September 26, 2016 Newsletter

Susan Desjardins

California dreaming…

Susan Desjardins recently enjoyed California, tasting and spitting her way through premium wineries. Her photos, insightful comments and helpful reviews on wine in stores and slated for upcoming Vintages releases from three of those wineries give winecurrent subscribers the inside track and are a click away here. More California wineries will be featured in upcoming winecurrent publications.

Newsletter highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! –8 of 70 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 –three wines rang the five-star bell: Poggio San Polo Brunello Di Montalcino 2010 @ $ 74.95 found under Feature: Tuscany; Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2015 @ $57.95 found under South Africa: Red Wine; Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo 2011 @ $53.95 found under Italy: Red Wine.
  • Vic Picks – Momo Sauvignon Blanc 2014 earning 4 stars @ $19.95 under New Zealand: White Wine; Hervé Azo Chablis 2014 earning 4 stars @ $23.95 found under France: White Wine; Evans & Tate ‘Metricup Road’ Cabernet/Merlot 2013 earning 4½ stars @ $21.95 found under Australia: Red Wine; Barón de Ley ‘Gran Reserva’ 2010 earning 4½ stars @ $29.95 under Feature: Rioja.

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 stock in stores near you is displayed—or by clicking ‘Check all stores’ where you’ll see stock available in all LCBO stores. 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 stores showing stock before you go.

October 1, 2016 Vintages Release

Feature: Wine from Tuscany, Italy

• The following wine has been certified, ‘Gran Selezione’. This is a relatively recent designation for Chianti Classico reds. e.g., ‘Gran Selezione is a new classification above Riserva, made using grapes harvested only from estate vineyards, with upgraded requirements for alcohol (minimum 13%), extract (26 g/l), and aging (30 months in barrel and/or bottle).’ It’s estimated less than 10% of Chianti Classico wines meet these standards.

**** cellar
Castello Di Ama ‘San Lorenzo - Gran Selezione’ Chianti Classico 2011
DOCG Chianti Classico $48.95 (418897) 13.0% alcohol
Grilled herb and sweet vanilla aromas on the nose give way to a juicy mouthful of red and dark cherry/berry fruit, excellent tang and a dollop of grainy tannin on the palate and finish. It’s medium bodied, lively and refreshing, if a bit tight for now. This cellar dweller will handsomely repay patience—pop corks 2018-2022. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Ruffino Ducale ‘Oro Riserva - Gran Selezione’ Chianti Classico 2011
DOCG Chianti Classico $47.95 (353201) 14.5% alcohol
Grilled herbs, floral notes and red cherry on the nose, it bathes the palate with black currant, cassis and pie cherry interweaving with mixed spice, earthy and tarry notes. It’s mid weight with persistent fruit and excellent tang from cork pop to last drop. The dry finish is mouth-watering good and garnished with bittersweet chocolate. Serve with grilled steak or osso buco following a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

***** cellar
Poggio San Polo Brunello Di Montalcino 2010
DOCG Brunello Di Montalcino $74.95 (650812) 14.5% alcohol
This is beautiful Brunello with character, elegance and complexity. The 24 months spent in new French oak barrique is well integrated. It fills the room with a bouquet of floral notes, dark berry fruit and baking spice. This dances on the palate with poise, balance and charm—black currant and ripe mulberry fruit are in lock step with racy tang and fine-grained tannin infusing the lengthy aftertaste. This is classic Brunello from a fantastic vintage. Drink now after a three-hour aeration/decant and on to 2025. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Lavacchio Cedro ‘Riserva’ Chianti Rufina 2009
DOCG Chianti Rufina $24.95 (85142) 14.5% alcohol
This is creamy smooth with depth and complexity and a lot of wine given the reasonable price tag for this Riserva. Charred toast and sweet vanilla aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of flavour with rich dark fruit—currant, cherry, plum—coating the palate robed in juicy tang, baking spice and a soft tannin underpinning. Aerate/decant for two hours serving with pasta puttanesca. (Vic Harradine)

Feature: Wine from Rioja, Spain

****drink or cellar
CVNE ‘Monopole Blanco’ 2015
DOCa Rioja $15.95 (66951) 13.0% alcohol
Perfumed aromas of honey-scented floral notes open this medium-weight, full-fruited, value-for-money Viura, aka Macabeo. A river of tropical fruit and racy lemon citrus streaks over the palate along with notions of savory herbal notes. It has good mouthfeel and a long aftertaste that layers on melon and crisp, green apple. Pour with grilled calamari under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Palacios Remondo ‘La Vendimia’ 2014

