August 15, 2017 Newsletter

Algonquin CollegeThe Sommelier program at Algonquin College in Ottawa has recently been updated and enhanced to include several options for full and part-time study starting in fall, 2017.

• “Sommelier Fundamentals” is an 8-course program offered in the evenings and as part of the day program.
• The more comprehensive 12-course “Sommelier – Ontario College Certificate” is offered in the evenings and as a full day Tuesday compressed program for a 52-week period.

New this fall is the 15-course, comprehensive full-time Ontario College Certificate program that includes WSET Level 2 certification as well as a Restaurant Service course. Students will receive their certification after 2 semesters and will be attending class 3 to 4 days per week.

Should you require further information, please contact Marie-France Champagne, Program Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 613.727.4723 ext.5151

Newsletter Highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! –6 of 57 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 – No wine rang the 5-star bell
  • Vic Picks – Le Secret des Capitelles Saint-Chinian 2014 earned 4 stars @ $15.95 and Hauts de Janeil Grenache Blanc/Viognier 2016 earned 4 stars @ $14.95 with both found under Feature: South of France; 2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard - Fox Croft Block’ Riesling 2016 earned 4 ½ stars @ $22.95 found under Ontario: White Wine; Casa Del Bosque ‘Reserva’ Carmenère 2015 earned 4 stars @ $15.95 found under Chile: Red Wine. 
  • Finding Waldo – Some Australian labels read Barossa and others read Barossa Valley. Does it really make a difference?

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 19, 2017

Feature: South of France

****1/2 drink or cellar
Les Neiges de l’Agly Vermentino-Viognier 2013
IGP Côtes Catalanes $19.95 (512566) 13.5% alcohol
This white blend rested on its lees after being barrel fermented in French oak, 60% new. Floral and grapefruit aromas join honeysuckle on the nose of this mid-weight, nicely textured, value-packed gem. It dishes up a boatload of rich ripe fruit on the palate—tropical fruit, honey-drizzled poached pear and wisps of honeydew melon. It cleans up on the finish with a bracing line of tangy lemon curd decorated with flecks of oaky, nutty notes. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Domaine de la Cendrillon ‘No 1’ 2012
AOP Corbières $54.95 (493890) 14.0 % alcohol
This is balanced and bountiful with complexity, good purity of fruit and oodles of charm. Lifted aromas of spice, mocha and rose petals waft from this grenache/syrah/mourvèdre red blend—all classified by the producer as ‘very old vines’. A rich, ripe and luscious flow of black currant, juicy black cherry and dark bittersweet chocolate flavours coat the palate infusing the lengthy finish framed with good acidity. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Château des Erles Fitou 2013
AOP Fitou $29.95 (654590) 13.5% alcohol
The ubiquitous and highly successful François Lurton had a hand in this. Lifted aromas of savory herbs and dark berry fruit fill the air preceding a powerful stream of red and black berry fruit intertwined with red cherry and pomegranate blanketing the palate adorned with baking spice and sweet vanilla. It finishes in a blaze of tart and lip-smacking red currant and passionfruit. Pair with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Gérard Bertrand ‘Grand Terroir - La Clape’ Syrah/Carignan/Mourvèdre 2014
AOP Coteaux du Languedoc, La Clape $18.95 (370262) 13.5% alcohol
Sprigs of herbs and red cherry/berry fruit aromas intro this medium-weight, balanced and tasty red blend. It showers bright, crunchy red fruit over the palate—pie cherry and cranberry—joined by perceptible tannin on the drying finish and aftertaste. Aerate/decant for three hours pouring with burgers, gourmet sausage or beef fajitas. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Château de Sérame Minervois 2010
AOC Minervois $16.95 (480889) 14.0% alcohol
A lovely bouquet of dark berry fruit, mixed herb and rose petals unfurls from the glass of this medium-full bodied, maturing and fully fruited, red blend. A rich, ripe gusher of dark, briary berry and crunchy Montmorency cherry interweaves with mocha and tangy bits on the palate and lengthy, balanced and beautiful finish. Stock up for easy drinking over the medium term. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Château Canet ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Minervois 2015
AOP Minervois $16.95 (494138) 14.0% alcohol
This is rustic and medium weight with flavours framed in tang-laden acidity and a palate solidly underpinned by still-evolving tannin. Aromas of dark berry fruit, licorice and grilled herbs set the stage for a lean, laser-like, racy stream of sour cherry and cranberry streaking over the palate infusing the tang- and tannin-infused finish and aftertaste. Pour with pasta in tomato sauce after a three-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Le Secret des Capitelles Saint-Chinian is a 65%grenache/35% syrah red blend that was hand-picked with the grenache macerated for 10 days and the syrah for 20 days. It was produced by a growers’ cooperative that was formed in 1937 and now has 186 grower/members.

