November 6, 2017 Newsletter



On Remembrance Day, Saturday, November 11, 2017, LCBO stores will open at noon and close at their normal closing hours. The exception being the Ottawa Region, where LCBO stores will open at 1:00 p.m. due to Remembrance Day events in the National Capital Region. LCBO agency stores observe their normal hours of business on November 11. 

The LCBO head office in Toronto will be closed on Saturday, November 11, 2017. However, the toll-free, bilingual helloLCBO Contact Centre at 1-800-ONT-LCBO (668-5226) or online at will be available to customers seeking information on Saturday, November 11th.

Purple CowboyThe 2015 Purple Cowboy ‘Trail Boss’ Cabernet Sauvignon is a ‘Wine of the Month’ selection; a brawny cab that will tug at your heart strings. Part of the profits from the wine you purchase will go toward the winery fulfilling their pledge to donate $10 000 to the Oh Canada! Canadian Wellspring Nourish program. All monies raised in this Ontario initiative go to assisting Ontarians.

Wellspring offers free of charge services and community-based support centres that meet the emotional, social, practical and restorative needs of people living with cancer, as well as for their caregivers. Purple Cowboy Wines ‘Boss Lady’, Terry Wheatley, is a breast cancer survivor and awareness activist who has raised $24 million dollars for breast cancer research and awareness.

Saddle up your bronco and mosey on down to your local LCBO and lasso a bottle or two before hitting the trail for home. You’ll feel good about the purchase of the wine and about yourself for supporting this wonderful initiative.

Newsletter Highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine  Exceptional Value! – 6 of 56 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.
  • 95 and over – Four wines scored 95 and more points: Fonseca Port Vintage 2009 with a 95 @ $58.95 and De Bortoli ‘Noble One Botrytis’ Semillon 2014 with a 96 @ $28.95 (375 mL) are both under Feature – After-dinner Drinks; Tawse Winery Chardonnay Icewine 2013 with a 96 @ $35.80 (200 mL) under Icewine; d’Arenberg ‘The Dead Arm’ Shiraz 2013 with a 96 @ $54.95 under Australia: Red Wine.
  • Vic Picks – Château des Charmes ‘Paul Bosc Estate’ Chardonnay 2013 earned a 92 @ $24.95 and Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 earned a 92 @ $28.95 with both under Ontario: White Wine; Ridge ‘Lytton Springs’ 2014 earned a 93 @ $64.95 under California: 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 making a trip.

Vintages Release: November 11, 2017

Spoiler Alert – as we close in on a festive season the quality and prices of wine via Vintages Releases increase noticeably. It’s evident in this release and one can expect more of the same in the next two releases… c’est la vie.

Feature: Wines from France

90drink or cellar
Deutz Champagne Brut Rosé Non-Vintage
AOC Champagne $80.95 (92833) 12.0% alcohol
This is very attractive in the glass, with colour of rose-gold and profusion of fine-bead bubbles. There’s an expressive nose of apple and yeast with tantalizing traces of apricot aromas. It’s light in the mouth with pleasant fizz and a good balance of acid supporting flavours of apple and plum. Barely perceptible tannins give a pleasant and ever-so-slight bite on the finish. Pop the cork in front of the fireplace for a romantic celebration with that special someone, or enjoy it together with creamy-pasta-salmon salad. (Dave Isaacs)

92drink or cellar
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé Vintage 2008
AOC Champagne $109.95 (588475) 12.5% alcohol
This is perfect as a welcoming wine—what a gorgeous hue in the glass—an aperitif or served with briny morsels from the sea—oysters or prawn ceviche. It’s lighter styled with subdued aromas of leesy notes, strawberry and herbs emanating from an energetic mousse of fine-bead bubbles that continue to wind their way to the top of the glass almost endlessly. It tingles on the palate with excellent tang, minerality and wisps of pit fruit and racy citrus. Drink now to 2025. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar
Domaine Servin ‘Bougros’ Grand Cru Chablis 2013
AOC Chablis $69.95 (145623) 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of campfire smoke, ripe apple and flinty/mineral notes announce a lively, palate-bathing, racy flow of tang-laden lemon curd, white grapefruit plus wisps of minerality and piquant spice. It’s light on its feet with a dry, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste reflecting replays of palate flavours. Pour with freshly shucked oysters, prawn ceviche or sushi. (Vic Harradine)

• Grapes for the following 2013 Cave de Turckheim ‘Brand’ Grand Cru Riesling were sourced from the Grand Cru of Brand, situated on a sun-soaked, granite slope looking down on the medieval town of Turckheim. Urban legend from medieval times has it that this was the place of an epic battle between the sun and a dragon. No dragons have been seen since… appears the sun was victorious.

94drink or cellar
Cave de Turckheim ‘Brand’ Grand Cru Riesling 2013
AOC Alsace Grand Cru, Brand $37.95 (21303) 12.5% alcohol
Pricey and worth every penny, this Grand Cru opens with smoky notes, rose petals, minerality and sharp spice galore on the lifted nose. A tart, lively wash streaks across the palate with great élan—lime zest, savory herbs, racy white grapefruit and flinty/minerality to the fore. It’s mid-weight with good mouthfeel and lingering, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside Alsatian onion tart.

92drink or cellar
Nicolas Potel ‘Maison Roche de Bellene Collection Bellenum Petite Chapelle’ Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru 2001
AOC Gevrey Chambertin $106.95 (514257) 13.0% alcohol
Nicolas Potel is a négociant—a person who sources wine, rather than making it. Unlike most pinot noir, this dishes up a medium-purple hue with lifted aromas, predominant fruit flavour and more than its fair share of tannin—and it’s 16 years since harvest. Aromas of grilled savory herbs, earthy bits and ripe dark fruit abound on the nose. It coats the palate with tang-laden, electrifying acidity carried along on passion fruit and sour cherry flavours ending in a crescendo on the drying, tannin-laced finish and aftertaste. I suggest drinking now to 2022 after a three- or four-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit sourced for the following 2010 Château La Garde red blend—67% cabernet sauvignon/31% merlot/2% petit verdot—was matured on fine lees in 100% oak barrel, 33% new.

94drink or cellar
Château La Garde 2010
AOC Bordeaux $51.95 (682617) 13.5% alcohol
An aromatic fruit-filled nose of dark berry fruit and black, juicy cherry provide segue for a medium bodied, generously textured surge of ripe black currant and crunchy passion fruit. This is deftly balanced, displays complexity, purity of fruit and endless sensory pleasure throughout. It finishes long and luxurious. A perfect wine to gift a wine-lover, including yourself. (Vic Harradine)

• The owners of the following 2015 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape are the iconic Perrin family. They’re members of the uber-exclusive Primium Familiae Vini. A group of wine-producing families that include names such as Antinori, Torres, Rothschild, Drouhin et al who, ‘represents a standard of excellence in fine wine to which all members aspire.’ They are dedicated to sharing their knowledge with other members and passing this knowledge along to their younger family members.

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015
AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape $89.95 (711317) 14.5% alcohol
Serious collectors, connoisseurs and red-wine lovers like you and me, anxiously await each vintage of this classic red blend. Aromas of berry fruit, smoky and floral notes, black licorice and spice box precede a palate-blanketing surge of black currant and black cherry intertwined with peppery spice, dark bittersweet chocolate and local savory herbs—aka garrigue. This is fully fruited and full bodied with creamy mouthfeel and lengthy finish laced with still-evolving tannin. Pop corks 2022 to 2030. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar
Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2013
AOP Châteauneuf-du-Pape $44.95 (62711) 15.0% alcohol
This is medium-full bodied with good mouthfeel and lengthy finish and aftertaste. Grilled savory herbs, wood smoke and dark berry fruit herald a swashbuckling gusher of palate-coating flavour—black bramble berry and black plum compote interwoven with spice cake. The lengthy finish layers on good tang and wisps of soft tannin. Pour alongside cassoulet or osso buco. (Vic Harradine)

Feature: After-dinner Drinks

89drink now
Burmester 10-Year-Old Tawny Port Non-Vintage 

DOC Douro $28.95 (223958) 20.0% alcohol

Aromatic and extremely versatile, this is food friendly with a long, delicious, sweet aftertaste. Spice cake, iodine and orange marmalade on the nose, it bathes the palate with round fleshy flavours—toffee apple, crème caramel and toasted almonds. Tawny Port gains its name from the tawny colour from many years aged in barrel—resolving tannin and imparting a silky-smooth, lip-smacking experience. Lovely on its own, serve slightly chilled with consommé, fruit cake or amarelo cheese. (Vic Harradine)

95drink or cellar
Fonseca Port Vintage 2009
DOP Porto $58.95 (256875) 20.5% alcohol
This is quite stunning with an array of alluring aromas, quintessential Port flavours and a lengthy sweet-tinged aftertaste. Aromas of cedar, raisin and dark berry fruit set the table for a smorgasbord of flavour with baking spice, dried currants, black plum compote, kirsch liqueur and sweet dark cherry among them. This is medium-full bodied and creamy smooth throughout and offers a lingering finish of dark bittersweet chocolate. Good with a quality cigar, dark chocolate or shards of Parmigiano reggiano or very old cheddar. (Vic Harradine)

94drink now
Bodegas Hidalgo ‘Faraon’ Oloroso Sherry Non-Vintage
DO Jerez $21.95 500 mL (471078) 18.0% alcohol
This mahogany-hued gem is alluring and irresistible; it got that way after twenty or so years maturing in oak casks. Aromas of walnuts, dried fruit, dried orange peel and caramel replay on the palate along with sharp spice, tea leaves, drying acidity and more nutty notes. It’s aromatic and flavourful with a drying, spice-laden aftertaste. Pour as an aperitif, with game dishes, hearty stew or mature gouda or mimolette. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 De Bortoli ‘Noble One Botrytis’ Semillon is listed in Australia’s vaunted Langton’s Classification of Fine Wines in the ‘Outstanding’ category.

