Autumn 2012

(Hint: click on labels and photos for even more information!)

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

Rosé Wines

Dry Red Wines

Sparkling Gems

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:

Dopff & Irion Vorbourg Pinot Gris 2009        90
AC Alsace Grand Cru, France
292227 (v)
Silky in texture with discreet touches of oak and pear-apple nuances, this floral PG has oomph and finesse at a very reasonable price. From a fine producer at a fair price.

Yalumba Organic Viognier 2011        87
South Australia
288217 (v)
Exotic passion fruit, Muscat, papaya, lemon and pear aromas pour out of the glass and there’s a hint of honeysuckle on the palate here, almost like a childhood bonbon yet fresh and elegant.

Henry of Pelham Family Tree White 2010        90
VQA Niagara Peninsula
251116 (v)
Number one blended white at the Ontario Wine Awards, this Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Chardonnay Musque melange is exotic, aromatic, finely balanced fruit vs acidity and made from vines in the family’s oldest estate. Huge value, huge pleasure. The Family Tree Red 2010 offers a wonderful chocolate, earth and fruit blast for $18.95 (90).

Santa Ema Amplus Sauvignon Blanc 2011Santa Ema Amplus Sauvignon Blanc 2011        86
Leyda Valley, Chile
301416 (v)
Struck flint and slate open the proceedings in this grassy, cool-climate style of SB with grace notes of green pepper, citrus, herbs and tropical fruits. Food versatile, especially with mussels, shrimp stir fry or grilled salmon.

G. Marquis The Silver Line Chardonnay 2011        87
Single Vineyard, Niagara Stone Rd, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
258681 (v)
Spicy, full-bodied Chardonnay with some new oak and a whack of apple, vanilla, toast and ripe pear in the core of the palate. Great with herbed chicken, ham, cold cuts, or prawn pasta.

Hardys HRB D648 Chardonnay 2009        90
Thomas Hardy, Pemberton & Adelaide Hills, S Australia
287755 (v) $29.95
Forget the stereotypical oak/citrus high-volume Oz Chards of the last decade. Here’s a much more Burgundian take, made from old vines grown at higher, cooler altitudes, and treated with great respect. This is the future of great Australian Chardonnay. Get a first-hand look at it right now, and be happy.

Cave De La Vigne Blanche Macon-Villages 2010        86
AC Macon-Villages, Burgundy, France
284034 (v) $15.95
Straightforward, stony-mineral classic Macon with white grapefruit, orchard fruit and herbal notes. Food versatile to enjoy within 12 months.

La Chablisienne Fourchaume 1er Cru 2010        90
AC Chablis, Burgundy, France
656835 (v) $29.95
From the most important and respected co-ops in Chablis, this big, rich full-bodied wines is seductive, sensual and austere all at the same time. Greta Garbo, in fact! There’s an oaky, toasty overlay and it will equal everything from mussels to muscles.

Domaine Sylvain Gaudron Vouvray 2011        90
AC Vouvray, Loire, France
297861 (v) $15.95
A dry Chenin Blanc with earthy, mineral and tree fruit character, slightly citrus in a nectarine vein, dry and astringent in a good way and very food friendly. Serve with feathered game, tangy cheeses, fish in a cream sauce.

Markus Molitor Edition No. 3 Riesling Spatlese 2003        92
Qualitatswein Bernkasteler Badstube, Mosel, Germany
298000 (v) $29.95
A late-harvest Riesling from the scorchingly hot 2003 vintage with a honeyed, off dry flavor that’s offset by crisp, elegant lime-lanolin acidity and complex fruit flavors that simply echo in the mouth. Great wine!

St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Kabinett 2011        88
Pradikatswein Ockfener Bockstein, Mosel, Germany
216622 (v) $21.95
Citrus, floral, peach, banana and spicy yellow fruit are the core of this elegant and attractive dry Riesling, one of the best Germany has to offer in this price range. Nice acidity typical of this slatey rugged region.

Rosé Wines:

Chateau des Charmes Rosé Sparkling, Méthode Traditionnelle, 2009        91
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$28.95 LCBO 78055
Only 245 cases of this outstanding bubbly will quickly find happy buyers! Try the winery, the Ottawa Charmes boutiques and An overnight cold soak of perfect Pinot Noir grapes on their skins, then secondary fermentation in the bottle with three years of lees contact. Each bottle is hand disgorged just before release. Elegant, delicate and tres Charmant!

Dry Red Wines:

Roux Pere & Fils Cote de Beaune-Villages 2010        87
AC Burgundy, France
208520 (v) $17.95
Bright, elegant with kirsch, toast, peat smoke, sour cherry and floral notes, all for the low price of … A steal! A by-the-case buy for Burgundy fans here. Now to 2018. Food friendly, especially with cheese gougeres!

13th Street Sandstone Old Vines Gamay Noir 2010        89
VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
130195 (v) $29.95
Plum jam and blackberry fruits start us off with this lovely wine, and blueberry carries us into smoky cherry-berry regions of taste. So far, so good! A winner at Cuvee 2012 for this lovely fresh fruity grape variety from Beaujolais. View the tasting video by clicking HERE.

Chateau des Charmes Cabernet-Merlot 2009        90
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
454991 LCBO $12.95 plus 6 Air Miles
A killer Bordeaux-style red from a so-so red wine year. Made from declassified Equuleus Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot grapes that just missed the minimum sugar levels for the elite wine but still deliver finesse and depth like a fine claret.

Vasse Felix Cabernet/Merlot 2010Vasse Felix Cabernet/Merlot 2010        91
Margaret River, Western Australia
947879 (v) $24.95
Dry, elegant, Bordeaux-ish, from the bottom left corner of Oz confronting the cool Southern Ocean, nicely structured for fine acidity and savory tannins and blessed with intense blackcurrant fruit and pipe tobacco notes. Worthy of a fine steak or prime rib roast.

Hogue Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007        88
Wahluke Slope, Washington State
301358 (v) $29.95
One of the best Washington producers, Hogue offers a herbal, fresh, fruity Cabernet that will please almost everybody. The tannins are smooth there’s no rough edge and the sweetly ripe spicy plum core delivers many oral pleasures.

Catena Alta Malbec 2009        90
Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina
982355 (v) $49.95
Taut, elegant and nicely concentrated black fruit character is the keynote of this hefty Malbec. There’s a hint of mocha and licorice as you might expect and a frame of good acidity and minerality. Carnivores, start your engines!

Valle Las Acequias Oak Malbec 2007        87
Estate Don Angelino, Luis Segundo Correas, Mendoza, Argentina
138412(v) $15.95
A fascinating wine to serve alongside a good Cahors from France, such as Clos La Coutale 2010. Here we have spicy cedar cigar-box and tobacco aromas and red fruit nuances, plus black cherries and kirsch notes. The choice is yours. Can’t miss!

Kilikanoon The Lackey Shiraz 2010        89
South Australia
5199 (v) $17.95
Typical Aussie (chip on both shoulders). Just kidding! A great-value Shiraz, jam-packed with blueberry, raspberry, new leather and tarry smoke flavors, geared to flatter a fine roast leg of lamb, osso buco, or pasta carbonara!

Hartenberg Shiraz 2007        90
WO Stellenbosch, S Africa
906289 (v) $34.95
Elegant and fine, this intense South African Shiraz is more savory, more licoricey, more meaty and black cherry than Australian versions. Pair the two candidates together for a dinner party debate. Great winery, wonderful wine.

Domaine de Longue Toque Gigondas 2010        90
Gabriel Meffre, AC Gigondas, Rhone, France
121327 (v) $29.95
Purple edged, fleshy, with blackberry-raspberry, wood smoke nuances and hints of cedar and graphite, here’s a complex and interesting big red at a reasonable price. Rack of lamb comes to mind.

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Telegramme 2010        88
Brunier, AC Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
292722 (v) $46.95
Crushed raspberries, sun-dried raisins, roasted hazelnuts and kirsch raise the curtain on this elegant, outstanding wine, the second wine of Vieux Telegraphe, one of the finest of all the Chateauneufs, without question. Very good value.

La Ferme du Mont Premiere Cote 2009        90
Stephane Vedeau, AC Cotes du Rhone, France
251645 (v) $15.95
For one-third the price, you can buy a wine half as good as the Telegramme. A very well made standard Rhone, stuffed with black currant, blackberry, raspberry and cassis fruit. Quite silky and fresh with good concentration.

Pierre Amadieu La Grangeliere 2010Pierre Amadieu La Grangeliere 2010        90
AC Vacqueras, Rhone, France
076395 (v) $19.95
Raspberry infused with cloves and backed with soft tannins, tobacco, pencil lead, and a touch of old oak from this emerging star sub-appellation of the Rhone. Well made, well priced.

Chateau Peyros Tannat/Cabernet 2007        90
AC Madiran, France
208249(v) $14.95
From the deep southwest of France, here’s a tannic Tannat softened by Cabernet for today’s discerning palates. Figs, plums, blackberries and bitter chocolate are the sensory foundation, leavened by the red fruit and berries of the Cabernet. Delicious and interesting drinking.

Clos La Coutale 2010        90
Philippe Bernede, AC Cahors, France
286385 (v) $15.95
Plum, prune and earthy truffle licorice notes introduce this powerful velvety red. These are the wines that “fortified” the lighter weight Bordeaux and Burgundy wines in the past and are still under-valued in today’s market. Think cassoulet and big red meat dishes.

Corte Pavone 2006        94
Loacker, DOCG Brunello di Montalcino
237263 (v) $49.95
Sage, lavender, mushrooms and black berry fruits are the overture. Then we have spicy oak and a floral component that’s elegant and endearing. Not cheap but worth a splurge for a Sunday dinner special wine.

Masi Serego Alighieri Vaio 2005        92
DOC Armaron della Valpolicella Classico, Italy
462812 (v) $69.95
The big guns are out here and they’re firing prune, cassis and Kirsch at your palate, in a nice way! Layers of raisin, black tea and forest floor notes play counterpoint and this is for a very special dinner with wild boar, osso buco, steak Florentine or a Roman stew.

Alejandro Fernandez Tinto Pesquera Crianza 2009        91
DO Ribera del Duero, Spain
341461 (v) $26.95
From one of my favorite Spanish producers, here’s a hearty red that has muscle and charm in equal ratios, A Brad Pitt of a wine, if you like. Cassis, vanilla, Kirsch, new leather and sage – a fruity-savory stand-off in a good way!

Nacido Del Quorum Seleccion 2007        88
Del Quorum, DO Jumilla, Spain
293464 (v) $18.95
Raspberry, Kirsch and milk chocolate are the taste magnets here with a whiff of vanilla from American oak aging, thank you very much! Fresh acidity and expectations of a long life – perhaps to 2020, if you can resist temptation…

Tilenus Envejecido En Roble 2007        90
Bodegas Estefania, DO Bierzo, Spain
297143 (v) $17.95
From the very top-left, cool corner of Spain, Tilenus has what we call fully ripened polyphenols, the shy (late ripening) flavor components that make all this worthwhile. Spicy oak and floral notes enhance the blast of raspberry and rich mineral underlay. Delicious now to 2015.

Tosalet Old Vines 2009        92
DOCa Priorat, Spain
292078 (v) $19.95
From a much hotter region, Tosalet is a racy, exotic playboy of a wine with fancy spice, floral, ripe red fruit and savory character, devoid of distracting oak flavors. Fruit forward, indeed. Serve with rabbit, pasta carbonara, chorizo or pizza with spicy sausage.

Sparkling Gems:

Armand de Brignac Brut Gold Champagne NV        94
Cattier, AC Champagne, France
220244 (v) $284.95
You don’t have to be a brainiac to appreciate Brignac’s fabulous Champagne on the palate (bread, brioche, nectarine) but the eye does feast first on the gorgeous, collectible golden bottle, and image is everything…

A.R. Lenoble Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne        91
AC Champagne, France
299826 (v) 47.95
Fine delicate mousse, the sign of a well-made Champers, sets the stage for a notable spicy, brioche-y, roasted-hazelnutty wine with zip and elegance. Layered with nuances of clove, lemon balm, muscat grape aromas and pastry dough.

Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Rose Champagne 2002        92
AC Champagne, France
069831 (v) $87.95
A special treat, but you’re worth it! Cran-cherry, licorice and pink grapefruit cheer in the savory, herbal and citrus mid-palate, racy, pink and gratifying.

Cave De Lugny Brut Rose Cremant de Bourgogne        87
AC Burgundy, France
297846 (v) $16.95
Creamy, cran-apple and kirsch notes welcome you to enjoy this very food-friendly fizz with its bread dough, toast and red fruit finish. Serve with roasted herbed chicken, planked or BBQ salmon dolmades for starters.

Domaine J. Laurens La Rose No. 7 Cremant de Limoux        87
AC Midi, France
297770 (v) $19.95
Bright, fresh and deliciously fruity, red berry inspired bubbly from a celebrated non-Champagne region: Limoux in the Midi. Will easily hold its own as an aperitif, with salmon or seafood pasta.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad CavaSegura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava        89
DO, Spain, Traditional Method
558825 (v) $29.95
This old faithful continues to deliver! A house sparkling around here, it has enough body to accompany light main courses such as shellfish or chicken in a cream sauce, while being the perfect aperitif.

Flat Rock Cellars Riddled Sparkling Wine 2008        90
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula
187377 (v) $24.95
Under a crown cap (with its very own opener) this one really pops! 70/30 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, it’s a citrus-driven fizz with toasty-mineral benefits and a hint of apple skin. PS. Real Champagne spends many years horizontal sealed with crown caps before being disgorged (cleared of yeast lees) and bottled under huge cork stoppers.

Henry of Pelham Icewine Trio 2010        93
VQA Niagara Peninsula
94110 (v) $99.95
The trifecta of Icewine, this gift box showcases Cabernet Franc, Riesling and the more often seen Vidal varieties of Canada’s most internationally famous winter-picked wine. By turns, aromatic, spicy with raspberry notes from Cabernet; lemon tart, peach jam, honeyed pear from Riesling; and tropical mango, banana, papaya and citrus from Vidal, by turn. Hope Santa leaves one for me!

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