DOCa Rioja $15.95 (674564) 14.5% alcohol

Heady aromas of spice-laden cherry cola open a tapestry of palate flavours with pie cherry, ripe mulberry and piquant spice to the fore. Fruit was sourced from estate-owned 10-to 40-year-old vines, density planted, dry farmed at hi-altitude and organic since 2003 under the watchful eye of winemaker, Alvaro Palacios, Decanter’s 2015 ‘Man of the Year’. The wine is augmented with an 8% portion of the previous vintage and is a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha. It’s tangy and juicy throughout with a very, very long aftertaste. Pair with spaghetti Bolognese or Swiss steak. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Luis Cañas Crianza 2010
DOCa Rioja $17.95 (336719) 14.0% alcohol
Red cherry and oaky aromas interlace with exotic spice and sweet vanilla—it spent 12 months in 60% French/50% American oak prior to bottling. It races over the palate with great tang and élan showering pie cherry and passionfruit flavours persisting through the dry, crisp, mouth-watering finish. There’s still-evolving tannin present that’s easily ameliorated with a three-hour aeration/decant. Pour with pasta Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Rioja Vega ‘Reserva’ 2011
DOCa Rioja $22.95 (423517) 13.5% alcohol
This is juicy, lively and rarin’ to go; it’s full fruited, medium bodied and generously textured. It bathes the palate and dazzles the senses with red and black cherry/berry fruit tinged with peppery spice, tangy acidity and oodles of charm. It’s dry and lip-smacking on the finish and aftertaste. The soft, fine-grained tannin adds structure and interest—aerate/decant a couple of hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Barón de Ley ‘Gran Reserva’ 2010
DOCa Rioja $29.95 (642496) 13.5% alcohol
This spent 24 months in 50/50 French and American oak barrel and a further three years in bottle before release. Licorice, tobacco and baking spice mingle with dark berry fruit aromas on the nose of this medium bodied, nicely textured gem. A gorgeous wash of black berry flavour bathes the palate robed in peppery spice, complexity and charm. There’s persistent purity of fruit and a lengthy balanced aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Conde de Valdemar ‘Gran Reserva’ 2007
DOCa Rioja $29.95 (114504) 13.5% alcohol
This red blend—85% Tempranillo/10% Mazuelo/5% Graciano—spent 26 months in French oak before bottling. It opens with a funky bouquet of medicinal cherry notes, tar and stewed prunes. A medium-weight, well-textured river of dark briary berry and sour cherry glide over the palate replaying on the lingering finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside your favourite backyard, grilled, red meat. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release


**** drink now
Poli Amaro 

Product of Italy $37.95 (662726) 700 mL 32.0% alcohol 

Fashioned through a well-guarded, secret herbal-infusion to alcohol and grappa, then aged in oak barrel, this tasty digestif displays pronounced minty notes, subtle herbal aromas and a tantalizing hint of caramelized sugar. Powerful, rich and velvety, alluring notes of peppermint, recurring nuances of herbs and a subtle bitterness caress the palate leading to a mouth-cleansing finale. Savor and enjoy. (Susan Desjardins)


****1/2 drink now
Billecart-Salmon ‘Brut Rosé’ Champagne
AOC Champagne $63.95 375 mL (924670) 12.0% alcohol
Complex and interesting, this offers up yeasty/leesy notes and baking brioche on the nose. Sweet, ripe fruit—strawberry and ripe raspberry—envelop the palate with ruby red grapefruit and hints of spice and minerality carried along on a profusion of fine-bead bubbles. This is nicely balanced with a clean, crisp finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

**** drink now
Pierre Sparr ‘Brut’ Rosé Crémant d’Alsace Non-Vintage

AOC Alsace $18.95 (39016) 12.0% alcohol

Pale salmon and crafted from Pinot Noir, the delicate aromas of red field berries come through on the crisp, bright and fresh palate. Just off-dry, light-medium bodied and fruity, it delivers fine mousse and lively acidity. A refreshing and delightful choice. (Susan Desjardins)  

**** drink now
Tenua S. Anna Prosecco Superiore Di Valdobbiadene 

DOCG Veneto $19.95 (281386) 11.5% alcohol 

This has very appealing aromas with orchard fruit, floral notes and citrus to the fore. It has a beautifully textured mouth feel and decent weight with plenty of bubbles on the palate. Flavours of green apple, pear and peach interlace with crisp refreshing acidity and notions of minerality persisting through the mouth-watering finish. (Vic Harradine) 

