August 28, 2017 Newsletter

LCBO LogoDo you or your friends complain about the price you pay for wine or spirits purchased at the LCBO, especially when compared to what you pay in the U.S.? Ever wondered where the extra dollars go? Watch this video


Newsletter Highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! –5 of 44 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 – 5 wines rang the 5-star bell! G. Marquis ‘The Silver Line’ Vidal Icewine 2014 @ $39.95 (375 mL); 2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard – Fox Croft Block’ Chardonnay 2014 @ $22.95; Silverado Vineyards ‘Estate Grown’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 @ $61.95; Sidewood ‘Mappinga’ Shiraz 2013 @ $49.95; Villa Maria ‘Southern Clays Single Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016 @ $29.95.
  • Vic Picks – Henry of Pelham ‘Family Tree - Red’ 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $18.95; Cannonball Chardonnay 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $24.95: Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 earned 4 ½ stars @ $39.95; Shingleback ‘Davey Estate Reserve’ Shiraz 2013 earned 4 ½ stars @ $24.95.
  • Finding Waldo – Why was Fess Parker famous?

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.

September 2, 2017 Vintages Release

Fortified Wine: Port

****1/2 drink or cellar
Delaforce Vintage Port 2003
DOP Porto $77.95 (459784) 20.5% alcohol
This is a dazzling 2003 Vintage Port with hardly a hint of age. Aromas and flavours of ripe cherries dipped in dark chocolate are decorated with crunchy red berry fruit, piquant spice, sweet vanilla and hints of tobacco and savory herbs. This has a long life ahead, for the impatient it can also be drunk now. Pour with sharp old cheddar, parmigiana reggiano or dark chocolate dessert. (Vic Harradine)

Canadian Whisky

****1/2 drink or cellar
Caribou Crossing ‘Single Barrel’ Canadian Whisky
Quebec $92.95 (205906) 40.0% alcohol
Aromas of spice, honey cake and mocha unfurl from this full-flavoured gem. It rolls over the palate, smooth and mellow with flavours of peel marmalade, marzipan and peppery notes intertwined with baking spice. This is reported to be Canada’s first single-barrel effort from a large producer in this century, resulting in each barrel offering its own nuanced set of aromas and flavours; it’s certainly worth a try for aficionados and whisky-lovers alike. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

**** drink now
Tenuta S. Anna Prosecco Superiore Di Valdobbiadene Non-Vintage

DOCG Veneto $19.95 (281386) 11.5% alcohol 

This has very appealing aromas with orchard fruit, floral notes and citrus to the fore. It has a beautifully textured mouth feel and decent weight with plenty of bubbles on the palate. Flavours of green apple, pear and peach interlace with crisp refreshing acidity and notions of minerality persisting through the mouth-watering finish. (Vic Harradine) 

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Cordoníu ‘Selección Raventós’ Brut Cava Non-Vintage
DO Cava $13.95 (521773) 11.5% alcohol
This is terrific value for a Cava. Orchard fruit and leesy/mineral note aromas introduce a lean, crisp and refreshing wash of fine-bead bubbles bursting with flavour—lemon curd provides the tang and notions of shortbread and poached pear provides the sweet for a lovely balance. It finishes in a blaze of racy Granny Smith apple and loads of tangy citrus. Pour as an aperitif or pair with mussels steamed in white wine and garlic. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Icewine

***** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
G. Marquis ‘The Silver Line’ Vidal Icewine 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula $39.95 375 mL (367789) 9.7% alcohol
This is a rare vidal Icewine, it’s bursting with sweet flavour—peach and citrus peel marmalade, apricot jam and baked apple—and provides enough racy tang—lemon zest and grilled pineapple—to make each sip as good or better than the previous; this is not over-the-top-sweet and not cloying; it’s somewhat balanced and certainly beautiful. Kudos to G. Marquis. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: White Wine

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Wismer Vineyard – Fox Croft Block’ Chardonnay 2014

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $22.95 (421362) 12.8% alcohol

Wood smoke, baking spice and cigar box aromas peal from this fabulous Chardonnay. It dazzles the palate with a glorious mouthful of baking spice interwoven with pear, crisp green apple and minerality. It finishes quite lengthy with a bracing line of citrus acidity and tingling ginger snap. This is medium weight with excellent mouthfeel adorned with structure and oodles of sex appeal. Fabulous now, another few months in bottle adding elegance and charm. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Redstone Chardonnay 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 (398966) 12.5% alcohol

Citrus, floral notes and orchard fruit aromas precede a racy flow of lemon and Key lime citrus streaking across the palate garnished with Granny Smith apple and notions of flint/minerality. It’s medium weight with good mouthfeel and a crisp, refreshing aftertaste of apple skin and lemony tang. Pour alongside pan-seared fish or steamed mussels. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Strewn ‘Terroir American Oak’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $23.95 (405530) 14.5% alcohol
Caramel and sweet vanilla aromas abound. It dishes up a bowlful of desiccated coconut and a generous slice of lemon chiffon pie on the palate persisting through the sweet finish interweaving with toffee apple. Pour alongside a fruit flan. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Creekside ‘Iconoclast’ Syrah 2014
VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake $24.95 (471797) 12.7% alcohol
There are billows of wood smoke and spice on the nose of this light-medium bodied syrah. It serves up a tang-laden stream of tart cherry and racy cranberry flavour interweaving with riper bramble berry and piquant spice on the palate infusing the dry, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Pour with red pizza or pasta in tomato sauce with meatballs. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Family Tree - Red’ 2014

VQA Ontario $18.95 (247882) 13.5% alcohol

This red blend—33% syrah/29% merlot/19% cabernet franc/14% cabernet sauvignon/5% baco noir—dishes up a mouthful of red berry fruit and black currant mingling with piquant spice that’s robed with excellent acidity and tang from cork pop to last drop. It’s mid weight with good mouthfeel and a lingering finish that’s balanced and lip-smacking good. It was barrel aged with 65% French/35% American oak for 17 months. Great sipped on its own, it pairs and pours well with red pizza, burgers or lasagna—great value. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
The Foreign Affair Pinot Noir 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula $34.95 (127332) 13.9% alcohol
An orange hue dominates the colour spectrum in this aged pinot. Fruit was partially dried in this appassimento-styled red and concentrated flavours of crunchy raspberry and sweet ripe cherry are the glorious result—it’s nicely balanced with good weight, generous texture and lingering, lip-smacking finish. Pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2015
BC VQA Okanagan Valley $41.95 (556613) 14.5% alcohol
A delicate nose of savory herbs with wisps of red berry fruit and mixed spice open the door for a massive gusher of rich, ripe, luscious fruit with black currant and black berry swaggering across the palate decorated with beet root and notes of forest floor. It’s medium weight with good mouthfeel and lengthy aftertaste, beautiful, balanced, bountiful. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Cannonball Chardonnay 2014

Sonoma County $24.95 (311563) 13.7% alcohol

Aromas of floral notes, apple and pear abound on this medium-full bodied, fully textured gem. It’s rich, ripe and luscious unleashing a river of full-fruited ambrosia with ripe juicy yellow peach, pear and yellow plum to the fore. The lingering finish dishes up more of the same decorated with tangy citrus and wisps of sweet vanilla. Delicious on its own, it pours well with chicken, pork or veal. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: White Wine

**** drink now
Firesteed ‘Oregon’ Pinot Gris 2014
Oregon $19.95 (323808) 13.5% alcohol
This Oregon gris opens with involved aromas of peach, pear and tropical fruit interwoven with citrus and spice on the nose. It’s medium weight with decent mouthfeel and a crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste. There’s good tang throughout, leaving the palate refreshed and wanting more. Pour on its own or alongside chicken or pork. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Avalon Cab Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
California $17.00 (684399) 13.8% alcohol
An involved nose of campfire smoke, gamy notes and berry fruit aromas unleash a fruit-filled mouthful of bramble berry jam, spice box and sweet dark cherry flavours on the palate infusing the finish and aftertaste. It’s medium-plus weight with good texture throughout, smooth, mellow and fruit forward on the aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Fess Parker Syrah 2013
Santa Barbara Country $34.95 (942136) 16.0% alcohol
For those of a certain age, the winery name could bring back happy memories; hats off to those folks. Tarry notes, grilled savory herbs and aromas of charred toast introduce a savory- laden wash of dark cherry, blueberry and dark briary berry blanketing the palate finish and aftertaste. Pour with grilled back ribs mopped with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Frogs’s Leap Zinfandel 2014
Napa Valley $49.95 (593525) 13.8% alcohol
This is a lovely zin, alive with persistent purity of fruit, good depth and deft balance. Mixed spice, fennel and dark berry fruit abound on the nose. A restrained, almost elegant, stream of red and black cherry, peppery spice and minty notes spread over the palate. It’s medium-full bodied with good mouthfeel and a lengthy dry, balanced and beautiful finish and aftertaste. Pour with grilled rib-eye. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Napa Valley $39.95 (73817) 13.5% alcohol

