Spring 2003

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

Classics Catalogue

High Spirits

Everything Wine Express recommends is in the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s regular stores, unless marked (v) for Vintages stores, or (c) on Consignment, by the case through an importer.

Call the LCBO's Infoline 416-365-5900 for the store nearest you that has the wine. If your local store doesn't have it, the manager will order in the wine at no extra 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 page for a quick refresher -- in helping you choose a refresher quickly!

Dry Whites:

Château des Charmes Riesling, 2000   89
VQA Niagara Peninsula
LCBO 061499 $9.95
Below the radar, this is a real value discovery: Scents of fresh-cut flowers and zesty citrus flavors in a crisp, dry style. Refreshing and elegant. Riesling grows well here in cool-climate Ontario and nobody does it better than C des C. Clear, clean and versatile everyday drinking pleasure! Aperitif, shellfish, seafood, white meats or spicy Asian dishes. Winner of the Best General List White, Cuvée 2003.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Riesling '01 86
Barossa Valley, South Australia
LCBO $12.95
Shuck those oysters, break out the bloody shellfish, mate! This zesty South Aussie Riesling is ready. With its floral/apple and lime aromatics, and spicy mid-palate, it's attractively crisp and fruity for instant pleasure. One of Lehmann's most underrated wines.

Nuvole Pinot Grigio '01   87
Trentino, Italy
LCBO $9.85
Everyday pleasure, from the food-friendly, slightly spicy grapes grown in this northern region, crisp, dry, with floral, mineral, pear and green grape flavors. Illyrian settlers from Greece brought wine making to the region 3,000 years ago and the locals still know what they're doing!

Malivoire Pinot Gris '02   91
VQA Niagara Peninsula
(v) July 26, $18, " the winery now
Unlike Nuvole, voluptuous, mouth filling, opulent. Cool-fermented in stainless steel to keep its freshness, grapefruit acidity, pineapple/vanilla aromas and spicy-citrus flavors. Complex and satisfying, a big wine. Treat as a light red for food matching.

Lurton Les Fumées Blanches '01   88
VDP d'Oc, France
LCBO $8.95
Light and lively, one of the best made wines from France's re-energized Vin de Pays d'Oc region with a catchy Mediterranean gooseberry-grapefruit flavor signature and refreshing balance. Good value.

Madfish Sauvignon-Semillon '02   87
Western Australia
LCBO $14.95
My sediments entirely! From the deep south of Western Oz, where the ocean countercurrents moil in scenic Madfish Bay, comes a clean blast of white fruits, red grapefruit, lemon zest and spring flowers. Food friendly and easy to slurp.

Domaines Listel Isles de Stel '01   84
VDP d'Oc, France
LCBO $9.95
This 4,000-acre estate on the Golfe de Lion in the Midi, owned by Val d'Orbieu, delivers vibrant, fruity reds and pleasant, light, refreshing whites like Isles de Stel, which has a hint of steel and a touch of residual sweetness that's quite charming.

Latour Pouilly-Vinzelles '00   87
Burgundy, France
LCBO $21.95
Old-established Burgundy grower-negociate offers this value-priced white from the commune bordering more prestigious Pouilly-Fuissé. Similar style, fruit- rather than oak-driven, featuring ripe pear/apple notes, and a steely-mineral backbone. Good acidity, versatile with light dishes, seafood.

Château des Charmes Silver Label Chardonnay '00   87
LCBO $9.95
From Alsace via French Algeria to Niagara, the Bosc family have a sure hand with white wines: this affordable Chardonnay is non-oaked and fruit driven with a lovely hint of fresh apple and citrus, refreshing acidity and perfect poise. Perfect with poultry and seafood or as an aperitif.

Hardy's Crest Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc '01   89
S.E. Australia
LCBO 525246 $12.95
Zippy, fresh, ripe tropical fruit and creamy melon-peach aromas usher in citrus, pineapple and spicy peach on the palate. Generous, full-bodied without oakiness! Shellfish, poultry and Asian dishes. Also in the LCBO stores in the redesigned Hardy's black/gold Crest package is the partner Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot '00, 565119, $15.15, all plums, blackberry, cassis, mint and cedar cigar box. Medium bodied and delicious with lamb, game, and grilled vegetables (90).

Lakeview Gewürztraminer '00   87
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
LCBO $11.95
Great value again from one of Niagara's first cottage wineries, growing 13 acres on the favored Beamsville Bench of the Niagara Escarpment: Tons of exotic tropical fruit character, melon, lychee and pineapple with underlying a blast of fresh ginger and citrus. Winner of the Cuvée 2002 award for Best Aromatic White.

Malivoire Chardonnay Musqué 'Spritz' '02   91
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$17 at the winery
The sensuous, spicy Chardonnay clone, estate-grown, hand-harvested and whole-cluster pressed on Beamsville Bench, vinified by Ann Sperling to retain 55 grams/litre of grape sugar, 5 on the sweet scale, yet crisp, silky and wonderfully aromatic as a gently fizzy summer sipper. Only 8.5% alcohol, reminiscent of Moscato d'Asti, with subtle tangerine, orange blossom, tropical notes. 225 cases in this inaugural year. One to watch!


Malivoire Ladybug Rosé '02   86
VQA Niagara Peninsula
(v) 559088 $15
The "good" ladybug, Ontario's Hippodamia convergens, is still Malivoire's proud symbol. Not to be confused with the plague of pyrazine-spewing Asian lady beetles that tainted Ontario's 2001 vintage. Emblematic of clean, caring viticulture, this serious, sophisticated Ladybug Rosé is Martin Malivoire's pride and joy. Rich, cherry-raspberry-strawberry jam fruitiness, soft, gentle, lingering finish, some residual sugar.

Roland Bouchacourt Rosé '02   87
Côtes de Provence, France
LCBO $7.30
Fun wine! A pink from eighth-generation Beaujolais winemakers Daniel and Françoise Bouchacourt sourced from the Provence grapes, sporting fragrantly strawberry and cherry cola notes, dry, clean and fresh.

Duboeuf Milénage Syrah Rosé '02   88
VDP d'Oc, France
LCBO $8.55
This Syrah comes from the Hérault appellation in the Midi and it's bursting with the aromas of small juicy red fruits, like raspberry, blackcurrant and blueberry, with a lightly tannic grip, good length and a hint of spiciness.

Lurton Les Bâteaux Rosé de Syrah '02   85
VDP d'Oc, France
LCBO $7.30
From France's own Flying Winemakers, überconsultants Jean and Francois Lurton, with blackberry, licorice, raspberry to the fore here, again from the Midi, again great value. Elegant, silky smooth, easy-drinking aperitif to put you in the pink.

Dry Reds:

Bouchard Ainé Mâcon-Supérieur '01   86
Mâcon-Villages, France
LCBO $10.95
Gamay-based quaffer from vineyards spread across 10,410 acres and 43 villages, for early drinking pleasure. Light, peppery and simply a gusher of fresh-sliced red fruits, from a family winery founded in 1750, now owned by Boisset.

Inniskillin Cabernet Merlot '00   88
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
LCBO $14.95
Leaner than the preceding two vintages, a difficult vintage saved by a glorious October, quite elegant with raspberry, blackberry, and black pepper aromas leading into black olives, cherries, and game on the palate. A good food wine with racy acidity, smoky notes, smooth tannins, and a lingering aftertaste.

Trinchero Family Selection Merlot '99   89
LCBO $18.95
Soft-textured with cherry, tea, herbal aromas and rich, ripe cherry flavors, from California's North and Central Coast grapes. Each vineyard lot is vinified separately and the best lots are later blended by the St Helena winery (creator of white Zin).

Hernder Estate Merlot '99   84
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
LCBO $18.00
Aged in American and French barrels, rich and Intense fruit aroma and flavors with a bouquet of dusty roses, currants, berries and spiciness. Winemaker Ray Cornell coaxes complex and intriguing flavors that last and last. He's a Whiz with Riesling, too!

Ancient Coast Cabernet Sauvignon '00   86
VQA Ontario
LCBO $9.95
It's literally ages since this was the coast of gigantic Lake Algonquin, pre-Ice Age, I believe, but here's decent wine in an attractive package. Drawing on geological allusion, and fruit from Niagara, giant Vincor uses economies of scale for a very affordable, pleasant Cab, melding flavors of ripe berries, sour cherries, smoke, spices and pencil lead. Well done.

Château des Charmes Silver Label Cabernet '00   88
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
LCBO $9.95
Voluptuous bouquet of cassis and new leather, caressing the palate with earthy blackberry/blackcurrant flavors. Pair with osso buco, beef stews, tomato-sauced pasta, pizza. Gold Medal, 2002 Ottawa Wine and Food Show

Stone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon '00   88
LCBO $13.95
Sweetly ripe currents, berries, cedar and earth notes with smooth round tannins, and hints of blueberry, clove and tobacco. Blended with a smidge of Cabernet Franc and Syrah this Cab complex and pleasing. Pasta primavera or chicken Parmesan. From Beringer, Napa Valley's oldest operating winery.

