consist of roughly 1500 hectares are presently divided among the very large Lurton family. Each operates independently from the others but communication is always present among them. 
Francois himself presently owns some 400 hectares of vineyards throughout the World in Argentina, Chile, France, Spain and
Prior to this he worked for his father for a decade before partnering with brother Jacques from 1988 to 2008.
I noticed that another flock of Canada Geese winged its way across the horizon that, once again, caught Francois’s gaze. In a way he so much reminded me much of his father Andre who passed away just recently in May, 2019.
“I met your father at a tasting of his Château La Louvière. I mentioned.  “I asked him how one would taste the longevity of wine. Your father answered that by telling me to sip the wine, savour it and then either spit or swallow. He then told me to count the seconds----the more seconds the longer the wine can last----each second being equal to one year of development!”  I never forgot the lesson.
 Francois smiled a laugh saying “I have never heard of that one before!”
He definitely had his father’s smile and charming personality! His father’s inventive passion was also there!
Francois’s practice in viticulture and wine making was discussed. The big things in wine these days were the terms “organic” and following close to it are the terms “biodynamic” and “natural”.
“I am certified biodynamic in Chile. Here we follow the all the principles including the “moon calendar”. We consider everything with biodynamic farming and the results are excellent. Biodynamic reduces the stress on the vines and heightens the quality of the grapes.”
Francois went on to compare biodynamic farming with “organic farming. 
“The result of organic farming does not produce better grapes than conventional methods and in fact makes them more expensive but it does make the land more sustainable and is better for the environment. We are certified organic everywhere. Biodynamics, on the other hand, produce better quality vines and wines because it dramatically reduces the stress on the land and thus, also the wines.”
When it came to “natural wines” he has reduced the “manipulative” part of winemaking by drastically if not totally reducing his use of sulfur and other chemicals from use on the vines and grapes!
However there is a limit to Lurton’s belief in the biodynamic process in that he is not sold on the Moon’s effects on farming but the increase in quality has encouraged him to include biodynamic principles in his properties around the World.  
“If you want something to be strong you must feed it and care for all things around it!”
Philosophy is good as long as it works and the only way to find out if Francois Lurton’s viticulture and wine making philosophy is working is to taste the wine and see if it good!
By now the flock of Canada Geese had descended to the water and our attention turned from the water and wine philosophy to the process of enjoying a luncheon featuring wines from Francois Lurton’s properties and fine cuisine from the Hunt Club.
Held on the grounds amidst the grandiose club greenery and Lake Ontario background, the setting was classic.
The menu was also a classic wine/food pairing:
Les Fumees Blanches Sauvignon Blanc (LCBO #472555, $13.95) France
 It was an extremely well made and versatile wine that could have easily been used with the first course of the luncheon.  The nose had nuances of citrus grapefruit, lime as well as herbal grass and a hint of smoke. The palate was medium in body, well balanced, with steel and crisp freshness. 
Bodega Piedra Negra Alta Collecion Pinot Gris (LCBO # 556746, $14.00)
First course:
Paired with Grilled Asparagus, baby arugula, heirloom tomato, shaved manchego, citrus dressing
Lemon green in colour, this wine has a nose of pear, citrus, green tea and herbal nuances. The palate is medium on body, fruity and smooth with a fresh and lasting finish.
Gran Lurton Blanco $33.00*
Second Course:
Paired with Seared Calamari, olives, grilled potato, capers, shishido peppers, micro basil and brown butter
This blend of 80% Tockij (Tokay), 10% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Gris, 5% Viognier has a greenish tinge to it and a nose of herbal citrus, peach, cantaloupe, vanilla oak and nuts. On the palate it is creamy smooth with a lasting almost butter almond finish.      
Hermanos Lurton Do Toro, $33.00* (Spain)
Hacienda Araucano Clos de Lolol   $3300*(Chile)
Third Course:
Both wines paired with Lamb Barbacoa a charred spring lamb rack, navy bean salad, black cherry reduction
The Toro is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes. This is a red wine with a nose that is rich with ripe cherry with a spattering of vanilla oak. It evolves if left in glass to produce caramel and some chocolate. The palate is equally rich and full leaving a long, anise finish.
The Hacienda Araucano is a blend of 40.5% Carmenere, 30.3% Syrah, 17.1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12.1% Cabernet Franc. It has a very deep red colour with a nose of dark fruit, dark chocolate, vanilla and burning leaves/tobacco. It keeps evolving as one recognizes one description to another. It is full and fresh on the palate with pepper and anise on long finish.       
Macadamia Key Lime Pie with coconut cream
Towards the end of the luncheon I had one more question to pose to M. Lurton. “What lies for the future?”
He looked back and paused.
The pause was long enough for me to remember that he recently went full circle to honour the memory of his great-grandfather by developing a gin from Leonce’s favourite grape Sauvignon Blanc and also launched an Extra Dry vermouth named “Leonce”!
He said, “Wherever the train takes me!”   
The Canada Geese rose once again into the sky and flew across the horizon!

(Note: The Gran Lurton, Hermanos Toro and Hacienda Clos de Lolol are available through:  The following Lurton wines are available through Trajectory Beverage Partners 905-849-4346)