September 13, 2016 Newsletter

Newsletter highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 3 of 51 wines reviewed meet strict quality-price guidelines with prices ranging from $13.95 to $15.95; they’re easily found throughout the newsletter via the value checkmark. What strict quality-price guidelines? Click here.
  • Finding Waldo – I’m indigenous to just this small wine region and still grown there, exclusively. My vines for this particular wine are almost 100 years old, are dry farmed, and head trained aka gobelet or goblet. It’s doubtful more than a dozen readers have tasted this elliptical red grape; you can for only $15.95.
  • 5-star Wine – only one wine rang the five-star bell: Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine @ $45.95 for 375 mL found under Icewine.
  • Vic Picks – Closson Chase ‘K. J. Watson Vineyard’ Pinot Gris 2015 earned 4½ stars @ $21.95 found under Ontario: White Wine; Cuddy by Tawse Cabernet-Merlot 2013 earned 4 stars @ $24.95 found under Ontario: Red Wine; Ironstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 earned 4 stars @ $17.95 found under California: Red Wine; McManis Zinfandel 2014 earned 4 stars @ $19.95 found under California Red Wine; Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2015 earned 4 ½ stars @ $18.95 found under New Zealand White Wine.
  • Finding Waldo 2 – You will find me bottled as a single varietal outside of France, only, it appears, at this winery. I’m pretty famous when there’s a splash of sweet black currant liqueur in the glass with me. You can try me for $14.95.

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 17, 2016 Vintages Release

Fortified Wine: Sherry

**** drink now
Bodegas Hidalgo ‘La Gitana’ Manzanilla 

DO Jerez y Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain $16.95 500 mL (745448) 15.0% alcohol

The expressive nose on this fully-textured Sherry is pure 'rancio', a term almost defying description, but think of dried, spicy fruit, over-ripe cantaloupe and burnt sugar—once experienced, never to be forgotten. This is dry with wonderful mouth feel and offers salty, zesty flavours of nuts, figs and dried fruit. The finish is balanced, warm and lengthy. Serve chilled with ceviche or sea food, especially briny shrimp. (Vic Harradine)


***** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario $45.95 375 mL (413732) 9.0% alcohol
This is stunning Vidal icewine from one of Ontario’s premium producers. It’s rich and luscious on the palate, deftly balanced and generously textured with excellent moderating acidity showcasing persistent purity of fruit. Aromas of honey-tinged apricot, mandarin orange and peach cobbler herald a dazzling, intense flow of candied peel marmalade, apricot preserve and drunken oranges. Pour on its own as dessert or with crème brûlée. Kudos to winemakers, Amélie Boury and Paul Bosc. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Pondview Vidal Icewine 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $19.95 200 mL (390351) 11.0% alcohol
Aromas of honey-dipped tropical fruit and orange zest mingle with notions of ripe pear on the nose of this well-balanced, moderately styled icewine. It rolls over the palate with flavours of apricot, honey, peach and caramel apple all nicely balanced with an underpinning of racy lemon acidity. It’s medium bodied with good mouthfeel and plenty of charm. It sips well on its own—with each sip as good or better than the last—and pours nicely with fruit-based desserts. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Megalomaniac ‘Bubblehead’ Sparkling Rosé Non-Vintage
VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95 (363655) 13.0% alcohol
Attractive aromas of freshly sliced strawberry and baking bread introduce this dry, Pinot Noir-based, traditional-method sparkler. It slashes across the palate and infuses the aftertaste with a sleek and austere line of racy, ruby red grapefruit and red currant tang. Give it a go with ceviche or poached oysters. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Thirty Bench Sparkling Riesling Non-Vintage
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $34.95 (469478) 12.0% alcohol
An involved nose of minerality, lime, crisp apple and leesy/yeasty notes—it spent almost a year on its lees—precede fine-bead mousse and a laser-like line of bracing acidity. Flavours of citrus, passion fruit and flecks of gooseberry ride the riveting tang on the palate and finish. It’s an appealing match with freshly shucked oysters under a dot of hot sauce and squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Marchesi Di Barola ‘Zagara’ Moscato D’Asti 2014
DOCG D’Asti $17.95 (168195) 5.0% alcohol
A surprisingly subdued nose of rose petals and spice aromas unleash a glass of sunshine and summer, all in one glass. It bathes the palate and dazzles the senses with a light spritz and sweet-tinged flavours of rosewater, tropical fruit and exotic spice. It’s a natural paired with fruit flan or pound cake and many will appreciate the extremely low alcohol content—only 5 per cent. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: White Wine

**** drink now Oh Canada!
13th Street ‘White Palette’ 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $15.95 (207340) 12.5% alcohol
The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour here. Perfumed and lifted aromas of exotic spice, rose petals and licorice abound on the nose. A juicy, lively stream of lemon curd, lime cordial and crisp green apple blanket the palate infusing the refreshing finish. It’s well balanced, well paced, and well… lip-smacking good. Pour alongside pan-seared fish or lightly spiced/curried dishes. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada! 
Closson Chase ‘K. J. Watson Vineyard’ Pinot Gris 2015

VQA Four Mile Creek $21.95 (469445) 12.0% alcohol

This is a lovely Gris, stylish and flavourful with persistent purity of fruit and balanced on a pin. Honeycomb, peach and tropical fruit aromas announce a medium-weight, heavenly textured stream of lemon-lime and apple garnished with saline/flint/mineral notes and apple skin. It’s charming with a lengthy finish and lovely to sip—divine paired with fish and seafood and very good value. (Vic Harradine)

• ‘Canadian music icon Jim Cuddy has teamed up with Tawse Winery to develop the winery’s newest brand, ‘Cuddy by Tawse’. This new label was born from a longstanding partnership between Jim Cuddy and the winery, and a desire to fuse his two passions: music and wine. Cuddy has been a frequent visitor to Tawse, performing concerts at the winery over the past several years and becoming friends with owners Moray and Joanne Tawse.

• The recent collaborative effort between Cuddy and the award-winning winemaking team of Paul Pender and Rene Van Ede has given birth to two new VQA labels that are now available at the winery, and will be in the Vintages section of LCBO outlets in September.’ Quoted from Tawse Media Release

• The following ‘Cuddy by Tawse’ Chardonnay blend sources great fruit in the region, it was first barrel fermented then aged 12 months in French oak barrel.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada! 
Cuddy by Tawse Chardonnay 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 (469023) 12.5% alcohol

Aromas of baking spice, toasty notes, honeydew melon and wisps of caramel abound. A surge of green apple, passion fruit and ripe pineapple flavour coat the palate, medium bodied and nicely textured. The aftertaste replays palate flavours and layers on notions of grapefruit pith and minerality. Quite good now, a few months in bottle will also pay dividends. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada! 
Featherstone ‘Canadian Oak’ Chardonnay 2014

VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (149302) 12.0% alcohol

Hard to be more ‘local’—the owners, grapes and oak for the barrels. There’s oodles of baking spice, sweet vanilla and caramel on the nose of this medium-bodied, nicely textured Chard. It bathes the palate with piquant apple pie spice, notions of oak and tangy citrus—Myer lemon, Key lime and grapefruit melding well with green apple on the long finish. Lovely poured now, will knit together and even improve with six more months in bottle. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Fielding ‘Unoaked’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (164491) 12.5% alcohol
Nutty aromas—yes, it’s unoaked—mingle with floral and orchard fruit before coating the palate with solid fruit flavour—yellow peach, ripe pear and crisp Granny Smith apple to the fore. It’s medium weight with good texture and a cleans up nicely on the finish with sweet, ripe fruit balanced with tangy acidity. Give this a go with grilled calamari under a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Oh Canada! 
Flat Rock Riesling 2014

VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula $16.95 (43281) 9.5% alcohol

This opens with delicate aromas of lemon-lime and floral notes—it’s off dry, fully flavoured and absolutely delicious. A river of Granny Smith apple, tangy white grapefruit and lemon zest interlace with yellow plum, sweet, ripe tropical fruit and notions of flinty minerality on the palate, persisting through the lip-smacking, citrus-laced finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside breaded and pan-seared calamari rings under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada! 
Hidden Bench Chardonnay 2013

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula $28.95 (68817) 13.0% alcohol

This is full-bore Chardonnay showcasing structure, deft balance, purity of fruit and intense flavour—not for the faint of palate. Beginning with a quiet nose of honeyed pit fruit, buttered toast and citrus aromas, it dishes up a full-bodied, fully textured wash of lemon yoghurt, poached pear and ripe apple on the palate. It’s nicely balanced with the fruit and citrus streaming through the finish and aftertaste robed in pithy peach skin and notions of minerality while maintaining good tang throughout—crisp, clean and refreshing. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: White Wine

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Gray Mont Pinot Gris 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $19.95 (118638) 13.3% alcohol
This pink/orange-hued beauty is off-dry and deftly balanced. Aromas of pit fruit and mandarin orange make way for a light-medium bodied stream of lemon-lime yoghurt interlaced with poached pear and grilled pineapple flavours on the palate and crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste. It’s a natural pairing with spicy Asian cuisine like pad Thai or General Tso’s chicken. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

• ‘Canadian music icon Jim Cuddy has teamed up with Tawse Winery to develop the winery’s newest brand, ‘Cuddy by Tawse’. This new label was born from a longstanding partnership between Jim Cuddy and the winery, and a desire to fuse his two passions: music and wine. Cuddy has been a frequent visitor to Tawse, performing concerts at the winery over the past several years and becoming friends with owners Moray and Joanne Tawse.

• The recent collaborative effort between Cuddy and the award-winning winemaking team of Paul Pender and Rene Van Ede has given birth to two new VQA labels that are now available at the winery, and will be in the Vintages section of LCBO outlets in September.’ Quoted from Tawse Media Release.

• This ‘Cuddy by Tawse’ Cab Franc/Merlot/Cab Sauv red blend was aged 18 months in French oak barrel before resting in bottle before release.

**** drink now Oh Canada! 
Cuddy by Tawse Cabernet-Merlot 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 (469031) 13.0% alcohol

Piquant spice, black plum, tobacco and dark, juicy briary berry waft from the nose of this medium-plus bodied nicely textured red blend. It’s lively and tangy on the palate with grilled savory herbs interwoven with pomegranate, red currant and racy red cherry. It finishes with replays along with hints of tomato leaf and fresh herbs on the aftertaste. Pour with pasta puttanesca or spaghetti Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Speck Family - Reserve’ Baco Noir 2014

VQA Ontario $24.95 (461699) 13.5% alcohol

Here’s another gem from a series of fabulous, recent Baco Noir releases by this premium producer. Pipe tobacco, roasted herbs and exotic incense aromas abound. It bathes the palate with a full-fruited, beautifully textured stream of boysenberry jam, sweet black plum compote and oodles of spice. This is medium-plus bodied with a lingering finish. Poured perfectly with grilled, smoked back ribs slathered in spicy barbecue sauce. This was aged +18 months in premium American oak – now fully integrated. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Keint-He ‘Voyageur’ Pinot Noir 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.00 (373407) 12.5% alcohol

Hand-picked fruit from 5 sites in Niagara were fermented and barrel-aged separately via 12 months in French oak before bottling. Piquant spice, wisps of grilled herbs and red berry fruit herald a structured, tang-laden river of sour cherry and red raspberry bathing the palate, infusing the lengthy finish. It’s medium bodied with decent texture and notions of mocha on the aftertaste. Pour with lamb ragout. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Smoke & Gamble Cabernet/Merlot 2012
VQA Ontario $19.95 (332825) 13.0% alcohol
Heavily perfumed aromas of black plum compote, cedar and campfire smoke open the door to a racy, tang-laden wash of lively pie cherry and cranberry streaking across the palate infusing the long finish. This is medium weight with decent texture and plenty of smoke and gamy notes on the aftertaste. Prawn and chorizo paella matches up well. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

***1/2 drink now
Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2014
California $19.95 (191593) 13.9% alcohol
A quiet nose of pineapple and lime aromas introduce and tight, taut line of bracing acidity delivered through lemon curd, lime zest and white grapefruit flavours. It’s a lighter-styled Sauvignon Blanc displaying a dry crisp finish and aftertaste decorated with softer pit fruit. Pair and pour with mussels steamed with garlic and a cup of white wine – this white wine. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Ironstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Lodi $17.95 (537597) 14.5% alcohol

Charred campfire smoke, piquant spice and mixed field berry fruit aromas unleash a rich torrent of palate-bathing, boysenberry jam, black plum and espresso roast. This is medium-full bodied and smooth as satin with lingering lip-smacking aftertaste of red berry fruit and excellent acidity. Pour now and on to 2020 with grilled, smoked back ribs lightly brushed with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
McManis Zinfandel 2014

California $19.95 (256735) 13.5% alcohol

Aromas of spiced, savoury herbs mingling with red and dark berry fruit set the table for a smorgasbord of flavour—briary berry and dark cherry interwoven with sweet vanilla and milk chocolate. It’s mid weight with good balance and texture finishing with ripe fruit and tang on the lengthy aftertaste. Good to go now with burgers, steak, pizza or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Acrobat Pinot Noir 2014
Oregon $29.95 (421149) 13.5% alcohol
This is extremely well balanced with medium weight, loads of savory notes, good pace and structure and a dry finish. Aromas of dark berry fruit and grilled herbs set the stage for a balanced, fruity stream of black cherry and hints of cassis gliding over the palate, medium-bodied and creamy smooth. It finishes dry and fruity with good acidity carried along on red cherry and mixed spice flavours. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Lamadrid ‘Single Vineyard Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Agrelo, Mendoza $19.95 (223206) 14.0% alcohol
Sustainably farmed 100% Cabernet Sauvignon fruit was hand harvested, wild-yeast fermented and macerated 20 days with four daily pump overs. It saw minimal oak and was not stabilized, filtered or fined. Aromas of dark berry fruit, fennel and roasted herbs give way to a medium-plus bodied swath of rich luscious fruit coating the palate with gusto—black currant and red cherry adorned with peppery spice, cassis and excellent acidity. It finishes with replays and oozing balance and charm. (Vic Harradine)

****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)

**** drink or cellar
Trivento ‘Amado Sur’ Malbec/Bonarda/Syrah 2013

Mendoza $16.95 (37036) 14.0% alcohol

Intensely opaque in the glass, sweet and fruity on the nose, this offers aromatic fruits and lovely complementary aromas of flowers, herbs and spice. Dry and medium-full bodied, the palate’s dominated by the wonderfully fresh texture and wash of tasty, fresh cherry/berry fruit. Supple tannin adds balance, while savoury notes of earth and minty herbs bring complexity. Ripe with fruit, fresh through the finish, this is a lively, tasty red blend. (Susan Desjardins)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink now
Viña Tarapacá ‘Gran Reserva’ Carmenère 2013
Maipo Valley $17.95 (57513) 14.0% alcohol
Smoky/oaky and cherry/berry aromas develop into a full-fruited, fully textured stream of red and black currant coating the palate garnished with mixed spice, savory herbs and a lick of still-evolving tannin. This is medium bodied with good balance and showcases a dry, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside grilled striploin or rack of lamb after a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

• This is a great example of Barossa Valley Shiraz; it was chosen from selected premium sites during what’s considered a less-than-stellar vintage. If you lived in Australia you would pay $30 to purchase this online from the winery. The wine and Vintages price below is quite special.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Magpie Estate ‘The Sack’ Shiraz 2015
Barossa Valley, South Australia $21.95 (94078) 14.0% alcohol
A gorgeous nose of cedar, peppery spice and black berry fruit aromas spill from the glass. It unleashes a nicely balanced, medium-full bodied, satin-smooth, fully fruited wash of bramble berry and sweet black cherry festooned with toasty oak, piquant spice and excellent moderating acidity. This is structured with persistent purity of fruit on the palate. The finish shines with red fruit tang and a shaker-full of exotic spice notes. Give it a go with grilled rack of lamb or smoked, grilled back ribs with a spicy dry rub. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Robert Oatley ‘Signature Series’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Margaret River, Western Australia $19.95 (323741) 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of dark berry fruit and sweet vanilla give way to a stream of sour cherry tang and racy cranberry interwoven with riper, sweeter bramble berry. It’s medium bodied with a dry finish that shows some toasty oak and still evolving tannin that can be easily ameliorated with a two-hour aeration/decant. This pours well with red pizza, lasagna or pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Awatere Valley, Marlborough $18.95 (225557) 13.5% alcohol
This is full-bore, full Monty, Sauvignon Blanc. It leaps from the glass with aromas of nettles, green bell pepper, savory herbs and minerality. Incredibly tangy and flavourful on the palate, this is the kind of stuff that put the Kiwis and their style of Sauvignon Blanc on the map. Palate flavours of tinned peas, savory herbs, pineapple and gooseberry are carried along on creamy texture and a laser-like beam of searing acidity—not for the faint of palate. Pours particularly well with goat cheese—try it generously crumbled over red vinegar and olive oiled arugula and radicchio salad. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Kim Crawford ‘Small Parcels Rise & Shine’ Pinot Noir 2013

Central Otago, South Island $29.95 (35337) 13.5% alcohol

Delicate aromas of spice and floral notes open this NZ Pinot. It opens with racy flavours of red currant and pie cherry robed in roasted savory herbs and spice bathing the palate and making their way to the mid-length finish where wisps of soft tannin add structure and interest. A lovely food wine, it’s good to go now alongside prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Bernard Reverdy & Fils Sancerre 2015
AOC Sancerre $26.95 (200055) 12.5% alcohol
This is a lovely rendition of a restrained Sauvignon Blanc without sacrificing flavour, texture or enjoyment. It’s medium bodied, nicely textured and charming. Grassy, citrus and mineral on the nose, a balanced, tangy stream of lemon zest, savory notes, Key lime and grapefruit make their way across the palate infusing the lengthy balanced finish. It adds zest and zing to the dining experience when poured with pan-seared fish or grilled seafood under a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. (Vic Harradine)

• Vouvray is planted almost exclusively to Chenin Blanc - the one other allowed variety is seldom seen. The most famous wines from this AOC are botrytis-affected, sweet wines that are absolutely dazzling—especially from the best vintages—and on par with the best from Sauternes. Due to the natural high acidity in Chenin Blanc there are some that age to one hundred years and more with many maturing after thirty and forty years.

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Domaine Toussaint Vouvray 2015
AOC Vouvray $15.95 (408260) 11.5% alcohol
This is a semi-sweet Chenin Blanc that’s fully fruited and terrific value. Aromas of honeyed pit fruit and floral notes provide segue for an absolutely delectable flow of medium-bodied, generously textured liquid ambrosia. Sweet-tinged white peach and pear robed in candied citrus coat the palate and dominate the lingering aftertaste. This pours well with fruit flan, spicy Asian cuisine or foie gras. Drink now to 2024. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

***1/2 drink now
Château de Marsan 2010
AOC Côtes de Bordeaux – Cadillac $16.95 (446245) 13.5% alcohol
This 70% Merlot/30% Cabernet Sauvignon red blend, from a premium Bordeaux vintage, offers aromas of roasted herbs, wet forest floor and stewed berry fruit. Black and red berry fruit wash over the palate on a light-medium-bodied frame interwoven with piquant spice, savory herbs and underpinned with a perceptible tannin structure. It finishes with replays—aerate/decant this for three hours before serving with Swiss steak. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Château Pierre de Montagnac 2009 

AOC Médoc $23.95 (437954) 14.0% alcohol

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from 30-year-old vines are harmoniously blended from this single-vineyard property in the Médoc. Aromas of red and dark fruit are complemented with vanilla and baking spice. Juicy dark plums, sweet raisins with hints of coffee and cocoa bathe the palate. Well balanced with good acidity, it has a persistent finish, firm tannins and would be best enjoyed with rare-grilled beef. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar
Château Saint-Antoine ‘Réserve du Château’ 2010

AOC Bordeaux $14.95 (434464) 13.0% alcohol

Principally Merlot, blended with Cabernet Franc, this well-balanced wine offers aromas of berries and cherries, cedar and spice, floral and dried herb nuances. Enjoy tangy flavours of red berry—raspberry, red cherry and cranberry—underpinned with supple tannin and fresh, lively acidity. Offering hints of toast and a touch of pepper on the finish, this dry, medium-bodied red is terrific value from what’s considered an outstanding vintage. (Susan Desjardins)

• The following red wine is quite a rarity as Sancerre is planted almost exclusively to Sauvignon Blanc. The Raimbault family are tenth-generation grape growers in the Verdigny District, the heart of Sancerre, and fashioned this gem by allowing full malolactic conversion in vat then bottling with only light filtration.

**** drink or cellar
Roger & Didier Raimbault Sancerre Rouge 2013
AOC Sancerre $28.95 (446401) 12.5% alcohol
Delicate, perfumed aromas of floral notes and berry fruit precede a soft current of ripe berry fruit, mixed spice and a brushstroke of soft tannin bathing the palate infusing the balanced and delightful aftertaste. There’s tangy acidity, good structure and purity of fruit throughout in this lighter-styled Pinot Noir. Take a couple of hours to decant/aerate this and serve with gourmet sausage or prime cut of grilled red meat. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Château Fontarèche ‘Vieilles Vignes Sélection’ 2014
AOC Corbières $13.95 (150540) 13.5% alcohol
Dishing up a glorious mouthful of ripe juicy fruit—red cherry, juicy black currant and ripe mulberry, this red blend—Carignan, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache—offers a world of value. There’s campfire smoke, tarry notes and flinty bits on the nose of this nicely textured, medium-bodied, balanced and crowd-pleasing, food-friendly gem. It finishes with a good balance of acid and fruit and is drinking well now and on to 2021. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Paul Jaboulet Aîné ‘Secret de Famille’ Côtes du Rhône 2013
AOC Côte du Rhône $16.95 (400333) 13.5% alcohol
Floral notes and exotic spice aromas reveal an extremely well-paced, well-made, well-balanced and well… simply delicious Grenache/Syrah red blend. It’s very easy on the plastic card and on the palate with an easy-going wash of ripe dark berry fruit carried along on a medium-bodied frame with good mouthfeel and oodles of charm. There’s more ripe fruit balanced with good tang and acidity on the juicy finish and aftertaste. Pour with pizza, wings or backyard burgers. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Feudo Arancio Nero d’Avola 2014
DOC Sicilia $14.95 (412668) 13.0% alcohol
This is full fruited, delicious and well balanced with the price-quality balance tipped well in your favour—back up the van. Perfumed aromas of exotic spice and dark berry fruit intro a delightful, delectable wash of fruit-filled flavour with ripe black cherry and juicy black currant to the fore, robed in good acidity. This is medium bodied and nicely textured with good balance and complexity. What’s not to like? (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Castello D’Albola Chianti Classico 2012
DOCG Chianti Classico $19.95 (339937) 13.0% alcohol
A quiet nose of exotic spice, earthy notes and red berry fruit aromas herald a delightful, lively wash of racy red cherry and passionfruit flashing over the palate infusing the lingering, lip-smacking finish. This is medium weight with good texture throughout and soft fine-grained tannin appearing on the long aftertaste. It pours extremely well with pasta puttanesca or spaghetti Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Podere ‘La Vigna’ Brunello Di Montalcino 2010
DOCG Brunello Di Montalcino $42.95 (390807) 14.5% alcohol
This muscular, cellar-dwelling Brunello’s offered at a price-quality ratio that’s more than fair—pop corks 2020 to 2026. Aromas of dried cherries, espresso roast and forest floor reveal a tightly wound river of currants and cherries robed in good acidity, piquant spice and cooked meat all underpinned by grainy tannin. It’s full bodied with a solid structure and time on its side. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Ruffino ‘Modus’ 2012
IGT Toscana $29.95 (912956) 13.5% alcohol

This blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot showcases the best qualities of its components and finesse of winemaking, making it more than the sum of its parts. The aromas are complex and layered—a mineral nuance, a whiff of chocolate, notions of spiced rose and fragrant fruit—pomegranate, black currant and cherry. Smooth and silky, succulent cherry and berry fruit is framed by well-defined structure and accented by well-integrated oak. Full bodied, offering layers of flavour, the mineral notes and hints of herbs and spiced toast replay through the extended dry finish. Serve with beef filet garnished with grilled mushrooms, tomato, red onion and a dab of blue cheese. (Susan Desjardins)

Spain: Red Wine

• And now for something completely different; the following wine is not just unique, it’s also delicious and well worth a purchase. Fruit was sourced from dry-farmed, hand-harvested, autochthonous, +90-year-old Prieto Picudu vines at 800m that are goblet trained - you can see by this photo why they must be handpicked as there are no wires or systems for support of the vines and fruit. The peculiarly shaped Prieto Picudo grape—elliptical rather than spherical, is indigenous to DO Castilla de la Tierra y Leon in Spain. The line drawings on the bottle label represent local wild flowers and there’s limited use of braille on the front label, as well.

Goblet trained vines

Prieto Picudo grape

**** drink or cellar
Estay ‘Prieto Picudo’ 2012
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León $15.95 (393140) 13.5% alcohol
Mineral and peppery spice notes mingle with berry fruit aromas on the nose of this medium-full bodied red. There’s a lively, juicy rush of red and black currant garnished with black plum and pie cherry on the palate. It’s well textured, and tangy throughout with brushstrokes of soft tannin showing through—aerate/decant two hours before serving with red pizza or pasta in tomato sauce—be sure to give this a go. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Finca Vallacreces ‘Pruno’ 2013
DO Ribera Del Duero $21.95 (312140) 13.5% alcohol
Lively aromas of pipe tobacco, ripe berry fruit and piquant spice unleash a sleek, tang-laden stream of racy red fruit—currant, cherry and cranberry—gliding across the palate adorned with red licorice, gamy notes and great élan. It’s medium bodied with a lingering, mouth-watering, dry finish and aftertaste. Pair with spaghetti Bolognese or Swiss steak. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Lan ‘Reserva’ 2009
DOCa Rioja $24.95 (42929) 13.5% alcohol
This 92% Tempranillo, 8% Graciano red blend was aged a minimum 16 months in hybrid, oak barrels—American oak staves, French oak heads—and a further 24 months in bottle. It wafts from the glass with aromas of oaky notes prior to rolling over the palate with a tang-infused rush of red cherry, black currant and piquant spice. It’s mid weight with decent texture and good structure—aerate/decant a couple of hours before pouring. Kudos for the back bottle-label graph indicating optimum cellaring time and proper cellaring conditions. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Monasterio De Las Viñas ‘San José De Aguarón Reserva’ 2008
DO Cariñena $14.95 (166579) 13.5% alcohol
This Graciano/Tempranillo/Cariñena red blend has a lot to offer. It gives off a lovely bouquet of toasty notes, sweet vanilla and mixed berry fruit providing entrée to a medium-bodied, nicely textured flow of ripe, briary berry and cassis on the palate. There’s excellent fruit replays on the finish and aftertaste robed in juicy, tangy acidity, wisps of fine-grained tannin, good balance and charm. Let this breathe by aerating/decanting for three hours before pouring with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Rio Madre Graciano 2014
DOCa Rioja $14.95 (354753) 14.0% alcohol
Licorice notes, berry fruit and cedar aromas on the nose, this Graciano releases a tang-infused river of sour cherry and passionfruit streaking over the palate interlaced with peppery spice and notions of licorice allsorts. There’s replays of palate flavours on the finish and aftertaste garnished with an underpinning of acceptable tannin. This offers excellent value and pairs well with red pizza or roasted green pepper stuffed with tomato, rice and ground meat. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Viña Zaco Tempranillo 2014
DOCa Rioja $14.95 (146209) 14.0% alcohol
Most red wine lovers will find this Tempranillo to their liking—it’s extremely well priced, loaded with juicy, red and dark fruit and finishes dry, crisp and refreshing. Lifted aromas of pencil shavings, charred toast and dark berry fruit abound. Dark, bramble berry fruit and sweet vanilla are laced and balanced with sour cherry flavour bathing the palate. This is mid weight with decent mouthfeel and a tangy, dry, clean finish. (Vic Harradine)

New in LCBO Portfolio Wines

• The following wine from Château des Charmes is 100% Aligoté, the only Aligoté outside of Burgundy, France thought to be commercially produced every vintage. Aligoté is inextricably entwined with Kir, a drink composed of Aligoté wine and crème de cassis. The drink was originally called blanc-cassis. Urban legend has it a former Mayor of Dijon, France, Felix Kir, revived and popularized this drink when faced with a catastrophic vintage that rendered Aligoté wine overly acidic, virtually undrinkable on its own, but very pleasant with a generous splash of sweet, crème de cassis. Since then, enjoyable white wine with natural acidity, such as Chablis Chardonnay, as well as Aligoté, are used to make Kir. When made with sparkling wine, it’s known as Kir Royale.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes Aligoté 2015
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $14.95 (296848) 13.0% alcohol
This is nicely balanced, clean crisp and refreshing with purity of fruit and excellent tang from twist top to last drop. Aromas of orchard fruit and citrus introduce a lighter-styled, delectable wash of ripe pear, white peach and lemon curd bathing the palate with lip-smacking tang and great élan. Granny Smith apple and wisps of quince jelly linger on the mouth-watering finish. Lovely on its own, if you’re considering Kir, a 5 ounce glass of wine and one-half ounce of crème de cassis is a ratio many find pleasant. (Vic Harradine)

New in Private Order

• Order the following wine by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario along with those published in the previous newsletter 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.

**** drink now
Domaine de Vénus ‘Tentations’ 2012 

AOP Côtes du Roussillon, France $26.95 14.5% alcohol 
A quiet nose of smoky/oaky notes and cedar/sandalwood aromas open a medium-bodied, generously textured stream of red and black berry fruit robed in good acidity and tang. This finish replays tang and good acidity from red cherry/berry fruit along with good tang and acidity along with wisps of grainy tannin. Pour with Swiss steak or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic