Winecurrent
June 29, 2017 Newsletter

Newsletter Highlights include:

All Canadian Wine CompetitionView results here. The prestigous All Canadian Wine Competition Oh Canada! was held recently and Vic Harradine was once again pleased to judge at the three-day competition. In total there were more than 1400 entries—Vic tasted and scored well over 300. Perhaps some of your favourites were judged and given medals.

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 7 of 70 wines currently available meet the strict quality-price guidelines. They’re found throughout the newsletter easily identified via the exceptional-value checkmark above. Strict quality-price guidelines? Click here.
  • 5-Star wine – There were only three wines in the newsletter available for purchase that earned a 5-star rating – Kacaba Vineyards ‘Summer Series’ Rebecca’s Rosé 2016 @ $17.95 found under Ontario: Rosé Wines; Paul Hobbs ‘Crossbarn’ Chardonnay 2016 @ $34.95 found under California: White Wine; Culmina Family Estate Cabernet Franc 2014 @ $38.00 found under New in Okanagan Valley Wineries.
  • Vic Picks – Rioja Bordón ‘Reserva’ 2011 earned 4 ½ stars @ $19.95 and Emilio Lustau ‘East India Solera’ Sherry earned 4 stars @ $23.95 (500 mL) both found under Feature: Wines of Spain; Pierre Sparr ‘Le Clos Sainte Odile’ Brut Crémant d’Alsace Non-Vintage earned 4 stars @ $19.95 found under Sparkling Wine; Chapel Hill Shiraz 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $28.95 found under Australia: Red Wine; Monte del Frá ‘Lena Di Mezzo’ Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $21.95 found under Italy: 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 before going.

Vintages Release: July 8, 2017

Feature: Wines of Spain

**** drink or cellar
Pago de Valdoneje Mencia 2015
DO Bierzo $14.95 (268805) 14.0% alcohol
Gorgeous aromas and flavours of baking spice, dark bittersweet chocolate and savory herbs interweave with racy pie cherry and ripe mulberry on the nose and palate of this medium-full bodied red. It’s smooth on the palate and tang-laden on the dry, lip-smacking finish. Give this a go with prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Descendientes de J. Palacios Pétalos 2015
DO Bierzo $24.95 (446484) 14.0% alcohol
Fashioned from old vines ranging 60 to 100 years old and from an ancient grape variety, mencía, Alvaro Palacios and his cousin Ricardo formed a partnership that put this region and this grape on the current wine-world’s radar. Pie cherry and cranberry meet ripe mulberry and dark briary berry on the palate forming a balanced partnership robed in racy tang and earthy notes. It’s medium bodied with good texture and finishes fruit forward with fennel and mocha. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Torrres ‘Salmos’ 2014
DOCa Priorat $31.95 (450734) 14.5% alcohol
This is rich and balanced with good structure, depth and lengthy finish. It’s medium-plus bodied with good texture and waves of flavour bathing the palate—dark berry fruit and grilled savory herbs framed by racy tang and underpinned by soft wisps of tannin. The finish is lengthy, balanced and lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rioja Bordón ‘Reserva’ 2011
DOCa Rioja $19.95 (194753) 13.5%% alcohol
This is an interesting red blend of tempranillo, garnacha, mazuelo. Fresh, lively aromas of exotic incense and cherry/berry fruit set the table for a bowlful of flavour—black plum, red and black currant and briary berry interlaced with spice box and dark chocolate. It’s value-packed, medium weight with good texture, a fruity, tang-laden finish and a boatload of charm. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Conde de Valdemar Crianza Tempranillo 2012
DOCa Rioja $16.95 (356089) 13.5% alcohol
A perennial favourite, this sports aromas of berry fruit, spice and earthiness. It dishes up oaky notes and sappy fruit with dark cherry and black currant interwoven with piquant spice and earthy notes. This is mid-weight with texture and a fairly well-balanced lengthy, dry finish. Pour alongside boeuf bourguignon or osso buco. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Ludovicus Tinto 2013
DO Terra Alta $17.95 (313791) 14.0% alcohol
This is 100% garnacha with fresh lively aromas replaying and streaking across the palate—passion fruit, cranberry and sour cherry to the fore. It’s mid-plus bodied with good texture and plenty of tang. The finish is racy, tangy and mouth-watering. Serve with pastitsio. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Lan ‘Gran Reserva’ 2008
DOCa Rioja $34.95 (928622) 13.5% alcohol
This is an outstanding, aged Gran Reserva with persistent purity of fruit and lots of life remaining. Rich aromas of perfumed cedar, dark berry fruit and chocolate abound. A silky-smooth, mellow and luscious flow of pie cherry and black berry mingle with notes of tapenade, baking spice and sweet vanilla. It’s medium bodied with good texture, deft balance and a lingering dry and fruity finish. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Emilio Lustau ‘East India Solera’ Sherry