A perfumed nose of savory/minty notes unleash a rich and robust river of tangy pie cherry and black currant entwined with dark bittersweet chocolate coating the palate with gusto. It’s medium-plus weight with generous mouthfeel and long finish that’s garnished with persistent purity of fruit and oodles of charm. (Vic Harradine)

***** drink or cellar
Silverado Vineyards ‘Estate Grown’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $61.95 (111880) 14.6% alcohol
Deep, dark and brooding in the glass, this bathes the palate with a stunning array of aromas and flavours—it really delivers. Black currant, black cherry and dusty/earthy note aromas set the table for a luscious surge of palate-coating cassis, briary berry and pie cherry flavour. This full-bodied, fully textured red is enveloped in still-evolving tannin ameliorated with a three-hour aeration/decant or two more years of careful cellaring. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Acrobat Pinot Noir 2014

Oregon $29.95 (421149) 13.5% alcohol

This is extremely well balanced with medium weight, loads of savory notes, good pace and structure and a dry finish. Aromas of dark berry fruit and grilled herbs set the stage for a balanced, fruity stream of black cherry and hints of cassis gliding over the palate, medium-bodied and creamy smooth. It finishes dry and fruity with good acidity carried along on red cherry and mixed spice flavours. (Vic Harradine)

Washington State: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Chateau Ste. Michelle 'Columbia Valley' Syrah' 2013

Columbia Valley $21.95 (949651) 13.5% alcohol

Co-fermented with a touch of viognier, bursting with aromas of blackberry, blueberry pie and licorice, this crowd pleaser tickles the senses with floral nuances and lifted notes of exotic spice and cracked pepper. Dry, mid-full weight, the palate is awash with flavours of cassis jam and black raspberry coulis underlain with supple tannins, a mineral quality and fine acidity. The finish is long and dry with a pleasing toasty quality. Serve with herbed grilled leg of lamb or duck confit. (Susan Desjardins)

Argentina: Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Sur de Los Andes ‘Reserva’ Malbec 2012

Mendoza $15.95 (208322) 14.0% alcohol

The 100% Malbec, hand-harvested, sustainably farmed fruit from hi-altitude vines—3500 feet—was fermented by indigenous yeast then aged 12 months in French oak barrel, only 20% new. Aromas waft from the glass with sweet vanilla, sandalwood and boysenberry paving the way for a mid-full bodied stream of roasted herbs and black currant mingling with earthy notes and oodles of tart tang. Pour alongside meat-laden pizza or pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: White Wine

***1/2 drink now
Ventisquero ‘Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Casablanca Valley $13.95 (211904) 12.0% alcohol
Savory herbs, grassy notes and citrus aromas make way for a light-bodied, light-on-its-feet stream of grilled pineapple and tang-infused white grapefruit and lemon zest streaking across the palate invigorating the crunchy, tang-laden finish and aftertaste, Pour with ceviche, freshly shucked oysters or sushi. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value!
Tabalí ‘Vetas Blanca Reserva Especial’ Syrah 2013
Limarí Valley $17.95 (213538) 14.0% alcohol
Charred toast and piquant spice aromas on the nose open the door for a rich, luscious flow of palate-coating, black berry, dark, juicy red cherry adorned with peppery spice and sprigs of savory herbs. It’s medium-plus bodied with good texture, balance and a soft tannin underpinning with a balanced and bountiful finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside leg of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

• Family-owned De Bortoli is best known for their iconic dessert wine, ‘The Noble One’—a botrytis-affected semillon not grown in Yarra Valley, Victoria, but in Riverina, New South Wales. The Noble One is found in the vaunted Langton’s Classification of Australian Fine Wines and the De Bortoli family are a member of the ultra-exclusive Australia’s First Families of Wine whose members made a visit to major Canadian cities a few years back with each giving a tutored tasting of their wine.

***1/2 drink now
De Bortoli ‘Gulf Station’ Chardonnay 2016
Yarra Valley Victoria $19.95 (238071) 12.5% alcohol
Spice and orchard aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of flavour with peach, pear and apple bathing the palate infusing the long, lip-smacking finish. This is medium-full bodied with good texture, deft balance and a glorious gusher of Meyer lemon and white grapefruit on the aftertaste. Pour with crispy, breaded and grilled calamari rings or pan-seared fish. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

• The following 2015 Dandelion Vineyards ‘Lionheart of the Barossa’ Shiraz was hand harvested, ambient-yeast fermented and hand plunged twice daily before being basket pressed into new and seasoned French oak barriques for an 18-month maturation before bottling.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Dandelion Vineyards ‘Lionheart of the Barossa’ Shiraz 2015
Barossa, South Australia $21.95 (167189) 14.5% alcohol
This is a poster child for balanced Barossa Shiraz—it’s ripe and luscious without being cloying. Aromas of dark berry fruit, peppery spice and wisps of mocha abound. It blankets the palate with luscious ripe fruit flavour—cherry, currant and blueberry—decorated with spice and dark bittersweet chocolate persisting through the tangy, lip-smacking finish. There’s depth, concentration and purity of fruit here.

**** drink or cellar
Schild Estate Grenache/Mourvèdre/Shiraz 2014
Barossa Valley, South Australia $19.05 (108183) 14.0% alcohol
This 52% grenache/24% mourvèdre/24% shiraz blend hustles from the glass with lively aromas of black licorice, red berry fruit and peppery spice. It rolls over the palate in full-bodied, full-textured waves with ripe dark and crunchy red fruit interwoven with sharp spice, lip-smacking tang and more piquant spice and bramble berry fruit on the balanced finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside beef fajitas or lamb chops. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Shingleback ‘Davey Estate Reserve’ Shiraz 2013
McLaren Vale, South Australia $23.95 (431296) 14.5% alcohol
This fills the room with aromas of charred toast, piquant spice and ripe blackberry aromas. A medium-full bodied, nicely textured wash of crunchy pie cherry and ripe black currant persists through the balanced, lingering finish and aftertaste. The Davey family produced a wine winning the coveted ‘Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy’ a few years back and they haven’t lost their touch. (Vic Harradine)

The following 2013 Sidewood ‘Mappinga’ Shiraz won the Decanter ‘International Trophy for Red Rhône Varietals over £15’.

***** drink or cellar
Sidewood ‘Mappinga’ Shiraz 2013
Adelaide Hills, South Australia $49.95 (446609) 14.5% alcohol
This award-winning shiraz hails from cool-climate Adelaide Hills and showcases depth, complexity and persistent purity of fruit. Aromas of charred toast, oak and licorice-infused dark berry fruit abound on the nose of this stunning red. It unfurls over the palate with depth, charm and intense flavours of juicy black bramble berry and ripe, sweet mulberry interlaced with peppery notes and excellent tang. It’s nicely balanced, full bodied, fully textured and full fruited with an underpinning of soft, ripe tannin. The lengthy, delectable finish offers replays. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Trout Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Nelson, South Island $19.95 (60046) 13.0% alcohol
This is a humdinger with oodles of value, flavour, texture and charm. Aromas of grassy notes and savory herbs give way to a bountiful, balanced and beautiful mouthful of lemon curd, lime cordial, minerality and gooseberry on the palate and finish. It’s medium bodied with generous mouthfeel and a lingering clean, crisp and mouth-watering aftertaste. Pour with all manner of seafood. (Vic Harradine)

• Villa Maria’s George Fistonich, now Sir George, is a pioneer in New Zealand’s wine history starting this family-owned winery back in 1961 with the first vintage the following year. He was knighted in 2009 for his outstanding contributions to the New Zealand wine industry; Villa Maria is New Zealand’s most awarded winery. They strategically placed a large winery open seven days a week, including tours and cellar door sales, quite near the Auckland International airport; it’s a must-stop for visitors.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Villa Maria ‘Southern Clays Single Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough, South Island $29.95 (447474) 13.0% alcohol
Bell pepper, piquant gun flint and savory herb aromas capture interest on the nose. It surges over the front palate with a gusher of ripe melon and peach then delivers taut, cleansing tang—passionfruit, white grapefruit and lemongrass—on the back palate and finish. It’s medium bodied with satin-smooth texture and lingering, lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour with toasted bagel smeared with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon and capers. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

**** drink now
Anne De Laweiss Collection Guwürztraminer 2015
AOC Alsace $19.95 (141226) 12.8% alcohol
Aromas of rose petals, exotic spice and pineapple waft from this lighter-styled, off-dry gewürztraminer. It bathes the palate with rosewater, sugared and grilled blood orange and hints of ginger. It’s light on its feet with a mid-length finish that replays palate flavours. Pour with baked ham or spicy Asian cuisine like tandoori chicken. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

***1/2 drink now
Maison Roche de Bellene ‘Vieilles Vigne’ Côte de Nuits-Villages 2007
AOC Côte de Nuits-Villages $29.95 (487447) 13.0% alcohol
A gorgeous nose of floral notes, exotic spice and fennel introduce a medium-bodied wash of red fruit—plum, and pie cherry—framed by racy acidity and underpinned by slightly grippy tannin. The finish and aftertaste reflect both with tart acidity and cheek-drying tannin. Pour with pastitsio or manicotti. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Manoir De Mercey ‘Chateaubeau’ Mercury 2014
AOC Mercurey $29.95 (508002) 12.5% alcohol
An alluring nose of piquant spice, cedar, wisps of smoke and berry fruit aromas introduce a racy flow of tart sour cherry and passionfruit gliding over the palate with notes of beetroot, spice and great élan. It’s mid-weight with good mouthfeel and a lengthy drying finish of racy red cherry and chalky/mineral notes. Just coming into its own, drink over the next six or seven years with boeuf bourguignon. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

***1/2 drink now
Duca Catemario ‘Collezione Privata’ Pinot Grigio 2016
DOC Friuli $14.95 (120782) 12.5% alcohol
Floral notes, pit fruit and citrus aromas open the door to a sweet-tinged wash of palate-bathing ripe tropical fruit with honeydew melon, pineapple and mango to the fore. It’s lighter-styled throughout cleaning up nicely with crisp acidity delivered through a wash of Meyer lemon and Key lime on the crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste. Pours and pairs well with chicken, pork or seafood appetizers. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Passo Del Cardinale Primitivo di Manduria 2014
DOP Manduria $18.95 (496463) 14.0% alcohol
The price-quality balance tips well in your favour here. Pipe tobacco, floral notes, cedar and spice box aromas leap from this barrel-aged primitivo. It blankets the palate with a piquant spice-laced river of black currant, raisin and Ribena-like flavours framed by good acidity and decorated with excellent tang. It’s medium-plus bodied with good texture and long, balanced, fruit-filled finish and aftertaste. Pour with grilled red meat or hearty stew. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Borgo Scopeto ‘Borgonero’ would have been, a few years ago, labelled ‘Vino da Tavola’ aka, ‘table wine’ and you may have paid double or more this price as it would have been referred to as a ‘Super Tuscan’. Since then, the new IGT designation (allowing international grapes to be included) has been introduced to give these wines an official designation, possibly saving you a good deal of money—give this one a try.

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Borgo Scopeto ‘Borgonero’ 2014
IGT Toscana $17.95 (421396) 13.0% alcohol
Milk chocolate and ripe cherry/berry aromas waft easily from this rich, ripe red blend—sangiovese/syrah/cabernet sauvignon/merlot. There’s a boatload of fruit flavour on the palate with red and black currant, black plum and dark cherry decorated with mocha and tarry notes. The finish and aftertaste are balanced and beautiful. Pour now with osso buco or grilled steak. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Renzo Masi ‘Riserva’ Chianti 2013
DOCG Chianti $16.95 (969469) 13.5% alcohol
Dark, ripe cherry and spice cake aromas open the floodgates to a medium weight, nicely textured steam of black currant and black plum blanketing the palate interlaced with dried currants and savory herbs. There’s a rich finish and aftertaste that’ll be enhanced by a two-hour aeration/decant. This punches above the price and is quite good value. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Tedeschi ‘Capitel San Rocco’ Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2014
DOC Valpolicella Superiore $21.95 (719294) 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of cedar, espresso roast and dark bramble berry fruit make way for a steady stream of tart pie cherry and cranberry bathing the palate underpinned by a bite of dark bittersweet chocolate. This is light-medium weight with mid-length finish and aftertaste. Pour with pasta in tomato sauce or meat lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Valpantena Ripasso Valpolicella 2014
DOC Valpolicella $17.95 (429928) 13.5% alcohol
An interesting nose of smoke, grilled savory herbs, tarry notes and juicy black berry fruit aromas collect in the glass of this mid-weight, nicely textured Ripasso. It bathes the palate and infuses the finish and aftertaste with replays of smoke and savory herbs interwoven with sweet, ripe mulberry and dark, juicy black cherry along with wisps of mocha. Pour with red pizza, spicy wings or grilled, gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

• The following 2013 Borsao ‘Berola’ is produced by the folks who make the über-popular, winecurrent-favourite, Borsao ‘Tres Picos’ Garnacha.

****1/2 drink now
Borsao ‘Berola’ 2013
DO Campo de Borja $18.95 (371518) 15.0% alcohol
This red blend—70% garnacha/20% syrah/10% cabernet sauvignon—offers up aromas of charred toast and piquant spice. Ripe, sweet fruit flavours—black plum compote and black juicy cherry dominate—mingle with aromatic bitters, toasty notes and vanilla on the palate. This is medium-plus bodied with good mouthfeel and a lingering, balanced and lip-smacking finish. Pour with ribs, beef fajitas or burgers. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
El Gorú Monastrell/Syrah/Petit Verdot 2015
DOP Jumilla $13.95 (443945) 14.0% alcohol
This red blend is dominated by tart acidity, piquant spice and crunchy red fruit—currant, cranberry, pie cherry. It’s medium weight with good texture and a lengthy, tart and racy finish and aftertaste underpinned by drying tannin. Aerate/decant for two hours before serving—give it a go with pasta puttanesca. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Bodegas Altanza ‘Lealtanza - Reserva’ 2011
DOCa Rioja $19.95 (208223) 14.0% alcohol
This is a delicious, value-laden, 100% tempranillo Reserva with aromas of mixed spice and floral notes. It’s balanced and beautiful throughout with a soft wash of delectable nectar flowing over the palate with delicate flavours of ripe black berry fruit, licorice, spice and racy pie cherry. The finish layers on mouth-watering freshness and soft tannin, easily ameliorated with a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in Winecurrent

September 16, 2017 Vintages Release

**** drink now 
Bernard Massard Cuvée de l’Éusson Brut Non-Vintage
Luxembourg $19.95 (970970) 12% alcohol
This refreshing sparkler is made using the traditional method (that is, using the same protection techniques as Champagne), but includes a non-traditional blend of grape varieties: 40% chardonnay, 35% pinot blanc, 15% pinot noir, and 10% riesling. The result is a clean and crisp sparkling wine that is light gold in colour and has a slightly yeasty aroma with hints of apple and clean minerality. It’s medium bodied with a pleasing fizz and acidity that cleanses the palate, leaving subtle tastes of toast and lemon. This will be well matched with garlic butter shrimp pasta. (Dave Isaacs)

September 30, 2017 Vintages Release

**** drink or cellar
Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône 2015
AOC Rhône $16.95 (729962) 14% alcohol
This wine is predominantly syrah, blended with small amounts of grenache and mourvèdre. It is medium red in colour with a nose of musty leather, cherry, strawberry, and vanilla. It is medium bodied with mild but perceptible tannins and a juicy tartness that highlights flavours of cherry and white pepper. This is a wine that offers good value year after year. It's drinking very nicely right now, but could be kept in the cellar for another year or two. It does very well when paired with BBQ lamb chops. (Dave Isaacs)

**** drink or cellar
Carpineta Chianti Classico Riserva 2012
DOCG Chianti Classico $29.95 13.5% alcohol
This wine is made from 80% sangiovese, with canaiolo and other grape varieties making up the remainder. It is dark red in colour, with a tinge of orange, and has aromas of raisin, dried plums, caramel, and mushroom. It is medium bodied on the palate, with pleasantly silky tannins and flavours of tart strawberry and delicate herbaceous notes reminiscent of sage. There is a long tart finish underscored with gentle tannins. Pair this wine with roasted quail. (Dave Isaacs)