**** drink or cellar
Le Secret des Capitelles Saint-Chinian 2014
AOP Saint-Chinian $15.95 (156299) 13.5% alcohol
Here’s a lovely wine with a low price and the price-quality balance tipped in your favour. It’s also versatile at the table, balanced, fruity, delicious. Ripe fruit—briary berry and black plum—intertwine on the palate with crunchy tang from red cherry and red currant persisting through the lingering, delectable aftertaste. Aerate/decant a couple of hours before serving. Don’t hesitate to pick up a few—it flirted with 4 ½ stars. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Mas Olivier ‘Expression’ 2014
AOP Faugères $24.95 (494914) 13.0% alcohol
This is deep-ruby hued with aromas of cassis, aromatic bitters and iron-like minerality. It washes over the palate with medium weight, medium texture and flavours of racy pie cherry and ripe bramble berry interwoven with gamy notes, savory herbs and espresso roast all underpinned by perceptible tannin. Pop corks in a couple of years or aerate/decant for three hours, (Vic Harradine)

*** drink or cellar
Gayda Syrah 2014
IGP Pays d’Oc $14.95 (392977) 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of spice and berry fruit are affected by those akin to volatile acidity on the nose of this tight and tart red blend. This lighter-styled red is sleek and lean with tangy pie cherry and racy red currant skimming over the palate with gamy notes and great élan. It’s drying and mouth-watering on the finish and aftertaste. Pour with Swiss steak. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2016 Hauts de Janeil Grenache Blanc/Viognier is terrific value, just short of earning the exceptional-value icon by a mere dollar.

**** drink now
Hauts de Janeil Grenache Blanc/Viognier 2016
IGP Pays d’Oc $14.95 (385672) 13.0% alcohol
This is a very good value white blend from the respected, ubiquitous producer, François Lurton. Floral and orchard fruit aromas show the way to nicely balanced, fruity and tangy palate-bathing flavours with tropical fruit—pineapple, guava and melon—mingling with tart lemon curd and grapefruit. This is light-medium weight and delicately textured with a clean, crisp finish. Lovely sipped on its own, it has the flavours and tang to pair well with grilled calamari rings showered with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
AOC Côtes de Provence $19.95 (410035) 13.0% alcohol
There’s plenty going on with this delightful blend—Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Rolle aka Vermentino – a white grape. Floral aromas mingle with strawberry and local wild herbs. It spreads over the palate with good balance, complexity and crunchy red fruit with red currant, blood orange and pie cherry to the fore, decorated with mineral notes. There’s generous tang and acidity throughout providing a dry, refreshing finish. (Vic Harradine)

Mini-Feature: South Africa

**** drink or cellar
Graham Beck ‘Brut’ Méthode Cap Classique - Rosé 2010

WO Western Cape, South Africa $21.95 (4085) 12.0% alcohol

A blend of co-fermented (primarily) pinot noir with chardonnay, this pale-salmon, vintage-dated, Traditional Method sparkler offers lovely yeasty notes of rising bread, red field berries and whiff of citrus. The fine-beaded, mouth-filling mousse and bright, lively acidity uplift the flavours of tangy red fruit and citrus pith through the clean, long-lasting finish along with a hint of baked bread. Quite refined and well crafted, this is a good value. (Susan Desjardins)

• The following 2016 De Wetshof ‘Limestone Hill - unwooded’ Chardonnay was sourced from vines growing in limestone-enriched heavy clay soils. They are one of the few third-generation family wineries in South Africa, were the first winery to plant in the Robertson wine region, and trace their ancestry in South Africa back to 1694 when the De Wets landed in the Cape.

**** drink now
De Wetshof ‘Limestone Hill - unwooded’ Chardonnay 2016
WO Robertson $16.95 (419622) 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of citrus, nutty notes, peach and green tea introduce a sleek line of delightful, tingling tang with passionfruit, racy lime and white grapefruit providing the experience. It’s quite generous in texture and delivers in spades on the lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour with all manner of grilled or pan-seared seafood under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

You’d think Ernie Els, dubbed ‘Big Easy’ because of his seemingly effortless golf swing, is busy enough with his winery and being one of the top golfers in the world. However, he and his wife, Liezl, also run two major charities with one raising millions of dollars to provide monies for research for children with autism—their expressed goal is to raise thirty million including a personal donation of six million made by Ernie and Liezl. The second is to, ‘identify talented young South Africans predominantly from families of limited resources and provide them with educational and life-skill assistance and playing opportunities in order to produce successful, well-rounded and educated young golfers.’ They’re a respected humanitarian couple.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
WO Stellenbosch $24.95 (278358) 14.7% alcohol
This was aged 17 months in 300-litre French oak hogsheads, 20 % new. A lighter-styled cab due to intermittent cool weather, it nonetheless shines through the challenge with fresh, lively red fruit aromas melding with charry notes on the nose and crunchy passionfruit and red currant on the palate alongside ripe briary berry. It finishes lengthy with saline minerality adding interest on the aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Rustenberg Shiraz 2014
WO Stellenbosch $19.95 (399246) 14.0% alcohol
This is smooth and mellow with no rough edges and a crowd-friendly demeanour. Sprigs of savory herb aromas mingle with berry fruit and piquant spice. It aged 16 months in 98% French oak, 2% American. Deep, dark, bramble berry meets racy, tangy pie cherry on the palate along with savory herbs, baking spice and loads of charm. This is mid-plus weight with good texture and a balanced finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2016 Raats ‘Original’ Chenin Blanc hails from the winelands of Stellenbosch, known for excellent, old-vine chenin blanc. Two cousins, Gavin and Bruwer, run this family-owned winery—they’ve become recognized as leading producers of chenin blanc and cabernet franc. The 100% chenin blanc fruit was sourced from two distinctive soil types—decomposed granite and sandstone—that were fermented separately from vines averaging 35 years. Juice was cold settled for two to three days then fermented in stainless steel tank and left for six months on its lees before bottling.

**** drink or cellar
Raats ‘Original’ Chenin Blanc 2016
WO Stellenbosch $21.95 (651497) 12.5% alcohol
This opens with aromas of minerality, citrus and honeysuckle mingling with ripe apple. The palate’s treated to a mélange of flavours with apple, peach and pear interlaced with tropical fruit and tangy lemon zest. This is medium bodied with surprisingly good texture—given the moderate alcohol and total lack of oak—and provides a very clean and refreshing finish and aftertaste with its racy lime and saline minerality. Pour with all manner of grilled and pan-seared fish and seafood. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Fortified Wine

**** drink now
Kourtaki Muscat Samos

AOC Samos, Greece $15.95 (938407) 15.0% alcohol

And now for something completely different, a ‘Vin Doux Naturel’—it’s a bottle you might not give a second glance… pity. This offers good value, a fabulous welcoming wine—over the rocks with a splash of tonic or soda—and can be served as dessert. Sweet flavours of dried apricot, honeyed apple and pear coat the palate and gorgeous finish. Great at summer gatherings. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

**** drink now
Ferrari Trento Brut Non-Vintage

DOC Trento, Italy $24.95 (352153) 12.5% alcohol

Aromas of tropical fruit, floral notes and baked apple introduce a mid-weight, nicely textured profusion of bubbles riding over the palate garnished with a tapestry of flavour—leesy/baked brioche notes interweaving with apple, poached pear and lemon curd—balanced and persistent through the lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Icewine

**** drink now Oh Canada! 
Pondview Vidal Icewine 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 200 mL (390351) 10.5% alcohol

