February 27, 2017 Newsletter

Newsletter highlights include:

Australia FlagVic is still in South Australia, only now in cool-climate Clare Valley. He visited two premium, family-owned wineries – Jim Barry Wines and Pikes Wines. Both have long, interesting histories and are today producing acclaimed, world-class red and white wine. Some of the wines are now on store shelves and others are slated for upcoming release—thirteen wines are reviewed. Interested in learning more and adding another layer to your wine-appreciation and wine-consumption enjoyment? Click here.

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – only 1 of 54 wines met the strict quality-price guidelines. It’s easily found in the newsletter via the exceptional-value checkmark above. Which strict quality-price guidelines? Click here
  • 5-star Wine – only one currently available wine rang the 5-star bell. Rocche Costamagna ‘Rocche Dell’Annunziata’ Barolo 2012 @ $51.95 found under Italy: Red Wine.
  • Lisa Likes – La Posta ‘Armando’ Bonarda 2015 @ $14.95 earning 4 stars found under Argentina: Red Wine; Lorimer ‘Langenlois’ Grüner Veltliner 2015 @ $21.95 earning 4 ½ stars found under Austria: White Wine; Calvano Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 @ $21.95 earning 4 stars found under Italy: Red Wine.
  • Dave’s Delights – Koval Single Barrel Oat Whiskey @ $99.95 earning 4 ½ stars found under Spirits: American Whiskey; McManis Chardonnay 2015 @ $19.95 earning 4 stars found under California: White Wine; Haart Piesporter Riesling Kabinett 2014 @ $19.95 earning 4 ½ stars found under Germany: White Wine.
  • Vic Picks – Tawse ‘Spark –Limestone Vineyard’ Riesling Sparkling Wine 2014 @ $20.95 earning 4 stars found under Sparkling Wine; Vizcarra ‘Senda Del Oro’ Roble 2012 @ $18.95 earning 4 ½ stars found under Spain: Red Wine.

Access the LCBO store nearest you with stock of any wine with an LCBO product number by clicking on the number shown in brackets in wine reviews then clicking on ‘Select Stores’ and entering your postal code—the number of bottles available 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: March 4, 2017

Mini-Feature: B.C. Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Burrowing Owl Merlot 2013
VQA Okanagan Valley $40.95 (585737) 14.5% alcohol
This dry, full-bodied Merlot from the southern Okanagan was aged 18 months in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak barrels, of which a third were new oak, and not filtered before bottling. The nose offers intense aromas of ripe plum, blackberry, and blueberry jam with hints of spice, smoke and tobacco leaf. Vibrant and juicy in texture, a wash of ripe dark fruit, with intriguing notes of dark chocolate and vanilla, engulfs the palate and lingers through the long, warm finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Mission Hill Reserve Shiraz 2013
VQA Okanagan Valley $27.95 (126763) 14.0% alcohol
Savoury and earthy aromas of cedar, baking spice and tobacco mingle with ripe dark plum in this inky offering from the Okanagan Valley. It’s dry, medium-full bodied with velvety tannins framing a palate bathed in flavours of cassis, blackberry, mint and black pepper which persist though the long, spicy finish. Pair with grilled lamb chops and mint sauce. (Lisa Isabelle)

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Gray Monk Pinot Noir 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $19.95 (251835) 11.8% alcohol
This is a bright and lively Pinot that shimmers pale red with a tinge of orange around the edge. Aromas of dry leaf, cherry, and smoke dominate the nose. On the palate, it’s light bodied with flavours of sour cherry supported by just a touch of well-integrated tannins. The lively acidity lingers pleasantly in the finish. Enjoy this with grilled Mexican chorizo sausage. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2014

VQA Okanagan Valley $23.95 (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)

The Main Release

Spirits: American Whiskey

Koval Single Barrel Oat Whiskey
USA $99.95 (488783) 40.0% alcohol
There are not many producers of 100% oat whiskeys in the world. If this one from Koval—the first distillery to open in Chicago since prohibition—is a typical example, then there’s room for a lot more. The whiskey is bright orange-gold in colour with aromas of cooked oats, malt, caramel, and honeycomb. The caramel follows through to the palate with additional flavours of maple sugar and vanilla. This is a delight to just quietly sit and sip. (Dave Isaacs)

Spirits: Irish Whiskey

Glendalough 7-year-old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Ireland $69.95 (419481) 46.0% alcohol
This is a powerful whiskey that’s aged in first-fill bourbon barrels. It’s bright gold in colour with a nose of burnt sugar, slate, and orange peel. When sipped, it’s an interesting mix of caramel and smoked ham flavours with an overall impression of nuttiness. Best poured over ice or with a splash of water. (Dave Isaacs)
Knappogue Castle 12-year-old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Ireland $74.95 (223776) 40.0% alcohol
The youngest of the Knappogue Castle family of whiskies, it’s aged for 12 years in bourbon oak casks. It’s light caramel in colour with a nose reminiscent of fresh flowers, citrus and sugar cookies. This is smooth to taste showcasing flavours of spice and citrus that fade to an easy finish. All in all, it would be an approachable and enjoyable introduction to Irish Whiskey. (Dave Isaacs)

Fortified Wine: Sherry

****1/2 drink now
Emilio Lustau Solera Reserva 'Rare' Amontillado 'Escuadrilla'

DO Jerez $19.95 (660324) 375 ml 17.0% alcohol

This is a racy offering in the classic dry style that’ll appeal equally to aficionados and tentative 'first-timers'. Wine-lovers will happily stretch their horizons here. Almond and toffee notes waft from the amber-brown liquid. Made from 100% Palomino white grapes that have been exposed to air, this oxidization causes the colour and the beguiling aromatics. The flavour profile is tangy and nutty. A versatile medium-bodied gem that would be well matched (serve chilled, not ice cold) with blue cheese or veal and chicken dishes with a piquant mayonnaise. (Vic Harradine)


****1/2 drink or cellar
Delouvin-Bagnost ‘Tradition’ Brut Champagne Non-Vintage

AOC Champagne $44.95 (385369) 12.0% alcohol

Lifted leesy/yeasty aromas mingle with hazelnut on the nose of this fruit-forward gem. Ripe apple and poached pear roll over the palate with a profusion of fine-bead mousse. There’s good mouth feel and the crisp refreshing finish cleans up nicely with a blaze of mouth-watering tang. Not your typical Champagne as flavour and quality punch well above the price. Don’t be shy in picking up a couple for when guests drop by. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

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

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $20.95 (370361) 11.5% alcohol

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

**** drink now
Graham Beck ‘Brut’ Non-vintage 

WO Western Cape $18.95 (593483) 12.0% alcohol 

A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, 30% of the wine for this sparkler was fermented in barrel, the blended wine undergoing 24 months of secondary fermentation in bottle. A charming pale-peach hue, the aromas of brioche, citrus, orchard fruit and spice drift from the glass. Dry, medium bodied, the mousse is mouth filling and creamy, the texture vibrant and the citrus and green apple flavours crisp. Finely crafted and lively, it sports good value. (Susan Desjardins)

**** 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) 

Ontario: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Creekside ‘Serluca Family Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc 2013

VQA Four Mile Creek $22.95 13.5% alcohol

Opaque and inky purple, this well-ripened Cabernet Franc offers complexity and richness. Enjoy the lifted floral aromas, cassis and black berry fruit, sweet spice, graphite and a notion of bay leaf. Medium-full bodied, the fresh, mouth-watering texture is paired with focused red cherry and cassis flavours, a savoury quality and notes of oak aging including dark chocolate and spice. Well balanced with good intensity of flavours and an extended, dry finish, this is drinking well now but has the bones for aging. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Cabernet/Merlot 2012

VQA Short Hills Bench $24.95 (395855) 14.0% alcohol

The intensely concentrated fruit character of this blend of the Cabs and Merlot showcases fruit from Henry of Pelham’s older vines—with fruit concentration reflected in the lovely, ripe, lifted aromas of forest berries entwined with notes of vanilla, spiced rose and dried herbs. Dry, medium-full bodied, this offers a defined structure and deft balance of firm ripe tannin, clean acidity and well-integrated oak. There’s a rush of flavour across the palate—ripe berry, cherry and plum accented by vanilla notes and spice. The flavourful dry finish is lingering and balanced. It’s a great choice for prime rib and is excellent value. (Susan Desjardins)

California: White Wine

**** drink now
McManis Chardonnay 2015

River Junction $19.95 (265983) 13.5% alcohol

This was cold fermented in stainless steel before being aged in old and new oak barrel. This gives the nose an interesting mineral base that supports notes of oak, apple, and lime. Smooth and full-bodied, the apple and minerality carries through to the taste. The wine then snaps to a lemony finish. Drink this with roasted pork tenderloin and baked apple. (Dave Isaacs) 

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rodney Strong 'Chalk Hill' Chardonnay 2014

Sonoma County $26.95 (275552) 14.5% alcohol

Notes of tropical fruit and butter, vanilla custard and hints of mineral grace the nose of this wine, produced from fruit grown on the unique volcanic white-ash soil of the Russian River Valley. Dry, medium-full bodied, it's rich and creamy in texture, yet retains freshness that is a perfect match for the lush flavours of lemon curd, sweet apple and pineapple. The mineral quality is subtly present on the palate while nuances of warm baking spice linger on the tangy finish. Serve with pasta garnished with shrimp and scallops sautéed in olive oil and garlic. (Susan Desjardins)

California: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
California $19.95 (451336) 13.5% alcohol
Dark red, almost opaque, this smells strongly of cotton candy and vanilla with a background of toasted oak. It’s full bodied and bursting with cherry flavour. The fruit’s balanced by strong tannins with both dancing together nicely in the finish. You could happily keep this in your cellar for another five to seven years and you can also enjoy it today alongside a juicy, medium-rare grilled steak. (Dave Isaacs)

Argentina: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
La Posta ‘Armando’ Bonarda 2015
Mendoza $14.95 (261586) 13.5 % alcohol
100% Bonarda grapes—traditionally called Douce Noir and from the Savoie region of France—are used in this flavourful, approachable red. Concentrated aromas of black cherry compote, blueberry and raspberry joined by hints of red licorice, vanilla and spice extend to the palate. Smooth in texture, it’s dry with soft tannins and tangy acidity along with hints of exotic spice and cocoa which permeate the juicy, medium-long finish. Try this good-value red with smoked-meat brisket. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar
Luigi Bosca D.O.C. Malbec 2013
D.O.C. Luján de Cuyo $29.95 (74922) 14.0% alcohol
From the first recognized appellation in Argentina, the grapes were sourced from a single vineyard from vines averaging 70 years old and were aged 14 months in new and old French oak barrels. Intense, uplifting aromas of red plum, blackberry, sweet spice, vanilla with notions of cedar adorn the nose. Dry, with good weight and firm tannins, the palate is bathed in ripe fruit flavours of plum and berries complemented by nuances of spice, cocoa and black pepper. (Lisa Isabelle)

Chile: White Wine

**** drink now
Montes ‘Alpha’ Chardonnay 2014
Casablanca Valley $19.95 (390203) 13.5% alcohol
Fresh, vibrant and pleasantly-textured, 35% was aged for eight months in French oak barrel allowing pure fruit aromas of crisp apple, tangy citrus and pineapple to mingle with a hint of lemon yoghourt and vanilla. Dry and mid-weight, it bathes the palate with a wash of green apple, pink grapefruit and spice—delightful through the extended finish. Pair with lemon roast chicken. (Lisa Isabelle)

Australia: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Dandelion ‘Lion's Tooth of McLaren Vale’ Shiraz/Riesling 2014
McLaren Vale $21.95 (311233) 14.5% alcohol
This wine is 95% Shiraz, and is fermented on top of Riesling skins to give just the gentlest of twists. The result is a wine that’s opaque, black plum in colour with a nose of spice, dry fruit, and cocoa powder. It's full-bodied with smooth tannins and flavours of cherry, coffee, and eucalyptus. There’s good acidity carrying the wine through to a dark chocolate finish. The wine isn’t filtered; decanting is recommended. It's drinking wonderfully now—pour with chicken mole—or cellar until 2020. (Dave Isaacs)

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Clos Henri Bel Echo 'Terroir Broadbridge' Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Marlborough, South Island $22.95 (309609) 14.0% alcohol
This is a classic Sauvignon, Blanc made from organic grapes grown in Wairau Valley, Marlborough. It’s very pale-gold in colour with a generous nose of canned asparagus and peas and just a hint of fresh mushroom. In the mouth it’s light bodied with flavours of lemon, lemon peel and grapefruit that trail off to a nice honeyed finish. Enjoy this alongside baked cod with a mushroom cream sauce. (Dave Isaacs)

Austria: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Anton Bauer ‘Gmörk’ Grüner Veltliner 2014
Wagram $18.95 (467290) 12.0 % alcohol
Fruit from the banks of the Danube River are used to produce this signature wine of Austria. Fresh and clean in texture, subtle and elegant in style, it showcases layers of fruit and spice. Aromas of pear, nectarine and quince mingle with acacia flowers and a flinty mineral note on the nose. Dry, medium-light bodied, flavours of ripe peach and lemon zest are enlivened with notions of ginger and white pepper. Enjoy with tuna tartare and wasabi. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Lorimer ‘Langenlois’ Grüner Veltliner 2015
DAC Kamptal $21.95 (142240) 12.5% alcohol
Spice and verve characterize this gem from biodynamic producer, Lorimer. Ripe orchard fruit and fresh citrus aromas mingle with delicate floral and mineral notes. It’s dry, medium-light bodied with a well-defined vein of lively acidity offering flavours of pear, lime zest, arugula and white pepper that surge over the palate through the crisp, medium-long, refreshing finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

Bulgaria: White Wine

**** drink now
Domaine Boyar ‘Quantum’ Traminer 2015
Bulgaria $15.95 (464495) 12.5% alcohol
Pale straw yellow in colour, this good-value Traminer bursts with aromas of lychee and canned peaches. It hits the palate full bodied with flavours of honeydew melon, peach and honey that give the impression of sweetness to an otherwise dry wine. There’s a good base of acidity that carries the wine through to a lemon-lime finish—a good match for some extra-spicy Pad Thai. (Dave Isaacs)

France: White Wine

**** drink now
Boekel Pinot Gris 2014
AOC Alsace $18.95 (489684) 13.0% alcohol
This is medium orange-gold in colour with a very reserved nose. It coats the palate, however, with an astonishing burst of orange, honey, and Gala apple flavours. It's full bodied with a long, orangey finish that leaves you wanting another sip. Enjoy this wine with marmalade glazed chicken thighs. (Dave Isaacs)
**** drink now
William Fèvre Champs Royaux Chablis 2015
AOC Chablis $23.95 (461640) 12.5% alcohol
This is a very pleasant, nicely balanced Chablis that’s pale-gold in colour with aromas of chalk, green apple, and a slight hint of clover. It’s medium bodied on the palate with flavours of green apple and lemon that fade to a crispy and fruity finish. Serve with white fish baked with olives and herbs de Provence. (Dave Isaacs)

France: Red Wine

• The following Cru red is 100% Gamay from hi-density planted, 45-year old vines with fruit undergoing partial carbonic maceration. Fleurie is one of the ten Grand Crus of Beaujolais used to signify wines of better structure, depth and flavour along with longer aging potential. It’s certainly not to be confused with Beaujolais Nouveau and is quite different from an AOC Beaujolais red—often offering more complexity, depth, structure and rich fruit flavour.
**** drink or cellar
Domaine des Nugues Fleurie 2013

AOC Fleurie $23.95 (447219) 13.0% alcohol

The earthy aromas in this beet-like hued, dry red, interlace with forest berries, black currant jam and a whiff of orange zest and flowers on the nose. The structure’s offered by perceptible tannin joined by lively tang and a wash of red and black berry fruit. There’s a touch of spice on the lingering finish of this medium-bodied red. Pour alongside a deli platter of baguette and charcuterie. (Susan Desjardins)

Germany: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Haart Piesporter Riesling Kabinett 2014
Prädikatswein Mosel $19.95 (727461) 9.0% alcohol
Piesport is a village in the Mosel region where the Haart family has roots dating back to 1337. Fruit is traditionally harvested a couple of weeks after those from surrounding vineyards then fermented with mostly wild yeasts. The result is a beautiful medium-sweet wine that gives off aromas of Royal Gala apples and candle wax. It's good value and full bodied with luscious flavours of lemon and apple with apple lingering beautifully in the finish. Enjoy alongside pork tenderloin roasted with sliced apples. (Dave Isaacs)

Italy: White Wine

**** drink now
Fontanafredda ‘Gavi di Gavi’ 2015
DOCG Cortese di Gavi $18.95 (366948) 12.5 % alcohol
Cortese grapes from southern Piedmont are gently pressed and fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks and oak barriques. Aromas of crisp apple, Bosc pear with almond and floral notes lead a rush of tangy citrus and ripe orchard fruit seasoned with a saline mineral note into the medium-long, lively finish. Pair this dry, medium-bodied white with any fish or seafood dish. (Lisa Isabelle)

***1/2 drink now
Zenato Pinot Grigio 2015

IGT Delle Venezie $15.95 (37648) 12.5% alcohol

Honeyed pit fruit and floral aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of flavours—tropical fruit and apricot meld beautifully with racy lemon curd and white grapefruit streaming over the palate with good balance and oodles of charm. This is light on its feet with decent texture and a clean refreshing aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Bortoluzzi Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
IGT Venezia Giulia $22.95 (487892) 13.5 % alcohol
Red cherry, black currant and blackberry aromas are enhanced by nuances of tobacco, espresso bean and smoke on the nose. It’s dry, medium in body, velvety in texture and showcases flavours of ripe berry fruit, roasted red pepper and an earthy mineral undertone which lingers through the dry, savoury finish. Pair with braised beef short ribs. (Lisa Isabelle)

***** drink or cellar
Rocche Costamagna ‘Rocche Dell’Annunziata’ Barolo 2012
DOCG Barolo $51.95 (413484) 13.5 % alcohol
Pale garnet in colour, the fruit was sourced from a single vineyard in the La Morra region of Piedmont with the finished wine aged two years in large Slavonian oak barrels then one year in bottle. Ripe red fruit aromas and flavours interweave with appealing notions of rose petal, tobacco and truffle. It’s dry, medium-full bodied with firm tannin and lasting tart cherry, cranberry finish. Decant and enjoy with mushroom risotto or osso bucco. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar
Calvano Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale $21.95 (421867) 13.5 % alcohol
Captivating aromas lift from the glass—earthiness, leather, black olives supported by ripe red and dark berry fruit. On the interesting, generous palate, blackberry, raspberry and prune flavours intertwine with elusive notes of sweet spice and earth. Dry, medium-full bodied, it offers firm structure, showing good depth of flavour and balance. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar
Castelgreve Riserva Chianti Classico 2011
DOCG Chianti Classico $21.95 (344416) 13.5 % alcohol
From the heart of this classic region, this displays lifted floral and earthy notes weaving through appealing sour cherry and blackberry aromas. A clean, well-defined structure is supported by flavours of tart cherry, black currant, violet and tea leaves with a pleasant mineral quality that persists through the long, drying finish. Pair with spaghetti Bolognese or a vegetarian grilled Portobello mushroom burger. (Lisa Isabelle)

Lebanon: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Chateau Musar Red 2009
Bekaa Valley $61.95 (109413) 14.0% alcohol
Composed of roughly equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault, the fruit wasn’t blended until three years after harvest and not released before another four years. It’s red with a slight brown tinge betraying its age. Aromas of dried raisin and leather on the nose introduce flavours of cherry jam and dried apricot on the palate. The acidity is excellent and the tannins though prominent, are well integrated. It’s drinking now, but will keep another four years. Enjoy with tamarind-marinated skirt steak—aerate/decant before serving. (Dave Isaacs)

Portugal: White Wine

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Arca Nova Vinho Verde 2014
DOC Vinho Verde $12.95 (292029) 10.5% alcohol
This white blend of Loureiro, Arinto and Trajadura grapes opens with delicate floral aromas intermingling with yellow apple, apricot and lime. The ‘Verde’ refers not to green, but a young or fresh wine. Dry, light-bodied, low in alcohol with a vibrant spritz, a stream of zesty citrus, orchard fruit and flowers delight on the palate persisting through the mid-length finish. A refreshing sipper or pair with seafood. (Lisa Isabelle)

Spain: Red Wine

****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)

• 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 $32.95 (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)

****1/2 drink or cellar  
Vizcarra ‘Senda Del Oro’ Roble 2012

DO Ribera del Duero $18.95 (331249) 14.0% alcohol

This is rich and luscious with persistent fruit flavour throughout, great balance and a long tang-laden aftertaste. 100% Tempranillo fruit was hand-picked from 15-year-old vines, gravity fed in the winery, undergoing malolactic conversion in barrel and aged 7 months in American and French oak. Aromas of mixed spice, bramble berry and dark, juicy Bing cherry waft easily. A seamless river of black currant and ripe mulberry garnished with notions of tar and balsamic coat the palate infusing the lengthy, mouth-watering aftertaste. Terrific value, pick up a few for drinking over the next two or so years. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

• Just released and available NOW in LCBO stores in the Vintages section

****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)

Just released and available NOW online via the LCBO website

****1/2 drink now
Jim Barry Wines ‘The Lodge Hill’ Riesling 2016
Clare Valley $25.00 (262469) 12.0% alcohol
Fruit for this was sourced from the eastern ranges of Clare from one of the highest vineyards in the Valley at 480 metres. Subtle aromas of lemon citrus and piquant spice introduce a tight line of lime, salinity and lemon pie filling racing across the palate and infusing the lip-smacking, bone-dry finish. An absolutely stunning Riesling that will really shine with pan-seared fish or grilled calamari. (Vic Harradine)

Released previously and available NOW with limited distribution in Vintages

**** drink now
Jim Barry ‘The Cover Drive’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 

Coonawarra/Clare Valley $24.95 (677476) 13.5% alcohol

Cover Drive is cricket terminology and the Barry family are cricket-mad. Spice-driven aromas of cherry and dark berry fruit herald a solid line of pomegranate acidity balanced by ripe mulberry fruit on the palate, persisting through the lip-smacking aftertaste. Good to go now after a two-hour aeration/decant and on to 2026 with grilled gourmet sausages. (Vic Harradine)

Classics Catalogue release date: October 5, 2017

***** cellar
Jim Barry ‘The Armagh’ 2012
Clare Valley $429.95 (424077) 13.7% alcohol
Deep-ruby hued, it sports an involved nose of grilled herbs, floral notes, licorice and currants decorated by gamy notes and eucalyptus. It coats the palate with a mouth-filling, teeth-staining array of ripe, juicy red and black berry fruit and mulberry jam framed with delightful tang and underpinned by firm, ripe tannin. There’s solid structure, persistent purity of fruit and deft balance with a monumentally long finish. Cellar until at least 2018, there’s a lot of life here. (Vic Harradine)

• Interested in learning more and adding another layer to your wine appreciation and enjoyment? Click here.

Vintages release dates: TBD

****1/2 drink or cellar
Jim Barry Wines ‘The Lodge Hill’ Shiraz 2014
Clare Valley $24.95 (998476) 14.0% alcohol
Fruit was sourced from the Lodge Hill Block standing within view of the Cellar Door tasting room. Sexy, perfumed aromas of ripe, juicy red and black currant and peppery notes precede a generous mouthful of ripe mulberry and black cherry fruit framed with excellent tang and underpinned by a soft tannin structure. This is creamy smooth with deft balance and a lengthy finish. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Jim Barry Wines ‘The Cover Drive’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Clare Valley/Coonawarra $24.95 (677476) 14.0% alcohol
Cabernet Sauvignon fruit from an abandoned cricket pitch near Penola in the Coonawarra wine region is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon from the Barry estate in the Clare Valley producing this approachable red with plenty of crowd appeal. Floral notes, peppery spice and dark fruit aromas deliver replays on the palate—currant and black cherry interwoven with fresh cracked pepper and excellent tang. This is balanced and complex with good structure and a lingering finish. Pour with grilled rib-eye steak. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2016 Riesling was divine poured young. After tasting the 2010 alongside the ‘16, I’m confident predicting it’s also a prime candidate for short-term cellaring as it’ll broaden its perspective developing honeyed, apricot and marmalade characters over the next four to six years.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Pikes Wines ‘Traditionale’ Riesling 2016
Clare Valley, South Australia $23.95 11.5% alcohol
This is the 32nd vintage released of Pikes flagship Riesling. Floral aromas, peach and notes of minerality introduce a gorgeously textured flow of tang—lemon zest and white grapefruit—interwoven with lime-drizzled papaya. It’s clean, crisp and refreshing with a lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour with steamed mussels, grilled calamari rings or soft white cheese. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Pikes Wines ‘Hills & Valleys’ Riesling 2016
Clare Valley, South Australia $24.95 11.50% alcohol
A quiet nose of floral and citrus notes provide segue to a delicious flow of lemon pie filling and Key lime yoghurt bathing the palate with good mouthfeel adorned with plenty of lip-smacking tang to go along with the slight off-dry character. This is balanced on a pin with a lingering, crisp and clean finish. Just plain delicious sipped on its own, it also pours well with pan-seared/grilled seafood or roast chicken, veal or pork. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Pikes Wines ‘The Dog Walk’ Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot 2014
Clare Valley, South Australia $21.00 14.5% alcohol
This fairly even-split, red blend bounds from the glass with lifted aromas of mocha, savoury herbs and juicy, dark berry fruit. It glides over the palate with grace, balance and elegance along with tang-forward fruit—black raspberry and juicy black cherry—interlaced with hints of eucalyptus and bittersweet dark chocolate. It’s well balanced with persistent purity of fruit and drinking well now along with good bones for short-term cellaring. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Pikes Wines ‘Eastside’ Shiraz 2014
Clare Valley, South Australia $26.00 14.0% alcohol
Floral aromas decorated by red and black currant pave the way for this rich, ripe, ready and raring-to-go Shiraz. It coats the palate with a creamy-smooth river of ripe, spice-flecked mulberry fruit and black plum. There’s good structure, depth and complexity throughout. It’s medium bodied with a dry, balanced finish—each sip’s as good or better that the previous—showcasing the long ‘hang time’ in cool-climate Clare. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (326975) 12.5 % alcohol
Intense aromas of Golden delicious apple, pear and white peach are enlivened with bright citrus notes and hints of lilac. A fine expression of the Chardonnay grape, it showcases uplifting purity of fruit freshening the palate with flavours of crisp orchard fruit, tangy citrus notes and nuances of exotic tropical fruit. Mid-weight with good texture, vibrant acidity and a lengthy mouth-watering finish, enjoy this good-value, food-friendly wine with grilled calamari. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Kacaba Cabernet 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (499384) 13.0 % alcohol
Pale ruby in colour, this blend—90% Cabernet Franc/10% Cabernet Sauvignon—displays lifted aromas of red currant and raspberry with intriguing perfumed floral, spice and dried herb notes. Medium-bodied and dry with fresh acidity and barely perceptible tannin, the red fruit replays on the palate with hints of tobacco, spice and pepper. There’s good value here. (Lisa Isabelle)

New in Ontario Wineries

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Kacaba ‘Terraced Vineyard’ Syrah 2014
VQA Niagara Escarpment $29.95 13.0 % alcohol
The grapes for this cool-climate Syrah are sourced from a terraced vineyard and have been aged for 12 months in French and American oak. Dark plum and cassis dominate the nose supported by savory notions of forest floor, leather and black pepper. Dry, medium-full bodied, intense flavours of spiced dark fruit, tangy raspberry, violet and mushroom endure through the lasting, dry finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Kacaba ‘Proprietor’s Block’ Syrah 2014
VQA Niagara Escarpment $29.95 13.0 % alcohol
Pronounced aromas of ripe dark berry fruit are united with savory notes of leather, oregano, tobacco and spice. It displays a firm structure, dry and medium-full bodied, offering flavours of tomato leaf, cocoa and mint mingling with tangy blackberry and strawberry. The extended finish is flavourful and warm. Enjoy with any grilled meat. (Lisa Isabelle)

Cheers, Vic, Lisa and Dave