Fall 2015

(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

Dry Red Wines

Sparkling Gems

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:

Chateau de la Ragotiere Selection Vieilles Vignes 2014                90
AC Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, Loire, France
429076 (v) $14.95

An ultra-dry shellfish and seafood friendly wine that has an understated, elegant presence with intense mineral and fresh citrus bones. Born about 25k from where the Loire empties into the Atlantic, the wine’s subtle flavors echo pear, grapefruit, lemon peel and white peach, but mostly it tastes of wet stone and earth – fantastic with mussels, oysters and anything seafood, raw or cooked, or pork or calamari.

Fielding Estate Riesling 2014Fielding Estate Riesling 2014                90
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
251439 (v) $18.95
Deliciously aromatic and clean as a hound’s tooth: would fool or at least delight and German master winemaker. Just off-dry with exquisite lemon-lime acidity yet silky on the palate with that lovely oil, Vaseline petrol character that defines the best of the Mosel. There’s a thread of Granny Smith, peach pie, blood orange, apricot and fresh-squeezed Key lime continuity that holds your interest, and it’s a lovely low 10.5% alcohol.

Pondview Lot 74 2014                90
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
308718 LCBO $14.95
This is Chardonnay, Riesling and a smidge of Gewurztraminer, nicely aromatic and dry, made with an Italian touch and lots of love from the Puglisi family, purchasers of Lot 74 in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula back in 1974. Nuances of peach compote, a touch of honey, fresh citrus, and a whiff of ginger from the Gewurz make for an endearing sip.

Domaine Bellevue Sauvignon 2014                91
AC Touraine, Loire, France
82305 (v) $14.95
From a family estate with four generations of winemaking on the right bank of the Cher Valley and showing flavors of tangerine, lilies and pine resins couched in a crisp bed of grapefruit and lime acidity for refreshing crispness. None of that Kiwi gooseberry and cat pee stuff here – this is France, after all!

Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2014                88
Awatere Valley, Marlborough, S Island, N Zealand
225557 (v) $18.95
Struck flint, tropical fruit, elegant, herbaceous and floral with touches of mineral and bay leaf on the palate and easy on the wallet. Dry, medium-bodied and under screw cap as are most New Zealand wines, I’m happy to say.

Giesen The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc 2013                88
Marlborough, South Island, N Zealand
247213 (v) $19.95
Pink grapefruit, passionfruit, limes, tangerine, melon and dried herbs are part of the powerful appeal here. This endearing wine is made by three brothers (hence the name) and the winery is at the forefront of New Zealand’s new wave of young winemakers.

Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014                91
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
324228 (v) $21.95
Rich, elegant and suave and a worthy medal winner in big Kiwi wine shows. This silky Sauv expresses typical white grapefruit, lemon, pineapple and gooseberry ripeness and shows amazing balance and finesse. From the well-drained gravels (“sunstones”) of the Golden Mile in Marlborough on the northeastern tip of the South Island. Great with BBQ salmon, chicken salad and seafood.

Robert Oatley Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc 2014                90
Margaret River, Western Australia
0186106 (v) $18.95
Floral blossoms, juicy asparagus, lychee, fresh-cut grass, lime zest, passionfruit, flint and Meyer lemon crispness make this elegant cool-climate Sauv a must-have dinner party stand-by as an aperitif or partner for soft cheeses, fish and shellfish dishes.

Dauny Les Caillottes 2014                90
AC Sancerre, Loire, France
429340 (v) $21.95
The 13th generation runs the organic vineyard and this vintage offers a flavor floral-grassy pot-pourri of fresh pea pods, ripe gooseberries, summer grass, green peppers and orchard fruit. Think seafood or goat cheeses.

Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc 2013Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc 2013                90
Sonoma County, California
354993 (v) $27.95
Quite the tropical style of Sauvignon as opposed to the grassy-gooseberry entries from the antipodes, and that’s fine, thank you. There’s a cornucopia of white peach, honeyed melon, papaya and pineapple with a hint of pencil lead and stony minerals. There’s a kiss of oak but mostly it’s the fresh lemon acidity that pleases. Great with seafood and white meats, Asian dishes and spicy ethnic cuisines.

Domaine Jean Claude Courtault 2013                92
AC Chablis, Burgundy, France
424929 (v) $24.95
From one of the 20-odd villages in the hills around Chablis, a cool northerly outpost of Burgundy and from one of the most diligent and successful family growers. Here’s a well-defined, edgy, stony, mineral-driven wine with an elegant core of Granny Smith apple, lactic notes and ancient limestone underpinnings. Seductive, balanced and aristocratic.

Inniskillin Reserve Series Chardonnay 2013                89
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
383562 (v) $18.95
A better vintage for this old favorite has yielded a buttery, toasty Chard with integrated Bosc pear, ripe apple, vanilla and clove flavors that linger nicely. Shrimp, lobster and rosemary-roasted chicken would make perfect pairings with this well-priced white.