This is pale-gold in colour with aromas of clover, apricot, and apple pie. It's full bodied and syrupy sweet with flavours of dried apricot and apple, trailing off to a fruit-forward finish. Use this as an ingredient in the winery's own Vidal Icewine Apple Chutney recipe. (Dave Isaacs)

Ontario: White Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
13th Street ‘June’s Vineyard’ Riesling 2015
VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula $19.95 (147512) 12.0% alcohol
This opens with aromas of gun flint and sour citrus notes before bathing the palate with a light-on-its-feet wash of sweet and tang flavours—ripe peach and red apple meet up with wisps of lemon pastilles and persist through the mid-length finish. It’s a good pairing with grilled and butter-dipped garlicky prawns. (Vic Harradine)

• You’re destined to fall in love with the following 2016 Wismer Vineyard – Foxcroft Block Riesling from 2027 winemaker extraordinaire, Kevin Panagapka. This is carried only in flagship stores; shop early as quantities are also limited.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard - Fox Croft Block’ Riesling 2016

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $22.95 (225490) 9.5% alcohol

This opens with entrancing aromas of lime, apricot and mineral. While residual sugar suggests off dry, the tasting experience is dry, clean and refreshing with racy lime, ripe apricot and minerality replaying on the palate and infusing the finish. It showcases lovely balance and a zesty, mouth-watering aftertaste. Serve chilled with pan-seared fish or enjoy on its own. (Susan Desjardins)

• The following 2013 ‘Cuddy by Tawse’ Chardonnay blends and sources great fruit from the Niagara region, it was barrel fermented then aged 12 months in French oak barrel.

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!

Cuddy by Tawse Chardonnay 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula $25.55 (469023) 12.5% alcohol

Aromas of baking spice, toasty notes, honeydew melon and wisps of caramel abound. A surge of green apple, passion fruit and ripe pineapple flavour coat the palate, medium bodied and nicely textured. The aftertaste replays palate flavours and layers on notions of grapefruit pith and minerality. Quite good now, a few months in bottle will also pay dividends. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!Exceptional Value!
Featherstone ‘Black Sheep’ Riesling 2016

VQA Niagara Peninsula $16.95 (80234) 10.0% alcohol

Supporting eco-friendly farming, this is named after sheep who assisted trimming grape leaves in the fruiting zone of the vines. Medium-bodied and off-dry, it offers lifted aromas of tart green apple, citrus, honeydew melon and elderflower. Careful handling of fruit and a cool fermentation resulted in refreshing, pure fruit flavours of lemon-lime, white grapefruit and nectarine with mineral and floral notes persisting through the mid-plus length, tangy finish. Serve this stunning, well-balanced gem with crab cakes or lemongrass chicken. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Featherstone ‘Phoenix’ Gewürztraminer 2016

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $18.95 (519025)13.5% alcohol

This 100% gewürztraminer opens with intense aromas of tropical fruit interlaced with intriguing notions of rosewater, almond and wood ash. Medium-bodied and off-dry, it’s round and soft in texture with ripe fruit flavours of lychee, melon, peach and pear sprinkled with baking spices while a seam of lively acidity throughout retains freshness. Serve with grilled chicken breasts with a tropical fruit salsa. (Lisa Isabelle)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Reif Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016
VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake $14.95 (247825) 13.0% alcohol
This is full fruited with good texture and oodles of savory herbs. Aromas of mixed herbs and notions of grassy bits precede a citrus-infused, delicate shower of lemon-lime and crisp Granny Smith apple on the palate while the finish is crisp with flecks of white grapefruit pith. This is lighter-styled in texture, flavour and finish. Pour on its own for a refreshing sipper or aperitif. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Rosewood ‘Unoaked’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $17.95 (112151) 12.0% alcohol
Pit fruit, pear and green apple aromas give way to a citrus-infused stream of lemon-lime, grapefruit and crisp Granny Smith apple. It’s light on its feet, its flavours, and finish. A warm-weather quaffing wine with good tang and acidity. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
16 Mile Cellar ‘Rebel’ Pinot Noir 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula $22.95 (520783) 12.5% alcohol
Charred toast and graphite aromas introduce plenty of crunchy, red fruit flavours streaking across the palate—tart red currant, sour cherry and pomegranate among them. Palate flavours replay on the drying finish with gusto, mouth-watering and crisp. Pour with pasta and meatballs in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Fielding ‘Red Conception’ 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 (189183) 13.5% alcohol
This red blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and syrah requires a bit more time to settle and evolve; it’s a bit at sixes and sevens at present. It races over the palate with crunchy red fruit intertwined with sprigs of savory herbs, refreshing acidity and an underpinning of still evolving tannin. It should repay careful cellaring and/or a three-hour aeration/decant before serving. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Vieni ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment $19.95 (373308) 13.5% alcohol
And now for something completely different. An alluring involved bouquet of tertiary aromas include caramel, dried leaves and roasted almonds dominating the nose of this now seven-year-old, Niagara cabernet sauvignon—as the catalogue notes, ‘a rarity’ from the top-drawer 2010 vintage. It has morphed into a subdued, but superb array of flavours on the palate—with mellow and smooth renditions of dark cherry and black plum compote interweaving with kirsch liqueur and a sprig of savory herbs. It finishes dry and balanced. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

**** drink or cellar
La Crema ‘Sonoma Coast’ Chardonnay 2015
Sonoma Coast $29.95 (962886) 13.5% alcohol
This shows many of the hallmarks of oaked, California chardonnay in a subdued, elegant manner. The quiet nose offers delicate aromas of orchard fruit, melon and toasty notes. It spreads over the palate with quite an shower of sweet-tinged flavours with buttered toast, baking spice, poached pear and caramel notes galore decorated with a splash of tangy citrus bite on the finish and aftertaste. Good to go now poured with supermarket rotisserie chicken and olive-oiled and seasoned roast potatoes. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Ca’ Momi Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Napa Valley $29.95 (315002) 13.5% alcohol
Baking spice, grilled savory herbs and dark berry fruit aromas leap from the glass of this mid-weight, nicely balanced Napa cab. A fruit-filled stream washes over the palate with dark, juicy cherry and bramble berry mingling with excellent tang from red currant and red cherry flavours, all persisting through the lengthy, dry finish. It’s ready to drink now and pours especially well with grilled burgers, gourmet sausage or rib-eye steak. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
California $21.95 (38034) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of cedar, ripe, red cherry/berry fruit and piquant spice waft from the glass of this deftly balanced, California cab. There’s oodles of good tang and racy red fruit on the palate with cranberry, passion fruit and pie cherry along with flecks of toasty oak. It’s medium-bodied and medium textured with palate flavours replayed on the long, dry finish. Drinking well now, paired with chicken fajitas will keep the gang happy. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Sur de los Andes ‘Premium Blend’ Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Mendoza $15.95 (411298) 14.0% alcohol
This is delicious with purity of fruit, deft balance and lots of life ahead for this value-laden, red Bordeaux-blend of malbec/cabernet sauvignon/merlot. Red fruit dominates with cherry and currant aromas followed up on the palate with flavours of pomegranate and raspberry robed with good acidity and decorated with herbs and sharp spice. It’s underpinned by soft tannin, finishing lengthy and dry with savory herbs. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: White Wine

**** drink now
San Pedro ‘1865 Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Leyda Valley $18.95 (375212) 13.5% alcohol
Wet grass, green pepper and citrus aromas introduce a linear line of lip-smacking flavours that build on the palate and surge on the lingering, racy, refreshing finish and aftertaste—lemon curd, lime and passion fruit adorned with piquant spice and sharp, flinty, mineral tones. It’s medium weight with decent mouthfeel. Pour with olive-oiled mesclun salad decorated with crumbled chèvre. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

**** drink now
Casa Del Bosque ‘Reserva’ Carmenère 2015
Rapel Valley $15.95 (205872) 14.5% alcohol
The price-quality balance tips well in your favour. Lifted aromas of dark berry fruit, licorice and peppery spice abound. It dishes up a fruit-filled luscious mouthful of bramble berry jelly and ripe black plum on the palate decorated with tarry notes and salty black licorice. It’s medium-full bodied with good texture and lengthy finish tingling with good moderating acidity. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
d’Arenberg ‘The Hermit Crab’ Viognier – Marsanne 2016