Little Boomey Cabernet Sauvignon '01   88
New South Wales, Australia
627141 (v) $13.95
Nigella in a glass! Dark, buxom and voluptuous. An almost Port-like red made by Reynold's in the cool, sunny high-country Orange region 240k W of Sydney, bottom-right of Australia, (nick)named for friendly local possum pictured on the label. Orange is Australia's most talked about wine district. In the glass here, we have aromas of blackcurrant, sweet black plum, subtle oak and ripe red berries drift from the glass while silky textures caress the palate. With ribs, osso bucco, wine- or tomato-sauced stews, braised rabbit, spicy pizza.

Bodegas Palacio Viña Portil '00   85
Rioja Crianza, Spain
LCBO $12.95
Fully evolved already, with plum, prune notes and a suggestion of currant and cherry fruit. Supple, with a touch of oak to round out the flavors. To open this year.

Castellani Rosso Veronese 'Sergio' '98   88
Veneto IGT, Italy
LCBO $19.95
Mostly from Corvina/Corvinone (the Valpolicella grape varieties) plus international varieties from the hills above Verona, 30% aged in new oak, delivering smooth power and a fruit profile of red currants, apricots and mulberries, simple, fragrant and delicious, rather elegant, in fact, with braised meats and game. Named for the owner of the family biz.

Aliança Terra Boa Tinto '00   87
Tras-os-Montes, Portugal
LCBO $6.75
From the rugged terrain north of the Douro River, using the dark-skinned Roriz, Francesa and Barroca grapes that also produce Port, for everyday drinking with a life span of about 5 years. A fine balance of berries and leathery tannins with a smoky note. Good with pizzas, cassoulet, BBQ. The Tinto's white wine partner, Boa Branco, $6.75, from Malvasia Fina and Gouveio grapes, is more rustic (83) but decent value.

Two Oceans Pinotage '00   85
South Africa
LCBO $8.95
Cape wine's still hiding its light under a bushel despite 350 years of history, while New World winemakers in Canada, the US and Australia motor ahead. Reliance on the often-coarse, much planted "local hero" Pinotage grape is part of the problem B for most tasters, it's love or hate. This one's a Juicy-Fruit, leather, rusty nails and roast beef bruiser. A steal B if you're a fan. Needs careful aging or matching with major dishes.

Classics Catalogue (In tiny quantities but worth pursuing):

*Two contrasting Pinot Noirs, each typical of its region. From California's foggy Carneros district, the rich, plush, voluptuous Saintsbury Reserve '99, $69, (92) and Niagara's lean, fresh, light, more Burgundian Thirteenth Street '01, $27 (91).

*A dark, brooding Cab Sauvignon '99 from McLaren Vale made by the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria-based Hickinbotham family (gramps initiated scientific wine making at Roseworthy College) $54 (93).

*A heady, Port-like Cab-Merlot (14.5% alc) made Amarone-style from Joseph's Primo Estate in S. Australia (the 15th vintage from grapes dried before pressing). Think quail and polenta! (91) $48.

*Disparate Chardonnays contrasting silky, smoky, oaky Saintsbury Reserve '00, (93) $49, and the lighter, citrus-melon-powered Mission Hill Family Estate '00, (88) $28.

To order, call Classics at 416-365-5767.

High Spirits:

Powers Gold Label Irish Whiskey   90
LCBO $27.95
Number one seller in the Emerald Isle, with 70% pot still whiskey, closer to "single malt" than blended, if you like. Medium-dark with a generous nose of dried fruit, toasted nuts, wood smoke, candy, and a hint of maple sugar. Butterscotch smooth and creamy. Great mellow value! Guinness chaser, anyone?

Appleton Estate 21-year-old Jamaica Rum   93
LCBO 452938 $89.95
Vanilla, orange peel, musk and cocoa, nutty and oaky. Sound good? Add the generous warmth of 43% alcohol, and kick back. A rare blend of aged rums, Appleton's flagship rum is up there with fine Cognac or Armagnac for elegance and complexity. For the impoverished connoisseur, Appleton's Reserve, another excellent premium amber rum, LCBO 200436, $27.95, (89) more marzipan, molasses, caramel and brown sugar, is ready to mix it up, neat, with water, club soda or whatever, for patio party moments. Graceful sippers.

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