Spring 2010

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

Aperitifs & 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:

Muralhas de Monçao Vinho Verde ’09    88
DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal
80374 (v) $13.95
A perennial springtime favorite in Canada, made by a 1,600-grower co-op founded 50 years ago, this steely, bone-dry charmer balances crisp grapefruit-apple acidity with ripe peach, honeysuckle and gingery melon flavors, and a tingly spritz. With sushi, cold shrimps.

Marqués de Irún Verdejo 2008Marqués de Irún Verdejo ’08    90
DO Rueda, Spain
166553 (v) $15.95
Clean, crisp citrus attack with pear-melon joining in along the way, some nectarine on the palate and an exotic whiff of tropical flowers, arriving at a refreshing stony minerality that calls for grilled white fish, raw shellfish or herb-roasted chicken.

Cambrago Vigne Maiores Soave ’08    86
DOC Veneto, Italy
161679 (v) $13.95
Rather fruity and full for (often neutral and stony) Soave, with lime zest, ripe peach and white pear notes, a slight spritz and wet stone minerality. Food friendly, right now, especially with freshwater fish, white meats and cream-sauced pasta.

Wine By Joe Really Good Pinot Gris ’07    88
Oregon, USA
58651 (v) $18.95
Tangy white grapefruit aromas and flavors are flanked by riffs of lime zest, Delicious apple and white pear while the mouth feel is silky and mouth-filling. Serve, now, with grilled calamari, white fish and lake trout.

Robert Oatley Pinot Grigio ’08    89
S Australia
159806 (v) $17.05
A blast of aromatics on the nose, led by ripe melon-peach and nectarine, exceptional for a Pinot Grigio. The palate is a tangy mineral and stone fruit base for more floral and nectarine pleasures.

Hubert Reyser Zahlberg Pinot Gris ’08    87
AC Alsace, France
168997 (v) $18.95
Stylistically leaning towards Gewürztraminer in its spicy aromatics, this floral off-dry win packs some cantaloupe, truffle and melon punch and fresh citrus acidity. There’s a hint of paraffin-turpentine in there, too, for complexity. Now with mildly spiced dishes.

Boschendal 1685 Grande Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc ’08    86
WO Coastal Region, Estate Bottled, S Africa
91249 (v) $15.95
Good plonk! Tropical pineapple, persimmon and grapefruit on the nose with a hint of lemon grass and pencil lead that carries through nicely on the palate with racy acidity. Perfect as aperitif, with asparagus, lobster or steamed clams.

Roux Père & Fils Clos des Mollepierres Rully ’07    88
AC Burgundy, France
169193 (v) $23.95
We’re in a higher snack bracket here, but the investment is worthwhile in the complexity of the wine. White flowers, citrus, toasty oak and vanilla wrap around some buttered hazelnut and peach nuances. Drink or hold and serve with herb-roasted chicken, lobster or pork roast.

William Fèvre Chablis 1er Cru ’07    88
AC Chablis, France
169805 (v) $29.95
Chardonnay naked! From the leading producer in Chablis, here’s the classic green apple, chalky-mineral, tangy, racy, grapefruit-pear thoroughbred, driven by the fruit from ancient vines and even older terroir, not fluffed up in oak, and dying for a plate of fresh Belon oysters!

Peninsula Ridge Inox Reserve Chardonnay ’07    89
VQA Beamsville Bench, Beal Vineyards, Ontario
7328 (v) $18.95
Great apple-skin, yellow plum aromas and a fine unwooded array of crisp peach-melon flavors, fine, racy and elegant. Sip or match to appetizers or white meats, freshwater fish and spring salads.

J Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay 2007J Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay ’07    87
Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, California
171272 (v) $29.95
Very smoky, toasty, hefty Chard with tropical fruit, persimmon, cinnamon and vanilla in the classic California take-no-prisoners mold: one big beautiful bruiser of a white that you could easily pair with BBQ chicken, pork roast or feathered game.

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay ’07    89
Livermore Valley, California
175430 LCBO $16.45
Fresh cut red apple, Bosc pear, tangerine and melon aromas and flavor notes, a buttery, oaky sensuous texture and a fresh, crisp citrus acidity, all in a sensible 12.8% alcohol package. Shaped by daily fog into a cool zone, Wente’s Livermore terroir delivers crisp value.

Lander-Jenkins Spirit Hawk Chardonnay ’08    87
California, USA
162651 (v) $17.95
The inaugural vintage – driven by pineapple, lemon zest, orange zest and white peach with riffs on vanilla, toast and melon. Midweight, clean, towards the tropical fruit end of the spectrum without too much oak. Serve with grilled shellfish, pan-fried plaice, seafood risotto and white meats. Very good value.

Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay ’07    87
Sonoma County, California
275552 (v) $19.95
A big softie! Exuding sweet buttered toasted, pineapple, ripe Bosc pears and cantaloupe, here’s a rarin’ to go white that’s tricked out with all the flavors you need. The fine acidity and touch of minerality make this also a versatile food wine. Drink now.

Las Moras Reserve Chardonnay ’08    89
San Julián, Argentina
32896 (v) $11.95
Out of my way as I dash to buy this! Fresh, clean, lemony-nectarine Chard with just a hint of oak, butter and vanilla, citrus zest and toastiness. Well made and food friendly with shellfish, pan-fried freshwater fish, veggie pizza.

Navarro Correas Colección Privada Chardonnay ’08    85
Mendoza, Argentina
64477 (v) $13.95
Part of an upper tier of this winery’s offerings but rating fun quaffer rather than a classic. A crowd pleaser with shrimp wonton, dim sum, roast chicken or salade composé.

La Joya Viognier Reserve ’08    90
Bisquertt Family, Colchagua Valley, Chile
168542 (v) $13.95
Highly floral, aromatic bouquet with a whack of apricot and orange blossom, very intriguing, chased by a marmalade and peach, rhubarb-strawberry flavor melange backed with fine acidity and good length. Perfect now with oriental and Thai dishes.

Alta Vista Premium Torrontés ’08    90
Cordillera de los Andes, La Casa del Rey, Argentina
37127 (v) $13.95
Fantastic value as a prime example of fine Torrontés, the signature grape variety of aromatic, elegant South American white wines. Think spicy Muscat and Gewürztraminer thoughts here, with light but luscious honey-lemon and nectarine notes balanced on a razor edge of fresh acidity. Lovely oily sleek texture on the palate. Spring salads ahoy!

André Blanck Altenbourg Gewürztraminer ’08    88
AC Alsace, France
168906 (v) $17.95
A true vin Blanck! (sorry about that...). Actually a true Gewürztraminer with its aroma signature of lychees, white peaches, rose petals and violets, this is a pretty wine, oh so elegant and typical of Alsace the beautiful home of great Gewürz. Match with delicately spicy dishes, now.

Darting Gewürztraminer Kabinett ’08    87
QmP Durkheimer Nonnengarten, Pfalz, Germany
944181 (v) $16.95
Here’s a real crowd-pleaser that flies off restaurant wine lists: big, fruity with white pepper juicing up the fresh grapefruit/apricot fruit core. Enjoy now as an aperitif or with subtly spiced dishes.

Dr Nagler Riesling Auslese ’02    91
QmP Rudesheimer, Germany
161646 (v) $22.95
From the Rheingau, a rich succulent yet elegant Riesling that’s just off-dry with a racy acidity that balances tropical guava, pear, pineapple and apricot fruit complexity with a gunflint minerality. A lot of already well evolved wine for the money!

Cristina Ascheri Moscato d’Asti ’08    89
DOCG Piemonte, Italy
746479 (V) $17.95
With its fragrant orange blossom, honeysuckle, clementine and muscat bouquet, refreshing frizzante sparkle and hint of honey on the tongue, here’s the perfect summer sipper, and it’s the responsible host’s best friend at 5% alcohol. Sip as an aperitif, palate cleanser or after a casual dinner. If you like Torrontés you’ll love Moscato!Muga Rosé ’09 90
DOCa Rioja, Spain
603795 (v) $$12.95
Total steal! Delicately finessed melange of citrus zest, raspberry, cherry and mineral with fresh, crisp foody acidity, a pink mirror of the elegant full reds of Muga, ready for salmon steaks, poultry, shrimps, seafood.


Southbrook Cabernet Rose 2009Southbrook Cabernet Rosé ’09    90
VQA Niagara-on-the Lake, Ontario. Certified organic & biodynamic
168492 (v) $18.95
Extremely elegant, understated, delicately dry with wild strawberry, cherry and raspberry references, highly food-friendly with fine crisp acidity. Herb-roasted chicken, grilled calamari come to mind. Maybe roast lamb, too, since sheep are “employed” to trim the weeds and fertilize the vines in Canada’s most sustainable vineyard..

Château d’Acquéria Rosé Tavel ’09    90
AC Rhône, France
319368 (v) $18.95
Perhaps the ultimate food rosé thanks to its tangy fruit-acid balance, delicate fruitiness (cherry, currants, melon, rhubarb, tobacco, roses, melons), and silky mouth feel. Taste as aperitif or with white meats, poultry.

Perrin Réserve Rosé ’09    90
AC Côtes du Rhône, France
From the creators of stellar Beaucastel, here’s a stellar and elegant pink that’s food-friendly in its strawberry-ness and dryness with a nod to cherry pie. A wine for all outdoors this spring. Make mine a cucumber sandwich, please.

Muga Rosé ’09    90
DOCa Rioja, Spain
603795 (v) $$12.95
Total steal! Delicately finessed melange of citrus zest, raspberry, cherry and mineral with fresh, crisp foody acidity, a pink mirror of the elegant full reds of Muga, ready for salmon steaks, poultry, shrimps, seafood.

Dry Red Wines:

Wine By Joe Really Good Pinot Noir ’07    88
Oregon, USA
60467 (v) $23.95
Really good crowd-pleasing Pinot with upfront cassis-raspberry fruitiness, with a riff on cherry pie and vanilla ice cream, cherry cola on the finish. Serve with grills, roasts and gourmet sausages.