DO Jerez $23.95 500 mL (342931) 20%lcohol

When you spot ‘Lustau’ on a Sherry label, it’s akin to a gold seal of approval. This perennial favourite is showing toffee, raisin and caramel on the nose coupled with a most scrumptious mélange of sweet fig, raisin and nutty flavours. Dense and intense, deftly balanced, the effect is amazing. Serve this dessert wine slightly chilled; either on its own or matched with crème caramel, crème brûlée or any manner of dark spiced fruit cake. (Vic Harradine) 

***1/2 drink now
Barón de Ley Rosé 2016
DOCa Rioja $14.95 (117283) 13.5% alcohol
This is sourced from estate-grown tempranillo/garnacha grapes. The iridescent-pink hue dishes up a bouquet of floral notes, savory herbs and cherry aromas. It flows over the palate riding a bracing line of red currant acidity and provides a piquant spice bite on the back palate and finish. Pour with pasta in tomato sauce or roasted poblano peppers stuffed with rice, minced beef and tomatoes. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Ontario: White Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Cave Spring ‘Indian Summer Select Late Harvest’ Riesling 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 375 mL (415901) 12.5% alcohol
A perennial favourite, this spreads over the palate with creamy texture and luscious flavours of honey-drizzled tropical fruit adorned with nectarine and poached pear juxtaposed and balanced with a solid line of lemony tang. It’s medium-plus weight with a lingering finish layering on added dimension via a tart lemon bite—it’s crisp, clean and refreshing. Pour with fruit flan or honey-glazed baked ham. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 Contraband Sparkling Rosé is fashioned in the Charmat method.

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Contraband Sparkling Rosé 2015
VQA Ontario $20.95 (449728) 12.5% alcohol
Bright strawberry and cherry aromas precede a dry, palate-bathing streak of red currant and passionfruit mingling on the back palate with sweet, ripe mulberry and cherry flavours. It finishes fruity and almost off-dry on the aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014

VQA Prince Edward County $29.00 (148866) 12.5% alcohol

Aromas of toasty oak, exotic spice and caramel herald a sleek river of citrus tang—lemon curd and Key lime—interwoven with notes of minerality and ripe pear. This is light-medium bodied with delicate texture, good structure and well-integrated oak followed by a lick of baking spice and grapefruit pith on the crisp, clean finish. Pour with pan-seared fish or grilled seafood. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada! 
Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2014
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment $29.95 (68817) 13.0% alcohol
This gorgeous chardonnay opens with aromas of baking spice, oaky notes and chalky minerality. It envelops the palate and senses with a full-Monty surge of flinty mineral bits interwoven with tang-laden lemon-lime, green apple and bracing acidity—a bit taut for now and a candidate for short term cellaring. It’s medium full-bodied and nicely textured with a lengthy, lip-smacking aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

• The back label text of the following Southbrook organic chardonnay pays homage to the two Niagara, family growers providing the fruit for this wine—the Saunders family and Heather Laundry.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Southbrook ‘triomphe organic’ Chardonnay 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula $24.95 (172338) 12.5% alcohol

Sexy aromas of baking spice, exotic incense, apple and pear precede a rich, creamy-smooth wash of lemon pie filling and grilled pineapple robed in nutmeg, vanilla and ginger bathing the palate infusing the long, dry finish along with toasty bits. It’s medium-bodied with a lengthy, balanced, refreshing aftertaste. Pour now to 2020 with roast or rotisserie chicken and roasted potato wedges. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Quarry Road’ Chardonnay 2013

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $35.80 (111989) 12.5% alcohol

This 100% chardonnay was whole-bunch pressed, fermented with indigenous yeast and aged 16 months in French oak prior to bottling. Butterscotch, vanilla and spice aromas are joined by tangy citrus and crisp orchard fruit on the nose. The palate is fresh and lively showcasing crisp green apple, zesty citrus with spice and mineral notes adding interest. Dry, medium bodied, it’s beautifully balanced and offers a lasting mouth-watering finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

Ontario: Rosé Wine

**** drink now Oh Canada!
13th Street ‘Pink Palette’ Rosé 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $15.95 (275834) 11.5% alcohol
A unique blend of 31% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot, 19% Pinot Noir, 19% Chardonnay; it’s a dark-pink hue in the bottle and glass. Cherry, strawberry and ruby red grapefruit flavours dance over the palate, racy and tang-laden. This is light-medium bodied with good mouthfeel and plenty of oomph and versatility at the table—pour with a charcuterie board or pan-seared salmon… good value too. (Vic Harradine)

***** drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Kacaba Vineyards ‘Summer Series’ Rebecca’s Rosé 2016

VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 ( 227025) 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)

