June 22, 2016 Newsletter

Newsletter highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 10 of 70 wines reviewed meet strict quality-price guidelines and are found throughout the newsletter. What strict quality-price guidelines? Click here.
  • 5-star Wine – Three wines rang the 5-star bell: Tawse Winery Chardonnay Icewine 2013 @ $34.95 for 200 mL found under Icewine in the Main Release; Henry of Pelham ‘Reserve’ Baco Noir 2013 @ $24.95 found under Ontario: Red Wine and Tawse Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2014 @ $34.95 for 200 mL found under New in Ontario Wineries.
  • Susan Selects – Featherstone ‘Four Feathers’ 2015 with 4 stars @ $14.95 found under Ontario: White Wine; Tapiz ‘Alta Collection’ Malbec 2013 with 4½ stars @ $19.95 found under Argentina: Red Wine and Vega Moragona ‘La Duna Single Vineyard’ Tempranillo 2011 with 4½ stars @ $17.95 found under Spain: Red Wine.
  • Vic Picks – Henry of Pelham ‘Reserve’ Baco Noir 2013 with 5 stars @ $24.95 found under Ontario: Red Wine; Gérard Bertrand ‘Gris Blanc’ Rosé 2015 with 4 stars @ $15.95 found under Feature: Southern France and Stonehedge ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2013 @ $22.95 with 4 stars found under California: White Wine. 

Access the LCBO store nearest you with stock of any wine with an LCBO product number by clicking on the number shown in brackets in wine reviews then clicking on select stores and entering your postal code. The number of bottles available in each store near you is displayed. For Vintages Release wines, stock should be displayed the Friday before a Saturday release, updated every 24 hours, some stores post earlier. LCBO Portfolio wines (not Vintages) should always closely reflect stock in stores, updated every 24 hours. However, it’s always best to phone first.

Vintages Release: June 25, 2016

Feature: Southern France

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Domaine de la Baume ‘Elisabeth’ Viognier 2014
IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi $16.95 (4383796) 14.5% alcohol
The quality-price ratio skews well in your favour dishing up full-fruited, fully textured glasses of pure enjoyment. A perfumed nose of honeyed tropical fruit and citrus unleash a surge of ripe tropical fruit and wisps of nectarine interwoven with soft acidity bathing the palate infusing the delectable finish and aftertaste. It’s fairly well balanced with good mouthfeel, depth and oodles of charm. Don’t be shy, pick a few for summer/fall sipping or pouring with light appetizers or mains of chicken, pork or veal. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Gérard Bertrand ‘Gris Blanc’ Rosé 2015
IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi $16.95 (409870) 12.5% alcohol
There’s barely a hint of pink in the wine, although there are plenty of aromas and flavours to experience on the nose and palate. Aromas of grapefruit, savory herbs and grassy notes introduce a medium weight, nicely textured stream of red grapefruit, herbal notes and soft lemon tang that’s clean and crisp from twist top to last drop. It’s a refreshing sipper that also pours well with olive-oiled arugula with chèvre or blue-veined cheese. There’s good value here. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink or cellar
Domaine les Yeuses ‘Les Épices’ Syrah 2013
IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi $15.95 (177584) 13.5% alcohol
Heady aromas of ripe, sappy fruit and piquant spice herald a medium-bodied, textured river of dark berry fruit along with earthy and oaky notes on the palate. It finishes with a rustic, tangy bite with wisps of grainy tannin. A three-hour aeration/decant will smooth this out somewhat. Pour with burgers, gourmet sausage or other grilled meats. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Claude Vialade ‘Le Carla Special Reserve’ Colombard/Sauvignon Blanc 2014
IGP Côtes de Gascogne Blanc, Midi $15.95 (438788) 11.5% alcohol
Grassy, citrus and pit fruit aromas point the way to a value-packed, light-on-its-feet white blend that’s an enjoyable summertime sipper. The palate’s awash with flavours of tart gooseberry and racy lemon-lime tang that persists through the mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside an arugula/kale salad under grilled, crumbled chèvre. (Vic Harradine)

• The following wine is from ‘Cahors’, a red-wine-only region in South West France using only three red varieties—Malbec/Merlot/Tannat. It gained AOC status in 1971 although its viticulture history dates back to around 50 BC. In the Middle Ages it was called ‘black wine’ and now must be made with at least 70% Malbec— known locally as, ‘Côt’, with the other 30% being made up with Merlot and/or Tannat. It’s often quite tannic when young, needing time in bottle to develop.