96drink or cellar
De Bortoli ‘Noble One Botrytis’ Semillon 2014
Riverina, New South Wales, Australia $29.95 375 mL (917252) 10.0% alcohol
This is succulent and unctuous—nectar of the Gods. Steve Webber, 'Gourmet Traveler's 2007 Wine Maker of the Year', made the first 'Noble One' in 1982. Aromas of dried currant, raisin and fig set the stage for a sweet, viscous gusher of flavour with honeyed pit fruit, peel marmalade and grilled pineapple to the fore. It finishes elegant, charming and lip-smacking good. Pour alongside pan-seared foie gras or crème brûlée. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Specialty Wine

88drink now Oh Canada!
Rosewood ‘Mead Royale’ Honey Wine 2015
Product of Canada $16.95 500 mL (437319) 12.4% alcohol
Aromas of buckwheat honey and floral notes introduce this light-on-its-feet mead. It’s balanced and charming with sweet-tinged honey flavours interlaced with soft tang, piquant spice and peach skin on the palate and pleasant finish and aftertaste. A lovely lighter-styled, sit-around-the-table-and-gab wine. (Vic Harradine)


96drink now Oh Canada!
Tawse Winery Chardonnay Icewine 2013 

VQA Niagara Peninsula $35.80 (443739) 200 mL 10.5% alcohol

Urban legend has it icewine is often re-gifted because of its rock-star status. It would reflect questionable judgment to not open and enjoy this one; it’s stunning. Aromas of honeyed mango and apple pie spice mingle with baking spice before coating the palate with unfettered nectar of the gods—candied blood orange, grilled pineapple and piquant baking spice. Yin meets yang on the finish with ripe mango and lemon acidity providing a sweet and tang, fairly balanced aftertaste. Pour with pan-seared foie gras, fruit flan or blue-veined cheese. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

89drink now Oh Canada!
Blue Mountain Sparkling ‘Gold Label’ Brut Non-Vintage

Okanagan Valley $30.95 (206326) 12.5% alcohol

Blue Mountain is well known for its quality, both in sparkling wines and pinot noir. Produced in the traditional method and aged 24 months on the lees, this dry, pale-gold blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris displays alluring aromas of butter biscuit, pear, ripe apple and citrus. The refreshing mousse has a fine, creamy texture while the palate offers vivid citrus and light, tree-fruit flavours. Light-medium bodied, the wine is in fine balance with a crisp, lengthy aftertaste. With so few wines from the Okanagan finding their way here, you won’t want to miss this one. (Susan Desjardins)

88drink now
Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Brut Non-Vintage

New Zealand $21.95 (163634) 12.0% alcohol

Aromas of baking brioche and alluring floral notes open this zippy refreshing gem. The energetic mousse supports flavours of green apple, ripe white peach and slate. It’s nicely textured and finishes lengthy with ripe citrus, sweet notes of ripe pineapple and tree fruit. The sweet and tang on the lip-smacking finish offers the opportunity to pair with spicy appetizers or to sip on its own, either is equally delightful. (Vic Harradine)

91drink now Exceptional Value!
Giusti ‘Asolo’ Prosecco Superiore Brut Non-Vintage
DOCG Veneto $18.95 (422857) 11.5% alcohol
This was sourced from glera grapes from the heart of a top-notch Prosecco area on the southern slopes of the Montello hills. Aromas of orchard fruit—apples, pear and plum—spill from the glass of this flavourful, barely off-dry beauty. It dances over the palate with spritzy bubbles and flavours of ripe tropical fruit, finishing in a crisp refreshing blaze of lemon curd tang—it’s a thing of restrained beauty. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: White Wine

92drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes ‘Paul Bosc Estate’ Chardonnay 2013
VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake $24.95 (287268) 13.0% alcohol
This is medium-yellow hued with lovely aromas of caramel, baked apple and soft citrus notes. It bathes the palate with a creamy-smooth stream of medium-plus weight and delicious flavour—poached pear, crème brûlée and spiced apple mingling with notions of lemon pie filling and yellow plum. The finish is balanced on a pin and lengthy. (Vic Harradine)

92drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014

VQA Prince Edward County $28.95 (148866) 12.5% alcohol

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

93drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Flat Rock ‘Nadja’s Vineyard’ Riesling 2015
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment $24.95 (578625) 11.0% alcohol
Flinty/mineral notes, piquant spice and floral aromas give no warning of the explosion of off-dry flavour on the palate—lemon curd, lime cordial and green apple galore. This is medium weight with good mouthfeel and a lingering, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste that layers on ripe melon and peach to provide the yin and yang of sweet and tang. Pour with baked ham or Thai-style crab cakes. (Vic Harradine)

92drink now Oh Canada!
Foreign Affair Sauvignon Blanc 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $23.95 (307587) 13.9% alcohol
Savory herbs and sharp spice mingle with aromas of fresh-picked asparagus on the nose of this wonderful sauvignon blanc. The aromas replay on the palate with gusto and provide added pleasure with ripe melon and nectarine. Wonderful balancing acidity shows up on the long aftertaste as racy lemon curd. Give this a go with mussels steamed in white wine and garlic. (Vic Harradine)

91drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Riesling 2013

VQA Niagara Short Hills Bench $17.95 (557165) 11.0% alcohol

This showcases persistent purity of fruit, lifted aromas and tangy flavour with a lengthy mouth-watering finish. Highly aromatic on the nose, this dishes up aromas of mineral and petrol notes along with spice and racy citrus. A medium-weight, nicely textured river of tang-laden lemon-lime and piquant spice streams over the palate infusing the lengthy, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour with charcuterie or pan-seared trout or pickerel. (Vic Harradine)

88drink now Oh Canada!
Reif Estate ‘Reserve’ Gewurztraminer 2015
VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake $18.95 (360255) 13.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas of lychee nut, honeydew melon and piquant spice usher in a persistent stream of lemon zest, spice box and white grapefruit that streaks across the palate infusing the mid-length finish. There’s strident peach skin and grapefruit pith on the drying aftertaste. Give this a go with sushi or fish tacos. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

92drink or cellar
Havens ‘Carneros Napa Valley’ Chardonnay 2015
Carneros, Napa Valley $24.95 (454587) 14.5% alcohol
Baking spice and smoky/oaky aromas usher in a medium-full bodied, generously textured chardonnay of irresistible charm. A gorgeous rush of sweet-tinged fruit—peach, pear and apple—blanket the palate intertwined with caramel and citrus tang. The lingering, delectable finish and aftertaste come up flavourful with oodles of fruit and tang. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

90drink or cellar
Francis Ford Coppola ‘Diamond Collection’ Claret 2015
Sonoma County $29.95 (479055) 13.5% alcohol
This red blend—76% cabernet sauvignon/16% petit verdot/4% cabernet franc/4 % merlot—is smooth and mellow throughout with medium-plus body and good mouthfeel. Aromas of dark berry fruit, mint and smoky notes are harbingers of rich ripe flavours bathing the palate—black currant, juicy Bing cherry and ripe mulberry—interwoven with licorice, sweet vanilla and mocha. These delicious flavours replay on the lengthy finish. Pour alongside lamb tagine. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 Purple Cowboy ‘Trail Boss’ Cabernet Sauvignon is a ‘Wine of the Month’ selection; a brawny cab that will also tug at your heart strings. Part of the profits from the wine you purchase will go toward the winery fulfilling their pledge to donate $10 000 to the Oh Canada! Canadian Wellspring Nourish program. In fact, all monies raised in this Ontario initiative stay here to assist Ontarians. Wellspring offers free of charge services and community-based support centres that meet the emotional, social, practical and restorative needs of people living with cancer, and their caregivers. Purple Cowboy Wines self-proclaimed Boss Lady, Terry Wheatley, is a breast cancer survivor and awareness activist who has so far raised $24 million dollars for breast cancer research and awareness.

Lasso a bottle or two, saddle up and hit the trail for home. You’ll feel good about the purchase of this wine, as well as about yourself for contributing to this wonderful initiative.

91drink or cellar
Purple Cowboy ‘Trail Boss’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Paso Robles $24.95 (524223) 13.5% alcohol
A lifted, enchanting nose of dark berry fruit, baking spice and mocha precede a luscious gusher of sweet, ripe flavours with black, juicy cherry, bramble berry and black currant interweaving with mocha and baking spice. This is full bodied, full-flavoured with persistent purity of fruit and firmly structured from still-evolving tannin. You can wrangle the tannin down with a two-hour aeration/decant poured with well-seasoned, rare-grilled steak, or put the bottle(s) out to pasture until 2019. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Ridge ‘Lytton Springs’ is always highly anticipated—this vintage of Lytton Springs delivers in spades; And it’s always a zin-dominant blend—this is 70% zinfandel/15% carignan/12% petite sirah/3% alicante bouschet.

Ridge ‘Lytton Springs’ 2014
Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County $64.95 (982413) 14.5% alcohol.
Savory herbs, espresso roast and cocoa aromas leap from this full-bodied, fully fruited beauty that’s balanced, complex and structured with persistent purity of fruit. A rush of crunchy red fruit—pie cherry and pomegranate—interweave with ripe, sweeter black currant and kirsch liqueur to form a gorgeous partnership on the palate and finish. There’s also as dollop of ripe, but youthful tannin that’s best handled by popping corks 2020 to 2030, but can also be ameliorated by a three-hour aeration/decant.

Argentina: Red Wine

87drink now
Fincas Las Moras Paz Malbec 2014
San Juan, Cuyo $18.95 (520486) 14.4% alcohol
This wine is opaque plum in colour with vividly purple edges providing a dramatic appearance. You’ll find aromas of mint and blackberry jam on the nose. It’s very smooth on the palate with flavours of cherry and cassis underpinned by approachable tannins. The tannins fade on the finish leaving an impression of moderate acidity. Enjoy with sweet and sour spare ribs. (Dave Isaacs)

89drink or cellar
Kaiken ‘Ultra Leyenda’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Mendoza $19.95 (135202) 14.5% alcohol
An interesting array of aromas include floral notes, mocha and cherry/berry fruit. A rich, ripe gusher of bramble berry fruit flows over the palate decorated with dark chocolate, cinnamon and spice box flavours. This is very good value, medium-plus weight with satin-smooth mouthfeel and lengthy, structured finish and aftertaste. There are wisps of tannin easily handled with a two-hour aeration/decant. Pour with burgers or grilled gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following 2013 Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon was estate grown, hand harvested and cluster selected, fermented in stainless steel tank then matured 14 months in French and American oak barrel—lightly fined and filtered before bottling.

90drink or cellar
Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Maipú, Mendoza, Argentina $19.95 (128629) 14.1% alcohol
Well paced, well priced and well… delicious. Dark berry fruit, mocha and baking spice introduce a balanced, fruity river of black plum, dark cherry and bramble berry interlaced with mint and ripe, somewhat chalky, tannin. It’s medium-plus weight with smooth mouthfeel, persistent purity of fruit and oodles of charm. Pours well on its own or paired with grilled burgers or steak. Drinking now and on to 2022. (Vic Harradine)

88drink or cellar
Zuccardi ‘Q’ Malbec 2015
Uco Valley, Mendoza $19.95 (723458) 13.9% alcohol
Black licorice, dark berry fruit and tea leaf aromas dominate the nose of this savory-infused, tannin underpinned malbec. It rolls over the palate in waves with ripe dark cherry and bramble berry flavours adorned with tar and grilled savory herbs. It finishes lengthy with a drying aftertaste. Aerate/decant a couple of hours pouring with well-seasoned, grilled red meat.

Australia: Red Wine

d’Arenberg ‘The Dead Arm’ Shiraz 2013

McLaren Vale $54.95 (430512) 14.6% alcohol

Rich and complex, dense and fruit-laden, this opens with lifted aromas of grilled savory herbs, earthy/gamy notes and red and black cherry/berry galore. It’s fully-fruited, full-bodied, fully textured and full of elegance and charm. A palate-coating surge of flavour showcases dark plum, ripe mulberry and wisps of cassis adorned with sweet vanilla, black licorice and notes of minerality and gamy bits overshadowed by a firm tannin underpinning and framed by excellent tang. Twist tops 2019 to 2026 after careful cellaring. (Vic Harradine)

90drink or cellar
Fowles ‘Stone Dwellers’ Shiraz 2015
Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria $19.95 (265967) 14.7% alcohol
This Victoria shiraz seldom disappoints and this vintage is no exception. Exotic spice, floral notes and berry fruit provide segue to a racy tang-laden river of pie cherry that melds beautifully with kirsch liqueur and black plum compote embellished with sprigs of savory herbs. This is well paced, well priced with good weight, complexity and texture. It finishes balanced and mouth-watering good. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar
Mollydooker ‘The Maitre D’’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
McLaren Vale, South Australia $33.95 (246629) 15.5% alcohol
A complex nose of earthy notes, berry fruit, mocha and savory herb aromas abound before unleashing a luscious, creamy-smooth river of ripe, black, juicy fruit—cherry, currant and plum—accompanied by sweet vanilla and black licorice on the palate. It finishes with more of the same on the aftertaste. Pour on its own or with grilled rack of Australian lamb. (Vic Harradine)

90drink or cellar
Small Gully Wines ‘Mr. Black’s Concoction – GSM’ 2015
Australia $24.95 (520775) 15.5% alcohol
A rich nose of exotic incense, campfire smoke and savory herbs is harbinger to a sweet, ripe flow of maraschino cherry, kirsch liqueur and spice-infused boysenberry jam. It’s 50% Grenache/43% Shiraz/7% Mataro, aka Mourvèdre, blend with good mouthfeel, medium-full body and lengthy, fully fruited finish and aftertaste—for the hedonist in you. (Vic Harradine)

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
The Lackey Shiraz 2016
Australia $17.95 (5199) 14.5% alcohol
Mocha, mulberry and ripe black plum aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of palate flavours that coat the palate with gusto—black currant, juicy black cherry, dark chocolate, peppery spice and a boatload of charm. It’s full bodied and generously textured with lengthy finish of dark berry fruit, mocha and sweet vanilla. Pour with grilled back ribs slathered in spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

88drink now
Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough, South Island $19.95 (919514) 13.0% alcohol
Savory herbs, canned peas and asparagus aromas bombard the olfactory system. A bracing, laser-like stream of intense flavours streak across the palate with great élan—racy, tang-laden lemon, piquant spice and sharp notes of minerality. This is mid weight with a lingering, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour with freshly shucked oysters under a dot of hot sauce, horse radish and a squeeze of fresh lemon, or pair with sushi. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Hugel ‘Gentil’ 2015
AOC Alsace $17.95 (367284) 13.0% alcohol
Floral, spice and citrus aromas set the stage for a delightful array of flavours that wash over the palate in a gorgeous, creamy smooth, slightly oily, slightly off-dry wash of lime cordial, white nectarine, ripe pear, rosewater and lemon curd. This has good weight and texture with a balanced and beautiful, dry finish and aftertaste. Versatile at the table, pour with oven-baked or pan-seared fish or seafood, or pork, chicken or veal. (Vic Harradine)

92drink or cellar
Marie-Pierre Manciat ‘Les Petites Bruyères’ Pouilly-Fuissé 2016
AOC Pouilly-Fuissé $32.95 (374553) 13.0% alcohol
Intriguing aromas of exotic spice, floral notes and tropical fruit fill the air. This is medium-bodied with good texture. An irresistible surge of lime zest, ripe pit fruit and racy tang coat the palate persisting through the crisp, lip-smacking finish. It’s pricey, classy and quite impressive. Pour with a generous helping of crumbled chèvre over an olive-oil-dressed mesclun salad. (Vic Harradine)

89drink now
William Fèvre Champs Royaux Chablis 2015

AOC Chablis $24.95 (461640) 12.5% alcohol

This is a very pleasant, nicely balanced Chablis that’s pale-gold hued with aromas of chalk, green apple and a slight hint of clover. It’s medium bodied on the palate with flavours of green apple and lemon that fade to a crispy, fruit-filled finish. Serve with white fish baked with olives and herbs de Provence. (Dave Isaacs)

90drink now Exceptional Value!
Henri Bourgeois ‘Petit Bourgeois’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
IGP Vin de Pays de Val de Loire $15.95 (672345) 12.5% alcohol
There are smoky notes, piquant spice and savory herbs galore on this complex, fine-tuned sauvignon blanc. Palate flavours line up with green savory herbs up first then white grapefruit tang with Key lime and oodles of strident flinty/minerality on the back palate, finish and aftertaste. Pour with oven-baked or pan-seared fish under a squish of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar
Jean-Luc Colombo ‘Les Collines de Laure’ 2015
IGP Méditerranée $19.95 (512533) 13.0% alcohol
The predominant grape in this white blend is Rolle—better known as Vermentino. It opens with subdued aromas of savory local herbs, citrus and floral notes. There’s quite a bundle of balanced and beautiful flavours that bathe palate with green fruit—apple, pear and racy lime—intertwined with nectarine and mineral notes. It finishes dry, crisp and mouth-watering good. Give this a go with lemon sole or pan-seared tilapia. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

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Gérard Bertrand Saint Chinian Syrah/Mourvèdre 2011

AOC Saint Chinian $17.95 (370247) 14.0% alcohol
This macerated one full month before full malolactic conversion with one-third matured in oak barrel and the balance in vats. Lively lifted aromas of piquant spice, red berry fruit and wisps of black plum abound. A balanced wash of ripe red fruit—cherry currant and racy cranberry—interweave with savory herbs, grainy tang, and light tannin on the palate, infusing the dry, mouth-watering aftertaste. Drink now alongside pasta puttanesca. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 Famille Perrin ‘Les Cornuds’ Vinsobres is a 50/50 Grenache/Syrah blend brought to you by the iconic Perrin family, producers of the ultra-premium Château de Beaucastel—reviewed earlier in this newsletter. The Perrin family name on a wine label, gives one a sense of confidence regarding the quality of the contents inside the bottle.

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Famille Perrin ‘Les Cornuds’ Vinsobres 2015
AOC Vinsobres $17.95 (566844) 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of red and dark berry fruit mingle with peppery spice and hints of mocha. A lovely wash of racy red currant and cranberry interweave with ripe black currant decorated with peppery notes and grilled savory herbs. This is mid-weight with good mouthfeel and perceptible, youthful tannin on the finish and aftertaste. Aerate/decant a couple of hours or tuck away until 2019—proper cellaring will be handsomely rewarded. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

• The following 2016 Banfi ‘Principessa Gavia Gavi’ is sourced from a single vineyard of the Cortese grape that’s indigenous to Italy grown in Piedmont for centuries.

90drink now
Banfi ‘Principessa Gavia’ Gavi 2016
DOCG Gavi $19.95 (250696) 12.5% alcohol
This un-oaked Cortese offers up a quiet nose of floral and citrus aromas before bathing the palate with a balanced, delicious flow of sweet-tinged fruit—peach and pear—that are juxtaposed with a tangy line of lemon zest and mineral notes. This is light on its feet with deft balance, persistent fruit flavours and a tang-laden, crisp dry finish. The locals have been drinking this with fish and seafood for generations—no arguments from me. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

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Tedeschi ‘Capitel Nicalo’ 2015

IGT Rosso delle Venezie $17.95 (984997) 13.5% alcohol

This will certainly cause a stir at backyard gatherings given the full-fruit flavour and attractive price point. Aromas and sweet flavours—ripe black plum and sweet briary berry—intertwine with dark chocolate and sweet vanilla on the palate persisting through the lengthy finish and aftertaste. This could pair with chocolate dessert or grilled pork bellies with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

89drink or cellar
Ardal ‘Reserva’ 2006 

DO Ribera del Duero $21.95 (167700) 14.5% alcohol 

Black licorice, dried, dark berries and leather aromas herald a full-bodied, fully flavoured stream of flavours—cassis, espresso roast and dark chocolate-dipped black cherries to the fore. It’s medium-weight with good mouth feel, balance and plenty of charm. It’s well structured and has the oomph, from a ripe tannin underpinning, to pair well with osso bucco or rare-grilled strip loin. (Vic Harradine)

• Here’s another excellent Wine of the Month selection, the 2012 Hacienda Valvarés that’s also an exceptional-value wine. Don’t be shy, pick up a few for delightful drinking over the next five or six years.

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Hacienda Valvarés 2012
DOCa Rioja $18.95 (423509) 14.5% alcohol
Lifted aromas of exotic spice and toasty/smoky notes unfurl from this well-oaked Tempranillo—12 months in new French oak barrel then a further 6 months maturing in huge, seasoned, French oak vats. It’s sweet-tinged on the palate with a dazzling array of flavours—kirsch liqueur and sweet, ripe bramble berry plus tang-laden red cherry, baking spice, espresso roast and smoky notes. It’s medium-full bodied with a lingering finish decorated with sweet vanilla. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release date: November 25, 2017

• The following 2015 Gérard Bertrand ‘Thomas Jefferson’ Brut Sparkling Wine is produced méthode traditionnelle from a blend of grapes—chardonnay, chenin blanc, mauzac, pinot noir. It’s named to recognize this early US president’s love for the sparkling wines from Limoux. This area was first mentioned as producing sparkling wine in the 1531 records kept by the Benedictine monks of the abbey of Saint Hilaire, just south of Carcassonne and they make claim to being the first producer of sparkling wine made in volume in France. The reasoning behind the ‘in volume’ is that sparkling wine can and does occur naturally under certain conditions.

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Gérard Bertrand ‘Thomas Jefferson’ Brut Sparkling Wine 2015
AOP Crémant de Limoux Blanc $19.95 (438838) 12.5% alcohol
The price-quality balance tips well in your favour here. Honeysuckle and melon aromas abound on the nose of this clean and refreshing sparkling wine. This offers up a lively mousse when poured and a persistent stream of fine-bead bubbles in the glass. It strides over the palate with Granny Smith apple, lemon pie filling and notions of white grapefruit finishing with a crisp, lengthy aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

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Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2014
Oregon $52.95 (961284) 14.1% alcohol
With savory herb, red cherry, black plum and floral aromas on the nose, this unfurls on the palate with fanfare and persistent purity of fruit. Black currant, black plum and cassis flavours caress the palate embellished with spice, pepper and soft herbs. It’s medium bodied with good mouthfeel and dry, fruity finish and aftertaste. This is elegant and charming with a decade or more of wonderful life ahead. (Vic Harradine)

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Fess Parker ‘Bien Nacido Vineyard’ 2014
Santa Maria Valley, California $64.95 (209858) 14.1% alcohol
Piquant spice, strident savory herbs and beetroot aromas introduce a sweet-tinged, medium bodied, nicely textured stream of red currant and pomegranate intertwined with savory herbs, earthy notes and grainy, ripe tannin blanketing the palate persisting through the dry fruit-filled finish. Aerate/decant two hours before pouring with chicken tagine. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages

• Highly respected producer Domaine Drouhin from Burgundy, France, further expanded their interest in the NW Pacific Coast of the US as an ideal location for Pinot Noir through establishment of Cloudline Cellars, makers of the following 2015 Cloudline Cellars Pinot Noir. Their first foray introduced the highly sought-after Domaine Drouhin Oregon pinot noir in the Dundee Hills in 1988 – the 2014 vintage is reviewed in this newsletter. Veronique Drouhin-Boss oversees winemaking in Burgundy and in Oregon.

