June 19, 2014 Newsletter

Oh Canada! Canada Day is just around the corner; you’ll want to stock up on Canadian wines. They’re winning accolades, medals and trophies at home and all over the world against international competitors. We’ve flagged them Oh Canada!. Most are available now and you can take advantage of stunning vintages experienced recently in Ontario—2010 and 2012. There are 28 wines to choose from in this issue.

Highlights include:

  • Exceptional value wines  – only 7 of 106 wines meet the strict, quality-price guidelines – all under $20.; four in the Main Release with three following, all identified by the Exceptional Value!  icon. What strict, quality-price guidelines? Click here
  • Susan Selects – one of the first wines in the Main Release, Gruhier Crémant de Bourgogne ‘Extra Brut’ Non-Vintage, $20.95 and 4½ stars. 
  • Vic Picks – located just a few wines after Susan’s selection, Peninsula Ridge ‘Beal Vineyard – Inox Reserve’ Chardonnay 2010, $18.95 and 4½ stars 
  • 5-star wines – no wine rang the 5-star bell. 
  • Private Order/Consignment Wine – If you haven’t cast bait in these waters, this is a good time to try your luck. There are 20 wines reviewed at the end of this newsletter, not in LCBO stores, you can order by the case from the agents. 

Access 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. You can tighten your search criteria by using the drop-down box. You can also see the number of bottles available in each store. For Vintages Release wines, the stock should be showing on the site by the Friday before a Saturday release with some stores posting earlier. For LCBO Portfolio wines, it should closely reflect stock in stores, updated every 24 hours, still best to phone first.  

Vintages Release: June 21, 2014

Feature: Various varietals

****1/2drink or cellar
Vincent et Julien Raimbault ‘Bel-Air’ 2012
AOC Loire Valley, France $19.95 (205468) 12.5% alcohol
Spiced floral notes and buckwheat honey on the nose, this delivers a huge mouthful of ripe juicy ambrosia—yellow peach, Mirabelle plum and nectarine—beautifully balanced with a ladleful of tangy acidity from Key lime and zesty lemon. It’s medium bodied and nicely textured, racy, refreshing and lip-smacking delicious. There’s very good value in this Chenin Blanc. (Vic Harradine)

Ken Forrester ‘Old Vine Reserve’ Chenin Blanc 2012
WO Stellenbosch, South Africa $17.95 (231282) 14.0% alcohol
This is worth putting away for a couple of years, it’ll reward careful cellaring. The iconic Forrester resurrected historic, derelict vineyards; this was sourced from 35-year-old, low-trellis and bush vines, barrel and tank fermented, left on lees. Honeysuckle lanolin and nutty notes open up zest-laden floodgates for racy lemon and blood orange galore on the palate and through the crisp, refreshing aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Bachelder ‘Saunders Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2011
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara $44.95 (324103) 13.5% alcohol
The Montreal-born Thomas Bachelder, fashions premium wine in Niagara, Oregon and Burgundy. Alluring aromas of exotic spice, floral notes and wisps of toast introduce a balanced and beautiful, stylish and structured river of ripe melon and pit fruit robed in racy lemon and lime. It’s balanced and medium-full bodied with good mouth feel and a lengthy, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste of grilled pineapple, minerality, baking spice and oodles of charm. Pair with lemon chicken. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink now
La Crema Chardonnay 2012
Sonoma Coast, California $28.95 (962886) 13.5% alcohol
The majority of fruit was French-oak barrel fermented then aged for four months with lees stirred during that time. Caramel, peach and spice aromas herald rich luscious flavours of lemon pie, toffee apple and white nectarine. It’s mid-full bodied with creamy smooth texture, great balance and fruit forward. The finish lingers with honeyed pit fruit and spiced, baked apple. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink or cellar
Schloss Schönborn ‘Erbacher Marcobrunn’ Kabinett Riesling 2008
Prädikatswein, Rheingau, Germany $21.95 (928861) 9.5% alcohol
Exotic spice, floral notes and honeyed pit fruit aromas set the table for a sweet and tang experience of ripe peach and pineapple juxtaposed to, and beautifully balanced by, a racy zesty seam of lemon and lime citrus. This is full bodied and fully flavoured with a generously textured mouth feel. It’s right at home poured with spicy Asian dishes. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink or cellarOh Canada!
Norman Hardie Riesling 2012
VQA Ontario $21.00 (131169) 10.2% alcohol
Honeyed peach and nectarine aromas mingle with wisps of lemon zest heralding slightly off-dry flavours of lime cordial, grapefruit and minerality. This has nerve and verve with great sense of purpose and a generous mouth feel. Crisp, mouth-watering flavours replay on the monumentally long, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. It’s stylish, structured and value-laden from one of Canada’s top tier producers. Pour with grilled spiced calamari rings. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Dog Point Pinot Noir 2011
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand $49.95 (329672) 14.0% alcohol
Better known for their classy Sauvignon Blanc, this Pinot, spending 18 months in mostly seasoned French-oak barrels, is also worth considering. Savory herbs, tomato leaf and mixed spice on the nose this dishes up a balanced, smooth and mellow mouthful of red cherry and black currant flavours interwoven with piquant spice. It’s mid weight with good texture and a finish that’s underpinned by soft tannin and framed by a dry, racy aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Château de Gaudou ‘Grand Lignée Malbec-Merlot’ 2010
AOC Cahors, France $18.95 (370239) 14.0% alcohol
Piquant spice and cedar aromas precede a read and black cherry/berry fruit and sprigs of local herbs that’s framed by a broad beam of racy acidity and underpinned by a wall of still-evolving tannin. Pop corks 2016 and beyond. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink or cellar
Finca Agostino ‘Inicio’ Malbec 2011 

Mendoza, Argentina $14.95 (330670) 13.5% alcohol 

Rosewood, cooked plum and baking spice aromas introduce rich, tangy waves of red cherry and black currant interweaving with dark coffee and truffle bathing the palate, infusing the balanced finish. This is medium weight with decent mouth feel and an aftertaste layering on juicy acidity and wisps of still-resolving tannin. Aerate/decant a couple of hours before pouring. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Napa Valley $39.95 (325779) 13.5% alcohol
Aromas of dark cherry, toasty oak and espresso roast herald an über-tangy river of sour cherry and red currant that balance each other providing a delightful flavour treat. On the back palate and aftertaste there’s a flood sweet kirsch liqueur meeting up with zesty red currant for another taste treat. There’s supple tannin on the finish deserving a two-hour aeration/decant. This is complex with good structure and a lot to offer. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink or cellar
Saltram ‘Mamre Brook’ Shiraz 2011
Barossa Valley, South Australia $26.95 (03227) 14.0% alcohol
Charry campfire smoke and dark coffee bean dominate the nose and precede a racy streak of zest and tang. Red currant, cranberry and sour cherry race across the palate along with roasted savory herbs and wisps of dark berry fruit. It’s mid-full weight with decent texture and a mid-length, crisp, drying finish and aftertaste. Pour with pasta Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Papale ‘Lineo Oro’ Primitivo di Manduria 2010 

