Spring 2006

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

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 main page for a quick refresher -- in helping you choose a refresher quickly!

Dry Whites:

Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie ‘04   89
Domaine Gildas Cormerais, Loire, France
733691 (v) $11.95
Moules et frites, s’il vous plait? Mussels and oysters beckon this ultra-crisp, dry white, all green apple, citrus, stony mineral and pears. Unoaked, that’s what sur lie really means, left on the spent yeast (lees) rather kept in cask to take on barrel influence, therefore offering a steely foil to seafood/ shellfish dishes.

Domaine des Salices Viognier ‘04   87
Jacques & Francois Lurton, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
487272 (v) $12.95
Spicy apricot, peach, citrus, mineral, oaky and aromatic, all at the same time! From the (flying winemaker) Lurton brothers’ fine Languedoc range yet low-priced and great value. Great with spicy chicken, seafood, all by itself. Its red sibling Salices Syrah ‘03, 926287, $13.95, is rich, ripe, plush, fleshy, BBQ perfect (89).

Mönchhof Riesling Spätlese ‘03   90
QmP, Erdener Treppchen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
670646 (v) $17.95
Nectar from the Monks’ House Estate – Cistercians made wines at Erden, Ürzig and Wehlen since the 12th C and the Eymael family since 1806 (the clan includes the Waldorf-Astoria Astors). One of the finest mid-Mosel sites, its slate-rock cliff vines produce classic Riesling, albeit a big version in scorching 2003: off-dry with peach, tangy lime zest, stone, petrol and white grapefruit notes, elegant acidity, and refreshingly low (7.5%) alcohol. A connoisseur’s Riesling. Super value, can cellar to 2010.

Wegeler Estate Riesling ‘02   89
QbA, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
675777 (v) $15.95
From nearby Bernkastel, and showing more typical fresh acidity than the fatter ‘03s, the Wegeler has a zippy core of crisp peach, apricot, papaya, just offdry and a perfect aperitif or complement to white meats, seafood salads. Now to 2010.

Disznókö Tokaji Dry Furmint ‘04   89
681544 (v) $12.95
Key limes, custard and citrus, quite the flavor combo in this powerful dry wine made from Furmint grapes normally used for sweet Tokaji, delivering a fragrant clover, hay, honey bouquet with rich, ripe apple-peach-pear on the palate. Try with lobster, shrimp, herb-roasted chicken, veal roast. Enjoy now.

Jardin Sauvignon Blanc ‘04   88
Jordan Winery, WO Stellenbosch, S Africa
663302 (v) $15.95
An exciting tropical fruit cocktail, aromatic and heady, that coats your tongue with lemon zest, green figs, gooseberry, pink grapefruit, melon, mineral and fresh straw flavors. Finishing dry and crisp, well balanced and delicious. From cool hillside overlooking Stellenbosch and Cape Town. The family can’t use the Jordan name because of Jordan Vineyard in Healdsburg, CA.

Morgenhof Estate Chenin Blanc ‘04   90
WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, S Africa
978544 (v) $13.95
Enjoy the whiff of toasty oak, grilled hazelnuts, quince, ripe Delicious apple, melon, peach and lime aromas and flavors and the fine, clean acidity. Here’s a rich, ample white, dry with layers of fruit flavors from an estate founded by Huguenots in 1692. Serve with seafood, shellfish, veal or chicken. Amazing value.

Planeta La Segreta Bianco ‘04   87
IGT Sicilia, Italy
581546 (v) $15.95
Yellow gold, exuding filbert and vanilla aromas, with stone fruit, tropical notes, citrus and mineral aromas, a restrained, intense and elegant palate and fresh aftertaste. Very food friendly, from local Grecanico and Fiano plus 30% Chardonnay and 10% Viognier. Try it with grilled fish or shrimp. Its red partner, La Segreta Rosso ‘04, 936773, $15.95, rates (86), capitalizing on its smoky, berry-rich Nero d’Avola grapes plus 20% each of Merlot and Syrah. Pasta-pizza perfect and the BBQer’s friend.

