Background

Spring 2007

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

Rosés

Dry Red Wines

Just Desserts

Sparkling Choices


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!


Dry Whites:

St Urbans-Hof Riesling Kabinett '05   91
Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Mosel, Germany
955328 (v) $20.95
A rainbow of subtle fresh tropical fruit aromas/flavors underpinned by a crisp apple-grapefruit acidity. Pineapple and guava and stone fruit lead off, with some blackberry and mineral backup for a happy ending. Great value.

Zenato Pinot Grigio '06   87
IGT Venezia, Italy
037648 (v) $15.95

Peach-floral aromatics head up a remarkably good and intensely concentrated PG with refreshing acidity. A round, ripe but elegant example of this popular varietal. Aperitif, white meats, pasta with cream sauces.

Kim Sauvignon Blanc '06   89
Marlborough, New Zealand
35386 (v) $19.95

Zesty, fresh, green apple, peach and grapefruit riffs from this Vincor-owned husband-wife label. In ten years they've gone from 4,000-case virtual winery to 400,000 cases, after kicking in $20,000 life savings to become garagistes. Canadians and Americans are big buyers. Going upscale, Kim and Erica are pinpointing exceptional fruit from each block to vinify as Small Parcels, to showcase the best of a vintage, a region and a wine style.

The SPs, great food wines, especially with Asian lime, lemon grass and cilantro flavors, are $29.95, except for the lemon marmalade-floral Bone Dry Riesling '04, $24.95, and noble-rotted Reka Sweet Riesling, $19.95 (a 5pm wine for your sugar lift!), via 905 564 6900, x57090.
The SP Comely Bank Pinot Noir is in Spring Classics, followed monthly at Vintages by Te Awanga Merlot-Cabernet Franc (already there), Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc, and Hawke's Bay SP Merlot Boyszone Pinot Gris. The newly arrived Marlborough Pinot Noir '06 ("New Zealand's Big Red Hope") all bramble jam, plum skin, smoke, vanilla and smooth tannins is a delicious $19.95 purchase (89).

Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc '06   91
Marlborough, New Zealand
963124 (v) $20.95

Subtly styled with delicate herbaceous-floral character, melon, limes and green peppers, and a creamy texture, a rather elegant take rather than the pungency of some Kiwi Sauvs.

Sebastiani Unoaked Chardonnay '05   88
Sonoma Coast, California
034746 (v) $16.95

Fresh, crisp citrus and stony, mineral aromas with a flavor core of apple, cloves and refreshing lemony acidity that makes for versatility with light spring/summer cuisine. Refreshing price, too!

Flat Rock Cellars Twisted '06   90
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
001578 (v) $16.95

Highly aromatic, luscious yet restrained, slightly off-dry blend of Riesling, Gewł║rztraminer and Chardonnay (twisted!). Puts me in mind of a South African Chenin Blanc with pink grapefruit, Granny Smith, apricot-lychee profile. Good with crab, shrimp, and Thai cuisine.


Rosés:

Goats Do Roam Rosé '06   88
WO Coastal Region, S Africa,
655225 (v) $13.95

Cherry-strawberry cola, bone-dry and food friendly pink stuff for the patio/deck/dock. From irreverent Charles Back, who loves to get the French winemakers' goat with his Rhône-esque labels (Goat Rôti, et al). Alcohol a heady14.56% from a blend of Shiraz, Pinotage, Cinsault, Grenache and Merlot.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé '06   87
WO Stellenbosch, S Africa
999821 (v) $12.95

A crisp, food-smart entry from Mike Dobrovic, one of the Cape's most talented wine makers. Rose petal, strawberry, cherry and pomegranate notes and soft tannins grip your palate, ideally alongside summer salads, pork and veal dishes.

Château d'Aquéria Rosé '06   89
Tavel, Rhône, France
319368 (v) $19.95 & $11.95/375mL

Quintessential Tavel, elegant, serious, raspberry-cherry, roses and lemons, designed for food, especially lunch! Grown 5 miles from Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhône since Roman times, blending Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Bourboulenc, Mourvèdre, Clairette, and Picpoul grape varieties.

Frescobaldi Rosato di Castiglioni '06   90
IGT Toscana, Italy
033555 (v) $14.95

Spicy cherries, red Delicious apple and lemon zest and pink grapefruit kick off this attractive Tuscan vino. Elegant and versatile with barbecued poultry and white meats, grilled salmon or tuna.

Muga Rosé '06   90
DOC Rioja, Spain
603795 (v) $13.95

Dry, elegant, restrained and food-friendly with a subtle thread of pineapple, kiwi, quince and strawberry-raspberry fruitiness from Garnacha, Viura and Tempranillo fruit grown on clay-calcareous and alluvial soil. Fermented 25 days in 1000-litre vats, and aged two months before bottling. Great with poached salmon, grilled cod or pan-fried trout.

Dry Reds:

Chateau Kefraya Les Bretèches Red '05   86
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
990986 (v) $11.95

Watch out for shrapnel in this war-threatened wine: this 20-year-old winery is caught in the crossfire of conflict, but the wine manages to be serenely pleasurable in a dry, floral, Kirsch-sweet cherry and raisin-pie style. Amazing value and delicious now.

Julian Chivite Gran Feudo Reserva '01   90
DO Navarra, Spain
479014 LCBO $15.95

Soft, affable, easygoing puppy of a red, with soft tannins and no bite: filled with pleasing cherry, vanilla, cocoa and blueberry aromas and flavors. Dry, well-structured with a nice, long finish. Ready, set, start your grills!

Louis Jadot Moulin-à-Vent Château des Jacques '04   94
Beaujolais, France
700187 (v) $31.95

Allo! A Beaujolais that thinks it's a Burgundy, and rightly so. No bubble-gummy quaffing stuff here, this elegant charmer shows smoke, vanilla, fruitcake spice, black brambly cherry-raspberry fruit and hints of black chocolate. Very special.

Domaine Parent Bourgogne Pinot Noir '05   91
Burgundy, France
597 (v) $21.95

The Real Thing, for ten bucks less, perfect entry-level Burgundy from a great producer in a great vintage! Light and supple with spicy cranberry-pomegranate, raspberry and cherry notes, all perfectly ripe from that sunny summer. The 12th generation of the Parent family, Anne and Catherine, based in Pommard, makes serious wines all the way up to Corton Grand Cru level. Drink young. Be happy!

Raimat Tempranillo/Syrah '04   90
DO Costers del Segre, Spain
014696 (v) $13.95

Probably the value buy of the release, by the case: blackberries, cedar, crushed black peppercorns, chocolate and delicious hints of spearmint, mulberries and a smidge of new oak. Iberian ham, sausages and all things barbecued.

Palacio Glorioso Reserva '01   89
DOC Rioja, Spain
930164 (v) $24.95

Graceful, almost feminine Rioja for the connoisseur. Refined rather than robust, yet gorgeously balanced with fresh black plum, spicy cherry, raspberry and mocha tones. The tannins are silky and the price is right.

Souveräner Malteser Ritterorden Merlot '03   86
Lenz Moser, Mailberg '03, Niederösterreich, Austria
c (v) $17.95

Dried fruits, ripe cherries, raspberries, Kirsch, mild tannins, tobacco and saddle leather highlight this rarely seen Austrian entry to our shores. Mid-weight and ready to waltz with a juicy steak.

Navarro Correas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon '02   91
Mendoza, Argentina
28936 (v) $17.95

This family vineyard, planted in 1798, has morphed into one of Argentina's top, most high-tech wineries 200 years later. Winemaster Juan Marco today crafts elegantly complex reds, including Malbec, carefully aged in French oak. Gran Reserva Cab has intense berry fruit, layered with cherry, blackberry and plum notes and spicy oak. Great with grilled meats or pasta in a zesty tomato sauce. Astute buyers are also loading up on Colección Privada Cabernet '05 (v) 28910, $14.95, showing red currant, mocha, and a smoky vanilla finish, as well as Gran Reserva Malbec '03 (v) 28928, $18.95, sinuous cassis, elderberry and floral. Both are 90-pointers.

Château de Gourgazaud '04   90
AOC Minervois, France
22384 LCBO $12.05

Consistent Mediterranean pleasure from the Languedoc: deep ruby with glints of purple, complex cassis, cedar, spice and baked earth aromas. Smooth and gulpable with soft tannins and a long finish. Serve with grilled herbed lamb, Roquefort cheese

Jackson-Triggs Proprietors' Grand Reserve Shiraz '03   92
VQA Okanagan Valley, BC
033241 (v) $23.95

In-your-face Shiraz, notable for its tarry smoke, luscious bing cherry, elderberry, blueberry and cassis profile, somewhere between the Rhône and Barossa Valley in style. Well-priced to enjoy now to 2012 with robust red meats, furry game and BBQ.

Madiran Cave de Crouseilles '04   90
Madiran, France
030890 (v) $18.95

Deep, dark and brooding, but without the gob-stopping tannins of yesteryear, today's reds from this beautiful region upriver from Bordeaux in SW France are hot items: modern technology has tamed the muscular local Tannat grapes into a silky rendering of black olive, smoky oak, elderberry and blackberry with a touch of road tar. Great with roast lamb, venison, haunch of beef and mesquite barbecues.

Fattoria dei Barbi Morellino di Scansano '04   91
DOC Morellino, Tuscany
720177 (v) $17.95

Excellent core of black fruit, fine tannins and red cherries in this Sangiovese-based dry red that's drinking well now. Fresh and food friendly for roasts, stews, BBQ, pizza/pasta or aged cheeses.

Caputo Zicorrà Aglianico '03   93
IGT Aglianico Terre del Volturno, Campania, Italy
030569 (v) $21.95

Born in volcanic soils, aged 6 months in new French oak to deliver lush, full flavors of wild berries, exotic spices, oak, tannins and underbrush. Perfect with big rare roasts, BBQ and game. Or cellar for 3-4 years.

Antica Fratta '04   91
DOC Terre di Franciacorta, Bel Curtefranca Rosso
030338 (v) $32.95

Merlot and Cabernet aged 12 months in small barriques have produced a beautifully poised and delicious plum-berry tinged red with a fine balance of tannins, acidity and oak. From a beautiful mountainous region in the North, Franciacorta, becoming famous also for its fine sparkling wines. Antica Fratta's cellars, carved from living rock, have four galleries arranged as a Greek cross,

Fattoria Tregole Chianti Classico '04   90
DOCG Chianti Classico, Tuscany
023234 (v) $19.95

Heck of a good price for a fine Chianti: new leather, cedar, Kirsch and fresh berries (cherry, blackberry and elderberry) and wild mushrooms with a lick of smooth tannins. Ageable to can be enjoyed now with Steak Florentine.

Poggio a' Frati Chianti Classico Riserva '01   91
DOCG Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Rocca di Castagnoli
023358 (v) $31.95

Moving upscale, this Riserva has more heft and power, with aromas and plum-mulberry, cherry flavors of great depth and subtlety. The tannins are silky and the wine has terrific length and balance to accompany a spit-roast lamb, boar, rabbit or rare Porterhouse.


Just Desserts:

Sandeman Vintage Port '03   92
Oporto, Portugal
673079 (v) $74

Subtle aromas and rich flavor-echoes of currants, cassis, blackberries and spring flowers with an unctuous texture, medium sweetness and a lingering finish. Good Sandeman house style.

Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port '03   93
Oporto, Portugal
672774 (v) $55

Silky-smooth and richly nuanced, with firm, chewy tannins and a core of great plum-prune fruit acidity and black licorice, good for the long haul (15 years or more) but giving sweet pleasure now.

Sparkling Choices:

Nino Franco Faive Rosé Brut Sparkling   89
Valdobiaddene, Italy
031567 (v) $12.95

A delicious sparkling pink blend of Prosecco from the Valdobiaddene region and a little Merlot from Brandolini estate of Vistorta. Fresh and fragrant. Nuances of wild strawberries, rose petals and a good foamy fizz for white meats or aperitifs.

Jacquart Brut Mosaïque Rosé Champagne   88
AC Champagne, France
035519 (v) $51.95

Very food-friendly pink Champagne that can cope with an elegant filet or planked salmon: strawberry-cherry brioche and toast, vanilla and fresh bread take turns tickling your tongue.

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut Champagne   90
AC Champagne, France
158550 (v) $89.95

One of the finest and the best-selling of all pink Champagnes: the only one made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes rather than the usual blend of Chardonnay and a coloring dose of Pinot. Raspberry, cherry, citrus and red berries mingle with the brioche-Brie notes amid the fine mousse. Food matches like Pinot Noir.


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