DOP Primitivo di Manduria, Italy $19.95 (261784) 14.0% alcohol 

Mushroom, Asian spice and tobacco leaf on the nose, this previous Wine of the Month showcases ripe mulberry, briary berry and sweet black plum compote. Medium bodied, rich and concentrated, it has decent mouth feel and a lingering finish showing lots of ripe fruit and oodles of spice. This Primitivo is just the ticket for smoked, grilled ribs basted with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Zig Zag Zinfandel 2011
Mendocino County, California $19.95 (039982) 14.5% alcohol
This California Zin is lighter-styled than most, but still delivers a nicely balanced, full-flavoured, spice-laden red with lots to offer. Aromas of toasty oak, spice box and dark berry fruit presage a well-balanced wash of dark cherry and bramble berry interlaced with sour cherry and red currant tang. It’s mid weight with good mouth feel and a tangy, spicy fruit-laden finish. Pour alongside grilled lamb chops. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink now
Alamos Torrontés 2013
Salta, Argentina $13.95 (081539) 13.0% alcohol
Light on its feet and heavy on the aromatics, this opens with a fruit-salad bowl of aromas—mixed spice, honeyed melon and floral notes. It sweeps over the palate with tang-laden lemon and Key lime mingling with notions of pineapple and fleshier peach and nectarine. The mid-length finish is crisp and refreshing. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink or cellar
Barone Ricasoli ‘Guicciardia’ Chianti Classico ‘Riserva’ 2010
DOCG Chianti Classico Riserva, Italy $24.95 (943613) 13.5% alcohol
Spice, savory herbs and lashings of plum and currant aromas precede lively, racy flavours of red currant and sour cherry in this medium-bodied red blend—Sangiovese with a splash each of Merlot and Cab Sauv. It’s medium weight with a crisp, dry, mouth-watering finish. Serve with pasta Bolognese. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink or cellar
Paolo Conterno ‘Riva del Bric’ Barolo 2009
DOCG Piedmont, Italy $42.95 (172783) 14.0% alcohol
The hand-picked Nebbiolo fruit was sourced from approximately 20-year-old vines. Aromas of lilac, leather and roasted herbs set the table for a lively racy river of dried dark berry fruit, sour cherry and wisps of tar and black licorice. It’s medium bodied with a long finish and aftertaste of red and black berries and plenty of tang. Pour with tenderloin of rare-grilled elk or venison. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Laurenz V ‘Friendly’ Grüner Veltliner 2012
DAC Kamptal, Austria $19.95 (066225) 12.5% alcohol
A lifted nose of floral notes, peppery spice and citrus presages a racy, lively wash of nerve and verve with Key lime pie, Meyer lemon and crisp Granny Smith apple to the fore. It finishes in tang-laden blaze of lemon zest and white grapefruit, crisp and refreshing, mouth-watering delightful. Pour with all manner of seafood. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink or cellarExceptional Value!
Viña Marty ‘Pirca’ Carmenère 2010
Central Valley, Chile $16.95 (379156) 14.0% alcohol
Sharp, lively aromas of spice, cedar and gamy notes abound. There’s structure, great balance and a medley of fruit flavours throughout—sweet ripe mulberry and black bramble berry interweave with racy red currant and red cherry and wisps of piquant spice and black licorice. It’s medium-full bodied with generous texture and a lingering, luscious finish and aftertaste. Pick up an armful. (Vic Harradine)

The Main Release

Fortified Wine: Vin Doux Naturel

****drink or cellar
Cave de Rasteau ‘Signature’ Vin Doux Naturel Rasteau 2009
AOC Rasteau $24.95 (371740) 500 mL 17.0% alcohol
Around since the 13th century, these lightly fortified dessert wines can be quite an eye opener, especially when served with chocolate dessert. If you haven’t already, this would be a good one to pick up and try. Fig, raisin and mocha on the nose, this coats the palate with black plum compote, black briary berry and sweet, ripe mulberry. It’s fully flavoured and fully textured with a tang-laden finish of dark Bing cherry dipped in bittersweet chocolate. Pour slightly chilled with tiramisu. (Vic Harradine)


****drink now
Georges Gardet ‘Cuvée Saint Flavy’ Brut Non-Vintage 

AOC Champagne $37.95 (924654) 12.0% alcohol 

This has an attractive nose of mineral, floral and heady citrus notes. There’s a lovely attack on the palate with a rush of white grapefruit and green apple flavours infused with spice and mineral nuances. It’s medium in weight and texture and offers a lingering finish that’s zesty and clean. There’s enough oomph for it to be paired with light appetizers and the extremely attractive price, as Champagne goes, allow it to be served as the welcoming wine at any, upscale gathering—including a special evening for two. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

****1/2drink or cellar
Gruhier Crémant de Bourgogne ‘Extra Brut’ Non-Vintage
AOC Bourgogne $20.95 (375428) 12.0% alcohol
Showing abundant, persistent fine mousse, this golden sparkler—a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay—wants to be bought by the case. Refinement and complexity combine in aromas of lightly toasted nut, bread dough, citrus, crisp apple and a whiff of red berry. Dry, captivating with a lovely round, creamy texture, the wine matches racy acidity to bright lively citrus, subtle toasted nut and a hint of strawberry. It’s tangy and refreshing through the lasting finish. Well chilled, it’s a great match for a deck chair on a warm summer’s day. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: White Wine

****drink or cellarOh Canada!
Angels Gate ‘Mountainview’ Riesling 2009
VQA Beamsville Bench $16.95 (373175) 12.0% alcohol
Diesel fuel, sprigs of herbs and Asian spice aromas make way for a delightful splash of lemon curd and Key lime riding a bracing wave of tang-laden flavour. It’s light-medium bodied with good texture and a lingering, crisp, refreshing aftertaste. Pour with prawn ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

****drink nowOh Canada!
Creekside ‘Laura’s White’ 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (121764) 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of savory herbs, grassy notes and mixed spice showcase a crisp and refreshing white blend with lively, clean flavours of lemon zest, honey dew melon and wisps of pine needles. It’s medium bodied and nicely textured with a balanced, dry, and fruity finish. Versatile at the table, pour with pan-seared ocean perch, roast chicken or slow-roast pork. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Peninsula Ridge ‘Beal Vineyard – Inox Reserve’ Chardonnay 2010 

VQA Beamsville Bench $18.95 13.4% alcohol 

Smooth, mellow and stylish, aromas of tropical fruit and pit fruit presage a nicely textured, medium-bodied wash of ripe nectarine, yellow apple and lemon chiffon pie bathing the palate and lengthy finish and aftertaste. Always good value and fully flavoured, this won’t disappoint. The price-quality ratio’s skewed well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Red Wine

****1/2drink or cellarOh Canada!
Pondview Cabernet/Merlot ‘Reserve’ 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (307561) 14.3% alcohol
This is a gorgeous red blend punching well above the challenging 2011 vintage. Dark cherry, gamy bits and baking spice aromas set up a gorgeous wash of dark cherry, bramble berry and dark chocolate bathing the palate in waves. It’s mid-full bodied and value-packed with generous mouth feel, balance and a lip-smacking finish. What’s not to like? (Vic Harradine)

Ontario: Rosé Wine

***1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Pondview Cabernet Franc Rosé 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (241802) 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of red cherry/berry and savory herbs announce sweet ripe fruit flavours with strawberry and candied cherry to the fore. It delivers good texture and weight with a sweet, ripe, fruit-forward finish. Pour with a mixed deli platter.

****drink nowOh Canada!
Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Rosé 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula $15.95 (172643) 12.5% alcohol
This is a dry, crisp, refreshing Rosé brimming with red fruit aroma—cherry, currant cranberry and plum. Delivering a fruit salad bowl of flavour—cherry and currant interwoven with strawberry and watermelon—it bathes the palate with weight, texture and charm. Drinking well on its own, there’s balance and structure to pair well with food; try pan-seared trout, roast chicken or turkey. There’s good value here. (Vic Harradine)

Okanagan Valley: Rosé Wine

***1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Mission Hill ‘Five Vineyards’ Rosé 2013
VQA Okanagan Valley $14.95 (229716) 13.5% alcohol
Floral notes, spice and mandarin orange aromas herald a wash of sweet, ripe fruit bathing the palate—sugared strawberries, watermelon flesh and ripe Mirabelle plum. It’s nicely textured and finishes with a racy, dry blaze of über tangy red grapefruit. Pour with sushi or sashimi. (Vic Harradine)

California: White Wine

***1/2drink now
Ca’ Momi Chardonnay 2012
Napa Valley $19.95 (361972) 13.9% alcohol
A lifted nose of ripe apple, tropical fruit and spice box announces the nicely textured wash of yellow peach, mango and racy white grapefruit. It’s medium bodied with a mid-length finish that introduces a pithy bite on the aftertaste. Pour alongside lemon chicken served with roasted parsnip and rutabaga. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Mer Soleil ‘Silver’ Unoaked Chardonnay 2012
Santa Lucia Highlands $29.95 (220343) 14.8% alcohol
The distinctive silver-coloured, ceramic bottle will attract attention on the shelf and when displayed with a single red rose in your home. Distinctive aromas of almond, honeyed apple and beeswax precede a tang-infused streak of lime cordial, lemon curd and crisp green apple on the palate, replaying on the racy finish. It’s mid-full weight with a hint of grapefruit pith on the finish. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink now
Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2012
Sonoma County $19.95 (226936) 13.5% alcohol
A complex, alluring nose of toasty, nutty notes and butterscotch toffee aromas are precursors to a racy, mouth-watering wash of lemon curd and pineapple garnished with mandarin orange and toasty oak. It’s fully flavoured and mid-full bodied with generous texture and a long tangy finish. The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

California: Red Wine

****1/2drink or cellar
Clos Du Val Zinfandel 2012
Napa Valley $24.95 (590216) 14.5% alcohol
This California Zin has more complexity and structure than most along with good balance of ripe fruit, racy tang and soft tannin. Dark berry fruit, roasted herbs, mixed spice and toasty bits on the nose foreshadow a generous palate-bathing wave of bramble berry pie and red currant jelly infused with baking spice. It’s medium-full bodied with decent texture and good tang on the dry, racy aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink or cellar
Frei Brothers ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Alexander Valley, Sonoma County $23.95 (038075) 14.0% alcohol
Mocha, dark berry fruit and charred toast aromas introduce a full-flavoured, creamy-smooth textured wave of ripe juicy mulberry, black plum compote and cassis bathing the palate and infusing the lengthy finish. Reflective of the very warm Alexander Valley this is medium-plus weight, balanced and quite enjoyably hedonistic. Pour with grilled back ribs slathered in spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine

***1/2drink now
Hartley-Ostini ‘Hitching Post - Hometown’ Pinot Noir
Santa Barbara County $28.95 (256644) 13.5% alcohol
From one of the prime, real-life locations of memorable scenes in the smash-hit movie, ‘Sideways’, Hartley-Ostini dishes up a Pinot that’s savory, racy and tang-laden. Red berry fruit, savory herbs and piquant spice aromas provide segue for a laser-like beam of red currant and cranberry riding a crest of tangy acidity robed in wisps of herbs and beetroot. It’s light-medium bodied with brushstrokes of toasty bits and a supple tannin underpinning. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Irony ‘Small Lot Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2012 

Monterey $19.95 (353227) 13.5% alcohol 

Aromas of toasty oak, mocha, red and black berry fruit precede a tangy, juicy line of racy acidity melding nicely with black plum compote, kirsch liqueur and ripe black cherry on the palate. It’s medium-bodied with good texture and finishes in a balanced wash of fruit-driven flavours. This pours well with slow-roast pork with parsnip, rutabaga and carrot. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink now
Liberty School Syrah 2011
Central Coast $18.95 (942383) 13.5% alcohol
Cracked black pepper, spice box and stewed prunes on the nose, this coats the palate with sweet vanilla, black currant pie and spice. It’s medium-full bodied with a creamy texture and a finish layering on sweet, ripe, dark fruit. Pour with grilled back ribs mopped with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Washington State: Red Wine

****1/2drink nowExceptional Value!
Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah 2011
Columbia Valley $17.00 (949651) 13.5% alcohol
Savory herbs, tapenade and dark berry/cherry fruit aromas reveal a stylish, balanced, well-paced Syrah. Black currant and dark, juicy Bing cherry garnished with notions of anise and gamy bits bathe palate, replaying on the nicely balanced, lengthy finish. It’s medium-full weight with good mouth feel and crowd-pleasing charm. Pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Milbrandt Vineyards ‘Traditions’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Columbia Valley $21.95 (237784) 13.5% alcohol
The quiet nose gives up wisps of savory herbs, dark berry fruit and spice. There’s complexity and structure throughout coupled with palate-bathing flavours of kirsch liqueur and black raspberry mingling with spice box and charred toast. Medium bodied and silky smooth, it finishes in a dry, mouth-watering blaze. Pour with pasta arrabbiata. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: Red Wine

****drink or cellar
La Posta ‘Angel Paulicci Vineyard’ Malbec 2011
Ugarteche, Mendoza $15.95 (075515) 13.5% alcohol
This offers very good value along with ripe, fruit-forward flavours, balance and touches of charm. Spice-infused aromas of wood smoke and dark berry fruit portend a balanced and beautiful wash of juicy, briary berry and black Bing cherry interlaced with notions of mint and tarry notes. It finishes lengthy and delectable with loads of ripe fruit garnished with bittersweet chocolate. Pour alongside grilled beef steak. (Vic Harradine)

Chile: Red Wine

****1/2drink or cellar
Casas Patronales ‘Reserva Privada’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Maule Valley $18.95 (274134) 14.5% alcohol
Sandalwood, black berry and mocha aromas herald a full bodied, creamy smooth wave of ripe juicy black cherry garnished with dark bittersweet chocolate and wisps of aromatic bitters. It’s full bodied with good mouth feel and a balanced finish that’s structured with oodles of charm. This pours particularly well with steak, burgers and ribs while the price-quality balance tips well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Tamaya ‘Gran Reserva’ Syrah 2011
Limari Valley $21.95 (374306) 14.5% alcohol
Piquant spice, cedar and wood smoke aromas on the nose, this dishes up a nicely balanced, generously textured mouthful of sweet and tang with red cherry and black currant mingling with mocha and roasted herbs. It’s medium weight and well balanced, especially through the lingering aftertaste, with every sip as good or better than the previous. Pour with the grilled red meat you pull off your Weber. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: White Wine

***1/2drink now
Yalumba ‘Organic’ Viognier 2102
South Australia $18.95 (288217) 14.5% alcohol
Apricot and jasmine aromas abound. It dishes up a racy river of lemon-lime citrus and spice-laden mandarin orange along with hints of honeydew melon. There’s a distinctive bite of grapefruit pith on the long finish and aftertaste. Pour with pan-seared freshwater fish under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

Australia: Red Wine

***1/2drink or cellar
3 Rings Shiraz 2009
Barossa Valley $18.95 (015495) 14.9% alcohol
Dark coffee bean and pipe tobacco meld with cherry and mixed field berry on the nose of this mid-full weight, bistro-styled, Barossa Shiraz. It’s nicely textured and fruit-forward with über ripe fruit on the palate—raisins, black plum compote and kirsch liqueur. Aged in stainless steel with French oak staves, it retains its fruit and easy-drinking style. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Magpie Estate ‘The Sack’ Shiraz 2010
Barossa Valley $21.95 (094078) 14.0% alcohol
Alluring aromas of peppery herbs, black briary berry and tarry notes presage well-textured sweet, ripe mulberry and dark cherry robed in black licorice and gamy notes sweeping over the plate in waves. Mid weight, nicely balanced and fruit forward, it finishes quite lengthy with roasted herbs, toasty oak and supple tannin for structure. Good to go now with a premium cut of grilled red meat. (Vic Harradine) 

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2drink now
Coopers Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Marlborough, South Island $18.95 (957407) 13.0% alcohol
A perennial choice for many, this doesn’t disappoint. There are heady piquant aromas of savory herbs, gooseberry and citrus notes galore. It oozes nerve and verve coupled with racy and zesty flavours of passion fruit, gooseberry and Key lime streaking across the palate, replaying on the dry, lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour with grilled prawns or briny, freshly shucked Malpecs. Very good value here. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Oyster Bay Pinot Grigio 2013
Hawkes Bay $18.95 (326090) 12.5% alcohol
This is a smooth and mellow rendition of Pinot Grigio showcasing yellow fruit flavours, great balance and no shortage of style and charm. Spice and lemongrass on the nose this sweeps over the palate with spice-infused yellow plum, nectarine and Meyer lemon. It’s nicely textured with good weight and a nicely balanced, dry, mouth-watering finish. Lovely sipped on its own, it also pours well with lemon chicken or wiener schnitzel. (Vic Harradine)

France: White Wine

****1/2drink nowExceptional Value!
Chateau Ollwiller ‘Clos de la Tourelle’ Pinot Blanc 2009
AOC Alsace $16.95 (377788) 12.5% alcohol
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better Pinot Blanc at this price; it’s full flavoured, fully textured and stunningly delectable. Honeyed peach, floral notes and spice aromas introduce mid-weight, creamy smooth, balanced waves of mellow, fleshy, off-dry flavour with peach and mango interweaving with crisp Granny Smith apple and lemon curd. It finishes dry and refreshing, incredibly long. Serve well chilled and head for your favourite place to sit, sip and savour every moment. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

****drink or cellar
Château Boutisse 2010
AOC St-Émilion Grand Cru $39.95 (368175) 14.5% alcohol
This dishes up a charry red blend that’s well paced with purity of fruit and good balance throughout. Smoky, roasted herbs and spice-laden black berry fruit aromas dominate the nose. It’s medium bodied with decent mouth feel and a persistent flow of red cherry, dried currant and black plum on the palate, replayed on the long, balanced finish and aftertaste. Good to go now with grilled lamb chops. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink or cellar
Château Canteloup 2010
AOC Médoc $16.95 (243923) 13.5% alcohol
Funky aromas of charred wood smoke and dill weed provide segue for a ripe, luscious splash of cassis and kirsch liqueur interlaced with savory herbs, framed by good acidity and underpinned by grainy tannin. Aerate/decant for three hours before pouring with rosemary-rubbed roast leg of lamb (Vic Harradine).

***1/2drink now
Jean Paul Brun ‘Terres Dorées’ Morgon 2012
AOC Morgon $23.95 (264465) 12.5% alcohol
Mixed field berry fruit, piquant spice and savory herb aromas herald a racy line of sour cherry and red currant racing across the palate, full of nerve and verve. It’s mid weight with decent texture and a solid tannin underpinning. Aerate/decant for three-hours serving with pasta in tomato sauce; better still, pop corks 2016-2019. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink or cellar
Château de Mercy ‘En Sazenay’ Mercury 1er Cru 2010
AOC Mercury 1er Cru $25.95 (264531) 13.0% alcohol
Exotic spice, plummy notes and fresh lively cherry aromas open the door for this light-on-its-feet racy and tang-infused red. Red fruit—currant, cherry and plum—streak across the palate infusing the crisp, dry, mouth-watering aftertaste. Pour with pasta puttanesca. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Pascal Marchand Gevrey-Chambertin 2010
AOC Gevrey-Chambertin $67.95 (286450) 13.0% alcohol
A stylish effort here with balance, structure and oodles of charm, it wafts from the glass with aromas of mixed spice box, bacon and hints of floral notes. There’s amply weight and texture and a salad bowl of rich, ripe flavours—red and black currant topped off with fleshier, ripe mulberry and black plum. It finishes with good balance, plenty of fruit and a perceptible tannin underpinning. Aerate/decant two hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink nowExceptional Value!
Cave de Rasteau ‘La Domeliere’ Rasteau 2012
AOC Rasteau $17.00 (222927) 14.5% alcohol
Here’s a crowd-pleasing red blend that’s brimming with aromas of herbs, field berry fruit and black licorice. It’s rich and robust, with palate-coating black currant, ripe mulberry and dark Bing cherry flavours. Mid-plus weight with creamy mouth feel, the long finish dishes up more of the same, hedonistic and rip roarin’ good. Looking for your backyard and what you serve from your Broil King. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink or cellar
Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011
AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape $49.95 (735407) 14.5% alcohol
A perennial favourite, there are quiet aromas of dark cherry, aromatic bitters and charred herbs. There’s structure, balance and complexity in this Grenache-predominant GSM, along with a spoonful of Cinsault. Ripe, luscious dark fruit—black berry, mulberry and cherry—interlace with sweet vanilla and notions of cocoa. It’s full bodied and full flavoured with a complex, balanced and beautiful aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
La Ferme du Mont ‘Le Ponnant’ Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2011 