Rolling Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon ‘05   88
Cumulus Wines, Central Range, NSW, Australia
678821 (v) $14.95
Restrained herbal, sage, lemon grass/citrus, apple and red grapefruit style – none of that aggressive gooseberry-grassy NZ approach here. A good party starter or accompaniment to a spring salad, asparagus quiche or salmon carpaccio. Ready to roll! Sibling Rolling Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot ‘04, 678490, $14.95, is a Big Easy red (86), all berry fruits and gentle tannins, nice value.

Cuvée Frédéric Laplace ‘03   86
Pierre Laplace, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec, France
681650 (v) $13.95
Pacherencs are tangy whites from local Arrufiac, Courbu and Manseng grapes. Vic-Bilh is The Old Country in the language of Béarn, between the Pyrenees and the Atlantic. The deep yellow wine can be dry or sweet. This Sec is bone dry, stony, aromatic and restrained with a baked fruit note and soft apple nuance. Have friends guess the appellation! Serve with crab, lobster, skate or shrimp.

Salitage Unwooded Chardonnay ‘05   86
Pemberton, W Australia
675504 (v) $22.95
Lots of cool microclimates in W Oz: hence wines of great freshness, crisp acidity and, in this case, flavors and aromas of binned apples, stone fruit, pink grapefruit, lees and citrus, uncluttered by barrel or oak chip treatment. Versatile aperitif/food wine.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen Godello/Chardonnay ‘04   87
Bodegas Adriá, DO Bierzo, Spain
673509 (v) $13.95
Quite the mouthful! A dry white from Spain’s cool northwest commissioned by UK merchant Guy Anderson, versatile with seafood/shellfish or as aperitif, with a peach-grapefruit bouquet, a steely, spicy citrus palate and a food-friendly finish. Then there‘s (gasp!) Mad Dogs Posh, a blend of Monastrell (alias Mourvèdre), Cab Sauvignon and Tempranillo ‘02, 673616, $17.95, from sunny Jumilla, all spicy red currants, new leather, oak and toast (86). Great value, both.

Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc‘04   91
Napa Valley, California
221887 (v) $24.95
Delectably aromatic with floral, lemon grass and peach-pear tones flowing into pineapple/melon on the tongue, caressed by a subtle smoky oak-vanilla in mid-palate and a stone-mineral finish. Top-notch with smoked trout, salmon carpaccio, chèvre.

Chateau Ste-Michelle Chardonnay ‘04   87
Columbia Valley, Washington
232439 (v) $17.95
Everyday value Chardonnay, fresh, packed with pineapple, citrus, buttery vanilla and toasty notes with a hint of coconut from American oak. From the pioneering giant of Washington State wineries, food friendly and people friendly.

Byron Chardonnay ‘03   88
Santa Maria Valley, California
953778 (v) $29.95
Intense, bold and brash, putting the “char” in Chardonnay! Toasty, buttery oak up front, with major green apple, ripe Anjou pear and watermelon fruit playing crisp back-up vocals, and a zippy fresh black pepper and citrus aftertaste. Now to 2009.

Dry Reds:

Malivoire Gamay ‘04   87
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
591313 (v) $16.00
Big raspberry-strawberry-cola flavors, black pepper and a hint of tobacco leaf are the drawing cards here, and this chillable red has a crisp cut of acidity that helps it marry well with roast ham, chicken or pork.

Trénel Juliénas ‘04   86
Beaujolais, France
682641 (v) $16.95
Dusty rose-scented, purple-hued, oozing raspberry liqueur and cola aromas and delivering juicy quaffing contentment. Can be chilled lightly for summertime porch/patio meals, great with roast poultry, or dark chocolate. Right now!

Bourgogne Cuvée St-Vincent ‘03   89
Domaine Vincent Girardin, Santenay, France
727966 (v) $19.95
Father to son for 11 generations, so they’re pretty much got the wine making right, and they also grow vines in illustrious Corton, Volnay and Pommard. This Pinot Noir is elegant, subtle and fresh with a touch of oak to frame the truffle-Earl Gray aromas and flavors of sweet red/black berry and earthy beet. A fine intro to red Burgundy, to accompany feathered game, mushroom risotto, grilled salmon. Now to 2010.

Louis Latour Santenay ‘03   88
Santenay, Burgundy, France
682450 (v) $36.95
With only 5% Chardonnay vines in Santenay, here’s a bit of a (white wine) rarity. This spa-town offers rest-cures for over-indulgent Burgundy fans! The wine is a blast of ripe apple, pears, peaches, dried fruits, vanilla and hazelnuts, smooth and pleasurable with solid heft. Often overshadowed by its illustrious Chassagne and Puligny neighbors.

Domaine Du Ruault Saumur-Champigny ‘03   86
Nöel Millon & Fils, Loire, France
672618 (v) $12.95
Fully ripe, berry nose, tobacco leaf (from Cab Franc), big and spicy with solid tannins. The core cherry, blackcurrant, forest floor flavors are easy to take. An everyday favorite. Salads, BBQ, sipping.

Finca Luzon Tinto ‘04   88
DO Jumilla, Spain
672915 (v) $10.95
Powerhouse from the emerging Jumilla region showing blackberry, boysenberry, mocha, raisin and mineral tones. From old Syrah and Mourvèdre vines close to the Mediterranean with yields lower than many Pomerols, this has surprising density, smoothness and well integrated tannins. A great value!

Prado Rey Roble ‘03   86
Real Sitio de Ventosilla,
DO Ribera del Duero, Spain
674465 (v) $14.95
Quite a wine for the money, tasting like a mediumbodied Rioja, balanced, with creamy cherry and blackberry cola flavor, resins and a smidge of vanilla and oak. Great with BBQ, smoked meats, oxtail and game. Cellar 3-5 years.

Château De Treviac ‘04   90
Arnaud Sié, Corbières, France
670505 (v) $13.95
Big-boned with a fragrance of dry underbrush, thyme, sage and rosemary, lip-smacking blackberry- plum, spice and tar, with gentle tannins and no bitterness. Barbie-friendly and wallet friendly. Enjoy now.

Château Saint Germain ‘03   89
Côteaux du Languedoc, France
670505 (v) $13.95
As burly as its ex-Legionnaire winemaker, Didier Cabanes, this Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre blend is the real deal! Fully organic and low in sulphur, bursting at the seams with scents of spicy ripe black cherry, Damson plum and beetroot, a whiff of new leather and smooth tannins.

Cave De Rasteau Tradition Rasteau ‘03   88
Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France
998716 (v) $15.95
Cocoa, chocolate, peppercorns and herbs, and raspberry- kirsch nuances swamp the senses with tobacco leaf on the finish in this fine example of southern Rhône wine making from the co-op in this pretty hill village. Serve with confit de canard.

Jl Chave Offerus ‘03   92
Saint-Joseph, Rhône, France
937474 (v) $28.95
Smoked meat, licorice and lavender, flavors of wild plums, olives and garrigue, a powerful wine from a heady vintage. One for collectors, from a great producer, to cellar and cherish.

Domaine Du Crampilh Vignes Vieilles ‘00   89
Madiran, France
673194 (v) $17.95
Orange peel, nectarine, mocha and tannins, from Tannat, the Madiran signature grape, still closed but spectacular in 3-5 years. Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon contribute bouquet and finesse, while Fer Servadou, adds complexity. Young Madiran goes with garbure soup (and is used to wash out your bowl), roast game, kebabs, duck or goose liver, chicken stew and Pyrenean cheeses. Old Madiran is better with foie gras, stews, braised meats and chocolate.

Taurino Riserva Rosso ‘01   90
AC Salice Salentino, Piemonte, Italy
411892 (v) $16.95
A steal, full of bright fruit notes, mainly cherry, plum, mulberry, and tarry, herbaceous, leathery notes that deliver an affordable everyday red. A blend of 85% Negroamaro and 15% Malvasia Nera, with aromas of sausage, dried herbs, fennel, and licorice.

