March 13, 2017 Newsletter

An important notice for the upcoming newsletter

We’ll be tasting the next, April 1, 2017, Vintages Release the week following that date. We were informed by the LCBO they required this delay in order to conduct annual inventory. We would expect to publish the following weekend, April 8 or 9. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. 

Newsletter highlights include:

Australia FlagVic is still in South Australia, now in the Barossa valley. He visited two premium, family-owned wineries – John Duval Wines and Yalumba Family Vignerons. John Duval is an internationally acclaimed, revered wineperson. He was Penfolds Chief Winemaker 1986-2002. Yalumba is the oldest family-owned winery in Australia with a storied past and a brilliant presence in the contemporary world of wine. Some of the wines reviewed in the special feature are now on store shelves with others slated for upcoming release—Duval has five wines reviewed and Yalumba ten. Interested in reading the reviews and adding another layer to your wine-appreciation and wine-purchasing skill and enjoyment? Click here.

Lisa IsobelleLisa Isabelle has been invited by the ‘Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux’ to attend the ‘En Primeur’ week in early April in Bordeaux, France. She'll be visiting many prestigious Chateaux including Margaux, Palmer, Haut-Brion, Petrus and others. She’ll be tasting the recent 2016 vintage. Best wishes, Lisa!

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – only 11 of 73 wines currently in stores met the strict quality-price guidelines—3 in the Vintages release and 8 following. They’re easily identified in the newsletter via the exceptional-value checkmark above. Which strict quality-price guidelines? Click here.
  • 5-star Wine – only two currently available wines rang the 5-star bell - Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 @ $124.95 found under California Wine Feature and 2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard – Fox Croft Block’ Chardonnay 2014 @ $22.95 found under Ontario: White Wine.
  • Lisa Likes – Redstone ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Franc 2012 earning 4 ½ stars @ $29.95 found under Ontario: Red Wine; Montes ‘Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 earning 4 stars @ $12.95 found under New in the LCBO Portfolio.
  • Dave’s Delights – Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 earning 4 ½ stars @ $24.95 found under California: Red Wine; Wakefield 'Promised Land' Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 earning 4 stars @ $14.95 found under New in LCBO Portfolio.
  • Vic Picks – 2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard – Fox Croft Block’ Chardonnay 2014 earning 5 stars @ $22.95 found under Ontario White Wine; ring.bolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 earning 4 ½ stars @ $21.95 found under New in Vintages Essentials.

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 18, 2017

Feature: California Wine

• The following Paul Hobbs, stunning Napa Cab steps up swinging and smacks it out of the park. It's a red blend—93% Cabernet Sauvignon/5% Cabernet Franc/1% Petit Verdot/1% Merlot.
***** drink or cellar
Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $124.95 (119065) 14.7% alcohol
This is opaque plum, with aromas of chalky slate, tobacco, and cassis leaping from the glass. It's full bodied with superbly integrated tannins giving an overall feeling of velvety smoothness. You’re greeted by flavours of smoked meat, pipe tobacco and vanilla that trail off together in a long finish. Drinking beautifully now—with rosemary-rubbed, roast lamb—and on to 2025. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2 cellar
Brandling Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Mount Veeder $59.95 (340513) 15.6% alcohol
This Cab will soon be firing on all cylinders. It's opaque, black plum in the glass with aromas of spice, vanilla, cherry, dry leaves and ash that that burst from the shimmering liquid. It's full-bodied with flavours of sour cherry and cassis on the palate, accompanied by perceptible, chewy tannins. There’s a lengthy tart finish with smoky highlights. This will be drinking beautifully in a year or two and then on to 2030. (Dave Isaacs)

**** drink or cellar
Duckhorn Chardonnay 2014
Napa Valley $46.95 (418319) 14.5% alcohol
This wine balances its use of oak by using a combination of new French barrels, second-fill barrels and stainless steel. It results in a nicely balanced Chardonnay that’s bright gold in colour with flowery and vanilla aromas and just a light touch of toasty oak. It's full bodied and creamy with lots of buttery flavours and a lingering pear finish. Serve alongside herb-roasted chicken. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2drink or cellar
Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2015
Sonoma County $29.95 (942151) 14.8% alcohol
Dark plum in colour, There are predominant aromas of raspberry highlighted with a pinch of black pepper. It's full bodied with firm, well-integrated tannins and a nice frame of acidity that balances flavours of cherry and spice with the spice lingering in the finish. Keep it in the cellar for another couple of years, or enjoy today with medium-rare peppercorn steak. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2 drink now
Belle Glos ‘Clark & Telephone Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2014
Santa Maria Valley $59.95 (652883) 14.7% alcohol
This delightfully complex, powerful Pinot is a striking opaque plum in colour with aromas of chocolate, vanilla, mint, smoke, and orange pekoe tea. It's medium bodied and creamy smooth with flavours of chocolate, vanilla, and mint carried over the palate and finish. It gradually fades to a dried herb finish. Enjoy this alongside cedar-planked salmon, although not a bad idea drink it on its own, either. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2drink or cellar
Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay 2014
Napa Valley $69.95 (709717) 14.3% alcohol
Made from hand harvested grapes grown in the Carneros district, in the southern tip of the Napa Valley, this wine is a bright gold colour with aromas of fresh oak and buttery vanilla. It's full bodied and creamy, with flavours of tropical fruit, cantaloupe, and just a hint of mineral purity. There is a good balance of acid that carries the wine through to a tropical finish. Enjoy with baked ham with a pineapple mustard glaze. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2drink or cellar
Kistler McCrea Vineyard Chardonnay 2014
Somoma Mountain $129.95 (353706) 14.1% alcohol
Bright golden yellow in colour, with aromas of cream and buttered toast. It's not too heavy on the palate, with creamy texture and flavours of smoky cheese, butter, and pineapple. It's all tied together with a perfect balance of acidity that gracefully carries the wine through to a long buttery finish. Enjoy with barbecue smoked whole chicken, now through to 2020. (Dave Isaacs)

**** drink now
Ravenswood ‘Dickerson - Single Vineyard’ Zinfandel 2013
Napa Valley $39.95 (599183) 14.9% alcohol
This is pale-red with aromas of smoked meat, nutmeg spice and black pepper. It’s full-bodied with flavours of cherry, vanilla, and black pepper bathing the palate. There’s plenty of acidity and as the flavours fade away you are left with a pleasantly tart finish. Enjoy this with slow-cooked, baby back-ribs. (Dave Isaacs)

**** drink now
Fess Parker Pinot Noir 2013
Santa Rita Hills $34.95 (660597) 14.2% alcohol
This wine is made from fruit taken from 3 different vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills AVA, I gains character from being aged in French oak barrels for 12 months, 33% new. It’s pale-red orange in colour with an entertaining nose of mint, raspberry and dried mushrooms. On the palate, it’s medium-light bodied with flavours of red berries and vanilla. Probably at optimum drinkability, open soon enjoying with smoked salmon. (Dave Isaacs)

**** drink now
Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir 2014
Russian River Valley $39.95 (208314) 14.2% alcohol
This elegant Pinot is medium-red and purple tinged. It expresses notes of cherry, plum and vanilla on the nose preceding flavours of cherry and vanilla on the palate. It’s medium to light bodied with a racy base of acidity carrying the flavours through to a fruity red berry finish. Enjoy with grilled salmon. (Dave Isaacs)

The Main Release

Dessert Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Cave Spring ‘Indian Summer’ Select Late Harvest Riesling 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 (415901) 375 mL 12.5% alcohol 

A true treasure; if you haven’t given this a try, I encourage you strongly. Not icewine, but grapes from the VQA sub-appellation of Lincoln Lakeshore handpicked and pressed while partially frozen. Perfumed aromas of apricot, herbs and spice, honeyed pit fruit and lemony citrus herald a delightful flow of poached pear, peel marmalade and lemon-pie filling with a balancing, tangy line of racy citrus keeping it far from cloying on the finish and aftertaste. It pours well with spiced pâté, aged hard cheese, foie gras or fruit flan. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario Icewine

****drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Pondview Vidal Icewine 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95 200 mL (390351) 10.5% alcohol
Pale gold in colour with aromas of clover, apricot, and apple pie. It's full bodied and syrupy sweet, with flavours of dried apricot and apple, trailing off to a fruit forward finish. Use this as an ingredient in the winery's own Vidal Icewine Apple Chutney recipe. (Dave Isaacs)


****1/2 drink now
Bollinger ‘Special Cuvée’ Brut Champagne Non-Vintage

AOC Champagne $72.95 (384529) 12.0% alcohol

This has great sense of purpose with a fine-bead mousse. It rides a persistent streak of lemon curd and Key lime garnished with minerality, blood orange and honeyed pit fruit, the latter making an appearance on the clean crisp and refreshing finish and aftertaste. Bollinger are considered by many to be at or near the pinnacle of Champagne producers. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Loosen Bros. ‘Dr. L.’ Sparkling Riesling Non-Vintage

Deutscher Sekt $14.95 (296095) 12.0% alcohol 

Producing this off-dry wine in the Charmat method ensures the character of the grape shines through. It’s seen in the lovely aromas of stone fruit, slate, sweet citrus and subtle white flowers. Clean and fresh in texture, this displays a fine, persistent, palate-cleansing mousse. There’s great intensity of ripe fruit on the palate with vibrant notes of lemon-lime and mineral, melon and white peach, the finish accenting the refreshing, lively texture. A well-crafted Sekt for any occasion – sip or serve with light appetizers. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: White Wine

• 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 $22.95 (421362) 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)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Family Tree’ White 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 (251116) 13.0% alcohol
Viognier, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay Musqué grapes were used to fashion this aromatic blend; it offers a nose of ripe pineapple, binned red apple and acacia flower. This creamy textured, medium-bodied, dry white offers palate-bathing flavours of peach, ginger and lemon curd, all balanced by a surge of tangy acidity. Pair with pan-seared white fish with a squish of fresh lemon. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
13th Street ‘June’s Vineyard’ Riesling 2014
VQA Creek Shores $19.95 (147512) 12.0% alcohol
Crisp, pristine aromas of orchard fruit, citrus and mineral notes find their way to the lively palate accompanied by notions of ginger and almond. This barely off-dry, medium-light bodied, vibrant gem finishes long with refreshing notes of white grapefruit, lemon zest and spice. Enjoy with spicy Asian cuisine. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Cave Spring Estate Chardonnay 2014
VQA Beamsville Bench $18.95 (256552) 13.0% alcohol
A portion of this nicely-balanced, dry, mid-weight Chardonnay spent 10 months in French oak before bottling. The gentle use of oak shows subdued notes of spice and vanilla bean complementing the lifted aromas of baked apples and lemon curd. Creamy in texture with lively acidity, bright citrus, melon and mineral notes extend through the medium-long finish. Pair with gently poached salmon. (Lisa Isabelle)

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Vineland Estates ‘Elevation - St. Urban Vineyard’ Riesling 2015

VQA Niagara Escarpment $19.95 (38117) 10.0% alcohol

Pale gold in colour with a slight green tinge, this off-dry white wine has a sweet apple nose supported by a mineral base. Full bodied and delicately sweet to taste, there are notes of lemon that carry through to the finish. A very nice wine to accompany a spicy Thai dinner. (Dave Isaacs)

Ontario: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes ‘Estate Bottled - Old Vines’ Pinot Noir 2012
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $19.95 (256834) 13.0% alcohol
Interesting Old-World style aromas of earth, tobacco, spice and a hint of smoke meld with tart red cherry, cranberry and red currant on the nose. Dry, medium bodied, notions of earth and spice converge with cranberry and strawberry on the palate and persist through the mid-plus length, drying finish. Pair with a warm beetroot salad. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Fielding Cabernet Franc 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $21.95 (36194) 13.0% alcohol
This dry, mid-weight, well-balanced Cabernet Franc emerges from the glass with lifted aromas of raspberry, cranberry and red cherry complemented by nuances of sweet pipe tobacco, spice and smoke. Dry, nicely textured with fine-grained tannin and lively acidity, tangy spiced red fruit flavours wash over the palate with suggestions of spice and smoke on the lingering finish. Enjoy with grilled duck breast with cherry compote. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Redstone ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Franc 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95 (381244) 14% alcohol
Fruit sourced for this Cabernet Franc comes from certified organic and biodynamic red clay and stone vineyard sites and spent 18 months in French oak before bottling. A perfumed bouquet evokes concentrated dark fruit aromas, paired with subtle savoury notes of spice, tobacco and tomato leaf on the nose. Pronounced flavours of blackberry, black currant accented with savoury herbs and spice surge over the palate. It’s dry, medium-full bodied, nicely structured with perceptible tannin and fine acidity which extends into the long, flavourful finish. This would pair nicely with feta and sundried tomato stuffed chicken breast. (Lisa Isabelle)

California: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Robert Mondavi ‘Fumé Blanc’ 2014

Napa Valley $22.95 (221887) 13.5% alcohol

Predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with a dash of Semillon, the nose is dominated by grassy herbaceous aromas reminiscent of a summertime meadow. It’s medium bodied with flavours of apple and mineral and a finish that’s crisp and refreshing. This is an inspired pairing with pasta in alfredo sauce. (Dave Isaacs)

**** drink or cellar
Conundrum Red 2013

California $24.95 (294298) 14.2% alcohol

Ink-black, almost opaque in the glass, this sweet, red blend is full bodied, well textured, jammy and very fruit forward. Baking spice, black cherry and black currant aromas replay on the palate as flavours as black currant jam, black plum compote and cherry tart robed in mixed spice and herbs. Pour alongside grilled, smoked back ribs swabbed in spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
California $24.95 (291666) 13.8% alcohol
This will be a hit at the upscale summer BBQ you've been planning. It's dark plum, almost opaque, with an inviting nose of coffee, chocolate, and strawberry. It's full bodied, with flavours of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and cherry peeking around a wall of firm, well-integrated tannins. The vanilla and coffee linger through the finish reminiscent of café au lait. Enjoy it alongside medium-rare BBQ steak, with a dab of spicy steak sauce on the side. (Dave Isaacs)

Washington: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
14 Hands Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Columbia Valley $18.95 (70573) 13.5% alcohol
Dark red in colour with a tinge of orange, gives off delightful aromas of dried oregano and basil. It's medium bodied with firm, but well-integrated tannins, and flavours of cherry and vanilla that fade away to reveal a slightly red liquorice-flavoured finish. Drinking nicely now and will keep until 2020. Goes nicely with herbaceous, tomato and meat sauce over pasta. (Dave Isaacs)

Argentina: Wine

***1/2 drink now
Alamos Torrontés 2016
Salta $15.95 (081539) 13.0% alcohol
The fruit for this signature white grape from Argentina was sourced from the high-altitude Salta region. Pronounced aromas of lemongrass, ginger and fragrant notions of honeysuckle and lilac translate to vibrant, lively citrus, ripe tropical fruit and floral notes on the palate. It’s dry, medium-light bodied with a crisp, clean lemon-lime aftertaste. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar
Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Chardonnay/Viognier 2015
Uco Valley $16.95 (262097) 13.0% alcohol
Refreshing and nicely balanced, this blend of Chardonnay and Viognier displays fresh aromas of peach and pineapple with hints of spice and honeysuckle. Dry and mid-weight, lively in texture, flavours of green apple, nectarine and mango mingle with spice delivering a medium-long tangy finish. Enjoy with butternut squash risotto. (Lisa Isabelle)

Argentina: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Aniello ‘006 Riverside’ Merlot 2014
Rio Negro, Patagonia $17.95 (480731) 14.5% alcohol
Sustainable agriculture and minimal winemaking intervention coalesce in this fresh, easy-drinking Merlot. Aromas of red plum, black currant and raspberry jam with a whisper of smoke and spice waft from the glass. Dry, mid-weight with gentle tannin, it showcases ripe cherry/berry flavours underpinned by clean, refreshing acidity extending through the warm, mid-length finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

Chile: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Perez Cruz ‘Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Casablanca Valley 14.95 (462655) 13.5% alcohol
A rush of aromas emerge from the glass of this value-laden gem—ripe pineapple, guava, asparagus and white pepper. Dry, medium-light-bodied, the palate dishes up tangy flavours of green apple, white grapefruit with an underlying note of fresh grass. Clean, refreshing and bright, serve this easy-drinking white with an herbed, goat-cheese appetizer. (Lisa Isabelle)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Aconcagua Valley $19.95 (203364) 14.0% alcohol
This 90% Cabernet Sauvignon—supported by Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot—offers good concentration of colour, aromas and flavours. Perfumed aromas of dark berry fruit, cedar, roasted red pepper and tobacco open this plush, yet lively, red. Succulent flavours of cassis and dark plum adorned with mint and fine herbs bathe the palate. Dry, medium-full bodied with approachable tannins, there’s a subtle note of cocoa on the medium-long, warming finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

New Zealand: White Wine

**** drink now
Dashwood Chardonnay 2015
Marlborough $19.95 (312942) 13.5% alcohol
This lively Chardonnay is bright gold in colour, with aromas of mineral and toast on the nose and flavours of peach and pear on the palate. It's medium-to-full bodied, with a nice balance of acid that slides the wine slowly to a long apple flavoured finish. Enjoy with a dish of creamy mushroom risotto. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2 drink now
Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Awatere Valley, Marlborough $18.95 (225557) 13.5% alcohol

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

France: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Jean-Max Roger ‘Cuvée Genèse’ Sancerre 2015
AOC Sancerre $27.95 (189126) 13.0% alcohol
Lithe and elegant, this Sauvignon Blanc delivers on all levels. Fresh aromas of lemon-lime, green orchard fruit, fennel with nuanced flinty and floral notes inform the nose. Gooseberry, tangy citrus and tropical fruit bathe the palate with glimpses of smoked tarragon. Dry, medium bodied, it has a silky texture backed by bright acidity and a leisurely finish. Enjoy this fine offering with pan-seared prawns under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Le Fils des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie 2015
AOC Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine $14.95 (363150) 12.0 % alcohol
This wonderful Muscadet hails from the western portion of the Loire Valley. Bright gold in colour with aromas of pear, meadow flowers and wet stone—it's medium-light bodied with flavours of chalky apple and a good balance of acid. There’s a crisp and refreshing finish with apple flavours joined by an enjoyable tangy snap. It’s an excellent match for pan-seared scallops with a basil butter sauce. (Dave Isaacs)
**** drink now
E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015
AOC Côtes du Rhône $19.95 (290296) 13.5% alcohol
This is a white blend of 65% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, 8% Marsanne, 8 % Clairette, 2% Bourboulenc, and 2% white Grenache. It's pale gold in colour, with aromas of honeysuckle and orange. There’s a full bodied creamy texture with flavours of green apple along with excellent tang of acid carrying the apple flavour through the lingering finish. It’s a good match for Asian dishes with a touch of sweet curry. (Dave Isaacs)

France: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Gérard Bertrand Syrah/Grenache 2013

AOP Languedoc $16.95 (413237) 13.5% alcohol

This is crowd friendly and medium-plus bodied with a lingering, balanced finish and aftertaste. Aromas of red berry fruit and piquant spice billow from this straightforward Syrah/Grenache red blend. A silky-smooth stream of ripe dark berry and blueberry joined by roasted herbs and spice glide over the palate. Pour with burgers, steak or whatever you grill on the Weber. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Jean Perrier & Fils ‘Cuvée Gastronomie’ Mondeuse Savoie 2015
AOC Savoie $21.95 (272112) 12.0%
There are few Mondeuse vines in the world and most are planted in its ancestral home, the Savoie wine region in eastern France. This is a shade of plum and dishes up aromas of musty earth and moss—aka, ‘sous bois’. It's medium-bodied on the finish with firm structure. The acidity takes a back seat to flavours of red cherry and vanilla on the palate. A good match for grilled beef ribs. (Dave Isaacs)

France: Rosé Wine

**** drink now
Gérard Bertrand ‘Gris Blanc’ Rosé 2015

IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi $16.95 (409870) 12.5% alcohol

There’s barely a hint of pink in the wine, although there are plenty of aromas and flavours to experience on the nose and palate. Aromas of grapefruit, savory herbs and grassy notes introduce a medium weight, nicely textured stream of red grapefruit, herbal notes and soft lemon tang that’s clean and crisp from twist top to last drop. It’s a refreshing sipper that also pours well with olive-oiled arugula with chèvre or blue-veined cheese. There’s good value here. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
Pieropan Soave Classico 2015
DOC Soave Classico $18.95 (946848) 12.0% alcohol
Produced from 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave grapes, this shows intense pure fruit aromas and flavours balanced by vibrant acidity and good structure. Aromas of peach, pear, lemon zest and almond herald a wash of orchard fruit, mandarin orange and grapefruit pith on the palate. Dry and medium bodied, it offers good depth of flavour through the medium-long, citrus-laden finish. Pour alongside halibut filet with fine herbs. (Lisa Isabelle)

Italy Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico 2013

DOCG Chianti Classico $19.95 (23325) 13.5% alcohol

This sleek, light-on-its-feet Chianti Classico opens with aromas of floral notes, mocha and spice. It streaks over the palate with good acidity from flavours of cranberry and pomegranate balanced and entwined with sweet-tinged kirsch liqueur. It’s light bodied with a dry, balanced finish and aftertaste. Pour with prawn and chorizo paella or spaghetti Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Storia Antica Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2014
DOC Valpolicella Superiore $17.95 (273672) 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of fragrant dried fruit, spice and floral notes mingle with ripe blackberry, red currant and cherry aromas. The palate is smooth and silky highlighting fresh berry fruit, ripe cherries alongside floral and spice notes. Pair this dry, medium-full bodied red with a hearty beef stew. (Lisa Isabelle)

Spain: Red Wine

****1/2 drink now
Convento San Franciso 2010

DO Ribera del Duero $20.95 (206409) 14.5% alcohol

This is medium-full bodied, structured, complex, very tasty and punches well above the price. This is purple/black-hued almost opaque when poured. A hi-toned bouquet of red cherry, tobacco and gamy note aromas introduce a balanced and beautiful river of mature fruit—red and black currant and blueberry—interlaced with earthy notes and soft, polished tannin bathing the palate infusing the finish and aftertaste. Drink over the next couple of years. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Barón de Ley ‘Reserva’ 2011
DOCa Rioja $21.95 (958868) 13.5% alcohol
Predominately Tempranillo, this Rioja was aged 20 months in new American oak before resting 2 years in bottle before release. It offers a complex nose of ripe red fruit interlaced with dried currants, spice, vanilla and toast. The red fruit replays on the palate accented with hints of mint and dark chocolate. Dry, medium-full bodied, well-structured with smooth tannins, this is sure to please. (Lisa Isabelle)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release date: August 5, 2017

• The following Rosé sparkling wine—68% Pinot Noir/26% Chardonnay/6% Pinot Meunier—was produced in a similar method and with similar grape varieties as Champagne. Jansz refer to it as ‘Méthode Tasmanoise’.

****1/2 drink now
Jansz Sparkling Rosé Brut Non-Vintage
Tasmania $26.95 (37499) 12.0% alcohol
Produced in the Traditional Method with top-drawer fruit and just a hint of pink, it delivers a profusion of mousse and is bursting with racy flavour. Aromas of strawberry and mineral notes make way for a lip-smacking mouthful of red currant and lemon-lime tang streaking over the palate infusing the crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste. Pours well on its own and pairs well with pan-seared salmon. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release date: TBD (2012 vintage is currently in Vintages for following two wines - The Cigar and The Signature)

****1/2 drink or cellar 
Yalumba ‘The Cigar – Menzies Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Coonawarra $29.95 (165829) 14.5% alcohol
Flirting with 5 stars, this single-vineyard Coonawarra Cab is structured, complex with persistent purity of fruit and a lengthy, lip-smacking finish. Lifted aromas of spice, cedar and red cherry/berry fruit abound. This is medium-full bodied with generous texture and sense of elegance as it bathes the palate with flavour—ripe mulberry and black currant mingling with dark chocolate, licorice and wisps of eucalyptus. The long aftertaste is tangy and beautiful. Pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

• The following is the 55th vintage of ‘The Signature’ recognising individuals who have made a significant contribution to the life and culture at Yalumba. The 2013 has the signature of Andrew Murphy to celebrate his story of many decades of service—starting out as a cellar hand, qualifying as a winemaker, now Director of Wine at Yalumba.

***** drink or cellar 
Yalumba ‘The Signature’ Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2013
Barossa $75.00 (528356) 14.0% alcohol
A 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Shiraz red blend, it’s opaque in the glass delivering highly perfumed aromas—black currant and savory mint interwoven with exotic incense. This is rich, luscious, dense and complex on the palate showcasing a mélange of persistent flavour with dried currant, black plum compote, mint and fennel to the fore. It’s framed by a delicious line of racy tang and underpinned by firm tannin structure. The finish goes on and on and it was tough to spit. Pour 2023 and well beyond. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release date: TBD

• The following Sidewood Estate Sauvignon Blanc was fashioned according to winemaker Darryl Catlin’s three golden rules: 1) Pick fruit in cooler temperatures at the moment of optimum maturity 2) get to press ASAP—this estate fruit at the winery within approximately one hour 3) use only free-run juice and ferment with ambient yeasts.

****1/2 drink now
Sidewood Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Adelaide Hills $20.00 12.5% alcohol
Aromas of tropical fruit, gooseberry and piquant spice abound. This single-vineyard, sustainably farmed beauty delivers a medium-bodied, creamy-textured surge of tang-laden lemon curd and white grapefruit interlaced with green apple and wisps of honeydew melon bathing the palate persisting through the lengthy, lip-smacking finish. Clean, refreshing and full of value, it pours well on its own or alongside chèvre, grilled fish or prawn ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Sidewood Estate Shiraz 2015
Adelaide Hills $26.00 14.5% alcohol
This estate-grown Shiraz was hand harvested and aged 16 months in French oak barrique. It showcases bright, juicy red berry fruit, complexity and charm. Savory herbs, red berry fruit and spiced black plum herald a rich, lively, balanced and beautiful stream of briary berry, pie cherry and gorgeous acidity coating the palate, persisting through the mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Drinking well now and on to 2022. (Vic Harradine)

• The following ‘Mappinga’ Shiraz from Sidewood is their flagship red with only premium fruit from small plots selected for early-morning, hand-picking by winemaker Darryl Catlin and team. After hand sorting at the winery, ¾ of the fruit is pressed and ¼ is added to the fermenter as whole berries for partial carbonic maceration. Once the temperature-controlled fermentation is complete, it’s matured in French oak barrique, 35% new.

***** drink or cellar
Sidewood Estate ‘Mappinga’ Shiraz 2015
Adelaide Hills $60.00 14.5% alcohol
This elegant Shiraz makes a dramatic statement with persistent purity of fruit, complexity and full-on texture and flavours. Highly perfumed aromas of red and black berry fruit, mocha and savory herb precede a balanced-on-a-pin, smooth and mellow wash of ripe black currant, black plum and racy red cherry. There’s structure from soft, fine-grain tannin and a lip-smacking lengthy finish. Pour now after a two-hour aeration/decant and on to 2026. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages

****1/2 drink now
Jansz ‘Premium Cuvée’ Sparkling Brut Non-Vintage

Tasmania $26.95 (566828) 12.5% alcohol

One of Australia’s premium producers of bubbly, Jansz produced this in the rigorous Traditional Method with the final blend spending just over two years in bottle on its lees before being disgorged—it’s a 53% Chardonnay/44% Pinot Noir/3% Pinot Meunier blend. It fills the glass with a generous mousse and fine-bead bubbles persisting throughout. Look for citrus tang, wisps of red berry fruit and notions of nutty notes on the crisp, clean finish. A terrific sparkler as an aperitif, for greeting guests or matched with seafood. (Vic Harradine)
**** drink now
Penmara Wines 'White Ribbon' Semillon 21016
Hunter Valley $14.95 (474031) 10.5% alcohol
This is very pale gold with an ever-so-slight cast of green. It has a crisp nose of citrus, honeysuckle and fresh green peas with undertones of minerality. Medium to light bodied on the palate, the flavours of lime, citrus peel and well balanced acidity all fade equally on the finish. This very good-value Semillon is perfectly paired with goat cheese. (Dave Isaacs)

New in Vintages Essentials

• The following exceptional-value, Torrontés from Susan Balbo is a Vintages Essentials’ wine always available in select stores.
**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Susana Balbo Crios Torrontés 2016
Argentina $13.95 (1834) 13% alcohol
This striking wine is very pale yellow with a slightly cool greenish cast. There are pleasant aromas of clover, nectar, and rose water on the nose, with lemon and citrus peel flavours on the palette. The full body is balanced by a racy acidity that carries the wine through a long lemon finish. Although dry overall, the wine has an impression of gentle sweetness that makes you want to take another sip. A fine match for some spicy Pad Thai. (Dave Isaacs)
• The following Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River is a Vintages Essentials wine always available in select LCBO stores.

****1/2 drink or cellar
ring.bolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Margaret River $21.95 (606624) 14.5% alcohol
Floral, savory and dark berry fruit aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of flavours led by a palate-coating, gusher of ripe juicy fruit—ripe juicy black Bing cherry, black bramble berry and red currant—interlaced with black licorice, espresso roast and hints of cassis. Showcasing good purity of fruit and with depth and complexity, this is medium-full bodied with creamy-smooth mouthfeel and a lingering aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

White Wine

***1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
TINI Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Italy $7.95 (361477) 12.0% alcohol
This shows pronounced characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc at a knock-out price. There are strong aromas of tinned asparagus, cat's pee, and lemon peel. It’s medium-to-full bodied on the palate with flavours of asparagus, grapefruit, and fresh spring lettuce. Enjoy it with an asparagus and snow pea salad on a bed of mixed field greens. (Dave Isaacs)

• The following Cesari Chardonnay is also available in a 1500 mL magnum for only $14.00.

***1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Cesari ‘Adesso’ Chardonnay d’Italia 2015
Italy $7.95 (572461) 12.0% alcohol
Aromas of ripe red apple, pineapple with hints of spice and a light floral note open this refreshing, medium-light bodied white. It’s dry with lively citrus and tropical fruit flavours and finishes with a mid-length, refreshing tang. It’s hard to pass by at this price. (Lisa Isabelle)

Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Cesari Adesso Merlot ‘d’Italia’ 2015
Italy $7.95 (572453) 12.0% alcohol
Ripe plum and blackberry aromas interweave with vanilla and spice on the nose. Dry, medium-bodied, a delicate wash of spiced plum bathes the palate lasting through the smooth, mid-length, fruity finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

• The following Sangiovese from TINI earns 10 bonus, blue AirMiles with every bottle purchased now to March 26, 2017.

***1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
TINI Sangiovese di Romagna 2015
DOC Romanga $7.75 (179432) 12% alcohol
Aromas of strawberry and earth introduce a surprisingly full-bodied, full flavoured surge of pie cherry and red berry jam underpinned by firm tannin structure. It's quite tart, leading to a long racy finish with a slightly bitter twist. If you’re looking to pair with your thin-crust pizza or pasta and tomato sauce, this is an interesting wine at a price that’s hard to beat. Aerate/decant two hours before serving. (Dave Isaacs)

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Montes ‘Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Colchagua Valley, Chile $12.95 (157883) 13.5% alcohol
This blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon/15 % Merlot from the Colchagua Valley spent six months in French oak barrels before bottling. Pronounced aromas of blackberry and cassis are layered with herbal notes of tobacco, roasted red pepper and mint. Dry, medium-bodied with well-integrated tannins, it showcases ripe blackberry and plum flavours with lingering hints of spice and dark chocolate. Enjoy this Cab with herb-encrusted grilled lamb chops. (Lisa Isabelle)

***1/2 drink now
Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Vernaiolo 2015
DOCG Chianti $14.95 (269589) 13.0% alcohol
This is medium red in colour showing pink around the edges. It has a nose of red cherry, dried fruit, and plum. Light and dry on the palate, the tannins start small, gradually gain strength and complement the sour cherry flavour on the palate. Enjoy this with bruschetta topped with shaved parmesan. (Dave Isaacs)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Fantini Casale Vecchio ‘Lot Twenty Three’ Montepulciano 2015
DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo $10.95 (612788) 13.0% alcohol
100% Montepulciano grapes were used to produce this compelling, good-value red. Its deep purple colour announces concentrated aromas of black berry fruit, spice, sweet tobacco and lavender. Dry, medium-full bodied with lush texture, the dark fruit and spice replay on the palate and through the medium-long finish. Pair with a hearty meat-based pasta dish. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Fantini ‘Numero Uno’ Primitivo 2015
IGT Puglia $12.95 (442491) 13.5% alcohol
Fruity and savoury aromas of dark cherry, red currant, pipe tobacco, spice and vanilla engulf the nose while the palate offers a velvety smooth texture, supple tannins and balanced, lively acidity. Dry and medium-full bodied, a luscious wave of dark plum, prune and toast flows over the palate and through the long, juicy finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar 
Wakefield 'Promised Land' Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
South Australia $14.95 (358838) 13.5% alcohol
This deep purple, almost opaque, Aussie Cab has an inviting nose of cherry, chocolate, cigarette smoke, coffee and eucalyptus. It's full bodied on the palate with soft, ripe tannins and tangy flavours of sour cherry and mint. There’s harmonious balance of racy acidity and ripe fruit delivered on the balanced finish—there’s very good value here. (Dave Isaacs)
***1/2 drink or cellar 
Wakefield 'Promised Land' Shiraz 2015
South Australia $14.95 (441543) 13.5% alcohol
This tangy Shiraz opens with earthy aromas of mushrooms and moss on the nose. It's full bodied with flavours of sour cherry and sage that are nicely balanced by creamy smooth tannins and lively acidity. Enjoy with peppered steak and grilled mushrooms. (Dave Isaacs)
• The following Viognier from Yalumba—one of Australia’s oldest, and still family-owned wineries—was fermented by indigent yeasts from the vineyard and then left on lees for three months contributing to the creamy-smooth mouthfeel.

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Viognier 2016
South Australia $13.95 (470062) 13.5% alcohol
The price-quality ratio skews heavily in your favour in this delectable gem—back up the van and put in a case or two. Honeysuckle, floral and spice aromas pave the way for a palate-bathing wash of white peach, ripe apricot and peel marmalade cleaning up crisp and refreshing with lemony tang on the lip-smacking aftertaste. Sip on its own or pour with roast chicken, veal or pork. (Vic Harradine)

• You’ll receive 8 bonus AirMiles for every bottle of the following Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon purchased in the LCBO now to March 26, 2017.

**** drink or cellar 
Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Coonawarra $19.95 (460667) 14.0% alcohol
You’ll find very good value in this drink-me-now Cab from the famous Geographical Indication (GI) of Coonawarra. This dishes up a juicy stream of briary black berry and black currant intertwined with piquant spice and notions of mocha and earthy notes. It has good weight, oodles of texture and a long, long finish. Perfect for the grilled, red meats you pull off the barbecue and well priced for large or small gatherings of family or friends. (Vic Harradine)

New in Consignment Wine

• Order the following Yalumba ‘Old Bush Vine’ Grenache 2015 by the case of 12 bottles online directly from B & W Wines for delivery to your home, office or restaurant.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Yalumba ‘Old Bush Vines’ Grenache 2015
Barossa $24.95 (313071) 14.0% alcohol
As the label suggests, this was sourced from old Grenache vines; all between 35- and 80-years-old. Spice-laden aromas of red and dark berry fruit and floral notes mingle on the nose of this medium-bodied, nicely textured red. You’ll find complexity, depth and persistent purity of fruit throughout. Flavours of red raspberry, blood orange and spice are borne along the palate on a streak of lip-smacking acidity—a trademark of Grenache. The finish offers more of the same. All in all, a top drop, terrific value and nudged 5 stars. (Vic Harradine)

• Order the following Plexus red blend by the 6-bottle case for delivery to home, office or restaurant online from B & W Wines.

• The following Plexus red blend ticks all the boxes winemaker John Duval had in mind when making this gem. Fruit was sourced from various sites in the Barossa Valley and his vision was to provide a wide expression of red fruit flavours along with structure and seamless balance plus a lengthy finish. The red blend—47% Shiraz/32% Grenache/21% Mourvèdre—includes fruit from Grenache vines planted in 1858 and Mourvèdre sourced from 80 to 115-year-old vines.

***** drink or cellar
John Duval Wines ‘Plexus’ 2014
Barossa Valley $59.95 14.5% alcohol
Aromas leap from the glass of this Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Grenache blend with heavily perfumed notes of floral notes, baking spice, red and black berry fruit. It’s medium-full bodied, creamy-smooth textured with a mouth-filling stream of flavour and tang, bathing the palate, balanced on a pin, simply delicious—red currant and red plum interlaced with mulberry and piquant spice. Purity of fruit and delectable tang persist through the monumentally long finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

New in Private Order

• Order the following John Duval wines by the case via Private Order online from B & W Wines. For assistance with ordering wines, you can contact their office at any time at 416 531-5553 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

• The following, Plexus white blend—71% Marsanne/20% Viognier/9% Roussanne—was sourced from prime Barossa growing areas with the Marsanne from Marananga and Seppeltsfield, Viognier from Eden Valley and Roussanne from Kalimna.

****1/2 drink now
John Duval Wines ‘Plexus’ 2015
Barossa $45.00 12.5% alcohol
Floral and honeysuckle aromas abound on the nose of this gorgeous white blend—Marsanne/Roussanne/Viognier. It’s medium-full bodied with generous mouthfeel and a tapestry of flavours interwoven on the palate—white peach and pear with apricot, lively spice and lip-smacking, lemony tang with an herbal twist. There was partial ageing in older oak barrel, now integrated and barely perceptible. This is well balanced and delivers crisp, clean and refreshing flavour from twist top to last drop. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following Duval ‘Entity’ was sourced from 100% older-vine Shiraz in Krondorf, Eden Valley and Marananga wine areas. It was then barrel-aged in 300L French oak hogsheads for 15 months—35% new, the balance 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill.

****1/2 drink or cellar
John Duval Wines ‘Entity’ 2014
Barossa $65.00 14.5% alcohol
An involved nose of black currant, mocha and sprigs of savory herb herald a medium-plus, generously textured stream of juicy black cherry, ripe bramble berry decorated with black pepper and a hint of vanilla. There’s firm structure from still-evolving tannin and excellent, tang-laden balance to the delicious ripe fruit, especially on the spicy, lengthy aftertaste. Approachable now after a three-hour aeration/decant, better 2019 and beyond. (Vic Harradine)

The following ‘Annexus’ was fashioned from 80% Eden Valley and 20% Barossa Valley fruit from two, low-yielding, Grenache vineyards that were barrel-matured 12 months in seasoned, French oak, 300L hogsheads. The oldest parcel of fruit was sourced from 150-year-old ‘ancestor’ Grenache vines.

***** drink or cellar
John Duval Wines ‘Annexus’ 2015
Barossa $85.00 14.0% alcohol
This 100%, low-yielding, old-vine Grenache showcases persistent purity of fruit, complexity, good structure, deft balance and oodles of charm. Black briary berry and red currant flavours intertwine on the palate mingling with earthy notes and notions of baking spice while underpinned by soft, fine-grained tannin. The monumentally long aftertaste delivers more of the same. Kudos to owner/winemaker, John Duval. (Vic Harradine)

• The following ‘Eligo’ is John Duval’s flagship red sourced from some of the finest 2014 Shiraz to be found in Barossa Valley and Eden Valley Geographical Indications with further meticulous barrel selection producing limited production of some 500 dozen bottles. Fermentation occurred with submerged cap in small, stainless-steel fermenters with select fruit on their skins for two weeks. Fruit was barrel-aged 20 months in fine-grained, French oak, 300 L hogsheads—60% new, the balance two- and three-years old.

***** cellar
John Duval Wines ‘Eligo’ 2014
Barossa $130.00 14.5% alcohol
There are myriad aromas on the nose with savory herbs, cassis, gamy and tarry notes to the fore. It’s full bodied, fully textured and full Monty on the flavour spectrum, rich and delicious—black Bing cherry, cassis and ripe mulberry adorned with black pepper, earthy notes and black licorice. It promises to be an outstanding wine experience, though requiring time to fully integrate firm tannin, luscious fruit, lip-smacking tang and perceptible oaky notes—pop corks 2022 and well beyond. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic, Lisa and Dave