Nugan Estate Third Generation Chardonnay 2013                90
South Eastern Australia
400317 LCBO $11.65
Yellow apple, grapefruit-lemon citrus and grilled toast, nectarine and roasted nuts underpin a midweight and quite lively fruit-forward charmer, Dry with a long, intense follow-through, versatile as an aperitif or partner with seafood salads, roast chicken, salmon and pasta pesto.

Dry Red Wines:

Burning Kiln Prime Pinot Noir 2012                89
VQA Ontario
421354 (v) $24.95
Fleshy ripasso style that’s more Italianate than Burgundian – which comes from using 20% dried grapes in the making. Full-bodied, generous and mouth-filling rather than light and delicate, perfect for heavier dishes as we move into the fall and winter seasons.

Henry of Pelham Estate Pinot Noir 2010Henry of Pelham Estate Pinot Noir 2010                91
VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON
268391 (v) $24.95
Ready aged and drinkable now! Thanks, Henry. A serious Pinot with a spectrum of earth, new leather, sweet berry, raspberry, clove and cola nuances braced by silky tannins and vibrant acidity. Food friendly with white meats, poultry and lightly sauced pastas. Enjoy soon.

Flat Rock Gravity Pinot Noir 2013                88
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON
1560 (v) $29.95
A little closer to the Burgundian holy grail of winemakers, this is a velvety Pinot with benefits, i.e. sour cherry, raspberry and baking spices. However, there’s a little bitterness that seems to be coming from a slight over-extraction during the pressing. Not a deal breaker though.

Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon 2012                92
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California
14217 (v) $112.95
Yes, you read that right. We’re over the ton here but it’s a thoroughbred for that special occasion where only the best will do. It’s Bordeaux in California: made from the two Cabs, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot – full house. A keeper that you’ll want to try now, but wait to enjoy its harmonious melange of cassis, mulberry, spring flowers and supple tannins. Or you could splurge instead for Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, also from Napa, 709501 (v) $113.95. Even better, perhaps, with extra elements of new leather and menthol, cedar and tobacco (93). Enjoy both with the best beef or game you can find.

Dutton Estate Kamren Isabella Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir 2011                91
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
414821 (v) $57.95
For the price of two Henrys you could get this beauty from the left coast: Bing cherry, cola, raspberry, menthol and vanilla with a truffle/Portobello mushroom underpinning. Pretty terrific stuff on a grander more expensive scale.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2012                90
Columbia Valley, Washington
55764 (v) $26.95
There’s a lovely boysenberry-blueberry note to the bouquet along with some subtle toasty oak, cola and vanilla. Quite the charmer, in fact. From Washington’s biggest and most consistent producer, it’s well worth the entry fee. Food friendly and easy drinking.

Heartland Spice Trader Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2013                91
Langhorne Creek, South Australia
429241 (v) $17.00
From 20-year-old vines and aged gently in French and American oak barrels (no new oak), here’s a plummy, easy-going, everyday Cab that’ll please the crowd – weddings, birthdays, NFL watching, whatever. Balm for the serial carnivores in your circle.

C.J. Pask Gimblett Road Merlot 2013                90
Hawkes Bay, North Island, N Zealand
9134 (v) $19.95
If you love mocha, chocolate and cassis, with hints of thyme and white pepper, here’s your tipple. Certified sustainable, too, so your social conscience is clear. A touch of toasty oak and cedar with smooth tannins and a whiff of woodsmoke for a little more complexity. Easy on the purse and the palate.

Arnaud Aucoeur Cuvée Le Chagny Vieilles Vignes 2013                92
AP Morgon, Beaujolais, France
430652 (v) $18.95
Juicy, smoky with that hint of Band-Aid that always comes from fine Gamay grapes (old vines here) along with strawberry jam, black cherry and forest floor herbal notes. For fans of red Burgundy without the Vancouver real estate prices. Admittedly it’s not Pinot Noir but it’ll do in a pinch.

Chateau Mazails Cru Bourgeois 2011                90
AC Medoc, Bordeaux, France
425538 (v) $19.95
A reminder of why claret (red Bordeaux) has been an enophile’s go-to wine for centuries: vibrant and elegant, poised and delicious and simply Old World in a way that’s difficult to emulate. Clay-gravel soils beside the Gironde estuary yield cassis, mulberry, cedar-sandalwood with hints of pencil lead, too. Midweight and food friendly.

Domaine du Vieux Telegramme 2013                91
AC Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France
292722 (v) $48.95
Top-notch Rhône quality from the Brunier family, a top producer. Raspberry-cherry are the typical flavor signposts here, with oriental spices and a dash of minerality from the galettes, the huge pebbles that cover the vineyards, in this case from the 40-year-old, i.e. the younger vines of Grenache/Mourvedre grapes. Tremendous value and will cellar well for 10 years.