McLaren Vale $17.95 (662775) 13.3% alcohol

Aromas of honeyed pit fruit and nutty notes introduce a medium-bodied, generously textured, creamy-smooth palate-bathing flow of white nectarine and ripe apricot nicely balanced with tangy lemon curd and Key lime pie adorned with piquant ginger. The finish is lengthy, dry, crisp and refreshing. Pour alongside roast chicken, pork or poached lemon sole. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Best’s ‘Bin No. 1’ Shiraz 2014
Great Western, Victoria $19.95 (222323) 14.0% alcohol
An alluring nose of tar and black licorice fill the air opening the door to gorgeous palate-coating flavours of ripe mulberry and tang-laden red cherry framed in good acidity with a firm tannin structure. This has depth and complexity and should improve in bottle. It’s excellent value and is not to be missed. (Vic Harradine)

• When you see ‘Barossa Valley’ on a label it indicates all fruit was sourced from the Barossa Valley. Okay, you knew that. However, when you see ‘Barossa’ with no valley on a label—as it is in the following Sister’s Run label—what does that mean? Stumped? It indicates there's fruit sourced from either or both of the Clare and Eden Valleys as well as Barossa Valley. Who knew?

**** drink or cellar
Sister’s Run ‘Cow’s Corner’ Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro 2015
Barossa, South Australia $16.95 (346510) 14.5% alcohol
There’s no argument with the price, and it’s pretty good value. Savory herbs and gamy aromas introduce a palate-enveloping surge of cassis, bramble berry and black currant melding with peppery notes and sweet vanilla. It’s medium-plus weight with good mouth feel and a long, dry lip-smacking aftertaste. Pick up a few. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Thorn-Clarke ‘Shotfire’ Shiraz 2014
Barossa, South Australia $21.95 (18796) 14.5% alcohol
Sprigs of savory herbs, mint and red, berry-fruit aromas abound. A torrent of palate-coating, savory-laced, crunchy red fruit—cherry, passionfruit and raspberry—envelop the palate with mocha and spice persisting through the tang-laden finish. There’s also good tannin for interest and structure that’s easily ameliorated by a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2013
Marlborough, South Island $24.95 (734681) 13.5% alcohol
There are lively aromas of mixed herbs, spice box and red berry fruit galore on the nose of this mid-weight pinot. It races over the palate with tingling acidity expressed as red currant, Montmorency cherry, beetroot and notes of minerality that replay and reverberate on the tang-laden finish and aftertaste decorated with sharp spice and dark coffee notes. Pour with pastitsio or manicotti. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: Rosé Wine

**** drink now
Villa Maria ‘Private Bin’ Rosé 2016
Hawkes Bay, North Island $17.95 (234377) 12.5% alcohol
From one of New Zealand’s top producers, it’s light on its feet, balanced and lively with a crisp, clean and refreshing finish and aftertaste. It opens with shy aromas of field berry, floral notes and notions of mixed spice. It’s crisp and crunchy on the palate with flavours of strawberry, red currant and cranberry. The dry finish is mouth-watering and crisp. Pour with a charcuterie platter or olive-oiled arugula and crumbled chèvre. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Kuhlmann-Platz Pinot Gris 2015
AOC Alsace $18.95 (224204) 12.5% alcohol
Aromas of floral notes, pit fruit and melon precede a flow of sweet, ripe fruit—honeydew melon, grilled pineapple and Mirabelle plum coating the palate, replaying on the finish and aftertaste. This is decidedly on the sweet side of off-dry, medium bodied with very generous mouthfeel and pours well with baked ham dotted with cloves and basted with honey or a fruit flan. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Mas des Bressades ‘Cuvée Tradition’ 2015
AOP Costières de Nîmes $16.95 (143099) 14.0% alcohol
This is good value. Tarry/smoky aromas mingle with herbs and dark berry fruit on the nose of this beautifully balanced red blend—55% grenache/45% syrah. It unfolds on the palate with rich, luscious dark berry fruit and tangy acidity interweaving on the palate adorned with mocha and herbs. It replays on the balanced and bountiful finish. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Castello Di Albola Chianti Classico 2013
DOCG Chianti Classico $18.95 (339937) 13.0% alcohol
Piquant spice, berry fruit and rose petal aromas waft from this sleek Chianti Classico. Crunchy, red fruit dominates the palate with a bracing line of tart pie cherry, racy pomegranate and lively cranberry streaking through to the drying finish and aftertaste. This is a food wine that shines with pasta puttanesca or pasta arrabiata. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Piccini ‘Sasso Al Poggio’ 2012
IGT Toscana $20.95 (134809) 14.0% alcohol
Red and black cherry fruit aromas mingle with herbs and mocha on the nose of this medium-bodied, nicely textured red blend—60% sangiovese/20% cabernet sauvignon/20% merlot. Ripe, dark berry fruit and lively red cherry provide a balanced palate with replays on the lingering finish accompanied by fennel and sweet vanilla. Drink now with chicken fajitas, grilled burgers or meat-laden pizza.

**** drink or cellar
Tommasi ‘Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo’ 2015
IGT Toscana $19.95 (13755) 13.0% alcohol
A quiet nose of mixed field berry fruit and floral notes precede a rich, almost dense mouthful of tangy black currant and rich, ripe mulberry decorated with sweet vanilla and black licorice. It’s medium bodied and nicely textured with a long, balanced and bountiful finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside rare-grilled skirt steak. (Vic harradine)

• The grapes—corvina/raboso/refosco—for the following 2015 Tedeschi ‘Corasco’ were dried for approximately one month losing about 10% of their weight (mostly water) during this process resulting in a wine with more concentrated flavours. ‘Corasco’ is taken from the names of the grapes—see above.

**** drink or cellar
Tedeschi ‘Corasco’ 2015
IGT Rosso delle Venezie $19.95 (216440) 13.0% alcohol
Smoke and charred toast aromas waft from this red blend. A rich and luscious stream of racy red currant melding with peppery spice, sprigs of wild herbs and mocha blankets the palate infusing the aftertaste. This is medium-plus bodied with generous mouthfeel and lively, juicy lengthy finish. It’s ready and rarin’ to go—serve with pastitsio or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Venturini ‘Semonte Alto’ Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2014
DOC Valpolicella Classico $23.95 (310078) 14.0% alcohol
The muted nose of mixed herbs, berry fruit and wisps of spice reveal a tight and tart flow of red berry fruit on the palate persisting with great élan through the drying, mouth-watering aftertaste. Serve alongside pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Portugal: Red Wine

• The following 2013 Sagrado Tinto is produced by one of Portugal’s oldest Port producers, It’s sourced from five top-notch Port grapes—touriga nacional/touriga franca/tinta amarela/tinta Roriz/tinta cão.

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Sagrado Tinto 2013
DOC Douro $14.95 (380907) 13.5% alcohol
This offers terrific value. Floral, espresso roast and cherry/berry aromas intro a rich, ripe berry fruit blast on the palate adorned with excellent tang and acidity with a medium-lengthy finish and aftertaste. There’s a good underpinning of soft, ripe tannin that may go unnoticed, but could also be handled by an hour or so aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: White Wine

• The following 2016 Paco & Lola Albariño white wine is a favourite in tapas bars and outdoor cafes in Spain. Albariño is the top grape in the DO Rias Baixas wine area located in northwestern Spain in the Galicia region.

****1/2 drink now
Paco & Lola Albariño 2016
DO Rias Baixas $18.95 (350041) 13.0% alcohol
Lively aromas of slate and mineral blend with floral and pit fruit before unleashing a sweet and tang surge of lime cordial, soon joined by lemon curd, blood orange and saline minerality on the long, crisp, clean and lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour alongside ceviche, freshly shucked oysters under a dot of hot sauce and generous lemon squeeze or sushi. This offers very good value and opportunity for a multiple purchase. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

• The following 2008 Alejandro Fernández ‘Dehesa La Granja’ is from iconic producer/winemaker, Alejandro Fernández, who first made his fame with the label, ‘Tinto Pesquera’. The ‘Dehesa La Granja’ was sourced from 100% tempranillo grapes from Pesquera clones that were planted in 1998.
****1/2 drink or cellar  

Alejandro Fernández ‘Dehesa La Granja’ 2008

Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León $20.95 (192476) 14.0% alcohol

Aromas of campfire smoke, cedar and dark coffee provide segue for a rich, luscious stream of dark berry fruit and ripe black plum interwoven with piquant spice and mocha. This has good depth and concentration with persistent purity of fruit, balance and lengthy dry finish. It’s ready to drink now and pours well with beef Stroganoff or boeuf Bourguignon. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Senorio de Barahonda ‘Campo Arriba’ Monastrell/Syrah/Tintorera is yet another value red from the Barahonda stable. It also has a rare teinturier grape, tintorera aka alicante bouschet, in the blend. Tintorera has red pulp as well as red skin, while almost all other red grapes have white pulp. The tintorera gives off red-coloured, free-run juice while almost all red grapes give off white-coloured free-run juice.

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Senorio de Barahonda ‘Campo Arriba’ Monastrell/Syrah/Tintorera 2014
DO Yecla $17.95 (511519) 14.5% alcohol
Dark purple/black, almost opaque, this hedonistic red blend dishes up aromas of mixed spice and chalky mineral notes before releasing a flavourful mouthful of blue and black fruit—dark cherry, blueberry and bramble berry jam—intertwined with piquant spice, vanilla and mixed herbs, This is medium-plus weight with good texture and lingering, ripe, sweet aftertaste. It’s approachable now and particularly crowd-friendly. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Familia Castaño ‘Hécula’ Monastrell 2013
DO Yecla $13.95 (718999) 14.0% alcohol
A lively nose of sandalwood, fig and spice releases a torrent of balanced, bountiful and mouth-watering flavour on the palate with ripe, juicy black berry and tangy red currant melding with peppery spice, grilled savory herbs and notions of chalky minerality. It’s mid-plus bodied with good texture, balance and oodles of charm. The finish lingers, you shouldn’t; can’t imagine this staying on shelves long. (Vic Harradine)

New in 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. 

Sparkling Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Vinicola Bosco Des Cirmiolo Prosecco ‘Extra Dry’ Non-Vintage
DOC Prosecco, Italy $16.95 11.0% alcohol
Floral and citrus aromas lead the way to a vigorous mousse, aka lots of bubbles, when poured and mouth-filling flavours riding bubbles over the palate with great abandon—grapefruit, lemon pie filling and juicy ripe pear. This was produced method Charmat with 100% Glera fruit. It finishes with fresh lively replays. Overall. It’s exceptionally tasty. Perfect as an aperitif, it has oomph and flavour to pour well with appetizers and lighter-styled mains. (Vic Harradine)

White Wine

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Vinicola Bosco Des Cirmiolo Pinot Grigio 2016
IGT delle Venezie, Italy $13.95 12.0% alcohol
Aromas of nectarine, pear and citrus introduce a nicely balanced mouthful of ripe pear, white peach and crisp green apple framed by tangy, lemon-tinged acidity. This is light-medium weight with satin-smooth texture and a clean, lip-smacking finish. It pour well on its own and pairs well alongside roast chicken or grilled seafood. (Vic Harradine)

Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Vinicola Bosco Des Cirmiolo Cabernet 2016
IGT Veneto, Italy $14.95 12.0% alcohol
The bright, lively nose—grapey, flowery, fruity—brings to mind carbonic maceration, a method of fermentation producing particularly vinous aromas and flavours with reduced tannin, used extensively in Beaujolais. It bathes the palate with silky smooth, delicate texture and flavours with red currant and cranberry to the fore. This has a special place at the table pairing particularly well with charcuterie board or deli platter with smoked meats, olives, pickled onions, sliced tomato and baguette. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Vinicola Bosco Des Cirmiolo ‘Parziale’ Appassimento 2015
IGT Veneto, Italy $14.95 13.0% alcohol
There are charred toast and wood smoke aromas galore along with tarry notes on the nose of this red blend—merlot/cabernet/refosco. It delivers a tang-laden river of red and dark berry fruit interweaving with wisps of tannin, sharp spice and lip-smacking acidity. This is mid-weight with good mouthfeel and a mid-length finish. Pour alongside pasta and meatballs in tomato sauce or osso buco. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic