July 31, 2017 Newsletter

Newsletter Highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 2 of 52 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 was only one wine in the newsletter available for purchase that earned a 5-star rating – Beringer ‘Private Reserve’ Chardonnay 2015 @ $59.95 found under California: White Wine.
  • Vic Picks – Elyssia ‘Gran Cuvée’ Brut Cava Non-Vintage earning 4 ½ stars @ $19.95 found under Sparkling Wine; William Cole ‘Mirador Selection’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016 earning 4 stars @ $14.95 found under Chile: White Wine; Cape Barren ‘Native Goose’ Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2013 earning 4 ½ stars @ $21.95 found under Australia; Red Wine; The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2015 earning 4 stars @ $18.95 found under Australia: Red Wine; Two Rivers ‘Convergence’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016 earning 4 ½ stars @ $19.95 found under New Zealand: White Wine. Château des Charmes Aligoté 2016 earning 4 stars @ $15.95 found after the Main Release under New in LCBO Portfolio.
  • Finding Waldo – This grape variety has larger leaves enhancing photosynthesis producing ripe juicy fruit on the vine according to this Vineyard Manager. Find me in the newsletter. 

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: August 5, 2017

Feature: Argentina

**** drink or cellar
Catena ‘Appellation San Carlos’ Cabernet Franc 2014
Mendoza $19.95 (450106) 13.5% alcohol
This cab franc has good fruit-acidity balance and a mid-length finish that’s balanced and bountiful. Spice-laden aromas of spearmint, pencil shavings and lively red cherry provide segue to a light-medium bodied wash of delicate flavour bathing the palate with mixed spice, currant and blueberry. Pour alongside grilled ribeye. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 cellar
Zolo ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Mendoza $18.95 (54098) 14.0% alcohol
Floral notes, spice box and red berry fruit aromas billow from this fully fruited, robust cellar dweller. It coats the palate with a tannic-infused rush of rich berry fruit with black currant and dark cherry to the fore. It’s full bodied and fully fruited with a solid underpinning of still-resolving, grippy tannin with wisps of tomato leaf bite on the aftertaste. Pour 2019 to 2023. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 cellar
Tapiz ‘Alta Collection’ Malbec 2014
Mendoza $19.95 (450155) 14.2% alcohol
Gorgeous aromas of floral notes, exotic incense and piquant spice introduce a sweet, rich, fully fruited river of kirsch liqueur and dark Bing cherry interwoven with wisps of savory herbs. This malbec is medium-full bodied and very good value with generous mouthfeel and a drying, lengthy finish showcasing purity of fruit and perceptible tannin—pop corks 2019-2024 and reap rewards. (Vic Harradine)

**** cellar
Finca Sophenia ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Tupungato, Mendoza $17.95 (350090) 14.0% alcohol
There’s plenty of ripe fruit, tangy acidity, structure and drying tannin in this full-bodied, generously textured cabernet. It coats the palate with rich dark fruit—bramble berry and black juicy cherry—tang-laden acidity and solid wallop of still evolving tannin leaving the finish and your mouth quite dry. Pull corks 2019 to 2025 pouring with grilled, well-seasoned beef tenderloin. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Viñalba ‘Reserva’ Malbec/Touriga Nacional 2014
Uco Valley, Mendoza $18.95 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of sharp spice and cherry/berry fruit herald a full-bodied surge of red cherry and red currant interlaced with piquant spice and sweet vanilla supported by a solid underpinning of ripe tannin. This is medium-plus bodied with good mouthfeel and a lengthy lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Aerate/decant for three hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Bonarda 2015
Santa Rosa, Mendoza $16.95 (355560) 13.5% alcohol
There’s good value here. A lifted nose of cooked dark fruit aromas—plum compote and fig—adorned with Christmas cake spice precede a medium-plus bodied, nicely textured stream of bramble berry and pie cherry enhanced with good tangy acidity. The finish and aftertaste replay palate flavours. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Sparkling Wine

****1/2 drink now
Jansz Sparkling Rosé Brut Non-Vintage

Tasmania, Australia $27.95 (37499) 12.0% alcohol

Produced in the traditional method with top-drawer fruit and just a hint of pink hue, it delivers a profusion of mousse and is bursting with racy flavour. Aromas of strawberry and mineral notes make way for a lip-smacking mouthful of red currant and lemon-lime tang streaking over the palate infusing the crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste. Pours well on its own and pairs well with pan-seared salmon. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Cave de Hoen ‘Mausberg’ Blanc de Blancs Brut Crémant d’Alsace Non-Vintage

AOC Alsace, France $17.95 (171785) 10.5% alcohol

This provides good value, loads of flavour and serious fine-bead bubbles; what’s not to like? It opens with a tantalizing nose of orange blossom, honeyed orange and citrus aromas followed by a lovely attack on the palate with oodles of racy zesty flavour—lemongrass, red currant and citrus galore. It’s light on its feet with a refreshing mouth-watering finish. It’s the perfect aperitif and one to welcome guests. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Elyssia ‘Gran Cuvée’ Brut Cava Non-Vintage is, as all Cavas are, made in the traditional method with this also using traditional Champagne grapes of chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the blend, along with local varieties—macabeo and parellada. Although this may, or may not, affect your buying decision, the shape of the bottle is unique and very attractive.

****1/2 drink now
Elyssia ‘Gran Cuvée’ Brut Cava Non-Vintage
DO Spain $19.95 (392548) 12.0% alcohol
This generously textured, slightly off-dry sparkling Cava leads with a lovely nose of floral, citrus and leesy notes. A profusion of mousse crowns the glass with fine-bead bubbles persisting beautifully throughout. It races across the palate with great élan—lemon curd and lime zest to the fore—decorated with flecks of ripe apple and wisps of honeyed nectarine infusing the finish. There’s good value here. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Sparkling Wine

• The following Non-Vintage G. Marquis ‘Silver Line’ Blanc de Noirs ‘Ice’ Rosé Sparkling is a sparkling wine made in the traditional method from 100% Pinot Noir with the added twist—non-traditional— of the dosage of cabernet franc icewine. The G. Marquis brand is part of the outstanding Magnotta Winery in Niagara.

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
G. Marquis ‘Silver Line’ Blanc de Noirs ‘Ice’ Rosé Sparkling Non-Vintage
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $29.95 (274761) 13.4% alcohol
This is a lovely welcoming wine made in the traditional method with heft and flavour that pairs well with food—appetizers, mains and dessert. It’s definitely off-dry from the dosage of cabernet franc icewine, showcasing ripe red flavours of sweet red strawberry and cherry pie filling interwoven with tangy blood orange and piquant spice. It pours particularly well with fresh strawberries under a grind or two of black pepper. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes ‘Old Vines’ Riesling 2014
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $18.95 (277228) 12.0% alcohol
Petrol and floral aromas waft from this value-laden, generously textured, almost oily, full-throttled riesling. It blankets the palate with sharp acidity and lip-smacking tang ameliorated somewhat with generous mouthfeel and softer flavours of lemon pie filling and lime cordial. It’s medium-plus bodied with replays of palate flavours lively and strong throughout the lingering, mouth-watering aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Flat Rock Unplugged Chardonnay 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 (68015) 12.5% alcohol

This wine is fermented in a combination of stainless steel and old oak barrels, allowing the fruit to put its best foot forward. You’ll find notes of peach and pear on the nose, and a palate that’s medium bodied with a racy acidity carrying flavours of pear through to the finish. Enjoy with a balsamic-drizzled spinach, cherry tomato and goat-cheese salad. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Redstone ‘Limestone Vineyard – South’ Riesling 2013

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $19.95 (381251) 10.0% alcohol

This was organic/biodynamic-farmed and sourced from hand-picked, 14-year-old vines. Gunflint, wisps of petrol and piquant spice precede a tang-laden, barely off-dry river of lime cordial, lemon curd and apple skin streaking across the palate with great élan. It’s medium bodied with laser-like focus and persistent purity of fruit throughout. It finishes dry and drenched with white grapefruit and notions of chalky minerality. Pour with prawn or scallop ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Stratus ‘Wildass Red’ 2013

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $19.95 (86363) 13.3% alcohol

This red blend delights with aromas of dark fruit adorned with spice, cocoa and vanilla on the nose while the palate offers a round, smooth texture and skillful balance of succulent red and dark berry fruit, fine acidity and well-integrated tannins. Share this delicious, easy-going red with friends at a casual barbecue. (Lisa Isabelle)

Okanagan Valley: Red Wine

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Osoyoos ‘Larose Petales d’Osoyoos’ Red 2013
VQA Okanagan Valley $28.95 (276741) 13.5% alcohol
An involved nose of floral notes, cedar and pipe tobacco aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of flavour with red cherry and black briary berry mingling with gamy notes, sharp peppery spice and sprigs of savory herbs enveloping the palate. The lingering finish is balanced with good depth while soft tannin adds interest and structure. Pour with grilled skirt steak. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Rosé Wine

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Featherstone Rosé 2016

VQA Niagara Peninsula $15.95 (117861) 13.5% alcohol

Fresh fruit aromas of strawberry, red plum and pink grapefruit rise from the glass in this blend of gamay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. Medium bodied and off-dry with a round, weighty texture, it offers a flavourful palate of watermelon, crab apple and ripe peach finishing medium-long with a pleasant savoury aftertaste. Pair with grilled chicken brochettes. (Lisa Isabelle)

California: White Wine

***** drink or cellar
Beringer ‘Private Reserve’ Chardonnay 2015
Napa Valley $59.95 (26682) 14.9% alcohol
This reserve chardonnay showcases depth, structure, elegance and purity of fruit. Aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg, toasty notes and orchard fruit abound. It blankets the palate with pure ambrosia—poached pear, baked apple and rich lemon pie filling—before a dazzling finish of flinty minerality, delectable tang and a boatload of charm. It’s creamy smooth with a lengthy aftertaste. Delicious now, it’ll improve over the next five years. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Francis Coppola ‘Diamond Collection Gold Label’ Chardonnay 2015
Monterey County $23.95 (708305) 13.5% alcohol
The abundance of flint and minerality on the nose is softened by aromas of pineapple and coconut. It bathes the palate with notes of caramel and musk melon with notions of peach and crème brûlée. It’s medium weight with a lengthy, balanced and clean, crisp finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside crab cakes or fish tacos. (Vic Harradine)

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

Napa Valley $22.95 (221887) 13.5% alcohol

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

Washington State: White Wine

• The following 2015 Hogue Chardonnay is absolutely delicious, dishing up a price-quality proposition you just can’t ignore.

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Hogue Chardonnay 2015
Columbia Valley $15.95 (402172) 13.5% alcohol
The striking golden-hued liquid billows aromas of ripe apple, lemony citrus and baking spice. It’s medium-bodied and nicely textured enveloping the palate with flavourful fruit—apple, pear and yellow plum—framed by tangy, lip-smacking acidity on the back palate and finish adding a wisp of caramel on the aftertaste. Roast chicken, pork or veal cutlets all pair nicely. Stock up at this price. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

California $24.95 (291666) 13.8% alcohol

This will be a hit at the upscale summer BBQ you've been planning. It's dark plum, almost opaque, with an inviting nose of coffee, chocolate, and strawberry. It's full bodied, with flavours of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and cherry peeking around a wall of firm, well-integrated tannins. The vanilla and coffee linger through the finish reminiscent of café au lait. Enjoy it alongside medium-rare BBQ steak, with a dab of spicy steak sauce on the side. (Dave Isaacs)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rodney Strong ‘Knotty Vines’ Zinfandel 2014
Northern Sonoma, Sonoma County $24.95 (363358) 14.5% alcohol
Dark berry fruit and spice box aromas abound prefacing a rich luscious wash of black currant and black plum interwoven with savory herbs and espresso roast. It’s deftly balanced and nicely structured with depth and complexity. Medium-full bodied with generous mouthfeel, the lingering aftertaste is fully fruited and mouth-watering good. Pour with grilled ribs or spicy wings. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
William Cole ‘Mirador Selection’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Casablanca Valley $14.95 (93948) 12.5% alcohol
This offers very good value. Lemon-lime, gun flint and mineral aromas provide segue for an array of mouth-filling flavours with green apple, pear and herbal notes racing across the palate joined by racy lemon curd and bracing acidity on the dry, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour with an olive-oiled arugula/radicchio salad sprinkled generously with chèvre. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink now
Hacienda Araucano ‘Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Colchagua Valley $15.95 (687681) 14.0 % alcohol
Minty notes entwined with exotic spice aromas open the door to a medium-bodied, nicely textured river of red and dark berry fruit interlaced with peppery spice, fennel and spearmint notes. It finishes lengthy, refreshing, dry and clean. The price-quality balance tips in your favour. Pour with roast leg of lamb, mint jelly and roast potatoes. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Viña Tarapacá ‘Gran Reserva’ Carmenère 2014
Maipo Valley $17.95 (57513) 14.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas of spice, floral notes and dark cherry/berry fruit foreshadow a medium-plus bodied, well-textured wave of palate-bathing flavour—black currant, plum and red raspberry supported by herbs, gamy notes and soft, ripe tannin. The finish replays flavours with gusto. Serve with well-seasoned and grilled striploin. (Vic Harradine)

Uruguay: Red Wine

• The following 2014 Bodega Garzón Tannat saw no oak, settling for nine months in stainless steel on its lees. It was farmed from 1000 minute vineyard plots dotting hillsides only 11 miles from cooling Atlantic Ocean breezes.

**** drink or cellar
Bodega Garzón Tannat 2014
Uruguay $19.95 (497008) 14.0% alcohol
Spice box, dark cherry fruit and chocolate aromas unleash a full-bodied, generously textured surge of palate-coating flavour with rich red, and black currant decorated with piquant spice and gamy notes persisting through the dry, racy finish. Pour alongside something with heft—cassoulet, osso buco or, if you can get your hands on some, venison steaks. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

**** drink now
Robert Oatley ‘Signature Series’ Chardonnay 2015
Margaret River, Western Australia $18.95 (350900) 12.5% alcohol
The Geographical Indication of Margaret River is a premium region producing more than its fair share of Australia’s fine wines. Apple, citrus, flinty/slate notes and mixed spice aromas unleash an explosion of flavours enveloping the palate with Key lime pie, piquant spice and lemon pie filling galore. This is medium-plus weight with good mouthfeel and long, crisp and refreshing finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

• Yalumba’s ground-breaking work with Viognier for the past two decades is apparent in all their Viognier. In the following 2015 Yalumba Viognier, 60% of the fruit was pressed into French oak barrels, the balance to stainless steel. After fermentation by indigenous yeasts, wine was left on its lees for 10 months with regular stirring.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Yalumba Viognier 2015
Eden Valley, South Australia $24.95 (954644) 13.0% alcohol
The involved nose of apricot, blood orange and honeysuckle in this cool-climate, Eden Valley gem opens the floodgates to a creamy smooth, palate bathing wash of ripe peach, apricot, racy lemon zest and wisps of ginger and honey. It’s medium bodied with generous texture and a crisp, refreshing, lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour with seafood paella or grilled prawns. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Barossa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Barossa Valley $21.95 (493551) 14.0% alcohol
This showcases rich, luscious flavour, great balance and a dry, mouth-watering aftertaste. Involved aromas of grilled savory herbs, spice, floral notes and berry fruit abound. It rolls over the palate well-balanced, medium-plus bodied and nicely textured with a deep, delectable stream of black currant and black raspberry interlaced with mint and pie cherry tang. It finishes with flavour replays and lots of charm. (Vic Harradine)

• McLaren Vale is just south of the capital city of Adelaide in the state of South Australia—a state that produces over 50% of Australian wine. McLaren Vale is populated by approximately 100 family-owned and family-run wineries who provide this premium hunting ground for high-quality, innovative, value-for-money red and white wine. The following two wines from Cape Barren and Maxwell are excellent examples.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Cape Barren ‘Native Goose’ Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2013
McLaren Vale, South Australia $21.95 (425850) 14.5% alcohol
This is medium-plus bodied and creamy-smooth textured with balance, depth, good concentration and good value. Aromas of exotic incense and spice-infused dark berry fruit presage an intense stream of rich, ripe flavour capturing the palate with piquant spice, purity of fruit—black raspberry and pie cherry—interlaced with black licorice and oodles of juicy, crunchy tang. Flavours replay through the lengthy finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Maxwell ‘Silver Hammer’ Shiraz from McLaren Vale matured 16 months in new and seasoned French and American 600L hogsheads.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Maxwell ‘Silver Hammer’ Shiraz 2014
McLaren Vale, South Australia $23.95 (89599) 14.5% alcohol
Tarry notes, sweet vanilla and a bouquet of flowers mingle with spice and cherry/berry fruit aromas on the nose of this McLaren Vale shiraz. It envelops the palate with a luscious river of bramble berry fruit and dark cherry decorated with savory herbs and dark bittersweet chocolate—full bodied, fully textured, nicely balanced and underpinned by soft, ripe tannin. The mouth-watering finish lingers. Aerate/decant two hours before serving with grilled rack of Australian lamb. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2015
McLaren Vale/Padthaway, South Australia $18.95 (66738) 14.5% alcohol

This unabashed delight is underpinned by ripe tannin and framed by excellent tangy acidity. It barrels from the glass with lifted aromas of sweet vanilla, baking spice and black cherry before coating the palate with a medium-full bodied mouthful of black currant and ripe sweet mulberry carried along on a spine of pie cherry and passionfruit flavour. This is balanced and brimming with ripe fruit. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

• The following 2016 Two Rivers ‘Convergence’ Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from vineyards in the Awatere, Southern Valleys and Rapaura sub regions, fermented in stainless steel settling three months of fine lees before bottling.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Two Rivers ‘Convergence’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough, South Island $19.95 (277707) 13.5% alcohol
This is a terrific Marlborough sauvignon blanc at a very good price. Lifted aromas of savory herbs and citrus zest introduce a palate-coating, tang-laden surge of gooseberry, crisp Granny Smith apple, and a sharp citrussy, mouth-watering infusion on the lengthy, lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour with grilled calamari, pan-seared fish or milk-marinated, pan-seared scallops. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Château Magnol Cru Bourgeois 2012

AOC Haut-Médoc $25.95 (384271) 13.0% alcohol

An aromatic nose of sandalwood and exotic spice is precursor to a gorgeous, balanced wash of ripe fruit with good acidity, depth and complexity at a price-quality balance tipped way in your favour—how good is that? A balanced-on-a-pin wash of black currant, cassis and sweet, ripe mulberry adorned with vanilla and mocha bathe the palate infusing the lingering, dry finish and aftertaste—mid-full weight and lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

***1/2 drink now
Zenato Pinot Grigio 2016
IGT Delle Venezie $16.95 (37648) 12.5% alcohol
This is finely honed with gentle aromas and flavours throughout. Wisps of honey, floral and citrus aromas foreshadow a lean line of tang with white grapefruit and lemon zest to the fore. The finish is clean, crisp and refreshing. It’s a lighter-styled pinot grigio that sips well on its own and also pairs with pan-seared fish and other seafood. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino 2011
DOCG Brunello Di Montalcino $54.95 (378257) 14.0% alcohol
This is lovely, it showcases good depth, structure and persistent purity of fruit with a dry, lip-smacking finish. Red and dark berry fruit, sprigs of savory herbs and mixed spice aromas are followed by a viscous, mid-full bodied stream of racy red currant and crunchy pie cherry intertwined with minerality and piquant spice. This finish is dry and mouth-watering and underpinned by a solid showing of ripe tannin. Aerate/decant three hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

• Did you ever wonder why some wines are labelled simply Chianti, while others, like the following 2012 Basilica Cafaggio ‘Single Estate’ Chianti Classico, are Chianti Classico? It’s a medium-long story, but if you send me an email with a request (simply reply to this newsletter), I’d be pleased to send you an answer. Vic

**** drink or cellar
Basilica Cafaggio ‘Single Estate’ Chianti Classico 2012
DOCG Chianti Classico $17.95 (421107) 13.0% alcohol
Grilled savory herbs and red cherry/berry fruit aromas make way for a lively, crunchy line of tang-laden red fruit—red currant, passionfruit and pomegranate—streaking across the palate with great élan. It’s a medium bodied, traditional Chianti with savory herbs and drying finish. There’s also perceptible tannin. Pour after a two-hour aeration/decant along with pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Piazzano Chianti 2015
DOCG Chianti $14.95 (393199) 13.5% alcohol
There’s very good value in this lighter-styled, crowd-friendly Chianti—80% sangiovese and 20% indigenous varieties in a blend that was aged without the use of oak. Aromas of cherries, spice and herbs herald a crisp, crunchy flow of palate-bathing flavour with pie cherry and dried currant flavours persisting through the dry finish and aftertaste. Pour with Chianti-friendly red pizza, lasagna, pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Portugal: White Wine

• The following 2015 Curvos Loureiro Vinho Verde was sourced from 100% Loureiro [low-rye-rue] fruit, a noble grape indigenous to the Vinho Verde region in northern Portugal. In Portugal, Vinho Verde is like a national drink and almost always served when there’s grilled sardines or steamed mussels on the table. Try this recipe.

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Curvos Loureiro Vinho Verde 2015

DOC Vinho Verde (471284) $12.95 12.0% alcohol

This showcases all that’s good about Vinho Verde. Lifted aromas of ripe fruit—peach, pineapple and melon—are layered with honeysuckle and ginger. A rush of nectarine, green apple and lemon flavours garnished with crisp acidity persist through the mid-length, saline finish. This dry, medium bodied wine has a refreshing, light spritz that would complement a seafood salad at brunch. (Lisa Isabelle)

Spain: Red Wine

**** drink now
Borsao ‘Tres Picos’ Garnacha 2015
DO Campo de Borja $19.95 (273748) 15.0% alcohol
This has developed quite the following, including, it seems, Robert M. Parker Jr. Aromas of black plum, fig and savory herbs set the tone for a rich, hedonistic river of bramble berry and black currant robed in lip-smacking acidity adorned with peppery notes and fennel. There are ripe fine-grained tannin adding structure and interest. It’s nicely balanced with a fruit and tang-filled finish. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: TBD, 2017

• The following vintage-dated, 2012 Henry of Pelham ‘Cuvée Catharine – Carte Blanche - Estate - Blanc de Blanc’ was hand-harvested in an early harvest from 100% chardonnay, whole-cluster pressed, partial barrel fermented, maturing 60 months in bottle on its lees; it recently earned a Gold Medal at the prestigious All Canadian Wine Championships.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Cuvée Catharine – Carte Blanche - Estate - Blanc de Blanc’ 2012

VQA Short Hills Bench $44.95 (315200) 12.5% alcohol

Another excellent Cuvée Catharine; this is from an outstanding vintage. It’s nothing short of absolutely delicious, dazzling the senses, delivering in spades. When poured, a profusion of mousse unleashes aromas of citrus, piquant spice, and autolytic characters of floral notes, nuttiness and rising bread dough. Small-bead bubbles, bracing lemon curd, green apple and white grapefruit tang prickle and race over the palate infusing the lip-smacking lengthy finish in this lean, mouth-watering beauty. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages

• The 100% chardonnay fruit for the following 2014 HMC McWatters Collection Chardonnay was sourced from the estate’s Sundial Vineyard in the southern portion of the Okanagan on the Black Sage Bench in Oliver B.C. The present Director of Winemaking, Lawrence Buhler, started at the beginning of the harvest for the 2015 vintage and has strong Ontario connections. He began a student in the Algonquin College Sommelier Certificate Program, later graduating from CCOVI at Brock U. in St. Catherines, followed by winemaker at Colio Wines, then moving west to work with Harry McWatters at his various vinous endeavours.

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada! 
HMC McWatters Collection Chardonnay 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C. $30.95 (488536) 13.9% alcohol
This is rich, almost unctuous with sharp spice, creamy texture and a peach skin/grapefruit pith bite on the lengthy aftertaste. Aromas of ginger, baking spice and oaky notes dominate the nose. It attacks the palate with wild abandon—sharp ginger, lemon curd, baked apple with poached pear and a warm bite on the aftertaste. It’s medium-full bodied, generously textured and certainly not a wall flower or your garden-variety chardonnay. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Wild River Pinot Noir 2014
Waipara Valley, New Zealand $19.95 (376244) 13.5% alcohol
This well-orchestrated, approachable New Zealand pinot noir deftly matches silky texture to lively acidity and ripe red fruit. The nose offers aromas of sweet vanilla and spice, red berry and cherry with earthy hints of beetroot. Mid-weight and dry, it flows like satin across the palate, the earthy character and light tannins subtly underlining flavours of tangy red currant, strawberry and red cherry. Clean notes of cinnamon and nutmeg add liveliness to the wine and linger through the flavourful finish. (Susan Desjardins)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

• Had the pleasure of tasting the following wine in the top-notch, wine-friendly ‘Petit Bill’s Bistro’ at 1293 Wellington St. West in Ottawa with three friends, ‘Mac’ Macdonald, well-known winemaker and knowledgeable person handling the purchase and sale of fresh grapes and juice to home winemakers at the rear of Preston Hardware in Little Italy, along with a former, well-respected, much-loved wine columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, Peter Ward. Peter made lasting connections with his wine column readers enhancing their wine knowledge and wine appreciation. He also suggested the following 2016 Château des Charmes Aligoté and it was a delectable, inspired match with the seafood chowder and Steam Whistle Pilsner beer-battered fish and frites. The third friend? Petit Bill’s co-owner, Randy Fitzpatrick, a very thoughtful guy who made a special trip to the restaurant that lunch to sit and talk with Peter Ward.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes Aligoté 2016
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $15.95 (296848) 13.0% alcohol
Vineyard Manager, Miguel Fontalvo, points out leaves on Aligoté vines are quite large resulting in enhanced photosynthesis and ripe, juicy fruit. This is balanced, fully fruited and creamy smooth with alluring aromas—ripe apple, melon and soft citrus notes—prominent flavours—Meyer lemon, grilled pineapple, ripe pear and lemon chiffon pie—nicely supported by excellent acidity on the finish and aftertaste. Punching well above the price, get some while the getting is good. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

• The following Tawse wines are available by the case for daily home, office or restaurant delivery online at Tawse Winery or for pick up by the bottle or case at the winery at 3955 Cherry Ave, Vineland ON.

• The following Tawse ‘Spark’ Sparkling Wine - Brut - Non-Vintage was fashioned in the traditional method from a blend of 42% pinot gris/38% pinot noir/20% chardonnay.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse Winery ‘Spark’ Sparkling Wine, Brut, Non-Vintage
VQA Niagara Peninsula $25.25 (384966) 12.0% alcohol
Leesy, floral notes appear on the pour along with a frothy mousse and steady stream of fine-bead bubbles forming in the glass. It’s dazzling on the palate with an explosion of flavours that persist and replay throughout—lemon zest and peach cobbler coalesce on the palate along with racy lime cordial and mineral notes persisting for a minute or more on the aftertaste and… there’s good value here. Pour with firm, pan-seared fish, roast chicken or crown roast of pork. (Vic Harradine)

• The following vintage-dated 2015 Tawse Winery ‘Spark’ Sparkling Wine ‘Quarry Road Vineyard’ Rosé was fashioned from 100% pinot noir fruit in the traditional method, spending 12 months on its lees, and is certified organic and biodynamic.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse Winery ‘Spark’ Sparkling Wine ‘Quarry Road Vineyard’ Rosé 2015
VQA Vinemount Ridge $30.15 12.0% alcohol
Frothy mousse tops the glass followed by a persistent stream of fine-bead bubbles in this single-vineyard, salmon-pink beauty. It delivers outstanding, palate-coating, textured and persistent purity of fruit expressed as red cherry, red plum and wisps of blood orange, complemented by good weight, deft balance and a citrus-infused, mouth-watering finish. The price-quality balance for this vintage-dated sparkling wine tips well in your favour. Pour on its own as a welcoming wine or alongside roast chicken or festive turkey. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Growers Blend’ Pinot Noir 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula $27.95 13.0% alcohol
Blended with grapes from select Niagara Peninsula vineyards, this very appealing, semi-transparent, ruby-red pinot opens with aromas of cherry, pomegranate, spice and a mineral note. Dry, medium bodied with notable tannin, tart red fruit flavours are accented with notions of spice and mocha. Bright acidity delivers a long, mouth-watering finish. Pour with grilled salmon steaks. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Redfoot Vineyard’ Unfiltered Gamay 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $28.95 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of blackberry and red cherry, adorned with intriguing hints of red licorice, violet and exotic spice, entice the nose and replay on the palate. Dry, medium bodied, this expressive, unfiltered gamay offers a generous mouth-feel and substantial depth of flavor. The mid-plus length finish is driven by flavours of dark fruit followed by a dry, savory aftertaste. Serve this well-balanced red with a charcuterie platter. (Lisa Isabelle)

• Order the following wines by the case for daily home, office or restaurant delivery online at Redstone Winery or phone toll free 1 844-563-9463, or pick up by the bottle or case by visiting the winery at 4245 King Street, Beamsville ON.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Redstone ‘Redfoot Vineyard’ Viognier 2015
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $24.95 13.0% alcohol
Fruit for this was sourced from the Redfoot vineyard spending 10 months maturing in French oak barrels before bottling. Lifted aromas of orchard fruit, pineapple and honeysuckle are precursor to a flavourful wash of ripe peach, red apple, honey and ginger on the palate. Dry, medium-full bodied with a creamy texture, suggestions of orchard fruit and piquant spice persist through the lengthy finish. Pour with pan-seared white fish topped with fresh mango salsa. (Lisa Isabelle)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Redstone Gewürztraminer 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $21.95 11.5% alcohol
Displaying the slightest pink blush, this aromatic white showcases expressive aromas of stone fruit, lychee and orange zest with charming floral notes. Medium bodied, off dry, smooth and creamy in texture, it bathes the palate in flavours of peach, citrus, spice and honeysuckle while balancing acidity is offered with a long, mouth-watering, citrus-infused finish. Enjoy with Thai spring rolls with spicy dipping sauce. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Redstone ‘Redfoot Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc 2013
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $39.95 13.5% alcohol
This appealing cabernet franc matured 18 months in French oak barrels prior to bottling. It combines ripe dark fruit aromas garnished with notes of tomato leaf, graphite and cloves. Dry, medium-full bodied with dusty tannin, flavours of blackberry and cherry, underscored with hints of dried herbs and bittersweet cocoa, coat the palate persisting through the mid-plus length, dry finish. Aerate/decant 3 hours before enjoying with garlic-rubbed leg of lamb. (Lisa Isabelle)

Private Order

• Order the following wine—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.

• The following 2015 Domaine de Vervine Vacqueyras is a grenache-dominant red blend of 65% grenache/30% syrah/5% mourvèdre. In order to use the AOC Vacqueyras designation, the regulatory body require at least 50% of any red wine to be made from grenache grapes.

**** drink or cellar
Domaine de Vervine Vacqueyras 2015
AOP Vacqueyras, France $24.95 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of ripe, dark cherry/berry fruit, peppery spice and wisps of iodine are precursors to a mouthful of über-ripe black plum, kirsch liqueur, savory herbs and warm peppery notes persisting right through the finish. It’s medium-full bodied with good texture and lengthy aftertaste. This pours particularly well with beef tortillas, grilled gourmet sausage or fully loaded cheese burgers; it has good heft and crunchy acidity melding with the very ripe fruit. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic and Lisa