Lavau 2012                91
AC Vacqueyras, Rhône, France
104927 (v) $24.95
Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, the happy trio of grape varieties from the Rhône: Graceful, balanced and intense flavors of garrigue herbs, acacia flower, cassis, dark chocolate, new leather and plum-prune. Drinking well now and will hold 5-8 years if need be.

Chateau Peyros Vieilles Vignes 2010                91
AC Madiran, France
234997 (v) $18.95
A wine with heft from the Deep South – of SW France. The blend of Tannat and Cabernet Franc works brilliantly, polishing the one, softening the other. There’s a hint of old canvas (think old army tents!) licorice, cherry, raspberry with some wood age showing and rich, dense red fruit to the fore. Another carnivore special. Will improve further with aging.

Vinosia Santandrea 2009                92
DOCG Taurasi, Campania, Italy
172692 (v) $32.95
Volcanic deposits and the limestone remnants of ancient oceans have given their best to this elegant wine. The grape is Aglianico, the flavors are mulberry, boysenberry, anise and black olive with smoky-oaky notes from the winemaking. One of Italy’s top wines at a very fair price here.

Ricossa Appassimento Barbera 2014Ricossa Appassimento Barbera 2014                88
DOC Piemonte, Italy
430751 (v) $17.95
Drying some of the grapes and adding them later to the Barbera fermentation has softened this grape’s typically high acid character and we’re happy for that. Easy to enjoy Bing cherry, blueberry and mulberry notes mingle with fruit pie flavors, in a good way. Here’s a beauty with sausages, pizza, pasta and sliders.

Beni di Batasiolo Boscareto 2009                93
DOCG Barolo, Piemonte, Italy
73932 (v) $67.95
As neat as a Lou Myles suit, everything in proportion, totally elegant, completely tasteful. From Nebbiolo, the little fog grape, of course and fully ripe, offering cherry-menthol, black licorice and mocha with a touch of tobacco leaf. Now with slow cooked meats, fine steaks and aged cheeses but will keep for a decade.

Ruffino Modus 2011                91
IGT Toscana, Italy
912956 (v) $29.95
I really like this wine. It’s elegant, balanced and complex with a terrific flavor hit. Blackberry, blackcurrant, new leather, toasty oak and herbaceous undertones. Yee-hah! There’s also a walnut, dark chocolate element that adds to the appeal. Great value for now or the next ten years. Treat yourself.

Baron de Ley Reserva 2010                93
DOCg Rioja, Spain
958868 (v) $19.95
Classic Rioja with strawberry raspberry nuances and a hint of tobacco leaf, cassis and black cherry. Caressed by unaggressive American barrels favored by the Spanish, it offers warm ripe fruit with a kiss of oak and vanilla. Quite delicious and very well priced.

Sparkling Gems:

Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut                92
Champagne, France
384529 (v) $79.95
Deeply layered with flavors, unlike many Champagnes, and mouth-wateringly refreshing in its toasty, brightly citrus splendor. There are threads of ripe blackberry and creamy lemon curd along with a fine minerality. Can keep but why wait? Brighten those dark evenings now. There’s a handy half-bottle, too, for $45.95

Bailly-Lapierre Pinot Noir Brut                90
Cremant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France
420984 (v) $23.95
Celebrate your frugal side with this fine white bubbly from Burgundy. A mid-weight Champagne in all but name, it’s a white sparkler made from delicate dark-skinned Pinot Noir, the same grapes that go into Romanée-Conti. Fresh, lemony, lively with pear and grapefruit duelling for the flavor honors, dancing along a razor’s edge of crisp acidity

Just Desserts:

Gonzalez Byass Nutty Solera Medium OlorosoGonzalez Byass Nutty Solera Medium Oloroso                94
DO Sherry, Spain
35204 (v) $15.95
An exquisite melange of dried fruits, roasted nuts, honey, toffee, mocha and truffly forest floor notes. And that’s just the bouquet! On the palate it’s medium sweet with clove, walnut oil, espresso, raisins and orange zest. Here’s a lovely sipper of immense length and subtlety to enjoy by the fire as you welcome in the days of fall and winter. And it’ll keep, with the cork back in, for weeks. Serve all by itself or with cheese, fruit and nuts.

Delaforce Quinta da Corte Vintage Port 1997                94
Douro, Portugal
199695 (v) $45.95
Well priced and collectible, silky tannins are there to buttress medium-sweet berry fruits and floral accents that pour out of the glass. There’s plenty of stuffing for the long haul but pleasure is to be had right now alongside roasted nuts, hard cheeses and dried fruits.

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