January 16, 2017 Newsletter

The 2017 California Wine Fair Announces its Tour Schedule....  

Tickets NOW on Sale!

It often sells out, but never disappoints the in-crowd who attend. It’s arguably Canada’s best, and best-value wine fair. Tickets are NOW on sale via Call their Hotline (905) 336-8932 or 1-800-558-CORK (2675) with questions.

In its 38th year, Canada’s largest Wine Fair tour showcases some of the finest wines from the vineyards of the Golden State with over 400 wines and 150 wineries present. There will be trade tastings and consumer tastings in each city.  


  • Quebec City, PQ: Tuesday, March 28
  • Montreal, PQ: Thursday, March 30
  • Ottawa, ON: Friday, March 31
  • Toronto, ON: Monday, April 3
  • Halifax, NS: Wednesday, April 5
  • Vancouver, BC: Monday, April 24
  • Calgary, AB: Tuesday, April 25

Newsletter highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 4 of 45 wines/ciders meet the strict quality-price guidelines. They’re easily found via the exceptional-value checkmark above—priced from $4.95 (500 mL) to $17.95. Which strict quality-price guidelines? Click here
  • Finding Waldo – Hard Cider is made and fermented somewhat like wine, only with apples. The one you’re looking for was made by a virtual cidery/winery from 21 different, judiciously chosen varieties of French, English and American hard cider apples. 
  • 5-star Wine – no wine rang the 5-star bell. 
  • Vic Picks – Ironstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 earned 4 stars @ $17.95 found under California: Red Wine; Gassier ‘Sables d’Azur’ Rosé 2015 earned 4 stars @ $16.95 found under France: Rosé Wine; Legends Estates ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2013 earned 4 ½ stars @ $18.95 found under New in Ontario Wineries. 

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.

Vintages Release: January 21, 2017

Feature: Argentine Wine

• The following Cabernet Sauvignon was first introduced by iconic Bodega Catena Zapata over 20 years ago, before Malbec dominated the way it does today. ‘Alta’ was borne from an experiment with low-yield, high-altitude vineyards. The fruits of that experiment are now in a bottle you can purchase—this comes from vineyards that are, on average, at 900 m with yields at 1.2 tons per acre.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Catena ‘Alta’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Mendoza $47.95 (959965) 14.0% alcohol
From arguably Argentina’s premiere producer, this is absolutely gorgeous. It’s rich and luscious retaining a sense of elegance and restraint. It’s structured with silky tannin and delivers gobs of juicy fruit—black currant and juicy black cherry—interwoven with dark chocolate, black licorice and vanilla nicely framed by excellent acidity and tang. The finish lingers, balanced and beautiful. Pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Fabre Montmayou ‘Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Mendoza $18.95 (261891) 14.5% alcohol
This rich, luscious and creamy-smooth Cab showcases a price-quality balance that encourages a multiple purchase. Fruit was hand harvested and fermented using indigenous yeast before 60% was aged 12 months in French oak barrel. Aromas of black currant, fennel and sweet vanilla introduce a generous mouthful of dark berry fruit and cassis garnished with mocha. The lengthy finish is layered with savory herbs and it’s delightfully tangy. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Domino del Plata ‘Benmarco Expresivo’ 2014
Uco Valley, Mendoza $39.95 (263517) 14.0% alcohol
This 80/20, Malbec/Cab Franc red blend showcases just about all the wonderful attributes of red wine: structured and balanced on a pin with a gusher of fruit flavour that’s matched with excellent tang. It coats the palate with a muscular flow of briary berry, cassis and sweet vanilla. It flirts with 5 stars, was quite difficult to spit and is opulent and charming. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Viña Cobos ‘Felino’ Malbec 2015
Mendoza $19.95 (118067) 14.5% alcohol
This is deftly balanced with excellent tang harmoniously entwined with opulent fruit flavour on the palate and persistent purity of fruit throughout—black currant and black Bing cherry mingling with sweet vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and wisps of espresso roast. It’s medium-full bodied with generous mouthfeel and an outstanding lengthy finish and aftertaste—each sip’s as good or better than the previous. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Zuccardi ‘Q’ Malbec 2013
Uco Valley, Mendoza $19.95 (723478) 14.0% alcohol
Piquant spice and grilled herb aromas make way for a medium-plus bodied, nicely textured flow of dark and red cherry/berry flavour coating the palate adorned by herb-laced tang. It finishes with a grainy tannin bite on the finish and aftertaste, Aerate/decant three hours pouring with chicken fajitas. (Vic Harradine)

Portugal Mini-Feature: Local, Lesser-Known Grape Varieties

• Fashioned from the softer Tempranillo and autochthonous Jaen, aka Mencia, this offers an opportunity to expand your wine-tasting horizons at a knockout price.

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Beyra ‘Vinhos De Altitude’ Red 2014
DOC Beira Interior $12.95 (408120) 13.0% alcohol
You’ll find few very good reds at this price, pick up a few for now or backyard gatherings in spring and summer. It’s smooth and mellow with no rough edges and brims with good, ripe fruit. Medium-bodied and nicely textured, the finish lingers. Pour alongside grilled burgers or gourmet sausage, red pizza or pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

• Premium Port wine grapes fashioned the following tasty red blend—45% Tinta Roriz, 40% Touriga Franca, 15% Touriga Nacional.

**** drink or cellar
Quinta Do Portal Frontaria 2014
DOC Douro $14.95 (324533) 13.0% alcohol
This is rich, ripe and ready to roll. Black currant and kirsch liqueur flavours interwoven with sweet vanilla and excellent tang roll over the palate in waves before infusing the lively, juicy finish and aftertaste. It’s mid-weight with good mouthfeel and punches well above the price—red-wine lovers won’t regret picking up a few. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Sparkling Wine

***1/2 drink now
Joseph Cattin ‘Brut Rosé’ Crémant d’Alsace
AOC Crémant d’Alsace $19.95 (264572) 12.0% alcohol
This method tradition-styled bubbly opens with floral notes entwined with red cherry/berry aromas. A crisp, clean and refreshing line of bracing acidity carries flavours of lemon drop, Key lime and notions of red berry fruit across the palate infusing the lip-smacking finish. Pour alongside ceviche, freshly shucked oysters or pan-seared seafood under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

• The following fruit-forward Gamay Noir Droit is from a ‘rogue’ clone the owners of this winery discovered in their vineyard and have since propagated.

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes ‘St. David’s Bench Vineyard’ Gamay Noir Droit 2015
VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake $17.95 (346742) 13.0% alcohol
Juicy ripe fruit—dark plum and black cherry—interweave with racy acidity via red currant and pie cherry on the palate. It finishes nicely balanced and tangy on the aftertaste. This pairs especially well with dry-rubbed, grilled back ribs or pastitsio. Pick up a few, lovely sipped on its own and versatile at the table. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
The Tragically Hip ‘Fully Completely Grand Reserve’ Red 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 (411595) 13.5% alcohol
This is a proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove, all you need is patience. It coats the palate with a medium-bodied, nicely textured wave of red raspberry and sour cherry juxtaposed with a solid lick of sweet, ripe mulberry. There’s good structure, fairly good balance and a lingering aftertaste that layers on wisps of grilled herbs and espresso roast. About the patience… aerate/decant for three hours before pouring with your favourite grilled steak. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

**** drink now
Ironstone Chardonnay 2015
Lodi $17.95 (355776) 14.5% alcohol
Sourced from various locations in the warm-climate, Lodi AVA, this 100% Chardonnay spent only a fleeting 5 months in oak barrel. It delivers an aromatic nose of apple, lemon and tropical fruit before bathing the palate with medium-bodied steam of melon, mango and tangy citrus. It’s creamy smooth and balanced on a pin with a refreshing fish and aftertaste. As with just about everything from Ironstone, it’s a popular wine with no rough edges. (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)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Napa Valley $26.95 (73817) 13.5% alcohol
A perfumed nose of savory/minty notes unleash a rich and robust river of tangy pie cherry and black currant entwined with dark bittersweet chocolate coating the palate with gusto. It’s medium-plus weight with generous mouthfeel and long finish that’s garnished with persistent purity of fruit and oodles of charm. (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)

Oregon: Red Wine

***1/2 cellar
Primarius Pinot Noir 2014
Oregon $29.95 (402180) 13.7% alcohol
Spice and cherry/berry fruit aromas set the stage for a light-medium bodied stream of sour cherry and cranberry mingling with grilled savory herbs on the palate and through the drying finish. There’s a tannic bite on the aftertaste, somewhat ameliorated with a three-hour aeration/decant and poured with pasta in tomato sauce, but better cellared and popping corks 2019. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Primus Carmenère 2013
Colchagua Valley $19.95 (439356) 14.0% alcohol
Perfumed aromas of tapenade and tarry notes herald a mid-full weight stream of cherry/berry and cassis flavour washing over the palate smooth and mellow infusing the medium-length, peppery aftertaste. The hand-picked, twice-sorted fruit was aged 12 months or more in French and American oak, 25% new. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Penfolds ‘Bin 2’ Shiraz/Mataro 2014
South Australia $24.95 (468629) 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of gamy notes, dark berry fruit and spiced dark cherry dominate the nose of this 82% Shiraz/18% Mataro, aka Mourvèdre, red blend. It’s medium weight with generous texture, good structure and a smooth delivery of palate-bathing flavours—cassis and currant mingling with mocha and black licorice. Aerate/decant for two hours to ameliorate the dusty tannin. Pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2015
McLaren Vale/Padthaway, South Australia $18.95 (66738) 14.5% alcohol
This unabashed delight is underpinned by ripe tannin and framed by excellent tangy acidity. It barrels from the glass with lifted aromas of sweet vanilla, baking spice and black cherry before coating the palate with a medium-full bodied mouthful of black currant and ripe sweet mulberry carried along on a spine of pie cherry and passionfruit flavour. This is balanced and brimming with ripe fruit. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
The Hedonist Shiraz 2013

McLaren Vale, South Australia $21.95 (90191) 14.0% alcohol

Aromas of exotic spice and aromatic bitters open the door for a fresh, balanced and lovely stream of red berry fruit, kirsch liqueur and tarry notes flowing across the palate and replaying with gusto on the lingering finish and aftertaste—clean, dry and lip-smacking good. It’s medium-plus weight with good mouth feel, full of hedonistic flavour and quite good value. What’s not to like? (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Spy Valley Chardonnay 2014
Marlborough, South Island $22.95 (57737) 13.0% alcohol
The Marlborough region also produces fine Chardonnay to go with its more well-known Sauvignon Blanc. To produce this beauty it was handpicked then whole-bunch pressed and barrel fermented before aging a further 12 months in French oak barrel with lees stirring. Aromas and flavours of tropical fruit, green apple and citrus interlace with baking spice and toasty notes on the creamy-smooth palate and aftertaste. Well paced, well priced, and well… delicious. (Vic Harradine) 

South Africa: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rustenberg Merlot 2014
WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch $19.95 (404194) 14.0% alcohol
This is a delicious ripe and rich Merlot with aromas of smoky/tarry notes and dark berry fruit on the nose. It offers good value and cuts a broad swath across the palate with flavours of peppery black berry and ripe black cherry robed in tang-laden acidity, black licorice and dark coffee. It’s mid-plus bodied with structure and a lengthy lip-smacking finish. (Vic Harradine)

Austria: White Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Rabl Langenloi Grüner Veltliner 2015
DAC Kamptal $14.95 (377457) 12.5% alcohol
The gorgeous ripe fruit on the palate—ripe pear, grilled pineapple, crisp green apple and lemon yoghurt—is deftly balanced with excellent acidity along with good weight and texture. It finishes in a blaze of tang along with peppery/mineral notes. This is an outstanding Grüner at an extremely low price—stock up for now and spring when you can enjoy indoors or out. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

• Two well-known Canadians—Pascal Marchand and Moray Tawse—collaborated on the following wine and it’s a winner. Premium Chardonnay was sourced from a slice near the bottom of Puligny and Chassagne Montrachet vineyards known as ‘butte de Corpeau’, providing finesse and elegance. Whole-bunch fruit was pressed then fermented and allowed malolactic conversion and left sur lie, without stirring, in stainless steel tank. It was oaked for 14 months, 30% new.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Marchand-Tawse ‘Bourgogne’ Chardonnay 2014
AOC Bourgogne $28.95 (414557) 12.5% alcohol
Piquant spice, green apple and lemon-lime aromas provide segue for a medium-bodied, textured and gorgeous mouthful of palate-bathing flavour with ripe pear, Granny Smith apple and baking spice. It finishes with crisp refreshing lemony tang and minerality. There’s persistent purity of fruit and good balance throughout. Wonderful now, even better after carefully cellared six to twelve months. (Vic Harradine)

• The following family-owned winery boasts a lengthy history of winegrowers with the Roger name dating back to the 17th C in the small Loire Valley village of Bué.

****1/2 drink now 
Jean-Max Roger ‘Cuvée C.M.’ Sancerre Blanc 2014
AOC Sancerre $27.95 (196667) 12.5% alcohol
A perennial favourite, this rips from the glass with sharp spice, gun flint and grassy notes on the nose. It’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc fermented with indigenous yeast. Apple and pear palate flavours are borne along on a tang-laden line of lemon zest, grapefruit and wisps of gooseberry jelly. The finish and aftertaste are squeaky clean and lip-smacking good. Pour with crumbled chèvre over verjus-sprinkled arugula. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar 
Château LaRose-Trintaudon 2012
AOC Haut-Médoc $24.95 (297945) 14.0% alcohol
This Cru Bourgeois is a 60/40 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend that was aged 12-14 months in French oak barrel. It unfurls with alluring aromas of floral notes, berry fruit and exotic spice. It’s medium-bodied and nicely textured with a persistent stream of mixed spice and dark chocolate underpinned by soft, ripe tannin. Aerate/decant a couple of hours pouring with orange-glazed, smoked and grilled duck breasts. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Marchand-Tawse Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2014
AOC Burgundy $27.95 (285601) 12.5% alcohol
Ripe red berry fruit, mixed spice and floral notes set the table for a bracing line of acidity streaking over the palate with great élan—red currant, passionfruit and pie cherry. This is mid-weight with good mouthfeel and persistent purity of fruit from cork pop to the last, lip-smacking drop. Fruit was sourced from vineyards in Marsannay, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Maranges. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Domaine Durieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2014
AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape $41.95 (320168) 15.0% alcohol
Fruit for this gorgeous red blend—85% is 90-year old Grenache, 10% is 60-year old Mourvèdre and 5% is Syrah—was hand picked and pressed without de-stemming then aged in concrete vat. It’s rich and ripe with balance, good structure and a long finish. There are aromas and flavours galore with black currant, dark juicy cherry and spice box to the fore. Medium-full bodied and nicely textured, the finish lingers with wisps of tannin that are easily ameliorated with a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

***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)

• The Lavau brothers, originally from Bordeaux, are now legendary in this AOC and neighbouring AOCs of Gigondas, Tavel and Châteuneuf du Pape. The following Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre gem from Vacqueyras is a prime example why they’re so successful.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Lavau Vacqueyras 2014
AOC Vacqueyras $25.95 (104927) 14.5% alcohol
Red and black cherry aromas interplay with sprigs of local herbs, aka Garrigue, on the nose. A full-bodied, generously texture, balanced and beautiful wash of red cherry and black currant interweave with earthy notes and baking spice on the palate persisting through the lingering finish along with notions of anise and cassis. This is good to go now and on to 2022 pouring well with roast pork. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Château de Aladères ‘Sélection Vieilles Vignes’ 2013
AOP Corbières $14.95 (431726) 13.5% alcohol
Notes of forest floor, spice box, dark currant and raisin aromas precede a nicely balanced river of cassis and juicy black plum garnished with dark coffee and charred toast. This has good heft and is nicely textured with a lengthy finish of toasty notes and ripe mulberry. This offers a price-quality proposition that’s well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

France: Rosé Wine

**** drink now
Gassier ‘Sables d’Azur’ Rosé 2015

AOP Côtes de Provence $16.95 (33621) 13.0% alcohol

This is what you hope for in a Rosé—it’s fresh and lively with racy red fruit flavour ameliorated with a bit of ripe, sweet fruit on the palate finishing with good tang on a dry, mouth-watering finish; and all this at a reasonable price. Aromas of red cherry/berry fruit lead to a medium-bodied, balanced and textured stream of strawberry and pie cherry flavour adorned with bits of spice. It finishes dry, crisp and lip-smacking good. Pour with lighter-styled appetizers or roast chicken. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

***1/2 drink now
La Pieve Barolo 2012
DOCG Barolo $34.95 (213132) 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of black licorice, fig, raisin and tar mingle with lovely notes of lilac on the nose. It dishes up a bracing line of tangy acidity that’s electrifying and underpinned by a firm tannin structure. The berry fruit flavour on the palate is left a bit wanting and as this was sourced from an irregular—cool spring, light snow, hot summer, hail—it may be time to drink up after a lengthy aerate/decant. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Antinori ‘Pian Delle Vigne’ Brunello Di Montalcino 2011
DOCG Brunello Di Montalcino $62.95 (651141) 14.0% alcohol
Brick-orange hued in the glass, it looks much older than it is and tastes. Lively aromas of piquant spice and floral notes unleash a juicy river of ripe berry fruit, cassis and excellent lip-smacking acidity. It’s medium bodied and nicely textured with good balance, structure and notions of charm throughout. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Don Jacobo ‘Reserva’ 2009
DOCa Rioja $22.95 (313270) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of mocha and cherry waft easily from this Tempranillo-predominant, aged Reserva. Balanced, juicy flavours of red cherry/berry flavours meld with smoky notes and lip-smacking tang flowing across the palate, medium bodied and nicely textured. The finish lingers with replays and is quite tangy. Pour with prawn and chorizo paella, lasagna or pasta in rich tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: February 4, 2017

**** drink now
Fattoria La Torre ‘La Villa’ Chianti Colle Senesi 2015

DOCG Chianti Colle Senesi, Italy $14.20 (480665) 13.0% alcohol

Situated near San Gimignano, this value-packed red blend is 90% Sangiovese/10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s medium weight with very good mouthfeel, deft balance and raciness. A delightfully juicy wash of ripe red currant and pie cherry streaks across the palate with hints of sweet red raspberry. It finishes dry and in a blaze of mouth-watering tang. Pour with pasta arrabiata or spaghetti Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Miguel Torres ‘Santa Digna – Reserva’ Syrah 2013
Central Valley, Chile $14.95 (480905) 14.0% alcohol
Medium-purple hued, this certified ‘Fair Trade’ Syrah offers aromas of dark cherry and plum with hints of black pepper and violet. Red currant, cherry and garrigue provide a mouth-watering tang on the palate. Its dry, medium bodied with firm tannins through the mid-length finish. Decant an hour before serving with seasoned, grilled lamb chops. Very good value here. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham Estate Pinot Noir 2012
VQA Short Hills Bench (268391) $24.95 13.5 % alcohol
Delicate aromas of red cherry, pomegranate and red currant accented with floral notes and earthy forest floor float from the glass. Flavours of ripe red cherry, raspberry, sweet pipe tobacco and cloves bathe the palate. This well-balanced, medium-light bodied Pinot is dry and finishes mid length with fresh acidity and subtle tannins. Pair with roast duck with cranberry compote. (Lisa Isabelle)

• The following French Rosé is a thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift in which you may be invited to share.

**** drink now
Gérard Bertrand ‘Cote des roses’ Rosé 2015
AOP Languedoc, France (373985) $18.95 12.5% alcohol
This Grenache/Cinsault/Syrah blend is as attractive as its bottle with the base projecting the shape of a rose. Pale salmon in colour, it entices the nose with notes of pink grapefruit, strawberries and acacia flowers. Dry and medium bodied, it tempts the palate with flavours of blood orange, white peach, red currant and almond which linger on the mid-length finish. A talisman of love and spring no matter the season. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Curvos Loureiro Vinho Verde 2015
DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal (471284) $12.95 12.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas of ripe fruit—peach, pineapple and melon—are layered with honeysuckle and ginger. A rush of nectarine, green apple and lemon flavours garnished with crisp acidity persist through the mid-length, saline finish. This dry, medium bodied wine has a refreshing, light spritz that would complement a seafood salad at brunch. (Lisa Isabelle)

Vintages Release: March 4, 2017

• The following is sourced from high-altitude +900 m, +80-year-old Tempranillo vines and is stunning. It was harvested in an excellent vintage, fermented at 28C for 10 days then macerated post-fermentation a further two weeks before malolactic conversion in new French oak barrel and aging in French and American for 24 months before an additional 12 months resting in bottle before release.

****1/2 drink now
Hispanobodegas ‘12 Linajes - Reserva’ 2009
DO Ribera del Duero, Spain $32.10 (437681) 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of dried currant, red berry fruit and dark coffee waft from this sensational red. It bathes the palate with an elegant, tapestry of flavour—red cherry and cranberry interwoven with ripe black currant, excellent tang and a brushstroke of dark bittersweet chocolate. It’s medium weight with creamy, generous mouthfeel and a luxurious, lengthy finish and aftertaste. Pour with prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

• Wine has been made on the Cappezzana property in Carmignano—a warmer appellation just outside Chianti—since 804 AD with vines being cultivated in this region for over 3000 years. This is a red blend of 80% Sangiovese/20% Cabernet Sauvignon matured in small barrique and larger tonneaux barrel approximately 12 months.

**** drink now
Capezzana ‘Villa di Capezzana’ 2012
DOCG Carmignano, Italy $34.80 (344762) 15.0% alcohol
Lively aromas of piquant spice, floral notes, juicy red cherry and black licorice swirl from the glass. A medium-bodied, tang-laden wash of pie cherry, black plum and passion fruit streak across the palate with great élan. The racy finish lingers with warmth and a bit of a grilled herb bite. A two-hour aeration decant before pouring with pastitsio, lasagna or pasta in tomato sauce makes for a lovely combination. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

• Order the following two wines and those from the previous newsletter 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

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Legends Estates ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 12.5% alcohol
This is a gorgeous, opulent, barrel-fermented Chardonnay that punches well above its price—it flirts with 5 stars, pick up a case. Baking spice, incense and ripe apple aromas provide entry to a generously textured, medium-full bodied, beautifully balanced flow of ripe, juicy pear, white nectarine with a delightful streak of lemon and grapefruit tang. The finish lingers and the price-quality balance tips well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

• The following wine might seem strange to be classified a white wine. However, Pinot Gris is a mutation of Pinot Noir and can ripen from green-ish to almost purple hence the variation in colour from one to another. Give this a try.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Legends Estates ‘Reserve’ Pinot Gris 2015
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $14.95 12.5% alcohol
The copper-coloured wine in the clear glass bottle will certainly catch your eye. Honey-soaked aromas of peach and pear introduce a tapestry of flavour—excellent tang and white nectarine interweave with exotic spice and orange creamsicle. This is mid weight and fully textured with good balance and a clean, crisp finish and aftertaste. Pour on its own or with lighter-styled appetizers. (Vic Harradine)

• The following hard cider can be purchased by the 12 bottle case at Blueberry Hill Estates Winery 1195 Front Rd, Saint Williams, ON N0E 1P0 or online via their FB page Hounds of Erie Winery or by phone 519-420-0269. 

Founded in 2015, Hounds of Erie Winery is Canada's first virtual winery/cidery. Read more about how this crown-capped, gluten-free, hard cider is made and who makes it.

****1/2 drink nowExceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Hounds of Erie Winery ‘Best in Show’ Hard Cider
Norfolk County, Ontario $4.95 500 mL bottle 4.0% alcohol
Clean, alluring aromas of piquant spice and ripe apple introduce an explosion of sweet and tang on the palate followed by a deftly balanced, medium-dry wash of freshly sliced apple infused with delicate, fine-bead bubbles and mixed spice. The finish replays the sweet and tang transforming into a lengthy aftertaste, clean and refreshing, lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic and Lisa