Bolla Le Poiane ‘01   90
DOC Valpolicella Superiore, Veneto, Italy
135293 (v) $19.95
Hugely aromatic with black pepper, new leather, oak, cedar, grapes, berries and walnuts. Mediumweight, with good length, and smoky from oak aging. Great with steak, lamb, veal, pasta and pizza.

Unplugged Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot ‘02   89
Joubert-Tradauw, Barrel-Matured, WO Klein
Karoo, S Africa
663187 (v) $16.95
From a family-owned/operated estate in the cool Tradauw Valley where the slow-ripening grapes take on a delicious blackberry-tinged, cedary-earthy, red currant elegance in this Bordeaux blend. More Euro than New World. Now to 2010.

Domaine Jean Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon ‘03   87
Tupungato Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
678813 (v) $12.95
Spicy and elegant beyond expectations: sporting a dab of toasty new oak, silky red and black berry fruits and very smooth tannins. Enjoyable now as your everyday quaffer and worth every cent.

Killerman’s Run Cabernet Sauvignon ‘02   87
Kilikanoon, S Australia
675223 (v) $18.95
Very poised and tightly crafted with classic Bordeaux cedary, red currant, mulberry, pepper and tobacco notes. More French than Oz, with supportive oak and fine tannins. Good for 6-8 years. Killerman’s Run Shiraz ‘02, 925453, $18.95 is bigger and bolder, with plum, mocha and chocolate balanced against subtle oak (89), 15% alc, now to 2012.

Château Bertinerie ‘03   89
Premières Côtes de Blaye, Bordeaux, France
674267 (v) $18.85
This hot, hot vintage has delivered a gulpable New World style, charming and generous with ripe red currant, cedar, cassis and black cherry aromas echoing on the palate. Merlot, 60%, Cab Sauvignon, 37%, and a nip of Cab Franc: very typical for the Right Bank, now to 2010. A Sunday wine!

Château Fombrauge ‘03   91
St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
591180 (v) $56.95
An ancient estate now under the watch of überguru Michel Rolland, Fombrauge is a comer (and the largest property) in St-Emilion, especially in this opulent vintage. Smoky, kirsch, spice box, mocha, blackberry, damson, green figs and black licorice vie for attention. Drinking now but will reward 10 years cellaring.

Château La Tour Carnet ‘03   92
Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
591156 (v) $49.95
Dating back to the Crusaders and, like Fombrauge now owned and refurbished by Bernard Magrez, La Tour Carnet is a 4th Growth, among the Bordeaux nobility, an ancient fortress in the Médoc. The ‘03 is more elegant and restrained than Fombrauge, dominated by Cab Sauvignon rather than Merlot. A thoroughbred for cellaring.

Château Les Trois Croix ‘02   91
Famille Patrick Léon, Fronsac, Bordeaux, France
681528 (v) $33.95
Très élégant! Subtle yet intense, pure and classic Merlot-dominated Bordeaux from the Right Bank, finely balanced with lovely fruit, soft tannins and great length, the work of ex-Mouton-Rothschild winemaker Léon. Food versatile, elegant, charmant.

Houghton Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot ‘04   88
W Australia
675397 (v) $17.95
Barrique-aged 70/20/10 Cab/Shiraz/Merlot and a meticulously made red with a blast of black cherry, golden raspberry, currants, plums and cinnamon with smooth tannins and immaculate manners.

St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz ‘03   91
Barossa Valley, S Australia
535104 (v) $28.95
A vintage with rains and uneven ripening, saved by sourcing grapes from many parcels, from 10- to 80-year-old vines: named for winemaker Stu Blackwell who’s done a fine job in coaxing out the black currant, violet, mocha, dark chocolate, plum and blackberry signature of this wine. Serve with braised or grilled meats. Now to 2012.

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