New in LCBO

Spirits

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Meukow VS Cognac 
Product of France $58.95 (382580) 750 mL 40.0% alcohol
You’ll be attracted to the black panther motif, then captivated tasting what’s inside—it punches well above the VS category. Aromas of currants, sweet vanilla and orange peel introduce a creamy-smooth mouthful of apricot preserve and baking spice interlaced with vanilla and notions of buckwheat honey. There are hints of toasty oak and licorice on the fade. (Vic Harradine)

Liqueur

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Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira 
Product of Italy $22.95 (215988) 28.0% alcohol
This is premium, almond liqueur with premium, natural ingredients—sip neat or on ice, mix in tea, coffee or orange juice, or in sparkling wine or mixed drinks. Marzipan, vanilla and orange marmalade on the nose, this is flavourful and fully textured, but far from heavy or cloying. It delivers a balanced, persistent stream of sweet marzipan with a dried almond bite—a delightful combination persisting throughout. (Vic Harradine)

Champagne

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Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Réserve Champagne Non-Vintage

AOC Champagne, France $47.95 (537605) 12% alcohol

A perennial favourite and value-packed, this has style and charm with enough structure and flavour to pour with appetizers or light mains. There’s a profusion of fine-bead bubbles along with aromas of toasty notes and orchard fruit. It bathes the palate with baked apple and yellow peach flavours beautifully balanced with lemon acidity. (Vic Harradine) 

Sparkling Wine

****1/2 drink now  Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Spark’ Sparkling Wine Brut 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 (384966) 12.5% alcohol
This was made in the traditional method, similar to Champagne. Plenty here to spark your interest—an alluring nose of delicate floral and mineral notes, a profusion of small-bead bubbles and delightful mouthful of soft, lime cordial, white peach and tangy lemon. A luscious blend—59% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Noir, 13% Pinot Gris—bathes the palate and lingers on the finish, crisp, lively and refreshing. Pour solo or with seafood; it’s quite good value. (Vic Harradine)


Red Wine

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McWilliam’s ‘J.J. McWilliam’ Cabernet-Merlot 2013
South Eastern Australia, $9.95 (621599) 13.5% alcohol
This is terrific value. Heady aromas of dark berry fruit and spice are precursor to a medium-bodied, nicely textured river of red and dark berry fruit interweaving with sour cherry and black berry. It’s nicely balanced with a mid-lengthy fruity finish and aftertaste. Pleasant sipped on its own it has the balance and oomph to pair well with comfort food—pizza, burgers, wings or mac n’ cheese. (Vic Harradine)

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McWilliam’s ‘J.J. McWilliam’ Shiraz-Cabernet 2013
South Eastern Australia, $9.95 (16741) 13.5% alcohol
McWilliam’s was named Winery of the Year in 2014. Quiet aromas of campfire smoke and red berry fruit dominate the nose on this mid-bodied, tang-laden, popular red blend. Sour cherry and red currant race across the palate robed in tangy acidity and wisps of grainy tannin. Flavours and textures persist through the aftertaste. Pour alongside spaghetti with meat sauce or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

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McWilliam’s ‘Hanwood Estate’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
New South Wales, Australia, $14.95 (214577) 13.5% alcohol
Roasted herbs and dark berry fruit aromas open up a racy river of red and dark fruit infused with good acidity and underpinned with still-evolving tannin—aerate/decant for a couple of hours. This is mid weight with decent texture and fruit, acidity and tannin all present throughout. (Vic Harradine)

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McWilliam’s ‘Hanwood Estate’ Shiraz 2013
New South Wales, Australia, $14.95 (610683) 13.5% alcohol
McWilliams is a member of the exclusive Australia’s First Families of Wine. Smoke, pipe tobacco and cedar aromas open the door to a balanced flow of ripe red and dark berry fruit, moderate, balancing acidity and a soft tannin underpinning. Sour cherry and tangy black currant dominate the finish and aftertaste, balanced and beautiful. There’s very good value here with lots of choice at the table; try burgers, beefsteak or grilled lamb. (Vic Harradine)

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Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 

Sonoma County, California $18.95 (292151) 14.0% alcohol 

A subtle attractive nose of dark berry fruit, sandalwood and spice sets the table for a tangy, mid-weight flow of red currant, blueberry and spice-infused red cherry over the palate, replaying on the fruit-filled, savory-tinged finish. There’s good mouth feel and plenty of charm. Give this a go with veal marsala or roast chicken. (Vic Harradine)

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Shingleback ‘Red Knot’ Shiraz 2013 

McLaren Vale, Australia $17.95 (619395) 14.0% alcohol 

Rich, dark aromas of espresso roast, dark berry fruit and spice introduce a balanced, creamy wash of red cherry and black currant garnished with red currant tang and kirsch liqueur. It’s balanced, mid weight and fruit forward with a dry, lingering finish. This pours well on its own or with grilled rack of lamb or strip loin. (Vic Harradine)

White Wine

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McWilliam’s ‘J.J. McWilliam’ Pinot Grigio 2013
South Eastern Australia, $9.95 (291765) 12.0% alcohol
Floral notes and honeyed fruit aromas introduce a lively surge of lemon-lime and grapefruit mingling with lip-smacking grapefruit and pineapple. It’s mid weight and light on its feet with a crisp refreshing finish and aftertaste. Give it a go with pan-seared fish or seafood. (Vic Harradine)

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McWilliam’s ‘Hanwood Estate’ Chardonnay 2013
New South Wales, Australia, $13.95 (557934) 13.5% alcohol
Hanwood Estate wines have won 22 trophies and close to one thousand medals. Delicate aromas of pit fruit and citrus interlace with wisps of oak on the nose of this mid-weight, tang-laden Chardonnay. It streaks over the palate with zesty, racy lemon and white grapefruit and hints of minerality and oak. The aftertaste is racy and tangy with notions of grapefruit pith on the finish. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Exceptional Value! 
McWilliam’s ‘Hanwood Estate’ Moscato 2013
New South Wales, Australia, $13.95 (212696) 7.5% alcohol
Aromas of rosewater, exotic incense and spice herald a marvelously textured, sweet and tang wash of orange and lemon cordial decorated with grilled pineapple. It coats the palate and persists on the lingering, sweet finish. It’s a dazzling aperitif or welcoming wine and versatile at the table pouring well with spicy Asian dishes, fruit flan or soft cheese like Brie or Sauvagine. (Vic Harradine)