AOP Côtes du Rhône-Villages $19.95 (171371) 14.5% alcohol 

Opening with subdued aromas of berry fruit, floral and toasty notes, it dishes up a persistent river of red and black berry fruit mingling with spice, roasted herbs and notions of underbrush/forest floor on the palate and through the crisp, dry aftertaste. There’s good balance throughout in this mid-weight, nicely textured red blend. (Vic Harradine)

France: Rosé Wine

****drink now
Domaine Maby ‘La Forcadière’ Tavel Rosé 2013
AOC Tavel $18.95 (701318) 14.0% alcohol
Freshly sliced berries, lively spice and savory herbs on the nose; this glides over the palate balanced and beautiful with fruit-forward tangy flavours of strawberry, watermelon and currants. Medium bodied with substantial mouth feel and oodles of character and oomph, it pairs well with chicken, turkey or pork. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink now
Perrin ‘Réserve’ Rosé 2013
AOC Côtes du Rhône $15.95 (719062) 13.0% alcohol
Lighter on its feet than previous vintages, this opens with aromas of red berry fruit, kitchen spice and floral notes. It streaks across the palate with bracing acidity and tang borne from red currant, passion fruit and cranberry flavour. It’s lively and racy throughout with sour cherry and wisps of quince jelly on the crisp, dry finish. Pour with cedar-planked salmon or prawn ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

Germany: White Wine

****drink or cellar
Dr. Hermann Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2007
Prädikatswein Mosel $18.95 (313528) 8.0% alcohol
Light on its feet, this will dazzle your senses nonetheless. An alluring nose of spice box, orchard fruit and petrol intro a spice-laden, sweet and tang flavour-packed experience with honeyed yellow peach and sweet ripe mango meeting up with balance—lemon-lime acidity and notions of blood orange. This has good mouth feel and the finish is all you’d want. Pour on its own or pair with spicy Asian cuisine or baked ham. Great value here. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

****1/2drink or cellar
Frescobaldi ‘CastelGiocondo’ Brunello di Montalcino 2008
DOCG Brunello di Montalcino $26.95 (035295) 14.5% alcohol
There’s plenty going on here, it’s complex, nicely structured, balanced and beautiful with great purity of fruit. Red and black berry fruit mingling with spice and leather aromas set the stage for a balanced wash of red cherry, black currant and ripe mulberry on the palate. These fruit flavours replay on the finish garnished with racy tang. This marries well to rich beef and lamb dishes. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink now
Tomassi ‘Poggio al Tufo’ Alicante 2010
IGT Toscana $19.95 (070797) 13.0% alcohol
Alicante is a teinturier grape, its skin and flesh are red, one of the few vitis vinifera grapes that does not have white flesh and white juice, regardless of skin colour. Aromas of savoury herbs and wildflowers join dark berry fruit and smoky notes on the nose. It dishes up quite a mouthful of rustic, ripe berry fruit, roasted herbs and gamy notes that carry through the tangy, extended finish. Good to go now with wild game. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Le Ragose Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Classico 2009
DOC Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso $21.95 (991984) 13.5% alcohol
Alluring aromas of leather, violets and baking spice herald a delightful river of dark fruit—plum, cherry, black currant garnished with raisin and roasted herbs. It’s mid-plus weight with good structure, balance and showing its age on the dry, bitter-bite finish. Drink now with aged, hard cheese. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink or cellar
Venturini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009
DOCG Amarone della Valpolicella Classico $54.95 (379263) 16.0% alcohol
This DOCG is top tier for dry Ripasso-styled wine from Veneto and this wine is a gem. There are gorgeous aromas with roasted nuts, fig and dried, dark, berry fruit. It dances over the palate with medium-full weight, creamy smooth texture, style and grace—dark black juicy cherry, briary berry and kirsch liqueur. It finishes long, luxurious and lip-smacking good. Amarone doesn’t get a whole lot better than this. (Vic Harradine) 

Portugal: Red Wine

****drink or cellar
Sino Da Romaneira 2010
Vinho Regional Alentejano $21.95 (378372) 12.5% alcohol
Cedar, dark plum and musky, earthy notes on the nose, this is made up of premium Port grapes and not for the faint of heart. It rolls over the palate in complex waves of red currant and cassis garnished with tomato leaf, pipe tobacco and freshly sliced bacon. It’s mid-plus weight with good texture and a lengthy finish. Aerate/decant three-hours before serving. (Vic Harradine)

Spain: Red Wine

****drink or cellar
Borsao ‘Berola’ 2009
DOC Campo de Borja $18.95 (371518) 15.0% alcohol
Piquant spice, floral notes and sweet vanilla presage a rich luscious river of bramble berry pie, black plum compote and kirsch liqueur. It’s full bodied, fully flavoured and fully textured. The sweet jammy flavours in this red blend—70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cab Sauv—replay on the finish and aftertaste. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re after ripe sweet fruit flavour, look no further, back up the truck and pour with grilled ribs mopped with spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: July 5, 2014

****1/2drink nowOh Canada! Exceptional Value!

Featherstone Rosé 2013 

VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (117861) 13.0% alcohol
This is one of the top 2013 rosés tasted and a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It’s also a double-gold winner at the All-Canadian Wine Championships. Aromas and flavours of red cherry, red currant and spice abound. It’s mid-full weight, fully flavoured, dry and lip-smacking good from cork pop to final drop. Great for sipping and versatile at the table—pour with a deli platter, grilled salmon or roast chicken. (Vic Harradine) 

New in Vintages

****1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Featherstone Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2010 

VQA Twenty Mile Bench $24.95 (372425) 12.5% alcohol 

Toasty, gamy and underbrush aromas signal a tangy, juicy rendition of Pinot that settles on the palate with good weight and texture brimming with red cherry, cranberry and spiced black plum. Hand picked and hand sorted, this 777-single-clone, estate-grown gem finishes dry, lengthy and complex with deft balance and a soft tannin underpinning. Pour with duck liver pâté and toasts. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Francis Coppola ‘Sofia’ Rosé 2013
Monterrey County $19.95 (284943) 12.5% alcohol
From first setting eyes on the stylized bottle to the final crisp, refreshing drop, this dishes up one delightfully alluring Rosé—65% Pinot Noir, 35% Syrah. Spice, notions of cloves and red berry fruit aromas herald a nicely formed mouthful of red cherry, strawberry and pomegranate bathing the palate, infusing the dry, fruity mouth-watering finish. It pours well on its own with the balance and oomph for matching with chicken, turkey, pork or veal. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

***1/2drink now
Château Montcontour ‘Jovly’ Cabernet Franc 2011 

AOC Chinon, France $14.05 (300665) 13.0% alcohol 

Heady aromas of black plum, espresso roast and dark cherry abound. It’s light-mid weight, with a persistent river of tang-laden red currant, piquant spice and savory herbs replaying on the crisp, dry finish and aftertaste. Pour with spicy gourmet sausage, meat-laden pizza or grilled and fully dressed burgers. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Ironstone ‘Obsession’ Symphony 2012 

California $15.95 (295931) 12.0 % alcohol 

If you’ve not tried this, you must. Sexy aromas of rosewater, tropical fruit and musk spring from this gem of a wine. The Symphony grape was bred in 1981 by Dr. Olmo of UC Davis in California; Ironstone handles it beautifully. Flavours of spice, sweet tropical fruit and ripe nectarine abound. It’s balanced with a long mouth-watering finish. This sips beautifully on its own and matches spicy Asian cuisine with ease. (Vic Harradine)

The following wine earns 10 bonus AirMiles June 22 to July 19, 2014

****drink nowExceptional Value!
Urban Uco Malbec-Tempranillo 2012
Valle de Uco, Argentina $13.70 (308254) 14.5% alcohol
An even split of Malbec and Tempranillo, this jumps from the glass with lifted aromas of campfire smoke, camphor and roasted herbs. Ripe juicy cherry and black currant bathe the palate garnished with cassis and superb tang. It’s mid-full weight with good mouth feel and a complex, lengthy aftertaste showcasing ripe mulberry, mocha and black plum. Great with grilled steak, burgers or gourmet sausage—don’t miss out on this gem. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

Purchase by the case for daily home, restaurant or office delivery from Featherstone

****1/2drink or cellarOh Canada!
Featherstone ‘Canadian Oak’ Chardonnay 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula $21.95 (149302) 11.0% alcohol  
Can’t get more ‘local’ than this gem from Featherstone—estate grown grapes, indigenous east, aged in barrels hewn from nearby oak. There’s baking spice, smoky/toasty bits and earthy, flowers-in-the-forest notes on the nose. Deftly balanced flavours of spiced, baked apple and lemon pie filling abound. It demands even more attention on the finish, with hints of grapefruit pith, toasty oak and red licorice rounding things out. (Vic Harradine)

****drink nowOh Canada!
Featherstone ‘Four Feathers’ 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.95 (354763) 11.0% alcohol
Sexy aromas of exotic spice, rosewater and lemon blossom portend a palate-bathing surge of lime cordial, tangy blood orange and lemongrass. It’s mid weight with good mouth feel and a brushstroke of racy white grapefruit on the lingering, crisp, refreshing finish. This dishes up a crowd-pleasing versatile wine—pour with seafood, pork or chicken—with the price-quality ratio skewed well in your favour. (Vic Harradine) 

Order the following three wines and those reviewed in the May 23, 2014 and June 5, 2014 newsletter by the case of 12—mixed, if you like—with daily free delivery in Ontario to your home, office or restaurant from Riverview.   

****1/2drink or cellarOh Canada!
Riverview Cellars ‘Salvatore’s Reserve’ Cabernet Franc 2012

VQA Niagara River $29.95 14.0% alcohol
Opening with rich aromas of black plum, fig and espresso roast garnished with tobacco, this dishes up full-bodied, fully flavoured dark cherry, bramble berry and tangy red cherry; structured, complex and creamy smooth. It’s balanced and lip-smacking good on the finish and aftertaste with every sip as good as or better than the previous. Hats off to Canadian-born winemaker, Angela Kasimos, who fashioned this gem. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink or cellarOh Canada!
Riverview Cellars Merlot 2012

VQA Niagara River $19.95 14.0% alcohol
Aromas of charred toast, exotic spice and wisps of black licorice make way for a spirited, racy line of red currant, bramble berry and cranberry riding a broad beam of tang. It’s mid weight with a well balanced finish—red and cherry fruit mingling with sweet, ripe mulberry lightly brushed with herbs and spice. This pours well alongside bucatini with Amatriciana Sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellarOh Canada!
Riverview Cellars Pinot Noir 2012

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $19.95 13.3% alcohol  
Savory herbs, baking spice and wisps of fresh berry fruit aromas precede a robust wash of red cherry, cranberry and roasted herbs that replay on the racy finish. It’s medium bodied, structured and nicely textured with purity of fruit and sense of purpose throughout. The aftertaste layers on delightful tang with a soft tannin underpinning. (Vic Harradine)

Order the following two wines, along with those reviewed in the June 5, 2014 newsletter by the case for daily office, restaurant or home delivery direct from Rosehall Run

****drink or cellarOh Canada!
Rosehall Run ‘The Certain Ratio’ 2012 

VQA Prince Edward County $29.95 13.5% alcohol
Mixed field berry fruit, cedar and peppery spice on the nose, this delivers a racy, lively rendition of the ‘Bordeaux blend’—45% Cab Sauv, 34% Merlot, 21% Cab Franc. It streaks over the palate with ripe red fruit—cherry, red currant jelly and cranberry tart framed with great acidity and underpinned by soft, supple tannin. Medium bodied with good texture, if finishes dry in a blaze of balanced, beautiful red and black cherry. (Vic Harradine)  

****drink nowOh Canada!
Rosehall Run ‘The Finisher - Liquoreux Vin de Dessert’ 2013 

VQA Ontario $17.95 11.3% alcohol 
This is a unique, one-time-only, white-blend, dessert wine—Ehrenfelser 85% and Muscat Ottonel 15%. Quiet aromas of fennel, lemongrass and honeycomb set the table for a tang-laden river of blood orange, racy lemon-lime and honeyed white nectarine. Pour on its own or with fruit flan or sliced, fresh peach or nectarine over vanilla yoghurt, gelato or ice cream. (Vic Harradine)

Order the following two wines by the case for daily home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario from Rockway Vineyards.

****1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Rockway Vineyards ‘Small Lot Reserve’ Chardonnay 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula $18.95 (346155) 13.5% alcohol
Honeysuckle and orchard fruit aromas open the door to a salad bowl of sweet, ripe fruit—mango, pear and nectarine—garnished with blood orange and lemon tang. It’s mid weight with creamy-smooth mouth feel and a mid-length, balanced and beautiful finish. Pour with rotisserie chicken or roast pork. This offers outstanding value with the price-quality balance tipped well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink or cellarOh Canada!
Rockway Vineyards ‘Small Lot Reserve’ Syrah 2011
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula $21.95 (346221) 13.0% alcohol
Fifteen years ago, quality Syrah from Niagara was far outside the box, it’s now reality and here’s a very good one; it’s tangy, classy, complex and simply delicious. Aromas of slightly peppery red cherry and ripe briary berry provide segue for a juicy, balanced wash of dark field berry and mocha. This is mid weight with good texture and a long lip-smacking finish and a solid tannin underpinning. Pour alongside grilled rack of lamb following a two-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine)

Order the following three wines by the mixed case of 6 or 12 for daily home, restaurant or office delivery from Rosewood Estates.

****drink nowOh Canada!
Rosewood Estates ‘Select Series – Süssreserve’ Riesling 2013 

VQA Beamsville Bench $14.95 10.4% alcohol
Honeyed-pit fruit, floral and spice aromas presage an off-dry splash of Key lime, piquant spice and lemon yoghurt mingling with grilled pineapple on the palate and lip-smacking finish. It’s mid-weight with satin-smooth mouth-feel with flavours replayed on the lengthy aftertaste. This has a splash of unfermented grape juice. Pour with all manner of spicy Asian dishes. Good value here. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Rosewood Estates ‘Origin Series’ Pinot Noir 2012 

VQA Niagara Escarpment $40.00 13.7% alcohol
Aromas of savory herbs, charred toast and floral notes set the table for a truly delicious palate-bathing wash of beet root, ripe red cherry and wisps of kirsch liqueur. This is deftly balanced with purity of fruit, structure and charm. It’s medium weight with a heavenly mouth feel and was tough to spit. The ethereal finish is absolutely delectable. Sip on its own or pour with grilled, smoked duck breast. Rosewood winemaker, Luke Orwinski, gets a well-deserved shout out for this gem. (Vic Harradine)

****drink nowOh Canada!
Rosewood Estates ‘Harvest Gold - Dry Mead’ 2013 

Product of Canada Niagara Escarpment $15.20 500mL 11.0% alcohol
A lighter-styled, honey-wine offering from Rosewood, this offers up aromas of yellow peach, talcum powder and hints of guava. Bathing the palate with honeyed tones—melon and a salad bowl of tropical fruit, it’s light on its feet with a delicate touch throughout. It finishes with brushstrokes of buckwheat honey and musk melon. (Vic Harradine)

Order the following three wines and those reviewed in the June 5, 2014 newsletter by the case for daily home, restaurant or office delivery by phone 905-468-1229 or online from Strewn Winery

****1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Strewn ‘Terroir – French Oak’ Chardonnay 2012 

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $27.95 14.4% alcohol 

Sandalwood, toffee and Asian spice aromas set the stage for a medium-full bodied, creamy-smooth mouthful of ripe pear, mixed spice and baked apple pie robed in lemon acidity, balance and charm. It’s structured, balanced with touches of elegance. It finishes smooth and mellow, lengthy and luxurious with good acidity, purity of fruit and deft balance. This is a top drop, with kudos to Strewn winemaster, Dr. Marc Bradshaw. Tuck away six-months and pop corks with a fully integrated beauty. (Vic Harradine)

****drink nowOh Canada!
Strewn ‘Barrel Aged’ Gewürztraminer 2012 

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake $19.15 13.7% alcohol
Aromas of beeswax, lemongrass and notions of rose petals herald a spice-laden, lively wash of Turkish delight, confectionary sugar, coupled with racy lemon and white grapefruit. It’s medium bodied and nicely textured with a mid-length finish that’s garnished with a bit of oak on the aftertaste. Pour with spiced, grilled chicken kebabs. (Vic Harradine) 

****1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Strewn ‘Select Late Harvest’ Vidal 2011 

VQA Ontario $15.95 (107219) 12.6% alcohol 

Fashioned from late pressings of ice wine fruit, this dishes up a delightful dessert wine for one-quarter the price. Heady, lifted aromas of apricot, mango and honeyed pit fruit abound. The palate’s treated to a palate-bathing stream of ripe apricot, honeyed peach and oodles of lemon curd and grilled pineapple that’s simply über delicious. Not the least bit cloying, this works as a glass of dessert wine on its own or served with fresh fruit flan. (Vic Harradine)

New in Consignment Wine

Order the following wine by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery from Profile Wine Group; if in the GTA phone (416) 598-0033

****drink or cellar
Lungarotti ‘L’u’ Umbria Rosso 2010
IGT Umbria Rosso, Italy $17.95 14.0% alcohol
Primarily a Sangiovese/Merlot red blend, this dishes up aromas of berry fruit, leather and gamy notes preceding a well-textured river of briary berry and black plum compote underpinned by grainy tannin and framed with oodles of moderating tang. The lasting finish layers on savory herbs and notions of mocha. Pour with burgers, meat-laden pizza or grilled ribs. (Vic Harradine)

New in Private Order

Order the following wines and those reviewed in the June 5, 2014 newsletter by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery (in Ontario) from Nokhrin Wines or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; if in the GTA phone (416) 704-8617.

****drink now
Bocchino ‘Sori dei fiore’ Moscato d’Asti 2013
DOCG Moscato d’Asti, Italy $17.95 5.5% alcohol
Pungent, perfumed aromas of sweet flowers, musk, exotic spice and ripe apricot abound. Sweet waves of peach yoghurt and candied fruit ride a bed of spritzy bubbles. It’s light on its feet, sunshine in a glass. Can be enjoyed on its own or paired with fruit desserts—chill well before pouring. This lo-alcohol gem is also a great party starter; serve as a welcoming wine. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Agriverde ‘Riseis’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2012
DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy $16.50 13.5% alcohol
Delicate aromas of graphite, cedar and berry fruit introduce a silky smooth, balanced and beautiful wash of red cherry and black currant garnished with spice and mocha. This is medium weight with a persistent finish of dark berry fruit, mocha and juicy tang. There are no rough edges and it pours well with grilled beef tenderloin or grilled lamb chops. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink now
Agriverde ‘Solárea’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2009
DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy $33.75 14.0% alcohol
Lively red cherry, black plum and leather on the nose, this delivers a rich, succulent river of creamy smooth cassis, ripe mulberry and bramble berry mingling with mocha framed with excellent acidity and wisps of soft tannin. It’s beautifully structured and well paced with purity of fruit, baking spice and deft balance. It finishes dry and tangy with oodles of charm. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink nowExceptional Value!
C & D ‘Saint-Tropink’ Rosé 2013
IGP Côtes de Provence, France $14.95 13.0% alcohol
Don’t let the barely pink tinge fool you; there are oodles of piquant spice on the nose along with a basket red berry fruit. It bathes the palate with a lively, fresh splash of spice-laden red currant, sour cherry and red grapefruit tang. It’s light-medium weight with a long and lively, mouth-watering crisp and refreshing finish. It’s delightful on its own with oomph to pour with appetizers, grilled or roast chicken, turkey or pork. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink or cellar
Crooked Vines ‘Branco’ 2011
DOC Douro, Portugal $29.95 14.5% alcohol
This low-yield, indigenous field blend of gnarly, crooked vines struts its stuff with aromas of quince jelly, baked apple and hints of smoky notes. It bathes the palate with mellow flavours of nectarine, blood orange and key lime pie. It’s mid-weight with decent texture and a long, dry finish with grapefruit pith on the aftertaste. Pour with lemon chicken or pan-seared trout. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Quinta da Castainça Touriga Nacional 2010
DOC Douro, Portugal $19.95 14.0% alcohol
Red cherry and spice aromas introduce a fruit-laden river—black currant and ripe, black cherry mingling with espresso roast. It’s mid-full weight with generous mouth feel and a balanced finish of ripe fruit, sweet soft tannin for structure and enough juicy tang for balance and a lip-smacking aftertaste. What’s not to like. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Lacrau ‘Old Vines’ Tinto 2011
DOC Douro, Portugal $29.95 14.0% alcohol
This traditional, foot-trodden red is fashioned from a field blend of indigenous grapes and bottled unfined, unfiltered after a year in oak. Perfumed alluring aromas of cedar, exotic spice and dark berry fruit provide segue for a lively, full-bodied, mouth-watering wash of spice-infused bramble berry robed in excellent acidity and a supple tannin underpinning. The racy, dry finish is tang-laden with sour cherry and red currant. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Lacrau ‘Old Vines - Barrel Fermented’ Branco 2012
DOC Douro, Portugal $29.95 14.0% alcohol
This field blend of indigenous grapes was barrel fermented, left on stirred lees and aged in seasoned French oak barrels. Delicate aromas of minerality, floral notes and hints of yellow peach open the door to a swashbuckling river of Meyer lemon, tang-laden lime cordial and a wide seam of racy, white grapefruit acidity to the fore. It’s medium bodied with good texture and a crisp, mouth-watering aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink now
Leone Rosso Toscana 2012
IGT Toscana, Italy $18.95 13.5% alcohol
Charred toast, tobacco and graphite aromas set the stage for a delightful, juicy array of flavour with black currant, ripe red cherry and sweet, ripe mulberry to the fore. It’s value-packed, mid weight and nicely textured with a stunningly good finish—balanced, fruit- and tang-laden and lip-smacking good. Pour on its own for a delicious glass of red or with grilled rack of lamb or smoked, grilled back ribs. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Castello Sonnino Chianti Montespertoli 2012
DOCG Chianti Montespertoli, Italy $18.95 13.5% alcohol
Mocha, sandalwood and berry fruit aromas herald a lively wash of ripe red cherry and red currant framed by spice and bramble berry pie filling. It’s very smooth with good weight and a lengthy, fruit-filled aftertaste of red cherry and mulberry and good moderating tang. Drinking beautifully now, pour with peperoni arrotolati. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink now
Castello Sonnino ‘Castello di Montespertoli - Riserva’ 2010
DOCG Chianti Montespertoli, Italy $25.95 14.0% alcohol
Cedar, floral notes and dark coffee bean on the nose, this bathes the palate with ripe, black cherry, bramble berry and notes of kirsch liqueur. It’s stylish, smooth and mellow with plenty of charm. Mid weight and heavenly textured, the silky smooth aftertaste is dry, extending the lovely purity of fruit flavour with hints of forest floor. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink now
Domaine de Vénus Côtes Catalanes 2011
IGP Côtes Catalanes, France $18.95 14.0% alcohol
Charred toast, cocoa and tobacco open a full-bodied, fully textured and fully flavoured hedonistic red blend of Carignan and Syrah. Palate-coating waves of bramble berry and sweet ripe mulberry robed in great balance and truckloads of crowd-pleasing allure roll persistently through the very long, fruit-laden finish. Just in case the review’s not clear, it’s absolutely delicious. There’s terrific value here. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2drink now
Domaine de Vénus ‘Passions’ 2009
AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France $28.95 15.0% alcohol
Dark berry fruit mingles with roasted herbs and spice on the nose before unleashing a rip roarin’ river of cassis and kirsch liqueur garnished with juicy black cherry dipped in bittersweet chocolate. It’s mid-full weight with generous, creamy mouth feel and an extended aftertaste showcasing a replay of palate flavours robed in delightful tang. Pour with Modena pork chops. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Domaine de Vénus ‘Tentations’ 2009
AOP Côtes du Roussillon, France $23.95 15.0% alcohol
A quiet nose of rose petals and mixed field berry fruit precedes a sweet, ripe fruity wave of briary berry and mulberry jam, coating the palate, infusing the lengthy aftertaste. It’s mid-full bodied with a satin-smooth mouth feel and oodles of crowd-pleasing charm. The finish lingers fruit-laden and sweet. Pour with grilled back ribs mopped in spicy hot barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****drink or cellar
Domaine de Vénus ‘L’Effrontée’ 2011
AOP Côtes du Roussillon, France $29.95 14.0% alcohol
A brilliant, pale gold in the glass, quiet aromas of citrus and flowers provide intro to a well-balanced wash of racy lemon tang, mandarin orange and notions of salinity. It’s creamy smooth and mid weight with a mid-length finish that’s crisp and refreshing. Pour alongside chicken, pork or veal. (Vic Harradine)

Order the following wine by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery from Profile Wine Group; if in the GTA phone (416) 598-0033

****1/2drink or cellar
Tenuta di Martucino Brunello di Montalcino 2008
DOCG Brunello di Montalcino, Italy $46.95 13.5% alcohol
A perfumed bouquet of spice, leather and red berry fruit mingling with mocha heralds an outstanding, elegant, tangy stream of sour cherry and red currant jelly bathing the palate with notions of blood orange and pomegranate. Its medium bodied and nicely textured with a lengthy lip-smacking aftertaste of red and black berry fruit, pin-point balance and charm. Gorgeous on its own, it also pours well with pollo alla cacciatore. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink nowOh Canada!
Rosehall Run ‘Solid Ground’ Riesling 2012
VQA Ontario $19.95 10.5% alcohol
Aromas of honeyed pit fruit, lime zest and ripe melon presage a bracing line of lime cordial and lemon tang streaking across the palate, infusing the lip-smacking finish. This is quite versatile at the table as a wonderful aperitif or poured with sushi or sashimi, ceviche, chèvre, freshly shucked oysters or grilled calamari rings. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2drink now
Velonosi ‘Brecciarolo’ Rosso Piceno Superiore 2011
DOC Rosso Piceno Superiore, Italy $15.95 13.5% alcohol
Sandalwood, exotic spice and red cherry aromas presage a racy, tangy wash of cherry/berry flavours cloaked in cloves, infused with still-resolving tannin. It’s medium weight with a lengthy, crisp and drying, mouth-watering aftertaste. This was made for pasta in tomato sauce or lasagna. (Vic Harradine)

****drink now
Velenosi ‘Villa Angela’ Pecorino 2012
DOC Felerio Pecorino, Italy $17.95 13.0 alcohol
Pecorino is an ancient indigenous grape in the Marche, once thought extinct. Aromas of banana, almond and ripe apple herald a soft mouthful of Mirabelle plum, grapefruit pith with notions of mineral salts. It has good mouth feel and a bit of tang on the finish. It pours particularly well with a mixed deli platter or all manner of seafood. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic and Susan