November 20, 2017 Newsletter

Fine Wine Tasting

The Vine AgencyThe Vine Agency invited winecurrent to attend a carefully curated collection of wines via the LCBOs Consignment program with many presented that are not available at LCBO retail stores. Louise, Lisa and Vic attended and you can read their reviews and purchase wine by the case, with nearly half the bottles under thirty dollars, a few under twenty. There’s a listing of thirty-odd wines—6 are exceptional value and 6 are 95 points and over—found at the very end of the newsletter. Like dessert, we saved something sweet for last.

Newsletter Highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine  Exceptional Value! – 6 of 90 wines currently available at LCBO retail meet the strict quality-price guidelines. They’re found throughout the newsletter easily identified via the exceptional-value checkmark above. Strict guidelines? Click here.
  • 95 and over – 3 wines available at LCBO retail scored 95 and more points: Kistler ‘Sonoma Mountain’ Chardonnay 2015 @ $107.95 and Caymus ‘Special Selection’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 @ $199.95 both found under Feature: California Dreaming; Wakefield Wines ‘Jaraman’ Shiraz 2015 @ $24.95 under Australia: Red Wine.
  • Vic Picks – La Crema ‘Russian River’ Pinot Noir 2014 earned 94 points at $45.95 found under Feature: California Dreaming; Manifesto Wine Cellars Zinfandel 2015 earned 93 points at $19.95 found under California: Red Wine; d’Arenberg ‘The Hermit Crab’ Viognier – Marsanne 2016 earned 90 points @ $17.95 under Australia: White Wine; Remo Farina Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2013 earned 91 points @ $39.95 found under Italy: 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 25, 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 upcoming December 9 release… c’est la vie.

NEW ONLINE ORDERING – The following wines in the ‘California Dreaming’ feature are also available for ordering online starting 9:00 am Saturday, November 25, 2017 by using the bracketed numbered link provided in each review that will take you to this product on the LCBO site. Most wines are also available in many medium-sized and most large LCBO retail outlets.

Feature: California Dreaming

90drink now
Rodney Strong ‘Russian River Valley - Reserve’ Chardonnay 2014
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County $49.95 (210039) 14.5% alcohol
This opens with lifted aromas of oak and wisps of smoke and toast. It washes over the palate medium bodied with poached pear and baked apple flavours infused with excellent and persistent acidity delivered by racy lemon tang along with hints of toasty oak. Replays reverberate on the lengthy finish, crisp and refreshing. Pour with smoked turkey and all the fixings.

• I have it on good authority wine improves with age, “No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new”, for he saith, “The old is better” (Luke: 5:39)—sourced courtesy of Grgich website.
94drink or cellar
Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2013

Napa Valley $67.95 (346304) 14.1% alcohol

Chardonnays of this ilk are built to last and, like many reds, need time in bottle to come together and develop cohesiveness, complexity, depth of flavour and integrate the oak. Baking spice and oaky notes on the nose, this delivers overt flavours of ripe pear, apple and oak along with tang-laden citrus on the palate and finish. It’s full bodied with generous mouthfeel and will reward patience, pop corks 2020 and beyond. (Vic Harradine)

95drink or cellar
Kistler ‘Sonoma Mountain’ Chardonnay 2015
Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County $107.95 (183921) 14.1% alcohol
This exudes gorgeous flavour, persistent purity of fruit, deft balance and delightful complexity. Aromas of toasty notes, tropical fruit, ripe apricot and citrus abound. It delivers the total package coating the palate with a persistent stream of tang-infused ambrosia dishing up apple, pear and melon along with racy lemon curd and wisps of minerality and well-integrated oak. It’s full bodied and fully textured—underwent full malolactic conversion—along with creamy, dreamy mouthfeel and a crisp, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. What a special gift for the wine lover on your list. (Vic Harradine)

93drink or cellar
Far Niente Chardonnay 2015
Napa Valley $108.95 (539130) 14.3% alcohol
Oak and smoke dominate the aromas of this iconic chardonnay interwoven with honeydew melon and tropical fruit. A nicely paced stream of ripe apple and pear flavours interlace with lemon curd and lemon zest on the palate, but more restrained and charming than in your face. This is full bodied and well textured with a charming finish and aftertaste laced with excellent tang and ripe orchard fruit—pear, apple and yellow plum along with lemon drop candy. (Vic Harradine)

92drink or cellar
Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Napa Valley $184.95 (936039) 14.4% alcohol
Enticing aromas of baking spice, wild herbs, cedar, tobacco leaf and cassis provide segue for a full-fruited swath of black currant and boysenberry blanketing the palate adorned with grilled savory herbs, sweet vanilla and baking spice. It’s full bodied and fully textured with a lengthy balanced finish of this delectable blend—80% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot, 7% cabernet franc, 3% petit verdot. Drinking now through 2035—there’s enough ripe tannin on the finish to warrant a three-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

92drink or cellar
The Hess Collection ‘19 Block Mountain Cuvée’ 2013
Mount Veeder/Napa Valley $54.95 (18879) 14.5% alcohol
An involved nose of exotic spice, graphite, tar and black licorice aromas intertwine with dark bramble berry fruit. A full bodied, nicely structured wash of balanced and beautiful flavour caress the palate with black currant and cassis adorned with sweet vanilla, baking spice and fine-grained soft tannin. Good to go now and on to 2024—enjoyment is enhanced by a two-hour, aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

Stags’ Leap Estate ‘The Leap’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley $99.95 (142844) 14.1% alcohol
An irresistible nose of floral notes, exotic incense and black, briary berry fruit aromas leap from the glass. On the palate, ripe, sweet fruit—black currant and black plum—mingle with savory herbs, toasty oak and spice before meeting up with still-evolving tannin on the finish and aftertaste. This is medium-plus bodied with good weight and plenty of life ahead. Pull from the cellar 2020 to 2025 serving with well-seasoned, rare-grilled striploin. (Vic Harradine)

92drink or cellar
J. Lohr ‘Carol’s Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

St. Helena, Napa Valley $62.95 (246918) 14.9% alcohol

This rich and complex California cab wafts from the glass with alluring aromas of dark berry fruit, savory herbs, spice and dark coffee. This is medium-plus weight and nicely textured with full-bore fruit. There’s bramble berry, sweet, ripe mulberry and dark, juicy cherry galore—entwined with good moderating tang and acidity along with wisps of dark chocolate and sweet vanilla—it rested 12 months in oak, 25% new. It finishes well balanced, lengthy and full of flavour. (Vic Harradine)

95drink or cellar
Caymus ‘Special Selection’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Napa Valley $199.95 (711663) 14.0% alcohol
Very dark, almost opaque, aromas of raspberry jam, spice and wisps of blueberry fill the air and lead to an array of flavour bringing unbridled enjoyment. A full-bodied, generously textured stream of black raspberry and juicy, dark Bing cherry interwoven with dark chocolate, kirsch liqueur, elegance and charm coat the palate persisting through the lingering, balanced finish. Aerate/decant three hours for maximum enjoyment. (Vic Harradine)

88drink or cellar
Duckhorn Merlot 2014
Napa Valley $64.95 (992529) 14.5% alcohol
This is smooth, mellow, fruit forward and balanced. Aromas of espresso roast spice and berry fruit introduce a medium-bodied, creamy-smooth flow of dark berry fruit and spice. The abbreviated finish and aftertaste is quite lean and showcases baking spice and notions of dark cherry. Give this a go with lighter-styled mains. (Vic Harradine)

94drink or cellar
La Crema ‘Russian River’ Pinot Noir 2014
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County $45.95 (906404) 14.5% alcohol
This mid-full bodied, well-textured pinot boasts piquant spice, über-savory herbs plus good purity of fruit, balance, complexity and charm. Flavours from ripe, red, tang-laden fruit—red currant, pie cherry and boysenberry jelly—meld into a harmonious wash of delectable, piquant-spice-infused ambrosia. The lengthy finish and aftertaste is adorned with mocha, baking spice and black, juicy cherry. This ‘Goldilocks’ gem, is ‘just right’ for all pinot lovers. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar
Fess Parker ‘Bien Nacido Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 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)

The Main Release


92drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes Riesling Icewine 2014
VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula $67.00 375 mL (413724) 9.5% alcohol
As one would expect from one of Niagara’s most respected, most admired wineries, this is quite special. It’s lusciously sweet with enough racy tang to provide balance, restraint and elegance. Aromas of ripe orchard fruit—apple, floral notes, pear and honey—introduce a delightful wash of ripe, sweet palate flavours—Bosc pear and red apple complemented by honey, mineral notes and racy lemon tang on the lengthy finish and aftertaste. It pours well with blue cheese or chèvre on a salted cracker. (Vic Harradine)

90drink now Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2016

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $25.95 200ml (565861) 9.5% alcohol
This is the perfect after-dinner treat on its own or with dessert and … it’s the ideal size for two or three people to enjoy. Aromas and flavours of mango-infused treacle, candied-peel marmalade and racy lemon curd interweave on the nose, palate and delectable finish and aftertaste—this is absolutely delicious. It’s also the perfect hostess gift presented in an attractive box. (Vic Harradine)

93drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham Cabernet Icewine 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $39.95 200 mL (672402) 10.5% alcohol
You’ll find plenty to like in this estate-grown, cabernet franc icewine, especially the delicious flavours and deft balance. Aromas of spice-infused strawberry and raspberry abound before unleashing an unctuous river of palate-bathing flavour with strawberry/rhubarb pie and candied cherry to the fore. It cleans up on the finish and aftertaste laced with tangy blood orange and racy pie cherry. Pour with fruit and dark chocolate flan. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

85drink now Oh Canada!
Contraband Sparkling Rosé 2015

VQA Ontario $20.95 (449728) 12.5% alcohol

Bright strawberry and cherry aromas precede a dry, palate-bathing streak of red currant and passionfruit mingling on the back palate with sweet, ripe mulberry and cherry flavours. It finishes fruity and almost off-dry on the aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

89drink now Oh Canada!
Featherstone ‘Cuvée Joy’ Sparkling Rosé 2015

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $29.95 (450700) 12.5% alcohol

Salmon-pink in colour, this lively sparkling was made in the traditional method with 100% Pinot Noir grapes. Aromas of strawberry, cranberry and grapefruit with a hint of summer flowers lift from the glass. Light bodied and off-dry, it’s juicy and vibrant with sweet, red berry flavours supported by tangy citrus through the mid-length, mouth-watering finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

94drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Cuvée Catharine – Carte Blanche - Estate - Blanc de Blanc’ 2012

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

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

93drink now Oh Canada!
Peller Estates ‘Ice Cuvée’ Rosé Non-Vintage

VQA Niagara Peninsula $35.35 (113035) 12.0% alcohol

A lovely salmon pink, this versatile sparkler combines Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as the base wine with a dash of icewine. It displays sweet, almost honeyed, red berry fruit on the nose. Just off-dry due to dosage with Cabernet Franc and Vidal icewine, it has a fine, light mousse and replays the lively berry flavours on the palate—think of sun-kissed, field-ripe strawberries and juicy, ripe currant. It’s refreshing with a hint of sweetness that lingers on the finish. This is bound to be a crowd-pleaser. (Susan Desjardins)

93drink or cellar
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs Non-Vintage

Carneros $28.75 (223792) 12.5% alcohol

Produced from 100% Chardonnay, this is a classic, delivering lovely aromas of brioche, citrus and orchard fruit. Dry, mid-weight, the vibrant acidity and finely-wrought creamy mousse accent the flavours of citrus, green apple and pear. Showing good length in the clean, slightly pithy finish, it’s just delightful. (Susan Desjardins)

• 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.

90drink now
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)

92drink now
Domaine Louis Bouillot ‘Perle d’Aurore’ Brut Rosé Non-Vintage

AOC Crémant de Bourgogne $21.95 (48793) 12.0% alcohol

Pale-salmon hued, this is absolutely delightful—a medium-bodied sparkler that’s fruity and dry. From subtle aromas of summer berries, spice and brioche through to the delicate creamy mousse that refreshes the palate, it offers light, red berry flavours and a lengthy mouth-watering finish. Great value, enjoy it whiling away an afternoon or with smoked salmon. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: White Wine

94drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Cave Spring ‘CSV’ Riesling 2015

VQA Beamsville Bench $29.95 (566026) 11.5% alcohol

Fruit sourced from the low-yielding, +30-year-old vines was used to produce this well-crafted riesling displaying wonderful balance. High-toned aromas of lemon peel, white grapefruit and honeysuckle on the nose segue to crisp green apple, tangy citrus and a lasting mineral finish on the palate. Medium-light-bodied, it’s off-dry with a streak of racy acidity providing balance. Enjoy with spicy tuna tartare. (Lisa Isabelle)

93drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Charles Baker ‘Picone Vineyard’ Riesling 2014
VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment $35.20 (241182) 10.5% alcohol
Perennially one of Ontario’s finest rieslings, this leaps from the glass with heady aromas of savory herbs, piquant spice and minerality. A tang-laden line of flavour streaks over the palate showcasing flavours of green apple, lemon zest and lime cordial intertwined with adornments of mineral notes and pear. This is medium bodied, lightly textured with a dry, mouth-watering aftertaste. Pour with soft, creamy cheese—Camembert or Brie. (Vic Harradine)

92drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2016
VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment $19.95 (268342) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of mixed spice, tropical fruit and oaky notes waft easily from this medium-plus bodied, well-textured chardonnay. Oak-tinged flavours of green apple, peach and yellow nectarine coat the palate infusing and persisting through the finish and aftertaste robed in smoky notes and notions of hazelnuts. Better to pop corks 2020 to 2028. If you can’t wait, pour after a three-hour aeration/decant alongside smoked and slow-cooked pork. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse ‘Laundry Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc 2013

VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $34.95 (130997) 13.5% alcohol

Graphite, earthy notes, savory herbs and black currant aromas abound. A medium-plus bodied, generously textured swath of juicy bramble berry, tang-laden pie cherry, savory herbs and mixed spice blankets the palate replaying on finish and aftertaste infused with still-evolving tannin. If need be, aerate/decant a few hours before pouring with well-seasoned, grilled, medium-rare premium beef or perhaps pop corks 2019 and beyond. (Vic Harradine)

89drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tzafona Cellars Cold Climate Unoaked Chardonnay KP 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula $22.95 (485276) 13.0% alcohol

This stylish Chardonnay is part of the lineup of Kosher for Passover Certified wines produced by Tzafona Cellars. It's golden yellow with notes of green apple on the nose. It's crisp on the palate with hints of lime and apple and a long citrus finish. Enjoy with lemon-poached chicken breast. (Dave Isaacs)

Ontario: Red Wine

• The following 2014 Domaine Queylus ‘Tradition’ Pinot Noir was fashioned by Thomas Bachelder, a winemaker of high repute not only in Niagara, but internationally.

89drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Domaine Queylus ‘Tradition’ Pinot Noir 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95 (392738) 13.0% alcohol
This light-ruby hued pinot features inviting aromas of racy red fruit, firm structure and a lengthy, dry, lip-smacking finish. Aromas of red cherry/berry fruit interlace with notions of cedar and forest floor before dancing across the palate with flavours of tang-laden red currant and pie cherry, savory herbs and plenty of nerve and verve. This is coming around and another couple of years in bottle will soften tannins and reward careful cellaring. Pour with prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

94drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Stratus Red 2013
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $48.20 (131017) 13.5% alcohol
Rich aromas of dark berry fruit, spice and sandalwood provide segue for a luscious array of alluring flavours. Dark bramble berry fruit and baking spice decorated with grilled savory herbs, gamy notes and peppery spice caress the palate and infuse the finish—creamy smooth, complex and generously textured. This is full bodied with surprisingly soft tannin and a profile of drink-me-now and over the next six years. It’s simply delicious. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

90drink or cellar
Folie à Deux Zinfandel 2013
Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County $27.95 (147231) 14.9% alcohol
Lifted aromas of sharp spice, dark chocolate and bramble berry fruit command attention on the nose. On the palate a medium-full bodied, nicely textured wash of kirsch liqueur and blackberry fruit intertwine with sharp spice and cherry pie filling, sweet and rich. It’s medium-full bodied with generous texture and a dollop of grainy tannin on the finish an aftertaste. Aerate/decant two hours and serve with grilled ribs dusted and rubbed with your favourite spices and herbs. (Vic Harradine)

93drink or cellar
Manifesto Wine Cellars Zinfandel 2015

Lodi, California $19.95 (472472) 13.8% alcohol

Mixed spice, chocolate and wisps of red licorice aromas waft easily from this medium-full bodied, generously textured, fruit-filled Zin. It envelops the palate with sweet fruit—cherry and raspberry—decorated with cherry cordial nicely balanced with delectable tang from racy passionfruit flavour. It’s value-packed and finishes with replays and plenty of charm. You’ll find plenty of takers when served with grilled meat, especially ribs mopped with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Oregon: Red Wine

93drink or cellar
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)

Argentina: Red Wine

92drink or cellar
Callejón del Crimen ‘Gran Reserva’ Malbec 2014
Uco Valley, Mendoza $23.95 (257467) 14.8% alcohol
This is oozing with sweet, ripe fruit flavour, has good depth and complexity, generous mouthfeel and weight. Floral notes, spice and espresso roast aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of palate flavours with sweet, ripe bramble berry jam and black plum compote to the fore adorned with toasty notes and spice. It’s firm on the finish with the soft tannins easily ameliorated with a three-hour aeration/decant before serving with grilled back ribs mopped with spicy barbeque sauce. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar
Viña Cobos ‘Felino’ Malbec 2015

Mendoza $19.95 (118067) 14.5% alcohol

This is deftly balanced with excellent tang harmoniously intertwined with opulent fruit flavour on the palate and persistent purity of fruit throughout—black currant and black Bing cherry mingling with sweet vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and wisps of espresso roast. It’s medium-full bodied with generous mouthfeel and an outstanding lengthy finish and aftertaste—each sip’s as good or better than the previous. (Vic Harradine)

89drink or cellar
Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Mendoza $19.95 (140855) 15.4% alcohol

Piquant spice and vanilla aromas introduce a fruit-forward, hi-octane—15.4% abv—burst of sweet, ripe fruit flavour—raspberry jam, kirsch liqueur and cherry clafoutie entwined with sweet vanilla and just enough tangy acidity to provide an enjoyable finish and aftertaste. It’s medium-full weight with velvety texture and whiffs of spice and chocolate on the aftertaste. Pour with grilled back ribs mopped with hot, spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
d’Arenberg ‘The Hermit Crab’ Viognier – Marsanne 2016

McLaren Vale $17.95 (662775) 13.3% alcohol

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

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Robert Oatley ‘Signature Series’ Chardonnay 2016
Margaret River, Western Australia $18.95 (350900) 12.5% alcohol
Powerful aromas of toasty oak and spice on the nose precede a balanced and beautiful flow of sweet-tinged Golden Delicious apple, ripe pear and Mirabelle plum nicely juxtaposed with a glorious rush of racy lemon acidity on the back palate and persisting through the long finish—clean, crisp and refreshing. This is medium-full bodied with good texture and delivers a price-quality balance tipped wildly in your favour. Pour with roast bird and all the extras. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

• The following 2014 Howard Park ‘Miamup’ Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the idyllic wine region of Margaret River where an early-1970s visitor was taken aback with the potential. At that time it was fledgling wine area, yet the visitor proclaimed himself a champion of the region, especially for chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, pinot noir. The name of that prescient early champion… Robert Mondavi.

91drink or cellar
Howard Park ‘Miamup’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Margaret River, Western Australia $22.95 (410019) 14.5% alcohol
This is a balanced-on-a-pin cabernet sauvignon that’s dark, brooding, opaque in the glass. Aromas of dark berry fruit, pipe tobacco and grilled savory herbs abound on the nose. It blankets the palate with blackberry fruit and ripe mulberry adorned with peppery spice and mocha. This is medium-plus weight with good mouthfeel and a lengthy finish with plenty of pizzazz, oodles of tang and hints of soft, fine-grained tannin—easily ameliorated with a two-hour aeration/decant. Pour with grilled rack of lamb and roasted root veggies. (Vic Harradine)

• The following ‘Jaraman’ Shiraz and its label have quite a story to tell. You may have noticed the three tiny Seahorses on Wakefield wine labels. Shortly after the Taylor family purchased their Clare Valley property they dug a dam uncovering tiny shells of Seahorses. In geological terms that indicates a former salt-water body of water (true Seahorses live only in salt, or brackish water) and this would lead one to believe there’s also limestone base. There was and still is, and it and the terra rossa topsoil contribute to the high quality of this and all Wakefield Clare wines. Jaraman translates to ‘horse’ in a number of Australian Aboriginal languages and dialects.

95drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Wakefield Wines ‘Jaraman’ Shiraz 2015

Clare Valley / McLaren Vale $24.95 (377036) 14.5% alcohol

Baking spice, dark cherry/berry fruit, sweet vanilla and sprigs of savory herb aromas leap from this stunning multi-region Shiraz. It’s rich, luscious, balanced and beautiful showcasing a dazzling array of ripe fruit flavour with mulberry, black plum and red cherry to the fore adorned with black pepper, dark bittersweet chocolate and hints of eucalyptus. There’s persistent purity of fruit, good structure, complexity and an incredibly long finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine) 

92drink or cellar
Yalumba ‘The Scribbler’ Cabernet/Shiraz 2013
Barossa, South Australia $23.95 (165811) 14.0% alcohol
Rich dark fruit, graphite and mocha aromas preface a luscious, voluptuous surge of palate-bathing, crunchy red fruit—pomegranate and currant—melding nicely with ripe black cherry and mulberry interwoven with peppery spice, grilled herbs and dark bittersweet chocolate. This shows great depth, complexity and structure throughout. This is full bodied with generous texture and a long, long finish with soft, ripe tannin benefitting from a two-hour aeration/decant. Pour with skillet-seared or rare-grilled flank steak. (Vic Harradine)

South Africa: Red Wine

• The following 2015 Boekenhoutskloof ‘The Chocolate Block’ hails from WO Swartland, one of South Africa’s premium and recently-come-to-prominence wine regions. It’s home to number of ancient bush-vine plots that have been nursed back to health and are producing some of South Africa’s most exciting wines.

88drink or cellar
Boekenhoutskloof ‘The Chocolate Block’ 2015
WO Swartland $39.95 (129353) 14.0% alcohol
This red blend—71% syrah, 15% grenache noir, 8% cinsault, 1% viognier—delivers a special blend of flavours which has developed a number of devoted followers. This vintage, for the first time, sourced all fruit from Swartland. Aromas of dark berry fruit, savory herbs and wisps of tapenade introduce a full bore gusher of rich black briary berry and luscious black cherry interlaced with peppery spice and sprigs of herbs. It finishes with structure, good tang and fruit flavour along with a dollop of mocha. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

91drink or cellar
Château Pierre de Montagnac 2009 

AOC Médoc $23.95 (437954) 14.0% alcohol

Cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc from 30-year-old vines are harmoniously blended from this single-vineyard property in the Médoc. Aromas of red and dark fruit are complemented with vanilla and baking spice. Juicy dark plums, sweet raisins with hints of coffee and cocoa bathe the palate. Well balanced with good acidity, it has a persistent finish, firm tannins and would be best enjoyed with rare-grilled beef. (Lisa Isabelle)

92drink or cellar
Brotte ‘Domaine Barville’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015
AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape $49.95 (148841) 14.5% alcohol
This is a blend of 75% grenache, 20% syrah, 5% mourvèdre with firm structure, persistent purity of fruit and gorgeous palate flavours. Aromas of wood smoke, floral notes, dark coffee and black currant set the table for a smorgasbord of gorgeous, palate-blanketing flavours with sweet berry fruit—black raspberry, dried currant and black plum—intertwined with sprigs of herbs, oaky notes and mixed spice persisting through the warm finish and aftertaste. There’s ripe tannin on the palate and aftertaste deserving of a two-hour aeration/decant. Pour with roast leg of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

88drink or cellar
La Ferme du Mont “Le Ponnant’ Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2015
AOP Côtes du Rhône-Villages $20.95 (171371) 13.5% alcohol
This GSM red blend—80% grenache, 10% syrah, 10% mourvèdre—dishes up aromas of sharp, peppery spice, herbal notes, red and black berry fruit. A spice-infused flow of crunchy, red berry fruit riding on a river of tang streaks over the palate with great élan. These flavours replay on the dry, mouth-watering finish. This is medium-weight and pours well with pastitsio or spaghetti Bolognese.

88drink now
La Ferme du Mont ‘Première Côte’ Côtes du Rhône 2015
AOP Côtes du Rhône $17.95 (251645) 14.0% alcohol
Mocha, smoky/oaky notes and tobacco leaf aromas signal a lively rush of red cherry, cranberry, passionfruit and sprigs of savory herbs racing across the palate and replaying on the drying finish and aftertaste. This red blend—60% grenache, 30% syrah and 10% mourvèdre—is medium weight and nicely textured pouring well with Swiss steak or pasta puttanesca. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: White Wine

89drink now
Santa Margherita ‘Impronta Del Fondatore’ Pinot Grigio 2016

DOC Alto Adige $22.95 (231258) 13.5% alcohol

Aromas of tropical fruit and floral notes introduce a sweet, ripe river of honey-drizzled white peach and pear bathing the palate with notions of spice and lemon-lime cordial. It’s light on its feet with a balanced and mid-length finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside lighter-styled appetizers. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

89drink now
Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2007

DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo $21.95 (216408) 13.5% alcohol

Aromas of spice and berry fruit replay on the palate along with a solid core of ripe fruit—red cherry, black plum and cranberry—mingling with good acidity, a hallmark of the montepulciano grape, and a soft tannin underpinning adding structure, along with a lip-smacking aftertaste. It’s medium bodied and nicely textured ratcheting up a notch or two paired with meat-laden pizza or pasta in spicy meat sauce. (Vic Harradine) 

89drink or cellar
Castello di Gabbiano ‘Riserva’ Chianti Classico 2013

DOCG Chianti Classico $22.95 (216309) 13.5% alcohol

Delicate notions of spice and earth accent the red fruit of this dry, medium-bodied sangiovese with a touch of merlot. It’s well-structured with firm tannins and tangy, tart cherry and cranberry flavours alongside subtle notions of oak ageing—spice, cocoa and espresso bean. A restrained note of tea emerges on the extended, dry finish. Enjoy with meat-based tomato sauce over pasta. (Lisa Isabelle)

90drink or cellar
Poggiotondo Brunello Di Montalcino 2012
DOCG Brunello Di Montalcino $41.95 (276576) 14.0% alcohol
Classified by the Consorzio as an outstanding, 5-star vintage, this 2012 Poggiotondo brunello does not disappoint. Slightly orange-hued and quite aromatic, floral notes, earthiness and herbs waft from the glass. It’s mid weight with lots of vitality, dancing and weaving across the palate with tang-laden flavours of passionfruit and red cherry decorated with piquant spice, licorice and herbal notes underpinned by a ripe tannin structure. This is approachable now, better after a three-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

86drink now
San Felice Chianti Classico 2015
DOCG Chianti Classico $19.95 (282996) 13.0% alcohol
This is a smooth-drinking—underwent malolactic conversion—blend of 80% sangiovese, 10% colorino, 10% pugnitello. Aromas of savory herbs, pipe tobacco and piquant spice provide segue for a racy, tang-laden streak of sour cherry, cranberry and flecks of herbs and spices. Flavours replay on the dry, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Pour with pasta in tomato sauce, lasagna or meat-laden red pizza. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar
Remo Farina Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2013
DOCG Amarone Della Valpolicella $39.95 (995910) 15.5% alcohol
Aromas of floral notes, fig and raisin precede a full-bodied, creamy smooth gusher of dried fruit, juicy black cherry and black currant decorated with savory herbs and hints of dark bittersweet chocolate. It’s high octane—15.5% abv—yet smooth and mellow throughout. It’s also fruit-forward and balanced with a lengthy finish and aftertaste. As Amarone prices go this is very well priced, especially given the quality. (Vic Harradine)

Portugal: Red Wine

88drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Vinha do Cais da Ribeira ‘Reserva’ 2014

DOC Douro, Portugal $13.95 (523639) 13.5% alcohol

Cedar, spice and dark berry fruit aromas roll easily from the glass. A mid-weight, fruit-forward wash of juicy red cherry/berry flavour bathes the palate flecked with notions of crunchy pomegranate and a generous dollop of tang; it finishes with hints of mocha. This is easy to drink—satin-smooth on the palate and über-easy on the wine budget. Pour with meat-laden red pizza or beef fajitas. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

86drink now
Bodegas Altanza ‘Club Lealtanza’ Reserva 2009
DOCa Rioja $29.95 (293852) 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of earthy notes, spice and herbs introduce this medium-weight, aged, 100% Tempranillo. Showing its age, this is quite tart and racy throughout with tangy red currant and red raspberry to the fore interlaced with savory herbs and dried fruit on the palate. There’s better balance on the finish and aftertaste brought about by traces of ripe fruit. Pour with spaghetti Bolognese or simple pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

88drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Honoro Vera Monastrell 2016
DOP Jumilla $13.95 (167684) 14.5% alcohol
This 100% Monastrell, aka Mourvèdre, saw no oak and was farmed organically. Sharp, lifted aromas of piquant spice, cherry/berry fruit and savory herbs make way for a mid-weight, nicely textured stream of crunchy red fruit—cherry and currant—mingling with sprigs of savory herbs, piquant spice and tiny wisps of soft, ripe tannin. It’s good to go now and pours well with prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

86drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Monasterio de las Viñas ‘San José de Aguarón Reserva’ 2012

DO Cariñena $14.95 (166579) 13.5% alcohol

This was hand harvested from vines with an average age of 40 years—70% garnacha/20% tempranillo/10% carignan showing off its garnacha with racy tang and acidity throughout and a drying finish and aftertaste. A tight, tart wash of sour cherry and red currant streaks over the palate persisting through the aftertaste with great élan. A great food wine, this pours well with lasagna or spaghetti and meat balls in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release Date: December 9, 2017

• Sonia and David Smith, the former from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the latter a Brit, moved to Argentina and began living their dream; they started a winery, building a vineyard from scratch. Both Master Sommeliers holding Advance Certificates from WSET, their vineyard is near the fabled Bodegas Catena Zapata. They became friends with the Nicola Catena family and now Catena Zapata’s winemaker, Ale Vigil, also oversees the making of SonVida’s wine, including the following 2013 SonVida Malbec.

92drink or cellar
SonVida Malbec 2013
Mendoza, Argentina $29.95 (458240) 14.0% alcohol
This is rich luscious and brimming with flavour. There are dark berry fruit, graphite and charred/tarry aromas galore on the nose. A dense, lively gusher of tang-laden flavour coats the palate carried on flavours of piquant spice, luscious black cherry, cassis, racy pie cherry and notions of minerality. It’s full bodied, full flavoured and full of charm while the lingering finish is fruit forward and nicely balanced. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release Date: TBD 2018

• Fruit for the following 2016 2027 Cellars ‘Edgerock’ Pinot Noir comes by its vineyard name, ‘Edgerock’, honestly; it’s nestled up to the hard ledge of a limestone-rich rock quarry on Niagara’s prestigious Twenty Mile Bench. 2027 owner/winemaker Kevin Panagapka is a stickler for sourcing über-premium fruit and allowing it to express its optimum qualities. The vines—Burgundian Clone 115 with their smaller berries and softer tannin—are on reclaimed-quarry land on a sunny, south-facing slope. Back up the van for this. (Vic Harradine)

93drink or cellar Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Edgerock’ Pinot Noir 2016
VQA Twenty Mile Bench $24.95 12.9% alcohol
Aromas of red cherry, flinty/minerality and wisps of toast and tobacco leaf give promise of something special, this delivers in spades. It brandishes persistent purity of fruit, good underlying structure, deft balance, well-integrated oak and lengthy, delectable finish. A racy line of piquant spice, beetroot, red cherry and savory herbs bathe the palate adorned with minerality and soft, ripe, grainy tannin. This is medium weight with good mouthfeel and lingering, lip-smacking finish. It’s ready to go after a two-hour decant and pours well with smoked, grilled duck breasts. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Alamos Selección Malbec 2014
Mendoza, Argentina $16.95 (322800) 13.8% alcohol
This is a crowd-friendly malbec from high-altitude, cool-climate vines. Aromas of black currant, mocha and cedar billow from this mid-weight, nicely textured red. It showcases palate-bathing, ripe dark fruit—boysenberry jam and black currant nicely juxtaposed with excellent tang carried along on flavours of passionfruit and pie cherry finishing with toasty/oaky notes. It’s nicely balanced throughout and pairs well with comfort food—red or white pizza, spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce, burgers, mac and cheese or grilled gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

91drink or cellar
Mazzei ‘Ser Lapo’ Chianti Classico ‘Reserva’ 2013
DOCG Chianti Classico, Italy $22.95 (288530) 13.0% alcohol
Floral notes, sandalwood and grilled herbs abound on the nose. It showcases a balanced and beautiful river of tang-laden flavour blanketing the palate persisting through the dry finish and aftertaste—it’s drinking well now. Racy red currant and tangy cranberry meld on the palate with black plum and ripe briary berry adorned with spice and herbs before replaying on the aftertaste. This is medium bodied and creamy smooth with persistent purity of fruit and complexity. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

88drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Château des Charmes Gamay Noir 2016

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $15.95 (57349) 13.0% alcohol
Red berry fruit and blueberry aromas introduce this friendly lighter-styled gem. It dishes up a smooth and mellow stream of palate-bathing flavour—black and red currant and bright red cherry supported by excellent balance and no rough edges or tannin. Easy on the wallet and versatile at the table, this is drinking beautifully now on its own or paired with deli board, charcuterie or white pizza. (Vic Harradine)

88drink now Exceptional Value!
Honoro Vera Rueda 2015
DO Rueda, Spain $12.95 (533224) 13.0% alcohol
This is alluring, perhaps sexy, with wonderful aromas of honeysuckle, peach, exotic incense and spice. It bathes the palate with a balanced, full-flavoured wash of honey-drizzled pear and apple decorated with piquant spice, minerality and citrus tang. This is medium bodied with good mouthfeel and a long lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour on its own—chilled not cold, take from the fridge twenty minutes before pouring—or with seafood, chicken or pork. It’s great value. (Vic Harradine)

• Nathalie Bonhomme, originally from Montreal, Canada, launched her own wine label—Beau bonhomme—in Spain through a partnership with Bodegas Juan Gil. The following 2015 Beau bonhomme is certified organic, sourced from 100%, 25-year-old monastrell, aka mourvèdre, vines. Her wines are highly acclaimed as value wines.

87drink now Exceptional Value!
Beau bonhomme 2015
DOP Jumilla, Spain $13.95 14.0% alcohol
Light-ruby hued, aromas of spice, herbs and red cherry/berry fruit waft from this 100% monastrell, aka mourvèdre. A tang-laden gusher of ripe, candied cherry, piquant spice and kirsch liqueur interweave with light touches of racy cranberry and peach skin. It lingers on the finish with racy red fruit, some red grapefruit pith and sharp spice. This is value-packed and really ratchets up with comfort food—red pizza, pasta in tomato sauce, lasagna or burgers. (Vic Harradine)

New in Consignment Wines

• The following is a carefully curated collection of fine wines via the LCBOs Consignment program with many not available at LCBO retail stores. Order and purchase arrangements are handled through Account Manager, Lauren Hayes-Van den Weghe at the following coordinates:

• Order the following wines by the case—some 6 bottles, other 12—by contacting Lauren Hayes-Van den Weghe by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or by phone 613 240 3667 for home or office delivery via The Vine Agency.


92drink or cellar Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Queenston Road Vineyard’ Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine 2009
VQA St. David’s Bench $29.95 12.0% alcohol
100% chardonnay grapes were used to produce this value-laden gem. With its second alcoholic fermentation in the bottle you purchase, and 36 months spent on its lees, it offers richness and complexity at a value-for-money price. The nose expresses fresh fruit aromas of green apple and lemon mingling with toasted brioche and mineral undertones while the palate’s treated to flavours of Asian pear and citrus complemented by toasty, nutty notes making an appearance on the finish. It’s dry, mid-weight with tension and verve, pick up a couple of bottles to keep on hand to welcome company. (Lisa Isabelle)

91drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
2027 Cellars ‘Falls Vineyard’ Riesling 2016
VQA Vinemount Ridge $18.95 10.0% alcohol
Vibrant orchard fruit aromas, joined by hints of honeysuckle and a characteristic petrol note, entice the nose of this single vineyard Riesling. Flavours of green apple, peach and lime dominate the palate while a streak of minerality suggesting the unique vineyard terroir persists through the lengthy finish. Deftly balanced, off-dry with mouthwatering tang, it offers exceptional value. Enjoy as an aperitif or paired with roast pork tenderloin with apple stuffing. (Lisa Isabelle)

92drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Cave Spring Cellars ‘Adam Steps’ Riesling 2016
VQA Beamsville Bench $24.75 10.5% alcohol
Crafted from 39-year-old riesling vines from the ‘Adam Steps’ limestone-rich soil on the Niagara escarpment, this medium-low alcohol gem offers a bountiful nose —ripe pear, yellow apple, Mirabelle plum, fresh savory herbs and typical petrol notes. The palate is rich and round with a repeat of orchard fruits nicely balanced with pink-grapefruit acidity. This has ageing potential and is perfect to sip now or pair with sausage and yellow-apple sauerkraut. (Louise Boutin)

96drink 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 month or two in bottle adding elegance and charm. (Vic Harradine)

96drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
2027 Cellars ‘Queenston Road Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2013

VQA St. David’s Bench $34.95 (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)

91drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Cave Spring Cellars ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir 2015
VQA Beamsville Bench $39.75 13.0% alcohol
This fine example of cool-climate pinot noir from Niagara entices the nose with aromas of red cherry, cranberry jelly, violet and spice. The palate is juicy and fresh with notes of earth and spice melding with tart fruit flavours of cranberry and pomegranate. Dry, medium-light bodied with gentle tannins, it offers a lovely purity of fruit persisting through the lingering, lively finish. Pair with roast duck and cherry compote. (Lisa Isabelle)

89drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Cave Spring Cellars Cabernet Franc 2015
VQA Niagara Escarpment $17.75 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of red plum, cherry and spice are accented with intriguing savory notions of tomato leaf and black olive. The palate is awash with blackberry, dark cherry and plum flavours while subtle hints of tobacco, smoke and a mineral undertone extend through the mid-length savoury finish. Warm and round in texture, it’s dry, medium bodied with fine tannins and a pleasant complement to ratatouille with polenta. (Lisa Isabelle)

• The following 2009 Cave Spring Cellars ‘CSV’ Blanc de Blancs was produced Méthode Traditionnelle and sourced from their oldest, lowest-yielding, 100% estate Chardonnay vines bearing fruit that was fermented then bottled for its 2nd alcoholic fermentation before being hand-riddled while maturing on its lees for five years before disgorgement.

96drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Cave Spring Cellars ‘CSV’ Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine 2009
VQA Beamsville Bench $44.95 12.0% alcohol
This is a stunning example of what can be accomplished with premium estate fruit, one-half of a decade of patience and the careful stewardship of a masterful winemaker, Angelo Pavan. This offers a profusion of mousse and seemingly endless stream of fine-bead bubbles. It delivers a fairly tight stream of citrus, sharp minerality and wisps of apple and pear on the palate. Recently disgorged, this will evolve over time, but delivers the goods even now. It finishes in a blaze of tang and fruit flavour. (Vic Harradine)


88drink now
Château de Bellevue ‘Les Charmes’ Morgon 2014
AOC Morgon $28.95 13.0% alcohol
Morgon is one of the Beaujolais Cru produced at Château de Bellevue in the traditional Burgundy method including extended fermentation on skins to maximize extraction. This is noticeable in the bright ruby robe of this 100% gamay, hand-harvested from different parcels within the ‘Les Charmes’ climat. The nose is discrete at first before opening up on red cherry, red liquorice and kirsch liqueur all replayed on the palate, wrapped in soft silky tannins. Typical Morgon, it’s a perfect match to roast turkey dinner. (Louise Boutin)

95drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Château de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015
AOP Gigondas $21.95 14.5% alcohol
This is from the exceptional 2015 vintage of the southern Rhône. It’s a blend of 70% grenache, 15% syrah plus mourvèdre and cinsault that’s dense and generous in aromas— ripe black cherry, blackberry, new leather, black pepper, licorice and violet. The unique Tortonien soil and cooler temperature result in an enhanced expression of the grenache. While concentrated black juicy fruit flavours are predominant, the freshness of anise and savoury herbs combined with beautifully integrated tannins and alcohol make this wine truly exceptional. A long velvety finish of blackberry, anise and black pepper notes pair perfectly with grilled rack of lamb—now and onto 2027. (Louise Boutin)

• The following 2015 Chateau Pesquié ‘Terrasses Blanc’ Ventoux is a Rhône, white blend—viognier, roussanne, clairette.

90drink or cellar
Chateau Pesquié ‘Terrasses - Blanc’ Ventoux 2015
AOC Ventoux, France $19.95 12.5% alcohol
Alluring aromas of green apple, chalky minerality and citrus introduce a tangy line of crisp, palate-bathing flavour redolent of lemon curd and pineapple intertwined with mineral notes and Granny Smith apple. This is medium weight with good mouthfeel and a crisp and refreshing, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste—this offers very good value. Pour alongside pan-seared scallops or grilled fish. (Vic Harradine)


90drink now
Roccafiore Rosato di Sangiovese Rosé 2016

IGT Umbria $19.95 12.5% alcohol

Pale salmon-pink in colour, this 100% sangiovese Rosé from Umbria offers aromas of strawberry, red plum with floral and mineral notes on the nose. A nicely-balanced fruit-forward wash of red berry, plum and pink grapefruit, accented by dusty mineral notes, keeps the palate crisp and refreshing. Dry, medium-light bodied it finishes mid-plus length with a pleasant, savoury herbal aftertaste. Try this pleasing Rosé with seared tuna or a grilled vegetable salad. (Lisa Isabelle)

88drink or cellar
Scarbolo ‘Ramato XL’ Pinot Grigio 2014
IGT Venezia-Giulia DOCG $31.95 13.0% alcohol
The lovely salmon-pink hue is a result of extended maceration of the grape skins with the must—a white wine made using a red winemaking process. The result yields aromas of yellow apple and red berries with hints of ginger, honeysuckle and brioche. Flavours of peach, apple and pineapple, gently seasoned with baking spices, wash over the palate. Dry, medium bodied with bright acidity, it offers a refreshing, lemon and red berry, mid-length finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

96drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Prà Staforte Soave Classico 2015
DOC Soave Classico $41.95, 12.0% alcohol
This is Soave at its absolute best. The 100% garganega has a charming nose of orange blossom, tangerine, apricot, yellow apple, sweet brioche and minerality. Only the best grapes from high altitude, volcanic soil and south exposure find their way into this delectable medium-bodied beauty. Ageing sur lie with six months active bâtonnage brings soft and round texture supporting flavours of yellow apple, tangy pink-grapefruit and delicious chalky minerality for a long, balanced and elegant finish. Pair with your favorite lobster or crab dish for a perfect match. (Louise Boutin)

91drink or cellar
Tenuta Cocci Griffoni ‘Colle Vecchio’ Offida Pecorino 2014
DOCG Offida Peccorino $25.95 14.0% alcohol
Colle Vecchio is the vineyard where this estate’s unique DOCG was established, with Pecorino being their signature wine. Lifted aromas of lemon, grapefruit, apple and subtle floral and herbal notions introduce this interesting white. Dry, medium bodied, the weighted texture anchors the vibrant citrus flavours while a defined spine of acidity assures a clean, mouth-watering finish. A slight saline aftertaste makes this a lovely pairing with fruits de mer. (Lisa Isabelle)

89drink now
Mosole ‘Millesimato’ Prosecco ‘Extra Dry’ Sparkling Wine 2016
DOC Treviso $22.95 11.5% alcohol
This 95% glera, 5% chardonnay blend displays aromas of fresh green apple, pear, honeysuckle, yeast and wet rock. It’s an extra-dry sparkling —15g/L of residual sugar, offering a nice and rich foam on the palate with flavours of ripe pear, a zesty lime tang and persistent minerality. This is a versatile bubbly to serve as an aperitif with a selection of amuse-bouches. (Louise Boutin)

84drink now
De Conciliis ‘Donnaluna’ Fiano 2016
IGP Paestum $38.95 12.0% alcohol
Fiano is a grape grown in southern Italy and better known for the more aromatic DOCG Fiano di Avellino from Campania. This Donnaluna fiano focuses on lemon rind, bruised apple, grassiness and saline aromas. The mouthfeel is rounder than expected with citrus and green apple flavours complemented with a saline and mild, bitter-dry finish. Drink now with skillet-seared calamari or freshly shucked oysters. (Louise Boutin)

91drink or cellar
Tenuta Cocci Griffoni ‘Vigna Messiere’ Rosso Piceno Superiore 2011
DOC Rosso Piceno Superiore $34.95 14.0% alcohol
This blend of predominantly Montepulciano, a key grape in the Marche region, and Sangiovese opens with dark fruit aromas—plum, blackberry and cherry—engaged with exotic spice, notes of tea and roses. Dry, full-bodied, it’s pleasantly structured, with balancing acidity and fine-grained tannins contributing to the mouth-coating texture. Flavours of dark cherry, plum jam, spice and earth persist through the lengthy finish. Curl up with this warming red on a cold winter night. (Lisa Isabelle)

88drink or cellar
De Conciliis ‘Donnaluna’ Aglianico 2015
IGP Paestum $38.95 14.5% alcohol
Expressive, savory notions of black olive and garrigue are joined by dark cherry, blackberry and plum on the nose of this certified organic, aglianico offering from the Campania region in southern Italy. Flavours of juicy dark fruit, brined olive and dried herbs coat the palate. Dry, full bodied, velvety in texture with soft ripe tannins, the dark fruit and spice notes play over the long finish. Enjoy this rustic red with braised venison. (Lisa Isabelle)

85drink or cellar
Plantamura ‘Parco Lago’ Primitivo 2015
Puglia Gioia del Colle $24.95 14.5% alcohol
Not to be confused with Primitivo di Manduria, this version of the early ripening primitivo grape from the calcareous soils and high elevation area of Gioia del Colle offers a fresh nose of red cherry, raspberry, blueberry and a hint of wild rose. The palate showcases a soft mouthfeel with tart red cherry flavours and young, fine-grained tannins. This medium-full-bodied red is the perfect companion to a charcuterie board. (Louise Boutin)

90drink or cellar
Scarbolo Refosco dal Pedunculo Rosso 2013
Friuli-Grave $47.95 13.0% alcohol
An intriguing varietal, refosco has been growing in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia since the time of the Roman Empire—Pedunculo rosso refers to its red stems. The fruit is hand-picked while maceration and fermentation on skins maximizes extraction, leading to a deep ruby-purple hue. The nose is expressive —sweet juicy black plum, cassis, smoke and mocha. The sweet plum replays on the palate with tart raspberry and a hint of baking spice. Aged two years in French oak and in bottle for another six months, this striking, medium-full bodied, smooth-textured stranger is worth getting to know. Pour with braised beef and sweet roasted beets. (Louise Boutin)

90drink or cellar
Valdibella ‘Kerasos’ Nero d’Avola 2015
DOC Sicily $19.95 14.5% alcohol
Certified organic and Addio Pizzo aka mafia-free, the Valdibella co-op of 6 grape growers confirms its support for ethical and environmental responsibility by using organically cultivated vineyards, minimal-invention winemaking and supporting mafia-free products. Assertive aromas of blackcurrant, cassis, licorice and bay leaf aromas on the nose replay on the palate as flavours layered with cured meat and smoke. Dry, full-bodied with supple tannins, dark fruit and dried herbs drive the long, savoury finish. Enjoy this great-value, bold red with a rich, meat ragu or eggplant parmesan. (Lisa Isabelle)


Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Spring Mountain, Napa Valley, California $252.95 14.0% alcohol
Dark, almost opaque when poured, this is a bold, brawny blend of 82% cabernet sauvignon, 15% merlot, 2% cabernet franc. Aromas of dark berry fruit, pencil shavings and grilled savory herbs set the table for a smorgasbord of palate flavour with black currant and black raspberry interlaced with sweet vanilla, oaky notes, earth and minerality. This is full bodied, full fruited and fully textured. It’s framed by excellent tang and robed in still-evolving tannin. Pop corks 2022 to at least 2035. Superb. (Vic Harradine)

90drink now
McManis Viognier 2016
River Junction, California $20.95 13.5% alcohol
Honeyed pit fruit and honeydew melon aromas waft from this fruit-forward beauty. A generously textured gusher of ripe fruit—guava, apricot, mango and Meyer lemon weave across the palate with delectable results. It finishes with crisp grapefruit pith and notions of peach skin on the finish and aftertaste. There’s good value here. (Vic Harradine)

91drink now
McManis Pinot Noir 2016
California $20.95 13.5% alcohol
The price-quality balance in this spicy, fruity pinot tips in your favour. The lifted nose of savoury, peppery spice and berry fruit leaps from the glass. It bathes the palate with a nicely textured, medium-bodied flow of ripe, jammy black currant and dark cherry interwoven with crunchy, red fruit tang. Flavours replay on the dry finish and aftertaste, Pour with chicken, turkey, pork or duck. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2016 Plumpjack ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay was cool fermented—without malolactic conversion—in 64% stainless steel with the balance in French oak barrel. Both these winemaking decisions contribute to the crisp flavours and generous texture.

95drink or cellar
Plumpjack ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2016
Napa Valley, California $89.95 14.4% alcohol
This is structured with good fruit and tang, power and intensity. Aromas of baking spice, pit fruit and piquant spice provide segue for a surge of palate-coating flavours that are pure ambrosia—spiced green apple, ripe pear and oodles of lemon zest. This is medium-full bodied with generous mouthfeel with a dry, crisp finish introducing notes of toasty oak. Depending on your sensitivity to oaky notes, you could aerate/decant an hour and pour now with roast turkey and all the fixings or cellar and pour 2020 to 2026. (Vic Harradine)

93drink or cellar
Robert Hall Merlot 2015
Paso Robles, California $ 34.95 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of peppery spice and rich dark berry fruit abound on the nose of this intense merlot. A gorgeous, powerful stream of candied cherry and tangy bramble berry intertwined with mocha and grilled herbs cut a wide swath across the palate and infuse the monumentally long finish. This showcases deft balance, persistent purity of fruit and oodles of charm. Pour alongside grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2013 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon is enhanced by the addition of 20% merlot and was matured 22 months in oak barrel.

Groth Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Oakville, Napa Valley, California $108.95 14.9% alcohol
This cellar dweller is assertive and structured with a solid lick of still-evolving tannin. Aromas of cedar, sprigs of herbs and bramble berry fruit unleash a palate-coating gusher of dark fruit—raspberry, currant and plum—decorated with savory herbs and sweet vanilla—simply delicious. This is full bodied with good mouthfeel and lip-smacking dry and racy aftertaste underpinned by a solid wall of tannin. Pour 2021 to 2030 to reap the rewards of patience. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2013 Tin Barn Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 82% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot, 2.5% cabernet franc, 2.8% (apologies for the math, details taken from winery website) that was matured in oak, 25% new French.

91drink or cellar 
Tin Barn Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Sonoma Valley, California $43.95 14.5% alcohol
There’s a robust array of aromas with dark berry fruit, toasty/oaky notes and pipe tobacco to the fore. A tang-laden wash of black currant, ripe black plum and racy pie cherry form a balanced partnership on the palate, persisting through the finish and aftertaste adorned with mocha, oaky notes and vanilla. It’s medium-plus bodied with good texture and plenty of oomph from a surge of still-evolving tannin. Aerate/decant for three hours pouring with rare-grilled, well-seasoned striploin. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic, Lisa and Louise