Sparkling Wine

***1/2 drink now
Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Rosé Non-Vintage

New Zealand $21.95 (280172) 12.0% alcohol

This attractive pink-hued sparkler is fashioned from 20% hand-harvested pinot noir and 80% low-yielding chardonnay, fermented in the Charmat, a.k.a. Cuve Close, method. It hustles from the bottle with an energetic mousse and aromas of red berry fruit and spice with hints of brioche. It delivers spirited and lively flavours of citrus and red currant interwoven with sweeter and riper cherry on the lip-smacking aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Pierre Sparr ‘Le Clos Sainte Odile’ Brut Crémant d’Alsace Non-Vintage

AOC Alsace $19.95 (457788) 12.5% alcohol

This dry sparkler was fashioned Méthode Traditionelle with 100% chardonnay. It’s quite racy throughout with lively aromas of green apple and citrus. It streaks across the palate with tang-laden lemon curd, ripe pear and Granny Smith apple persisting through the lip-smacking aftertaste with great élan. It’s also good value. Pour as an aperitif or with freshly shucked oysters. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Bottega Gold Prosecco Non-Vintage

DOC Treviso, Veneto, Italy $26.95 (621458) 11.0% alcohol

The golden-coloured bottle isn’t merely bling, it preserves freshness in the wine longer than clear glass. Hand-harvested glera grapes produced this Charmat-method sparkler. It’s dry, crisp and refreshing throughout with aromas and flavours of lip-smacking, lemon zest, green apple and pear—pour with lighter appetizers or seafood. This also glitters in a variety of winery-suggested cocktails. (Vic Harradine

California: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Buena Vista Chardonnay 2015
North Coast $24.95 (396440) 13.5% alcohol
This is quite generous in mouthfeel, flavour and providing pleasure. Aromas of spice box and orchard fruit give way to a balanced and beautiful flow of peach, pear and yellow plum infused with spice and citrus. This is medium-plus weight with good texture and lingering, balanced aftertaste—the price-quality balance tips in your favour. Pour with pan-seared fish or mussels steamed in white wine and garlic. (Vic Harradine)

• Winemaker/consultant/owner Paul Hobbs is to the Americas what Michel Rolland is to France—über talented, ubiquitous and highly successful. The following Crossbarn chardonnay was sourced from hand-picked grapes, whole-clust pressed in 10% barrel / 90% stainless, fermented with ambient and cultured yeasts with 100% malolactic conversion. It was left on lees for 5 months with weekly stirring and bottled unfined.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Paul Hobbs ‘Crossbarn’ Chardonnay 2016
Sonoma Coast $34.95 (235945) 14.1% alcohol
A lifted, involved nose of cedar, baking spice, lemon curd and ripe red apple intro a full-bodied, fully textured wash of ripe, fruity ambrosia with apple, pear and sweet vanilla to the fore. This showcases persistent purity of fruit, great balance, structure and touches of elegance. The lengthy finish layers on saline/minerality and a crisp, refreshing aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Rodney Strong ‘Sonoma Coast’ Chardonnay 2014
Sonoma Coast $29.95 (465724) 14.5% alcohol
Lively aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg and orchard fruit abound. A spice and tang-laden surge of tropical fruit and tangy citrus blanket the palate adorned with toasty oak. This is medium-full bodied with good texture and a long, balanced finish. The aftertaste is fruity and quite delectable. Pour with roast chicken or pork. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

• A major portion of the following 2015 Decoy Zinfandel was sourced from vines in the zinfandel-friendly AVA of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County.

**** drink or cellar
Decoy Zinfandel 2015
Sonoma County $32.95 (327502) 13.9% alcohol
Grilled savory herbs, peppery notes and dark berry fruit aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of flavour bathing the palate—ripe briary berry, sweet mulberry and cassis decorated with savory herbs, spice and licorice. It’s medium bodied with good mouthfeel and a lengthy finish and aftertaste. This dishes up good depth, balance and charm. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Irony ‘Small Lot Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
North Coast $24.95 (25106) 13.5% alcohol
Grilled savory herb and baking spice aromas support the predominant rich, ripe berry fruit on the nose of this structured, complex red. The palate’s awash with dark bramble berry and black cherry flavour intertwined with mocha, sweet vanilla, cassis and soft, ripe tannin. It’s medium-plus bodied with silky mouthfeel and lengthy balanced finish. As California cab prices go, this offers very good value. Aerate/decant a couple of hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

California $19.95 (161398) 13.0% alcohol

Dark chocolate, savory herbs and gamy notes on the nose, this drenches the palate with a sweet, ripe river of maraschino cherry and cherry cordial robed in gamy notes, sweet vanilla and wisps of campfire smoke. Pour with smoked, grilled back ribs mopped with spicy barbeque sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Washington State: Red Wine 

• Fruit—87% Cabernet Sauvignon/6% Merlot/4% Syrah/1% Malbec/1% Cabernet Franc/1% Petit Verdot—for the following 2015 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced in the warmest growing season on record in Washington State.

**** drink or cellar
Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Columbia Valley $20.95 (269357) 13.5% alcohol
There aromas of ripe berry fruit, spice box and cherry galore. It bathes the palate with a nicely balanced river of boysenberry jam and ripe black currant adorned with dark bittersweet chocolate and wisps of espresso roast. It’s medium bodied with good texture and a finish marked by oaky notes—it matured 14 months in French and American oak, 32% new—and an underpinning of still-resolving tannin that’s easily ameliorated by a three-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: White 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)

Chile: White Wine

**** drink now
Emiliana ‘Natura Unoaked’ Chardonnay 2016
Casablanca Valley $15.95 (439398) 13.0% alcohol
This is a delightful unoaked drop with creamy texture, deft balance and charm. It washes over the palate with flavours of soft lime citrus, ripe pear and crisp, Granny Smith apple. Farmed organically, the chardonnay fruit delivers in spades. It’s medium-full weight with persistent purity of fruit and lime-drenched, mouth-watering aftertaste. Pour with sushi, pan-seared or grilled fish or seafood. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Santa Carolina ‘Reserva de Familia’ Carmenère 2014
Rapel Valley $18.95 (34942) 14.0% alcohol
This crowd-friendly carmenère is rich, ripe and rarin’ to go. It fills the air with aromas of dark cherry and black currant robed in grilled herbs and mocha. A medium-plus bodied wash bathes the palate replete with dark berry fruit, pie cherry, dark bittersweet chocolate and wisps of tarry notes. This is satin-smooth with good balance of sweet and tang and a delicious, dry, fruit-filled finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

**** drink now
Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Chardonnay 2016
Margaret River, Western Australia $24.95 (416511) 12.5% alcohol
Producing a small portion of Australia’s wine, Margaret River nevertheless is responsible for a considerable share of its premium wines. This is light-medium bodied with delicately textured ripples of lemon-lime and white grapefruit along with nutty notes and crisp green apple dancing across the palate. Pour alongside pan-seared fish or grilled prawns under a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Chapel Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

McLaren Vale $28.95 (965830) 14.5% alcohol

This cab sauv was sourced from carefully selected McLaren Vale fruit and produced only six barrels—from the best of the best. Red berry fruit, savory herb and gamy notes introduce a well-balanced, well-structured river of tangy red currant, pie cherry and cranberry cascading over the palate interwoven with cassis and dark plum compote. It finishes dry and mouth-watering with a boatload of elegance and charm. (Vic Harradine)

• Small vineyard lots for the following 2014 Chapel Hill shiraz were picked and fermented separately on skins a minimum 8 days in open-top fermenters then gently basket pressed and barrel aged in 600 L French hogsheads, 20% new for 18 months, racked and returned periodically then bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

****1/2 drink or cellar

Chapel Hill Shiraz 2014

McLaren Vale $28.95 (743989) 14.5% alcohol

Savory-laced aromas of floral notes and berry fruit set the table for a smorgasbord of structured and complex flavour from this medium-plus bodied, generously textured gem. A wide swath of boysenberry and tangy black currant envelop the palate decorated with piquant spice and oodles of charm. There’s persistent purity of fruit and a lingering dry finish of crunchy, red berry fruit. Pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Marlborough, South Island $19.95 (919514) 13.5% alcohol

Grassy, herbal, savory aromas introduce a quintessential Marlborough sauvignon blanc from the Wairau Valley. Flavours of white nectarine and lemon-lime interweave with green apple and wisps of salinity on the palate. It’s mid-weight and textured with flavours replaying through the lingering, lip-smacking finish. Pour with breaded, pan-seared, calamari rings or steamed mussels. High quality + low price = very good value. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

**** drink now
Château Sainte-Marie ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Entre-Deux-Mers 2015

AOC Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, France $14.95 12.5% alcohol

Crafted from 70% sauvignon blanc, 25% Sémillion, 5% muscadelle, this white Bordeaux offers lifted aromas of lemon zest, green apple, fresh cut grass and a floral note. It’s dry, medium bodied with flavours of lemon pie filling, white grapefruit and a salty minerality. The lengthy citrus finish encourages another sip. Serve this extremely well-priced white on its own or with grilled seafood. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Domaine Laroche ‘Les Vaudevey’ Chablis 1er Crus 2014
AOC Chablis $38.95 (416057) 13.0% alcohol
Sharp aromas of flint, citrus and minerality pierce the air. It streaks over the palate with mineral notes, blood orange, lemon curd and racy, tang-infused lime. Taut and sleek, it delivers plenty of riveting acidity and tangy flavour from cork pop to last drop. It’s light on its feet with decent mouthfeel and plenty to offer at the table—pour with freshly shucked oysters, prawn ceviche or grilled calamari. (Vic Harradine)

France Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Bastide ‘Miraflors Vielles Vignes’ Syrah/Grenache 2015
AOP Côte de Roussillon $19.95 (320499) 14.5% alcohol
This syrah/grenache is a 70/30 blend that’s smooth and mellow on the palate before firming up on the finish and aftertaste with perceptible tannin. Crunchy red fruit and ripe mulberry interweave with spice and gamy notes on the nose and replay on the palate. This is medium bodied with good structure and lots of life ahead. Aerate/decant two hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Domaine Puig-Parahy ‘Cuvée Georges’ 2015
AOC Côtes de Roussillon $16.95 (171025) 13.5% alcohol
Spice-laden red and black fruit aromas lead the way to a medium-full bodied stream of crunchy red fruit—pie cherry and red currant—interlaced with ripe briary berry and black Bing cherry persisting through the palate infusing the lengthy, nicely balanced finish. This has good structure and plenty of oomph at the table. Pair with grilled steak, hearty hamburgers or beef fajitas. (Vic Harradine)

France: Rose Wine

**** drink now
Famille Perrin Tavel 2016
AOC Tavel $19.95 (680801) 13.5% alcohol
From what many consider the top Rosé appellation in the world, it’s also from the iconic Perrin family, the folks who make the world-class ‘Château de Beaucastel’ et al. This is mid-weight with red fruit aromas—cranberry and plum—and flavours—racy pie cherry and red currant dressed in piquant spice and blood orange tang. It’s dry, crisp and refreshing on the finish and aftertaste. Pour with pan-seared salmon – even the colour matches. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Valenosi ‘Villa Angela’ Pecorino 2015
DOCG Offida $15.95 (173252) 13.0% alcohol
This dishes up delicate aromas of hay, citrus and floral notes along with a huge mouthful of slightly off-dry delight. It’s medium bodied and fully textured with honeyed pit fruit, blood orange and lemon chiffon pie enveloping the palate infusing the dry mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Versatile at the table, pour with prawn and chorizo paella, steamed mussels or pan-seared pickerel fillets. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Ricasoli ‘Brolio’ Chianti Classico 2014
DOCG Chianti Classico $22.95 (3962) 13.0% alcohol
This a sleek version of Chianti Classico with plenty of tang throughout. Sour cherry and passionfruit mingle with juicy mulberry and ripe black currant on the medium-weight wash over the palate replaying on the dry, lip-smacking finish. This is quite tight and taut benefitting from a two-hour aeration/decant before serving with lasagna or pasta Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following 2014 Monte del Frá ‘Lena Di Mezzo’ Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore is farmed entirely from 80% corvina/20% rondinella vines which are hand-picked and left to dry in crates. After the first fermentation—gentle crushing and daily punch-downs—skins from grapes used to make Amarone are added to encourage a 2nd, slower fermentation then wine is matured 18 months in seasoned French oak casks.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Monte del Frá ‘Lena Di Mezzo’ Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2014
DOC Valpolicella $21.95 (165662) 14.0% alcohol
This is delicious and classic, with vines trellised overhead in the traditional manner of the area. It blankets the palate with racy tang and oodles of dark fruit decorated with dark chocolate, cassis and dried currants. This is medium-plus weight with generous mouthfeel and lengthy finish layering on a delightful Amarone bite on the aftertaste. Ripasso fans will not want to pass this up. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: July 22, 2017

• The following 2016 Saint Aix Rosé is a red blend of 60% grenache, 20% syrah, 20% cinsault, with a splash of carignan.

**** drink now
Saint Aix Rosé 2016
AOP Coteaux d’Aix en Provence $22.95 (451906) 13.0% alcoho
This gives up delicate aromas of floral notes, red cherry/berry fruit and wisps of citrus. It streaks over the palate with a riveting line of acidity—red currant, sour cherry and cranberry flavour. This is light-medium bodied with light texture and a tang-laden citrussy finish with a blood orange pith on the aftertaste. Pour with prawn ceviche, freshly shucked Malpec oysters or sushi. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: Summer 2017

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Riesling 2016
VQA Short Hills Bench $17.95 (268391) 11.5% alcohol
The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour. Floral, sharp citrus and stone fruit aromas herald a gorgeous mouthful of sweet and tang, slightly off-dry, lemon curd, Key lime pie and wisps of mineral notes washing over the palate, mid weight and nicely textured. This is balanced and drinking well now, especially with spicy or curried Asian dishes. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: Summer 2017

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir 2015
VQA Short Hills Bench $24.95 (557165) 13.5% alcohol
Wisps of smoke, savory herb and cedar aromas unleash a racy, tangy stream of passionfruit, beetroot and red cherry flavour mingling with pipe tobacco bathing the palate infusing the lengthy dry, mouth-watering finish. It’s medium-full weight with good texture, depth, complexity and persistent purity of fruit. Good to go now, pour with smoked, grilled duck breasts or coq au vin. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

***1/2 drink now
Cecchi Chianti 2015
DOCG Chianti, Italy $13.95 (490144)
Prune, raisin and wisps of fig aromas abound. It races across the palate with a line of bracing acidity—red currant and cranberry—adorned with wisps grilled savory herbs. It finishes lengthy in a blaze of lip-smacking tang. Pour alongside pasta in tomato sauce or chicken and root vegetable tagine. (Vic Harradine)

• The white grape, rivaner, from which the following Black Tower is fashioned, is also known as the widely planted müller-thurgau. This bottle is decorated with colourful surfboards… remember the black ceramic bottles from back in the early 70s? In a pinch, a candle holder.

***1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Black Tower Rivaner 2016
Product of Germany $8.95 (336503) 9.5% alcohol
Melon and aromas of soft citrus notes on the nose make way for slightly spritzy wash of honey, peach and pear flavours gliding over the palate smooth and mellow with no rough edges. It’s light on its feet with good mouthfeel and mid-length finish that’s balanced with a lovely bit of tang on the finish and aftertaste. Pour on its own as a value-packed sipper or pour with spicy Asian cuisine. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Tocado red from Spain is available by the case only online—see LCBO.com website—and can be delivered to your home or picked up at an LCBO store you designate. LCBO conditions include: for home delivery – $12 per order with minimum $50 order. Typically takes 2-4 days. For in-store pickup—free with minimum $50 order. Typically takes 1-2 weeks. Allow up to 4 weeks for delivery to remote LCBO stores

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Tocado ‘Red’ 2015
DO Campo de Borja, Spain $8.25 (489690)
This red blend—85% garnacha, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 5% tempranillo—jumps from the glass with lively aromas of red cherry, spice and incense. It washes over the palate with dark berry fruit and notes of espresso roast, medium weight and nicely textured. It finishes dry, with red and dark berry fruit. Pour with burgers, wings or meat-lovers, red pizza. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

• Order the following Huff Estates wines by the mixed case of 6 or 12 for daily home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario online from Huff Estates or pick up from the winery in Bloomfield, Prince Edward County.

• There’s a very successful blend in the following 2016 Huff Estates Pinot Gris of 80% Prince Edward County fruit and 20% from Niagara.

****1/2drink now Oh Canada!

Huff Estates Pinot Gris 2016
VQA Ontario $22.00 12.5% alcohol
Aromas of nectarine, citrus and floral notes precede a focused stream of lemon curd, stony minerality and blood orange gliding over the palate infusing the dry, crisp finish. It’s medium bodied with good mouthfeel and a lingering, lip-smacking aftertaste. There’s persistent purity of fruit and plenty of options to pair—pour with steamed mussels, pan-seared fish, grilled prawns or chèvre. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Huff Estates ‘off-dry’ Riesling 2016
VQA Ontario $20.00 11.5% alcohol
Pit fruit, floral notes and lemon zest aromas make way for a fabulous stream of ripe nectarine, tangy lime and racy white grapefruit bathing the palate infusing the tang-laden finish and aftertaste. It’s medium bodied with über-generous texture, great élan and lingering, mouth-watering finish. Versatile at the table, give these a go—curried or spicy dishes or blue-veined cheese. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Huff Estates Rosé 2016
VQA Ontario $19.00 12.8% alcohol
This 100% cabernet franc delivers a heavenly perfumed nose of strawberry tart, mixed spice and rose petals. A nicely structured mouthful of blood orange and ruby red grapefruit decorated with lemon zest envelops the palate with gusto. It’s medium bodied and heavenly textured with oodles of flavour, depth and charm. Pour with shellfish, fish or roast chicken or pork.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Huff Estates Merlot 2016
VQA Ontario $20.00 13.0% alcohol
Savory herbs and berry fruit aromas introduce a fine line of riveting acidity expressed as crunchy red fruit on the palate—red currant and pie cherry. This is a medium-bodied, textured Merlot with oodles of tang on the finish and aftertaste. There’s a perceptible underpinning of tannin, easily ameliorated by a three-hour aeration/decant. Pour with a mixed charcuterie board or white pizza dressed with spicy oil, smoked cheddar and thin strips of provolone. (Vic Harradine)

New in Okanagan Valley Wineries

• You can order the following three wines to be shipped to your home or office in most provinces, including Ontario, via this link - Culmina Family Estate Winery.

• The following three wines, from premium producer Culmina Family Estate Winery, are sourced from estate fruit grown in the newly minted appellation of Golden Mile Bench in the Okanagan Valley, The winery is family-owned and managed by the iconic Triggs family, best known for their fabulous partnership with the Jacksons and their Niagara Peninsula winery, Jackson-Triggs. All estate fruit for these three were sourced from a same single vineyard on the prestigious Golden Mile Bench.

• The following 2014 Culmina Family Estate cabernet franc was matured 16 months in 100% French oak barrel 15% new, balance in one-year-old barrel.

***** drink or cellar Oh Canada!Exceptional Value!
Culmina Family Estate Cabernet Franc 2014
Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley B.C. $38.00 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of mixed spice, local wild herbs, dark berry fruit and cedar are precursors to a balanced and beautiful, rich and luscious, surge of deep, dark briary berry juxtaposed with pie cherry adorned by excellent tang and peppery notes. This is medium-full bodied with generous texture, depth, structure and wisps of tannin. The finish is dry, lengthy and mouth-watering. Drink now after a three-hour aeration/decant and on to the early 2020s. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Culmina Family Estate merlot was matured 16 months in 100% French oak barrel 15% new, balance in one-year-old barrel.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Culmina Family Estate Merlot 2014
Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley B.C. $35.00 14.0% alcohol
Black plum, red berry fruit and spice aromas settle into a smooth and mellow mouthful of rich flavour with ripe boysenberry soon joined by crunchy red cherry, mineral notes and racy passionfruit enveloping the palate infusing the finish. This showcases complexity, purity of fruit, deft balance, medium weight with full mouthfeel and lengthy, lip-smacking aftertaste boasting sweet vanilla, fennel and mocha. Drink now to 2023. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Culmina Family Estate cabernet sauvignon was matured 16 months in 100% French oak barrel 25% new, balance in one-year-old barrel.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Culmina Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley B.C. $39.00 14.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas of baking spice, local wild herbs and dark bramble berry provide segue to a wide swath of flavour muscling across the palate with plenty of heft, flavour and charm—black currant, dark raisins and black, juicy Bing cherry decorated with flecks of vanilla. This is full bodied, fully textured and full flavoured with a lengthy, dry finish and aftertaste. Drink now after a three-hour aeration/decant and on to 2025. (Vic Harradine)

New in Private Order

• Order the following wine by the case plus those in previous newsletters for home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario from Nokhrin Wines or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , if in the GTA, phone 416 704-8617.

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Vignoble Gibault Touraine Sauvignon 2016
AOP Touraine, Loire Valley, France $14.95 12.0% alcohol
The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour. Grassy notes, savory herbs and aromas of minerality dominate the nose. It coats the palate with a delicious river of sweet and tang with waves of ripe tropical fruit joining hands with a solid line of lemon-lime acidity on the palate. It all balances out on the lip-smacking finish and aftertaste, crisp clean and refreshing. This is medium bodied with textured mouthfeel and an inspired pairing with fish and seafood. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Cantina La Canosa ‘Peko’’ Pecorino 2015
DOCG Offida Pecorino, Italy $17.50 2015
This Peko’ is fashioned from 100% Ppecorino fruit, an ancient variety of the Marches region. Aromas of hay and citrus set the stage for a clean stream of lemony tang and saline minerality racing over the palate infusing the finish with tang-laden personality. It’s light on its feet with persistent, racy tang and a lengthy mouth-watering aftertaste. Pour with pan-seared fish under a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Fattoria Petriolo Chianti, Italy 2015
DOCG Chianti, Italy $17.95 12.5% alcohol
Fresh, lively aromas of red cherry, piquant spice and red licorice provide segue for a balanced and racy river of palate-bathing flavours with cranberry and maraschino cherry adorned with spice, excellent tang and wisps of soft, ripe tannin. It’s lively throughout with persistent purity of fruit, balance and structure. Pour with pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Fattoria Petriolo ‘Reserva’ Chianti, Italy 2013
DOCG Chianti, Italy $21.95 12.5% alcohol
An involved nose of cherry, cedar and leather opens this medium-bodied, nicely textured Riserva. It dishes up a bracing line of acidity with sour cherry and passionfruit flavours racing over the palate infusing the tang-laden finish. The aftertaste delivers more of the same with replays reverberating throughout. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Cantina La Canosa ‘Musé’ Rosso 2013
IGT Marches, Italy $19.15 14.0% alcohol
Smoke, charred toast and black plum aromas set the stage for a deftly balanced flow of sweet and tang bathing the palate mellow and smooth—sweet, ripe mulberry, blueberry and black juicy cherry persisting through the balanced and beautiful finish. This is very good value, medium-plus bodied with generous mouthfeel and delectable, lengthy aftertaste. Pour alongside grilled rack of lamb or grilled striploin. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Cantina La Canosa ‘Nullius’ 2013
IGT Marches, Italy $20.15 13.5% alcohol
Charred cedar and dark chocolate aromas abound on the nose of this gorgeous sangiovese. It streams over the palate showcasing crunchy red fruit flavour with pie cherry, cranberry and currant to the fore. It’s medium bodied with good texture and oodles of tang. It finishes dry and mouth-watering good on the aftertaste. Pour alongside pasta Bolognese or pastitsio. (Vic Harradine)

• Order the following wines—plus those in previous newsletters—by the case (some in cases of six) for home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario from VinoLuna wine agency. Contact via website, VinoLuna, by Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  , or in the GTA phone 416 587-6691.

**** drink now
Valpanera ‘Bianco di Valpanera – le tre uve’ 2016
IGT dell Venezie, Italy $16.60 12.5% alcohol
The price-quality balance tips in your favour. This is a bright and lively blend of 60% chardonnay/30% sauvignon/10% verduzzo with perfumed aromas of exotic spice and floral notes. It coats the palate with a luscious river of honey-drizzled melon, tropical fruit and grilled pineapple. It’s full bodied, fully textured and creamy smooth from cork pop to last delicious drop. Just enough acidity for balance, it pours well with roast chicken or pork. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Valpanera ‘Rosso di Valpanera – le tre uve’ 2014
IGT dell Venezie, Italy $16.60 12.5% alcohol
A fairly even split of cabernet sauvignon/merlot/refosco, it offers up aromas of red cherry/berry fruit, floral notes and spice on this nicely aged red blend. A well-balanced stream of palate-bathing red cherry and cranberry flavour mingles with wisps of red licorice and sharp spice persisting through the lingering, balanced and delicious aftertaste. It’s medium bodied, nicely textured and pours well with burgers, gourmet sausage, pizza and wings. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Valpanera Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 2015
DOC Aquileia, Friuli, Italy $16.60 12.5% alcohol
This 100% refosco dal peduncolo—a grape native to this area with stems that turn red just before harvest—wafts from the glass with earthy notes and dried currant aromas. It streaks over the palate with pie cherry and red currant framed with tart, red-fruit acidity persisting through the finish and aftertaste. Pour with red pizza, lasagna or pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2016 Provolo corvina is made from one of the holy trinity of Appassimento grapes from Italy—corvina, rondinella, molinara—and it’s lovely. The Provolo family have farmed and made wine on this land—a few kilometers east of Verona—since 1927.

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Provolo ‘Tenuta Ca’Nove’ Corvina 2016
IGT Veronese, Italy $13.95 13.0% alcohol
There are deep, brooding aromas of currants, black plum compote and tarry notes galore. It dazzles the palate with a gorgeous river of sweet, ripe, fruit nectar with black currant and black Bing cherry adorned with excellent tang and terrific balance. It’s medium-full weight with creamy smooth texture and long balanced and beautiful finish. The price-quality balance tips wildly in your favour. Pour with gourmet sausage or grilled meat, especially ribs slathered in spicy barbecue sauce or pulled pork. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Provolo ‘Campotorbian’ Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2012
DOC Valpolicella Ripasso, Italy $18.90 14.0% alcohol
Smoky notes and pipe tobacco provide segue for a rich, ripe and luscious wash enveloping the palate, infusing the lingering finish and aftertaste—dried currant, dark raisin and fig interlaced with espresso roast and dark chocolate. It’s mid-plus weight with silky smooth mouthfeel and fully flavoured from cork pop to last drop. Just about as good as Ripasso gets at this or double the price. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Provolo ‘Tenuta Ca’Nove’ Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2014
DOC Valpolicella Ripasso, Italy $19.90 14.0% alcohol
A quiet nose of red berry fruit and floral aromas introduce a tang and fruit-laden stream of crunchy red fruit with spice-laden red raspberry and pie cherry interwoven with flecks of cassis and black plum. Medium bodied with good mouthfeel the mid-length finish is dry and mouth-watering good. Pour with pastitsio—aka Greek lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Provolo ‘Tenuta Ca’Nove’ Amarone della Valpolicella 2013
DOCG Amarone della Valpolicella, Italy $43.50 15.0% alcohol
Aromas of raisins, dark plum and black licorice herald a luscious surge of raisin tart, dark bittersweet chocolate, ripe black briary berry, an earthy note and gorgeous bite of tang. This has depth, complexity and excellent structure while ripe, black flavours persist throughout. It’s delicious and full bodied with generous mouthfeel and a lingering finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Manifesto Wine Cellars Zinfandel 2015
Lodi, California $19.95 13.8% alcohol
Mixed spice, chocolate and wisps of red licorice aromas waft easily from this medium-full bodied, generously textured, fruit-filled Zin. It envelops the palate with sweet fruit—cherry and raspberry—decorated with cherry cordial nicely balanced with delectable tang from racy passionfruit flavour. It’s value-packed and finishes with replays and plenty of charm. You’ll find plenty of takers when served with grilled meat, especially ribs mopped with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic