Spring 2008

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

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:

Silver Leaf Chardonnay        89
SE Australia
64873 LCBO $14.95 for 1 litre
Gulpable Chard from Oz, made by the old Hardy Wine Co., now Constellation Australia, shipped in bulk and bottled in Niagara Falls by Vincor (soon to become Constellation Canada, probably). Named for Australia's silvery-leafed eucalyptus tree, it's a cheerful and perfectly well made, lightly oaked, citrus-melon driven Chardonnay for everyday pleasure. Terrific value, in eco-friendly shatter-proof PET screw top bottles one twelfth the weight of glass. $14.95 for the 1L size. Check out the sibling reds: Shiraz, LCBO 64840, and Cab Merlot, LCBO 64865. The cartons are unbleached Kraft paper and labels are recycled bamboo. Relax and enjoy guilt-free! Chardonnay represents 75% of all Oz whites sold in Canada. Super value!

Antech Cuvée Xpression Crémant de Limoux Brut '05      90
Limoux, France
68239 (v) $17.95

Quite delicious dry little sparkler from southern France, made like Champagne but with Chenin Blanc and local Mauzac grape as well as Chardonnay. Serve at 7-9C with seafood, shellfish or solo and enjoy toasty hazelnut, brioche and vanilla aromas and lemon-melon and apple on the tongue. Good value.

Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling '07     90
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
67587 (v) $17.95

Wonderfully aromatic Riesling exhales lime and peach ripeness and backs it up with a racy citrus and white pepper core, reminiscent of a good Viognier. Fun to drink and reflect on the clever mirror-friendly label, a sly joke from master entrepreneur John Howard.

Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc '06      87
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
686972 (v) $15.95

Joining the well received Weir Chardonnay and Cab Merlot, this juicy new Sauv is zesty, grassy and stylish with apple-pineapple and mineral notes, perfect for the 19th hole. Proceeds from these wines go to the foundation started by Weir and wife Bricia to help assist children in financial and emotional need.

Peninsula Ridge Dubois Vineyard Inox Chardonnay '06      87
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
56606 (v) $19.95

Former Chablis winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas has crafted a flinty, mineral-driven unoaked Chard that possesses seamless elegance fusing melon, pear and lemon notes with a creamy mouth feel. Shellfish, oysters and cream sauces beckon.

La Crema Chardonnay '05      86
Sonoma Coast, California
962886 (v) $29.95

This is a big softy! Restrained, buttery and showing a vanilla-lemon zest with dried herb and grilled toast riffs. Risotto, paella or pan fried Dover sole would make its day.

Mer Soleil Chardonnay '05     90
Central Coast, California, Barrel Fermented
958975 (v) $40.95

Broad-shouldered and husky and crafted for toasty oak fans, this hefty Monterey County Chard exudes honeyed pear and apple notes, creamy butterscotch layers and a hint of hazelnut, with the requisite oaky finish. Food match as you would with light reds.

D'Arenberg The Last Ditch Viognier '06      92
MacLaren Vale, S Australia
25064 (v) $19.95

Light, bright and zesty, concentrated with a combo of lime zest, white peaches, apricots and nectarines to pair nicely with poultry, pork and veal roasts.

West Cape Howe Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc '06     90
W Australia
57646 (v) $19.95

Like a white Bordeaux of a good year: ripe tropical fruit of papaya, pineapple and persimmon with a dash of green grass and white pepper. Steely acidity for freshness and ageability. Very good value, too.

Thornbury Sauvignon Blanc '06      91
Marlborough, S Island, New Zealand
734798 (v) $18.95

Lemon grass, tangerines and gooseberries to the fore here in the classic herbaceous New Zealand Savvy vein. Some lychee, flint, lemon-lime and floral notes, too. Well priced to enjoy immediately.

Torlesse Chardonnay '06      91
Waipara Valley, S Island, New Zealand
57661 (v) $19.95

Lightly oaked for a spicy-toasty nuance, this fresh, lively white has Spy apple-grapefruit complexity and good flavor depth - and a screw cap to keep it fresh!

Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc '06/07      87, 88
WO Western Cape, S Africa
662718 (v) $9.95

A mixed shipment of two vintages from the giant South African winery KWV: the crisp, racy elderberry-cored '07 and grassy, nettle-gooseberry '06. At this price, grab whatever you can. They'll never be this price again.

Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Chardonnay '04     87
WO Stellenbosch, S Africa
58008 (v) $19.95

Lots of oaky char and a big oak aftertaste frame the fruity citrus-grapefruit and spicy melon middle and this is a versatile sipper and match for robust grilled fish dishes.

Blason de Bourgogne Saint-Véran Chardonnay '06     88
AC Burgundy, France
16725 (v) $18.95

Ripe citrus, melon and lemon zest aromas reflect and echo precisely on the palate in a clean, lean non-oaked style Chard that's food friendly, elegant and understated.

Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis '06     90
AC Chablis, France
72363 (v) $19.95

Steely, stony, austere and refreshing with razor sharp acidity, grapefruit and lemon nuances and crisp, crystalline grace notes. Just what you'd expect in a good Chablis. Serve with shellfish, seafood, white meats.

Darting Riesling Spätlese '06     90
QmP Ungsteiner Herrenberg, estate bottled, Pfalz, Germany
963207 (v) $19.95

Medium sweet, with notes of honeyed pear, white peach, apricot and ripe melon, this impeccably made Riesling will reward keeping for a couple of years or match up well tonight with Asian fare.

Bava Cocconato Moscato d'Asti '07     90
DOCG Piemonte, Italy
712547 (v) $15.95

Orange blossom scented, slightly spritzy, slightly sweet and low in alcohol - great! The first wine you should take out on the patio this spring. A close sibling of Asti Spumante, which is made in the same region of northern Italy but sparkling, Moscato is a good aperitif, dessert wine or match with mildly spicy cuisine. Don't bother to cellar!

Elio Filippino Langhe Arneis '06      89
DOC Piemonte, Italy
60848 (v) $18.95

The ABC crowd (anything but Chardonnay) love this: Arneis is one of Italy's many ancient indigenous grape varieties and makes delicious aromatic dry whites with pear-peach-vanilla nuances, fresh acidity and a tang of lemon curd. Food versatile to enjoy now.

Comenda Grande White '06       89
Maria de Lourdes de Noronha Lopes, Alentejo, Portugal
69980 (v) $16.95

Medium dry, spicy and herbaceous with grassy pear, mineral and faint asparagus-apple notes from a blend of indigenous grape varieties in the prolific wine region of Alentejo. Very good value. Crisp and refreshing.

Dry Red Wines:

Megalomaniac Big Mouth Merlot '06      90
VQA Niagara Peninsula, John Howard Cellars of Distinction
67645 (v) $24.95

Très élégant and with big mouth feel! Lovely black fruit, especially blueberry and black plum and spicy fruitcake aromas, raspberry and vanilla in the mouth and a smokey finish from the barrel aging. The Bravado Cabernet Sauvignon '06, $24.95 merits an 87 with its cherry/berry and kirsch persona while the Vainglorious Cabernet/Merlot '06, $24.95, all sour cherry, blackberry, cassis and cedar, is a good buy, too, at 88/100.

Navarro Correas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon '04      90
Mendoza, Argentina
28936 (v) $18.95

From a noble family dynasty and skilled winemakers, this Cab is highly concentrated with elderberry, cassis, smoked meat, plum and spicy vanilla notes. Top choice for carnivores to pair with BBQ delights.

Los Vascos Grande R é serve '06      87
Colchagua Valley, Chile, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)
32078 (v) $15.95

More wine royalty here: the Lafite Rothschilds scoped out Chile 20 years ago and are doing good work here. It's quite a trick to do a good 100% Cab Sauv (astringent, tight, lean, austere,   somewhat unyielding in youth) but the local terroir and dogged hard work have yielded nice berry fruits, tobacco leaf, soft tannins and some BBQ-friendly spiciness.

St Hallett Cabernet Sauvignon '06      90
Barossa, S Australia
15164 (v) $19.95

Broad-shouldered smooth Cab from the heart of Barossa Shiraz Country: Tons of ripe fruit, tobacco, eucalyptus and bitter chocolate flavor, decent value and food friendly with game and spicy stews.

Château Le Carillon '04     92
AC Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
61796 (v) $30.95

Second wine of the 17th C Ch. Rouget, guided by consultant Michel Rolland, this classic Bordeaux vintage is an excellent buy: balanced, elegant, full of finesse and the fragrant mulberry, cigar box, pencil lead and subtle oak profile of Pomerol.

Château Pipeau '03     90
AC St-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France
591461 (v) $39.95

Peep-o. Don't hide. Go seek this lovely red Bordeaux from that New World warm vintage of '03, chockful of concentrated ripe berry flavors and smoky, toasty oak with berry-vanilla and mocha aftertaste.

Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta '05     93
Colchagua Valley, Chile
723676 (v) $99.95

Not a typo! That's $100 but it's a collector's wine. Perhaps the best of Chile's fine reds: Deliciously complex and full of grace notes from Carmenère, Cab Sauv, Merlot and Petit Verdot - all of the Bordeaux persuasion. From the Grand-Marnier family of France.

Casa Silva Quinta Generación '04     88
Colchagua Valley, Chile
59451 (v) $19.95

From the fifth generation of the Silvas, and they're getting to be pretty good at winemaking: for 20% of the cost of Clos Apalta you get the same grape blend, delivering a fine dark chocolate note and red Bordeaux nuances of capsicum and black fruit. Buy five!

D'Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz '05     89
MacLaren Vale, S Australia
984021 (v) $21.95

Nice vintage for the 'Bolt: concentrated, clean, fresh and lively. Napped by good oak aging and based on perfectly ripe fruit, here's a blueberry, smoky, tarry red with subtle licorice/cranberry insets and ripe tannins. Now to 2012.

Penmara Reserve Shiraz '04     89
Orange, New South Wales, Australia
912782 (v) $17.95

Light, fleshy, easy to drink now and food friendly: clean berry, black fruit and sweet oak notes with gentle tannins. Very good value. Marry with roast lamb and beef, casseroles, semi hard and hard cheeses.

Viniterra Syrah '05       88
Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
57927 (v) $13.95

Great value and delicious flavors: wild raspberry, blackberry, vanilla and subtle mocha notes set the stage for a dark chocolate finale. Very good value for BBQ season.

Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines Zinfandel '05       85
903245 (v) $26.95

Lean, mean and ready to rock with its cutting-edge Ralph Steadman package and plum-cassis-cherry attack, smokey oak and mild tannins, nicely concentrated and elegant rather than many jammy California rivals. Food friendly.

Château de Gourgazaud Cuvée Mathilde '06       89
AC Minervois, France
958629 (v) $13.95

One of the best values and most reliable wines in the LCBO, Gourgazaud is a steal: from the Deep South of France, this blend of Syrah/Mourvèdre packs a meaty, plum, raspberry, saddle leather and pomegranate punch with a streak of smoky oak, delicious with BBQ and grilled dishes. Great value to enjoy now.

Domaine des Ormes Cuvée Azur '05      88
AC Côtes du Roussillon, France, Georges Rossignol
65912 (v) $17.95

Baked plum, wild strawbs, old leather, grilled meat, licorice and violets - quite the flavor combo and it's killer with BBQ and furred game dishes!   Hot sun, limestone, schist and old vines are the secret! Along with some savvy winemaking, this results in a generous dry red at a good price from the "field of elms" between the Pyrenees and Mediterranean.

Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Cornuds '05      87
AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, France
56644 (v) 566844 (v) $17.95

Raspberries to the power of three! Fleshy with chewy tannins and tastes of bitter chocolate, road tar, elderberry and black currants - very Rhônish! Can be held for a couple of years but great now with rare roasts and steaks. From the owners of prestigious Château de Beaucastel.

Poggio San Polo Rosso di Montalcino '05      91
DOC Tuscany, Italy
60863 (v) $23.95

Young, fresh wine, a kind of a junior Brunello (from young vines) a good-value bright and cheery red for pizza, tomato-based pasta, eco-friendly from a beautiful vineyard in Montalcino.

Sensi Sangiovese Gramole '04     91
IGT Toscana, Italy
50500 (V) $18.95

Sangiovese is probably the most planted grape in Italy and runs the gamut from gunk to great. This is a fine example with floral elderberry, blackberry, cassis and fresh black pepper and tobacco notes. Gramole means grindstone, used for grape and especially olives.

Luigi RighettiValpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso '05      90
DOC Veneto, Italy
5757878 (v) $18.95

Sweetly ripe plum, berry, cherry, bacon, earthy and roasted meat notes make this a food friendly and amiable everyday crowd pleaser, a toss-up with the Remo Farina Amarone della Valpolicella Classico '03 (91) $19.95, slightly richer and spicier (91).

Casa Santos Lima Touriga Nacional '05    90
Vinho Regional Estremadura, Portugal
67074 (v) $18.95

Herbal note in a black fruit and stylish dry red - based on the principal grape variety of Port - with very concentrated berry-chocolate and floral-herbal character. Food friendly and well priced. Now to 2012.

Encostas de Estremoz Touriga Nacional '04     91
Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal
684936 (v) $19.95

A spicier take on Touriga, with mucho fruit and the same good value as Portuguese producers continue to improve their handling of good red grape varieties. This is the future. Very food friendly.

Viña Real Crianza '04     89
DOCa Rioja, Spain
657411 (v) $17.95

Smooth and subtle and cherry-raspberry-vanilla flavored with the sweet touch of American oak that distinguishes so much of Rioja wines, here's a graceful, hand-harvested wine for an elegant dinner of red meat. The stunning winery resembles an enormous round vat, made of concrete, steel and Canadian red cedar. Modern wine capable of long aging.

Muga Reserva '04     90
DOCa Rioja, Spain
177345 (v) $23.95, also 375mL @13.95

Cherries, raspberries, cedar and pencil lead lead the charge in this gently oaked subtle red aged 24 months in barriques and ready to roll. Soft, chewy tannins and toasty, vanilla notes from the cask help the cause. Now to 2012.

Just Desserts:

Cave Spring Riesling Icewine '06       92
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
447441 (v) $59.65, 375mL
Thoroughbred tropical fruit-driven Icewine that's elegant, with fresh, clean acidity, as well as luscious. Pair this with foie gras, fresh figs or white chocolate or enjoy as dessert in a glass by itself. More elegant than Vidal grape versions. Drink now or keep for up to 5 years.

Quinta de Ventozelo LBV Port '98       91
Douro, Portugal
660159 (v) $21.95

Spice cake aromas and ripe fruit and dried fruit flavors - cherry, plum, mulberry and fig - herald the arrival of this delicious, ready to drink Port. Four years in oak barrel and 6 in bottle have mellowed the tannins and polished the profile of this ethereal sweetie picked in '98, bottled in '02. Great with chocolate desserts.

Quinta do Noval Tawny Reserve Port     92
Douro, Portugal
687608 (v) $19.95

Much more nutty and creamy from six years in barrel, this amber-colored, wood-aged Port shows forest floor, fig, Bing cherry, roasted hazelnut and vanilla character and, like the LBV, does not need decanting. High quality.

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