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Cloudline Cellars Pinot Noir 2015
Willamette Valley, Oregon $28.95 (159970) 13.5% alcohol
This Willamette pinot fulfills its mandate to be in a crowd-friendly, drink-me-now style showcasing prominent fruit flavours with complexity. Aromas of red berry fruit, spice cake and earthy notes unleash a mid-weight, smooth-textured stream of crunchy red cherry, spice-infused black berry decorated with delightful tang; it blankets the palate and infuses the lengthy, balanced finish. This pours well on its own or paired with roast chicken, turkey or pork. (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.

Red Wine

91drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Mission Hill ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Okanagan Valley $30.95 (553321) 14.5% alcohol
A lovely nose of savory herbs, wisps of smoke and vanilla introduce this gem. A luscious mouthful of dark black cherry and bramble berry blankets the palate drenched in excellent tang underpinned by ripe, fine-grained tannin as well as fruit replays on the finish. There’s good purity of fruit, complexity and deft balance throughout. Certainly a wine one can enjoy thoroughly on its own after a one or two-hour aeration/decant, it would also be a divine dance partner served with medium-rare grilled, well-seasoned striploin. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Esporão ‘Reserva’ Red Blend was sourced from hand-picked, estate-grown fruit sourced from Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Each variety was vinified separately, fermented in stainless steel tank with malolactic conversion, manual pump-overs and robotic plunging before maturing 12 months in 60% American, 40% French oak and further 8 months settling in bottle before release.

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Esporão ‘Reserva’ Red Blend 2014
DOC Alentejo, Portugal $25.95 (606590) 14.5% alcohol
Lifted aromas of grilled herbs and dark berry fruit precede a rush of red and black fruit coating the palate expressed as ripe black briary berry, red cherry and wisps of blueberry. This is medium-plus bodied with good balance and plenty of lively tang on the lengthy, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside hearty stew, grilled steak or beef fajitas. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 Concha y Toro ‘Winemaker’s Lot 148’ Carmenère is made exclusively for export to Canada and is on a limited-time discount of $2.00 from now until November 5, 2017 retailing @ $15.95 until then.

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Concha y Toro ‘Winemaker’s Lot 148’ Carmenère 2015
Rapel Valley, Chile $17.95 (30957) 14.0% alcohol
This is good value and it’s rich, ripe and rarin’ to go now. A beautifully balanced river of juicy black Bing cherry and black plum interweave with racy pomegranate and herbal notes on the creamy smooth palate along with mixed spice and mocha. It’s a bit funky on the nose with some bell pepper and strong herbal notes, but that melts away and you’re left with a creamy-smooth, hedonistic offering. It pours and pairs well with burgers, red pizza or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

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Stags’ Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Napa Valley, California $55.95 (996405) 14.1% alcohol
This offers good balance on the palate, flavourful fruit and a drying, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Aromas of dark berry fruit, tarry notes and grilled savory herbs provide segue for a full-bodied, generously textured flow of black berry, sweet vanilla and racy red currant washing over the palate infusing the dry finish and aftertaste along with reverberating tang. (Vic Harradine)

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Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Paso Robles, California $22.95 (738823) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of savory herbs and peppery spice mingle with red and black cherry/berry fruit on the nose of this nicely textured, mid-plus weight cabernet. It rolls over the palate with a hedonistic personality showcasing black raspberry jam, sweet vanilla and toasty/oaky notes along with nicely integrated tannin for structure. Pour with grilled steak, barbequed ribs or burgers. (Vic Harradine)

New in Okanagan Valley, British Columbia Wineries

• Order the following wine, along with others previously reviewed in winecurrent, to be shipped to your home or office in most provinces, including Ontario, via this link - Culmina Family Estate Winery.

• Fruit for the following 2015 Culmina Family Estate Winery ‘Dilemma’ Chardonnay was sourced from four-year-old, estate vines grown on Margaret’s Bench. Forty percent of the wine underwent malolactic conversion. All wine was then matured—35% in new French oak barrel, 35% in used and 30% in stainless steel for 9 months before bottling.

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Culmina Family Estate Winery ‘Dilemma’ Chardonnay 2015
VQA Okanagan Valley $34.00 14.0% alcohol
Alluring aromas of burnt butter, baked apple and nutty notes abound on the nose of this full-bodied, generously textured chardonnay. This showcases excellent tang and noticeable minerality. It streaks over the palate with a bracing line of tangy acidity carried on flavours of racy white grapefruit, crisp Granny Smith apple and high-toned, saline/minerality. These replay on the monumentally long finish and aftertaste joined by piquant spice and pleasing wisps of oak. Pour alongside cedar-planked, grilled salmon topped with lemon slices, dill and garlic. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic