January 6, 2017 Newsletter

Newsletter highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 7 of 65 wines meet the strict quality-price guidelines. They’re easily found via the exceptional-value checkmark above—priced from $13.95 to $23.15. Which strict quality-price guidelines? Click here
  • Finding Waldo – A ‘virtual winery’ has no bricks or mortar with the winemaker using the facilities—press, tanks, storage space etc.—of another winery. It’s usually a crackerjack winemaker sourcing über-premium grapes with excellent results. This issue has wine reviewed from two Ontario ‘virtual wineries’—good hunting.
  • 5-star Wine – only one rang the 5-star bell. 2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard – Fox Croft Block’ Chardonnay 2014 @ $23.15 found under ‘New in Ontario Wineries’.
  • Vic Picks – Calamus ‘Barrel Kissed’ Chardonnay 2013 earned 4 ½ stars @ $16.95 found under Ontario: White Wine; William Hill Chardonnay 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $19.95 found under California: White Wine; Château Lagrange 2012 earned 4 ½ stars @ $19.95 found under France: Red Wine; 2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard – Fox Croft Block’ Chardonnay 2014 earned 5 stars @ $23.15 and Legends Estates ‘Reserve - Lizak Vineyard’ Petit Verdot 2012 earned 4 ½ stars @ $22.95 with both found under New in Ontario Wineries: Château des Hauts de Fontaneau Entre-Deux-Mers 2015 earned 4 stars @ $14.95 a white wine found under Private Order.

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.

  • Due to the holiday season, Vintages wines were not available for tasting until Wednesday January 2nd and 3rd hence the much-later-than-usual published reviews.

Vintages Release; January 7, 2017

The Main Release

Ontario: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Calamus ‘Barrel Kissed’ Chardonnay 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula $16.95 (330613) 12.3% alcohol

Lively aromas of sweet vanilla, baking spice, apple and pear herald an citrus-tinged wash of lemon and grapefruit tang robed in spiced apple and pear. It’s medium-plus bodied with good texture and long finish infused with orchard fruit and wisps of toast. Exceptional value and very good now that the oak has almost totally integrated. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
13th Street Gamay Noir 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 (177824) 13.0% alcohol
Smoke, spice and gamy notes roll from this juicy, lively, rustic Gamay. The palate’s treated to a medium-bodied, nicely textured mouthful of red and dark berry fruit robed in excellent racy acidity along with mixed spice and bacon notes persisting through the dry finish. For full enjoyment, aerate/decant a couple of hours before pouring. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Reif Pinot Noir 2013
VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake $16.95 (282889) 12.0% alcohol
Savory herbs and piquant spice aromas introduce this mid-weight, tangy red. A bracing line of acidity—pie cherry and passionfruit—streaks over the palate infusing the juicy finish along with wisps of tannin. Aerate/decant for three hours before pouring with pasta in tomato sauce or red pizza. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

**** drink now
Cline Viognier 2015
North Coast $19.95 (128421) 14.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas of tropical fruit, floral notes and flecks of honey-drenched pit fruit provide segue to a sweet-tinged wash of palate-coating flavour with ripe nectarine and mango leading the parade. This is medium-weight and generously textured with more of those sweet flavours dominating the aftertaste. Serve with baked ham or spicy Asian cuisine. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Folie à Deux Chardonnay 2014
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County $24.95 (146951) 13.9% alcohol
Fruit for this outstanding Chardonnay was sourced from nine premium vineyard sites in the Russian River appellation. Golden yellow in the glass, it billows aromas of tropical fruit, notions of honey and sharp ginger root. Medium bodied with generous mouthfeel, this dishes up a balanced and beautiful wash of ripe pear and honeydew melon nicely interwoven with racy lemon-lime on the lip-smacking finish. What’s not to like? (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
William Hill Chardonnay 2014
North Coast $19.95 (437251) 13.9% alcohol
This has oodles of baking spice, ripe juicy fruit, soft acidity, terrific value and charm. Aromas of baking spice, mango and ripe tropical fruit abound on the nose of this medium-full bodied, creamy-smooth gem. It bathes the palate with fruit—white peach and pear—interlaced with replays of baking spice and a delicious line of soft acidity—Key lime and Meyer lemon. Pour alongside roast bird or roast pork. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Ironstone Lodi Merlot 2015
Lodi $17.95 (704353) 14.5% alcohol
This Merlot was left to ripen to full maturity showcasing a fleshy, fruit-forward red with hi-alcohol and rich, ripe fruit flavour galore. Aromas and flavours of black currant, blackberry and black plum compote are nicely supported by dark bittersweet chocolate and espresso roast persisting through the nicely balanced—red cherry and red currant—aftertaste. It’s mid-full weight with good mouthfeel and offers an interesting, delicious take on this oft-maligned grape variety. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Jekel Pinot Noir 2014
Monterey County $20.95 (27268) 13.6% alcohol
Aromas of mixed spice and red berry fruit set the stage for this light-on-its-feet Pinot. A wash of sweet milk chocolate-dipped cherries, beetroot and kirsch liqueur bathe the palate underpinned by wisps of still-evolving tannin. Aerate/decant for two hours before serving then pour with roasted poblano peppers stuffed with minced beef, tomatoes and rice. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
California $19.95 (161398) 13.0% alcohol
Dark chocolate, savory herbs and gamy notes on the nose, this drenches the palate with a sweet, ripe river of maraschino cherry and cherry cordial robed in gamy notes, sweet vanilla and wisps of campfire smoke. Pour with smoked, grilled back ribs mopped with spicy barbeque sauce.

**** drink or cellar
McManis Zinfandel 2015
Lodi $19.95 (256735) 14.5% alcohol
There’s rich, sweet ripe fruit galore in this medium-full bodied, well-textured Zin. Red and black cherry and dark briary berry wash over the palate balanced and beautiful. The lengthy balanced finish offers up with rich, dark fruit and racy acidity all in perfect harmony. Good to go now, pour with beef fajitas. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Noble Vines ‘337’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Lodi $17.00 (483321) 14.0% alcohol
Grilled herbs and berry fruit aromas make way for a nicely structured, medium-plus bodied mouthful of delightfully racy tang, ripe dark fruit and wisps of Christmas cake spice and savory herbs. This is nicely packaged on the palate with dark juicy cherry and red currant providing a sweet and tang explosion with flavour replays on the dry, refreshing aftertaste. Pour with bruschetta followed by meat lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Vina Robles Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Paso Robles $28.95 (693838) 14.6% alcohol
This California Cab showcases balance, persistent purity of fruit, firm structure and a lingering, luscious finish. A gusher of red and dark cherry/berry fruit coats the palate with excellent acidity—cranberry and pie cherry—and plenty of gusto. As you move through the finish and aftertaste, piquant spice and espresso roast join the fruit-forward parade. Aerate/decant for a couple of hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink now
Arboleda Carmenère 2014
Aconcagua Valley $19.95 (46284) 14.0% alcohol
This is a racy, fruit-filled Carmenère and it’s pedal to the metal from cork pop to last drop. Aromas of dark berry fruit and sprigs of herb aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of flavours. Lively juicy red fruit—cranberry, passionfruit and sour cherry—riding a streak of tangy acidity on the palate and through the lip-smacking finish. It’s mid weight, nicely textured and adds a layer of mocha and earthy notes on the aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Jip Jip Rocks Chardonnay 2015

Padthaway, South Australia $16.95 (175752) 12.5% alcohol

Proving once again that Jip Jip rocks, this fully textured, nicely balanced 2015 Chardonnay punches well above the price—we need to see more Chardonnay from Padthaway. Orchard and tropical fruit aromas make way for a mid-weight, nicely textured wash of ripe red apple, juicy pear and lemon citrus setting up a crisp refreshing aftertaste. Pour with pan-seared fish or supermarket, rotisserie roast chicken. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Heartland ‘Stickleback’ Red 2013

South Australia $14.95 (116574) 14.5% alcohol

This perennial favorite doesn’t disappoint, showing good balance and freshness. Opaque ruby, the aromas surge from the glass—floral notes, sweet ripe dark fruits, spice, vanilla and smoky toast. Dry, medium-full bodied, the palate combines a tangy texture with velvety tannin creating a well-defined structure for the cherry, berry and plum flavour. Spice, pepper and charry toasty notes add dash on the flavourful finish. A great deal! (Susan Desjardins)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Kilikanoon ‘The Lackey’ Shiraz 2015
South Australia $17.95 (5199) 14.5% alcohol
This is straightforward and tang-infused. Savoury-laced flavours of red plum and cranberry ride a racy line of bracing acidity that’s underpinned with a firm tannin structure. It’s medium-full bodied, reasonably textured and finishes lengthy and quite dry. Pour with pasta, tomato sauce and meatballs. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Marlborough, South Island $17.95 (981670) 12.5% alcohol
Grassy and gooseberry notes on the nose introduce a medium-bodied, generously textured river of ripe orchard fruit—nectarine, apple and pear—garnished with Key lime pie and passionfruit. This is deftly balanced with delightful flavours persistent throughout including the lengthy finish and lip-smacking aftertaste. Give it a go with arugula and crumbled chèvre under a drizzle of grape verjus. (Vic Harradine)

South Africa: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Clos Malverne ‘Reserve’ Pinotage 2013
WO Stellenbosch $17.95 (468025) 14.0% alcohol
This has a smoky/oaky nose and palate that’s also dressed in rich dark fruit, baking spice and black cherry/berry flavour. It’s medium-plus bodied with good texture and rolls over the palate in waves—black plum, black currant and dark cherry interweave with spice cake and charred toast on the palate and aftertaste. It’s good to go now; pour with grilled, smoked and seasoned gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

Austria: White Wine

**** drink now
Nikolaihof Wachau Terrassen Grüner Veltliner
Wachau, Austria $20.95 (85274) 11.5% alcohol
Aromas of pear, floral and mineral notes on the nose provide segue for a lively stream of white fruit—pear, apple, peach—decorated with lemon-lime tang and peppery notes. This is light-medium bodied with good tang and a lengthy, crisp and refreshing aftertaste. Lovely sipped on its own, it pours especially well with prawn ceviche, sushi or pan-seared white fish. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Héritiers Dubois Vouvray 2015
AOC Vouvray $15.95 (390708) 11.5% alcohol
This is gorgeous; it’s rich, luscious and was tough to spit. Honey and floral notes are interwoven on the nose unleashing a tapestry of flavour—ripe white nectarine, sweet, honey-drizzled pear and lemon-lime yoghurt—enveloping the palate and persisting through the long, crisp, fresh finish and aftertaste. Pour on its own or with baked ham pierced with cloves or spicy Asian cuisine like moo shu pork. At this price, back up the van. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Saveur Verte by Jeff Carrel 2014
IGP Côtes Catalanes $19.95 (462481) 13.5% alcohol
The dreamy nose and creamy flavours will certainly please the majority of white-wine lovers. Aromas of exotic spice, mandarin orange and Muscat grapes lead the way to replays on the palate with piquant spice, orange zest, white peach and lemony tang galore. A lovely lighter-styled white that’s equally excellent as an aperitif or poured with fruit flan or light appetizers. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Château Lagrange 2012
AOC Lussac Saint-Émilion $19.95 (230391) 13.0% alcohol
This is rich, ripe and luscious with plenty of oomph, complexity and charm. It wafts from the glass with heady aromas of dark berry fruit, baking spice and truffles. A palate-bathing stream of juicy red cherry/berry fruit melds with excellent tang and notions of mocha and earthy notes. Mid weight and nicely textured, the finish is balanced and lingering, dry and lip-smacking good. There’s very good value here. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Château du Chatelard ‘Cuvée Les Chalandières’ Beaujolais 2014
AOC Beaujolais $14.95 (468702) 12.5% alcohol
Lovely lilac and spice aromas open this excellent-value, older-vine Gamay. It streaks over the palate with a tang-laden surge of passionfruit, beetroot and red berry fruit—currant and raspberry. It’s light bodied with notions of mixed herbs and spice. Chill slightly and pour with lightly seasoned, baked chicken wings. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Gérard Bertrand ‘Grand Terroir’ Grenache/Syrah/Carignan 2013
AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages – Tautavel $18.95 (272575) 14.0% alcohol
Rich, ripe aromas of black currant, dark cherry and local herbs, aka garrigue, roll from this well-balanced, beautiful red blend—Grenache/Syrah/Carignan—from the beating heart of the Southern Rhone. It showcases good structure and persistent purity of fruit. A medium-full bodied river of well-textured flavour flows over the palate with black berry fruit, juicy, lip-smacking tang and a boatload of charm and very good value. Absolutely delicious. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
André Aubert Visan Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2014
AOC Côtes du Rhône-Villages - Visan $14.95 (224915) 13.5% alcohol
This tang-laden, lighter-styled, 75% Grenache/25% Syrah red blend reflects the relatively cool 2014 vintage in the Rhône Valley. It’s mid weight with good texture and a profusion of racy red fruit on the palate—cherry, currant and cranberry—mingling with sharp spice and hints of garrigue. While certainly lively and juicy, it’s better with food than without—give an Asian beef and veggie stir-fry a go. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Le Gravillas Sablet Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2014
AOC Côtes du Rhône-Villages - Sablet $15.95 (78790) 14.0% alcohol
Here’s another 2014 vintage, Grenache/Syrah red blend from the Rhône Valley, racy and tangy, infused with savory herbs. Rustic aromas of charred herbs, gamy notes and berry fruit set the table for a mid-plus bodied stream of savory red currant and sour cherry framed by bracing acidity and underpinned by grainy tannin. There’s quite a savory/tannin bite on the finish. Aerate/decant a couple of hours before pouring. (Vic Harradine)

  • The doyen winemaker of the Tannat-obsessed appellation of Madiran is arguably self-taught vigneron, Alain Brumont, who owns Château Montus and the following Château Bouscasse. One thing you must understand about Madiran, the star of the show is the Tannat grape. If you look up tannin in the dictionary, there should be a picture of a Tannat grape bunch. However, in spite of the warning, the following red is coming around and only a few years from optimum consumption. If you have a cool place to store a half dozen, don’t hesitate.

****1/2 cellar
Château Bouscasse 2009
AOP Madiran $21.95 (743385) 14.0% alcohol
This cellar-dwelling, red blend—55% Tannat with Cab Franc and Cab Sauv for the balance—is not far off totally revealing itself; pick up six and begin popping corks every three years from 2019 to 2034. This is inky black, dense and brawny, loaded with ripe black plum, mulberry, tar, tobacco and black licorice. It’s full bodied and firmly structured, although on the palate it’s polished and smooth with that gorgeous black fruit. The tannin begins to dry out the mouth on the finish and aftertaste. Patience is both required and handsomely rewarded. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Allegrini Soave 2015
DOC Soave $16.95 (30189) 13.0% alcohol
Not your garden variety Soave, this; it hustles from the glass with heady aromas of tropical fruit, floral notes and wisps of honey. It’s lovely on the palate with very good texture and balanced-on-a-pin fruit and acidity delivered through a delightful wash of peach, pear and apple deftly integrated with lemony tang and white grapefruit pith. It’s crisp and refreshing making it the perfect aperitif. It also pours well with pan-seared or grilled sea food. (Vic Harradine)

Italy Red Wine

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Michele Chiarlo ‘Le Orme’ Barbera D’Asti Superiore 2014
DOCG Asti Superiore $13.95 (265413) 13.5% alcohol
Here’s a hidden gem amongst myriad red wines for which you’ll pat yourself on the back for uncovering. As well, the price-quality balance tips well in your favour. Cherry/berry aromas mingle with floral and earthy notes on the nose of this smooth and mellow gem. There’s plenty of red fruit on the palate—ripe cherry and bramble berry—to handle the juicy acidity and leave you wanting more. It’s medium bodied with balance and charm. Pour with red pizza, fajitas or burgers. (Vic Harradine)

  • The following is the half-bottle size of the popular Vintages Essentials Brunello; a bottle made for two and a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Frescobaldi ‘Castelgiocondo’ Brunello Di Montalcino 2011
DOCG Montalcino $27.95 (35295) 375 mL 14.5% alcohol
It begins with a sexy nose of exotic incense, spice and dark berry fruit aroma then coats the palate with an opulent rush of dark chocolate-dipped cherries, black currant and cassis all held together with good acidity and structure. Aerate/decant and make small talk for a couple of hours before pouring this with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Coli Chianti Classico Riserva 2009
DOCG Chianti Classico $16.95 (436949) 13.0% alcohol
Wood smoke, berry fruit, leather and forest floor aromas spill from the glass of this aged Chianti Classico—the Classico indicates all the fruit was sourced from the original heart of this famous region. It’s rich on the palate showcasing balance, structure and restrained fruit characteristics. Look for red cherry and red and black currant adorned by spice and truffles. On the lingering finish there’s a flourish of tangy cranberry. Pour on its own or alongside pasta puttanesca. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Leonardo Chianti Riserva 2012
DOCG Chianti $20.95 (164707) 13.0% alcohol
This is a balanced, lighter-styled Chianti Riserva that has it all—persistent purity of fruit, moderating acidity, good structure and long finish and aftertaste. Aromas of piquant spice, red licorice and strawberry quickly give way to a balanced wash of black plum and red currant entwined with earthy notes. It finishes with replays of plum and currant along with wisps of espresso roast. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 cellar
Quercecchio Rosso Di Montalcino 2014
DOC Montalcino $15.95 (394973) 13.5% alcohol
This requires ageing, best to pop corks 2019 – 2022. Floral and berry fruit aromas lead to a racy, tang-laden wash of sour cherry and passionfruit garnished with herbs, spice and a tannin-infused finish, There’s a bit of a bite on the aftertaste that a couple of years in the cellar will soften. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
San Vincenti Chianti Classico 2012
DOCG Chianti Classico $17.95 (399907) 14.0% alcohol
A quiet nose of herbs and mixed spice is precursor to a mid-weight, lively, juicy stream of pie cherry, grilled herbs and whiffs of charred toast. The long, balanced aftertaste gives up replays and layers on a spoonful of ripe red cherry. This has a lot going for it and would do well poured with prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

**** 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)

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Vinessens ‘Sein’ 2011

DO Alicante $17.00 (391896) 15.0% alcohol

A 60% Mourvèdre/40% Syrah red blend, fruit was hand-harvested and hand-sorted before fermentation and malolactic conversion then aged 12 months in French and American oak barrel by this artisan, family-owned winery. Black cherry, baking spice and earthy notes are precursor to a surge of black cherry, black currant and kirsch liqueur. It’s medium weight with good texture and supple tannin frame. Aerate/decant two hours before serving—terrific value here. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: January 21, 2017

***1/2 drink now
Ferraton Samorëns 2014
AOC Côtes du Rhône – Samorëns $14.95 (168708) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of red berry fruit, earthy notes and spiced cherry waft from this mid-plus bodied, nicely textured red blend—85% Grenache/10% Syrah/5% Cinsault. Drying tannin mingles with sour cherry and a solid line of tang streaking across the palate infusing the finish. Better paired with food, especially red pizza, pasta in tomato sauce or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Sextant Wines Zinfandel 2013
Central Coast, California $21.95 14.8% alcohol
Quiet aromas of red cherry, spice and floral notes set the table for a smorgasbord of flavours including black plum compote ripe red cherry and espresso roast. It’s medium-full bodied with good mouthfeel and plenty of oomph. It’s quite savory on the finish with a solid hit of grilled savory herbs dominating the lengthy aftertaste. A food wine, pour alongside smoked, grilled back ribs mopped with spicy BBQ sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: February 4, 2017

**** drink or cellar
Flagstone 'Dragon Tree' Cape Blend 2013
WO Western Cape $16.95 (37549) 14.5% alcohol
A blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon/33% Shiraz/30% Pinotage/2% Malbec, this deep-red hued gem shows a tinge of orange. Aromas of moss, black pepper, dry mint leaf and dark chocolate abound. It's tart and jammy on the palate with tannin that begins in the back seat gradually moving forward while bursting with flavours of red cherry, especially on the finish. This is drinking well now and good value. Pour with smoked beef carpaccio. (Dave Isaacs)

Vintages Release: February 18, 2017

****1/2 drink or cellar
Jim Barry ‘The Lodge Hill’ Shiraz 2013

Clare Valley, South Australia $24.95 (998476) 14.0% alcohol

Legions of red wine-lovers anxiously await each release of this well-priced, Aussie Shiraz from cooler-climate Clare Valley—this won’t disappoint. It opens with aromas of red and black berry fruit, licorice, spice and grilled herbs. A balanced-on-a-pin, medium-plus bodied wash of ripe mulberry and black currant is joined by racy red currant on the palate along with peppery spice. It finishes dry and mouth-watering good. Good to go now, a two-hour aeration/decant amplifies its many attributes. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Gérard Bertrand ‘Grand Terroir Les Aspres’ Syrah/Mourvèdre/Grenache 2013

AOC Côtes du Roussillon $18.95 (413245) 14.0% alcohol

This is value-laden, balanced on a pin and fully fruited with depth and concentration. Aromas of baking spice, roasted herbs and dark berry fruit introduce a creamy smooth surge of black currant, bittersweet chocolate-dipped cherries and wisps of fennel and mineral notes. It’s full bodied with a lengthy mouth-watering aftertaste and a boatload of charm. Dare I say… yummy. (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)

Vintages Release: March 18, 2017

**** drink or cellar
Faustino Rivero ‘Ulecia’ Reserva 2009
DOCa Rioja, Spain $17.80 13.0% alcohol
Appealing aromas of cedar and red and dark berry fruit introduce a racy, light-medium bodied flow of tangy red currant and pie cherry bathing the palate with considerable charm and élan. It develops dark chocolate and passionfruit flavours on the medium-length finish and aftertaste. This has plenty to offer paired with pasta in tomato sauce, red pizza or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: April 15, 2017

****1/2 drink or cellar
Woods Crampton ‘Barossa Shiraz’ 2015
Barossa Valley, Australia $19.85 14.0% alcohol
The generous nose overflows with re cherry/berry aromas interlaced with hints of piquant spice and charred toast. It coats the palate with a full-bodied, generously textured mouthful of ripe mulberry jam, black currant and tangy bits of pie cherry. It persists through the lip-smacking finish and aftertaste, lingering and luscious. There’s good depth and concentration and it’s fabulous with food—grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: May 13, 2017

**** drink or cellar
Chateau Haut-Mazieres 2014
AOC Bordeaux $15.25 12.0% alcohol
Alluring on the nose, aromas of mixed spice adorn dark cherry and red berry fruit aromas. This red blend—65% Merlot/30% Cabernet Sauvignon/5% Cabernet Franc—matured 9 months in seasoned barrel with partial malolactic conversion. It spills over the palate with ripe fruit—black briary berry and racy currant cloaked in excellent tang, good balance, value and charm. The lengthy aftertaste is dry, racy and lip-smacking good. Pairs well with grilled beef accompanied by sauce forestiere. (Vic Harradine)

  • The following red blend—60/40 - Grenache/Syrah—is from 40-year-old vines, handpicked and sorted before being de-stemmed for a 12-day maceration. After pressing and fermentation, only 1/3rd of the wine received a brief four-month maturation in barrel.

***1/2 drink or cellar
Domaine Jaume ‘Altitude 420’ Vinsobres 2014
AOC Vinsobres $16.95 13.5% alcohol
Intriguing aromas of campfire smoke and grilled savory herbs provide segue for a medium-bodied, well textured flow of black currant and pie cherry interwoven with piquant spice, mineral notes and espresso roast. It’s quite dry on the mid-length finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside well-seasoned burgers or grilled gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release TBD, 2017

**** drink or cellar
Flagstone ‘Music Room’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
WO Western Cape $TBD 14.5% alcohol
This opaque deep-plum coloured red greets with a wonderfully full nose of cherry, black currant, sage, toast, and smoke. It's full bodied and jammy in the mouth with tannins that are evident but very well integrated. The aromas on the nose follow through as distinctive flavours with the smoke and cherry lingering nicely on the aftertaste. Overall, it’s an excellent South African Cab. (Dave Isaacs)

New in Ontario Wineries Only

  • Order the following wine by the case for daily home, office or restaurant delivery directly from 2027 Cellars by contacting owner/winemaker Kevin Panagapka by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

  • The following 2027 Chardonnay was wild-yeast fermented spending 18 months in Burgundian oak—predominantly Allier/Never forests, air-dried barrique, 30% new. Fruit was sourced from Fox Croft Vineyard where an elite handful of small-lot artisans and virtual wineries—2027 is a virtual winery—have discovered Chardonnay nirvana.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard – Fox Croft Block’ Chardonnay 2014
VQA Twenty Mile Bench $23.15 12.8% alcohol
Wood smoke, baking spice and cigar box aromas peal from this fabulous Chardonnay. It dazzles the palate with a glorious mouthful of baking spice interwoven with pear, crisp green apple and minerality. It finishes quite lengthy with a bracing line of citrus acidity and tingling ginger snap. This is medium weight with excellent mouthfeel adorned with structure and oodles of sex appeal. Fabulous now, another few months in bottle adding elegance and charm. (Vic Harradine)

  • Order the following wines by the case for daily home, office or restaurant delivery online from Legends Estates Winery or by the bottle or case by visiting the winery at 4888 Ontario St, North Beamsville, ON L0R 1B3

  • Legends Wine Estates is 3rd generation, family-owned fruit and grape growers who began the winery in 1999 with Paul Lizak at the helm and Serge Papineau making wine. The Lizak family have over 70 acres of grapes with a bit over a 1/3rd of them on the estate—the estate is where the Lizak Vineyard – Reserve wines are sourced. The estate vines are situated on/near the lakeshore, north of the QEW thereby providing warmth when the winds of early spring and late fall blow.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Legends Estates ‘Reserve - Lizak Vineyard’ Petit Verdot 2012
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $22.95 13.0% alcohol
The quality-price balance tips well in your favour here. Piquant spice and floral aromas make way for a medium-full bodied, densely structured mouthful of juicy dark cherry, black plum and anise pastille. The fruit and flavour explode on the palate with a beautifully balanced gusher persisting through the lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Gorgeous sipped on its own, it pours especially well with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Legends Estates ‘Reserve - Lizak Vineyard’ Malbec 2012
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $23.95 12.5% alcohol
A richly aromatic nose of wood smoke, peppery spice and red cherry introduces a rich and lively river of sour cherry and wisps of passionfruit streaking across the palate with great élan. This is medium bodied and textured showcasing persistent purity of fruit and a lingering, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Give it a go with well-seasoned, grilled-rare striploin. (Vic Harradine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Legends Estates ‘Reserve - Lizak Vineyard’ Merlot 2012
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $21.95 14.0% alcohol
Baking spice, pipe tobacco and exotic incense aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of palate flavours with black currant, ripe mulberry and cassis to the fore. Its medium-plus weight with generous mouthfeel, good depth and the persistent finish is adorned with sweet ripe berry fruit and black plum. This deserves a fine cut of red meat grilled rare and well-seasoned. It’s terrific value and was tough to spit. Aerate/decant for a couple of hours before pouring. (Vic Harradine)

  • And now for something completely different. The following limited-production, red blend is sourced from the ‘top’ barrel chosen from each of their five red varieties—Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot. The wine was aged 21 months in barrel. 

****1/2 drink or cellar
Legends Estates ‘T5 – Red Barrel Blend’ 2012
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $40.00 13.0% alcohol
Christmas cake spice and sandalwood aromas mingle with red and dark berry fruit on the nose of this gorgeous red blend. It caresses the palate with a spice-laden shower of blueberry, red berry fruit and sweet, ripe black cherry. It lingers with balance, charm and elegance. It’s divine on its own and would be perfect poured with crown roast of pork and root veggies. (Vic Harradine)

  • Purchase the following three wines online by the case, for home, restaurant or office delivery from Meldville Wines, phone 905-563-6500 or email winemaker/owner Derek Barnett This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . When in the area, drop by Legends Estates Winery (Derek makes Meldville wines here) 4888 Ontario St. North, Beamsville ON, L0R 1B3 and pick up wine by the bottle(s) or case(s). 

  • Derek Barnett is synonymous with Lailey Vineyard. However, in 2015 Lailey was sold and Derek made the decision to move on. He had been at Lailey as a principal and the winemaker since 2001. He has been winemaker at Karlo Estates in Prince Edward County since leaving Lailey and now has launched the three wines below through his shiny-new virtual winery in Niagara – Meldville Wines. Remember the name, you’ll be hearing more from them—Derek’s winemaking was the heart and soul of Lailey’s and he retains his elegant touch. 

**** drink now
Meldville ‘First Edition’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $20.00 13.6% alcohol
Aromas of lemon, peach and pineapple are enhanced with subtle notes of acacia flower and butterscotch. Very little intervention and a slow, cool fermentation in French and Canadian oak barrel with lees aging contributes to this Chardonnay’s fresh fruit flavours and generous texture. Ripe red apple, nectarine and lemon pie with a hint of baking spices adorn the palate. This dry, medium-bodied white is round in texture with a balancing citrus mid-length finish. A delicious pairing with creamy seafood pasta or roasted chicken. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink now
Meldville ‘First Edition’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $20.00 13.6% alcohol
White grapefruit, green apple, lemon pith and slight floral and brioche aromas meld into fresh fruit flavours on the palate—white peach, grapefruit and lemon zest. A slow, cool fermentation in stainless steel tank and time spent on its lees results in a dry, medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc with a medium-long, tangy finish and a subtle creamy texture. Serve on its own as an aperitif or with a goat cheese appetizer. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar
Meldville Wines ‘First Edition’ Cabernet Franc 2013
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $24.00 13.2% alcohol
Aromas of cedar, grilled savory herbs and red cherry/berry fruit provide segue for a balanced flow of light-on-its-feet red cherry and strawberry flavours with racy tang bathing the palate. The persistent purity of fruit showcases elegance and a delicate touch while the slow fading aftertaste lingers with more savory notes. Sip on its own or pour alongside grilled lamb chops. (Vic Harradine)

Private Order

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

**** drink or cellar
Golden Bell ‘No. 1’ 2012
AOC Bordeaux $19.95 13.0 % alcohol
This 90% Merlot/10% Cabernet Sauvignon red blend wafts lazily from the glass with wisps of baking spice, barnyard notes and cherry/berry aromas. It dishes up a stream of racy flavours with sour cherry and sweet, ripe mulberry on the nicely balanced on the palate. It’s medium weight and light-medium textured with notes of round ripe tannin on the finish and warm aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Château Le Faure 2015
AOC Bordeaux $14.95 13.5% alcohol
A hint of oxidization on the nose is delightfully rescued on the palate with a stream of ripe red berry fruit infused with sprigs of savory herbs coating the palate persisting through the dry, racy finish. It’s medium weight with nice texture and a bit of a tannin and alcohol bite on the aftertaste. Pour alongside beef fajitas. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Le Bordeaux de La Haye 2014
AOC Bordeaux $17.25 12.5% alcohol
Red berry fruit and black cherry aromas mingle with sweet floral notes on the nose of this 80% Merlot/20% Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It rolls over the palate with red cherry- and cranberry-drenched flavours robed in a tight tannin cloak. This has good structure and a well-balanced delivery of ripe fruit and racy tang. Aerate/decant for three hours if you can’t wait, but better with 12 more months in bottle. (Vic Harradine

***1/2 drink now
De Château Bon Ami 2015
AOC Bordeaux $16.90 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of exotic incense and field berry fruit dominate the nose. A mid-weight stream of red and dark berry fruit drenched in tangy acidity and underpinned by chalky, still-evolving tannin coat the palate persisting through the drying, savory aftertaste. Give this Cabernet Sauvignon predominant red blend a two-hour aeration/decant and pour with pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

**** cellar
Château Bran De Compostelle 2015
AOC Bordeaux $14.95 12.0% alcohol
Fresh aromas of grilled savory herbs and dark toast unleash a beautifully balanced flow of red and black fruit on entry supported by racy tang, and then underpinned by chalky tannin, especially on the aftertaste. This is light-medium weight with a ways to go before uncorking. A couple of years of careful cellaring should see quite an improvement. (Vic Harradine

**** cellar
Château Le Mayne-Cabanot 2014
AOC Bordeaux $14.95 12.5% alcohol
Silky aromas of black currant, baking spice and mocha weave an alluring tapestry on the nose of this 60% Merlot/30% Cabernet Sauvignon/10% Cabernet Franc blend. It bathes the palate with a spirited wash of red currant, pie cherry and cranberry persisting through the lengthy tangy, oak and tannin-laced aftertaste. Tuck away for a couple of years allowing for all to tone down and interweave. Then congratulate yourself for patience when uncorking. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Château des Hauts de Fontaneau 2015
AOC Bordeaux Supérieur $14.95 12.0% alcohol
Lively aromas of red berry bruit, cassis and floral notes introduce a medium-weight, very nicely textured river of ripe black berry melding with black plum—80% Merlot/20% Cabernet Sauvignon—and gorgeous tangy notes. This showcases good balance, persistent purity of fruit and terrific value. There’s a nip of still-evolving tannin on the finish and aftertaste, easily ameliorated with a two-hour aeration/decant or a couple of years in the cellar. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Château Rouquette 2015
AOC Bordeaux $14.95 12.0% alcohol
Mixed spice, herbs and red berry compote aromas rocket from the glass. It bathes the palate with a medium-bodied, textured wash of sweet ripe mulberry and notions of blueberry flavour. This is laden with value, straightforward and uncomplicated delivering pleasant ripe fruit from cork pop to last drop. There’s a savory herb nip on the lingering finish. Pour with comfort food—mac and cheese, burgers, pizza or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Chateau Haut-Mazieres ‘Vin Blanc’ 2015
AOC Bordeaux $14.95 12.0% alcohol
This classic Bordeaux blend—Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle—offers aromas of floral notes, grassy bits and citrus notes. It’s light on its feet with a tangy wash of lemon and passionfruit bathing the palate. Replays on the crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste—along with a jolt of white grapefruit—provide myriad opportunities for pairing—pan-seared fish, grilled garlic prawns, scallop ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Château des Hauts de Fontaneau Entre-Deux-Mers 2015
AOC Entre-Deux-Mers $14.95 11.5% alcohol
The price-quality balance in this lovely white blend tips well in your favour. An involved nose of floral notes, hints of honey and citrus notes provide segue for a delicious medium-weight, nicely textured stream of ripe apple, pear and tang-laden citrus cleaning up crisp and dry with racy white grapefruit. Pour on its own or with roast chicken or grilled fish or seafood under a squish of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic, Lisa and Dave