Fall 2007

Value for money is what counts. You won't find any wines here that aren't worth buying. Feel free to scroll through this list and see everything we’ve been sampling but, if you’re in a hurry (or very thirsty), you can just click on any of the following words to be whisked electronically to the category of your choice:

Dry White Wines

Dry Red Wines

Sparkling Choices

Just Desserts

Everything WINE EXPRESS recommends is in the regular LCBO stores, unless marked (v) for Vintages stores, Boutiques, and Corners, or (c) Consignment, available by the case through the importing agent.

Call the LCBO's Infoline (416) 365-5900 or go to for the store near you that has the wine. If your store doesn't have it, the manager will order in the wine at no cost and notify you.

Oh, and by the way, if you need a refresher on our rating system (the ratings are in red), just flip back to the main Wine Picks main page for a quick refresher – in helping you choose a refresher quickly!

Dry Whites:

Pala Crabilis Vermentino di Sardegna 2006    88
Sardinia, Italy
52068 (v) $14.95

Much guffawing in the tasting room over this name ("ancient goat shelter" Crabilis, indeed). And it really is a shellfish wine. Quite aromatic with a citrus core, a touch of green apples, pink grapefruit and a hint of sweat. Very good value to enjoy now with crab cakes or calamari.

Clos des Criots Pouilly-Fumé 2006    91
Domaine Christian Salmon, Loire, France
57778 (v) $24.95

This is pure-laine Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, elegant, buffed, all asparagus, ripe gooseberry and sun-dried straw: not pungent and herbaceous and all cat-pea New Zealand style. Smooth and refined rather than aggressive and challenging. A real food wine to enjoy now.

D'Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2006     90
McLaren Vale, S Australia
656710 (v) $19.95

From the Languedoc's signature Roussanne grape via a vintage in which the vines were covered in tiny spiders that are said to bring good luck. And they do: this melon-honey and fragrant honeysuckle scented wine has a creamy texture and peachy flavor on the tongue. Seafood, shellfish would be lucky with it, too.

Beringer Third Century Chardonnay 2005    90
Central Coast, California
47696 (v) $23.95

Bright-gold glints of color with aromas and flavors of pear-mango, hazelnut and green apple with a nice peach, pear oaky-smoky tang on the palate, long on the finish and enjoyable now. Well priced, food friendly.

Freiherr Heyl Zu Herrnsheim Riesling Spätlese 2004    91
QmP Rheinhessen, Germany
721985 (v) $23.95

Sleek, silky beauty from Nierstein, hefty yet elegant, with the required peach, white pepper, Vaseline and pear core and a dash of petrol, off dry with an aristocratic complexity and length, perfect for shellfish and white fish or just to sip and stare into space.

Studert-Prüm Riesling Spätlese 2005    90
QmP Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
912659 $23.95

A lighter and fresher take on Riesling from a later vintage: more lime zest and herbal-mineral notes. A great side by side Riesling tasting with the Herrnsheim. Very polished and clean-cut example of a Mosel white. Food friendly to enjoy now to 2012.

Dry Red Wines:

Galvo Garage Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot/Cabernet 2003    87
D'Arenberg, McLaren Vale, S Australia
907584 (v) $26.95

That's quite a mouthful: garagistes in the wine world are boutique producers of tiny quantities of unaffordable cult wines. D'Arenberg, however, is huge and Galvo's an affordable 27 bucks and a pretty good crowd-pleaser of a cola-blast of red plum and cherry notes and a cedar-oak frame from barrel aging. Now to 2012 with pizza or pasta while you're watching the game.

Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz/Grenache 2005    87
Barossa Valley, S Australia
47605 (v) $25.95

Black tea, cola, red berries and a mouthful of blackberry/cherry flavors from a clever blend of two Rhône grape varieties (grown in Oz). Very food-friendly and drinkable now or hold till 2010.

Grant Burge Barossa Vines Shiraz 2004    90
Barossa, S Australia
738567 (v) $17.95

Chocolate raspberry cola, black pepper and mulberry nuances herald this elegant and surprisingly restrained Barossa Shiraz. Fine acidity for food-matching. Now to 2010. Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2005, 725127 (v) $19.95, has bright fruit, nice aromatics and a pleasant drink-me-now quality (89).

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2004    89
Coonawarra, S Australia
509919 (v) $29.95

Spicy, intriguing, juicy and concentrated, here's an ageable Shiraz with some power and concentration: match with big venison/boar and beef roast and barbecues.

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004    90
S Australia
414987 (v) $29.95

Good highway wine! Just kidding. You can always take a Cab....... Deliciously spicy, peppery, chocolatey and immediately enjoyable with a red berry, mocha, anise and cedar-oak character, framed in supple tannins. Quite elegant and well priced.

Rolf Binder Hales Shiraz 2005    88
Barossa Valley, S Australia
54239 (v) $19.95

Very good value! A rather elegant Aussie Shiraz for now or the next half-decade: nicely aromatic cassis, blueberry, floral and smoky. Great everyday food matcher.

Step Road Shiraz 2005    90
Langhorne Creek, S Australia
52993 (v) $19.95

Mucho black fruit in the nose and palate, very upscale Shiraz with ageability although drinking quite well now. From a fine vintage and good for another 5 years.

Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Shiraz 2005    90
Barossa, S Australia
18796 (v) $24.95

Chocolate, cola and a bouquet of raspberry, plum and cherry notes with a touch of oak (can't be bad!). A well balanced wine with a future - 6-8 years. Very good value.

Sens Crozes-Hermitage 2005    87
Fayolle Fils & Fille, Rhône, France
43000 (v) $26.95

From a father-son-daughter house, a stylish Syrah (Shiraz to the Aussies) with all the smoky, tarry, slightly rubbery charm of its ancient Rhône heritage, elegance and finesse rather than vinous thuggery. Cherry cola and raspberry are the primary fruit elements in aroma and taste, with a hint of garrigue herbs (lavender and thyme). Born to (b)raise lamb.

Simonsig Shiraz 2003    86
WO Stellenbosch S Africa
912345 (v) $15.95

Crowd-pleaser with vanilla-coconut (from American oak casks), mild tannins, raspberry and
plum fruit, a fine core of oak and mineral/stone nuances. More restrained than most Oz Shiraz but still with a hefty 14.3 alcohol kick! Big roasts and smoky BBQ.

Château Brehat 2000    88
AC Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux, J. de Monteil, prop.
43828 (v) $18.95

From the edge of St-Emilion a lovely and elegant dry red with sage, cedar and a bowl of red fruit - raspberry, mulberry, strawberry - velvety tannins and kiss of fresh oak, for a claret to enjoy now with lamb, veal or salmon on the barbie!

Château de Pez 2003    89
AC Saint-Estèphe Cru Exceptionnel, Bordeaux
Bordeaux, France
717389 (v) $51.95

One of the most familiar (and popular) clarets to Ontarians - it's been imported here since Adam was a lad! From the New World-hot 2003 vintage and known to Parkerites as "superripe"; plump, fruit-forward and ready, with mocha, brioche, bright cherry, plum and cedar notes. Well priced and well made.

Domaine de Champ de Cour Moulin-à-Vent 2005    90
Beaujolais, France
430876 (v) 19.95

Exaggerated exuberance personified, this almost over the top high-end Beaujolais is richly blessed with flavor and drinkability: chocolate, cherry cola, a rainbow of red berries and a floral-spice note. Fun stuff from an elegant producer for fall stews, red meats and pizza by the fireplace.

Château de Montmiral Gigondas Cuvée de Beauchamp 2004    89
Archambault & Bouteiller, Rhône, France
685198 (v) $24.95

Big, ballsy red with the typical warmth (15.5% alc), spiciness and food friendliness of its region: sweetly ripe, although dry on the palate with raspberry, tar, smoke and licorice in the mix of sensations. Best to cellar now and enjoy 2010-2015, with big roasts, cassoulet and game.

Domaine Chante Cigale 2004    92
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France
43026 (v) $35.95

A brooding, still closed example of its famous terroir: shy at revealing its mocha, tobacco and tar DNA just yet, although the cassis, elderberry, blackberry notes are already evident. Dark chocolate and cherry are present and will expand their role with cellar time: now to 2015 with potent meat dishes.

Manzone Barolo Le Gramolere 1999    92
DOCG Piedmont, Italy
50773 (v) $49.95

Fresh, rich and showing superb fruit, framed by silky tannins, notes of leather and subtle oak, a broad-shouldered wine to enjoy now to 2020 with furry game, spicy stews or a hip of beef.

Paolo Conterno Barolo Ginestra 2003    92
DOCG Piedmont, Italy
734293 (v) $59.95

Still a beautiful baby, like the Manzone, with soft, silky tannins and gentle spicy aromatics of vanilla, red fruits and cream: worth pairing with the Manzone as an investment in future gratification!

Aldiano Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2004    89
Cantina Tollo, DOC Tuscany, Italy
51706 (v) $15.95

Deep, dark and ethereal Sangiovese-based red for Chianti fans: nice palate-tickling acidity with a blast of cherry-raspberry-mulberry fruit, nicely integrated already for spicy, tomato-sauced dishes, herb-roasted chicken, or simple pasta.

Barbi Brunello di Montalcino '01    92
DOCG Tuscany, Italy
928028 (v) $ 41.95

A doll! A very upscale Sunday wine to serve to the boss, your best friends and your deserving selves at a special anniversary (preferably after 2010, at least). Sunburned earth, sun-dried fruit, spices, wood smoke and black fruit. Elegante!

Biondi Santi Sassoalloro 2004    92
IGT Tuscany, Italy
981407 (v) $33.95

Sour cherry, spice and sage on the nose, this fruit-forward aristo already has supple tannins and a sensuous, fleshy texture. A 100% Sangiovese best kept for a couple of years and good for 10 - with steak Florentine, preferably!

Casa Emma Chianti Classico 2004    88
DOCG, Tuscany, Italy
56952 (v) $20.95

The classic Chianti grape blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia Nera succeeds in delivering a straightforward, nicely concentrated juicy dry red with plummy, savoury appeal. Well priced for early enjoyment with red sauces and red meats.

Prunatelli Chianti Rufina Riserva 2004    90
DOCG, Tuscany, Italy
938258 (v) $17.95

Nice astringency from the Sangiovese/Canaiolo perfectly frames the ripe red berry fruit with some spicy plum notes. Chewy on the palate and blessed with a food-friendly fresh acidity. Now to 2012.

Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva 2003    89
DOCG Tuscany, Italy
930966 (v) $23.95

This Riserva is a notch smoother and more elegant, with a riper berry core, than its little brother, and worth a few bucks more for its pleasure quotient now and its increased ageability. From a warm vintage and less aggressive than a "typical" year.

Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2004    91
IGT Tuscany, Italy
727636 (v) $29.95

Bright raspberry-blackberry, cocoa and mineral notes weave into a finely poised web of supple tannins and gentle toasted oak as lush Merlot tames some of the fire of the Sangiovese into a midweight dinner wine that won't overpower a herb-roasted chicken or even grilled salmon steaks.

Quinta Seara d'Ordens Tinta Reserva 2004    89
DOC Douro, Portugal
59030 (v) $24.95

Big, bold and brash, as you'd expect from grapes that would normally be made into Port - but fermented into a bone-dry table wine without the heat and heft of added grape brandy! Tannic, fleshy and raspberry-blackberry driven on the palate.

Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva 1996    91
DOCa Rioja, Spain
976811 (v) $31.95

Wild strawberries, vanilla, whiffs of toasty cedar-oak, pencil shavings and damson jam melded together by a decade in cask and bottle, already aged for you! Note the vintage... Complex, polished and ready, now! Prime rib roast or anything with truffles.

Viña Herminia Excelsus 2004    90
DOCa Rioja, Spain
50567 (v) $22.95

Very approachable also, Herminia does excel as a pure, juicy and sweetly berried cornucopia of cassis, elderberry, blackberry and strawberry complexity with a hint of Kirsch. Nicely aromatic and long on the palate.

Sparkling Choices:

Stanislas Henriot has just sent us two superb Champagnes, elegant and delicious now.
The lovely Brut Souverain N/V $59 and the food-friendly Brut Rosé N/V $71 are now in Consignment, and by the 6-bottle case from
416 767-5114.

Ayala Rosé Majeur Brut Champagne    92
Champagne, France
51359 (v) $61.95

A lovely fresh, fragrantly fruity (strawberry, cherry cola, raspberry) salmon-pink bubbly with intense brioche and oriental spice notes, food friendly, versatile and satisfying.

Pol Roger Brut Rosé Champagne 1999     90
Champagne, France
82495 (v) $88.95

More vanilla and candied berries on the nose, this refined sparkler has nuances of Key limes, lemon zest and fresh toasted bread on the finish. From a fine vintage and ageable for 8-10 years, but why wait?

Just Desserts:

Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2004    92
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
413732 (v) $41.95 375mL

From one of the most consistent wizards of Icewine, this beautifully poised and sybaritic vintage has a razor's edge of fine acidity to offset the sweetness and seduce the palate. Tropical and candied fruit tones with a fine honey-citrus core. Encore!

Château Monbazillac 2001    93
Monbazillac, SW France
31617 (V) $23.95

This is the thinking person's Icewine, a sweetie created by Botrytis, the shriveling and dehydration of the grapes caused by a fungus perforating the skins rather than via freezing the fruit into marbles, as in Icewine. The result is a honeycomb-vanilla effect that's endearingly subtle and gentle, rich and wonderful.

González Byass Matusalém Oloroso Dulce Viejo    95
Jerez, Spain
694323 (v) $25.95 375mL

Oloroso, that most versatile of Sherries, can be dry and nutty or sweet and sensuous. This more than 30-year-old wine, from a most respected producer, is a delicious sweetie that beguiles the senses with subtle dates, raisins, caramel, cream, toffee and hazelnuts. For contemplative sipping after a fine dinner. The Noé (pronounced No, eh) Pedro Ximénez Muy Viejo (also 30-plus years) from the same house, also $25.95, 721159, is way sweeter, more unctuous and raisiny-pruney thanks to the PX grapes (sun-dried on esparto grass mats) rather than Sherry's ubiquitous Palomino variety (92). Think dark chocolate, vanilla ice cream dessert-matching.... Chill both, just lightly.

Quinta de la Rosa LBV Port 2003    94
Douro, Portugal
726885 (v) $24.95

Unlike Vintage Port, Late Bottled Vintage is aged in cask 3-4 years, losing its sediment yet retaining the attributes of vastly ageable Vintage, bottled after only 2 years. The advantage is LBV is enjoyable when you buy it and still ages quite well. Here's a good rich, fruity one to sip sweetly with nuts, cheeses and air-dried hams.

Nonino Monovitigni Grappa    90
Friuli, Italy
11361 (v) $35.95 500mL

A triumph of recycling: distilled from the refermented lees of three native Italian grapes - Tocai, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia - and Chardonnay, here's an elegant after dinner sipper, to serve chilled, as an aromatic, spicy palate-cleanser. Water's added to the lees (the skins and pits of the wine grapes), which were formerly revinified into plonk for the winery workers.

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