September 24, 2017 Newsletter

LCBO Thanksgiving Day Weekend Hours

LCBO LogoAll LCBO stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Monday, October 9 and resume regular business hours on Tuesday, October 10, 2017.  All LCBO stores will observe their normal business hours on Saturday, October 7 and Sunday, October 8. Some agency stores may be open on Thanksgiving Day. Always best to check with your agency store before the holiday weekend.

Customers can always check for individual store hours with their local LCBO store or online at using the 'Store Search' feature. With the exception of most holidays, they can also contact the toll-free, bilingual helloLCBO at 1-800-ONT-LCBO (668-5226) or online at All LCBO offices, including LCBO Customer Service and helloLCBO Contact Centre, will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Louise BoutinPlease welcome Louise Boutin back. She has almost completed her final requirement for Algonquin College Sommelier accreditation by spending forty hours with winecurrent, attending tastings, evaluating wine, writing reviews, becoming more familiar with wine distribution and sales. Read more.

Newsletter Highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 3 of 61 wines currently available meet the strict quality-price guidelines. They’re found throughout the newsletter easily identified via the exceptional-value checkmark above. What strict guidelines? Click here.
  • 5-Star wine – 5 wines rang the 5-star bell with one earning exceptional value status; 2027 Cellars ‘Queenston Road Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2013 @ $35.00 found under Ontario: Red Wine. The balance are found throughout the newsletter.
  • Finding Waldo – 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-year-old Tawny Ports are highly regulated, usually well priced and almost always delicious, but are they, in fact, 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-years-old? 
  • Louise Loves – Famille Perrin ‘Réserve’ Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015 earned 4 ½ stars @ $14.95 found under France: White Wine; Château Ampélia 2015 earned 4 ½ stars @ $23.95 is a ‘cellar selection’, found under France: Red Wine; Antiche Terre Venete Ripasso Valpolicella 2014 earned 4 stars @ $16.95 found under Italy: Red Wine.
  • Vic Picks – 2027 Cellars ‘Queenston Road Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2013 earned 5 stars @ $35.00 found under Ontario: Red Wine; Kaiken ‘Las Rocas - Ultra’ Malbec 2015 earned 4 ½ stars @ $19.95 found under Argentina: Red Wine; Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2016 earned 5 stars @ $43.95 found under South Africa: White Wine; Tarima Monastrell 2015 earned 4 stars @ $14.95 found under Spain: Red Wine.

Identify 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: September 30, 2017

The Main Release

Spirits: Eau de Vie

• The family-owned and family-managed firm of Nonino has been making world-class, alembic-still grappa for 130 years. It’s only in the past few decades they began producing the following nectar of the gods—Nonino Il Pirus Di Williams—equally impressing aficionados, connoisseurs and folks like you and me… with apologies to readers who truly are aficionados and/or connoisseurs.

****1/2drink or cellar
Nonino Il Pirus Di Williams Non-Vintage
Friuli, Italy $112.95 700 mL (739870) 43.0% alcohol
Spirited aromas of orange zest, piquant spice and nostril-flaring pear distillate precede the warmth of a textured, translucent-liquid wash of citrus rind, spice, and those dominant pear flavours. There’s a strangely alluring, even pleasing, hot, pear-flavoured burn on the aftertaste. A stunning gift for someone special, including oneself. (Vic Harradine)

Fortified Wine: Port

• The following10-Year-Old Tawny Port designation is not exactly what you might think. It’s invariably Port that has not been barrel-aged for ten years, although the name implies it. Rather, it’s a wine that displays the deemed organoleptic characteristics of Port, barrel-aged for ten-years. Each Port is submitted and tasted blind by a panel of experts to determine if the wine meets the exacting standard. These designated 10-Year-Old Tawnies are almost always a blend of different vintages with the average age of the wine invariably exceeding ten years. The above concept and procedures hold true for 20-, 30- and 40-year-old Tawnies.

**** drink or cellar
Barros ‘10-Year-Old Tawny’ Port
DOP Porto $28.95 (964353) 20.0% alcohol
This light-ruby Tawny is fresh and lively throughout. Aromas of espresso roast, cedar and pipe tobacco fill the air. A balanced and bountiful stream of red berry fruit, orange zest, figs and sweet treacle bathe the palate with wisps of nutty notes and caramel. It’s light-medium weight with good mouthfeel and a long, sweet-tinged finish. Pour with crème brûlée or pumpkin pie. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

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

Vin de France $39.95 (395384) 12.5% alcohol

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


***** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Cave Spring Riesling Icewine 2014

VQA Niagara Peninsula $49.95 375 mL (447441) 10.5% alcohol

Glorious aromas of apricot, honeyed ripe pear and raisin fill the air. A palate-coating surge of liquid ambrosia coats the palate with a tapestry of sweet flavour—peel marmalade, poached pear, grilled pineapple, honey and spice. It’s fully fruited and full textured with moderating citrus tang on the finish and aftertaste keeping it balanced and far from cloying. This is quite special and very well priced. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: White Wine

• Winemaker/owner, Kevin Panagapka, comes up big again with the following 2027 Cellars 2015 ‘Falls Vineyard’ Riesling—yet another fine wine with a price-quality ratio skewed well in your favour. Take note of another 2027 Cellars offering later in this release—a truly stunning 2013 pinot noir.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
2027 Falls Vineyard Riesling 2016
VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (294041) 10.0% alcohol
Aromas of sharp spice, racy lime and ripe pear billow from this just-barely yellow-hued, single-vineyard riesling. It explodes on the palate with a gusher of lime cordial and crisp green apple framed by electrifying tang and acidity. The dry, mouth-watering, lip-smacking finish lingers luxuriously. This sips well on its own and truly shines served with a baguette and charcuterie board. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Cave Spring ‘Estate Bottle’ Chardonnay Musqué 2015

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment $16.95 (246579) 13.5% alcohol

Delicate aromas waft from the glass of this mid-weight, nicely textured chardonnay clone with floral notes and soft citrus predominant. It envelops the palate with flavours of blood orange, white grapefruit and mineral notes persisting through the lengthy aftertaste adorned with orchard fruit, minerality and grapefruit pith. There’s good purity of fruit, deft balance and plenty of style at a knockout price. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Coffin Ridge ‘Bone Dry’ Riesling 2015
VQA Ontario $17.40 ((232744) 11.5% alcohol
Piquant spice and flinty/mineral aromas on the nose herald a pungent, palate-searing line of acidity with racy lime, lemon curd and passionfruit to the fore. This is mid-weight with a replay of palate flavours on the bone-dry finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside freshly shucked, briny oysters with a dot of hot sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon or mussels steamed in garlic and white wine. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Hidden Bench Fumé Blanc 2015
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment $29.95 (68825) 13.5% alcohol
Smoky/oaky notes and gunflint with tropical fruit and wisps of caramel aromas open the door to a medium-bodied, nicely textured wash of grilled pineapple, lime-drizzled Granny Smith apple and tart blood orange. It finishes balanced and bountiful with adornments of minerality and honeydew melon on the clean, crisp, refreshing finish. Pour with pan-seared or grilled seafood. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: White Wine

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Burrowing Owl ‘Estate Bottled’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Okanagan Valley $33.95 (208694) 14.0% alcohol
Baking spice, tropical fruit and peach aromas usher in a full-bodied, generously textured flow of mango, grilled pineapple and zesty lemon flavour flowing over the palate adorned with toasty oak. This is medium-full bodied and nicely textured with lingering finish. Pour with roast chicken or festive turkey. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

• The following winery—2027 Cellars—is one of a handful of Niagara’s virtual wineries. Kevin Panagapka is owner and winemaker. His focus is on chardonnay, pinot noir and riesling as he feels these are well suited—a good opportunity to ripen each year—to the macro-climate of the larger region, He sources fruit from carefully chosen sites determined to be optimum for each variety. Kevin purchases fruit from specific rows or plots in premium vineyards and fully manages the viticulture aspects such as grape yield, leaf pulling and overall health of the vines. He bottles single-varietal table wines, most wild-yeast fermented and unfiltered, and also makes Vintage and Non-Vintage, traditional-method sparkling wine from a pinot noir/chardonnay blend. They reach heights that place them amongst the best Canada produces. There will be limited quantities of the following wine—it’s worth the effort to source a few… and it’s worth acting quickly before or on release day (most stores fill shelves Friday afternoon before release day), so as not to be disappointed.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Queenston Road Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2013

VQA St. David’s Bench $35.00 (421370) 13.0% alcohol

Alluring aromas of cedar, exotic spice/incense and black Bing cherry open a complex, structured pinot with depth and elegance. A medium-bodied, nicely textured stream of red currant, dark berry fruit and pomegranate interweave with chalky minerality and beetroot on the palate. Good tension, persistent purity of fruit and deft balance define this incredibly well-crafted red—it was indigenous-yeast fermented, aged 14 months in French-oak barriques, 30% new. Artisan-winemaker Kevin Panagapka hits all the high notes in this symphony of harmonious aromas and flavours. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Cabernet/Merlot 2012

VQA Short Hills Bench $24.95 (395855) 14.0% alcohol

The intensely concentrated fruit character of this blend of the cabs and merlot showcases fruit from Henry of Pelham’s older vines—with fruit concentration reflected in the lovely, ripe, lifted aromas of forest berries intertwined with notes of vanilla, spiced rose and dried herbs. Dry, medium-full bodied, this offers a defined structure and deft balance of firm ripe tannin, clean acidity and well-integrated oak. There’s a rush of flavour across the palate—ripe berry, cherry and plum accented by vanilla notes and spice. The flavourful dry finish is lingering and balanced. It’s a great choice for prime rib and is excellent value. (Susan Desjardins)

***1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Smoke & Gamble ‘Reserve’ Cabernet/Merlot 2015
VQA Ontario $24.95 (491589) 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of campfire smoke and grilled savory herbs billow from this medium-full bodied, red blend. There’s a distinctive flow of black plum and tart sour cherry mingling with dark bittersweet chocolate and flinty bits blanketing the palate persisting through the dry, mouth-watering finish. This pours well with pasta in tomato sauce or red pizza. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Burrowing Owl ‘Estate Bottled’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
VQA Okanagan Valley $45.95 (73098) 14.7% alcohol
A lifted nose of grilled savory herbs, cedar and mocha aromas precede fruit-filled, creamy-smooth flavours sweeping across the palate—juicy blackberry fruit and crunchy pie cherry interlaced with espresso roast, spice box and wisps of cassis. It’s medium-plus bodied with good mouthfeel and a soft underpinning of ripe tannin. Aerate/decant three hours pouring with well-seasoned, rare-grilled strip loin. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Markham Chardonnay 2015
Napa Valley $28.95 (418277) 14.2% alcohol
Aromas of chalky minerality and sharp spice mingle with racy citrus notes on the nose of this lovely Napa chardonnay, It envelops the palate with baking spice, lemon curd and baked apple flavours decorated with citrus tang and notions of white peach. It’s medium-plus bodied with good texture and generous finish and aftertaste. This is balanced and beautiful from twist top to last drop. Pour with beer-can chicken and oven-roasted, French-fry-cut potatoes. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: White Wine

***1/2 drink now
A to Z Pinot Gris 2015
Oregon $19.95 (258145) 13.5% alcohol
Tropical fruit and lemon zest aromas introduce a gentle stream of candied fruit—apple and pear—and sugared and grilled red grapefruit in this A to Z gris. It finishes with sweet-tinged, confectionary notes of ripe orchard fruit. Give this a go with spicy Asian cuisine or fruit flan. (Vic Harradine)

Washington State: Red Wine

**** drink now
Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 2015

Columbia Valley $21.95 (232439) 14.0% alcohol

Baking spice, vanilla and tropical fruit aromas open the door to a medium-weight, tang-laden flow of crisp green apple, ripe pear, juicy peach and racy lemon citrus. It finishes with lemongrass and orchard fruit flavour galore. This is balanced and good to go now. Lovely sipped on its own, it has the oomph to pour with roast chicken or pork. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Francis Coppola ‘Diamond Collection Red Label’ Zinfandel 2014
California $21.95 (708289) 13.5% alcohol
Soft, delicate aromas of mixed spice and dark berry fruit reveal a river of palate-blanketing flavour with sweet ripe bramble berry and black currant jelly to the fore. Sweet-tinged, dark fruit flavours persist throughout including the finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside grilled back ribs slathered in spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Sonoma County $22.95 (331603) 13.5% alcohol

Charred toast and black currant aromas precede rich, complex and balanced waves of cassis, bramble berry and dark cherry interlaced with fresh mint, savory herbs and oodles of juicy tang. This showcases persistent purity of fruit with good depth, balance and complexity. It finishes with rich fruit and juicy tang replays. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Rodney Strong ‘Sonoma County’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Sonoma County $24.95 (226944) 13.5% alcohol
Dark cherry/berry fruit and mixed spice aromas provide segue to a balanced, well-paced and well-priced Sonoma cab. It shows depth and plenty of flavour with ripe black raspberry and juicy dark Bing cherry enveloping the palate infusing the finish with gusto. This is full bodied with good texture and fruit-filled aftertaste flecked with balancing tang. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Talbott ‘Kali Hart’ Pinot Noir is the final controlled by the family owned Talbott Vineyards as it was sold to E&J Gallo part way through the 2015 harvest.

**** drink or cellar
Talbott ‘Kali Hart’ Pinot Noir 2014
Monterey County $28.95 (317693) 14.3% alcohol
This is Talbott’s estate-grown, entry-level pinot noir—smoke, piquant spice, earthy notes and pipe tobacco aromas weave through the nose. A sweet-tinged flow of beet root and briary berry are balanced by racy pie cherry and crunchy pomegranate mingling with sprigs of savory herbs on the palate persisting through the long tart and tang-laden finish. It’s medium weight, nicely textured and pours well with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: Red Wine

• The owner/winemaker for the following 2015 Elouan Pinot Noir is Joseph Wagner, a 5th generation California winemaker who, at 19, began the iconic, single-vineyard pinot noir winery, Belle Glos, and also Meiomi that’s now owned by Constellation.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Elouan Pinot Noir 2015
Oregon $29.95 (420760) 13.7% alcohol
Smoky notes mingle with mixed field berry aromas and exotic spice on the nose of this full-bodied, full-textured, fully fruited pinot. An intense, complex stream of concentrated flavours envelop the palate with black currant jam intertwined with ripe strawberry and dark bittersweet chocolate and hints of sweet vanilla capturing all the attention. It finishes with replays, lengthy and lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

Washington State: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Seven Falls Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley $21.95 (360222) 14.5% alcohol
This matured 15 to 18 months in seasoned and new oak barrel, 67% American, the balance French. There are aromas of dark berry fruit, mixed spice and espresso roast galore. This is ready to drink and oozing flavour with palate-coating flavours of dried currant and black, juicy Bing cherry interwoven with mint leaf, spice and vanilla. It finishes as it started--deftly balanced, fruit-forward, good depth and plenty of charm from cork pop to last drop. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: Red Wine

• The following 2015 Kaiken ‘Las Rocas Ultra’ Malbec is not your garden-variety Argentine Malbec. Fruit was chosen from three vineyards in the Uco Valley, all at +1000 m, that were hand-picked then macerated pre- and post-fermentation before maturing 12 months in French oak barrel, one-third new, the balance in 2nd and 3rd use.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Kaiken ‘Las Rocas - Ultra’ Malbec 2015
Mendoza $19.95 (50849) 14.5% alcohol
This perennial favourite dishes up a full-bodied, generously textured mouthful of ripe dark fruit and a boatload of glorious tang at a terrific price. Black Bing cherry and juicy black plum mingle with balancing pomegranate decorated with mixed spice on the palate. The cherry and plum replay on the finish bolstered by juicy tang, firm structure, baking spice and dark coffee. Pour with a thick, rare-grilled beef tenderloin. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: White Wine

***1/2 drink now
Torres ‘Santa Digna – Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Central Valley $14.95 (177444) 13.0% alcohol
Grassy, herbal aromas and wisps of mineral notes waft from the nose of this mid-weight, tang-filled Reserva. It electrifies the palate with a rigid backbone of racy tang—Key lime, lemon curd and white grapefruit to the fore. These palate flavours replay on the finish and mouth-watering aftertaste. Pour with freshly shucked oysters, sushi or ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Montgras Antu Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Maipo Valley $17.95 (444703) 14.0% alcohol
A lifted nose of black plum, dark coffee and oaky notes set the stage for a medium-full bodied stream of tangy cranberry and racy red currant underpinned by still-evolving tannin and framed by crunchy acidity. Aerate/decant a couple of hours pouring with pasta in Bolognese sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Primus Carmenère 2015
Colchagua Valley $19.95 (439356) 14.0% alcohol
Cedar, dark berry fruit and floral aromas introduce a full-bodied wash of lively fruit, full of gusto and pizzazz. A well-balanced array of flavours blanket the palate with racy pie cherry and blueberry interlaced with sweet, ripe bramble berry on the palate with all extending through the lengthy, dry, mouth-watering finish. It’s good value and ready to drink now. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Mollydooker ‘Two Left Feet – Red blend’ 2015
South Australia $33.95 (327106) 16.5% alcohol
Lifted perfumed aromas of peppery spice and charred toast leap from the glass of this shiraz/merlot/cabernet blend. It’s oozing with sweet, black bramble berry fruit that envelops the palate and miraculously finds balance on the back palate from a line of racy, tangy acidity. In spite of the hi-octane—16.5% alcohol—it drinks fairly well on its own and reveals foodie nirvana with grilled and smoked back ribs mopped with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Yalumba ‘The Strapper’ GSM 2014
Barossa Valley, South Australia $19.95 (295873) 13.5% alcohol
Piquant spice and red berry fruit aromas precede a deftly balanced flow of sweet-tinged black currant and ripe blackberry forming a perfect partnership on the palate with red currant and cranberry—love at first sight with each sip as good or better than the previous. This is medium-plus bodied with good mouthfeel and a balanced, dry, lip-smacking finish. Give this a go on its own, it’s lovely; or if you must, pour with grilled rack of Australian lamb. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Auntsfield ‘Single Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Southern Valleys, Marlborough, South Island $20.95 (663286) 13.0% alcohol
This opens with a very subtle nose—soft spice and leesy aromas—given it’s a sauvignon blanc from Marlborough—but delivers as expected on the palate. Savory/herbal notes, gooseberry, racy lemon and piquant spice, along with riper, smoother flavours of tropical fruit flecked with apricot and notions of briny notes, blanket the palate. Give this a go with breaded, skillet-seared calamari rings or seafood chowder. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: Red Wine

***1/2 drink or cellar
Oyster Bay Merlot 2015
Hawkes Bay, North Island $18.95 (692343) 13.5% alcohol
Earthy notes and dark coffee aromas dominate the nose of this mid-weight merlot. It dishes up a flavourful river of dark ripe fruit—black plum, cherry and raspberry—still in the firm grasp of grippy tannins. Pour after a three-hour aeration/decant pouring with well-seasoned, grilled striploin or twist caps 2019. (Vic Harradine)

South Africa: White Wine

***** cellar
Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2016
WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay $43.95 (931006) 13.0% alcohol
This world-class chardonnay showcases purity of fruit, deft balance, exceptional tang, depth and complexity, along with a boatload of charm and finesse. Baking spice and nutty notes on the nose are adorned with flinty/minerality. A stunning line of tangy, lime-dominant acidity streaks across the palate bolstered by ripe pear and hints of earthy/smoky bits along with notes of toasty oak, and replay on the fabulous finish and lengthy aftertaste. The suggested optimum drinking window is 2019 to 2030—serve with festive turkey or steamed, lobster meat dipped in warm, clarified butter. (Vic Harradine)

South Africa: Red Wine

• The following 2014 KWV ‘The Mentors Canvas’ results from turning the top viticulturists and winemakers at KWV loose and allowing them to find and vinify small parcels of grape varieties they deem to be unique, and then make a blend that expresses that uniqueness through aromas, flavour and structure in the wine.

****1/2 drink or cellar
KWV ‘The Mentors Canvas’ 2014
WO Coastal Region $24.95 (348839) 14.5% alcohol
This showcases persistent purity of fruit, depth and complexity. Alluring aromas of baking spice, grilled savory herbs, charred toast and dark berry fruit abound. A medium-plus bodied, generously textured, nicely balanced stream of tang- and spice-infused cranberry and cassis intertwine with rich briary berry and juicy Bing cherry enveloping the palate along with a smidgeon of oaky notes. Pour with this popular South African dish—Malay-inspired bobotie. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink or cellar
Man Family ‘Skaapveld’ Shiraz 2015
WO Coastal Region $13.95 (71332) 14.0% alcohol
Toasty/oaky aromas meld with über-ripe dark berry fruit on the nose of this nicely textured, medium-plus bodied red. It‘s loaded with rich, ripe fruit flavours—currant and cherry—interlaced with peppery and herbal notes dominating the palate infusing the mid-length, warm finish. Serve with burgers, grilled gourmet sausage or your favourite red pizza. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

• Jean-Marc Brocard is a strong advocate of the biodynamic wine movement. He has converted over a third of his estate’s vines to organic or biodynamic agriculture since beginning in 1997. Brocard describes his wine’s style with three words—strength, freshness and precision—all are perfectly illustrated in the following 2014 Vau de Vey 1er Cru.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Jean-Marc Brocard ‘Vau de Vey’ Chablis 1er Cru 2014
AOC Chablis $43.95 (159012) 13.0% alcohol
The 20-year-old vines and meticulously handled fruit bring deep aromas of ripe apple, pear, and yeasty brioche along with the classic Chablis trademark—fresh minerality. Patiently fermented and aged in stainless steel tank, with ‘sur lies’ maturation, the mouthfeel is rich and round while flinty minerality and spring-loaded acidity keep the palate alert for a long, delicious, elegant finish. Enjoy now and on to 2024 with lemon-butter, baked cod. (Louise Boutin)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Famille Perrin ‘Réserve’ Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015
AOC Côtes du Rhône $14.95 (499509) 13.0% alcohol
Famille Perrin are known to deliver excellent, value-laden wines and this gorgeous blanc blend—grenache blanc, marsanne, roussane, viognier—is no exception. Alluring, exotic honeysuckle flower aromas share the nose with ripe pear, fresh peaches and honey. Bright fruit cocktail flavours glide on the palate with richness and just enough acidity for the viognier to work its magic in a medium-long finish dominated by peaches and minerality. Run, don’t walk, to get this gem—pair with grilled halibut topped with a fresh peach salsa. (Louise Boutin)

France: Red Wine

• Crafted by Francois and Murielle Despagne, owners of the Grand Cru Classé Grand Corbin Despagne in St-Émilion, Château Ampélia is gaining in recognition as is its AOC. Manual fruit harvesting, 12-18 months of maturation in oak casks—one-third new—and a transition to organic farming in 2010 all contribute to their burgeoning success.

****1/2 cellar
Château Ampélia 2015
AOC Côtes de Bordeaux Castillon $23.95 (191171) 14.5% alcohol
The nose is generous with aromas of cassis, dark cherry, vanilla, cedar and a hint of green bell pepper. This red blend—95% merlot/5% cabernet franc—explodes with sweet, ripe black cherry and mulberry warmed by a peppery note on the back palate and medium-long finish. The firm tannins suggest ten more years in bottle—patience will be handsomely rewarded with this well-crafted elegant Bordeaux. This cellar selection is very well priced. (Louise Boutin)

**** drink or cellar
André Delorme Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2014
AOC Bourgogne $22.95 (366427) 12.5% alcohol
This is pale garnet, this is gamy, this is earthy, this has racy, red cherry… voila, pinot noir. The nose is slow to open, but when it does, red cherry mingles nicely with forest floor and dried-herb aromas. The mouthfeel is tart and juicy with racy pie cherry flavour, supple tannins and a mild peppery note lingering in the medium-long finish. It’s a versatile, medium-bodied pinot that partners well with a simple roast-chicken, stuffed with fall herbs. (Louise Boutin)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Chateau Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012

AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France $45.95 (959627) 14.5% alcohol

Lifted aromas of floral notes, mixed field berry and espresso roast abound. A mid-full bodied red blend of 65% grenache/15% syrah/10% cinsault/5% mourvèdre and a variety of bits of other grapes, it flows creamy smooth over the palate—ripe black raspberry and dark Bing cherry interlaced with grilled, piquant spice and herbs with notions of kirsch liqueur, especially on the balanced and bountiful finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône 2015

AOC Rhône $16.95 (729962) 14% alcohol

This red is predominantly syrah, blended with small amounts of grenache and mourvèdre. It’s 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
Famille Perrin ‘La Gille’ Gigondas 2014
AOC Gigondas $29.95 (906073) 14.0% alcohol
Lighter in colour than many Gigondas, this cuvée charms with its complex nose of ripe black fruit, red cherry and smoke. The very good growing season in the Southern Rhône provided the opportunity for fruit to reach full maturity on the vine while a complete destemming of grapes before vinification allowed the fruit of this approachable syrah/grenache red blend to shine on the palate. The soft palate replays black fruit aromas with a finish of red tart cherries, integrated tannins and the omnipresence of subtle smoke. Aerate/decant an hour before enjoying with your favorite cut of grilled beef. (Louise Boutin)

**** drink or cellar
Domaine Lafage ‘Tessellae - Vieilles Vignes’ Carignan 2015
IGP Côtes Catalanes $17.95 (343509) 14.5% alcohol
This was sourced from 70-year-old vines of 100% indigenous carignan delivering loads of ripe black fruit aromas—freshly homemade black plum jam, blackberry, blueberry and a fresh whisper of licorice. The fruity palate is charming while the spicy pepper notes and grippy tannins make their presence known later to reveal this full-bodied red’s true structured and muscular personality. Aerate/decant three hours to enjoy now and on to 2024 with a juicy, rare-grilled prime rib. (Louise Boutin)

France: Rosé Wine

**** drink now
Domaine Lafage ‘Tesselae’ Rosé 2016
IGP Côtes Catalanes $15.95 (450817) 12.0% alcohol
This value-packed, friendly rosé blend—80% syrah/20% grenache noir dressed in its attractive, colourful mosaic label, suggests fresh apricot, strawberry and delicate freesia flower aromas. A touch of pineapple, zesty acidity and minerality compose a fresh, crisp palate. Served chilled, this versatile medium-bodied rosé will be happy to join in on your next sushi night. (Louise Boutin)

Italy: Red Wine

****1/2 cellar
Seghesio Barolo 2011
DOCG Barolo $49.95 (496877) 15.0% alcohol
This Italian version of the ‘King of wines, the wine of the Kings’ from Piemonte shows an inviting nose of prunes, black figs, anise and tobacco. The typical high-tannin/high-acidity of nebbiolo grapes is noticed on the first sip, hurling the complex flavours—prunes, figs, dry cocoa and licorice over the palate. It’s an excellent entry-level Barolo that will need a full decade to unfurl. Pouring now? Aerate/decant three hours prior to service and pair with rich pork roast. (Louise Boutin)

• Antiche Terre Venete has been producing Veneto wine since the beginning of the 1900s. Hand-harvested fruits, a second fermentation of the young Valpolicella wine on Amarone skins and a combination of French oak barriques with traditional wood-barrel ageing for 12 months, bring depth and softness to their Valpolicella Ripasso, especially the one following.

**** drink or cellar
Antiche Terre Venete Ripasso Valpolicella 2014
DOC Valpolicella Ripasso $16.95 (178459) 13.5% alcohol
Don’t let the initial funky barnyard nose of this Veneto blend—corvina veronese, corvinone, rondinella—dissuade you—it’s delicious and very good value. A vigorous swirl will unveil the characteristic Ripasso aromas of dry raisins, dark cherry and chocolate. The rounded tannins forge a smooth palate suggesting flavours of dark chocolate-covered cherries, baking spice and dry herbs. The balanced acidity carries the flavours on a delicious medium-long finish. Serve with Italian sausage and mushroom gnocchi for a delightful regional pairing. (Louise Boutin)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Valentina Cubi ‘Morar’ Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2005
DOC Amarone Della Valpolicella $57.95 (99119) 16.0% alcohol
This dense and expressive beauty is the result of meticulous fruit harvest, traditional appassimento winemaking technique, and patient vinification with maturation of up to 48 months. Dry fig, raisins, baking spice and licorice are displayed on the nose and palate. The mouthfeel is gracious and perfectly balanced with just enough comforting warmth to escort you to the next sip. This elegant powerhouse is an excellent after-dinner sipper with hard cheese, dry figs and walnuts or dark chocolate. (Louise Boutin)

Spain: Red Wine

• The following 2015 Tarima Monastrell was sourced from head-trained, dry-grown monastrell, aka mourvèdre, vines with wine maturing six months in a combination of stainless steel and seasoned French oak.

**** drink now
Tarima Monastrell 2015
DO Alicante $14.95 (310151) 14.5% alcohol
This is an excellent value showcasing ripe fruit, deft balance, a fruit/acid synergy, long, delectable aftertaste and short-term cellaring prospects. What’s not to like? Aromas of dried fruit, spice box and blackberry introduce a rich, ripe river of dark berry fruit washing over the palate balanced with tangy red currant and savory herbs. It’s medium-full weight, silky-smooth textured with a balanced and bountiful finish and aftertaste… dare I say, yummy? Pick up a few. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 Torres ‘Habitat - Organic’ Garnacha-Syrah was barrel fermented and matured six to eight months in oak, 20% new French barrels.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Torres ‘Habitat - Organic’ Garnacha-Syrah 2015
DO Catalunya $19.95 (511527) 14.5% alcohol
This offers very good value. Exotic, sexy aromas of spice box, perfumed floral notes and bramble berry introduce a lavish, delectable flow of tangy dark berry fruit, dark bittersweet chocolate and red cherry gliding over the palate, as smooth as satin and balanced on a pin. It’s mid-full bodied with generous mouthfeel and a lengthy, restrained, perhaps even elegant, finish and aftertaste. Pour with rare-grilled flank steak. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Torres flagship red, 2010 ‘Mas La Plana’ Cabernet Sauvignon, was sourced entirely from cabernet sauvignon, fermented in controlled-temperature stainless steel and matured 18 months in French oak barrel, all new.

***** drink or cellar
Torres ‘Mas La Plana’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
DO Penedès $59.95 (129676) 14.0% alcohol
Elegant and delicious with persistent purity of fruit, excellent oak and tannin integration, depth and complexity, this 40th-Vintage, Mas La Plana beauty is fine to drink now and on to 2027. Dazzling aromas of floral notes, pencil shavings, forest floor and baking spice abound. A mid-weight, complex gusher of lively, fresh fruit flavour—red and black currant intertwined with cracked black pepper, mocha and gorgeous racy tang capture the palate and drench the finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Valdelacierva Crianza 2012
DOCa Rioja $15.95 (438713) 14.0% alcohol
Campfire smoke and mixed spice open this medium-bodied, crisp and crunchy red. It blazes over the palate with sleek, racy red fruit—cherry, pomegranate and plum—along with fennel and other herbs. This shows good tang on the finish with a dollop of dark bittersweet chocolate and wisps of oaky notes—it matured 12 months in French and American oak. It’s well paced, well priced and well… delicious. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Valdemar ‘Inspiración Selección’ 2012
DOCa Rioja $19.95 (166512) 14.0% alcohol
A 90% tempranillo/10% graciano blend, the tasting experience is enhanced by a two-hour aeration/decant—pop corks now to 2022. Red cherry, black currant and blueberry bathe the fairly lengthy finish. Pour with pastitsio, manicotti or meat-lovers’ pizza. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages Essentials

Always available in select stores. However, it’s important you check that each vintage date matches reviews below on each bottle you purchase as stores may have the past vintage or even the past vintage and the vintage reviewed. The reviews below pertain only to the indicated vintage—always advisable to phone the store before going to assure availability.


***** drink or cellar
Moët et Chandon ‘Cuvée Dom Perignon’ Brut 2006
AOC Champagne $231.95 (280461) 12.5% alcohol
Smoke, citrus, gunflint and wisps of nutty aromas on the nose set the table for a smorgasbord of discoveries in the glass. A profusion of fine-bead mousse carries a linear line of bracing acidity and mineral notes on entry. This is graced with notions of apricot and pear on the mid palate with replays of lip-smacking citrus acidity on the lengthy finish adorned by briny notes on the aftertaste. This is involved and alluring with good depth and complexity. There’s much more to be discovered through its long life; carefully cellar to 2027. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Louis Roederer ‘Premier’ Brut Non-Vintage

AOC Champagne $72.95 (268771) 12.0% alcohol

Roederer is one of the top Grande Marque Champagne houses and this Non-Vintage bubbly is delicious. Brisk aromatics of leesy notes and baking bread interlace with nutty notes and red fruit on the nose. Tiny bubbles form a frothy mousse dishing up delightful flavours—racy lemon and peel marmalade with nuances of spiced green apple. It finishes crisp, refreshing and delectable with a mouth-watering aftertaste. This the perfect wine to welcome guests as well as to serve with all manner of appetizers. (Vic Harradine) 

****1/2 drink or cellar
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut 2008
AOC Champagne $102.95 (508614) 12.0% alcohol
The mousse explodes on pouring, settling down to persistent streams of very fine bubbles preceding alluring aromas of leesy notes, spiced pear and green apple, along with oxidative notes. There’s good attack on the palate with lemon-lime, peach and grapefruit acidity all persisting through the lengthy finish and aftertaste. This blend of 61% pinot noir/34% chardonnay/5% pinot meunier showcases generous mouthfeel and good complexity with five percent aged in French oak casks. Drinking well now, careful cellaring for another five years should be well rewarded. (Vic Harradine)


• The following 2015 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine is now on a limited time offer. The price shown below will be reduced by $5.00 per bottle from now until October 8, 2017.

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2015
VQA Ontario $49.95 (388306) 375 mL 9.5% alcohol
This vidal icewine from Niagara expresses itself without reservation starting with lifted aromas of apricot, lemon and earthy notes. It blankets the palate with a textured wash of apricot tart, lime-soaked guava and orange marmalade. Lemon zest and grilled pineapple provide semblance balance on the finish and aftertaste. Serve well chilled on its own or paired with fruit flan or blue cheese. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2015
VQA Ontario $21.95 (522672) 200 mL 12.0% alcohol
This lighter-styled beauty keeps the final sip as fresh and lively as the first—it’s not cloying or over the top and that’s not a common occurrence for vidal icewine. A nicely balanced flow of palate-bathing apricot jam and white nectarine meet nirvana with a healthy dollop of lemon zest and racy blood orange on the palate and persists through the lingering finish and aftertaste. This pairs particularly well with Stilton on water crackers or pan-seared foie gras. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Kittling Ridge Vidal Icewine 2015
VQA Ontario $39.95 (563247) 375 mL 10.3% alcohol
Mango, melon, honey and apricot aromas dominate the nose of this über sweet, luscious icewine. A full-Monty tsunami wave of texture and flavour blankets the palate with baked apple, peach marmalade, ripe mango and wisps of lemon chiffon pie enveloping the palate with gusto. It finishes with replays, sweet and unctuous. This is dessert in a glass; serve on its own as the only course for dessert or pair with chunks of Stilton and water biscuits. (Vic Harradine)

Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Catena ‘High Mountain Vines’ Malbec 2016
Mendoza, Argentina $19.95 (478727) 13.0% alcohol
Campfire smoke, pipe tobacco and black plum aromas billow from this Mendoza malbec from an iconic producer. It envelops the palate with a spice-infused river of ripe black currant and racy pie cherry melding in the company of friendly, soft tannins, excellent tang and mocha. It’s medium weight with good texture and finishes quite lengthy with a persistent line of racy passionfruit. Pour with red pizza, lasagna or pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

• Hand-harvested fruit was used in the following 2016 Cusumano Syrah from 100% Syrah vines with an average age of thirteen years.

***1/2 drink now
Cusumano Syrah 2016
IGT Terre Siciliane, Italy $13.95 (145490) 13.5% alcohol
Grilled savory herbs, gamy notes and charred toast aromas on the nose provide segue for a full, dense river of red and dark fruit coating the palate infused with tart-edged tang. It’s mid-weight with good texture and racy, mid-length finish and aftertaste decorated with savory/herbal notes. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (504241) 13.5% alcohol
This red blend—cabernet franc/merlot/cabernet sauvignon—has a price-quality balance tipped well in your favour. Dark chocolate and floral notes show the way to a liberal, ripe-fruit flow of juicy black currant interwoven with piquant spice and tang-laden red cherry/berry fruit on the palate persisting through the dry, lip-smacking finish. Pour with all-dressed burgers, gourmet sausage, meat-lovers’ pizza. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

• Order the following two wines for delivery to home, office or restaurant from Closson Chase by phone 1.888.201.2300 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or pick them up from the winery 629 Closson Road, Hillier, Ontario K0K 2J0 an easy 2 or so hour drive, or less, from the GTA or Ottawa and environs.

***1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Closson Chase ‘Mosaic - Charmat’ Sparkling Wine 2016
VQA Ontario $29.95 13.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas leap from the glass with mineral notes, binned apple and hop flowers dominant. A gorgeously textured flow of flavour blankets the palate with replays of binned apple joined by pastry dough and peach skins persisting through the lengthy, dry finish. Pour alongside prawn ceviche, sushi or tuna tartare.

• The following 2015 Closson Chase ‘Churchside’ Pinot Noir pours perfectly with hot-smoked duck breasts—top-broiled rare, skin-side up, sliced and served warm over a bed of arugula and radicchio tossed with spicy mango chutney.

**** drink now Oh Canada!
Closson Chase ‘Churchside’ Pinot Noir 2015
VQA Prince Edward County $44.95 11.5% alcohol
Light-ruby hued in the glass, gossamer aromas of exotic spice, minerality, savory herbs and red cherry weave an alluring magic. A delightful wash bathes the palate with a mélange of delicate flavour—racy cranberry and baking spice with notions of blueberry to the fore. This is light on its feet with replays of crunchy red fruit on the lengthy finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic and Louise