January 29, 2018 Newsletter

Lisa IsobelleLouise BoutinLouise Boutin and Lisa Isabelle partnered up for this Vintages tasting, discovering and reviewing lovely wines—with 16 of them under $18—that will surely have wide appeal for sipping on their own and/or pouring with a wide variety of your favourite dishes. Enjoy!

Newsletter Highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine  Exceptional Value!  – 6 of 43 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 – no wine available now at retail scored 95 or more in this newsletter.
  • Lisa Likes – Domain Mega Spileo ‘Grand Cave’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 earned 91 points @ $27.95 and Feudo Montoni ‘Inzolia dei Fornelli’ 2016 earned 90 points @ $22.95 with both found under Feature: Online and Instore purchasing; Darting Düerkheimer Hochbenn Riesling Kabinett 2015 earned 91 points @ $21.95 and found under Germany: White Wine; as well as, of course, her many exceptional-value wines easily identified by the icon.
  • Louise Loves – Castillo Perelada ‘Stars’ Brut Nature Reserva Cava 2015 earned 89 points @ $16.95 and found under Sparkling Wine; Featherstone ‘Canadian Oak’ Chardonnay 2016 earned 91 points @ $21.95 and found under Ontario: White Wine; Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 earned 90 points @ $20.95 and found 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: February 3rd 2018

Feature: Online and Instore purchasing

France: Red Wine

88drink or cellar
Château de Tréviac 2015
AOP Corbieres $16.95 (670505) 14.5% alcohol
A gold medal winner in 2017, this southern-France red blend—80% syrah, 20% grenache—opens nicely with black fruit aromas of cassis, blackberry, black plum and a touch of basil. The attack on the palate is deliciously silky and juicy with ripe black fruit flavours joined with structured tannins and a peppery note lingering on the finish. This is good-value, full-bodied with well-integrated alcohol and tannins. Drink now or cellar five years and enjoy with a fresh-tomato and black olive pizza. (Louise Boutin)

Greece: White Wine

90drink now
Argyros Assyrtiko 2016
PDO Santorini $27.95 (387365) 13.5% alcohol
Zippy, lively and fresh, this showcases tart citrus aromas mingling with delicate floral and mineral notes. Dry and medium-light bodied, flavours of lemon-lime, green apple and pear bathe the palate. A subtle mineral note lingers through the lengthy, refreshing finish. Enjoy this refreshing white with citrusy shrimp brochettes. (Lisa Isabelle)

Greece: Red Wine

91drink or cellar
Domain Mega Spileo ‘Grand Cave’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
PGI Achaia, Peloponnese $27.95 (539924) 14.5% alcohol
The colour of this compelling Greek cabernet sauvignon hints at garnet, showing its age. Appealing aromas of blackberry and cassis are joined by hints of prune, baking spices, vanilla and mint. Dry, full bodied and deftly balanced with well-integrated tannin and alcohol, concentrated dark fruit flavours replay on the palate garnished with spice and vanilla. Suggestions of sweet dried fruit—fig and prune—leave a memorable impression on the long, mouth-watering finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

Italy: White Wine

90drink now
Feudo Montoni ‘Inzolia dei Fornelli’ 2016
DOC Sicilia $22.95 (539932) 13.0% alcohol
This dry white from Sicily is sourced from the Inzolia grape that is traditionally used in the blend for making Marsala, a fortified wine. Refreshing and savoury, it opens with aromas of melon, lemon and bitter herbs. The palate is clean, bright and refreshing with fresh squeezed citrus and a saline minerality sustained through the medium-long, mouth-watering finish. Be transported to the Mediterranean and pair this tasty white with calamari or fried smelts. (Lisa Isabelle)

Italy: Red Wine

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Rocca Del Dragone Aglianico 2013
IGP Campania $16.95 (538462) 13.0% alcohol
Full bodied, velvety and smooth, this rich offering from the warmer climes of southwest Italy displays dark fruit aromas balanced with herbs and spice. Flavours of blackberry, dark plum and raspberry jam infused with savoury notions of anise and tarragon flood the palate while a pleasant hint of dark chocolate is revealed in the long, warming finish. This good-value aglianico will have wide appeal. Savour on its own or pair with braised meats. (Lisa Isabelle)

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Feudo Maccari Noto Nero d’Avola 2015
IGP Terre Siciliane $16.95 (339101) 13.5% alcohol
This bold, exceptional-value red was aged in stainless steel tanks, preserving its fresh, fruity aromas, then spent a further four months in bottle before release. Warm, ripe fruit aromas—blackberry, blueberry and dark cherry—mingle with notions of spice, black olive and smoke. Dry and full bodied, it offers firm structure and velvety texture. It balances concentrated dark fruit flavours and savoury herbal notes through the long, mineral-laden finish. Enjoy with eggplant parmesan. (Lisa Isabelle)

Spain: White Wine

88drink now
Alta Alella ‘PB’ Pansa Blanca 2016
DO Alella, Catalunya $15.95 (417949)
This organic-certified, hand-harvested, single-parcel fermented newcomer from Spain is made from 100% pansa blanca varietal also known as xarel-lo, a cava grape. The fresh aromas—green apple, pear, white grapefruit, fennel and honeysuckle tingle the nose. The first sip precedes well-textured mouthfeel while taste buds are treated to green apple tartness, pink grapefruit sweetness and a touch of saline minerality balance that complement and bolsetr other on the crisp, mouth-watering finish. Pour alongside seafood pizza. (Louise Boutin)

Spain: Red Wine

86drink or cellar
Edetària ‘Via Edetana’ Terra Alta 2014
DO Terra Alta $23.95 (132613) 14.5% alcohol
From the reference Catalonian producer in Terra Alta, this hand-harvested blend—60% garnacha fina and garnacha peluda, 30% syrah, 10% carignan—shows a bright, deep-ruby color. Aromas of ripe blackberry, black plum and fresh raspberry fraternize with delicate baking spice and cedar courtesy 12-month ageing in 500 L, French oak barrel. This is medium-bodied with flavours replaying aromas that float on palate prior to pleasing, grippy tannins appear to frame a medium-length tart finish. Aerate/decant for an hour and give it a go with a meat-laden, red pizza. (Louise Boutin)

88drink or cellar
La Tremenda Monastrell 2014
DO Alicante $17.95 (490011) 14.5% alcohol
Often used in red wine blends for its mouth-watering qualities, monastrell, aka mourvèdre, is going solo in this surprisingly smooth version. A fruity nose —ripe blackberry, black cherry, red cherry pie filling and baking spice replay on the palate with cassis and thyme flavours lingering on a cheek-drying finish. This is medium-full bodied and will benefit from an hour or two aeration/decant before serving alongside a juicy, herb-crusted, rack of lamb. (Louise Boutin)

87drink now
Parés Baltà Mas Petit Garnatxa/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
DO Penedès $16.95 (114264) 13.5% alcohol
This organic/biodynamic certified blend of cabernet sauvignon and grenache is sourced from vineyards in the Penedès mountains along the north-eastern Spanish coast. It showcases a pretty nose—red cherry, wild strawberry and a touch of violet. The palate is round with fine tannins and fresh flavours of red berry fruit and finishes on cranberry tart notes and a trace of vanilla. It’s a very nice red to enjoy now with a fresh, tomato and pasta dish. (Louise Boutin)

Ontario: White Wine

• A 23-acre vineyard in the VQA Twenty-Mile Bench appellation with no desire to expand in order to maintain its artisan winemaking character, Featherstone has been a pioneer in several aspects of their natural farming approach — eco-friendly practices, falconry and sheep labour, to name a few. Their innovative spirit led them in 2002 to make a prescient decision to produce a wine that was barrel fermented and aged in Canadian oak sourced locally from Brantford, Ontario. One result is the following 2016 Featherstone Canadian Oak Chardonnay—a superb Canadian gem.

91drink now Oh Canada!
Featherstone ‘Canadian Oak’ Chardonnay 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $21.95 (149302) 13.0% alcohol
This medium-gold robed 100% chardonnay showcases delicate ripe pear, peach, vanilla and a touch of fresh citrus aromas on the nose. It’s even better on the palate with an ample and round mouthfeel combining well-merged acidity with rich orchard fruit flavours for a medium-length peachy-vanilla-buttery, über-delicious finish. A good-value, genuine Canadian gem to enjoy now with chicken à la King. (Louise Boutin)

California: Red Wine

91drink or cellar
Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $69.95 (904532) 14.5% alcohol
This is bold, bountiful and dense from the outstanding 2013 vintage. The inky, bright ruby robe matches the generous fragrant nose—ripe black cherry, cassis, cedar, licorice, smoke and vanilla aromas. A luscious wave of concentrated, full-bodied ripe blackberry, juicy black cherry and licorice wrapped in tight tannins offer a long delectable warm, dry finish with a hint of dry cocoa. Patience now to 2029 will be rewarded. If in a hurry, aerate/decant three hours and pour with rare, prime rib au jus. (Louise Boutin)

Chile: Red Wine

87drink or cellar
Primus ‘The Blend’ 2014
Colchagua Valley $19.95 (712463) 14.0% alcohol
This easy-drinking Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, carmenère, petit verdot and cabernet franc spent 12 months in French oak, 20% new, before bottling. On the nose, savoury notions of graphite, tobacco and smoke mingle with an array of dark fruit—blackberry, blueberry and plum. Dry, medium-full bodied, generous ripe berry flavours replay on the palate framed by discernable tannin and clean acidity. Notions of spice and smoked bell pepper linger through the drying finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

89drink or cellar
Santa Carolina ‘Reserva de Familia’ Carmenère 2014

Rapel Valley $19.95 (34942) 14.0% alcohol

This crowd-friendly carmenère is rich, ripe and rarin’ to go. It fills the air with aromas of dark cherry and black currant robed in grilled herbs and mocha. A medium-plus bodied wash bathes the palate replete with dark berry fruit, pie cherry, dark bittersweet chocolate and wisps of tarry notes. This is satin-smooth with good balance of sweet and tang and a delicious, dry, fruit-filled finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

89drink now
Framingham Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough $19.95 (606848) 13.0% alcohol
A small portion of this wine was fermented in barrel and spent time on its lees before blending and bottling, contributing to its structure. It’s shy on the nose offering subtle notions of peach, green apple and passion fruit. The palate is lively and fresh revealing a concentrated, textured wash of ripe tropical fruit, lemon yogourt and savoury green herbs. It’s dry and mid-light weight, while a stream of racy acidity persists through the lengthy citrus-infused finish. Pair with your favourite sushi. (Lisa Isabelle)

Italy: Red Wine

89drink or cellar
Barone Ricasoli ‘Rocca Guicciarda’ Riserva Chianti Classico 2014
DOCG Chianti Classico $24.95 (943613) 13.5% alcohol
Lifted floral and earthy notes weave through aromas of red and dark fruit—cherry and plum—in this dry, medium-full bodied sangiovese accented with a touch of merlot and cabernet sauvignon. A well-defined structure supported by flavours of dark cherry, cranberry, spice and a pleasant mineral quality persist through the lengthy, drying finish—aerate/decant a couple of hours before serving alongside pasta with tomato-based sauce. (Lisa Isabelle)

92drink or cellar
Lazzeretti Brunello Di Montalcino 2012
DOCG Brunello Di Montalcino $53.95 (318352) 14.5% alcohol
This medium-garnet-hued gem was matured 30 months in Slavonian oak barrels and another eight months in bottle before release. Predominantly cherry aromas—fresh and dried—are layered with captivating notes of spice, leather, anise and violet on the nose. The palate offers long-lasting, concentrated flavours of red fruit, sweet spice, pipe tobacco and nuances of truffle. Silky textured, it’s dry, medium-full bodied with well-defined tannin and a generous warm mouthfeel. Treat yourself and others; pour with bistecca Florentina. (Lisa Isabelle)

Spain: Red Wine

• The following 2010 Don Jacobo Reserva is a pale-garnet red blend—tempranillo, garnacha, mazuelo, graciano—that was barrel-fermented and aged 18-24 months then bottle aged for a further 12-18months.

89drink or cellar
Don Jacobo Reserva 2010
DOCa Rioja $22.95 (313270) 14.0% alcohol
A rich bouquet of soy sauce, oak, baking spice, dry rose petal and red berry aromas abound. The fruit flavours are revealed without hesitation—tart cherry, pomegranate and a peppery bite surf on the palate like a silky textured wave ending in a lovely fruity-spicy finish. Aerate/decant two hours and enjoy with a tomato sauce, seafood pasta. (Louise Boutin)

The Main Release

Fortified: Port Wine

93drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Gonzalez Byass ‘Nutty Solera’ Oloroso Sherry 

DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry $17.95 (35204) 20.0% alcohol

This Oloroso is one the great bargains and most over-looked treasures on wine-store shelves. Flamboyant aromas of dark spice, figs, currants and peel marmalade explode from the glass of this delicious nectar. The ripe sweet flavours—caramel, marmalade, toasted almonds and toffee—turn, magically, almost dry on the lingering finish. Serve chilled, as an aperitif or conversation starter or with spice cake for afters. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

87drink now
Luc Belaire ‘Rare’ Sparkling Rosé Non-Vintage

Vin de France $39.95 (395384) 12.5% alcohol

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

88drink now
Bottega Gold Prosecco Non-Vintage

DOC Treviso, Veneto, Italy $27.95 (621458) + 1500 mL $59.95 (423673) + 3000 mL $139.95 (465340) 11.0% alcohol

The golden-coloured bottle isn’t merely bling, it preserves freshness in the wine longer than clear glass. Hand-harvested glera grapes produced this Charmat-method sparkler. It’s dry, crisp and refreshing throughout with aromas and flavours of lip-smacking, lemon zest, green apple and pear—pour with lighter appetizers or seafood. This also glitters in a variety of winery-suggested cocktails. (Vic Harradine)

• This 2015 Castillo Perelada ‘Stars’ Brut Nature Reserva Cava is a value-laden blend of mostly indigenous varieties —38% xarel-lo/26% parellada/21% macabeo—along with chardonnay and pinot noir splitting the final 15%. It’s been served by this premium producer every summer since 1987 at one of Europe’s most prestigious music festivals.

89drink now
Castillo Perelada ‘Stars’ Brut Nature Reserva Cava 2015
Traditional Method, DO Cava $16.95 (515221) 11.5% alcohol
A fragrant nose of lime and green apple is complemented with yeasty brioche and honeysuckle aromas. The bubbles are mouth filling, they flood the palate with refreshing zesty flavours accompanied with ripe pear and nice minerality then a crisp, lip-smacking finish. It’s delicious on its own or paired with tapas and it offers plenty of value for money. (Louise Boutin)

California: White Wine

87drink now
Napa Cellars Chardonnay 2014

Napa Valley $28.95 (225342) 13.0% alcohol

Smoke, toast and baking spice introduce a spice-infused, palate-bathing wash of sweet vanilla, tangy lemon and ripe yellow plum joined by notions of toasty oak and grapefruit pith. It’s mid weight with good texture and a long, refreshing finish and aftertaste. Give this a go with roast chicken or breaded pork cutlets. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

93drink or cellar
Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Sonoma County $22.95 (331603) 13.5% alcohol

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

90drink or cellar
Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
California $20.95 (451351) 13.5% alcohol
This California red blend— cabernet sauvignon, merlot, zinfandel, ruby cabernet and petite syrah—seems to capture the best of each varietal. The complex aromas of black cherry, black plum, sweet smoke, truffle, beetroot earthiness and oak set the table for a wave of delicious red tart fruits tightly knit with fine tannins and piquant cinnamon accent. This medium-full bodied red will be an excellent partner to a rare striploin steak or braised-beef dishes. Pop corks now to 2020. (Louise Boutin)

Argentina: Red Wine

89drink or cellar
Chakana Nuna Estate Malbec 2016
Mendoza $16.95 (018671) 13.0% alcohol
The price-quality balance tips well in your favour here. Minimalist intervention winemaking, indigenous yeasts and 10 months aging in cement vessels were used to preserve the true character of the grape and its terroir. Aromas of dark fruit infused with hints of grilled red pepper, graphite, tea and violet open this certified-organic malbec. Dark plum, cherry and red currant flavours are layered on nuances of chocolate, graphite and smoke on the palate. This is dry, medium bodied with fine-grained tannin and finishes with a mid-length, pleasing, tangy red fruit aftertaste. (Lisa Isabelle)

Chile: Red Wine

87drink or cellar
Mas Andes Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Central Valley $18.95 (542084) 13.5% alcohol
Enticing aromas of blackberry, cassis, black currant leaf and anise burst from the glass. A river of spiced dark berry fruit washes over the palate while a hint of mint leaves a lasting impression on the refreshing aftertaste. Dry, mid-plus weight with perceptible tannin, this would be a fine complement to grilled, striploin steak. (Lisa Isabelle)

Chile: Rosé Wine

89drink or cellar
Lapostolle ‘Le Rosé’ 2016
Colchagua Valley $17.95 (524967) 12.5% alcohol
The palest salmon-pink in colour, this dry, good-value, Provençal-styled rosé is a reminder of summer with its enticing aromas of white peach, lemon, strawberry and dried hay. Dry, medium-light bodied, bright and refreshing, it finishes mid-length with citrus and stone-fruit flavours underscored by notions of savoury herbs. A versatile sipper, savour on its own or pour alongside crab cakes. (Lisa Isabelle)

Australia: Red Wine

88drink or cellar
Mollydooker ‘The Scooter’ Merlot 2015
McLaren Vale $24.95 (462275) 15.0% alcohol
Expressive aromas of bumbleberry pie, vanilla and baking spice open this pleasing red. The palate is generous, ripe and juicy, bathed in flavours of dark plum, black raspberry, chocolate-covered cherries and spiced red fruit. Dry, full bodied with supple tannins and well-integrated alcohol, it has a lengthy, warming finish perfect after a cold day on the slopes. (Lisa Isabelle)

88drink or cellar
Sister’s Run ‘Old Testament’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Coonawarra $16.95 (478271) 14.5% alcohol
Delightful aromas of black pepper and spice mingle with black berry, dark cherry and plum on the nose. A textured mouthfeel of ripe, dark cherry/berry fruit is accented with notions of dried herbs, smoke and spice. Dry, full-bodied and smooth, enjoy this good-value Cab with braised beef ribs. (Lisa Isabelle)

New Zealand: White Wine

89drink now
Middle-Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Nelson $17.95 (391987) 13.0% alcohol
Concentrated aromas of passion fruit, gooseberry, white grapefruit and subtle notions of green pea leap easily from the glass. Dry, medium-light bodied, ripe tropical fruit, tangy citrus and fresh cut herb flavours surge over the palate lasting into the satisfying finish. Enjoy with herbed goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts. The price-quality ratio skews in your favour. (Lisa Isabelle)

New Zealand: Red Wine

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Mount Riley Syrah 2016
Marlborough, South Island $18.95 (535856) 13.5% alcohol
This syrah, a somewhat rare offering from New Zealand’s pinot noir and sauvignon blanc region, delivers an elegant expression of this varietal. Ripe dark berry fruit mingles with delicate floral notes, black pepper aromas and a gamy quality on the nose. A wash of juicy dark fruit flows over the palate while a hint of spiced plum compote extends into the medium-long finish. Dry, medium-weight and deftly balanced, enjoy with roast lamb. (Lisa Isabelle)

South Africa: White Wine

91drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Avondale ‘Jonty’s Ducks Pekin’ White 2015
WO Paarl $15.95 (439554) 13.5% alcohol
Named after the ducks employed to help with pest control in the vineyard, this certified organic white is a blend of traditional French grapes: chenin blanc, roussanne, muscat de frontignan, viognier and semillon. Delightful aromas of stone fruit and citrus are woven with acacia blossom, honeysuckle and a hint of smoke. Dry, medium bodied and nicely textured—it spent time on its lees—flavours of juicy nectarine, tangy lemon-lime and a mineral undertone endure through the lengthy finish. Enjoy this intriguing, exceptional-value gem alongside creamy seafood pasta. (Lisa Isabelle)

South Africa: Red Wine

89drink or cellar
Boschendal ‘1685’ Shiraz 2015
WO Coastal Region $19.95 (542787) 14.0% alcohol
Grapes selected from the cooler, higher-elevation vineyards in the Coastal Region were used to produce this well-balanced red. Captivating aromas of eucalyptus, spice, black pepper and campfire smoke lift from the glass supported by ripe blackberry and blackcurrant. Dry, full bodied with a generous mouthfeel and clean acidity, dark berry fruit flavours dominate the palate with hints of spice and smoke lingering into the lengthy finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

France: Red Wine

84drink now
Jean-Paul Dubost ‘Climat le Tracot’ Beaujolais Villages 2015
AOC Beaujolais Villages $19.95 (527051) 12.5% alcohol
A lively nose of fragrant Bing cherry, strawberry and earthy moss waft easily from this medium-ruby, 100% gamay. A tiny bubbles confirm residual carbonation detected on the tongue alongside ripe, red berry-fruit flavours framed in vigorous chalky tannins while closing on a dry, earthy and fruity finish you wish would last longer. Drink now with stuffed, fresh-herb-roasted chicken. (Louise Boutin)

Germany: White Wine

91drink or cellar
Darting Düerkheimer Hochbenn Riesling Kabinett 2015
Prädikatswein, Pfalz $21.95 (5239942) 11.0% alcohol
The medium-lemon colour hints at the concentration and intensity of this wine. It opens with an arresting bouquet of peach, dried apricot, orange marmalade and exotic spice. Off-dry, with refreshing, balancing acidity, stone fruit layered with candied orange zest, spice and honey deliciously coat the palate while a pleasant mineral quality extends into the long finish. Serve with your favourite Thai curry. (Lisa Isabelle)

Italy: White Wine

87drink now
Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio 2016
DOC Trentino $15.95 (528687) 13.0% alcohol
Floral notes meld with aromas of Gala apple, Bosc pear and hay on the nose of this intriguing Pinot Grigio. Dry, light bodied, apple and pear replay on the palate joined by a refreshing citrus tang on the aftertaste. Enjoy with pan-seared fish with a squeeze of lemon. (Lisa Isabelle)

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Cantina del Castello Soave Classico 2015
DOC Soave Classico $16.95 (532259) 13.0% alcohol
90% garganega and 10% trebbiano grapes are blended to produce this exceptionally-priced white from the Veneto region in north-eastern Italy. Medium-lemon in colour, it delivers alluring aromas of orchard fruit, honeysuckle, beeswax and almonds. Dry, mid-weight, nicely balanced with a creamy mouthfeel underpinned by refreshing acidity, the palate offers lasting flavours of ripe peach, honeydew melon and tarragon. Serve with pan-seared scallops. (Lisa Isabelle)

Italy: Red Wine

89drink or cellar
Baracchi O’Lillo 2015
IGT Toscana $21.95 (479071) 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of cherry, dark plum and strawberry jam interwoven with herbs and spice open this dry, mid-plus weight blend of equal parts merlot, sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Showcasing good structure and clean acidity throughout, concentrated dark fruit flavours wash over the palate with pleasant notes of spice and an earthiness woven into the lengthy, drying finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

88drink or cellar
Monte del Frá Lena Di Mezzo Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2015
DOC Valpolicella Ripasso $22.95 (165662) 14.0% alcohol
Upon completion of the first fermentation, this blend of corvina, corvinone, rondinella was re-fermented with the grape skins of Amarone and aged 18 months in French oak before bottling. The nose offers a tempting array of aromas—cherry pie, plum jam, chocolate and coffee. Dry, medium-full bodied, the smooth and creamy texture is balanced with flavours of tart red cherry, dark plum, herbs and spice lasting into the lengthy, dry, mouth-watering finish. Serve this crunchy red with chicken cacciatore. (Lisa Isabelle)

Portugal: Red Wine

Portas Da Herdade ‘Reserva’ 2014

Vinho Regional Alentejano $15.95 (404418) 14.5% alcohol

Cherry/berry aromas mingle with piquant spice and savory herbs on the nose of this tang-laden red with still-evolving tannin dominating the back palate and aftertaste. It races over the palate with flavours of pie cherry and tangy cranberry interweaving with spice and earthy bits. Medium bodied and with oodles of texture, it displays grippy tannin on the back palate, finish and aftertaste. Pull corks 2019 to 2023. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in Winecurrent

91drink or cellar 
Girard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Napa Valley $39.95 (231712) 14.9% alcohol
This expressive, well-balanced red was produced with grapes sourced from the Mount Veeder sub-region of Napa Valley. The nose unfolds gently with blackberry, cassis and sweet cherry aromas supported by hints of graphite, pipe tobacco, cedar and violet. A wash of ripe dark fruit envelops the palate adorned with dark chocolate, espresso bean and sweet vanilla. Dry, medium bodied with firm tannin, balancing fresh acidity and refined structure, it offers a delicious, lengthy, fruit-driven finish. Enjoy with magret de canard and plum compote. (Lisa Isabelle)

Cheers, Vic, Lisa, Louise