February 12, 2018 Newsletter

Louise BoutinLisa IsobelleLisa Isabelle and Louise Boutin — you’ll find an interesting, eclectic array of grapes, appellations and reviews from these two winecurrent writers who did all the heavy lifting for the following newsletter. There will be seventeen wines sitting on LCBO shelves by this Saturday under $18.00 per bottle with many earning an exceptional-value icon. If your usual fishing holes are in higher-priced waters, reel a couple of these in for a change of pace.

Winery Feature: Ceretto Wines from Piedmont, Italy – Louise Boutin attended a bespoke tasting with one of Piedmont’s premium producers hosted by their Ontario agent, Noble Estates Wine & Spirits at the uber-popular Shore Club at the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa. Head winemaker Alessandro Ceretto and Assistant Winemaker, David Fletcher led the tasting. Read Louise’s reviews and comments here.

Newsletter Highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value!   – 8 of 47 wines currently available at LCBO retail—in total 61 wines were reviewed—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 wines currently available at retail scored 95 or over.
  • Louise Loves – Ironstone Lodi Chardonnay 2016 earned 88 points @ $17.95 found under Feature: Online and Instore Wine; Château de Sancerre Sancerre 2015 earned 92 points at 25.95 under France: White Wine; Covento San Francisco ‘Special Selection’ Riserva 2011 earned 91 points @ $37.95; as well as, of course, her exceptional-value wines easily identified by the icon.
  • Lisa Likes – Finca Sophenia ‘Reserve’ Malbec 2016 earned 89 points @ $19.95 found under Argentina: Red Wine; Fowles ‘Stone Dwellers’ Chardonnay 2016 earned 89 points @ $19.95 under Australia: White Wine; Dandelion Vineyards ‘Lionheart of the Barossa’ Shiraz 2016 earned 90 points @ $21.95 found under Australia: Red Wine; as well as, of course, her many exceptional-value wines easily identified by the icon.

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: 17, 2018

Feature: Online and Instore Wine

88drink now
Ironstone Lodi Chardonnay 2016
Lodi, California $17.95 (355776) 13.5% alcohol
A quick five-month transit in new French oak barrel was the perfect call for this 100% chardonnay. It displays inviting aromas of ripe peach, delicate vanilla, butterscotch and a whisper of nutmeg. The wine is round and ample coating the palate with layers of flavours—citrus fruit and über-ripe peaches bathe the palate with an almond-skin bite on the finish and aftertaste. This versatile-at-the-table, medium-bodied white is delicious served alongside pickerel fillets amandine with a squeeze of fresh lemon. There’s good value here. (Louise Boutin)

88drink or cellar
Ravenswood Lodi ‘Old Vine’ Zinfandel 2015
Lodi, California $21.95 (942599) 14.5% alcohol
This is classic Californian, irresistible, fruit-forward Zin with aromas of raspberry jam, blackberry, stewed-black plum covered with baking spice, vanilla and a note of burnt sugar. This Lodi-trademarked, full-bodied zin delivers a wash of ripe, sappy black fruit, racy fresh raspberry draped in extra-, sexy tannins ending on a long dry finish robed in mocha. This is crowd-friendly and the perfect dance partner to your favourite spicy, grilled, pork back-ribs. (Louise Boutin)

89drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Echeverria ‘Gran Reserva’ Pinot Noir 2016
Casablanca Valley $15.95 (485284) 13.5% alcohol
Sourced from a cool-climate coastal region of Chile, 75% of this exceptional-value pinot was aged in French oak barrels for six months before bottling. The nose is driven by exotic spice and red fruit aromas—red cherry and cranberry—with sandalwood and jasmine. This is dry, medium bodied and well structured with supple tannin and clean acidity. Palate flavours of tart red fruit mingle with earth, smoke and spice. There’s good length through the mouth-watering finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

88drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Heartland ‘Stickleback Red’ 2014
South Australia $14.95 (116574) 14.5% alcohol
Fashioned by one of Australia’s premiere winemakers, Ben Glaetzer, this unique red blend—73% shiraz, 16% dolcetto, 11% cabernet sauvignon—offers pleasing aromas of spiced dark berry fruit, smoke, tobacco and black pepper. Smooth and creamy on the palate, a rush of dark cherry and blackberry flavours are lifted by notes of cloves and replays of black pepper. Dry, full bodied, with well-integrated tannin and alcohol, enjoy this with grilled burgers. (Lisa Isabelle)

86drink or cellar
Le Cirque Grenache Noir/Carignan/Syrah 2014
IGP Côtes Catalanes $16.95 (277079) 14.5% alcohol
Hand-harvested and sourced from +50-year-old vines, this medium-garnet blend—60% grenache, 20% carignan, 20% syrah—displays a quiet nose of red cherry, oak and burnt sugar. The palate is more generous with a medley of red and black cherry, cranberry, licorice and a touch of black peppercorn lingering on a tart and spicy finish. Pour with a mix of gourmet sausage, assorted mustards and baguette. (Louise Boutin)

88drink now
Thema White 2015
PGI Drama $18.95 (178442) 13.0% alcohol
This aromatic Greek blend of sauvignon blanc and assyrtiko offers attractive aromas of tart citrus, green apple, hay and a subtle floral note. It spent three months on its lees prior to bottling and delivers a nicely-textured wash of green apple, lemon, melon and herbs. Dry, medium-light bodied, uplifting citrus flavours endure through the long finish. Enjoy with a shrimp and vegetable stir-fry. (Lisa Isabelle)

85drink or cellar
Quinta de Cabriz ‘Colheita Selecionada’ 2014
DOA Dão $13.95 (247973) 13.0% alcohol
This medium-ruby red blend—40% alfrocheiro, 40% tinta roriz and 20% touriga nacional—matured six months in French oak before bottling. Aromas of red berry fruit, dark sweet cherry and damp earth aromas dominate the nose. It’s medium bodied with soft tannins and crunchy flavours focused on tart red fruit—cherry, cranberry and pomegranate—streaking over the palate and brief finish. This pours well with a charcuterie platter. (Louise Boutin)

89drink or cellar Oh Canada!

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2015

VQA Ontario $49.95 (388306) 375 mL 9.5% alcohol

This vidal icewine from Niagara expresses itself without reservation starting with lifted aromas of apricot, lemon and earthy notes. It blankets the palate with a textured wash of apricot tart, lime-soaked guava and orange marmalade. Lemon zest and grilled pineapple provide semblance of balance on the finish and aftertaste. Serve well chilled on its own or paired with fruit flan or blue cheese. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Whisky: Scotland

90drink or cellar
The Arran Distillery Isle of Arran 14-Year-old Malt Whisky
Scotland $89.95 700 mL (210229) 46.0% alcohol
From the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, this is matured in sherry and bourbon casks and shows beautiful shades of pale-copper. The initial medicinal-like aromas on the nose quickly give way to inviting vanilla, poached pear, ginger, butterscotch and orange peel. Flavours of ripe pineapple, nutmeg and a balancing touch of fleur de sel bathe the palate. This is medium weight, neither chilled nor filtered with mellow, well-integrated alcohol; it’s sure to please fruit and spice enthusiasts. (Louise Boutin)


89drink or cellar
Christian Drouin ‘Coeur de Lion Sélection’ Calvados

AOC Calvados $42.95 700 mL (254128) 40.0% alcohol

Aromas of freshly cut apple with piquant spice abound—wait ten seconds after you gently swirl to allow sharp spirit aromas to dissipate. It’s absolutely delicious—apple and caramel—with a round, warm, creamy mouthfeel. The Drouins—3rd generation, family-owned producers—suggest this value-packed, entry-level, double-distilled gem be drunk as an aperitif, over the rocks or in a cocktail—two parts Calvados with one part tonic water—it can also be used in cooking, here are the Drouin’s recipes. (Vic Harradine)


88drink or cellar Oh Canada!

Lakeview Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 

VQA Niagara Peninsula $29.95 (53397) 375ml 11.0% alcohol

Aromas of fresh red berries, dried cherry, rosewater and potpourri drift from the glass of this intensely flavoured dessert wine. Luscious in texture, intensely flavourful and honeyed, the fine backbone of classic acidity balances and accents the berry flavours and delivers a lingering sumptuous aftertaste. Serve with your favorite chocolate torte along with raspberry coulis. (Susan Desjardins)

Sparkling Wine

88drink now
Louis Bouillot ‘Perle d’Ivoire’ Blanc de Blancs Brut Non-Vintage

OC Crémant de Bourgogne $19.95 (48801) 12.0% alcohol

Dry, light in body, offering a fine creamy mousse, this lovely Crémant balances refreshing vibrant acidity, clean minerality and subtle notes of citrus, green apple and brioche. Long and bright on the finish; it’s very good value and can be enjoyed on its own or with light appetizers. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: White Wine

92drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Fielding ‘Estate Bottled’ Riesling 2016

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment $19.95 (251439) 10.8% alcohol

The price-quality balance tips wildly in your favour here. Petrol, mineral and citrus aromas waft from this beautiful, fruit-driven gem. A river of ripe orchard fruit—pear and apple—intertwine with racy tang—white grapefruit, Key lime and soft Meyer lemon—providing a balanced and beautiful mouthful of flavour. This is mid weight with good texture and a long, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour with grilled or pan-seared fish or seafood. (Vic Harradine)

92drink now Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (89029) 10.0% alcohol
An assortment of hand-harvested grapes from select vineyards in the Niagara Peninsula fashioned this delectable fruit-forward, off-dry, low-alcohol gem. Fragrant petrol notes introduce ripe nectarine, grapefruit, Asian pear aromas and a whiff of nutmeg. The palate’s mellow with rich, stone fruit flavours flirting with perfectly balanced acidity and minerality. This is perfect to sip on its own or paired with pomelo and spicy crab salad. (Louise Boutin)

Ontario: Red Wine

89drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Creekside Estate ‘Queenston Road’ Pinot Noir 2014

VQA St. David’s Bench $24.95 (415877) 12.5% alcohol

Beet red in the glass, this classic cool-climate Pinot Noir layers lovely earthy, cedar scents on field berry and cherry accented with sweet vanilla and spice aromas. The keen acidity and perceptible tannins are a great frame for the tangy red berry fruit while earthy beetroot and mineral character add depth on the palate. It’s medium bodied, with a long, dry, fruity finish—this is excellent value. (Susan Desjardins)

92drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Speck Family - Reserve’ Baco Noir 2015

VQA Ontario $24.95 (461699) 13.5% alcohol

Grilled roasted herbs and dark cherry/berry fruit aromas unfurl from this medium-full bodied, nicely balanced, generously textured baco. A stream of sweet-tinged dark fruit flavours envelop the palate with black plum compote and bramble berry jam to the fore infused with a potpourri of spice. This was aged 13 months in new and seasoned American oak, now well integrated, and finds perfect dance partners with grilled, smoked back ribs mopped in spicy barbecue sauce or your favourite red pizza. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wines

90drink or cellar
Buena Vista ‘The Count Founder’s Red’ 2014
Napa Valley $26.95 (382267) 14.5% alcohol
This proprietary red blend is from an 1857 pioneer winery in Sonoma. It shows an attractive nose—juicy black cherry, cassis, blueberry, baking spice and cedar—that are replayed on the palate with silky tannins and balancing acidity. It finishes with full-bodied structure and notes of ripe juicy black fruit and a cool touch of mint. It’s the perfect companion to barbecued pork ribs. (Louise Boutin)

California: Red Wine

• The following 2014 Hess ‘Select’ Cabernet Sauvignon is yet another excellent Wine of the Month selection delivering elegance, persistent pure fruit flavour at a reasonable price point.

93drink or cellar
Hess ‘Select’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

North Coast $24.95 (25080) 13.5% alcohol

Hess is a go-to producer for those seeking restrained elegance in value-for-money wine. This showcases a balanced-on-a-pin Sonoma Cab with good structure and persistent purity of fruit at a reasonable price point. Aromas of baking spice and dark cherry/berry fruit translate to a medium bodied, well-textured stream of palate-bathing flavours with black currant and pie cherry interlaced with minty notes and baking spice—nutmeg, cinnamon and traces of ginger. It finishes balanced, long and mouth-watering good. (Vic Harradine)

Red Wine: Oregon

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Redhawk ‘Grateful Red’ Pinot Noir 2015
Willamette Valley, Oregon $21.95 (48710) 13.7% alcohol
The distinctive pale-garnet pinot robe showcases red cherry, damp earth, mushroom and bay leaf aromas. The velvety mouthfeel awakens with crunchy and über-tart red cherry and cranberry flavours lingering on a slightly piquant finish. This is medium bodied and has cellaring potential which should enhance the overall balance. If serving now, aerate/decant for an hour and match with pasta in fresh tomato and wild mushroom-sauce. (Louise Boutin)

Argentina: Red Wine

89drink or cellar
Finca Sophenia ‘Reserve’ Malbec 2016
Uco Valley, Mendoza $19.95 (66837) 13.5% alcohol
Produced with fruit sourced from the foothills of the Andes, this wine aged 12 months in American and French oak before bottling. A rich, expressive nose of ripe dark cherry, blackberry, milk chocolate and violet is a prelude to a nicely-textured flow of dark fruit entwined with savoury herbs and spice. It’s dry, medium-full bodied, full of value and well balanced with fine-grained tannin lining the generous, fruit-forward aftertaste. Enjoy with grilled flank steak. (Lisa Isabelle)

89drink or cellar
Norton ‘Reserva’ Malbec 2014
Mendoza $18.95 (17061) 13.5% alcohol
Deep-purple hued and invitingly aromatic, this wine showcases high-toned aromas of blackberry, black currant, graphite, dark chocolate and star anise. Dry, medium-full bodied, flavours of dark fruit, smoke and graphite are balanced by ripe tannins and fresh acidity. There’s a dusting of cocoa on the mid-length finish. This bold malbec would be a good match for rare grilled meats. (Lisa Isabelle)

Chile: Red Wine

87drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Espino Carmenère 2015
Maipo Valley $15.95 (464412) 13.7% alcohol
A full 80% of this blend, predominantly carmenère with a drop of cabernet franc, was aged eight months in oak barrels followed by a further six in bottle prior to release. It opens with powerful aromas of dark fruit entwined with savoury notions of black currant leaf, rosemary, thyme and smoke. Dry and medium-full bodied, ripe, firm tannins underpin tasty dark berry fruit mingling with notes of grilled bell pepper, dried herbs and black pepper. Savoury and spicy on the finish, it’s a match for dry-rubbed ribs. (Lisa Isabelle)

Australia: White Wine

92drink or cellar
d’Arenberg ‘The Money Spider’ Roussanne 2016

McLaren Vale $21.95 (656710) 12.7% alcohol

A quiet nose of floral notes with wisps of tropical fruit aromas open this mid-weight Roussanne—only free-run juice used without malolactic conversion. Flavours of melon, tang-laden lemon-lime and hints of grilled pineapple race over the palate with great élan. It finishes in a blaze of racy grapefruit with soft pith infusing the tangy finish and aftertaste. Pour with prawn ceviche or freshly shucked oysters. (Vic Harradine)

89drink or cellar
Fowles ‘Stone Dwellers’ Chardonnay 2016
Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria $19.95 (336958) 13.5% alcohol
The price-quality ratio here skews well in your favour. Aromas of red apple, Bosc pear, pineapple and lemon with notes of buttered toast and spice open this dry, mid-weight white. The creamy-textured palate is lively and bright with flavours of citrus, ripe orchard fruit, spice and vanilla extending into the lengthy finish. Well-balanced and flavourful, pour alongside roast pork with apples. (Lisa Isabelle)

Australia: Red Wine

90drink or cellar
Dandelion Vineyards ‘Lionheart of the Barossa’ Shiraz 2016
Barossa $21.95 (167189) 14.5 % alcohol
Produced from old-vine shiraz, many over 100 years of age, this value-laden beauty spent 18 months in French oak barrel and was left unfiltered before bottling. Abundant dark fruit aromas—blackberry, cassis and black currant—sprinkled with anise and baking spices rise easily from the glass. Dry, full bodied with velvety tannin, succulent dark fruit flavours dominate the palate adorned with spice and earthy notes while a note of mint permeates the long finish. Pair with herb-encrusted rack of lamb. (Lisa Isabelle)

87drink or cellar
Small Gully ‘Mr. Black’s Little Book’ Shiraz 2015
Barossa Valley $18.95 (287979) 15.0% alcohol
Appealing notes of herbs, spice, vanilla and black pepper pair with dark plum, blackberry and cassis aromas on the nose of this dry, medium-full bodied gem. A silky wash of well-ripened dark fruit flavours surge over the palate layered with anise, sweet vanilla and peppery notes. It’s well balanced with a lingering fruit-driven finish. Pair with sticky barbecued ribs. (Lisa Isabelle)

91drink or cellar
Yalumba ‘The Strapper’ GSM 2014

Barossa Valley, South Australia $19.95 (295873) 13.5% alcohol

Piquant spice and red berry fruit aromas precede a deftly balanced flow of sweet-tinged black currant and ripe blackberry forming a perfect partnership on the palate with red currant and cranberry—love at first sight with each sip as good or better than the previous. This is medium-plus bodied with good mouthfeel and a balanced, dry, lip-smacking finish. Give this a go on its own, it’s lovely; or if you must, pour with grilled rack of Australian lamb. Terrific value here. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

88drink now
HãHã Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough $18.95 (388363) 13.0% alcohol
HãHã is the Maori word for savoury and luscious and this doesn’t disappoint. Shy on the nose, muted aromas of passion fruit, mango and lemon-lime segue to ripe tropical fruit and tangy citrus flavours with a sprinkling of fresh herbs on the palate. Dry, medium-light bodied, it’s nicely textured with a vibrant, refreshing finish. Pair with vegetable quiche. (Lisa Isabelle)

France: White Wine

87drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Cave de Beblenheim ‘Heimberger - Vieilles Vignes’ Riesling 2015
AOC Alsace $16.95 (168955) 13.0% alcohol
This riesling was sourced from 30 year-old-vines and offers a shy nose that a requires a vigorous swirl before revealing mineral notes followed by peach and petrol aromas. The palate is round and soft with flavours of ripe fruit—yellow apple, pear and peach—persisting into a slightly warm finish and a refreshing bite on the aftertaste. Pour now to 2020 paired with a simple, smoked-salmon appetizer. (Louise Boutin)

92drink or cellar
Château de Sancerre Sancerre 2015
AOC Sancerre $25.95 (340893) 13.5% alcohol
From the heart of the 1000-year-old Sancerre vineyards, this offers the quality level wine-lovers expect. It has loads of appeal on the nose with aromas of yellow apple, ripe pineapple, pink grapefruit and lovely flinty-mineral notes. Delicious flavours of fresh apricot and pink grapefruit bring perfect acidity and sweetness to a lingering, crisp, mineral finish. This is perfect for a baked-cod filet dressed with a fresh pineapple salsa. (Louise Boutin)

88drink now
Domaine des Aspes Chardonnay/Viognier 2016
IGP Pays d’Oc $16.95 (673053) 14.5% alcohol
This barrel-fermented white blend aged on lees for five months. The viognier seems to hide behind the chardonnay on the nose until blossoming forth with notes of peach, yellow apple, apricot and a soupçon of vanilla. The palate is ample and round focusing on orchard fruit flavours with a good balance of acidity and nicely integrated alcohol. Medium-plus bodied with a mild bitter almond and vanilla finish, it’s drinking well pairs well with a stuffed-with-apricot, grilled, pork loin. (Louise Boutin)

France: Red Wine

• The following 2014 Château Grange Cochard ‘Vielles Vignes’ Morgon is 100% gamay from +40-year-old low-yielding vines in a top Beaujolais Cru appellation. Fruit was whole-bunch fermented in open vats and eventually matured in 3000 L, old oak foudres.

89drink now
Château Grange Cochard ‘Vielles Vignes’ Morgon 2014
AOP Morgon $16.95 (469627) 13.0% alcohol
This is bursting with value and red fruit flavours—raspberry compote, strawberry and cherry jubilee—taking you on a silky textured red fruit ride on the very first sip until taste buds are treated to a pomegranate tartness on the finish. This is a well-structured, medium-bodied Beaujolais that pours perfectly with grilled salmon filet or lightly breaded veal scaloppini. (Louise Boutin)

89drink or cellar
Château Lagrange 2013
AOC Lussac Saint-Émillion $19.95 (230391) 13.0% alcohol
This right bank, good-value Bordeaux blend—70% merlot, 30% cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and malbec—shows signs of maturation in its rich, medium-garnet robe. The appealing aromas include ripe black cherry, baking spice and light whiffs of bell pepper and oak. Palate-coating flavours of tart red fruit and cassis are framed by grippy tannins and underpinned by piquant spice on the dry, medium-length finish. Aerate/decant an hour before pouring with steak-frite. (Louise Boutin)

91drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
S. Delafont Mosaïque 2016
AOP Languedoc $17.95 (482455) 13.5% alcohol
Artisan-negociant Samuel Delafont captures the best of Languedoc by assembling top-quality juice from lesser-known, organic/biodynamic producers. This particular distinctively Languedoc red blend is 40% syrah, 30% grenache, 15% mourvèdre, 15% carignan. Seductive aromas of ripe black fruit—blackberry compote, black plum and black cherry—replay on the palate with baking spice, vanilla and tart cassis flavours. This is medium bodied with soft tannins and enough acidity to offer a medium-length, lively, juicy finish. It’s versatile with food and pours perfectly with well-seasoned grilled, red meat. (Louise Boutin)

89drink or cellar
Pierre Amadieu ‘La Grangelière’ Vacqueyras 2015
AOC Vacqueyras $22.95 (76398) 14.5% alcohol
Vacqueyras is located a short distance south of Gigondas and Pierre Amadieu owns vineyards in both appellations. Aromas of red cherry, mushroom and cedar introduce this fruit-forward red blend of grenache and syrah. An über silky-textured wash of tart red fruit and blackberry flavours wash over the palate adorned with earthy notes and a taste of sweet vanilla on the finish. Pour this medium-full bodied now to 2020 alongside charcuterie and an aged cheese selection. (Louise Boutin)

Greece: White Wine

• This is not a suggestion that you test this; however, the following 2014 Costa Lazaridi ‘Amethystos Red’ is one of this winery’s ‘Amethystos’ line and they mention an ‘Amethystos’ is a semi-precious stone that protects one from drunkenness. Best to remember, always drink in moderation.

88drink or cellar
Costa Lazaridi ‘Amethystos Red’ 2014
PGI Drama $24.95 (724831) 14.0% alcohol
Opaque ruby red in colour, this interesting blend of predominantly cabernet sauvignon with a touch of merlot and the indigenous agiorgitiko balances dark fruit aromas with savoury notions of dried herbs, green bell pepper, black pepper and smoke. This is dry, full bodied and well-structured with firm tannin. Blackberry and cassis flavours flow over the concentrated palate joined by fresh lip-smacking acidity, briny black olive and thyme on the enduring finish. (Lisa Isabelle)

Italy: White Wine

86drink now
Zenati Pinot Grigio 2016

IGT Delle Venezie $16.95 (37648) 12.5% alcohol

This is finely honed with gentle aromas and flavours throughout. Wisps of honey, floral and citrus aromas foreshadow a lean line of tang with white grapefruit and lemon zest to the fore. The finish is clean, crisp and refreshing. It’s a lighter-styled pinot grigio that sips well on its own and also pairs with pan-seared fish and other seafood. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

88drink or cellar
Cerbaia Brunello di Montalcino 2007
DOCG Brunello di Montalcino $43.95 (652446) 14.0 % alcohol
Pale-garnet in colour, compelling aromas of cherry, raisin, spice and a tangy balsamic notes open this medium-bodied sangiovese. Nicely structured, the palate displays red cherry-berry flavours and earthy, herbal undertones balanced by vibrant acidity and a backbone of firm tannin. It finishes mid length and dry with a hint of anise on the aftertaste. Pair with grilled venison chops. (Lisa Isabelle)

90drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Lornano Chianti Classico 2013
DOCG Chianti Classico $17.95 (211599) 14.5 % alcohol
The expressive nose of this 100% sangiovese from the original heart of the Chianti region showcases cherry and plum aromas layered with appealing notes of sweet pipe tobacco, leather, mushroom and violet. It’s dry and mid-plus weight with flavours of red cherry, strawberry, garrigue and tea leaves enveloping the palate and extending through the lengthy, flavourful finish. Enjoy with tomato-based pasta dishes. (Lisa Isabelle)

86drink or cellar
Remo Farina Montecorna Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2015
DOC Valpolicella $19.95 (56267) 14.0 % alcohol
This corvina, corvinone, rondinella, molinara blend offers aromas of cherry and strawberry jam notes with hints of raisin, cloves and cocoa. Dried berry fruit accented with spice and sweet vanilla coat the palate. Supple, perceptible tannin and fresh acidity weave together nicely ensuring a dry, medium-bodied, smooth, lingering finish enhanced by a two-hour aeration/decant. (Lisa Isabelle)

• The following 2010 Sartori ‘Corte Brà’ Amarone Della Valpolicella is from a name recognized in Veneto since 1898. They perpetuate a tradition of excellence and quality for which this Amarone is a prime example.

92drink or cellar
Sartori ‘Corte Brà’ Amarone Della Valpolicella 2010
DOCG Amarone Della Valpolicella $49.95 (225540) 15.5% alcohol
Classic dried fruit aromas—raisin and prune with red plum—are complemented with baking spice and licorice on the nose. Palate-coating flavours of sweet dry fig with a replay of red plum and dry savory herbs trail on the medium-long, heart-warming and flavourful finish. This full-bodied balanced beauty will partner perfectly with lamb shank— dried-fruit decorated and slowly-braised. (Louise Boutin)

Portugal: Red Wine

87drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Vale Do Bomfim 2015
DOC Douro $12.95 (167676) 14.0% alcohol
This red blend, from indigenous Portuguese varieties, is made by Dow, the vaunted Port producer, and crafted from tinta barroca, touriga franca and touriga nacional grapes. It offers fresh black fruit aromas—cherry, blackberry and plum—along with fresh red raspberry and toasty notes that all replay on the palate. This is medium-full bodied with juicy acidity and grippy tannins ending on notes of cassis and mild cedar. This’ll gain in complexity and softness with a two-hour aeration/decant or additional cellaring. This calls for well-seasoned, rare-grilled T-bone steak. (Louise Boutin)

Spain: Red Wine

89drink or cellar
Ardal Crianza 2013

DO Ribera del Duero $19.95 (167601) 14.0% alcohol

If there’s such a thing as, ‘New World-styled wines’, this could be the poster wine for the category, notwithstanding it’s from the ‘Old World’. This is ripe, rich and raring to go. Aromas of smoke and cherry/berry fruit dominate the nose and replay on the palate with a medium-plus bodied, well-textured river of dark bramble berry, raisin and red pie cherry mingling with spice, espresso roast and black licorice galore. It finishes lengthy and lip-smacking good with oodles of delectable tang. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2011 Covento San Francisco ‘Special Selection’ Riserva is only produced in exceptional vintages and is sourced from 65 - 101 year-old vines that are superb expressions of the tempranillo grape. It spent 12-16 months in oak barrels, 90% French, 10% American then 24-36 months of bottle maturation bringing great structure and cellaring potential.

91drink or cellar
Covento San Francisco ‘Special Selection’ Riserva 2011
DO Ribera del Duero $37.95 (185751) 15.0% alcohol
The nose is a complex potpourri— black cherry, black plum, sandalwood, black tea and peppery aromas. It truly shines on the silky, full-bodied and fully textured palate with ripe juicy black cherry, cassis and licorice flavours merging with chewy tannins. The finish and aftertaste deliver a balanced, dry, peppery finish. Aerate/decant two hours and pour now to 2025 with grilled, red meat and roasted vegetables. (Louise Boutin)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: September 15, 2018

87drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham Estate Pinot Noir 2016
VQA Short Hills Bench $24.95 (268391) 13.5% alcohol
Delicate aromas of red fruit, spice, violet and dry leaves open this cool-climate Niagara Pinot Noir. The palate is crisp and juicy offering flavours of cherry, plum, baking spices and a distinct mineral undertone. Dry, medium bodied, with fine-grained tannin, there’s a tart, tangy cranberry note to be enjoyed on the mid-length finish. Enjoy as an aperitif with a charcuterie platter. (Lisa Isabelle)

Vintages Release: TBD 2018

88drink now Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Family Tree - Red’ 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (247882) 13.5% alcohol
Syrah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and a touch of baco noir were blended to produce this intriguing red as it showcases highlights of each variety. Aromas of ripe dark fruit, savoury herbs, smoke, vanilla and a pleasant gaminess tempt the nose. Dry and medium-full bodied with silky texture, the palate unleashes a stream of cherry-berry fruit, vanilla and spice finishing lengthy with a lovely black pepper aftertaste. (Lisa Isabelle)

• From the oldest vineyards of the estate, the following 2016 Henry of Pelham ‘Speck Family - Reserve’ Pinot Noir was sourced from vines where planting by the Speck brothers began in 1988. Niagara pinot vines approaching three decades of age are a bit of a rarity.

89drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Speck Family - Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2016
VQA Short Hills Bench $34.95 (657874) 13.5% alcohol
A medium-garnet bowl and a Burgundian nose —red cherry, forest floor, gamy notes and dried, rose petal aromas—lead the parade for this classy pinot. On the palate, tart red cherry, cranberry and mushroom notes persist through the lingering dry, savory herb and slightly warm finish. This is medium-bodied with good tannin structure suggesting cellaring potential while very enjoyable now. This will pair well with your favorite stuffed Portobello recipe. (Louise Boutin)

90drink or cellar 
Tenuta Le Colonne 2015
DOC Bolgheri $19.95 (544619) 13.5% alcohol
The Bolgheri appellation is a relative newcomer to Italian system; it’s located in the Maremma region known for its Super Tuscans. The blend of 70% cabernet franc, 20% merlot, 10% cabernet sauvignon was aged 12 months in large oak barrels before bottling. Lifted aromas of blackberry, dark plum, prune, black currant leaf and a hint of truffle segue to succulent cherry and blackberry flavours on the palate with distinct notions of herb and spice. Medium-full bodied with well-integrated tannin, there are pleasant savoury notes reminiscent of Mediterranean herbs on the lengthy, dry finish. Pour this tasty, well-balanced red with rare roast beef. (Lisa Isabelle)

New in Vintages

87drink or cellar
Buena Vista ‘The Legendary Badge’ Petite Sirah 2016
California $17.95 (545772) 14.5% alcohol
This deep-purple hued, proprietary red blend—predominantly petite sirah and cabernet sauvignon—delivers a pleasing, ripe, fruity, spicy nose with blackberry, black plum compote, kirsch liqueur and spice. A wash of juicy black fruit floods the palate along with dark chocolate on the fruit-forward finish with chalky tannins adding structure. Just below off-dry on the sweetness scale, it’s full-bodied and will please the most discriminating in your barbecue-party crowd. (Louise Boutin)

83drink now Oh Canada!
Fancy Farm Girl ‘Flamboyant Red’ 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (394080) 12.5% alcohol
This Bordeaux blend—45% cabernet sauvignon, 40% cabernet franc, 15% merlot—matured in French and American oak for six months. It displays a rich bouquet—black cherry, raspberry, green pepper, cedar and sweet smoke. The palate replays black cherry in a sweet, candied version along with tart raspberry and ripe blackberry leading to a chalky/mineral finish. It’s ready to drink now and pairs well with roast turkey and cranberry jelly. (Louise Boutin).

New in the LCBO Portfolio

91drink or cellar Exceptional Value! Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (291211) 13.5% alcohol
This well-balanced beauty displays aromas of honeycrisp apple, peach, pineapple and lemon curd. The palate’s treated to an abundance of orchard fruit—red apple, poached pear and peach—with hints of lemon and grapefruit pith. Dry, medium-light bodied, and nicely textured, the refreshing citrus notes persist through the lengthy finish. Pick up a bottle to enhance a mid-week, roast chicken dinner. (Lisa Isabelle)

83drink now Oh Canada!
Sue-Ann Staff ‘Fancy Farm Girl-Frivolous White’ 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (394072) 11.5% alcohol
This 100% Niagara Riesling offers aromas of red apple, grapefruit and peach with wisps of honey and pretty floral notes. Decidedly off-dry and nicely textured, sweet orchard fruit replays on the palate with hints of peach pie. This easy-going well-priced white can be enjoyed on its own or alongside your favourite Thai curry. (Lisa Isabelle)

86drink now Oh Canada!
Fancy Farm Girl ‘Frissonesque’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
VQA Niagara Peninsula $16.95 (552059) 12.5% alcohol
This 100% sauvignon blanc—from the 5th generation Niagara agriculturist Staff family and their respected, talented winemaker, Sue-Ann Staff—has a clean zesty tropical nose—starfruit, guava, pineapple, and a touch of freshly mown lawn. Fresh and crisp on the palate, the herbaceous flavours meld with pink grapefruit and white grapes paving the way to a lightly pithy/mineral, clean and refreshing finish. Drink now and pair with a fresh-dill rubbed and baked cod fillet with steamed asparagus. (Louise Boutin)

Feature: Ceretto Wines

by Louise Boutin

I was fortunate enough to taste the following wines at an event hosted by Ceretto’s Ontario wine agent, Noble Estates Wine & Spirits at the vibrant Shore Club restaurant in the Westin Hotel, Ottawa alongside Head Winemaker Allessandro Ceretto and his assistant, David Fletcher.

‘The land is the soul of our wines’, is still the motto guiding winemaking at Ceretto’s as it has for the past half century. Given their prestigious location in the heart of Langhe-Roero region, a UNESCO world heritage site since 2014, showcasing this unique feature is now a proud tradition. Combined with the visionary approach of the previous generation who in the early 1960’s first introduced the concept of ‘cru’ in this region, it’s now these third-generation artisans perpetuating family traditions along with a contemporary twist reflected in the wines via their organic/biodynamic approach to agriculture, and their winery appearance showcased in the distinctive architecture of their winery sites.

New in Consignment Wine

• The agent informs us all the following wines are presently available, place your order online now, by the case of 6 for any wine via Noble Estates Wine & Spirits for delivery to your home, office or restaurant.

White Wine

90drink now
Ceretto Moscato d’Asti 2016
DOCG Moscato d’Asti $29.99 5.0% alcohol
This pale-yellow, 100% muscat blanc à petits grains, aka Moscato, is irresistibly aromatic—lychee, poached pear, ripe nectarine and white-flower honey. It’s a low-alcohol delight with plenty of spritzy bubbles. There’s also perfect citrus balance on the palate along with replays of aromas plus tangerine and apricot flavours. The fermentation process is interrupted leaving enough residual sugar to consider this a dessert wine. However, it’s a huge hit at brunch or any time of day with both savoury and sweet dishes. (Louie Boutin)

89drink now
Ceretto Blangé Arneis 2016
DOC Langhe $34.99 (729087) 13.0% alcohol
A surprise to many wine lovers, 35% of Piedmont grape production is from white grapes. This single-varietal, biodynamic arneis is clean and fruity with mineral aromas preceding bright palate flavours of green apple, pear, grapefruit and replays of delightful mineral notes. It also shows a desirable spritzy tingle on the palate contributing to the delightful, crisp bite on the refreshing, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. It’s perfect as an appetizer or on its own—pour with seafood or lighter-styled appetizers. (Louise Boutin)

Red Wine

92drink or cellar
Ceretto Nebbiolo ‘Bernardina’ 2015
DOC Nebbiolo d’Alba $39.99 14.0% alcohol
This 100% nebbiolo shares similar soil qualities as Barolo, its vines grow just outside the boundary. This exudes, fresh red-fruit aromas—cherry, cranberry, pomegranate—further enhanced with fresh rose petals and piquant mineral notes. A velvet-textured wash of juicy red cherry and ripe raspberry flavour pours over the palate with deft balance, fine tannin and refreshing acidity along with hints of anise on the dry finish. This medium-full bodied beauty will cellar, but hard to resist now. Pour with a creamy parmesan, prosciutto and fennel risotto. (Louise Boutin)

• The following Ceretto Barolo 2013 is an example of the classic expression of Ceretto nebbiolo; it’s been produced since 1962. Fruit was sourced from four distinct communes having two different soil compositions, combining the yin and the yang of truly great Barolos.

95drink or cellar
Ceretto Barolo 2013
DOCG Barolo $79.99 (543884) 14.0% alcohol
The complexity and softness of dry rose petals, forest floor and delicate balsamic notes on the nose meet expressive flavours of dried and fresh cherry infused with notes of anise. Full bodied and firm, tannins trail into a long, delectable dry finish enhanced by cocoa powder and cinnamon notes. It’ll develop further with additional cellaring up to 2035 but can be enjoyed now with a three-hour aeration/decant served with osso buco. (Louise Boutin)

96drink or cellar
Ceretto Barolo Cru Brunate 2013
DOCG Barolo $159.99 (97733) 14.0% alcohol
This is from the Brunate landmark vineyard in the commune of La Morra where Ceretto owns five and one-half hectares. A sumptuous complex bouquet greets you with red cherry, licorice, leather, dry rose petals and dry fig aromas. The depth of flavours on the palate is quite impressive—red cherry, dry fruit, earthy truffle and savory herbs impeccably unified with silky-textured tannins, all delivering a long, elegant dry finish. This stunning barolo pours well with braised beef short-ribs and wild mushrooms/truffles. Pour now, after a two-hour aeration/decant, and on to 2035. (Louise Boutin)

Cheers, Vic, Louise, Lisa