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:
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 www.lcbo.com 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!
Fielding Estate Riesling ’07 87
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
36202 (v) $16.95
One of Ontario’s most consistent and elegant grape varieties, Riesling is a great choice. In this instance fat, full, round, medium-dry with a peachy, citrus and spicy flourish and a pleasant balsamic note on the finish.
Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc ’07 88
Marlborough, S Island, N Zealand
10421 (v) $20.95
Ripe and rhubarby in a tropical mode that hints at gooseberry pie. There’s passionfruit and mango on the palate, a whiff of dried herbs and nettles and fine racy acidity to keep it all in check. Serve with a cob of corn and butter, chicken Marengo or roast chicken.
Genetin Pouilly-Fumé ’06 91
F. Tinel-Blondelet, Loire, France
653154 (v) $2695
A subtle, understated version of Sauvignon Blanc that’s classic Loire: creamy, come-hither elegance that’s more gavotte than hoedown. Leading with lemon zest, green gooseberry into stony, mineral acidity that’s refreshingly food-friendly. Drink now with seafood, shellfish, especially steamed mussels, and white meats.
Conde de Valdemar White ’06 88
Bodegas Valdemar, DOCa Rioja, Spain
80952 (v) $18.95
From the white Viura of Rioja, aka Macabeo, a floral and low-acid grape that makes gentle wines that need little or no oak. In this case, fermented in barrel for resiny complexity around its musk melon, red grapefruit core. Great with paella and Greek cuisine, especially squid/octopus dishes.
Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc ’07 91
Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône
48892 (v) $33.95
Here’s a white for red wine drinkers! Rich, dry, full-bodied and silky with savoury, meaty extraction and vapor trails of gooseberry, nectarine, papaya and earthy minerality. A Super-Châteauneuf from a terrific vineyard just outside the appellation. Made from four Rhône white varieties. Now to 2014. The red sibling, Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge ’06, 48884, $30.95, has typical gaminess with complex riffs on black pepper, kirsch, black fruits and saddle leather, lush and appealing now to 2018 (92).
Quinta da Alorna Reserva Arinto/Chardonnay ’06 86
Vinhos Regional Ribatejano, Portugal
81505 (v) $17.95
Lovely blend of Chardonnay and the local Arinto with a touch of barrel aging produces a satisfying marriage of tropical fruit, dried flowers, citrus and spice with the heft of some time in cask. Fresh, crisp and food friendly today.
Terramater Altum Chardonnay ’07 90
Casablanca Valley, Chile
83675 (v) $22.95
Good example of barrel-fermented white with seductive butterscotch, drawn butter, vanilla and brioche aromas ushering in juicy ripe peach, pear and Granny Smith. Very good value and quite elegant.
Château des Charmes Chardonnay St David’s Bench ’05 91
VQA St David’s Bench, Ontario
430991 (v) $19.95
Barrel fermented and aged on its lees in French oak for a year, here’s an elegant, full-bodied, buttery Burgundian white with some bottle maturation, starting to strut its stuff. With butterscotch, brioche and white fruit aromas, silky on the palate, with tropical fruit and melon notes, and it will develop further. For a simply delicious sweetie that has the profile of an Icewine without being over the top, try the Château’s amazingly consistent Late Harvest Riesling ’06, $19.95, 375mL, 432930 – a subtle melange of orange marmalade, dried apricots and lemon curd. Sumptuous now and will easily keep 4-5 years (93). Dessert in the glass, or with crème brûlée, pumpkin pie, soft cheeses, fresh berries.
Antonin Rodet Puligny-Montrachet ’06 93
84541 (v) $53.95
Integrated oaky-toastiness and spicy citrus, apple and floral elements are centre-stage in this collectible white Burgundy. Rodet owns fine domains and is a top-10 producer as well as leading negociant. Will improve with 2-5 years cellaring. Rodet’s red Gevrey-Chambertin ’05, 0084558, $42.95, is sweetly ripe, alluring and concentrated in its black fruit, earthy-spicy appeal with hints of marzipan and nutmeg (92). Now to 2020.
Château Lamothe de Haux Rosé ’07 89
Bordeaux Clairet, France
684969 (v) $15.95
Bone dry, delicate, crisp and raspberry-citrus scented, perfect for savoury stews with fall vegetables, lemon or creamed chicken, and grilled salmon. The name “Claret,” Ancient Brit for Bordeaux, dates back to the then light-red (clairet) wines. Today Clairet means rosé, in this case from Merlot and Cabernet.
Dry Red Wines:
Côte de Beaune-Villages ’05 90
Bouchard Père & Fils, Burgundy
714998 (v) $24.95
Amazingly full, ripe, fruity and ready to enjoy, from a superb vintage that’s a smart buy, top Pinot Noir at its most affordable. From the same house, Beaune Teurons Premier Cru ’06, 653675, $53.95, has the classic earth, beets, raspberry and black fruit with truffles that Pinophiles seek, and find in top Burgundies (93)
Flat Rock Cellars Red Twisted ’07 88
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
0086918 (v) $19.95
Pinot Noir-based blend with an earthy-raspberry and pomegranate attack, black cherry wing men and mild tannin snipers. Easy to enjoy, no fuss, ready tonight with anything from pizza to partridge.
Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir ’04 87
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
0997353 (v) $24.95
Consistent Inniskillin does a good job with Pinot and Montague Vineyard has always been its ace in the hole: pomegranate and raspberry segue into earthy, smoky, savoury tastiness and a hint of balsamic on the finish. Food friendly: did anyone say chicken cacciatore?
Calera Pinot Noir ’06 90
Central Coast, California
0933044 (v) $29.95
Earthy, taut, racy with juicy tartness of sour cherry, black plum, black tea, violets and smoky oak, and oak influence that isn’t obvious, from chalky limestone outcrops sought out by acclaimed Pinot maniac Josh Jensen in his search for the Pinot Grail.
Louis Jadot Château des Lumières Morgon ’06 88
AC Beaujolais, Burgundy
065384 (v) $27.95
After you’ve braved the brash 2008 Nouveau, treat yourself to real Beaujolais! Lean, balanced, elegant with fresh-picked black fruit, ripe bananas, violets, and a (nice) hint of Band-Aid. Serious Gamay on a level with a Burgundy Pinot Noir. Butterflied leg of lamb would do it justice. Now to 2013.
Pirramimma Petit Verdot ’05 87
McLaren Vale, South Australia
0986752 (v) $23.95
This late-ripening old Bordeaux variety gives an intense, dark, tannic, slightly spicy dry red that’s creamy-smooth on the palate. Not over complicated but pleasant with a rare roast or stew. Now to 2014.
Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Syrah ’05 88
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Canada
86553 (v) $29.95
Very elegant in the red fruit, smoked meat, gamey, white and black peppery Rhône style, lean rather than fat and jammy. Midweight and easy to enjoy now or hold 3-5 years.
Arrowood Le Beau Mélange Syrah ’02 89
Sonoma Valley, California, USA
64550 (v) $29.95
By contrast, a big, concentrated, fruit-forward take from California, where bigger is usually better! Hints of dark chocolate, leather, raspberry and blackcurrant frame a whopping fruit bomb vs the finessed Niagara interpretation. Take your pick!
Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz ’06 92
Barossa, South Australia
309625 (v) $36.95
From the epicentre of great Australian Shiraz, the older vines of Barossa, this has a Port-like, chocolatey, raspberry scented attack, fresh black pepper spiciness and gentle tannins. No jamminess. Now to 2019.
Château de Roques Merlot ’05 89
AC Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, France
87726 (v) $17.95
With a purity of fruit that’s delightful and delicious, primarily blueberry, cherry and capsicum, a sprightly wine for early enjoyment with grilled sausages, pizza, pasta.
Casa Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Merlot ’06 90
Colchagua Valley, Apalta Vineyard, Chile
4596 (v) $34.95
Top wine from the Grand Marnier-owned Chilean operation is a broader-shouldered take on Merlot with more black plum, anise, red currants and oak. French Merlot grown in Chile, if you like. Shows breeding and elegance. Or buy two bottles of the Roques!
Cave Spring Cellars Estate Cabernet Franc ’06 89
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
72751 (v) $29.95
Beautifully ripe Cab Franc, racy as a thoroughbred, exuding raspberry fragrance, cocoa and pencil shavings, herbaceous without being grassy, free from the bell pepper stigma of early Ontario versions of this lovely grape, once regularly picked underripe. Food friendly, with roast pork, feathered game, white meats.
Markham Cabernet Sauvignon ’02 90
Napa Valley, California
0067181 (v) $32.95
Clean, fresh and fragrant with perfect poise and an armful of dried herbs, red and black berry fruits, subtle oak and hints of chocolate. Very more-ish and good value.
Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon ’05 89
Sonoma County, California
226944 (v) $22.95
A little more tart and cherry-berry with nuances of cedar, dried mushroom and forest floor. Quite food friendly with its racy acidity. The single-vineyard Cab Sauv ’02 in the 1500mL size, 79251, $75.95, has an edge in complexity with hints of pipe tobacco, cassis, mulberries and charry oak (90).
Amancaya Gran Reserva Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon ’07 88
Rothschild and Catena, Mendoza, Argentina
16097 (v) $17.95
Dense, hefty blend packed with blackberry/elderberry and cherry flavors framed by moderate tannins and sweet oak, with a dry, floral finish and racy acidity. Food friendly, as is Doña Paula Estate Malbec ’06, 661819, $16.95, also from Mendoza: a spicier Malbec with pure strawberry/raspberry and old leather notes (89). Another Malbec, La Posta Angel ’06, 75515, $15.95, shows smoky baked plum and raspberry with spicy black fruit and wildflower aromas (88).
Château Haut-Monplaisir Prestige ’04 90
AC Cahors, France
936534 (v) $20.95
Monplaisir and good for you, too, I hope! From the ancestral home of Malbec, inky, with a new leather, tar and strawberry-raspberry attack, tons of old, non-intrusive oak, and sourced from the ancient Malbec, Merlot and Tannat grown on limestone plateaux way upriver from Bordeaux. Not the tannic “black wine” of yesteryear, more refined and intriguing.
Château de l’Estang ’04 89
AC Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux, France
92809 (v) $21.95
Old school Bordeaux, restrained, delicate and sensuous with a good bone structure of fruit, acid, moderate alcohol and tannins: cassis, red currant, mulberry and scents of pencil shavings. Feathered game, lamb or Canadian Cheddar.
Christian Moueix Saint-Emilion ’05 88
AC St-Emilion, Bordeaux
979955 (v) $22.95
From the man who never needs to buy a vowel, a wine with great typicity, the tobacco leaf signature of Cab Franc scenting the blackberry-currant and baked plum fruitiness of the Cab Sauvignon. Across the river in St-Estèphe, Château Tour Haut Vignoble ’05 from J.L. Braquessac, 87742, $25.95, is fleshier, more tannic, but equally full of 2005’s sunshine, showing berry, cherry, currants and white chocolate to enjoy now to 2013 (90). From the larger Bordeaux Supérieur appellation, Château Ducla ’05 made by Domaines Mau, 162461, $15.95, again reflects the vintage, rich, ripe, subtly layered with truffles, wet earth, wild flowers, mulberries and a touch of oak. Excellent (91).
Château Hauchat La Rose ’04 93
Jean-Bernard Saby & Fils, AC Fronsac, Bordeaux
86611 (v) $23.95
Buy this by the case! Super value and a little jewel of a wine: subtle blueberry, cassis and smoky features from its Merlot heritage and silky tannins for early drinking. Beef, lamb, pork or chicken tonight!
Château La Gorce 1996 86
Pascal Fabre & Fils, AC Medoc, Bordeaux
87668 (v) $21.95
Polished like a pebble from 12 years of aging, a perfect example of a wine that’s ready today, secondary notes of dried fruit, truffle-earth and forest floor rather than fresh fruit/tannin forward. The color’s browning, the tannins evolved and there’s no rough edge. An exemplar of how Bordeaux matures. Goût very anglais, not français.
Château Lilian Ladouys ’03 88
AC St-Estèphe, Bordeaux
86827 (v) $35.95
Cassis, graphite, wet earth and savoury meaty notes herald a lovely ripe red plum and red currant fruit core, soft tannins and refined balance of acidity and new oak. Now but better in 3 years.
Château Loudenne ’01 88
Domaines Lafragette, AC Médoc, Bordeaux
87718 (v) $38.95
A fine vintage on the Left Bank, almost opulent yet cerebral and not showy. Finesse with a flash of sensuality. Best held until 2012-2018. With goose, rabbit, cassoulet and bean dishes.
Château de Beaucastel ’06 93
Pierre Perrin, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France
968750 (v) $47.95 375mL
Superstar of the region, commander of high prices, yet catnip for Rhônistes, here’s a half-bottle of pure joy: meaty, gamey, leathery and packed with spicy, truffled black berries and black fruits, smoky and tarry and massively concentrated. 2012-2025.
Domaine Chante-Cigale ’05 92
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France
43026 (v) $41.95
For more immediate gratification, this silky red has the thyme-rosemary garrigue notes, the white pepper and earthiness and a blast of cherry-kirsch fruitiness finishing with a touch of new leather. Now to 2016.
Amethystos Red ’05 86
Regional Dry Wine of Drama, Costa Lazaridis Winery, Greece
24831 (v) $23.95
Bordeaux Lite: fresh, fruity, spicy and fairly elegant, New World style Cabernet and Merlot with crisp acidity from local Limnio grapes and suaveness from a year in French oak. Matches with Greek lamb, and also with roast pork, duck, and steak tartare.
Terra d’Aligi Tatone Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ’05 90
DOC Abruzzo, Italy
994616 (v) $15.95
Heady and rich, pumped with new leather aromas and square tannins, juicy and quaffable now with braised lamb, veal, steak Florentine or tomato-sauced pasta. There’s a little tannic tug that serves well with tomato-sauced dishes. Drink now.
Tenuta Sant’Antonio Monti Garbi Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso ’05 93
DOC Veneto, Italy
29850 (v) $21.95
Buy this mouthful by the case! Kirsch, black pepper, cherry and raspberry dominate but there’s toasty oak and hints of wild strawberries. Quite delicious and well priced for late season BBQs or baked salmon. Open tonight!
Gloria Colheita Seleccionada Tinto ’04 90
DOC Douro, Portugal
82933 (v) $18.95
Pleasing blend of Tempranillo and Touriga with judicious oak age for toastiness and a hint of vanilla. Still youthful but ready to tango with fine roasts and tangy cheeses.
La Báscula Turret Fields Monastrell/Syrah ’05 87
DO Jumilla Spain
82123 (v) $15.95
Nicely balanced, decently fruity/spicy everyday go-to red for quaffing or casual meals and at its peak about now. Not a wine to give you frown lines contemplating!
Saggio Chianti Governato ’06 90
Le Chiantigiane, DOCG Chianti, Toscana, Italy
73460 (v) $18.95
Very much a proper Chianti, made by the Governo method of adding the sweet juice from sun-dried grapes to the fermenting wine, softening and enriching the result, dry, complex and voluptuous with new leather and cherry top notes. Well priced.
De Bortoli DB Selection Petite Sirah ’06 86
694802 (v) $14.95
Immediate pleasure with burgers, dogs and ribs off the grill! A long-lived and deep-colored relative of Shiraz (alias Syrah), simpler and less intense, with a kirsch, Bing cherry, cola profile, mild tannins and hints of vanilla and oak. Very good value.
Devil’s Lair Red ’03 92
Margaret River, W Australia
543454 (v) $49.95
Interesting Cab Sauvignon/Franc and Merlot from the bottom left of Oz, cool-climate and all. Elegant and subtle with dark chocolate, vanilla and wild strawberry/forest floor notes, eucalyptus and cassis. Now to 2015 with roast duck, quail and venison.
Sebastiani Zinfandel ’06 86
Sonoma County, California
672667 (v) $18.95
Party-perfect, fruit forward, easy to love: wild strawberry-blueberry-black plum core with mild, chewy tannins and balancing acidity, a hint of raisin pie and blueberries on the finish. Tasty value with ribs, beef and barbie.
Batasiolo Barolo Vigneto Boscareto ’00 94
DOCG Barolo, Piemonte, Italy
73932 (v) $65.95
Very good value! Boscareto, one of the Dogliani family’s nine vineyards, at 400 metres, overlooks Serralunga village, and its wines are rich, layered, and show the rose petal and violets signature of Barolos, ageable, complex, nuanced with truffle and black plum notes. Truly a keeper!
Cattier Premier Cru Champagne Brut 88
919464 (v) $42.95
Super value and finesse: racy with hazelnut, brioche and citrus taste threads. In the same release, Deutz Classic Brut, 710038, $57.95, is $15 more complex, refined and floral, with a yeasty, baked apple silhouette (92). The more upscale Taittinger Brut ’02, 989905, $87.96, is creamy with a mineral and toasty oak frame that showcases bright pear-apple and fresh bread dough nuances (91). Will improve. All are bone-dry.
Favory Crémant de Bordeaux Brut 86
AC Bordeaux, Schuster de Ballwill
92528 (v) $19.95
A simple fizz from Carmenère, Sauvignon Blanc and Ugni Blanc grapes that’s quite charming, floral with melon-pear notes, some slight grassiness and a delicate hint of bitterness in the finish. Great party starter.
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs ’04 90
914648 (v) $26.95
Cool-climate sparking dry white made like Champagne from 100% Chardonnay that’s elegant, light and refreshing in a floral, steely, mineral style with riffs of green apples and citrus, designed for crab, lobster, calamari off the grill. Good value.
Allimant-Laugner Crémant d’Alsace Brut 91
Hubert Laugner, AC Alsace, France
30593 (v) $21.95
Fresh, creamy, floral and a lovely pale-gold hue, this classy fizz offers racy vanilla, ripe pear, melon and citrus perked up with a fine mousse and zippy acidity for food friendliness. From the famed Haut Koenigsbourg hill in overlooking the Rhine. Pinot Blanc with Riesling and Pinot Gris.
Edradour The Distillery Edition 10 Years Old Highland Single Malt 94
904996 (v) $74.95 700mL
From the tiniest distillery, a banquet of sensory celebration: toasted barley, oatmeal, liquid chocolate and fine sherry on the nose, caramel, vanilla bean and honeycomb on the palate. Cheers! For a sweeter treat, try Moniack Mead, 987263, $21.95, honey wine with a tang of mint, to launch newlyweds on a fertile honeymoon. Chill and sip carefully!
Nonino Monovitigni Single Grapes Grappa 93
11361 (v) $40.95 500mL
From Pinot Blanc, Tocai and Malvasia, a stellar example for the connoisseur or the curious. Incredible aromas of dried hay under a summer sun, flavors of vanilla, pastry dough and fresh toast.
Cave Spring Riesling Icewine ’06 92
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
447441 (v) $59.65, 375mL
Tropical fruit-driven, elegant, with fresh, clean acidity, and luscious. Pair with foie gras, fresh figs or white chocolate or enjoy as dessert by itself. More elegant than Vidal grape versions. Drink now or keep 5 years.
Quinta do Noval Tawny Reserve Port 92
687608 (v) $19.95
Nutty and creamy from six years in barrel, this amber wood-aged Port shows forest floor, fig, Bing cherry, roasted hazelnut and vanilla and does not need decanting. High quality.
The Macallan Amber Liqueur 90
1974 (v) $49.95
Intriguing single malt liqueur with maple syrup and pecan, showing vanilla, toasted nut and Sherry notes, smooth and not too sweet. Sacrilege, maybe, but a great mixer or dessert pacifier or over ice cream! Nothing like The Macallan! Whatever happened to Lochan Ora?