August 30, 2016 Newsletter

All LCBO stores will be closed on Labour Day, Monday, September 5 and resume business on Tuesday, September 6, 2016. Many LCBO stores in cottage and resort areas will have extended evening hours on Friday, September 2. All LCBO stores will observe their normal business hours on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4. Some agency stores may be open on Labour Day.

Customers should check for individual store hours with their local LCBO store or online at using the 'Store Search' feature. With the exception of Labour Day, they can also contact the toll-free, bilingual helloLCBO at 1-800-ONT-LCBO (668-5226) or online at All LCBO offices, including LCBO Customer Service and the helloLCBO Contact Centre, will be closed on Labour Day. 

Newsletter highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 5 of 56 wines reviewed meet strict quality-price guidelines with prices ranging from $12.95 to $17.95; they’re easily found throughout the newsletter via the value checkmark. What strict quality-price guidelines? Click here.
  • 5-star Wine – one wine rang the five-star bell. Domaine de Vénus ‘Passions’ 2010 @ $31.95 under New in Private Order
  • Vic Picks – Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Rosé 2015 with 4 stars @ $17.15 found under Ontario: Rosé Wine; La Crema Pinot Noir 2014 with 4½ stars @ $26.95 found under California: Red Wine; Auntsfield ‘Single Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2013 with 4½ stars @ $41.95 found under New Zealand: Red Wine; Domaine du Vieux Chai ‘Sur Lie’ Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine 2014 with 4½ stars @ $14.95 found under France: 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.

September 3, 2016 Vintages Release

Feature: Chile

***1/2 drink now
Signos De Origen ‘La Vinilla’ Chardonnay/Viognier/Marsanne/Roussanne 2015
Casablanca Valley $19.95 (63909) 14.5% alcohol
Muted aromas of pit fruit and honeyed tropical fruit show the way for a creamy-smooth flow of ripe tropical fruit and wisps of citrus tang. It’s medium bodied and nicely textured with a finish and aftertaste laced with ripe, sweet fruit flavour. Serve as an aperitif or welcoming wine. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Arboleda ‘Single Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Aconcagua Valley $19.95 (606764) 14.0% alcohol
This is mid-full weight with good texture and displays balance and charm. Rich aromas of espresso roast, mixed spice and pipe tobacco abound. A balanced and beautiful surge of flavour with dark bramble berry and juicy black cherry bolstered by sweet vanilla and fennel coat the palate. There’s a firm underpinning of still-evolving tannin in this value-packed Cab that’s easily ameliorated with a three-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Montes ‘Alpha’ Carmenère 2013
Colchagua Valley $19.95 (143230) 14.0% alcohol
There’s good structure and lots to like here. Dark berry fruit, tar and black licorice aromas leap from this rich, ripe and concentrated beauty. It cuts a wide swath across the palate with juicy flavours of sweet, ripe mulberry, mocha and grilled herbs underpinned by toasty oak—it spent 12 months in French oak barrel—and soft, fine-grained tannin. Pour alongside grilled burgers or meat-laden pizza. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Concha Y Toro ‘Terrunyo Andes’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Pirque, Maipo Valley $29.95 (562918) 14.5% alcohol
This is medium-full weight and well textured with good balance and excellent purity of fruit from cork pop to last drop—absolutely delicious and worth every peso. Aromas of peppery spice, grilled herbs and campfire smoke precede a rich, luxurious gusher of black currant and brambleberry jam juxtaposed with tangy passionfruit and piquant spice blanketing the palate infusing the lingering finish. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Viña San Esteban ‘In Situ Reserva’ Syrah 2014
Aconcagua Valley $15.95 (662817) 14.0% alcohol
Give this a go with lighter-styled, party foods like a charcuterie board or cheese platter. Fresh, lively aromas of red and dark berry fruit and peppery spice set the table for a light-medium bodied splash of red currant, cranberry and black raspberry streaking across the palate with oodles of tang and acidity. (Vic Harradine)

Mini-Feature: Burgundy

**** drink or cellar
Louis Bouillot ‘Perle d’Ivoire’ Brut Blanc de Blancs Non-Vintage

AOC Crémant de Bourgogne $19.95 (48801) 12.0% alcohol

Dry, light in body, offering a fine creamy mousse, this lovely Crémant balances refreshing vibrant acidity, clean minerality and subtle notes of citrus, green apple and brioche. Long and bright on the finish, it’s excellent value and can be enjoyed on its own or with light appetizers. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink or cellar
Vignerons de Buxy ‘Buissonnier’ Montagny 2014
AOC Montagny $19.95 (382879) 12.5% alcohol
Introduced by aromas of floral notes and tropical fruit, this is clean, crisp and refreshing with tinges of minerality and a solid line of Chablis-like tangy acidity with lemon-lime and white grapefruit softened by wisps of ripe pear and peach flavours on the palate and aftertaste. Pour with freshly shucked oysters, ceviche or lemon sole. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Fortified Wine: Dessert

**** drink now
Torres ‘Floralis’ Moscatel Oro Non-Vintage

Spain $15.95 (642173) 500 mL 15.0% alcohol

Torres has been producing this wine since the 1940s – no wonder it’s so beautifully wrought! Tawny in colour, this lovely dessert wine has high-toned aromas of dried fruits—in particular dried apricots—honey and toast. The texture is rich, sumptuous and honeyed, with pretty notes of orange zest garnishing the dried fruit flavours. It’s full-bodied and opulent with tangy acidity a great foil for the sweetness. The finish is extended and very nicely balanced. It’s a treat on its own or with fruit tart. (Susan Desjardins) 

Fortified Wine: Port

**** drink now
Burmester 10-Year-Old Tawny Port Non-Vintage

DOC Douro $28.95 (223958) 20.0% alcohol

Aromatic and extremely versatile, this is food friendly with a long, delicious, sweet aftertaste. Spice cake, iodine and orange marmalade on the nose, it bathes the palate with round fleshy flavours—toffee apple, crème caramel and toasted almonds. Tawny Port gains its name from the tawny colour from many years aged in barrel—resolving tannin and imparting a silky-smooth, lip-smacking experience. Lovely on its own, serve slightly chilled with consommé, fruit cake or Amarelo cheese. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Peller Estates ‘Ice Cuvée’ Rosé

VQA Niagara Peninsula $35.35 (113035) 12.0% alcohol

A lovely salmon pink, this versatile sparkler combines Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as the base wine with a dash of icewine. It displays sweet, almost honeyed, red berry fruit on the nose. Just off-dry due to dosage with Cabernet Franc and Vidal icewine, it has a fine, light mousse and replays the lively berry flavours on the palate—think of sun-kissed, field-ripe strawberries and juicy, ripe currant. It’s refreshing with a hint of sweetness that lingers on the finish. This is bound to be a crowd-pleaser. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Spark –Limestone Vineyard’ Riesling Sparkling Wine 2014

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $20.20 (370361) 11.5% alcohol

This punches well above the price—it’s newly certified organic/biodynamic, single-vineyard sourced, made in the traditional method, vintage dated, simply delicious. Lighter styled and lip-smacking good, it’s the perfect welcoming wine or aperitif. Aromas and flavours of crisp green apple and racy lemon abound. It starts and finishes clean, crisp and refreshing. Pick up a few to have on hand. Versatile, serve on its own or with freshly shucked oysters, ceviche or sushi. (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)

**** 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!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2014

VQA Short Hills Bench $19.95 (268342) 13.5% alcohol

Opening with tropical fruit, buttery, toasty notes and spice, this dry, mid-weight gem freshens the palate with finely-honed acidity paired with ripe orchard fruit, juicy pineapple and tangy citrus. Oak presents in the sweet spicy notes and a touch of nuttiness and underlying freshness shines through on the clean, tasty finish. Enjoy with veal chops or herbed grilled pork loin. (Susan Desjardins)

Okanagan Valley: White Wine

• Following an ideal growing season, fruit for the following wine was handpicked, hand sorted and whole-cluster pressed then fermented—40% in stainless steel tank, 60% in oak barrels with malolactic conversion and lees stirring. This was followed by 10 months ageing, 80% in French oak, 30% new.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $33.95 (208694) 13.5% alcohol
Baking spice, vanilla and nutty note aromas on the nose, this dishes up a well-paced, well-balanced wash of racy citrus and pineapple garnished with ripe orchard and pit fruit flavours. It offers structure, purity of fruit and touches of elegance. It’s mid-plus weight with well-integrated oak, good mouthfeel and clean finish. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada! Exceptional Value!
Château de Charmes ‘St. David’s Bench Vineyard’ Gamay Noir Droit 2014
VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake $17.95 (346742) 13.0% alcohol
A funky nose of earthy, gamy notes and charred toast aromas unleash a joyous, lively stream of palate flavours with ripe mulberry and dark cherry interwoven with savory herbs and piquant spice. This is full of value, light-medium bodied with subtle texture and a mid-length finish that layers on expressions of espresso roast and lip-smacking tang. Give this a go with charcuterie or a mixed deli platter. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Fielding Estate Cabernet Franc 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula $21.95 (36194) 13.0% alcohol
Hi-toned aromas of savory herbs and dark berry fruit interweave with hints of graphite on the nose of this medium-weight, nicely textured red. It dishes up a mouth-watering stream of red fruit—currant, cherry and plum—flecked with spice and hints of mocha. It finishes up with structure, balance and oodles of charm—aerate decant a couple of hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $28.95 13.0% (585760) 13.0% alcohol
This mid-weight, nicely textured Pinot showcases deft balance, depth, persistent purity of fruit and a lingering, mouth-watering finish. Spicy herbs and earthy/forest floor aromas intro a balanced river of red currant and pie cherry bathing the palate garnished with ripe black currant, roasted herbs and a soft tannin underpinning. Pour with smoked, grilled duck breasts or coq au vin. (Vic Harradine)

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)

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

VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.15 (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)

California: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Kistler ‘Les Noisetiers’ Chardonnay 2014
Sonoma Coast $99.95 (251223) 14.1% alcohol
This is full bodied and nicely textured with a lengthy mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Aromas of crème brûlée, mixed spice and caramel introduce a palate-coating wash of tart citrus rind, piquant spice and wisps of almonds and buckwheat honey interweaving with apple and pear. Pour with pan-seared fish or grilled seafood. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

• The following wine is a former, October 17, 2015, ‘Wine of the Month’ selection that sold out. If you missed it, you may not want to miss this time; here’s another chance.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Napa Valley $34.95 (256768) 14.5% alcohol

This Silverado Trail, red blend—91% Cab Sauv, 5% Merlot, 2% splash of Malbec with a teaspoon each of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot—opens with a blockbuster nose of hi-toned aromas—baking spice, dark berry fruit and juicy black cherry. Palate-bathing flavours of cassis and kirsch liqueur mingle with well-integrated toasty oak and sweet vanilla. The purity of fruit persists and it’s balanced on a pin with a lengthy fruit-laden, lip-smacking finish. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
La Crema Pinot Noir 2014
Monterey County $26.95 (367896) 13.5% alcohol
This is value-packed, fully fruited, deftly balanced and generously textured with a lengthy aftertaste—hard to imagine red-wine lovers not enjoying this. Sandalwood and savory spice aromas set the table for a delicious smorgasbord of creamy-smooth, rich, luscious flavour—ripe dark Bing cherry and black currant mingling with baking spice and bits of toasty oak. The finish lingers with replays, nicely balanced with each sip as good as or better than the previous. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Napa Valley $26.95 (73817) 13.5% alcohol

There’s more to this red blend than meets the eye—93% Cab Sauv, 4% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot spending over 14 months aging in French and American oak. It leaps from the glass with perfumed aromas of dark berry and mocha preceding a nicely textured wash of black currant and juicy black cherry interwoven with mint and dark bittersweet chocolate. It finishes balanced and fruity. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir 2013
Oregon $25.95 (229781) 13.0% alcohol
Piquant spice, cedar and charred toast aromas leap from the glass. A savory herb-laced wash of racy red cherry and tangy red currant streak over the palate mingling with steely minerality and racy acidity. The lengthy aftertaste is clean, crisp and mouth-watering. Pour with pasta in tomato sauce or pastitsio. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

• The following wine is certified biodynamic and sourced from 17-year-old vines. The estate-grown fruit was fermented then barrel aged 18 months in 50% new French oak and 50% one-year-old American oak then bottled unfined. This winery is a family affair with father, daughter and daughter’s husband all part of the winemaking team.

****1/2 drink or cellar
The Hedonist Shiraz 2013
McLaren Vale, South Australia $21.95 (90191) 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of exotic spice and aromatic bitters open the door for a fresh, balanced and lovely stream of red berry fruit, kirsch liqueur and tarry notes flowing across the palate and replaying with gusto on the lingering finish and aftertaste—clean, dry and lip-smacking good. It’s medium-plus weight with good mouth feel, full of hedonistic flavour and quite good value. What’s not to like? (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Wits End ‘Luna’ Shiraz 2014
McLaren Vale, South Australia $16.95 (311258) 14.5% alcohol
Dark berry fruit, peppery spice and wisps of smoke aromas provide segue for a tempered, measured wash of black plum compote and stewed fruit flavours interlaced with gamy notes and espresso roast bathing the palate. Look for good weight and texture throughout. It finishes in tang-laden blaze—red currant and pie cherry galore. Pour with grilled burgers or grilled gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

***1/2 drink now
Oyster Bay Pinot Grigio 2015
Hawkes Bay, North Island $18.95 (326090) 13.0% alcohol
Subdued aromas of spice-infused citrus and floral notes reveal a light-on-its-feet, delicate wash of palate bathing flavour with muted notes of ripe orchard fruit—pear, nectarine and yellow plum—to the fore along with notes of citrus in the background. This is an enjoyable sipper with no rough edges. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Akarua ‘Rua’ Pinot Noir 2015
Central Otago, South Island $27.95 (295592) 14.0% alcohol
This was cold soaked, wild-yeast fermented with twice-daily punch downs and aged 6 months in 100% French oak barrique - 90% older wood, 10% new. Interesting aromas of mixed spice, floral notes and red cherry/berry fruit give way to a full-fruited wash of red currant and cranberry adorned with savory herbs and underpinned by soft tannin. This is light-mid weight with delicate texture and a lengthy finish with replays of red berry fruit and savory herbs galore—the oak seamlessly integrated. Pour with grilled crispy duck breasts or roast guinea fowl. (Vic Harradine)

• Estate-grown fruit for the following wine was hand-harvested, hand-sorted, fermented with indigenous and cultured yeasts and hand plunged to gently extract flavours and tannin from skins, it then aged 10 months in French oak barrique. Southern Valleys is a sub-region of Marlborough and unlike most wineries here, Auntsfield’s vineyards are planted mostly to Pinot Noir. It’s a two-generation, family-owned and -run operation. The family have hopes to be a three-generation winery, but at present the 3rd generation prefers to play with toy trucks and has set sites on becoming a firefighter.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Auntsfield ‘Single Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2013
Southern Valleys, South Island $31.95 (361246) 14.5% alcohol
Piquant spice and roasted herb aromas herald palate-bathing flavours boasting oodles of dark fruit—black plum, Bing cherry and black currant—intertwined with savory herbs, dark bittersweet chocolate and wisps of minerality. It’s racy and tang-laden from twist top to last drop showcasing persistent purity of fruit, good balance, charm and a clean refreshing finish and aftertaste. Well made, well priced and well… delicious. (Vic Harradine)

South Africa: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Robertson ‘Phanto Ridge’ Pinotage 2013
WO Robertson $17.95 (278424) 14.0% alcohol
And now for something completely different. Tried a Pinotage in the past and found it lacking? Give this a shot, you may be pleasantly surprised. Aromas of cedar, berry fruit and smoky bits pave the way to a rich, even luscious, stream of dark berry fruit, cassis and mocha that coats the palate and replays though the balanced and tangy finish. Pour with whatever grilled red meat you pull from your barbeque. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

• Designations on wine-bottle labels, are often worth sorting out as they can give indications of flavour/quality. Domaine du Vieux Chai roughly translates to, the place of the old winery. Muscadet is not the name of the grape, it refers to an aroma the grape ‘supposedly’ emits and may originate from this phrase, ‘vin qui a un goût musqué’, rough translation - wine with a musk-like taste. The only grape allowed in the wine sub-region of Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine is, Melon de Bourgogne. Sèvre and Maine are two rivers that run through the wine region. Sur Lie, aka ‘on the lees’, is a winemaking term referring to the dead yeast cells that exist in all wines after fermentation. However, most wines are racked, filtered and fined removing much of the coarse sediment before bottling. In this wine they are not and they can impart more texture and weight as well as distinctive yeast-like aromas as you would experience making bread. In this region, Sur lie wines are required to stay on spent lees until after the 3rd week of March following harvest before bottling, with some kept until fall, and may not undergo any process to remove lees. Many winemakers stir the lees periodically, aka bâtonnage.

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Domaine du Vieux Chai ‘Sur Lie’ Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine 2014
AOC Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine $14.95 (200048) 12.0% alcohol
This winery is over 100 years old and family owned. The present 4th generation, husband and wife, owner/winemaking team are Daniel and Marie Béatrice Giraud. Citrus and wisps of leesy notes waft from this medium-weight, generously textured, crisp, refreshing gem. It’s sleek and flavourful on the palate with lemony tang subtly garnished with pear and apple bathing the palate infusing the monumentally long, lip-smacking finish. Give it a go with mussels steamed in white wine, ceviche or freshly shucked oysters. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Château de Ségure Fitou 2013
AOP Fitou $16.95 (370254) 13.5% alcohol
The price-quality balance is tipped well in your favour; pick up a few. This full-fruited, heavenly scented red blend—40% Grenache/30% Syrah/30% Carignan—opens with a dazzling array of aromas—spice box, black currant, floral notes and fennel. It bathes the palate with sense of purpose and a tapestry of persistent flavours—cassis, black plum and kirsch liqueur interlaced with sweet vanilla and balancing tang. It’s medium weight with good mouthfeel and a lengthy, balanced finish. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Tessellae ‘Old Vines’ Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre Côtes du Roussillon 2014
AOP Côtes du Roussillon $18.95 (343517) 14.5% alcohol
Sourced from 70-year-old vines, this value-packed red blend—50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre—saw absolutely no oak. Aromas of local savory herbs, black currant and sweet/savory spice bathe the palate with a delectable wash of dark cherry and ripe mulberry nicely balanced with a dollop of racy tang on the palate with replays through the lengthy finish. There’s also some grainy, rustic tannin underpinning it all that’s easily taken care of with a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

• The hand-picked fruit for the following red blend—50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre—was completely destemmed and macerated 28 days with rack and return at fermentation and pump overs twice daily. 55% of the wine was vat aged and 45% aged in 450L seasoned barrels for 12 months before blending and bottling. The Lavau brothers, originally from Bordeaux, are now legendary in this AOC and neighbouring AOCs of Vacqueyras, Tavel and Châteuneuf du Pape.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Lavau Gigondas 2013
AOC Gigondas $29.95 (234955) 14.0% alcohol
This is gorgeous, showcasing excellent mouth-watering red fruit acidity, a creamy-smooth, firm texture and a lengthy, luxurious finish and aftertaste. Peppery spice and cherry/berry fruit aromas are precursors to a tight line of red currant and passion fruit flavours that meld nicely with wisps of spiced black plum and ripe red cherry that bathe the palate and follow through the dry, mouth-watering finish. There is polished tannin underlying all this—aerate/decant three hours and serve with food—grilled rack of lamb, roast fowl or rabbit stew—or pop corks 2018 to 2022. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

• Fruit for the following red wine was sourced from 100% estate-grown Dolcetto fruit—specifically from the hill-side vineyards of San Luigi, San Giacomo and Madonna delle Grazie—it saw no oak and often presents as a lighter-styled, low-acidity, crowd-pleasing, easy-drinking red meant to be drunk early in its life.

**** drink now
Poderi Di Luigi Einaudi Dogliani 2013
DOCG Dogliani $19.95 (232454) 13.5% alcohol
Here’s a pleasant red with firm texture and aromas of raisins, black plum and red berry fruit. It glides over the palate with a tang-laden stream of red cherry and tart cranberry mingling with still-evolving tannin and hints of stewed fruit. It’s light-medium bodied with firm texture and a lengthy drying finish. Give it a go after a two-hour aeration/decant poured with pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Cantine Due Palme Primitivo 2014
IGT Salento $15.95 (658351) 13.5% alcohol
This is über delicious with sweet, ripe fruit creamy-smooth mouthfeel and a truckload of flavour. It opens with a lifted nose of ripe, black cherry/berry fruit and pipe tobacco before coating the palate with black currant jam and cassis interweaving with tarry notes, toasty oak and bittersweet chocolate. Medium-full bodied and full of charm, the finish is lengthy, fruit-filled and scrumptious. There’s quite good value here. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Bibi Graetz Casamatta Non-Vintage

IGT Toscana $15.95 (330712) 12.5% alcohol

Here’s an unusual wine produced from the fruit of 60-year vines—a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino aged in French oak—with no vintage date. On the nose, you’ll notice a wealth of berry notes, spice, vanilla and smoky toast adding complexity. Dry, medium-full bodied and well balanced, it pairs a clean texture and supple tannin with tasty fruit and hints of earth and spice. Finishing dry and fruity, it’s approachable and tasty. (Susan Desjardins)

Spain: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Clos Gebrat ‘CG+’ 2014
DO Priorat $19.95 (360511) 15.5% alcohol
Espresso roast and ripe dark berry fruit on the nose this flows over the palate medium-plus weight and satin smooth with a lively, fresh blast of racy red currant and sour cherry robed in sweet vanilla and mocha. There’s good structure, complexity and a nicely balanced finish and aftertaste.

****1/2 drink now
Convento San Franciso 2010
DO Ribera del Duero $20.95 (206409) 14.5% alcohol
This is medium-full bodied, structured, complex, very tasty and punches well above the price. This is purple/black-hued almost opaque when poured. A hi-toned bouquet of red cherry, tobacco and gamy note aromas introduce a balanced and beautiful river of mature fruit—red and black currant and blueberry—interlaced with earthy notes and soft, polished tannin bathing the palate infusing the finish and aftertaste. Drink up in the short term. (Vic Harradine)

• The following red blend—90% Tempranillo with a 10% mix of Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo—was hand-harvested principally from the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone, fermented in stainless steel tank and aged just short of two years in French and American cask.

**** drink or cellar
Viña Real ‘Reserva’ 2010
DOCa Rioja $21.95 (94896) 13.5% alcohol
Gamy notes, savory herbs, leather and rich, dark berry fruit aromas set the stage for a medium-weight, nicely textured stream of fruit—red and black currant and cherry—garnished with excellent, balancing acidity persisting through the mid-length finish. It’s going on 7, but still shows fruit and acidity in good balance. Pour with prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Vinos Sin Ley ‘M Old Vine’ Monastrell 2011 

DO Yecla $17.00 (344226) 14.5% alcohol 

Alluring and lively aromas abound—red cherry/berry, exotic incense and piquant spice. There’s good purity of fruit in this Mourvèdre with racy red currant and tangy sour cherry streaking across the palate bolstered by ripe bramble berry and notions of forest floor. It’s medium-full bodied and nicely textured with a mid-length finish of red cherry/berry fruit and a supple tannin underpinning. (Vic Harradine) 

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: September 17, 2017

Sonia and David Smith, the former from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the latter a Brit, moved to Argentina and began living their dream; they started a winery, building a vineyard from scratch. Both Master Sommeliers holding Advance Certificates from WSET, their vineyard is near the fabled Bodegas Catena Zapata. They became friends with the Nicola Catena family and now Catena Zapata’s winemaker, Ale Vigil, also oversees the making of SonVida’s wine, including the following Malbec. Hand-harvested fruit was sourced from a single vineyard and aged 12 months in French and American oak.

****1/2 drink now
SonVida Malbec 2012
Mendoza, Argentina $29.95 (458240) 14.0% alcohol
A lifted nose of piquant spice, dark berry fruit and black licorice dazzle the senses. It rolls over the palate in stunning fashion—well-textured, endless waves of black currant, kirsch liqueur and dark bittersweet chocolate coat the palate persisting through the delectable finish and aftertaste. It’s balanced, structured, dense and intense with persistent purity of fruit and touches of elegance. My highest compliments – it flirted with 5 stars and was very tough to spit. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release, October 1, 2016

****1/2 drink or cellar
Bodega Atamisque ‘Catalpa – Old Vines’ Malbec 2013
Tupungato-Valle de Uco, Mendoza Argentina $19.95 (194126) 14.0% alcohol
This dazzling, value-laden Malbec showcases creamy-smooth texture, deft balance and persistent purity of fruit—pick up a few. Hi-toned aromas of piquant spice, red berry fruit and medicinal notes unleash a lively, juicy wave of ripe red currant and black plum interwoven with notes of spice, mocha and tang-laden pie cherry. It’s mid-plus weight with a creamy, dreamy mouthfeel and oodles of charm. The finish is lengthy and lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir 2010
VQA Short Hills Bench $24.95 (268391) 13.5% alcohol
From one of Niagara’s great vintages, produced from the fruit of older, low-yielding vines, this wine shows its pedigree with attractive and complex aromas and flavours. On the nose there are earth, smoky notes, spice and ripe red fruit replaying on the dry, medium-plus bodied palate. There’s a savory quality to the wine, perceptible tannin, lively acidity and well-integrated oak. Showing complexity, weight, fresh texture, well-developed fruit flavours and a long, tasty, finish, this offers great value and versatility for matching with heavier meat or fowl dishes. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink or cellar
Waterkloof ‘Circumstance’ Syrah 2012
WO Stellenbosch, South Africa $22.95 (455782) 14.0% alcohol
This was aged 20 months in new (15%) and older 600 litre French barrel before bottling unfined. Grilled herbs, heavily charred smoky notes and peppery spice aromas set the table for flavours of tangy, red cherry/berry fruit garnished with excellent tang and heavily charred toast flavour on the palate. It’s mid-plus weight with decent texture and finishes dry and lengthy with replays. Pour with grilled burgers, gourmet sausage or steak. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: TBA

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Château de Ségure Fitou 2014
AOP Fitou $16.95 (370254) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of baking spice, cedar and mocha reveal a beautifully balanced flow of sweet, ripe mulberry and dark bramble berry fruit bathing the palate robed in spice, red berry tang and oodles of charm. This is medium-weight with good mouthfeel and a particularly full-fruited and lengthy aftertaste of lively replays, delicious and mouth-watering. Lovely sipped on its own, it shines with grilled rack of lamb. The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Riesling 2013
VQA Niagara Short Hills Bench $17.95 (557165) 11.0% alcohol
This showcases persistent purity of fruit, lifted aromas and tangy flavour with a lengthy mouth-watering finish. Aromatic on the nose, this dishes up aromas of mineral and petrol notes along with spice and racy citrus galore. A medium weight, nicely textured river of tang-laden lemon-lime and piquant spice streams over the palate infusing the lengthy, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour with charcuterie or pan-seared trout or pickerel. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (504241) 13.5% alcohol
Inviting aromas of baking spice, graphite and dark cherry/berry fruit introduce a well-structured, deftly balanced flow of dark cherry and black currant interwoven with excellent acidity, persistent flavour and a mouth-watering finish. This is medium bodied and nicely textured with the price-quality balance tipped well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

• The following white blend is from the Speck boys, Paul, Matt and Daniel, owners of Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery. They have a reputation of over-delivering on quality at every price point with this wine certainly no exception.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Sibling Rivalry ‘White Blend’ 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $13.95 (126144) 11.5% alcohol
This tasty blend of Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer punches well above the price; pick up a few. It offers aromas of tropical fruit and yellow peach before coating the palate with a flavourful wash of sweet, ripe nectarine and yellow plum nicely balanced with grilled pineapple. It’s creamy smooth on the palate and lengthy on the fruit-filled finish and aftertaste. Chill well and enjoy with or without food. (Vic Harradine)

New in Private Order

• Order the following wines by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery. Free delivery in the GTA or delivered to your local LCBO for pick up. Order from VIP Wine and Spirits via email to Dave Coutts This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

**** drink now
Via Nova Godello 2015
DO Valledeoras, Spain $16.95 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of honeydew melon and pear introduce a gorgeously textured wash of tang-laden grapefruit pith and lemon infused with steely/mineral notes racing across the palate persisting through the crisp, clean and refreshing finish that just doesn’t quit. Pour with prawn ceviche or freshly shucked briny oysters on the half shell. (Vic Harradine)

• The following wine is available by the case as a special offer by the agent to winecurrent subscribers for $11.95 a bottle by quoting this code – WC. It works out to, ‘pay for eleven bottles and receive twelve’, a practice quite common in retail stores in countries like Australia, given as a bonus for purchasing a case.

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Repartee ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon 2015
Product of France $12.95 13.0% alcohol
This white blend—60% Sauvignon Blanc/40% Semillon—is incredibly well priced and certified organic. It dishes up aromas of grassy notes mingling with honeysuckle and mineral notes on the nose of this fully textured, full-fruited gem. The palate’s bathed with a medium-full bodied flow of ripe tropical fruit and tangy blood orange, bold, balanced and beautiful. The finish lingers, crisp and mouth-watering good. (Vic Harradine)

• Order the following wine by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario along with those published in the previous newsletters from Nokhrin Wines or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , if in the GTA phone 416 704-8617.

****1/2 drink now
Domaine de Vénus ‘L’Effrontée’ 2012 

AOP Côtes du Roussillon, France $32.95 13.5% alcohol 
Aromas of ripe apple and pear precede a medium-plus bodied river of lemon yoghurt, apple crumble and baking spice coating the palate interwoven with racy white grapefruit. The oak’s seamlessly integrated with everything balanced on a pin. There’s good purity of fruit with structure and plenty of charm while the finish is lip-smacking good. Pour with roast chicken or chicken á la King. (Vic Harradine)

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Domaine de Vénus ‘Passions’ 2010 

AOP Côtes du Roussillon, France $31.95 15.0% alcohol 
Ripe dark cherry aromas mingle with wisps of spice and smoky notes on the nose of this incredibly well-textured, fruit-filled thing of beauty. It coats the palate with a nicely structured and balanced-on-a-pin river of black berry jam, tangy red cherry and soft fine-grained tannin. It’s mid-plus weight and creamy smooth with flavours replayed through the lingering, delectable aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Quinta das Camélais Dão ‘Reserva’ 2013
Dão, Portugal $13.95 13.5% alcohol
This value-packed red blend spent a short time in French and American oak before bottling. Lively fresh aromas of graphite and mixed berry fruit precede a luscious, rich wash of red berries, piquant spice and wisps of satin-smooth tannin. It rolls over the palate medium-bodied and well textured with time on its side—pour now to 2021. Aerate/decant for three hours serving with meat-lovers pizza, burgers or grilled gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic