May 22, 2017 Newsletter

Newsletter Highlights include:

Australia FlagPaxton, Sidewood : Vic paid two more visits to family-owned and managed wineries in Australia, one in McLaren Vale and the other in the Adelaide Hills. One farms biodynamically and there’s a link in the article that gives a brief, clear explanation of the process along with reviews of wine making its way here and around the world. The other winery farms sustainably and have a fabulous story of their own that’s told in the article. They too, have wines presently stocked and coming here and other retail locations that are reviewed in the article. These articles are interesting and provide insider information.  

Susan DesjardinsThe Etna DOC : Susan Desjardins recently flew to Italy to attend Vin Italy – a massive wine exhibition with wine-tasting opportunities galore. She was on her way to Sicily and this article takes you inside the wineries she visited in Sicily along with wine reviews of wines tasted that will make their way here and around the world. Interesting reading awaits, Click here.

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 12 of 90 wines currently in stores meet the strict quality-price guidelines. They’re easily identified in the newsletter via the exceptional-value checkmark above. Which strict quality-price guidelines? Click here.
  • 5-Star wine – 2 wines in this newsletter that are currently available in stores rang the 5-star bell.
  • Vic Picks – Williams & Humbert ‘Walnut Brown - Rare Old Brown’ Oloroso earned 4 stars @ $13.95 found under Fortified Wine: Sherry; Hess ‘Select’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $24.95 found under California: Red Wine; Maycas Del Limarí ‘Reserva Especial’ Chardonnay 2015 earned 4 ½ stars @ $18.95 found under Chile: White Wine; Bodegas Balbas ‘Reserva’ 2005 earned 4 ½ stars @ $22.95 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 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 (wine not in Vintages) should always closely reflect stock in stores, updated every 24 hours. However, it’s always best to phone stores showing stock before going.

Vintages Release: May 27, 2017

The Main Release

Fortified Wine: Port

• ‘Late Bottled Vintage’ or ‘LBV’ as those in the know call them—now you’re ‘in the know’, you can, as well. The term is used for a single-vintage Port staying in barrel four to six years before bottling—twice as long as true ‘Vintage’ Port—making them more drinkable as they have less perceptible tannin when you purchase—it softens more quickly in barrel, than in bottle. The vintage date shown on the bottle is the year grapes were harvested. LBVs are also generally produced in years that don’t meet the high standard required of a Vintage Port. However, they are a fraction the price of Vintage Port—the following 2011 Fonseca LBV is well worth a try.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Fonseca ‘Late Bottled Vintage’ Port 2011
DOP Porto $22.95 (87551) 20.0% alcohol
Fig and raisin aromas introduce a spice-infused, intense gusher of sweet ambrosia. Flavours of black currant, kirsch liqueur and baking spice blanket the palate, medium-full bodied and generously textured. Extremely versatile at the table, pour with blue-veined cheese, extra old cheddar or chocolate dessert. This is from a premium Port producer and very good value. (Vic Harradine)

Fortified Wine: Sherry

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Williams & Humbert ‘Walnut Brown - Rare Old Brown’ Oloroso
Jerez, Spain $13.95 (437467) 19.5% alcohol 
What a treat - what a bargain. Dark amber with tinges of green on the edges; the aromas are divine—Oloroso means ‘scented’ in Spanish—with dark raisin, caramel and fig predominant. Warm and sweet on the palate, look for the aromas to follow through to flavours plus some lovely spice and nutty notes. The long sweet finish of this dessert wine cries out for spiced nut cake or ginger snaps. (Vic Harradine)


• Polish up your Sake knowledge (pun intended) for the following offering. The brewing process and the percentage of milling, aka polishing, done to the rice are two important factors affecting the different styles of sake. Terminology matters: ‘Ginjo’ indicates that rice was polished/milled to at least 60% of original size and distilled alcohol was added. ‘Junmai’ means ‘pure rice’ and indicates there are no additives such as alcohol or sugar and ‘Daiginjo’ indicates rice was milled to at least 50% and it is pure rice. ‘Junmai Genshu’ indicates ‘pure rice’ and the sake was fermented to the alcohol shown on label, usually around 19%; it was not diluted with water. Most sake is diluted with water after fermentation and filtration.

****1/2 drink now
Okunomatsu ‘Sparkling’ Junmai Daiginjo Sake

Fukushima Prefecture, Japan $14.95 290 mL (228973) 11.4% alcohol

This provides good structure and persistent flavour with balance and flair. Delicate aromas of sweet spice and lemon pie filling open this spritzy/bubbly gem. It’s quite fresh and crisp on the palate with citrus and apple melding with vanilla and hints of crème brûlée. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

• The following Château des Charmes Sparkling Rosé Non-Vintage is produced Methode Traditionnelle with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit resting a minimum 24 months on its lees before being disgorged by hand then receiving a dosage of Pinot Noir to gain its alluring colour.

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes Sparkling Rosé Non-Vintage
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $29.95 (78055) 12.5% alcohol
This was fashioned with similar techniques and made from the same grape varieties as Champagne. Baking brioche and stone fruit aromas waft from the frothy, fine-bead mousse. It spreads over the palate with red currant, pomegranate and pie cherry tang finishing in a blaze of ruby red grapefruit and cranberry. Pour as an aperitif when greeting guests and carry on to the appetizers. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Luc Belaire ‘Rare’ Sparkling Rosé Non-Vintage

Vin de France $39.95 (395384) 12.5% alcohol

This deep-salmon, Syrah/Cinsault/Grenache blend offers quite intense aromas of red fruit garnished with dried herbs and flowers. It’s dry and mid-weight with red fruit flavours accented by supple, persistent mousse. The tasty field berry flavours linger on the lively finish—sip and savour. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now
Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior Brut Non-Vintage

DOCG Veneto, Italy $21.95 (349662) 11.0% alcohol

Vibrant and fresh from first whiff to last sip, this classic Prosecco offers aromas and flavours of apple, pear and fresh grapes, a gentle, persistent mousse and a delightfully flavourful finish. Enjoy on its own or with butternut squash risotto. (Susan Desjardins)

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
‘Cygnus Reserva’ Brut Nature Cava Non-Vintage
DO Cava, Spain $16.95 (352856)11.5% alcohol
This sparkling, organic gem was produced from the holy trinity of Cava grapes— Xarel-lo 40%, Parellada 30% and Macabeo 30%. Lifted aromas of apple and pear interweave with mint and wisps of piquant ginger heralding flavours of apple, mineral/slate and strawberry wreathed in lemon curd and toasty notes. This has good mousse and a delightfully refreshing, lip-smacking aftertaste—certainly a cut above the norm. Pour with steamed mussels or pan-seared fish. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Hidden Bench ‘Estate’ Riesling 2015
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment $23.95 (183491)
Aromas of citrus zest and minerality precede a tang-laden surge of lime cordial and white nectarine streaking over the palate persisting through the dry, crisp and refreshing aftertaste. This is nicely textured with good weight and oodles of zing. Pour with pan-seared fish under a squeeze of lemon or mussels steamed in white wine. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Dirty Laundry Cabernet/Merlot 2014
VQA British Columbia $25.95 (334441) 13.6% alcohol
This red blend—80% Cabernet Sauvignon/20% Merlot—is fruit forward and flavour packed. Exotic incense and savory herb aromas make way for a full-bodied, well-textured stream of ripe black fruit with dark plum, briary berry and juicy Bing cherry to the fore. Pour alongside your favourite cut of grilled red meat. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Rosé Wine

• The following gained many guest accolades when recently served at a charity dinner in Ottawa. It was deemed delicious and proved a flexible and amiable dinner partner pairing well with various appetizers, from spicy to creamy, also with a potato/corn soup, and with mixed greens with a sweet raspberry vinaigrette.

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes Cuvée d’Andrée Rosé 2015 

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $15.95 (333260) 12.7% alcohol

This award-winning Pinot Noir Rosé shows great complexity with aromas of pomegranate, melon, strawberry and hints of fragrant dried herbs. It’s dry and exquisitely balanced with fresh, lively texture underpinning intensely flavourful fruit through the clean, fruity aftertaste. It has significant impact and weight, you can enjoy with appetizers or salads—try melon and prosciutto with spinach—or a main of grilled salmon, pork or chicken. (Susan Desjardins)

California: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Cambria ‘Bench Break’ Chardonnay 2014
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara $33.95 (980490) 14.5% alcohol
This was 76% barrel aged for 6 ½ months in French oak, 14% new. The smoky/oaky aromas on the nose set the table for a smorgasbord of flavour—caramel, baking spice, nutty notes and sweet vanilla interplay with grilled pineapple and ripe orchard fruit—apple and pear. It’s medium-plus bodied with good mouthfeel and brushstrokes of toasty oak on the back palate and lengthy, dry aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Kistler ‘Les Noisetiers’ Chardonnay 2015
Sonoma Coast $99.95 (251223) 14.1% alcohol
One of Sonoma’s high flyers, this 2015 Les Noisetiers from Kistler lives up to its lofty reputation. It leads with aromas of peach, apricot and citrus before unfurling a silky, creamy-smooth flow of caramel apple, ripe pear and grilled pineapple interwoven with racy lemon curd. It finishes balanced and beautiful with notes of sweet, ripe white nectarine, lemon pie filling and citrus zest. Pour with chicken Kiev. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Santa Barbara Winery Chardonnay 2015
Santa Barbara County $24.95 (989152) 13.5% alcohol
This is full bodied and nicely textured with aromas of mixed spice, toasty oak and lemongrass. It blankets the palate with a stream of ripe pear, crisp Granny Smith apple and lemon citrus. It’s medium-plus weight and nicely textured with well-integrated oak and a balanced finish. Pair with roast pork and creamed, whipped sweet potatoes. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Firestone Syrah 2013
Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County $32.95 (458901) 14.5% alcohol
There’s oodles of spice and red and black berry fruit aromas on the nose and this theme replays throughout. A river of tang-laden, spice-infused flavour coats the palate—black currant and pie cherry mingle with racy acidity and baking spice on the palate persisting through the lengthy, lip-smacking finish. There’s deft balance, intensity, purity of fruit and plenty of style and charm here. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Hess ‘Select’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
North Coast $24.95 (25080) 13.5% alcohol
Hess is a go-to producer for those seeking restrained elegance in value-for-money wine. This showcases a balanced-on-a-pin Sonoma Cab with good structure and persistent purity of fruit at a reasonable price point. Aromas of baking spice and dark cherry/berry fruit translate to a medium bodied, well-textured stream of palate-bathing flavours with black currant and pie cherry interlaced with minty notes and baking spice—nutmeg, cinnamon and traces of ginger. It finishes balanced, long and mouth-watering good. (Vic Harradine)

• This following Pinot Noir is from where the 2004 Rex Pickett novel and the independent, Academy Award nominated movie ‘Sideways’ was set. Pinot Noir and the tourist and wine industry here continue to benefit.

**** drink or cellar
Hitching Post ‘Hometown’ Pinot Noir 2014
Santa Barbara County $29.95 (256644) 13.8% alcohol
There’s a profusion of sweet and ripe, dark fruit aromas and flavours in this medium bodied, nicely textured Pinot. Baking and piquant spice aromas interplay with black currant and cherry on the nose providing segue for a medium-weight, well-textured wash of sweet, ripe fruit enveloping the palate. Black, juicy Bing cherry and dark bramble berry decorated with mixed spice and mouth-watering tang fill the finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Nielson by Byron Pinot Noir 2014
Santa Barbara County $23.95 (4383523) 13.5% alcohol
Uriel J. Nielson planted the first commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County here in 1964 and this wine pays homage to him. Aromas of charred toast and dark berry fruit pave the way for a well-balanced and spice-laden river of red and black cherry, blueberry and oodles of mixed spice bathing the palate underpinned by wisps of soft tannin. The mid-length finish is fruity and balanced. Serve after a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

• By all measures, Lodi is a warm California AVA where you’d expect Zinfandel to thrive and it does. You might also expect this to be a jammy fruit bomb. However, it’s nicely balanced, dishing up its fair share of crunchy red fruit.

**** drink or cellar
The Federalist ‘Lodi’ Zinfandel 2014
Lodi $19.95 (498774) 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of dark cherry/berry fruit intertwine with baking spice and dark toast notes before unleashing a lively, juicy torrent of pie cherry and red currant adorned with flecks of ripe, sweet fruit and spice. It’s mid weight and nicely textured. There’s also a substantial dollop of still-evolving tannin that can be handled by two more years in the cellar or a three-hour aeration/decant and served with well-seasoned, grilled red meat—your call. (Vic Harradine)

Washington State: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar  

Buried Cane Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Columbia Valley $19.95 (402081) 13.8% alcohol

This is dark purple when poured, almost opaque. Aromas of espresso roast, field berry fruit and baking spice introduce a dense, intense flow of black currant jam and cassis intertwoven with sweet vanilla, and lip-smacking tang. It’s quite good value, medium-full bodied and well textured with wisps of ripe, soft tannin on the long aftertaste. Aerate/decant two hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Fabre Montmayou ‘Reserva’ Malbec 2014
Mendoza $18.95 (261867) 14.0% alcohol
Cherry/berry fruit aromas meld with floral notes and sharp spice on the nose of this mid-weight, nicely textured, easy-going Malbec. It rolls over the palate with rich, ripe black currant and cassis nicely balanced with a pleasing line of racy tang providing balance and a mid-length, lip-smacking finish. Pour with what you pull off the barbecue at your place—meat burgers, veggie burgers, steak, gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Maycas Del Limarí ‘Reserva Especial’ Chardonnay 2015
Limarí Valley $18.95 (143768) 13.5% alcohol
This really delivers with depth and flavour, purity of fruit and exceptional balance. Alluring aromas of citrus notes, tropical fruit and baking spice introduce a rollicking river of spice-infused flavour with grilled pineapple, honeydew melon and lemon pie filling enveloping the palate persisting through the deftly balanced, crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste. Well paced, well priced and well… absolutely delicious. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

• The following 2013 Emiliana Coyam red blend is farmed biodynamically.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Emiliana Coyam 2013
Colchagua Valley $29.95 (63891) 14.5% alcohol
With cedar and smoke on the nose, this red blend—primarily and in order, Syrah, Carménère, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon—sports a rich and luscious, balanced and beautiful wash of palate-bathing flavour—black plum compote and juicy dark Bing cherry interlaced with mixed spice, mocha and notions of grilled savory herbs. It’s medium-full bodied with excellent mouthfeel, depth, structure and a lengthy, dry finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 cellar
Santa Ema ‘Amplus’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Maipo Alto, Maipo Valley $19.95 (76307) 14.0% alcohol
This shows great promise—pop corks 2019 to 2024. Aromas of spice, saline/mineral notes and mixed field berry fruit abound. It shows good blue and black fruit on the palate with ripe dark cherry, blueberry and dark raspberry predominant mingling with sharp spice and wisps of mocha. Overall it’s medium-weight with good intensity and texture while grippy, grainy tannin takes charge on the finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

• Fruit for the following Wakefield Chardonnay was sourced from their Estate vineyard in cool-climate, Clare Valley. It was picked at night, taken directly to the winery, chilled and whole-bunch pressed; after settling, most was fermented in French oak barrel, only 10% new, and stayed on lees a short four months, with the oak nicely integrated at bottling.
**** drink now  

Wakefield Wines ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2016

Clare Valley $15.95 (711556) 13.5% alcohol

This offers a generously textured, mouth-filling stream of crisp, refreshing flavour from twist top to final drop of the lengthy finish and aftertaste. Aromas of tropical fruit, ginger and nutmeg abound. They precede a medium-full bodied, tapestry of palate-bathing flavour—white nectarine, apple pie spice, nutty notes and gorgeous lemony tang. It’s well balanced, well priced and delicious. Long story short—pick up a few. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

**** drink now
Waimea ‘Classic’ Riesling 2016
Nelson, South Island $18.95 (408666) 13.0% alcohol
Lifted, lively aromas of mixed spice and citrus zest precede a yin and yang, sweet and tang flow with palate-bathing flavours of Key lime pie and racy grapefruit. It’s medium bodied with decent texture and an off-dry demeanor that cries out for spicy Asian cuisine. The mouth-watering aftertaste is crisp, clean and refreshing. (Vic Harradine)

South Africa: Red Wine

• The following Cederberg Shiraz is one of the few wines with an appellation the same name as the winery as well as being the only commercial winery in their respective appellation—Château Grillet in France, is another that comes to mind.

**** drink or cellar
Cederberg Private Cellar Shiraz 2015
WO Cederberg $25.95 (374199) 14.5% alcohol
This boldly fruited, cool-climate red has plenty of appeal. It springs from the glass with aromas of red and black currant, spice and mocha. A surge of palate-coating flavours are showcased by luscious red cherry and red currant, framed by excellent tangy acidity and adorned by sweet vanilla, baking spice and a boatload of charm. It finishes balanced and mouth-watering, crisp and dry. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

• The fruit in the following 2015 J.M. Sohler Heissenberg originates from hand-harvested, estate vineyards of this family-owned and managed winery. Their cellars date back to the 1500s.

****1/2 drink or cellar
J.M. Sohler Heissenberg Riesling 2015
AOC Alsace $18.95 (66126) 13.5% alcohol
This finishes crisp and clean, but there are numerous ripe fruit flavours on the palate certainly giving the impression of an off-dry Riesling. It opens with aromas of orchard fruit, piquant spice and wisps of honey. The palate’s treated to a burst of apple, ripe pear and white nectarine interwoven and balanced by racy tang from Key lime and Meyer lemon flavours. This is mid weight with creamy-smooth texture and a dry, refreshing finish and aftertaste. The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour—don’t hesitate in picking up a few. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2016
AOP Les Costières Pomerois $14.95 (350124) 12.5% alcohol
This light-on-its-feet, lip-stinger, aka Picpoul, races over the palate with a laser-like line of racy acidity expressed as freshly squeezed lemon and white grapefruit flecked with flinty/mineral notes. The lip-smacking finish layers on notions of grapefruit pith. Pour with ceviche, sushi or freshly shucked oysters. The price-quality ratio skews in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Château Blaignan 2010
AOC Médoc $21.95 (416727) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of forest floor, cedar and campfire smoke provide segue for a linear, sleek red with flavours of pomegranate, red currant and cranberry streaking across the palate persisting through the mouth-watering finish. This is medium weight, light-medium textured with perceptible tannin showing on the aftertaste. Aerate/decant three hours before serving with pasta in tomato sauce.

• The following 2014 Château Hauchat is an outstanding choice for Wine of the Month as it punches well above the price. Be warned, it won’t stay on shelves long.

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Château Hauchat 2014
AOC Fronsac $16.95 (123489) 13.0% alcohol
A quiet nose of berry fruit and floral notes open this value-laden gem. It soars on the palate with rich, luscious fruit—ripe bramble berry and juicy black cherry nicely augmented with vanilla and baking spice. This is medium bodied, well textured and showcases good balance, purity of fruit, style and charm. The finish lingers, you shouldn’t; the price quality balance tips well in your favour and is worth a multiple purchase. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Château Rahoul 2012
AOC Graves $29.95 (226043) 13.5% alcohol
Spice and toasty aromas set the stage for a mid-weight, nicely textured swath of red and black currant bathing the palate decorated with excellent tang, good balance and underpinned with soft, ripe tannin. This red blend—73% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. 2% Petit Verdot—has structure and complexity with a lengthy finish. Pour with Swiss steak or try Jamie Oliver’s spaghetti Bolognese recipe.

**** cellar
Château Tour Bayard 2012
AOC Montagne-Saint-Émilion $21.95 (388348) 13.5% alcohol
This hand-harvested red blend—85% Merlot, 15% Cab Franc—matured in 60% concrete vat and 40% French oak barrel, 20% new, 20% twice filled. It wafts from the glass with aromas of sharp spice and grilled savory herbs. Medium bodied with decent texture, flavours of red currant, cranberry and pie cherry streak across the palate with vanilla, baking spice and an underpinning of perceptible tannin finishing in a blaze of tang. Better to pop corks in 2018 to 2023, but if impatient, aerate/decant three hours serving with grilled and well-seasoned red meat. (Vic Harradine

• The following wine is from Château Rauzan-Ségla, a 2nd growth wine. In 1855, the great red wine estates of the Gironde in Bordeaux, France were judged to be in five categories (referred to as ‘Crus’ or ‘Growths’ with originally only four wineries (now five, but that’s another story) in the first category and 12 in the second category (there have been alterations/splits and one wine jumping from this category to the one above). The following wine, along with others of similar status, is often referred to as a ‘second label’ or ‘second wine’ of one of these premium wineries that made it into one of the exclusive groups—after the winemaker selects, in his opinion, the ideal barrels for the famed ‘Growth’ label—in this case, 2nd Growth Château Rauzan-Ségla—the best of the rest was chosen for this particular wine – hence, ‘second label’. Some have a third and fourth label. This estate is owned by Chanel, who have gone to great lengths improve quality.

***** cellar  

Ségla 2010

AOC Margaux $65.95 (359810) 13.5% alcohol

Perfumed aromas of sweet ripe fruit and floral notes provide segue to a dense, intense red blend—approximately 2/3rds Cabernet Sauvignon, 1/3rd Merlot with a dash of Petit Verdot and a dot of Cabernet Franc. A stunning wash of sweet, ripe black currant, crème de cassis and vanilla with hints of mint and mocha coat the palate along with moderating tang. This full-bodied beauty has great sense of purpose, stunning purity, is deftly balanced and bursting with promise. The rich fruit flavour, balancing acidity and profound tannin underpinning all portend long life—pop corks 2025 to 2035. (Vic Harradine)

France: Rosé Wine

****1/2 drink now
Gérard Bertrand ‘Cote des roses’ Rosé 2016

AOP Languedoc (373985) $18.95 12.5% alcohol
Strawberry aromas interweave with spice and floral notes introducing a tapestry of tangy flavour—ripe, red cherry, ripe plum and flecks of red pepper jelly blanket the palate infusing the long, balanced and beautiful finish. This is medium weight and nicely textured with a price-quality balance tipped well in your favour. Pour chilled with a mixed charcuterie platter—Genoa salami, shaved ham, soft, smelly cheese, spicy black olives and baguette, (Vic Harradine)

Germany: White Wine

• The following wine from Germany has a second-tier designation – Qualitätswein. You don’t have to be fluent in German to take a stab at the translation (Quality wine). The confusion is, that until recently, Qualitätswein mit Prädikat was the highest designation. However, the highest designation is now Prädikatswein, with Qualitätswein second. The major difference between the two is that Qualitätswein and lower designation table wine may add sugar to fermenting wine while only the highest designation, Prädikatswein, forbids it. There are also very good wines labeled Qualitätswein.

**** drink now  

Schloss Schönborn Riesling 2011

Qualitätswein Mosel $16.95 (653535) 10.0% alcohol

An aromatic petrol/mineral nose gives way to an off-dry stream of ripe pit fruit and pear interlaced with crisp, lip-smacking acidity. Balanced and beautiful, this has good weight and texture with plenty of charm. Give it a go with tandoori chicken, Pad Thai or other spicy Asian dishes. There’s good value here. (Vic Harradine)

Italy White Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Veveso Beneventano Falanghina 2015
IGT Beneventano $16.95 (289538) 13.0% alcohol
Falanghina is a white grape variety native to Italy, most notably grown north of Naples on the coast of Campania. Floral and citrus aromas make way for a medium-weight, nicely textured wash of ripe apple and white peach adorned and infused with racy, lemony tang and saline minerality. It’s crisp, clean and refreshing throughout. Pour with grilled or pan-seared salmon under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Frescobaldi ‘Castello Di Pomino’ Pomino Bianco 2015
DOC Sicilia $19.95 (65086) 12.5% alcohol
This is light on its feet with interesting aromas of tropical fruit, honey and floral notes. It flows over the palate with muted replays of the aromas along with a laser-like line of racy, tangy acidity persisting through the mid-length finish and aftertaste. Pour with freshly shucked oysters, prawn ceviche or steamed mussels. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
D’Angelo ‘Sacravite’ 2013
IGT Basilicata $15.95 (440834) 13.0% alcohol
The price-quality balance tips crazily in your favour here. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi in this that makes it very alluring. Red berry fruit, floral notes and exotic incense aromas roll easily from the nose of this Aglianico. It bathes the palate with a creamy smooth, well-textured river of red currant and pie cherry interlaced with savory herbs, mocha and nutty notes. It finishes balanced and beautiful, Pour with all manner of things pulled from your barbecue—steak, burgers, gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)  

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Camporeale Aglianico 2015
IGP Campania $13.95 (475251) 12.5% alcohol
Aromas of charred toast and forest floor open the door to a mid-weight, textured red with good fruit flavour on the palate—ripe, sweet black currant and juicy dark cherry—joined by kirsch liqueur, smoke and dark coffee on the back palate and aftertaste. It sports a mid-length finish and snappy bite on the aftertaste. There’s exceptional value here—pour with meat-laden pizza or fully loaded burgers. (Vic Harradine)

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Nativ Taurasi 2011
DOCG Campania $31.95 (445262) 14.0% alcohol
Taurasi gained its DOCG designation in 1993 and regulations call for Aglianaco grapes to be at least 85% of the fruit in this wine. This is stunning; showcasing purity of fruit, depth and intensity, balanced on a pin, stylish and sexy. Gorgeous black fruit—currant, plum and mulberry—mingle with sweet vanilla and espresso roast on the palate. It’s medium-bodied with good mouthfeel and lingering finish and aftertaste—good to go now and on to 2020. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Masseria ‘Altemura Sasseo’ Primitivo 2014
IGT Salento $16.95 (366955) 14.5% alcohol
This is full bodied, fully textured and an exceptional value. Lifted, lively aromas of black plum, raisin and fig untether a gorgeous rush of palate-coating flavour—ripe black raspberry, sweet black cherry adorned with dark bittersweet chocolate and espresso roast. It finishes with more of the same along with good balancing tang on the long, succulent finish. Pour with grilled back ribs mopped with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Miali ‘Mater’ Primitivo 2012
IGP Salento $18.95 (413674) 14.0% alcohol
The price-quality balance tips well in your favour here. Funky aromas of forest floor, gamy bits and dark berry fruit abound. It rollicks over the palate with wild abandon sporting sweet, ripe flavours—black plum, black cherry, kirsch liqueur—and notions of mocha while underpinned by soft, ripe tannin and framed by tangy acidity. The finish lingers with deft balance and plenty of style and charm. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Schola Sarmenti ‘Cubardi’ Primitivo 2012
IGT Salento $24.95 (316083) 15.0% alcohol
There’s depth and structure here along with uber-ripe fruit and a lingering, balanced and beautiful aftertaste. There’s oodles of sweet, ripe fruit on the palate preceded by aromas of grilled savory herbs, mixed field berry fruit and campfire smoke. A palate-bathing wash of spice-laden bramble berry and boysenberry jam intertwined with vanilla and wisps of blueberry. It finishes in a lengthy crescendo of flavour replays. (Vic Harradine)

• The following is a Vintages Essentials wine from the island of Sardinia with the LCBOs promise of always being available in select stores.

**** drink or cellar
Sella and Mosca Cannoneau Di Sardegna ‘Riserva’ 2012 

DOC Cannoneau Di Sardegna, Italy $14.95 (425488) 13.5%alcohol 

This Cannoneau, a.k.a. Grenache or Garnacha, showers ripe fruit throughout along with good structure, intensity and balance. Aromas of anise, red berry fruit and wood smoke presage a steady wash of racy fruit flavour with red currant and pomegranate to the fore. It’s nicely balanced with a lengthy, dry finish layering on notions of dark coffee and spice. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar  

Valpantena ‘Torre Del Falasco’ Ripasso Valpolicella 2014

DOC Ripasso Valpolicella $17.95 (642421) 13.5% alcohol

Underbrush, roasted herbs and pipe tobacco billow from this well-paced Ripasso. It bathes the palate with a medium-bodied, rich, balanced wash of black berry and Bing cherry adorned with dark coffee and spice cake. This is smooth and silky on the palate with a lingering finish and firm structure. Let this breathe via a two or three-hour aeration/decant before serving. (Vic Harradine)

Portugal: Red Wine

***1/2 cellar
Portas Da Herdade ‘Reserva’ 2014
Vinho Regional Alentejano $15.95 (404418) 14.5% alcohol
Cherry/berry aromas mingle with piquant spice and savory herbs on the nose of this tang-laden red with still-evolving tannin dominating the back palate and aftertaste. It races over the palate with flavours of pie cherry and tangy cranberry interweaving with spice and earthy bits. Medium bodied and with oodles of texture, it displays grippy tannin on the back palate, finish and aftertaste. Pull corks 2019 to 2023. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Bodegas Balbas ‘Reserva’ 2005
DO Ribera del Duero $22.95 (85183) 14.0% alcohol
Dark cherry/berry fruit and campfire smoke precede a smooth, mellow, balanced and beautiful expression of a +10-year-old Tempranillo Reserva from Spain that can age another 5 years. A lively, persistent flow of cherry/berry fruit and great acidity bathe the palate balanced-on-a-pin with grace and charm. Great value given the age, provenance and delectable flavours. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages

• The following Montes Alpha 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is a Vintages Essentials wine always available in select stores.

**** drink or cellar
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
DO Colchagua, Chile $17.95 (322586) 14.0% alcohol
Ripe, juicy, red cherry/berry fruit, exotic spice and grilled savory herb aromas abound. It cuts a broad, complex swath across the palate with a nicely textured, medium-plus bodied flow of bramble berry and juicy black cherry mingling with sweet vanilla, baking spice, cracked black pepper and a wisps of soft, ripe tannin. The balanced finish and aftertaste is robust, lengthy and mouth-watering good. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Montes Sauvignon Blanc 2016
DO Leyda, Chile $13.95 (485516) 12.5% alcohol
Tropical fruit, honeydew melon and floral aromas introduce a tang-driven stream of gooseberry and lemon-lime streaking across the palate persisting through the lime-soaked, lip-smacking finish. It’s medium weight and nicely textured. Refreshing sipped on its own, it pours well with prawn ceviche or freshly shucked oysters dotted with hot sauce and freshly squeezed lemon. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Cloudline Pinot Noir 2014
Willamette Valley, Oregon $29.95 (159970) 13.9% alcohol
Grilled savory herbs and dark berry fruit mingle with wisps of black licorice on the nose of this balanced, complex and rich-tasting Pinot. It bathes the palate with a medium-weight, nicely textured stream of ripe bramble berry and red cherry decorated with piquant spice and flecks of soft tannin. It finishes fruit-forward with a balanced, lengthy finish and aftertaste, Pour with crispy pork bellies. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Torres ‘Viña Esmeralda’ Rosé 2016
DO Catalunya, Spain $13.95 (490920) 12.5% alcohol
Delicate aromas of red berry fruit, and floral notes open this light-on-its-feet, 100% Garnacha Rosé. It glides over the palate with wisps of spice, red currant and grapefruit pith. This is nicely framed with racy acidity persisting over the palate and through the finish and aftertaste. Pour with prawn ceviche or sushi. (Vic Harradine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Santa Ynez Valley, California $20.10 (292128) 14.8% alcohol
This is a well-priced California Cab with oodles of fruit, good acidity, depth and complexity. Palate-bathing flavours of black currant, black plum and juicy black cherry interweave with spice, figs and espresso roast persisting through the lengthy finish. This is medium-full bodied with good mouthfeel and dry, well-balanced finish while the aftertaste layers on baking spice and charm. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

Spirits: Liqueur

****1/2 drink now
Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira 

Product of Italy $22.95 (215988) 28.0% alcohol

This is premium, almond liqueur with premium, natural ingredients—sip neat or on ice, mix in tea, coffee or orange juice, or in sparkling wine or mixed drinks. Marzipan, vanilla and orange marmalade on the nose, this is flavourful and fully textured, but far from heavy or cloying. It delivers a balanced, persistent stream of sweet marzipan with a dried almond bite—a delightful combination persisting throughout. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Luxardo dei Cesari Sambuca Liqueur 

Product of Italy $19.95 (40196) 38.0% alcohol 

Seeds of star anise fruit are steam distilled to make a number of licorice-tasting liqueurs—Sambuca, Ouzo, Raki, Pastis. Sambuca is unmistakably black licorice on the nose. It coats the palate with a glorious surge of concentrated, warm, sweet, black licorice mingling with berry fruit on the aftertaste. Drink frozen (think vodka), drink flaming (think 3 coffee beans) or toss neat (bottoms up). It’s also popular in classic cocktail recipes readily found on the net. (Vic Harradine) 

White Wine

**** drink now
Über Riesling Kabinett 2015
Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany $14.10 (395517) 10.0% alcohol
Delicate aromas of floral notes and soft citrus are precursors to a lively off-dry surge of sweet and tang enveloping the palate, persisting through the mouth-watering aftertaste. Flavours of lemon-lime cordial, blood orange and grilled pineapple abound. This is light-medium weight with good mouthfeel and value-packed. Serve alongside spicy Asian dishes. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand $18.95 (489112) 12.5% alcohol
No mistaking this—aromas signal Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. Grassy notes, savory herbs and gooseberry aromas swirl from the glass. The palate’s ablaze with sweet and tang as a surge of ripe stone fruit gives way to a solid line of racy acidity expressed as lemon zest, piquant spice and freshly squeezed lime. It’s mid weight with good texture, a lingering lip-smacking finish and punches well above the price. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Laurent Miquel ‘Pere et Fils’ Chardonnay 2015
IGP Pays d’Oc, France $13.10 (157909) 13.0% alcohol
The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour; it warrants keeping a few bottles on hand.
Tropical fruit, lemon and honeydew melon aromas introduce a balanced river of delightful flavour bathing the palate—lemon curd, white nectarine and Key lime pie interwoven with white grapefruit and wisps of peach skin. Pour on its own or pair with roast chicken, pork or veal cutlets. (Vic Harradine)

Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Pasqua ‘Romeo and Juliet - Superiore’ Ripasso 2014
DOC Valpolicella Ripasso, Italy $18.95 (476903) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of cedar and charred toast precede a medium-bodied, well-textured stream of red currant and rhubarb decorated with tart red cherry racing over the palate persisting through the warm fade. There’s a lick of tannin on the finish and aftertaste. Aerate/decant for a couple of hours and pour with meat-lovers pizza or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Boschendal ‘The Pavillion’ Shiraz – Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
WO Western Cape, South Africa $12.10 (222299) 14.0% alcohol
Charred toast and campfire smoke aromas introduce this priced-right, fruit-forward red blend. It envelops the palate with black currant and ripe mulberry intertwined with tang-laden acidity and an underpinning of firm tannin. It’s medium bodied with texture and lingering finish layering on a medicinal cherry flavour. Pour with burgers, gourmet sausage or meat-laden pizza after a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Lupi Reali Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015
DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo $10.80 (486647) 12.5% alcohol
Smoke and toast interweave with mixed field berry aromas on the nose of this value-packed, crowd-friendly red. It caresses the palate with a medium-weight, creamy-smooth, wash of ripe bramble berry and rich, luscious cherry adorned with wisps of tangy red current and mixed spice. It’s delicious from twist top to last drop with the finish adding dark bittersweet chocolate. (Vic Harradine)

Rosé Wine

***1/2 drink now
Bodegas Gran Feudo Rosada 2016
DO Navarra, Spain $12.10 (165845) 13.0% alcohol
Spice and red cherry/berry aromas waft from the nose of this light-medium bodied Garnacha-dominant Rosé. Delicate flavours of red currant and strawberry are enveloped by red grapefruit pith and sharp acidity on the palate and infusing the aftertaste. Pour chilled with ham and egg omelet or grilled, planked salmon. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Dessert Wine

• The following low-alcohol Fresita is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel and strawberries. Yes, small, fresh, handpicked Patagonian strawberries.

***1/2 drink now
Fresita Sparkling Wine Non-Vintage
Product of Chile $14.15 (383901) 8.0% alcohol
Candied aromas of cherry cordial dominate the nose of this strawberry-infused sparkling wine. It pours in the glass with a profusion of frothy bubbles dishing up a sweet stream of red cherry and strawberry interweaving with spice and maraschino cherry over the palate and into the aftertaste. Pour with your favourite red-fruit flan or enjoy this happily on its own. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

• Order the following wines by the case for daily home, office or restaurant delivery directly online from Kacaba Vineyards, by phone at 1 866 522-2228 or 1 905 562-5625, or pick up a bottle or case from the winery at 3550 King Street in Vineland ON.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Kacaba Vineyards ‘Summer Series - Susan’s’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 12.8% alcohol
Alluring aromas of floral and soft citrus notes provide segue to a medium-bodied, generously textured flow of lemon pie filling, grilled pineapple and grapefruit. It finishes clean and refreshing with very good tang and notions of grapefruit pith. Pour alongside grilled or pan-seared tuna or mussels steamed in white wine. (Vic Harradine)

***** drink now Oh Canada!
Kacaba Vineyards ‘Summer Series’ Rebecca’s Rosé 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 12.9% alcohol
Lifted, beguiling aromas of exotic incense, strawberry, rhubarb and spice abound. It also delivers in spades on the palate with a creamy-smooth, spice-driven tsunami-wave of flavour—pie cherry and fresh strawberry interlaced with notions of savory herbs. It’s medium bodied with good texture and long, tangy, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. It’s versatile at the table and one of the best Rosés tasted in the last couple of years. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Kacaba Vineyards ‘Signature Series - Reserve’ Cabernet Franc 2015
VQA Niagara Escarpment $44.95 13.8% alcohol
An absolutely gorgeous rendition of Niagara Cabernet Franc showcasing deft balance, persistent purity of fruit, structure and complexity wrapped in a velvet glove—Kudos to winemaker, John Tummon and his team. A balanced and beautiful river of flavour captures the senses enveloping the palate, silky smooth and medium bodied—delicate black currant and black raspberry flavours glide through the finish decorated with soft tannin and wisps of pomegranate. It finishes dry with the last sip as good or better than the first. (Vic Harradine)

• Pick up wine at the winery or order by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario the following wines online from Southbrook Vineyards or phone toll free: 1 888 581-1581. 

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Southbrook ‘triomphe - organic’ Pinot Noir 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95 12.5% alcohol
Lively cherry/berry aromas mingle with wisps of truffle on the nose of this certified organic Pinot. A wash of crunchy pie cherry and ripe, dark bramble berry bathe the palate infusing the dry finish and aftertaste with good nerve and verve. There’s persistent purity of fruit, balance and an underpinning of soft, ripe tannin—expect maturation and development with short-term cellaring. Very enjoyable on its own, it literally soars with food—beef stroganoff or chicken Kiev. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Southbrook ‘Connect’ Organic White Wine 2016
VQA Ontario $15.95 10.5% alcohol
This golden-yellow hued, organically grown, white blend—Vidal, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc—dishes up aromas of green tea and flinty notes mingling with ripe melon on the nose. It coats the palate with a richly flavoured river of blood orange and gooseberry jelly joined by wisps of orange cordial persisting through the finish and aftertaste. Serve chilled on its own or pour with crumbled chèvre over arugula sprinkled with verjus or with seafood. (Vic Harradine)

• And now for something completely different. The over-arching goal for an ‘Orange’ wine is to produce ‘natural’ wine with minimal intervention on eco-friendly farmed fruit. In the Southbrook wine following, handpicked, hand-sorted, whole clusters of white grapes were foot-trodden and allowed to sit on their juice, skins and seeds for approximately 25 days while being fermented by ambient yeasts—the lignin in grape seeds accounts for much of the orange hue. It was bottled without additives or filtration, somewhat simulating how wine was made centuries ago. If you pick up a bottle, or bottles, for a tasting(s), be prepared for a unique wine-tasting experience. If you’re experimenting with food, the winery suggests smoked fish, bloomy and wash rind cheese, pickled salads and rare meat. I’ve also heard Cape Malay or spicy Asian cuisine works.

[not rated] Oh Canada!
Southbrook Small Lot Natural’ Orange 2016
Product of Canada $29.95 9.8% alcohol
Interesting aromas of honey, oxidative notes and orange rind set up flavours with orange pith, nutty notes and lemon zest to the fore, drying the mouth considerably and aided by a lick of tannin. This organic and biodynamic certified, 100% Vidal is very dry on the finish with notions of peach skin and almond skin contributing to the dry, puckering aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release Date: TBD

• The following Paxton white wine is an easy-going blend. It’s labeled ‘The Guesser’, with a challenge and double entendre. It invites you to ask friends to guess the blend—it’s Pinot Gris/Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay—and it also pays homage to the days when owner David Paxton worked in shearing sheds in rural Australia. The ‘Guesser’ sorted and cleaned fleece, categorizing them in terms of quality.

****1/2 drink now
Paxton ‘Organic – The Guesser’ 2016
McLaren Vale $18.00 12.5% alcohol
Aromas of stone fruit, melon and citrus provide pleasant entry to a medium-bodied, nicely paced and well-balanced wash of fruit and tang bathing the palate with ripe tropical fruit and racy, clean lemon curd. It’s good value, finishing crisp and refreshing, lip-smacking good. The perfect wine for quaffing, it also pairs well with roast chicken, pork or grilled seafood. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following Paxton 2016 Pinot Gris was sourced from night-harvested vines averaging 17 years of age. Grapes were whole-berry pressed with no crushing/destemming then racked and fermented in stainless steel with regular lees stirring over one month before being lightly filtered and bottled.

****1/2 drink now
Paxton Pinot Gris 2016
McLaren Vale $20.00 12.5% alcohol
Alluring aromas of honey, sharp mineral notes and lemon zest leap from this mid-weight, fully textured beauty. A gorgeous river of palate-coating nectar—tropical fruit, melon and ripe pear—persist through the lingering, lip-smacking finish. There’s good purity of fruit, deft balance and plenty of stylish charm. The price-quality balance tips in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Paxton ‘Thomas Block’ Chardonnay 2015
McLaren Vale $25.00 13.5% alcohol
Baking spice, buttery notes and apple aromas waft from this delightful Chardonnay. It was fermented with wild and cultured yeast then aged 10 months in French oak barriques, 10% new. It’s medium-bodied with very good mouthfeel and a boatload of flavour with orchard fruit, spice and racy citrus notes to the fore. It layers on a ginger and oaky snap on the finish. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Paxton Shiraz Rosé 2016
McLaren Vale $20.00 12.5% alcohol
This slightly off-dry Rosé sports just enough yin and yang, sweet and tang to make it a delightful sipper as well as a wonderful match for a spicy Asian dish. Aromas of wild strawberry and red raspberry replay on the palate with gusto, decorated with piquant spice and tangy ruby-red grapefruit. It finishes in a blaze of fruit flavour and tang—lip-smacking good, balanced and beautiful. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following Paxton 2016 Grenache was sourced from hand-picked, single-vineyard, 10-year-old bush vines. It was matured 6 months in French oak barrique before bottling.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Paxton Grenache 2016
McLaren Vale $35.00 12.5% alcohol
This showcases persistent purity of fruit, good structure and complexity. Aromas of black raspberry, piquant spice and earthy notes set the table for a surge of ripe, juicy fruit—mulberry and black currant interwoven with dark bittersweet chocolate and plenty of juicy tang. It’s medium weight with generous texture and a lingering, balanced finish and aftertaste. Ready to drink now, pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Paxton Graciano 2015
McLaren Vale $30.00 13.0% alcohol
This Graciano is produced according to biodynamic processes and principals. Aromas of mixed spice, black plum and savory herbs provide segue for a tang-laden river of red currant, rhubarb and briary berry streaking across the palate with great élan. It’s medium weight with good mouthfeel and long, lip-smacking aftertaste. There’s an underpinning of fine-grained tannin, easily ameliorated with a three-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Paxton 2015 ‘Quandong Farm’ Shiraz is sourced from Paxton’s first single-vineyard site to be converted to biodynamic practices and is now NASSA certified as bio-dynamic.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Paxton ‘Quandong Farm’ Shiraz 2015
McLaren Vale $19.95 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of red cherry and dark berry fruit mingle with espresso coffee notes on the nose of this rich, luscious Shiraz. It sashays across the palate with obvious confidence—bold and assertive flavours of ripe fruit, delectable tang and crunchy acidity blanket the palate persisting through the finish and aftertaste. Medium bodied and nicely textured, it delivers dark berry fruit flavour and piquant spice interwoven on the dry, mouth-watering tang on the fade. Simply delicious. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following Paxton 2015 Tempranillo was fermented in small-batch, open-top fermenters for 10 to 14 days. It was hand plunged and pumped over during that time then pressed to seasoned and new French oak barriques for 6 months of maturation before blending and bottling.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Paxton Tempranillo 2015
McLaren Vale $25.00 13.0% alcohol
This lively, juicy red is ready to drink and will also reward careful, short-term cellaring. Piquant spice and red berry fruit open the gates for a lively, juicy stream of crunchy red fruit flavour streaking across the palate—currant, pie cherry and freshly picked raspberry. It finishes balanced on a pin with good red fruit acidity and brushstrokes of ripe mulberry and kirsch liqueur. It’s sleek, medium weight and nicely textured with a lengthy, mouth-watering finish. Pour with prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Paxton ‘AAA’ references owner David Paxton’s earlier career in the woolsheds where the best-grade wool was classified and stamped, triple A. The Shiraz for this Shiraz/Grenache blend was carefully selected from special pockets within the ‘Gateway’ and ‘Jones Block’ sites.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Paxton ‘AAA’ 2015
McLaren Vale $19.95 14.0% alcohol
This 60% Shiraz / 40% Grenache blend hustles from the glass with lifted aromas of savory herbs and ripe, dark berry fruit. It envelops the palate with complex and structured, persistent purity of fruit with ripe mulberry, briary black berry and dark juicy cherry interlaced with espresso roast. This is medium-full bodied with generous texture and a balanced and beautiful, lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour with crispy pork bellies or smoked, grilled, crispy-skinned duck breasts. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 100% Shiraz, Paxton 2015 ‘MV’, was sourced from four of Paxton’s bio-dynamically farmed vineyards—the ‘MV’ refers to McLaren Vale and mixed vineyards. This was matured in used and new French oak barriques for 12 months before blending and bottling.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Paxton ‘MV’ 2015
McLaren Vale $19.95 14.5% alcohol
This 100% Shiraz is value-laden, absolutely gorgeous and flirts with 5 stars. Aromas of savory herbs, piquant spice and red and black cherry/berry fruit abound. A dazzling palate-bathing wash of ripe black plum, mulberry and black Bing cherry joins with excellent tang, structure and deft balance persisting through the long finish and aftertaste. It showcases luscious tang, fine-grained tannin, purity of fruit and plenty of oomph. Pour now after a two-hour aeration/decant and on to 2024 with grilled lamb or grilled beefsteak. (Vic Harradine)

• 100% Shiraz from century-old vines in the single-vineyard Jones Block was sourced to make the following. Wine matured 24 months in French and American oak barriques, 20% new, before bottling and a further 12 months settling in bottle before release.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Paxton ‘Jones Block’ 2014
McLaren Vale $40.00 14.0% alcohol
This 100% Shiraz, from 100-year-old vines, showcases racy, tang-laden, savory-infused aromas and flavours throughout. Red cherry/berry fruit aromas interplay with baking spice, oak and grilled herb aromas on the nose of this juicy red. Crunchy red fruit flavour blazes across the palate—red currant, passionfruit and pomegranate—juxtaposed with riper dark cherry and Christmas-cake spice. It’s mid-plus weight with good mouthfeel and lengthy, tang-laced finish. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2012 Paxton ‘EJ’ was sourced from Shiraz ‘Tri-Centenary Vines’ – vines that span three centuries. The vines in the following are +125 years old. The EJ pays respect to owner David Paxton’s mother, Elizabeth Jean, who celebrated her 100th birthday in 2007. It was matured 18 months in French oak barrel then bottled under screwcap—not fined and with light filtration.

***** cellar
Paxton ‘EJ’ 2012
McLaren Vale $100.00 14.5% alcohol
This limited-release, flagship Shiraz is sourced from vines planted in the late 1800s. Aromas of floral, gamy and cigar box notes swirl and mingle with dark berry fruit on the nose of this venerable red. It’s firmly structured and well balanced with plenty of life left in the bottle. Red berry fruit, black currant and cassis flavours interweave on the palate persisting through the aftertaste joined by good tang and firm tannin underpinning. This’ll reward careful cellaring 2025 to +2035. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Sidewood ‘Estate’ Sauvignon Blanc reflects winemaker Darryl Catlin’s three golden rules: 1) Pick fruit in cooler temperatures at moment of optimum maturity 2) press ASAP—the following wine was pressed within approximately one hour 3) use only free-run juice fermenting with ambient, aka wild, 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)

• The following Sidewood 2014 Mappinga Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from single-vineyard vines at almost 400 m in the cool-climate Geographical Indication (GI) of Adelaide Hills. Fruit was hand harvested and hand sorted with only free-run juice being barrel fermented then matured 10 months in French oak barrique, 60% new.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Sidewood ‘Mappinga’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Adelaide Hills $35.00 12.5% alcohol
This limited-production gem showcases depth, complexity and plenty of lip-smacking tang. Aromas of savory herbs, citrus and piquant spice set the palate for a swashbuckling surge of Key lime, lemon curd and white grapefruit intertwined with grilled savory herbs, mixed spice and notions of tropical fruit and crisp, green apple. It’s medium bodied with creamy smooth mouthfeel and a lingering, crisp and refreshing aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

• All fruit for the following 2016 Sidewood ‘Estate’ Pinot Gris was selected from fully ripened grapes from their Oakbank vineyard then chilled 24 to 48 hours before being whole-bunch pressed. Free-run juice was partially barrel fermented with ambient yeasts in seasoned French oak barriques and left on its lees.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Sidewood ‘Estate’ Pinot Gris 2016
Adelaide Hills $20.00 13.0% alcohol
Copper-hued and bursting with flavour, only free-run juice was used. There are lifted aromas in this medium-bodied, fully textured Gris—honey-tinged melon and sharp, citrus zest. It races across the mid palate in a blaze of tang with lemon-lime and blood orange to the fore persisting through the finish and aftertaste with wisps of tropical fruit and grapefruit pith. Pour with pan-seared fish under a squeeze of fresh lemon. This is very good value. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Sidewood ‘Estate’ 2016 Chardonnay was gently whole-bunch pressed before partial barrel fermentation and ten months maturation in French oak barrel, 20% new.

****1/2 drink now
Sidewood ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2016
Adelaide Hills $22.00 12.5% alcohol
This Chardonnay punches above the price with free-run juice from three Chardonnay clones harvested at various times to capture specific flavours. Its complex flavours and persistent purity of fruit mark it as special. Apple, pear and baking spice aromas launch a full-bodied, well-textured flood of flavour—Granny Smith apple and bracing lemon-lime mingling with tropical fruit and white nectarine. It finishes balanced and beautiful. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following 2015 Sidewood ‘Mappinga’ Chardonnay was handpicked at approximately 12 Baume—equal to 21.6 Brix—hand sorted, whole-bunch pressed and barrel fermented then matured ten months in new and one-year-old, French oak barriques.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Sidewood ‘Mappinga’ Chardonnay 2015
Adelaide Hills $35.00 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of nutty notes, citrus and baking spice—ginger and nutmeg—provide segue for a medium-plus bodied, gorgeously textured river of palate-coating nectar. Stone fruit—white nectarine, yellow plum and hints of mango—interweave with delicious tang—lemon curd and Key lime pie to the fore. The replays on the finish and aftertaste make for a balanced yin and yang of ripe fruit and tang… simply wonderful. (Vic Harradine)

• Sidewood’s über-talented winemaker, Darryl Catlin, was turned loose here to create something special—mission accomplished… in spades. Meticulously hand-picked fruit for the following Sidewood ‘Owen’s’ Chardonnay was whole-bunch pressed and wild-yeast fermented in a new 400 L puncheon and a mix of new and old barriques, all French oak, followed by partial malolactic conversion and ten months maturation. The Chardonnay clone, from which fruit was sourced, is known as ‘Mendoza’, often in Australia as, ‘Gin Gin’.

***** drink now
Sidewood ‘Owen’s’ Chardonnay 2015
Adelaide Hills $45.00 13.0% alcohol
This limited release—less than 100 cases—is complex and concentrated, elegant and stunning—it was difficult to spit. Baking spice, ripe pear and pit fruit aromas usher in a complex and concentrated deluge of palate-enveloping flavour—lemon curd, oaky and nutty notes interlaced with apple and pear persisting through the racy finish and aftertaste. This offers great value, deft balance and plenty of oomph. Good to go now and on to +2023. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2016 ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir from Sidewood was sourced from four sustainably farmed vineyards with ‘Entwine Australia’ accreditation. The Pinot Noir fruit consists of two clones—Abel and Oberlin. Fruit was chilled 24 hours and fermented in small batches—separate whole bunch and non-whole bunch—then matured in French oak barriques for 10 months.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Sidewood ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir 2016
Adelaide Hills $30.00 12.5% alcohol
The price-quality ratio in this skews well in your favour. Highly perfumed aromas of exotic incense, savory herbs, gamy notes and forest floor abound. A tang-laden swath of flavour cuts broadly across the palate persisting through the lengthy, dry finish—savory herbs and mocha mingling with racy pie cherry, rhubarb and beet root underpinned by light brushstrokes of soft, supple tannin. Pour alongside smoked and grilled, crispy-skin duck breasts. (Vic Harradine)

• The following single-clone—777—beauty was handpicked, hand sorted, foot trodden and fermented with partial whole bunch and whole berries by wild yeasts in small, open-top fermenters then matured eight months in French oak barriques, only 10% new.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Sidewood ‘777’ Pinot Noir 2015
Adelaide Hills $35.00 12.5% alcohol
Aromas of grilled savory herbs, earthy/mushroom notes and red cherry set the table for a smorgasbord of flavour—pie cherry, briary berry and replays of savory herbs—bathing the palate with great élan and gusto. This is medium weight with good mouthfeel, purity of fruit and plenty of tang. It finishes dry and mouth-watering good. Pour with pan-seared salmon, roast chicken or pasta in tomato sauce. (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 with ¼ 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. Sidewood’s 2013 Mappinga Shiraz was voted ‘Best in the World’ by Decanter’s World Wine Awards. There are many awards that await the 2015.

***** 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)

Cheers, Vic