****1/2 cellar
Château Eugénie ‘Cuvée Réservée de l’Aïeul’ Cahors 2013
AOC Cahors $22.95 (295949) 13.0% alcohol
Oodles of piquant spice and dark cherry/berry fruit aromas pave the way for a full-bodied, heavily textured river of rich, juicy fruit with black briary berry, ripe mulberry and black plum to the fore. The palate and aftertaste are underpinned with still-evolving tannin, that appear ripe and almost manageable given a three-hour aeration/decant and served with osso bucco or grilled, well-seasoned steak. Best cellared a couple of years though, as your patience should reap substantial rewards. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Domaine des Terrisses ‘Grande Tradition’ Gaillac 2012
AOC Gaillac $17.95 (451922) 13.0% alcohol
This is racy and rustic with loads of tang and acidity coupled with a drying, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Aromas of spice, black plum and dark cherry dominate the nose in this mid-full weight, generously textured red blend—Duras/Braucol/Syrah. Its coats the palate with a dense wave of black cherry and bramble berry garnished with spice and mocha along with toasty notes before finishing with a rustic bite and drying tannin. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Château Saint-Roch Chimères 2014
AO Cötes du Roussillon-Villages, Midi $19.95 (119354) 15.0% alcohol
Cedar, cigar smoke and tapenade aromas dominate the nose of this tasty GSM blend—60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. It spreads over the palate with a broad swath of flavour—black currant and dark juicy Bing cherry robed in fennel, wisps of espresso roast and earthy notes crowned with a dollop of good acidity. It’s medium-plus bodied with good texture and a bit of a tangy bite on the finish. Good to go now with grilled red meats and hearty stews in fall and winter. (Vic Harradine)

• Corbières is a very large and relatively new AOC region in the far south of France gaining that status in 1985. It produces 95% red wine, primarily from Carignan along with 3% Rosé and 2% white. All red wines must be blends using a minimum of two grape varieties. The following wine underwent carbonic maceration before spending 6 months is concrete vat before another 6 months months in French oak barrel before bottling.

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Domaine de l’Alba ‘l’Ermite’ 2013
AOC Corbières, Midi $17.00 (446138) 13.0% alcohol
The l’Ermite is an interesting red blend of 60% Carignan/30% Grenache/10% Syrah that dishes up a delicious mouthful of sunny France. It’s creamy smooth and medium bodied with excellent tang throughout. Ripe, juicy cherry/berry aromas interlace with spice box and earthy notes on the nose. A persistent wash of fresh bramble berry, red currant and fennel stream over the palate and through the lengthy aftertaste. This is a drink-me-now red with an affinity for burgers, steak or grilled chicken. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Mas des Bressades ‘Les Vignes de Mon Père’ Cabernet/Syrah 2013
IGP Vin de Pays du Gard, Midi $21.95 (712174) 14.5% alcohol
This is rich and ripe, smooth and mellow fashioned from 70% Cabernet Sauvignon—over 30 years-old—and 30% Syrah. It opens with wood smoke, dark cherry/berry fruit and a smidgeon of piquant spice aromas. Black briary berry, cassis and black plum coat the palate persisting through the fully fruited and balanced finish and aftertaste. It’s medium-plus weight with good texture, deft balance and oodles of charm throughout. A bit more than you might be accustomed to paying when fishing these waters, but certainly reasonable given the quality. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Manus Dei du Château Sixtine Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012
AOC Châteuneuf-du-Pape $38.95 (719120) 15.0% alcohol
This is ripe and richly flavoured without being overpowering, each sip is as good or better than the previous; good value, deft balance, good structure and persistent purity of ripe fruit are all showcased. Black cherry, black currant and blueberry interlace with black licorice, bittersweet chocolate and espresso roast on the palate persisting through the balanced, tangy aftertaste. It’s medium bodied and nicely textured offering good value given its provenance. Aerate/decant for a couple of hours before pouring. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Caves d’Esclans ‘Whispering Angel’ Rosé 2015
AOC Côtes de Provence $26.95 (325076) 13.5% alcohol
This Rosé is structured with persistent purity of fruit, a lengthy balanced finish and undeniably delicious. It opens with aromas of strawberry and citrus before bathing the palate with a medium-weight, well-textured stream of red berry fruit, pie cherry and notions of tangy passion fruit. Replaying on the finish there’s also a hit of sugared and grilled ruby red grapefruit. Pour on its own, it’s crisp clean and refreshing, or alongside pan-seared salmon for a visual/gastronomic treat. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Spirits: Sake

Kuroki Honten Nakanaka Shochu
Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan $39.95 720 mL (414128) 25.0% alcohol
This distilled Shochu offers a unique experience in texture, flavour and aromas. A nose of caramel, earthy/woodsy notes and burnt sugar open up a treasure trove of well-textured flavour with woodsy mushroom, desiccated coconut and nutty note. This is often poured over the rocks or used in cocktails. (Vic Harradine)


*****drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse Winery Chardonnay Icewine 2013 

VQA Niagara Peninsula $34.95 (443739) 200 mL 10.5% alcohol

Urban legend has it Icewine is often re-gifted because of its rock-star status. It would reflect questionable judgment to not open and enjoy this one; it’s stunning. Aromas of honeyed mango and apple pie spice mingle with baking spice before coating the palate with unfettered nectar of the gods—candied blood orange, grilled pineapple and piquant baking spice. Yin meets yang on the finish with ripe mango and lemon acidity providing a sweet and tang, fairly balanced aftertaste. Pour with pan-seared foie gras, fruit flan or blue-veined cheese. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

• The following Lambrusco Di Sorbara is arguably the best variety producing dark, flavourful and well-textured sparkling red—nothing like the popular sweet wines of a few decades ago. One of the reasons for the grape’s high acclaim is its propensity to lose buds during flowering thereby reducing yields and concentrating flavours. It’s highly recommended.

**** drink or cellar
Cantina Di Carpi E Sorbara Omaggio A Gino Friedmann Lambrusco Di Sorbara 2014
DOC Emilia-Romagna $15.95 (419101) 11.5% alcohol
A style of wine we don’t often encounter, it delivers a solid line of ripe red fruit—cherry, plum and currant—finishing particularly dry with bracing tang—cranberry and passionfruit. It’s flavourful on the palate and über clean, crisp and refreshing on the finish and aftertaste. A terrific aperitif, it also pours well with a deli platter or charcuterie; an inspired pairing for sipping or noshing al fresco. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: White Wine

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Cave Spring ‘Estate Bottled’ Gewürztraminer 2013
VQA Beamsville Bench $17.95 (302059) 13.5% alcohol
Enjoy lifted floral aromas mingling with tropical fruit drizzled with honey. Off-dry, this golden gem is replete with rich fruit flavours—lychee to the fore with peach and mango—accented with fresh-grated ginger and sweet spice. The finely-honed acidity brings balance to the lush, focused fruit flavours. There’s great intensity on the lasting, spiced finish. Serve with grilled chicken and vegetables marinated in coconut milk. (Susan Desjardins)

The following Featherstone ‘Four Feathers’ earned a Bronze medal at the 2016 All Canadian Wine Championship competition held recently.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Featherstone ‘Four Feathers’ 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (341586) 12.5% alcohol

This blend of four noble white varieties brings to the fore some of the unique characteristics of each, including the floral character of Gewürztraminer and Riesling, the ripe orchard fruit of Chardonnay, and the freshness of Sauvignon Blanc. Just off dry, notes of peach, melon, citrus zest and spice are framed by fine acidity, while residual sweetness manifests on the fresh, fruity finish. Serve this value-packed beauty with pan-fried white fish. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Hidden Bench ‘Estate’ Riesling 2014
VQA Beamsville Bench $23.95 (183491) 10.5% alcohol
Produced from hand-harvested organic fruit, fermented with natural yeasts, this is a captivating wine that combines floral aromas with pear, lime and mineral. Dry, light-mid weight, it shows great presence on the palate. The vibrant texture underscores the notions of mineral and lime, the freshness persisting on the lasting finish. A versatile wine that can be enjoyed on its own or with salads, fish, seafood or white meats. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: Red Wine

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Reserve’ Baco Noir 2013

VQA Ontario $24.95 (461699) 14.0% alcohol

Connoisseurs, collectors and wine-lovers like you and me eagerly await each release of this with cult-like enthusiasm—it never disappoints and this one is special. Lifted aromas of spice, charred toast and red and black cherry provide segue to a mid-full bodied gusher of black currant and black raspberry interlaced with dark chocolate-dipped black cherries. It’s creamy smooth, nicely structured and deftly balanced with a lingering aftertaste of piquant spice, blueberry pie filling and racy red cherry. It rested 18 months in one- and two-year-old American oak barrel, all of which is integrated. Pick up a few, drinking now to 2022. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Kacaba Cabernet/Syrah 2013
VQA Niagara Escarpment $18.95 (317925) 13.1% alcohol
An almost equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, this brings complexity to the nose and palate, notions of herbs layered on ripe black fruit, garnished with exotic spice, pepper and earth. Dry, medium-full bodied, the Syrah shows its peppery character, accenting the ripe black fruit, while the notions of dried herbs and the smoky toast of well-integrated oak add depth and interest. A well-structured, balanced wine, showing fruit and savoury notes through the dry finish, this is a great value that will pair well with grilled leg of lamb. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: Rosé Wine

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
13th Street ‘Pink Palette’ Rosé 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $15.95 (275834) 12.0% alcohol
This blend is rosy in hue with intriguing aromas of red pepper, earth, cherry and citrus. Light-mid weight, it’s loaded with red berry and cherry flavours, the whiff of earth mingling with notes of dried herbs. The backbone of acidity offers good freshness and carries the savoury nature of the wine through the finish. Chill, sip and serve, or enjoy with a strawberry spinach salad with grilled salmon. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Southbrook ‘Triomphe’ Organic Cabernet Franc Rosé 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 (279117) 12.0% alcohol
Salmon-hued, this has a subtle nose of cherry and citrus, mineral and herbs. Dry, light-medium bodied, the wine is fresh and lively, flavours of red fruits to the fore—red currant, sour cherry and cranberry—garnished with subtle floral and herbal notes. The zesty, vibrant texture makes it an ideal wine to freshen a warm summer day. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Creekside Cabernet Rosé 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (48819) 13.5% alcohol
Showing aromas of sweet red fruit with hints of chopped peppers and spice, this rose-hued wine is just off-dry and bursting with cherry/berry flavours. Light-medium bodied, it has a nice silky texture and an extended clean, savoury finish. Ideal to pair with salads with grilled seafood or chicken. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Rosé 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula $16.95 (172643) 12.0% alcohol

Spice and red berry fruit aromas introduce this Cabernet Franc/Pinot Noir/Merlot blend of lighter-styled, Niagara Rosé. It cuts across the palate crisp and refreshing with flavours of pomegranate, pie cherry and ripe strawberry. It’s light-medium bodied with texture and a dry, refreshing aftertaste. Pour on its own or pair with grilled or oven-baked salmon or grilled pork cutlets. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
The Foreign Affair ‘Amarosé’ 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (388702) 12.4% alcohol
Produced from a blend of red and white wines, including a small portion of appassimento wine, this pale salmon wine offers a subtle nose of red fruit, water melon and spiced floral notes. Just off-dry, light-mid weight, the refined acidity is a backdrop for tasty red fruit with a zing of citrus that persists on the fresh, fruity finish. Chill, sip and serve. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Wildass Rosé 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 (71712) 11.8% alcohol
Offering intriguing aromas of orange zest, fresh-cut rhubarb and sun-ripe strawberries, this pale salmon wine has a vibrantly fresh texture. Dry, medium bodied, the red fruit and tangy rhubarb flavours are underpinned by finely honed acidity that delivers a clean, tangy finish. This is your prescription for a hot summer day! (Susan Desjardins)

Okanagan Valley, BC: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $40.95 (556613) 14.0% alcohol
Oh so fragrant, expressive notes of smoke, spice and compost swirl around a core of ripe berry and cherry fruit, a whiff of Okanagan sage tantalizing. Dry, medium bodied, the core of ripe red and black fruit asserts itself on the palate, while earthy notes and hints of spice and smoke insert themselves to add complexity and depth. Structured and clean in texture, the wine offers a lengthy savoury finish. A real gem with the substance to pair with grilled fillet with sautéed Portobello mushrooms. (Susan Desjardins)

California: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Stonehedge ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2013

Napa Valley $22.95 (311548) 14.1%% alcohol

Aromas of exotic spice and heavily perfumed floral notes lead the way to a nicely textured, full-bodied wash of white nectarine and poached pear balanced with wisps of lemon tart. It’s more of the same on the finish and persistent aftertaste. Mellow and smooth throughout, give it a go with chicken Kiev or leftover roast turkey with dressing. (Vic Harradine)

Washington State: White Wine

***1/2 drink now
Hogue Chardonnay 2013
Columbia Valley $15.95 (402172) 13.5% alcohol
Cedar, fennel and orchard fruit aromas open the door for a restrained wash of pear, apple and toasty oak replaying on the mid-length finish along with a splash of lemony tang. This light on its feet with muted aromas and flavours. Sip on its own or pour with lighter-styled appetizers. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

****1/2drink or cellar
689 Cellars ‘Six Eight Nine’ Red 2014
Napa Valley $26.95 (383976) 14.5% alcohol
The two major components of this red blend are Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel accompanied by Petite Sirah, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It wafts from the glass with wisps of smoke, oak and mocha. A sweet-tinged river of pie cherry and kirsch liqueur persist on the palate and through the lengthy finish along with good balance, depth, structure and wisps of dark, bittersweet chocolate. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Cline Pinot Noir 2014
Sonoma Coast $25.95 (329649) 14.5% alcohol
A quiet nose of grilled herbs and smoky, toasty oak aromas unleash a rich, concentrated and luscious wash of dark Bing cherry, black briary berry and cassis. This is medium-full bodied and fully textured with a length, lip-smacking finish. Pour with roast pork, turkey or grilled veggie and Portobello mushroom burgers. There’s great value here. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Rodney Strong Merlot 2012

Sonoma County $22.95 (497933) 13.5% alcohol

Rodney Strong, of the crowd-pleasing, value-for-money, consumer-friendly wine, has done it again. Ripe cherry/berry and mulberry jam coat the palate interweaving with dark bittersweet chocolate, fine-grained tannin and red cherry tang. This is chockfull of flavour, dishing up creamy smooth texture and a finish of balanced, ripe, dark fruit and racy tang. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
California $17.00 (451336) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of charred toast, oaky bits and baking spice herald a tang-laden, lively, ribbon of red currant, pie cherry and cranberry streaking across the palate robed in racy acidity. Flavours replay on the finish and aftertaste along with a solid tannin underpinning. Aerate/decant three hours and pour with well-seasoned, grilled steak. (Vic Harradine)

**** cellar
World’s End ‘If Six Was Nine Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $79.95 (396127) 14.5% alcohol
There’s smoke and mocha aromas on the nose and drying, still-evolving tannin galore on the finish. In between, a medium-plus bodied, nicely textured flow of dark berry fruit, espresso roast and excellent balancing acidity bathe the palate infusing the finish and aftertaste. Cellar 2020 to 2028 pouring with a premium cut of grilled steak to be rewarded for your patience. (Vic Harradine)

California: Rosé Wine

**** drink now
Francis Coppola ‘Sofia’ Rosé 2015

Monterey County $24.95 (284943) 13.0% alcohol

Aromas of red berry fruit, spice and floral notes herald a delicious stream of freshly picked strawberry, red cherry and ruby red grapefruit tang on the palate then amplified with great élan on the dry, spicy, lip-smacking finish. Pour on its own as an aperitif or alongside pan-seared salmon or with olive-oiled mesclun salad and crumbled chèvre. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: White Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Torrontés 2014
Salta $15.95 (389262) 14.5% alcohol
Produced from old vines in Argentina’s high-altitude northwest, this is an exemplar of the country’s signature white variety. Lifted floral notes combine with a medicinal sharpness, aromas of sweet stone fruit mingling with subtle spicy notes. Dry, clean and silky, there a zestiness to the texture, the floral character of the wine expressive on the palate, leaning to tropical notes and a touch of pithiness. Showing good weight, intensity and balance, this wine will pair well with aromatic East Asian cuisine, or with grilled shrimp. (Susan Desjardins)

Argentina: Red Wine

**** drink now
Alamos ‘Seleccion’ Malbec 2013
Mendoza, Argentina $16.95 (322800) 13.9% alcohol
This dishes up heady aromas of campfire smoke, grilled herbs and gamy notes. It bathes the palate with a generous, nicely textured stream of tang-laden pie cherry and passionfruit infusing the lip-smacking finish and aftertaste garnished with wisps of kirsch liqueur. Fresh and lively throughout with each sip as good as or better than the previous. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Tapiz ‘Alta Collection’ Malbec 2013
Mendoza $19.95 (450155) 14.2% alcohol
The inky purple tone foreshadows the intense aromas and flavours of the succulent black fruits, floral notes, spice and hints of smoke enhancing the appeal of the wine. Dry, velvety, crafted with balance and restraint, the structural components complement and provide a subtle framework for the tangy black fruit. Notes of spice, cocoa and herbs tantalize the palate and linger on the lengthy, flavourful finish. A wine of substance and finesse at an amazing price, this will cellar or pair now with fine cuts of grilled meat. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink or cellar
Vistalba ‘Corte C’ Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Argentina $17.95 (398818) 14.0% alcohol
The ripe spiced fruit and vanilla aromas of this deep ruby blend hurtle directly from the glass to the nose. On the palate, notes of chocolate and licorice, cedar and dried herbs mingle with the emphatic dark fruit flavours—plum and blackberry charging to the fore. Showing fullness and weight on the palate, the wine is balanced and offers a touch of warmth on the dry finish. Serve with lamb tagine, or with grilled eggplant and zucchini. (Susan Desjardins)

Chile: White Wine

**** drink now
Santa Ema ‘Reserve’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Leyda Valley $15.95 (443507) 13.5% alcohol
Produced in a region known for its cooling ocean breezes, this is a classic Sauvignon Blanc—aromas of gooseberry, crushed green herbs and cut green beans dominating. Dry, medium bodied, it’s silky yet vibrant texture underscores the fresh flavours of citrus and passionfruit, while the herbal character offers a delicate replay on the lengthy clean finish. Serve with a thin-crust pizza garnished with goat cheese. (Susan Desjardins)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Cousiño-Macul ‘Don Matias Reserva’ Syrah 2014
Maipo Valley $14.95 (443515) 14.0% alcohol
The value equation is definitely in your favour with this expressive, inky purple wine. Black currant fruit, sweet spice and floral notes tantalize the nose, while the richness of lush red and black fruit dances with peppery notes and a touch of spice on the palate. Fruit focused, yet balanced, with a supple texture, this is an approachable, easy-drinking wine that will pair with a wide range of full-flavoured meat dishes or with grilled mushroom burgers. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Qu Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Maipo Valley $16.95 (443531) 13.5% alcohol
Produced from hand-picked fruit from low-yielding vines, this is an elegant mid-weight wine, perfumed with alluring complex aromas of dried lavender and crushed herbs, red and black fruits, exotic spice and cedar. The juicy wash of fresh berry fruit is underpinned by a firm, clean structure and complemented by savoury notes of forest floor, spice and pepper. A trace of cocoa winds its way through the lively dry finish. Stylish and versatile, this wine will pair well with grilled pork or veal chops, or can be served with charcuterie and aged hard cheeses. (Susan Desjardins)

New Zealand: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Elephant Hill Pinot Noir 2013

Central Otago, South Island $22.95 (309583) 14.0% alcohol

The grapes were carefully de-stemmed and fermented in traditional wooden cuvées. Following pressing, the wine spent eleven months maturing in oak barriques then bottled with minimal fining and intervention. Aromas of charred toast, ripe dark berry fruit and wisps of barnyard open the door for rich and elegant flavours—juicy black Bing cherry, bramble berry and black plum compote. It’s mid weight with very good mouth feel and a long finish and aftertaste with oodles of ripe, red fruit and balancing acidity—an expression of Pinot Noir that makes New Zealand proud. (Julie Stock)

South Africa: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Jardin ‘Inspector Péringuey’ Chenin Blanc
WO Stellenbosch $15.95 (443473) 13.5% alcohol
Presenting aromas reminiscent of wet stone, citrus and honey, this medium-bodied Steen was partially barrel-fermented and matured sur lie. It has a lovely creamy texture that pairs with fresh minerality, well-defined citrusy acidity and tasty flavours of lemon-lime. There’s an elusive hint of toasted nut on the clean, tangy finish. Serve with crab cakes. (Susan Desjardins)

Hungary: Dessert Wine

• Three picking baskets, aka puttonyos, containing 55 pounds each of individually picked grapes (picked one by one) raisined, partially dried and affected by botrytis cinera, aka Noble Rot, are made into a dough/paste and mixed with must or wine to ferment,—can take years—sweeten and fashion the following wine in a traditional, centuries-old process, as far back as the 1500s. Before release, they must be aged a minimum three years with at least two years in oak barrel. Today, the number of Puttonyos on the label is calculated by the sugar content and sugar-free extract in the mature, finished wine. Tokaji Aszu is one of the world’s greatest non-fortified dessert wines along with Icewine, Sauternes and others at a, relatively, low price.

*** drink or cellar
Château Imperial Tokaji ‘3 Puttonyos’ Tokaji Aszu 2004
Tokaj-Hegyalja $25.95 500 mL (354506) 11.0% alcohol
This 3-Puttonyos, entry-level Tokaji Aszu delivers aromas of apricot, honey and candied orange before washing over the palate with a sweet rush of peel marmalade, honeyed pit fruit and exotic spice. It’s lighter-styled and offers a dessert wine that’s sweet, but not cloying. Pour with crème brûlée, spice cake or pâté de foie gras. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Villa Medora ‘Rosso Del Duca’ Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2012
DOC Montepulciano D’Abruzzo $21.95 (357160) 14.0% alcohol
This dishes up a medium-bodied, fully textured stream of racy red fruit and finishes lengthy and mouth-watering. Grilled herbs and dark cherry/berry aromas intro a tang-laden flow of red cherry and dark berry fruit entwined with baking spice and mineral notes. It finishes in a blaze of tang, dry and lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico 2013
DOCG Chianti Classico $19.95 (23325) 13.5% alcohol
This sleek, light-on-its-feet Chianti Classico opens with aromas of floral notes, mocha and spice. It streaks over the palate with good acidity from flavours of cranberry and pomegranate balanced and entwined with sweet-tinged kirsch liqueur. It’s light bodied with a dry, balanced finish and aftertaste. Pour with prawn and chorizo paella or spaghetti Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Michele Castellani ‘San Michele’ Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2013
DOC Valpolicella Classico Superiore $19.95 (410688) 14.0% alcohol
Heady aromas of cigar box, graphite and spice on the nose, it dishes up a stream of racy tang with red currant and pie cherry to the fore along with ripe mulberry and earthy notes. This is light-medium bodied showing restraint and good balance on the finish. Good to go now with pasta puttanesca or meat- and tomato-stuffed Pablano pepper. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: White Wine

**** drink now
El Gordo del Circo Verdejo 2014
DO Rueda $17.95 (441220) 13.5% alcohol
Aged on the lies, this lively mid-weight wine marries floral and herbal notes with citrus and stone fruit fragrances. Pleasingly dry, the herbal theme endures, whispering in the background as the flavours of stone fruit, citrus and musk melon caper across the palate. Showing good balance and roundness in the mouth, while retaining the clean fresh texture, it finishes bright and spirited. Serve it with pan-fried white fish or seafood. (Susan Desjardins)

Spain: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Flor de Vetus 2013
DO Toro $18.95 (442764) 14.0% alcohol
Aged in French and American oak, this robust Tempranillo is almost black with dense fruit, delivering loads of dark fruit aromas and flavours, hints of licorice, sweet spice, vanilla and a subtle mineral quality. Dry, full bodied and spicy, it’s succulent with ripe fruit yet clean in texture, framed by supple tannins and finishing dry and savoury. Try it with empanadas, or burgers. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Vega Moragona ‘La Duna Single Vineyard’ Tempranillo 2011
DO Ribera del Jucar $17.95 (378877) 14.0% alcohol
Inky and opaque, dusky berries dominate on the nose, garnished with a whiff of dark chocolate, vanilla, herbs and spice. Dry, full bodied, this wine displays a fine balance of perceptible yet ripe tannins, clean acidity and luscious red and black fruit, replaying well integrated oak in the hints of smoky toast and cocoa. Dry and voluptuous on the finish, it’s an excellent value pairing well with braised chicken thighs with chorizo and olives. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Viña Eguía ‘Reserva’ 2010
DOCa Rioja $17.95 (325845) 13.5% alcohol
Garnet reflections suggest some age, as do the savoury notes of leather and dried cherry, paired with ripe cherry, herbs and spice. Dry, medium bodied, this silky smooth wine delights the palate with its subtle earthy character, the flavours of red berries, plum and cherries, and the elusive notes of spice and dried herbs. Underpinned by subtle ripe tannins, the still-fresh acidity carries flavours through the lovely, long savoury finish. Serve with roast leg of lamb and grilled veggies. (Susan Desjardins)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: September 2016

• The excellent 2012 Vintage of the following Tawse ‘Sketches’ Chardonnay is still available in most LCBO stores. It’s a Vintages Essentials product always available in select stores. The 2013 below will begin making its way to LCBO store as stocks of the 2012 are depleted.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Chardonnay 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 (89037) 12.5% alcohol
Fruit was barrel fermented by indigenous yeast then aged in French oak barrel for 12 months. It jumps from the glass with heady aromas of tropical fruit, wisps of minerality, nutty notes and sweet vanilla interwoven with green apple and toasty bits. The price-quality balance tips well in your favour. It’s medium bodied with generous mouthfeel and a crisp, clean finish. The lengthy aftertaste is flecked with toasty oak. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: October 1, 2016

• The following Gallo Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is one of their 2013 flagship ‘Signature Series’ wines marking both their incredible 80 years (since 1933) of successful winemaking spearheaded by Ernest and Julio, and third-generation winemaker Gina Gallo’s return to the cellar. Fortuitously, the 2013 vintage was outstanding and is reflected by the high quality of the meticulously chosen fruit and the resulting wine.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Gallo ‘Signature Series’ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $49.95 (394197) 15.0% alcohol
Involved aromas of bramble berry, black licorice, vanilla and mint abound. A luscious, structured, full-bodied wash of black currant, boysenberry jam and espresso roast coat the palate infusing the lengthy aftertaste. There’s deft balance, ripe tannin, persistent purity of fruit, depth and seamless integration of oak—20 months in French and American. Gorgeous now poured with grilled striploin, this will also repay patience by popping corks up to 2025. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages

• The following Tawse Sparkling wine is available through the LCBO Vintages Direct Delivery Program.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Spark’ Brut Sparkling 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 (384966) 12.0% alcohol
This Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/Pinot Gris blend is a finely crafted ‘methode traditionelle’ with lees aging. There are delicate notes of brioche intermingling with citrus notes and tree fruit aromas. The vibrant texture and fine-bead mousse precede mouth-cleansing acidity. There’s depth and breadth to the tangy fruit flavours with an elusive mineral character and a note of grapefruit zest lingering on the lengthy finish. Sip well chilled on its own or with light appetizers. (Susan Desjardins)

New in LCBO Portfolio

• The following wine was made by Laurent Miquel, an 8th generation winemaker in this family estate; his family has made wines in the Languedoc since 1791.

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Laurent Miquel ‘Pere et Fils’ Chardonnay 2014
IGP Pays d’Oc, France $12.95 (157909) 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of tropical fruit, honeydew melon and lemony citrus introduce this light-medium bodied, nicely textured, unoaked Chardonnay. Ripe fruit flavours of nectarine, grilled pineapple and lemon curd bathe the palate, balanced and beautiful. There’s exceptional value in this and it’s versatile at the table—pour on its own, with seafood or chicken. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Villa Sandi Pinot Grigio 2014
IGT Veneto, Italy $10.95 (580324) 11.5% alcohol
Aromas of orchard fruit and mineral notes mingle with honey and wildflowers on the nose of this light-on-its-feet Grigio. Easy-going flavours of apple, pear and tart lemon wash over the palate infusing the crisp, clean and refreshing aftertaste. Sip on its own or pour with lighter-styled appetizers. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Ironstone ‘Obsession’ Symphony 2014
California $14.95 (295931) 12.0% alcohol
The Symphony grape resulted from a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. This highly aromatic wine bursts from the glass with aromas of rosewater, tropical fruit, exotic spice and flowers. Off-dry and light-mid weight, the tropical fruit flavours and floral notes replay on the palate balanced by fine acidity with notions of spice adding zest to the long fruity finish. Serve this value-packed gem with East Asian cuisine. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now
Villa Sandi ‘Il Fresco’ Prosecco Non-Vintage
DOC Treviso $14.45 (394387) 11.0% alcohol
This is a terrific value. Frothy and fruity, showing hints of citrus and tree fruit, mineral and just a whiff of yeast, this refreshing off-dry sparkling wine is simply delightful. Lively acidity accents flavours of lemon, lime, pear and apple skin while the light, fine-beaded mousse is persistent and refreshing through the finish. It’s a lovely sipper for a warm summer’s day. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Boschendal ‘The Pavillon’ Chenin Blanc 2015
WO Western Cape $10.90 (281311) 13.5% alcohol
You can enjoy a lovely al fresco picnic beside the Pavillon at Boschendal, one of South Africa’s oldest wineries. You could choose a well-chilled bottle of this classic Chenin with its subtle aromas of white flowers, melon and stone fruit, flint and smoke. It’s off-dry and light-medium bodied with peach and melon flavours replaying on the palate underpinned by clean acidity and mineral notes accented with traces of citrus pith, spice and white pepper. Tasty and easy going, it pairs well with seafood, fish or chicken salad. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now
Charles Smith ‘Kung Fu Girl’ Riesling 2014

Washington State $18.95 (394759) 12.0% alcohol

Piquant spice, mineral notes and citrus aromas introduce a gorgeous surge of sweet and tang—grilled pineapple, nectarine and lemon pie filling. It’s absolutely delicious. Medium bodied and very nicely textured, this slightly off-dry gem sips well on its own and pours particularly well with spicy Asian dishes. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

• The following Tawse wines, and those from the previous June 7 newsletter, are available by the case for daily home, office or restaurant delivery online at Tawse Winery or for pick up by the bottle or case at the winery at 3955 Cherry Ave, Vineland ON.

***** drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula $34.95 200mL 11.0% alcohol
This nectar of the gods is unctuous without being cloying and truly stunning. Aromas of strawberry jam and spice abound. It coats the palate with a smorgasbord of flavour with fresh strawberry, red plum compote and red raspberry to the fore. It’s fully textured and creamy smooth with the lingering finish providing enough balancing acidity to make this an enjoyable experience, sip, after sip, after sip. Serve well chilled. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Unoaked’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $19.95 12.5% alcohol
If you still fly the ABC flag—anything but Chardonnay—prepare to meet your Waterloo. Fragrant notes of white flowers, pear, golden apple and quince drift from the glass. Vivacious and fresh, the acidity sings while mineral notes tease and lovely ripe fruit flavours caress the palate with silky texture. This is a well-crafted, value-laden, balanced gem that finishes with a juicy, slightly pithy note. Chill and sip on its own, or pour with chicken Caesar salad or fish. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Spark’ Brut Sparkling 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 (384966) 12.0% alcohol
This Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/Pinot Gris blend is a finely crafted ‘traditional method’ sparkling wine with extended lees aging. Delicate notes of brioche intermingle with citrus notes and tree fruit aromas. The vibrant texture and fine-bead mousse precede mouth-cleansing acidity. There’s depth and breadth to the tangy fruit flavours with an elusive mineral character and a note of grapefruit zest lingering on the lengthy finish. Sip well chilled on its own or with light appetizers. (Susan Desjardins)

• The following three ‘natural’ wines showcase the innovative side of Tawse, winemaker Paul Pender and his progressive team in their never-ending search for healthier wines with less chemical additives and, when advisable, less human interference in the process. The estate fruit was farmed following organic and biodynamic practices, hand-picked, fermented with indigenous yeasts, unfined, unfiltered and bottled without addition of sulphites.

• These should be drunk within six months of bottling given the lack of added sulphur.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Unsulfured/Unfiltered’ ‘Quarry Road’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Vinemount Ridge $35.95 12.0% alcohol
This is fresh and lively with clean, bracing acidity throughout. With a little spritz upon pouring, it’s a bright yellow gold in the glass—it briefly saw100% new French oak barrels. Piquant spice, herbal notes, marzipan and hazelnut aromas herald a mid-weight stream of lemon-lime tang with wisps of tart Granny Smith apple and wisps of honey on the palate persisting through the lengthy, delicious, lip-smacking finish. This would be an inspired pairing with prawn and scallop ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Unsulfured/Unfiltered’ ‘Redfoot Vineyard’ Gamay 2015
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $28.95 12.5% alcohol
Earthy notes, pipe tobacco and gamy aromas on the nose—it settled briefly in only seasoned French oak barrels—this washes over the palate silky smooth and medium bodied. Beetroot with tangy tart red currant and notions of kirsch liqueur bathe the palate. The dry, lingering finish and aftertaste replay palate flavours along with delightful pie cherry tang and charry notes.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada! 
Tawse ‘Unsulfured/Unfiltered’ ‘Quarry Road Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2015
VQA Vinemount Ridge $35.95 12.5% alcohol
This saw a brief time in 50% new and 50% used French oak barrel. It opens with aromas of charred toast, tobacco leaf and cedar before unleashing a creamy-smooth, medium-weight river of sweet-tinged red berry fruit, pomegranate and blueberry on the palate. It finishes with great élan and a tart tang bite on the aftertaste. Pour with smoked duck breasts. (Vic Harradine)

• The following cider from Tawse is available only to licensee holders, e.g. those who hold a liquor license - restaurants, hotels. They are available only in Key Kegs—allows cider on tap/cider by the glass—of 20L and 30L @ $120. and $150. respectively. Produced from a blend of five Ontario apples—McIntosh, Empire, Northern Spy, Red Delicious and Gala. An extra-dry, bottle-fermented, 750 mL sparkling cider will be released this summer.

****1/2 drink nowOh Canada! Exceptional Value! 

Sparkling Hard Apple Cider
Product of Canada 20L @ $120.00 and 30L @ $150.00 5.5% alcohol
Crisp, clean and refreshing and full fruited, aromas of fresh-cut apple and yeasty notes introduce a flavour-laced stream of ripe, sweet-tinged red apple and McIntosh tang. There’s lively bubbles with plenty of racy tang leaving the palate refreshed and wanting more. Cider is quite versatile at the table pairing with salads, fish and chips, ceviche, crispy-skin poultry, soft cheese, pork and much more. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic and Susan.