June 27, 2016 Newsletter

You be the judge at this wine tasting for charity!

All Canadian Wine ChampionshipsTake this wonderful opportunity to choose and taste from approximately 700 wines from the recently held All Canadian Wine Championships competition. This tasting opportunity is on Saturday, July 16 in Prince Edward County (PEC) at The Heritage Crystal Palace - 375 Main Street East, Picton ON from 4 to 8 pm. Purchase tickets online now by clicking here or by contacting Penny at +1 613-476-1008 x4503. Tickets also sold that day at the venue for $30 per 10 wines tasted. Proceeds go to Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation and Rotary Club of Picton.

This competition was held recently with 1322 entries from wineries, cideries and meaderies from 7 provinces. Click on this link to view all medal winners—you can taste some. As you may know, PEC is a very popular spot, especially in summer, being easily accessible via a three-hour or less drive from the GTA or National Capital Region.

LCBOLCBO retail stores closed this Friday, July 1, 2016 – Canada Day

LCBO retail stores begin observing their normal store hours Saturday, July 2. Most agency stores—smaller outlets in rural areas—observe their normal hours of business; always best to phone first. 

Newsletter highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 6 of 51wines reviewed meet strict quality-price guidelines and are found throughout the newsletter. What strict quality-price guidelines? Click here.
  • 5-star Wine – one wine rang the 5-star bell: Huff Estates ‘Cuvée Janine’ Sparkling Rosé 2013 @ $30.00 under ‘New in Ontario Wineries.

Canada FlagJuly1 is Canada Day! Susan’s and Vic’s choices below are all Ontario VQA wines with good selection available on LCBO shelves. Serve a couple or more this weekend. The July 9 release wines below also provides more opportunities for next weekend along with 6 Huff Estates wines you can order online now in cases of 6 or 12 to be delivered to your door, under New in Ontario Wineries. Happy Canada Day from both of us!

  • Susan Selects – Featherstone ‘Four Feathers’ White Wine 2015 (341586) with 4 stars @ $14.95 Bronze medal at the 2016 All Canadian Wine Championship competition; Fielding Estate Riesling 2014 (251439) with 4 stars @ $19.95; Flat Rock ‘Unplugged’ Chardonnay 2014 (68015) with 4 stars @ $16.95. 
  • Vic Picks – Château des Charmes ‘Estate’ Cabernet Franc 2013 (162602) with 4 stars @ $13.95; Henry of Pelham ‘Reserve’ Baco Noir 2013 (461699) with 5 stars @ $24.95; Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Rosé 2015 (172643) with 4 stars @ $16.95; Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2014 (64618) with 4½ stars @ $19.20. 

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.

July 9, 2016 Release

Fortified Wine: Sherry

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Williams & Humbert ‘Walnut Brown - Rare Old Brown’ Oloroso

Jerez, Spain $13.95 (437467) 19.5% alcohol 

What a treat - what a bargain. Dark amber with tinges of green on the edges; the aromas are divine—Oloroso means ‘scented’ in Spanish—with dark raisin, caramel and fig predominant. Warm and sweet on the palate, look for the aromas to follow through to flavours plus some lovely spice and nutty notes. The long sweet finish of this dessert wine cries out for spiced nut cake or ginger snaps. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

**** drink now
Ca’ Momi ‘Ca’ Secco’ Sparkling Wine Non-Vintage
California $17.95 (453662) 11.5% alcohol

This is a delightful blend of white grapes—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Riesling, Gewürztraminer—that leaps from the glass with exotic spice, floral notes and rosewater. It pours with gentle bubbles and a clean, crisp stream of Key lime and Meyer lemon adorned with grilled pineapple and peach, balanced and beautiful, mouth-watering delicious. It’s a drink-me-now gem that pours well as a welcoming wine or paired with lighter-styled appetizers. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Domaine Allimant-Laugner ‘Brut’ Crémant d’Alsace

AOC Alsace $17.95 (30593) 12.5% alcohol 

A pretty straw hue, this lively engaging blend of Auxerrois and Riesling offers a trace of yeast and fresh fruity aromas of pear and citrus. The mousse is fine and refreshing, the fruit replaying on the palate and extending through a clean tangy finish. This is a great aperitif wine. (Susan Desjardins) 

**** drink or cellar
Pierre Sparr ‘Le Clos Sainte Odile’ Brut Crémant d’Alsace
AOC Alsace $19.95 (457788) 12.5% alcohol
This dry sparkler was fashioned Méthode Traditionelle with 100% Chardonnay. It’s quite racy throughout with lively aromas of green apple and citrus. It streaks across the palate with tang-laden lemon curd, ripe pear and Granny Smith apple persisting through the lip-smacking aftertaste with great élan. It’s also good value. Pour as an aperitif or with freshly shucked oysters. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Torresella Prosecco
DOC Prosecco $14.95 (400440) 11.0% alcohol
This provides great value as a light-on-its-feet sipper pouring well as a welcoming wine or when paired with lighter-styled appetizers. Toast, honey and earthy notes on the nose, it glides smoothly across the palate with mouth-watering flavours of lemon yoghurt, green tea and honey-tinged pear. This extra-dry Prosecco finishes in a blaze of mouth-watering tang… clean, crisp and refreshing. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes ‘St. David’s Bench Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2012
VQA St. David’s Bench $19.95 (430991) 13.0% alcohol
Brilliant gold, this finely crafted Chardonnay offers subtle aromas of tropical fruit and melon, the barrel aging manifest in delicate notes of sweet spice and toasted nut. Elegant and restrained, there’s creaminess to the palate, a subtle nuance of minerality and the well-defined acidity of a cool climate underpinning the lush ripe fruit. Spicy, toast notes echo through the dry, rich finish. A value-laden gem with presence and impact that’ll accompany seafood, fowl or roasted white meats. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Flat Rock ‘The Rusty Shed’ Chardonnay 2013
VQA Twenty Mile Bench $24.95 (1552) 13.0% alcohol
Here’s an expressive nose—ripe tree fruit harmonizing with mineral, smoky toast and spice. Rich and creamy in texture, this is a dry, weighty offering that’s well balanced and stylish, the flavours of ripe, juicy tree fruit combining with subtle tropical notes, sweet spice and toasted nut, the mineral quality making its presence felt. Finishing smoky and full-flavoured, it’s a match for steak béarnaise or grilled veal chop with creamy mushroom sauce. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada! Exceptional Value!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Riesling 2013
VQA Short Hills Bench $17.95 (557165) 11.0% alcohol
There’s a quick whiff of petrol on the nose, then lovely expressive floral notes, ripe pear and citrus. Mid-weight, this is a terrific Riesling that combines a vibrant backbone of juicy acidity with fruit offering just the right degree of sweet ripeness. Imagine lush pear with just a touch of honey, a squeeze of lemon-lime, a trace of grapefruit zest adding zing on the clean, fresh finish. With good cellaring potential, it’s a great value that you’ll enjoy chilled on its own or with a smoked trout salad. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Speck Family Reserve’ Chardonnay 2013
VQA Short Hills Bench $29.95 (616466) 13.5% alcohol
Fashioned with great focus and care from vineyard—there was intense cropping of the fruit of their oldest vines—to cellar, where it was barrel fermented and aged in French oak. This is expressive, complex and golden-hued, showcasing notes of buttered toast, vanilla and spice, ripe pear and grilled pineapple. Medium-full bodied with lovely integration of oak on the buttery palate, wisps of smoke and hints of toasted nut dance through tropical fruit. The texture’s creamy with characteristic freshness of cool-climate acidity ensuring terrific balance through the extended finish. Pour with grilled lobster. (Susan Desjardins)

Okanagan Valley, BC: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $19.95 (378489) 14.0% alcohol
Some fruit for this wine was barrel fermented with the balance fermented in stainless steel. The result is a medium-full bodied Chardonnay fully expressing floral and fruit aromas—sweet woodruff and honeysuckle mingle with pear and citrus. There’s warmth on the palate with flavours of golden apple, pear and fresh pineapple retaining fresh character while expressing toasty oak and hints of spice on the long finish. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse Gamay 2014

VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.20 (322545) 12.5% alcohol 

Gamay vines held up well during the frigidly cruel winter of 2013-14 while others were wiped out. There’s a notion of violet on the nose intermingling with aromas of ripe red fruit, light spice and cedar. Dry and delightfully well balanced, it offers a wealth of tasty fruit on the palate. This single-vineyard, mid-weight red shows juicy, bright flavours of cherry, currant and red berry lifted by a finely-honed backbone of lively acidity. Delicate notes of spice, pepper and toast linger on the savoury finish—it’s well crafted and good value. (Susan Desjardins)

Okanagan Valley, BC: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Oak Bay Pinot Noir 2012
VQA Okanagan Valley $19.95 (267146) 12.5% alcohol
Semi-transparent ruby, this is value-packed and a Pinot-lover’s delight. It offers lovely earthy aromas married to red cherry and berry fruit touched with nuances of spice and vanilla. Dry, mid-weight, the focused core of ripe red fruit on the palate is framed by well-defined acidity, the earthy character and hints of warm spice adding depth. Showing balance and length on the savoury finish, this’ll pair well with grilled salmon or duck confit. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: Rosé Wine

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Featherstone Rosé 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula $15.95 (117861) 13.2% alcohol
Candy apple pink, this dry rosé is a delight with aromas focused on wild red berry fruit and also offering earthier notes and a whiff of roasted red pepper. It’s fruity on the palate, clean in texture, tasting of juicy red cherries and strawberry-rhubarb jam, along with the savoury earthy notes subtly adding character. Palate pleasing and fresh on the finish, you’ll enjoy this with a spinach/strawberry salad with salmon. (Susan Desjardins)

California: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Artesa Chardonnay 2013
Carneros $29.95 (657585) 14.3% alcohol
Aromas of baking spice, coconut and pineapple introduce a medium-full bodied wash of nicely textured fruit flavours with ripe apple and soft citrus interlaced with sweet-tinged yellow plum and mouth-watering green apple. It’s nicely balanced with persistent purity of fruit and a fairly lengthy finish and aftertaste that’s crisp and clean. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Ironstone Chardonnay 2014
Lodi $17.95 (355776) 14.5% alcohol
This dishes up deft balance, solid fruit character and a crisp finish. A heady nose of tropical fruit, mixed spice and lemon-lime citrus herald a well-textured, medium-plus bodied river of palate-bathing flavour—apple compote, soft citrus and a toasty note. It replays on the balanced, lengthy aftertaste along with good lemony tang—cool, clean and lip-smacking good. Not many California Chardonnays at this price-point—it’s worth a long look. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Irony ‘Small Lot Reserve’ Chardonnay 2013
Napa Valley $21.95 (27409) 14.5% alcohol
There’s baking spice, oak and toasty/oaky aromas galore on this full-bodied, nicely textured, Napa Valley Chardonnay. It flies across the palate with racy acidity and great élan—fresh lemon and grapefruit pith—along with spicy/oaky notes, all persisting to and through the finish and aftertaste. Pour with supermarket rotisserie-roast and oven roast potatoes. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
La Crema Chardonnay 2014
Monterey County $26.95 (158683) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of mixed spice, floral notes and melon waft easily for this Monterey County Chardonnay. It offers persistent purity of fruit from cork pop to last drop—ripe apple, poached pear and soft Meyer lemon along with delectable citrusy bite on the aftertaste. It’s medium-full bodied with good mouthfeel and a fairly long finish. Pour with roast bird, roast pork or grilled, firm fish. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Chehalem ‘Inox Unoaked’ Chardonnay 2014
Willamette Valley $29.95 (288647) 13.6% alcohol
This is medium-plus bodied with creamy-smooth texture, depth and oodles of charm. Honey, exotic spice and tropical fruit aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of gorgeous flavours—ripe red apple, white nectarine and ripe pear interwoven with soft citrus acidity. It finishes with more of the same… crisp and mouth-watering delicious. Pour with all manner of fish and seafood. It flirted with 5 stars, certainly a lovely wine. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

• The following Frei Brothers Cab hails from Alexander Valley, the largest and warmest AVA in Sonoma County. The wide range of warm days and cool nights ripens the fruit and preserves acidity, providing flavour and balance. It was granted AVA status in 1984, but its history of viticulture, aka cultivated grape vines, dates back to the mid-1850s. As mentioned in the most recent newsletter regarding the Gallo Napa Valley Cab, 2013 reviewed there it, was an outstanding vintage. This red blend 91% Cabernet Sauvignon/8% Petite Sirah/1% Merlot was aged in 1/3rd new and 2/3rd used oak barrels for 16 months, 75% American, 25% French.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Frei Brothers ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County $26.95 (38075) 14.0% alcohol
There are aromas of sweet vanilla, cassis and wisps of mocha on the nose. Inky black, almost opaque, this is dense and rich on the palate with broad swaths of dark, ripe, fruit—black currant, black plum compote and juicy black cherry discernible. This is full bodied, fully textured, dense and delectable with a very lengthy balanced and beautiful, lip-smacking finish. Good to go now with grilled striploin. Pick up a few, it’s drinking now to 2020. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rancho Zabaco ‘Sonoma Heritage Vines’ Zinfandel 2014
Sonoma County $19.95 (434605) 15.0% alcohol
This is the way most wine-lovers prefer their Zin; chockful of rich, dark, ripe fruit showcasing loads of body and texture with good depth and concentration. Black cherry and black currant aromas interlaced with espresso roast and spice set the stage for a symphony of sensual pleasures, full fruited, fully textured and full of flavour—cassis, bramble berry jam and pie cherry galore robed in tangy acidity. This is an outstanding buy with the price-quality balance tipped well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Kings Ridge Pinot Noir 2014
Willamette Valley $27.95 (237776) 13.0% alcohol
And it’s pronounced, will am it, dammit. This light-on-its-feet, well-balanced Pinot offers aromas of mocha and red berry fruit. It glides over the palate with poise and charm sporting a light-medium bodied, nicely textured wash of tangy red currant and pomegranate entwined with ripe mulberry fruit. It finishes in a blaze of mouth-watering acidity allowing each sip to be as good as or to better the previous. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Finca el Origen ‘Reserva Estate’ Malbec 2015
Uco Valley $15.95 (65664) 14.1% alcohol
Inky purple, this Malbec offers delicious, intense aromas of dark berries, spiced rose and earth. There’s an opulent wash of blackberry and blueberry across the full-flavoured palate, notes of spice and white pepper adding lift while oak aging delivers notes of toasty oak and dark chocolate. The structure is well-defined and supple, balancing the ripe fruit while the dry finish is long and savoury. Enjoy with grilled meats. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Kaiken ‘Terroir Series’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Mendoza $15.95 (384305) 14.5% alcohol
This inky, opaque red is a powerhouse, it was blended with small quantities of Malbec and Petit Verdot then aged ten months in French oak. There’s complexity on the nose—earthiness, cedar and mineral with sweetness of vanilla and spice. Somewhat chalky tannin underline the vibrant fruit flavours of cassis, raspberry and cherry, savoury notes of dried herbs and the sweetness of spice and vanilla bring further dimension. Medium-full bodied, balanced and flavourful, it finishes long and dry. A great value to enjoy with grilled rib-eye—load up for summer barbecue season. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Susana Balbo ‘Signature’ Malbec 2013
Uco Valley $19.95 (79798) 14.0% alcohol
With a touch of Petit Verdot to add to its inky hue, this offers alluring, complex aromas—floral notes, exotic spice, ripe berry and plum fruit, cinnamon toast and vanilla. Dry and robust with a spicy, peppery texture, there’s depth and intensity to the black fruit along with exquisite balance from supple ripe tannin and clean, fresh acidity. Savoury notes of black licorice and chocolate, dried herbs and sweet toasty oak extend through the tangy finish. Serve with barbequed lamb or beef fajitas. (Susan Desjardins)

Chile: White Wine

**** drink now
Casas del Bosque ‘Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Casablanca Valley $14.95 (974717) 14.0% alcohol
There’s a lovely, arresting pungency to the nose—herbal notes vying with tangy cut peppers and hints of asparagus underlying the notes of citrus. On the palate it’s zesty and vibrant with passionfruit, lemon-lime and fresh-cut herbs riding the finely-honed edge of acidity and clean seam of mineral. This has great intensity and a lingering tangy finish. It’s a great value and a superb choice to refresh your palate on a warm summer day. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Tabali ‘Reserva Especial’ Chardonnay 2015
Limarí Valley $18.95 (663005) 13.5% alcohol
The earthy, mineral character shines through on the nose and palate complemented by aromas of citrus and green apple. Tangy and zesty in texture, the clean blade of acidity sustains a lengthy finish loaded with flavours of grapefruit zest, apple skin and mineral with the barrel treatment adding a nuance of grilled nut—it was aged nine months in French oak. Pair this value-laden gem with salmon cakes or with a chicken Caesar salad. (Susan Desjardins)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Santa Carolina ‘Gran Reserva’ Petit Verdot 2013
Rapel Valley $15.95 (7484) 14.5% alcohol
A touch shy on the nose, this dusky red shows some mineral qualities underlying the black fruit, spice and savoury licorice notes. Big and bold with the warmth of spice and pepper, it offers a focused core of intensely flavourful blueberry, blackberry and plum fruit. The tannins have been tamed to provide firm structure, but the defining character is its pure expression of the grape. Finishing dry and long, it’s a good match for rare-grilled meats. (Susan Desjardins)

Australia: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
3 Rings Shiraz 2013

Barossa Valley $18.95 (15495) 15.2% alcohol

There’s a lot of wine here for the price. Huge dark fruit—blackberry and blueberry—interweave with cassis and green pepper notes. This is one solid Shiraz with fine tannin underlying all the berry flavour with a peppery, dried-fruit finish. Pour with lamb burgers or lamb chops for a lip-smacking treat. (Julie Stock)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Mountadam The Red 2009

High Eden $39.95 (931105) 14.5% alcohol

Aged 24 months in French oak, this Cabernet-dominated Bordeaux-style blend offers complex aromas including berry, cherry, black plum, earth and herbs. Dry, full bodied, it’s plush and velvety, the firm tannins a backdrop for full-bore concentrated fruit graced with liberal sprinkles of baking spice and pepper. Long, warm and flavourful through the finish, it’s a match for Osso buco. (Susan Desjardins)

New Zealand: White Wine

**** drink now
Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Nelson $19.95 (694737) 13.5% alcohol
This is lively and fresh offering classic notes of citrus, herbs and crunchy pea pods with a hint of white peach. Mid-weight, it’s almost spritzy with the pungency of grapefruit zest, tangy lemon-lime and passionfruit. Finishing dry and refreshingly crisp, you’ll enjoy this wine well chilled with a salad of, yes, crunchy pea pods with roast tomatoes and goat cheese. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now
Toi Toi Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Marlborough, South Island $17.95 (454785) 13.0% alcohol

Toi Toi is a native New Zealand grass. Citrus and tropical fruit are undercut with gooseberry, sweet hay and orchard blossom on the nose. Barley off-dry with balanced acidity, it offers a long, racy finish with flavours of zesty lemon, white peach and passion fruit. Serve with an asparagus quiche. (Lisa Isabelle)

South Africa: White Wine

**** drink now
Waterkloof Circle of Life 2012
WO Stellenbosch $19.95 (284588) 13.5% alcohol
A co-fermented blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, this offers complex aromas of flowers and herbs, honey and smoke, citrus and pear. There’s a mineral quality on the palate, harmonized with notes of tropical fruit, honeydew melon and lemon-lime. Hints of smoke arise on the dry, fresh and lasting finish. Serve with seafood or grilled fish. (Susan Desjardins)

France: White Wine

**** drink now
Gerard Bertrand ‘Réserve Spéciale’ Viognier 2014

IGP Pays d’Oc $14.95 (147975) 13.0% alcohol

Perfumed, alluring aromas of honeysuckle, ripe pineapple and mandarin orange are precursor to a deftly balanced river of honey-brushed peach and pear, lemon pie filling, and a peach skin bite on the flavourful finish and aftertaste. This is medium weight with creamy mouth feel and offers terrific value. Pour on its own or alongside roast chicken or pan-seared pork medallions. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

****1/2 [drink or cellar
Georges Duboeuf ‘Domaine Mont Chavy’ Morgon 2013

AOC Morgon $21.95 (276477) 12.5% alcohol

Morgon is one of the ten ‘Cru Beaujolais’ sub-regions and known for its earthy wines with good weight and structure. There’s a lifted nose of dark berry fruit and cassis followed by a gusher of cassis, black currant and oodles of spice throughout here. It’s medium bodied and structured, finishing with drying tannin. Aerate/decant two hours before pouring with steak and kidney pie. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Pieropan ‘La Rocca’ Soave Classico 2011

DOC Veneto $37.95 (92437) 13.0% alcohol

The Pieropan family have been involved with this winery and the land since the late 1800s; it’s an iconic property and iconic Italian family. The organic-certified fruit was hand harvested and aged 15 months in seasoned oak resting that time on its lees. Deep straw-hued, perfumed aromas of floral, hazelnut and tropical fruit abound. It bathes the palate with clean crisp flavours of green apples and pear along with notions of minerality. Light bodied and nicely textured, the finish is mouth-watering and `delectable. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

**** drink now
Coppi ‘Peucetico’ Primitivo 2010
DOC Gioia del Colle $14.95 (724674) 13.5% alcohol
There grilled herbs and pipe tobacco aromas on the nose of this value-laden Primitivo. It’s medium-plus weight and fully textured with a fabulous surge of palate-coating flavours—ripe black fruit—cherry, currant and mulberry—garnished with baking spice and sweet vanilla… it’s rich and complex and ready to pour. Pick up an armful and pour with steak, burgers, and, especially, grilled back ribs—the price-quality ratio is skewed in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Baglio Di Pianetto Nero d’Avola 2013
IGT Terre Siciliane $14.95 (207423) 13.0% alcohol
Nero d’Avola, often compared to peppery Shiraz, is indigenous to Sicily. Exotic spice and cedar aromas roll from the glass prior to a tang-laden stream of red currant and sour cherry interlaced with sweet-tinged kirsch liqueur and a firm tannin underpinning. This offers good structure, balance and outstanding value, don’t be shy in stocking up. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Castello Di Gabbiano ‘Belezza - Gran Selezione’ Chianti Classico 2012
DOCG Chianti Classico $39.95 (652438) 14.5% alcohol
The ‘Gran Selezione’ indicates this is one of the top reds to come out of Chianti Classico in 2012. It’s rich and luscious with depth, structure and great concentration. Aromas of tobacco leaf, spice and cedar roll from the nose before unleashing a rich, luscious surge of raspberry, blueberry and red cherry… medium weight and silky smooth. There’s a perceptible tannin structure and wisps of oak throughout. Aerate/decant three hours or better still, pop corks 2018 to 2024. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Villa Del Cigliano Chianti Classico 2013
DOCG Chianti Classico $19.95 (189803) 13.5% alcohol
Cigar box, exotic spice and grilled herb aromas pave the way for a sleek streak of tang-laced red fruit flavour—cranberry, pomegranate and sour cherry. There’s good structure, with smooth mouthfeel and mid-length finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside spaghetti Bolognese or pasta puttanesca. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Antiche Terre Venete Ripasso Valpolicella 2013

DOC Valpolicella $16.95 (178459) 13.5% alcohol

This Ripasso offers tangy fruit and racy acidity with a tell-tale bite on the finish —a second fermentation takes place a few months after the first as it’s added to the skins of grapes still soaked in Amarone wine adding complexity and texture. Primarily red berry fruit flavour with a nice dollop of dried black currant, mocha and spice, this washes over the palate mid weight and nicely textured finishing dry and tangy. Pour now with spaghetti in Bolognese sauce or pasta puttanesca. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Barahonda ‘Sin Madera’ Monastrell 2014
DO Yecla $14.95 (366823) 14.5% alcohol
Traditionally produced from the concentrated fruit of old bush vines, this unoaked red delivers intense black fruit aromas and flavours along with notes of herbs and spice. Medium-full bodied, it’s a gusher of tasty fruit on the palate, garnished with a touch of peppery spice and loaded with flavour. There’s sufficient structure to provide balance, while the finish is dry and persistent. It’s a very nice value to serve with grilled burgers, sausages or wood-fired pizza. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Señorio de los Baldíos 2009
Do Ribera del Duero $19.95 (366393) 14.0% alcohol
Deep purple, this offers good value along with evolved aromas of dried cherry, dark berry and plum plus earthy qualities of mineral and leather. The palate shows a finely balanced orchestration of supple tannin, clean acidity and fruit intensity. The earthy, savoury notes express themselves through the lengthy, dry, fresh finish. It’s deftly crafted with potential for further aging. (Susan Desjardins)

New in Ontario Wineries

• Order the following Huff Estates wines by the mixed case of 6 or 12 for daily home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario online from Huff Estates or pick up from the winery in Bloomfield, Prince Edward County.

Sparkling Wine

***** drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Huff Estates ‘Cuvée Janine’ Sparkling Rosé 2013 

VQA Prince Edward County $30.00 12.9% alcohol 
This is absolutely fabulous, showcasing persistent purity of fruit, deft balance and a plethora of aromas and flavours. Aromas of field berry, citrus and red cherry abound. An energetic mousse carries a streak of excellent tang from palate-flavours of red cherry, passion fruit, red grapefruit and red currant. These all replay on the lip-smacking aftertaste along with minerality. Serve as a welcoming wine or with appetizers. Bravo, to Burgundy-born winemaker, Frédéric Picard. (Vic Harradine)

White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Huff Estates ‘south bay vineyards’ Chardonnay 2014
VQA Prince Edward County $30.00 12.5% alcohol
Aromas of apple pie spice and vanilla derive from 14 months in French oak barrel,15% new. It coats the palate with a gorgeous, spice-infused, mineral-laced river of pure ambrosia—red and green apple with pit fruit draped in lemon-tinged acidity. It’s medium-plus bodied with generous mouthfeel and a lingering, mouth-watering finish that’s balanced and beautiful. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Huff Estates ‘off dry’ Riesling 2015
VQA Ontario $18.00 12.0% alcohol
Wisps of smoke, flint and mineral notes unfurl from the nose of this medium-weight, slightly off-dry Riesling. It bathes the palate with minerality, white peach and the glorious yin and yang of sweet and tang—grilled pineapple and lime-drizzled mango—balanced, lively and lip-smacking delicious. Pour with spicy Asian cuisine like pad Thai or moo shu pork. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Huff Estates Pinot Gris 2015
VQA Prince Edward County $20.00 13.5% alcohol
Honeysuckle, flint/mineral notes and grapefruit aromas abound on this medium-bodied, creamy textured gem. It coats the palate with pizzazz and élan—exotic spice, honeyed tropical fruit and lip-smacking Key lime acidity—cutting through the full-flavoured finish and aftertaste—quite stunning. It spent 6 months on fine lees in stainless steel tank gaining texture. Pour on its own or with roast chicken or crown roast of pork. (Vic Harradine)

Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Huff Estates ‘south bay vineyards’ Merlot 2013
VQA Prince Edward County $40.00 13.0% alcohol
Wood smoke, herbs and exotic spice aromas abound. A spice- and tang-laden wash of pie cherry and pomegranate interweave on the palate with fine-grained tannin and black plum. This is medium-bodied with good texture a mid-length, dry, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Pour with rice- and tomato-stuffed green pepper after a two hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Huff Estates ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2014
VQA Prince Edward County $35.00 12.0% alcohol
This was aged 18 months in French oak barrel before bottling—all seamlessly integrated now. Grilled herbs, hi-toned spice and cherry/berry fruit aromas grace the nose of this tang-laden, County Pinot. It dishes up racy pomegranate and spice-laden red cherry on the palate with wisps of sour cherry and plum skin on the finish. It’s mid weight with a mouth-watering aftertaste. Very good now, this will benefit from a bit more time to knit together, perhaps a further 6 -12 months in bottle—it’ll reward patience. (Vic Harradine)

Private Order

• Order the following three wines by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario from VinoLuna wine agency. Contact by website, VinoLuna, by Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or in the GTA phone 416 587-6691.

White Wine

• The Grechetto grape has Greek origins with widespread plantings in central Italy, especially Umbria where it’s usually blended, although the following wine is 100% Grechetto. In table wines, it’s becoming known as a good partner in blends with Chardonnay; it’s also used in the production of the dessert wine, vin santo. If you’ve not tasted this grape, you won’t be disappointed when you and friends try this.

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Chiorri Grechetto 2015
IGT Umbria Grechetto, Italy $13.95 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of honey, orchard fruit and yellow plum herald a creamy-smooth tapestry of palate-coating, sweet-tinged nectarine interwoven with excellent, lemon acidity and nutty, mineral notes on the balanced, lengthy aftertaste. It’s medium-plus bodied with persistent fruit and tang throughout. The price-quality balance tips well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

• The Trebbiano grape is responsible for almost one-third of white wines in Italy. Perhaps the most successful blended white Italian wines involve the Umbrian clone Trebbiano Procanico as does the wine below.

***1/2 drink now
Chiorri ‘Zeffiro’ 2015
IGT Umbria Bianco, Italy $13.95 13.0% alcohol
This blend of two white grapes—Trebbiano Procanico and Grechetto, offers subdued aromas of apple and floral notes. It’s a different story on the palate with a medium-full bodied, full-textured wash of ripe pear and wisps of tropical fruit and nutty notes joined by minerality on the mid-length aftertaste. It’s nicely balanced to pour on its own or with lightly spiced, roast chicken. (Vic Harradine)

Red Wine

**** drink now  Exceptional Value!
Chiorri Sangiovese 2015
IGT Umbria Sangiovese, Italy $13.95 14.0% alcohol
Red berry fruit, tobacco and spice aromas roll from the nose of this balanced, full-fruited, value-laden Sangiovese. Ripe flavour of black currant, black Bing cherry and tangy red currant flow over the palate infusing the crowd-friendly, lengthy aftertaste. This punches well above the price—I’m willing to bet you’ll be both surprised and pleased. Lovely sipped on its own and pours well with the usual suspects—burgers, wings, fajitas. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic and Susan