Ontario: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
G. Marquis ‘The Silver Line’ Chardonnay 2014
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $17.95 (258681) 13.0% alcohol
Floral notes, Asian spice and citrus aromas blossom on the nose of this lighter-styled, nicely textured Chardonnay. This showcases excellent tang and deft balance throughout. It bathes the palate with piquant spice and sweet vanilla mingling with lime cordial and ginger snap on the finish and lengthy, lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour alongside festive turkey with all the fixings. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
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)

*** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Stoney Ridge ‘Excellence’ Chardonnay 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 (254243) 13.5% alcohol
Smoke, oak and caramel aromas curl from the nose of this medium-full bodied, well-textured Chardonnay. There’s a solid whack of oak on the palate and aftertaste that dominates peach, pear and apple flavours balanced by citrusy tang. Give it another 12 months for the oak to become integrated. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Creekside Estate ‘Queenston Road’ Pinot Noir 2014

VQA St. David’s Bench $18.95 (415877) 12.5% alcohol

Beet red in the glass, this classic cool-climate Pinot Noir layers lovely earthy, cedar scents on field berry and cherry accented with sweet vanilla and spice aromas. The keen acidity and perceptible tannins are a great frame for the tangy red berry fruit while earthy beetroot and mineral character add depth on the palate. It’s medium bodied, with a long, dry, fruity finish—this is excellent value. (Susan Desjardins)

****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)

***1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Redstone Cabernet 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula $20.20 (415885) 13.5% alcohol
Fruit for this blend of the two Cabernets was farmed organically and biodynamically. The winery’s named for the predominantly red clay soils. This is taut, sleek and laden with tang. Grilled savory herbs and spice aromas make way for a lighter-styled red that streams over the palate with racy red currant and hints of espresso roast mingling with wisps of mineral tones. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $22.95 (377770) 13.0% alcohol
There’s excellent acidity, stunning flavour and persistent purity of fruit here. Gorgeous aromas of baking spice, caramel and orchard fruit unleash a balanced and beautiful wash of ripe pear and crisp green apple interwoven with nutty and mineral notes on the palate infusing the lively, refreshing finish. Pour on its own or with roast pork. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Mission Hill ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $24.95 (545012) 13.8% alcohol
This is a lovely Pinot, full fruited, balanced and beautiful. Exotic spice and floral aromas introduce a tapestry of flavour gliding over the palate with a creamy smooth, medium-bodied river of spice and tang—primarily black currant and red cherry with notions of earthy notes. The finish lingers with spice, fruit and tang to the fore. Lovely sipped on its own, it will also pour well with festive bird. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Ca’ Momi Chardonnay 2014
Napa Valley $23.95 (361972) 13.9% alcohol
Tuck this away for around 10 months allowing the toasty oak to fully integrate—you’ll be handsomely rewarded for your patience with a terrific price-quality ratio. Baking spice, toffee apple and nutty notes abound on the nose of this medium-weight Chardonnay. Sweet ripe fruit—baked apple and poached pear—detonate on the palate bolstered by just enough spice and acidity on the finish to keep this very enjoyable. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

****1/2drink now
Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Sonoma County $22.95 (331603) 14.5% alcohol

Piquant spice, toast, oak and savory herb aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of palate-coating flavour with black and red currant to the fore interlaced with espresso roast, sweet vanilla and wisps of pie cherry. It’s medium-full bodied with good mouth feel and a balanced, dry, mouth-watering finish. Pour alongside pastitsio. (Vic Harradine)

• Oh Canada! Canadian, eh? Elizabeth Grant-Douglas is Director of Winemaking at the prestigious La Crema winery in Sonoma. She has deep roots in Niagara and learned her trade first as a cellar hand and tending vines at her family home as her dad grew a few vines in the backyard and made wine as a hobby. After first graduating with a degree in economics from U of Waterloo, she honed her winemaking skills by being amongst the first to graduate from the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture program at Brock U in St. Catherines, ON and developed her talent further at Château des Charmes, 13th Street and Inniskillin. Elizabeth then moved to the US, working a harvest at Columbia Crest in Washington State and then on to California and La Crema where the rest, as they say, is history.

**** drink or cellar
La Crema Pinot Noir 2014
Sonoma Coast $29.95 (719435) 13.5% alcohol
Sweet, ripe fruit is front and centre in this rich, luscious Pinot showcasing good depth and plenty of charm. Aromas of sweet vanilla, baking spice, mint and ripe black cherry unleash a medium-weight, well-textured flow of bramble berry jam and cherry clafoutie coating the palate garnished with toasty/oaky notes, a hint of milk chocolate and vanilla. Look for more ripe fruit and piquant spice on the lingering finish. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: Red Wine

****1/2 drink now
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)

Chile: White Wine

**** drink now
Luis Felipe Edwards ‘Gran Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Leyda Valley $17.95 (663062) 13.0% alcohol
This has recognizably Sauvignon Blanc aromas of grassy notes, racy citrus and piquant herbal aromas on the nose of this light-medium bodied, lively and juicy gem. It races over the palate with flavours of gooseberry and quince jelly entwined with tang-laden white grapefruit infusing the crisp and refreshing aftertaste. There’s plenty of tang here to pour well with pan-seared tilapia under a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink now
Echeverria ‘Limited Edition’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Central Valley $24.95 (389221) 14.5% alcohol
This red blend—85% Cabernet Sauvignon/10% Syrah/5% Carménère—aged 20 months in French oak barrel. It wafts from the glass with a bouquet of dark berry fruit, peppery spice and dried roses. This bathes the palate with black raspberry and black plum with hints of dark cherry robed in good acidity and deft balance throughout. It’s mid-full bodied with good mouthfeel and a delightful finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

• The following 66% Sauvignon Blanc/34% Semillon blend is almost the reverse of the 80%/20% Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend commonly found in dry Bordeaux whites.

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Willow Bridge Estate ‘Dragonfly’ Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2015
Geographe, Western Australia $16.95 (418368) 12.8% alcohol
This value-laden, white blend had a small portion fermented in French oak barrique enhancing aromas and texture. Perfumed aromas of celery seed, lime zest and savory herbs herald a light-on-its-feet wash of lime cordial, ripe peach and tropical fruit with good mouthfeel and plenty of racy pizzazz. It finishes clean and refreshing. Sip on its own or pour alongside grilled calamari or pan-seared fish. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Evans & Tate ‘Metricup Road’ Cabernet/Merlot 2013
Margaret River, Western Australia $21.95 (376848) 14.0% alcohol
This Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot red blend has a dash of Malbec and a lot to offer—depth, balance, complexity and persistent purity of fruit. Aromas of cedar, savory herbs and dark berry fruit point the way to a full bodied, full fruited and plush wash of ripe bramble berry fruit, toasty oak and racy red currant flavours on the palate. There’s good structure and a long, balanced and delicious aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Zonte’s Footstep ‘Chocolate Factory’ Shiraz 2014
McLaren Vale, South Australia $17.95 (396481) 14.5% alcohol
Espresso roast, sweet vanilla and mocha aromas mingle with cedar on the nose of this value-packed, brawny Shiraz. Almost opaque in the glass, it dishes up a luscious, fully textured mouthful of sweet, ripe mulberry, cassis and bramble berry preserve interwoven with a generous shake of baking spice and cocoa. It’s lengthy and delightful on the aftertaste with black plum, milk chocolate and a soft, ripe tannin structure. Kudos to winemaker extraordinaire, Ben Riggs. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

**** drink now
Momo Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Marlborough, South Island $19.95 (9167) 13.5% alcohol

An explosion of aromas—grassy nettles, lemon zest and lime joined by ripe peach—unfurl from this medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc. There’s a laser-like beam of citrus acidity and flinty minerality mingling with racy passion fruit and fleshier ripe pit fruit skating across the palate inundating the crisp, mouth-watering finish. Pour with grilled calamari rings under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Squealing Pig Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Marlborough, South Island $21.95 (414789) 13.5% alcohol
Lifted aromas of freshly cut green grass and savory herbs introduce a well-paced and deftly balanced, diminutive flow of savory herbs, kiwi fruit and ripe pear bathing the palate. The lingering finish is laced with racy tang and lip-smacking flavour. Pour with mussels steamed in Provençal herbs and white wine, this white wine. (Vic Harradine)

South Africa: Red Wine

**** drink now
Flagstone ‘Treaty Tree Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2012 

WO Western Cape $16.95 (278382) 14.0% alcohol 

Deep ruby, this Cabernet brings Merlot to the table, offering aromas of black currant, black cherry, plum, exotic spice and earth. Medium-full bodied, it’s fruity and tangy, round, generous and approachable. Blackcurrant and raspberry flavours caress the palate framed by ripe tannin and fresh acidity. Attractive savoury notes of toast, dried herbs and dark chocolate whisper through the dry finish. Excellent value and a great choice for grilled flatiron steak. (Susan Desjardins) 

• The following Pinot from the Hamilton Russel winery boasts estate fruit from one of the most southerly, cool-climate vineyards in South Africa—below the equator you go toward the South Pole for cooler climes. It’s close enough to the sea for the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley appellation to claim a maritime climate as it’s just tucked in behind the über-gorgeous, seaside town of Hermanus. They grow only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Hamilton Russell and are recognized as one of the wine world’s premium producers of both. They consider the 2015 vintage as one of their finest and most age worthy.

***** cellar
Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2015
WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay $57.95 (999516) 14.8% alcohol
Collectors, connoisseurs and red wine lovers should not pass this up. Ripe black currant, sandalwood and wisps of cassis aromas provide segue for a stunningly elegant stream of black currant, black plum and notions of piquant spice. There’s balance, persistent purity of fruit, depth and firm structure along with a lengthy, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Best to pop corks 2018 to 2025 and aerate/decant for a couple of hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Waterkloof ‘Circumstance’ Syrah 2012

WO Stellenbosch, South Africa $22.95 (455782) 14.0% alcohol

This was aged 20 months in 15% new and older 600 L 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)

France: White Wine

**** drink now
Hervé Azo Chablis 2014

AOC Chablis $23.95 (185736) 12.5% alcohol

Distinctive aromas of campfire smoke and steely/minerality jump from the glass. It streaks across the plate with magnificent nerve and verve brilliantly expressed by Key lime, dried herbs and notions of white grapefruit. Sleek, trim, and light on its feet, it delivers a racy, dry, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. This pours well with sushi, ceviche or freshly shucked oysters. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
La Chablisienne Saint Bris 2015
AOC Saint-Bris $16.95 (641753) 12.5% alcohol
Subdued aromas of minerality and grassy notes provide segue for a light-on-its-feet, watery wash of tart tang, nettles, gooseberry and saline minerality. Give this a go with pan-seared pickerel under a squish of fresh lemon juice or chèvre that’s grilled and crumbled over olive-oiled and red-vinegar dotted, mesclun salad. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Maison Roche de Bellene ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Meursault 2010

AOC Meursault $48.95 (241091) 13.0% alcohol

A heavily perfumed nose of exotic spice, honeydew melon and nutmeg precedes a stylish river of white nectarine, Bosc pear and Mirabelle plum bathing the palate with medium-plus weight and creamy smooth texture. The lengthy balanced finish adds interest with wisps of well-integrated toasty oak and notions of vanilla. This has good structure, complexity and time on its side—drink now to 2019. (Vic Harradine)

• The fruit for the following Chardonnay was grown by the husband and wife winemaking team, Jean Marc and Éliane Lafage, in the hills of the Roussillon at their family winery, Domaine Lafage. While 30% of the fruit was aged 3 months in Burgundian barrels, the other 70% was aged in stainless steel tank on the lees of previously fermented Viognier, providing a Chardonnay unlike any other in aroma and flavour.

**** drink or cellar
Novellum Chardonnay 2014
IGP Pays d’Oc $17.95 (390781) 13.0% alcohol
Baking spice, nutty notes and honeysuckle aromas leap from the glass of this mid-plus weight, generously textured gem. A creamy smooth wash of lemon curd, white nectarine, pineapple and tangy grapefruit pith coat the palate infusing the racy finish and aftertaste. Give this a go with supermarket rotisserie-roast chicken and oven-roast potatoes or pork roast. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Château Barreyre 2011

AOC Bordeaux Supérieur $19.95 (404293) 14.0% alcohol

This cellar-dweller opens with aromas of dark berry fruit along with hints of herbs and piquant spice. It’s mid-plus bodied with good mouth feel and a solid tannin underpinning. Flavours of teeth-staining black currant and notions of toasty oak dominate the palate and extended finish. Pop corks 2018 – 2022. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 cellar
Château Bel Air 2011
AOC Haut-Médoc $25.95 (416172) 13.5% alcohol
There are piquant spice and red berry fruit aromas on the nose introducing a delectable surge of ripe, sweet fruit—dark, juicy cherry and black, briary berry—interlaced with earthy notes, good tang and soft tannin. This is well balanced with good depth and firm structure. Aerate/decant for two hours pouring with roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and root veggies done around the roast. (Vic Harradine)

**** cellar
Château Le Caillou 2009

AOC Pomerol $53.95 (45682) 13.5% alcohol

Ripe berry fruit, rosewood and spice box aromas beguile the olfactories before enveloping the palate with a tang-laden river of concentrated dark berry fruit, black cherry and toasty bits. This is medium bodied with good mouth feel and a long drying finish underpinned by a solid base of tannin. Tuck away and open 2017 – 2022 pouring with a grilled rack of Australian lamb. (Vic Harradine)

Germany: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2011
Prädikatswein $23.95 (670752) 9.0% alcohol
Hints of petrol and minerality give way to a semi-sweet flow that’s loaded with flavour. It coats then palate with heavily textured waves of tropical fruit and honeyed peach and pear. The lengthy finish enhances this sweet, tasting experience. Pour with pear or apple galette. (Vic Harradine)

Hungary: White Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Château Dereszla Tokaji Muscat 2015
Hungary $17.95 (416982) 12.0% alcohol
This medium-sweet Tokaji blossoms on the nose with aromas of rosewater, exotic spice and citrus. It bathes the palate with delicate weight and wispy texture along with sweet-tinged flavour—Clementine orange, spice and lemon pie filling—with replays on the mid-length finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside fruit flan. (Vic Harradine)

Greece: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Kourtakis ‘Kouros Red’ 2013
AOP Nemea $12.95 (465906) 14.0% alcohol
The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour—back up the van and pour alongside grilled burgers, ribs or spaghetti and meatballs now to end of 2018. Dark berry fruit, cassis and juicy tang coalesce on the palate infusing the lengthy finish. This is full fruited, fully flavoured and well balanced throughout. It’s also medium-full bodied and nicely textured. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

• I suppose one must be a serious oenophile and/or avid white-wine lover to be interested in the following wine, given its relative obscurity and price. However, it’s certainly worth a purchase. The major grape in this tiny DOC, situated on the southern shores of Lake Garda, is the local variety, Turbiana, aka Trebbiano di Lugana. Wine labeled, DOC Lugana, must be at least 90% Turbiana fruit. Lugana is on the border of Lombardia and Veneto. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit and is less than an hour from Verona. The ‘Riserva’ wines are considered to be age worthy - some ten years or more. This was 70% barrel fermented, the balance in stainless steel, followed by 6 months in oak barrel and a further 12 months in bottle before release.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Sergio Zenato ‘Riserva’ Lugana 2013
DOC Lugana $34.95 (928218) 13.5% alcohol
This showcases complexity, persistent purity of fruit and is balanced on a pin. Citrus, spice and nutty notes on the nose introduce a medium-full bodied, nicely textured, almost riveting wash of racy, lip-smacking citrus garnished with ripe pear and crisp Granny Smith apple on the palate. Replays on the lingering aftertaste are enhanced by white nectarine and lemon-lime yoghurt. Pour with grilled seafood or roast chicken. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

• The following wine has at least 90% Barbera fruit in order to meet DOCG regulations. The Barbera grape is thought to be indigenous to the central region of Piedmonte and is considered to be Piedmonte’s principal grape variety.

**** drink now
Pico Maccario Lavignone Barbera d’Asti 2014
DOCG Barbera d’Asti $18.95 (365486) 13.5% alcohol
This is classic Barbera, riding a wave of lively, juicy tang. Red berry fruit and fennel aromas set the table for a well-paced, tangy river of red berry fruit and black plum racing across the palate with great nerve and verve. The racy, juicy tang extends through the finish and aftertaste. Pour with pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

***** cellar
Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo 2011
DOCG Barolo $53.95 (713479) 13.5% alcohol
This has good depth and complexity, persistent purity of fruit and generous mouthfeel. A gorgeous bouquet of roasted savory herbs, black licorice and dark berry fruit open this medium-plus bodied Nebbiolo. A rich, luscious flow of dark cherry and black currant enhances tangy acidity and soft, ripe tannin on the palate and throughout the tasting experience and aftertaste. Good to go now and on to +2020. (Vic Harradine)

Portugal: Red Wine

****1/2 cellar Exceptional Value!
Quinta Da Rede ‘Reserva’ 2012
DOC Douro $17.95 (431742) 13.5% alcohol
This red blend uses three of the top varieties used in making Port—Touriga Nacional/Tinta Roriz/Touriga Franca. It barrels from the glass with aromas of dark berry fruit and tobacco before unleashing a delectable, structured torrent of flavour—bramble berry jam, sour cherry and sweet vanilla—all balanced, but underpinned by still-evolving tannin. Pick up an armful and pop corks 2018 to 2022. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Barahonda ‘Barrica’ Monastrell/Syrah 2012
DO Yecla $17.95 (378869) 14.5% alcohol
Fruit was sourced from +45-year-old vines—75% Mourvèdre/25% Syrah then aged 6 months in French oak. This showcases loads of ripe fruit and terrific value. Tobacco leaf, cherry/berry and black licorice aromas abound on this medium-weight, well-textured red. A luscious stream of satiny-smooth, ripe, juicy black Bing cherry and briary berry coat the palate adorned in piquant spice, depth and complexity. The price-quality balance tips well in your favour—load up the trunk. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: October 15, 2016

**** drink now
Baron de Hoen ‘Réserve’ Pinot Gris 2014
AOC Alsace $15.95 (280149) 13.0% alcohol
Pinot Gris in Alsace is generally more full bodied with an enhanced flavour profile and more texture compared to Pinot Grigio, a Pinot Gris clone grown in Italy. Medium-yellow-hued, it offers aromas of lemon drop candy, floral notes and heady exotic spice. It’s creamy smooth with good weight and a dazzling wash of honey-dipped tropical fruit that’s moderated on the back palate and aftertaste with a dollop of grapefruit pith. Pour with grilled chicken over arugula dressed with creamy Caesar salad dressing. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following red was hand harvested from 50-year-old vines at 780 m, hand sorted and stainless steel tank fermented at a controlled, cool, 28° C. It rested 14 months in new French oak barrel and was lightly filtered then bottled. The new French oak has been well integrated.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Mendoza, Argentina $19.95 (128629) 14.0% alcohol
This is rich and luscious, mid-plus weight with good mouthfeel, persistent purity of fruit and well structured. Aromas of charred toast, grilled herbs and dark berry fruit abound. It dishes up a juicy, balanced wash of ripe red and black cherry garnished with piquant spice and dark, bittersweet chocolate with lively replays on the finish and aftertaste. Pour with rare-grilled, dry-rubbed striploin. Good to go now and on to 2021. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Torres ‘Ibéricos’ Crianza Rioja 2013
DOCa Rioja, Spain $16.95 (381046) 13.5% alcohol
Roasted herbs, cedar and spice box introduce a medium-bodied, well-textured tangy river of pie cherry and red currant robed in mixed spice and racy acidity underpinned by a firm tannin structure. It dishes up more of the same on the lip-smacking aftertaste. Aerate/decant two hours pouring with red pizza, lasagna or backyard burgers. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: Spring 2017

**** cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Short Hills Bench $19.95 (268342) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of oak, smoke and baking spice abound on this still-maturing Chardonnay. It’s full bodied with excellent mouthfeel and many months to sleep before its Vintages release, allowing the oak to be fully integrated. There’s plenty of ripe fruit and tang under the oaky bits portending a lovely wine to emerge, much like a spectacular butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Be patient and wait for spring, your patience will be handsomely rewarded. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: Fall 2017

• Fruit for the following Henry of Pelham, Bordeaux blend—Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc—was sourced from estate, hand-planted, +30-year-old vines from the Short Hills Bench sub-region in Niagara. Yields were held to less than 2 tonnes per acre, oak-tank fermented for one month with manual punch downs then aged 20 months in French oak barrel, 60% new, 40% previously used once.

****1/2 drink or cellarOh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Speck Family Reserve’ Cabernet-Merlot 2012
VQA Short Hills Bench $39.95 (616433) 14.0% alcohol
Alluring aromas of baking spice, dark chocolate and espresso roast mingle with black, juicy cherry on the nose of this medium-plus weight, generously textured beauty. It bathes the palate well balanced and elegant with juicy, black briary berry and piquant spice robed in excellent tang bolstered by an underpinning of soft tannin structure. Pour now with grilled rack of lamb and/or enjoy further development 2019-2022. (Vic Harradine)

New in LCBO Portfolio

**** drink now
Collavini ‘Black Label - Villa Canlungo’ Pinot Grigio 2015
IGT Venezia Giulia, Italy $14.95 ((033340) 12.5% alcohol
In a world awash with watery Italian Pinot Grigio, this shines like a beacon. Honeyed pit fruit and wisps of citrus aromas open a mid-weight, nicely textured mouthful of tropical fruit and yellow peach nicely balanced with soft Meyer lemon acidity bathing the palate infusing a crisp, dry finish. This is good drinking and good value. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Columbia Winery Chardonnay 2013
Columbia Valley, Washington State $17.95 (462804) 13.8% alcohol
Aromas of dill, savory herbs and mixed spice make way for a mid-weight, textured stream of caramel, baking spice and honey-tinged peach, pear and apple bathing the palate garnished with racy citrus acidity. It’s crisp and dry on the finish along with oaky notes. Pour with grilled or pan-seared seafood under a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Columbia Valley, Washington State $17.95 (460675) 13.7% alcohol
Lifted aromas of black currant preserve and piquant spice set the table for medium-bodied, textured flow of tang-laden red and dark berry fruit, sharp spice and notions of tannin underpinning. Replays on the finish and aftertaste linger. Pour with lasagna, chile con carne or pastitsio. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
House Wine ‘Red’ Baco/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
VQA Ontario $13.95 (279521) 13.0% alcohol
Alluring aromas, deep, rich, palate-coating fruit and oodles of charm will easily win you over to this crowd-friendly red blend. Espresso roast, dark plum compote and pipe tobacco on the nose, this barrels over the palate with a fully fruited, tang-laden gusher of red and dark fruit—black currant, cherry and plum interwoven with spice and toasty notes. It’s a bit on the wild side on the aftertaste that’s laced with Asian spice, dark coffee and tangy berry fruit. The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour. Give it a go at your next backyard barbecue. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Sibling Rivalry – Red’ Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $13.95 (126151) 13.0% alcohol
Here’s a fruity Bordeaux blend punching well above its price. Aromas of mixed field berry fruit and peppery spice open this medium-bodied nicely textured red. A balanced flow of red and dark cherry/berry fruit coats the palate and replays on the finish with excellent tang and notions of dark bittersweet chocolate and savory herbs . Pour with all manner of grilled red meat. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand $15.95 (417600) 13.0% alcohol
Pyrazine aromas—grass, nettles and tinned peas—dominate the nose of this mid-weight racy SB. It streaks over the palate with laser-like precision, full of nerve and verve, racy and tangy—sharp, lemon-lime zest, white grapefruit and passionfruit flavour galore. The aftertaste is crisp, fresh and mouth-watering. Pour with sushi, ceviche or oysters. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

• Order the three following wines from Nyarai Cellars (minimum order of 2 bottles) for shipping consideration province-wide daily to home, office and restaurants. Order by calling Nyarai Cellars (289) 895–9396 or Coffin Ridge Winery (519) 317–9565 or order online @ Nyarai Cellars or visit Coffin Ridge Winery 599448 Concession Road 2 N, Annan, ON. N0H 1B0.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Nyarai Cellars Viognier 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $22.95 13.0% alcohol
This is brawny and bold from a very limited production—well under 100 cases. Honeysuckle and apricot aromas fly off the glass of this full-flavoured, fully textured spiced and tang-laden beauty. A full-bodied wash of quince jelly, lemon-lime tang and blood orange coat the palate garnished with nectarine and pear. The lengthy finish is infused with grapefruit pith and great élan—aerate/decant for 30 minutes. Bravo to winemaker, Steve Byfield. (Vic Harradine)

• The following impressive white blend, Viognier/Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay, spent 22 months in seasoned French oak barrel. Winemaker Steve Byfield dedicated this small lot—38 cases—to his parent’s unfailing support and love. Rêve translates, ‘to dream’, in English. 

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Nyarai Cellars Rêve 2014
VQA Ontario $22.95 13.0% alcohol
Alluring aromas of piquant spice and lemony citrus aromas herald a tang-laden, riveting gusher of lime cordial and lemon curd interlaced with quince jelly and apricot. It’s lively, juicy and deftly balanced from twist top to last drop—a testament to all the good to be derived from premium fruit, minimal winemaking intervention and innovative blending. The finish and aftertaste are monumentally lengthy. Pour with freshly shucked oysters or prawn ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

• Premium fruit for the following red blend—37% Cabernet Franc/29% Merlot/27% Cabernet Sauvignon/7% Syrah—was meticulously sourced during one of Niagara’s top red wine vintages.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Nyarai Cellars ‘Cadence’ 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula $22.95 13.0% alcohol
Everything’s in cadence here with ripe fruit, good tang, depth and complexity enhancing the rhythm and pace throughout. Exotic spice and campfire smoke aromas herald a juicy, lively stream of red and dark cherry/berry fruit loaded with racy tang, complexity and garnished with cassis and peppery spice on the palate and finish. This is medium-plus weight, silky smooth textured with oodles of lip-smacking flavour—a strong candidate for meat and tomato-sauce pasta dishes. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic