New in LCBO

• Louis Bernard is already a trusted household name for many wine lovers, producing value-laden wine from the Cotes du Rhone wine region of southern France showcasing deft balance, pure fruit flavour, consistency and charm. The following four were found to be no exception as winecurrent tasted through them with Guillaume Blisson, National Sales Director for parent company Gabriel Meffre. Guillaume holds a Master’s degree of Science in Viticulture/Oenology from Institut national agronomique Paris-Grignon and Diploma of Viticulture and Oenology from Montpellier SupAgro and provided interesting perspectives on the winery, region and these particular wines.

**** drink now Exceptional Value! 
Louis Bernard Côtes-du-Rhône White 2015 
AOP Côtes-du-Rhône, France $13.95 (589432) 13.5% alcohol 
This Grenache blanc/Bourblenc/Clairette blend oozes all that’s good from this producer and the diverse wine region—persistent ripe fruit, good balancing acidity, not a splinter of oak. Tropical fruit aromas adorned by wisps of floral/lemony notes introduce a balanced-on-a-pin wash of ripe peach and pear nicely complemented by tangy lemon curd. It’s medium bodied and well textured with a lingering dry, crisp, refreshing finish. Delicious sipped on its own, it also pours well with seafood, chicken or veal. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Exceptional Value! 
Louis Bernard Côtes-du-Rhône Red 2015 
AOP Côtes-du-Rhône, France $13.95 (581645) 13.0% alcohol 
The lifted nose of mixed spice and red cherry/berry fruit aromas unleash a medium-plus bodied, nicely textured flow of pie cherry, piquant spice and lively tang on the palate infusing the balanced, dry mouth-watering finish, The peppery aftertaste layers on notions of dark raisin. Pour this Grenache/Syrah blend with red pizza, burgers or gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

• You may find either or both of the following two wines in stores as they are presently transitioning to the new 2015 vintage. The ‘Villages’ indicates the fruit was sourced from smaller, preferred sites rather than the broader C-d-R indication of the above two wines. The following two wines are also a step up in price and, quite different from each other, stylistically.

**** drink now 
Louis Bernard Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Red 2014 
AOP Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, France $16.95 (391458) 13.0% alcohol 
This light-medium bodied, nicely textured blend—Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre—offers subtle aromas of floral and earthy aromas and a light-on-its-feet stream of red and dark berry fruit enhanced with excellent tang and a mid-length, dry finish and aftertaste. Poured best with pasta in tomato sauce, red pizza or tomato-rice, stuffed green peppers. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value! 
Louis Bernard Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Red 2015 
AOP Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, France $16.95 (391458) 13.5% alcohol 
This was fashioned with Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre fruit, the Syrah being sourced from older vines and in a vintage that was dry and produced relatively low yields. It’s nicely structured with persistent purity of ripe fruit, balance and complexity. Medium-full bodied with good mouthfeel, it drenches the palate with black juicy cherry, cassis and notions of mixed spice and black licorice finishing lengthy and lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

White Wine

**** drink now Exceptional Value! 
KWV ‘The Vinecrafter’ Chenin Blanc 2015
WO Western Cape, South Africa (18689) $9.95 13.0% alcohol
Wow, this punches way above its price; it’s exceptional value—plus, plus. Honey-kissed pit fruit and grassy/savory herb aromas provide segue to a slightly off-dry, palate-bathing flow of melon, yellow plum and grilled pineapple. It finishes clean and crisp with lemon-lime tang and a boatload of charm. Delightful sipped on its own, it also pours well with grilled or pan-seared seafood or roast chicken or pork. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now Exceptional Value! 
Trapiche ‘Extravaganza’ 2015
Argentina $8.95 (439851) 13.5% alcohol
This light-on-its-feet Torrontés/Chardonnay blend delivers aromas of floral, spice and tropical fruit along with terrific value. It streaks over the palate with lemon curd, white peach and apple skin to the fore. There’s excellent tang on the mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Pour with skillet-seared fish under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

• The following winery lays claim to being Washington State’s first premium winery formed over fifty years ago by 10 visionary buddies including six professors from U of Washington.

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value! 
Columbia Winery Chardonnay 2013
Columbia Valley, Washington State $17.95 (462804) 14.0% alcohol
This was fermented in stainless steel and left on lees for nine months with excellent results. Floral and citrus aromas mingle with vanilla and ripe pineapple on the nose. It dishes up a gorgeous river of medium-full bodied lemony tang and ripe tropical fruit flavour interlaced with spicy ginger and white nectarine. A terrific wine offering exceptional value. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value! 
Marisco Vineyards ‘The Ned’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand $16.60 (470070) 13.0% alcohol
The price-quality ratio of this Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc skews well in your favour; pick up an armful. This is smoky and grassy on the brash nose prior to unleashing a swashbuckling array of flavours—asparagus, gooseberry, piquant spice and tinned peas—persisting from twist top to last drop. The lengthy, lip-smacking finish is tang-laden, crisp and refreshing. What’s not to like. (Vic Harradine)

• The following winery, Colombia Crest, is owned by Chateau Ste Michelle. Twenty-two percent of the fruit was pressed and settled in stainless steel, the balance was aged and hand-stirred, once-a-week in one- to three-year-old French and American oak barrel for nine months.

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value! 
Columbia Crest Chardonnay 2014
Columbia Valley, Washington State $17.95 (462846) 13.5% alcohol
Lifted aromas of spiced apple, pear and apricot introduce a gorgeous mouthful of ginger-infused tropical fruit and lemon pie filling. This is mid-plus weight with generous mouthfeel and oodles of charm. It finishes lengthy and luxurious with loads of fruit crowned with excellent moderating acidity. Pour with roast bird, pan-seared, firm fish or crown roast pork. (Vic Harradine)

Red Wine

***1/2 drink now 
Ménage à Trois ‘Silk’ 2015
California $17.95 (462853) 13.5% alcohol
Sharp spice and mixed field berry fruit aromas waft from this medium-bodied Pinot Noir/Malbec/Petite Syrah red blend. A sweet-tinged flow of ripe black currant and red cherry underpinned by wisps of tannin coats the palate infusing the mid-length finish and aftertaste. Aerate/decant this before pouring with pizza or burgers. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following red was sourced from the Australian GI Super Zone—South Eastern Australia—that includes all of the States of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania plus part of South Australia and Queensland. It contains a dash of fortified wine accounting for its Port-like qualities.

**** drink or cellar 
Lindeman ‘Gentleman’s Choice - Batch/Cuvée No. 3’ 2015
South Eastern Australia $17.95 (461533) 14.0% alcohol
And now for something completely different - a table wine on steroids from a dash of fortified wine – dishing up flavours that are Port-like minus the 20% alcohol. Aromas of mixed spice and dark berry fruit open this luscious, spirited, warm-on-the-palate red. There’s oodles of mocha and ripe sweet fruit—black currant and black cherry—interlaced with cassis and sweet kirsch liqueur coating the palate infusing the lengthy aftertaste. Pours well with grilled, smoked back ribs slathered with spicy barbecue sauce or an after-dinner cigar or cigarillo. (Vic Harradine)

• The name Firestone is inextricably entwined with tire innovator, Harvey Firestone. In the 1970s, Harvey’s son Leonard, a former US Ambassador to Belgium, saw potential at his family ranch in the rugged Saint Ynez Valley for viticulture, planting a vineyard with a plan to sell grapes. Soon after, he, son Brooks and Brooks’ wife Kate, founded the first estate winery in the valley. The rest as they say, is history; and with this you have an opportunity to taste it.

**** drink or cellar 
Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Saint Ynez Valley $20.10 (292128) 14.2% alcohol 
This dishes up a structured mouthful of delectable juice, deft balance, delightful tang and good value. Estate-grown fruit—77% Cabernet Sauvignon/12% Petit Verdot/5% Malbec/4% Cabernet Franc/2% Merlot—was aged 16 months in French, American and Hungarian oak, 36% new. Piquant spice, mint and savory herb aromas precede a medium-full bodied stream of cassis, red cherry and black licorice persistent through the lip-smacking finish. Aerate/decant three hours before pouring. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar 
Apothic ‘Dark Red’ 2015
California $16.95 (392654) 14.0% alcohol
This is full bodied, fully textured and oozing sweet, ripe fruit. A gusher of sweet, ripe mulberry and bramble berry jam coat the palate robed in bittersweet chocolate and espresso roast underpinned by a solid tannin underpinning—a hedonist’s treasure trove. Flavours replay on the lingering finish and aftertaste. Pour after a three-hour aeration/decant with grilled smoked meat mopped with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

• Grenache fruit for the following was sourced from hi-altitude—700-900 m—low-yielding—2 tonnes/hectare—30- to 40-year old vines aged 2 months in French oak barrel. Bodegas Ateca is a member of the respected Juan Gill family of wineries. When you’re having the gang over and it’s your treat, this’ll be a hit.

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value! 
Bodegas Ateca ‘Honora Vera’ Garnacha 2015
DOP Calatayud, Spain $12.75 (440867) 14.5% alcohol
This is an extremely well-priced and nicely paced Grenache with a quality-price balance tipped wildly in your favour. Spiced, red and dark berry fruit aromas introduce a luscious river of palate-bathing flavour—strawberry, black plum and bramble berry interwoven with wisps of mixed spice and mineral notes. It’s medium bodied and smoothly with a lengthy, dry balanced aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)