Champy Signature Pinot Noir Bourgogne ’06    90
AC Burgundy, France
1149 (v) $18.95
Pinot Noir, in case you missed it, at a great price with classic raspberry, cassis, cranberry, new leather and a whiff of fresh tobacco to match duck magret, roast lamb or croque-monsieur. Champy’s Pommard ’07 is a powerhouse, at $49.95 (89).

Dufouleur Frères Hautes Côtes de Nuits ’06    88
AC Burgundy, France
159210 (v) $21.95
A better pedigree than simple Bourgogne yields more depth and intensity of flavor, with chocolate and cherries also in the mix, nicely balanced and a pretty wine, now to 2016.

Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Merlot ’07    89
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
563197 (v) $19.95
Great example of cool-climate Merlot in a warm vintage, ripe yet elegant and precise, complex and intriguing. As well as the Merlot blueberry signature, there’s bright cherry, raspberry, plum and mocha here, with a touch of vanilla and toast. Nicely done.

Vineland Estates Merlot ’07    88
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
657361 (v) $16.95
More evolved than the JT, ready now, showing a similar profile with a whiff of smokiness, zippy cherry acidity and coffee bean. Well priced to enjoy with tonight’s barbie.

Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Merlot ’07Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Merlot ’07    88
Sonoma County, California
161547 (v) $21.95
A more voluptuous, riper Golden State style with added Cab Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet and Petit Verdot for more oomph, balancing acidity and freshness, showing red currant, blueberry, sweet tobacco and fresh herbs to partner a fine steak or pan-fried calf’s liver.

Château Hauchat ’06    90
AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France
123489 (v) $14.95
Over-delivering on price, a lithe, lean claret with intense mulberry, licorice, cedar and blueberry complexity, to drink or hold. Match with Ontario lamb, grilled pork chops or a rib roast of beef.

Château Lafon Cuvée Classic ’05    90
AC Listrac, Bordeaux, France
165399 (v) $19.95
Medium-bodied, finely wrought, sophisticated with upfront cassis-red currant fruit, nuances of pencil-lead, cedar, forest floor-truffle notes and gentle tannins. A stylish wine to enjoy now to 2016 with red and white meats, planked salmon.

Château Pindefleurs ’06    91
AC St-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France
564187 (v) $23.95
Big, bold, deeply colored, Merlot-driven as you’d expect from the Right Bank. Still a baby with firm tannins over intense black plum, red currant, sour cherry, leather and roasted red pepper components. Very good value if you can wait 3-5 years.

Renwood Red Label Syrah ’05    86
Sierra Foothills, California
588095 (v) $15.95
Vivid red fruit aromas leap from the glass! The palate is reminiscent of cassis, black cherry and blueberry pie. The tannins are smoky and the aftertaste hints at chocolate and smoky bacon. Sound good? Me, too.

Finca Flichman Expresiones Reserve Shiraz/Cabernet ’08    87
Mendoza, Argentina
17111 (v) $15.95
Concentrated and nicely ripe red and black berry fruits with a hint of minty plum and vanilla chased by some toasty oak. Finely tuned acidity to flatter spicy BBQ fare.

Séptima Malbec ’08    90
Codorníu Argentina, Mendoza
686113 (v) $13.95
Imagine, a wine that’s almost black, under a screwcap: bravo! A BBQ partner for serious carnivores, this beauty comes on strong with cherry, raisin and blackberry flavors, a whiff of licorice and new leather and moderate oak.

Botalcura Reserve El Delirio Syrah/Malbec ’07    86
Maule Valley, Chile
18630 (v) $13.95
Marries the smoky raspberry-cassis of Syrah with the dense plum-blackberry of Malbec plus a dash of mocha, vanilla and subtle oak. Think grilled lamb chops, Chinese BBQ duck, marinated steaks and tomato-sauced pasta.

Blackwood Ridge Shiraz ’08    88
Plunkett Fowles, Central Victoria, Australia
507277 (v) $19.95
Plunkett Fowles sounds like a recipe instruction but this bacony, jammy, peppery wine’s a winner, showing Oz-character burnt rubber with crushed black peppers, intense cherry-plum-raspberry fruit, menthol and fine tannins. Weighs in at 15% alc and you feel it!

Evans & Tate Shiraz ’07    87
Margaret River, W Australia
606905 (v) $19.95
Midweight and elegant from cool vineyards, packed with precise blackberry, elderberry and spicy plum flavor, moderate toasty oak, vanilla and underbrush. Enjoy with veal chops, roast chicken, feathered game.

Reverdito Barbera d’Alba 2007Reverdito Barbera d’Alba ’07    88
DOC Piemonte, Italy
161695 (v) $15.95
Stay me with flagons! A juicy, gulpable cherry-kirsch and wild strawberry blast with accents of dried herbs, cedar and summer woodlands. Ready now for grills, barbecues,
pizza, pasta, parties...

Villa Girardi Bure Alto ’07    88
DOC Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Veneto, Italy
161844 (v) $17.95
Like a buffed Valpolly thanks to re-fermentation (“re-passing”) on leftover Amarone grape skins, Ripasso has more of everything: body, flavor, silkiness. Nutty, slightly bitter, light and dry. For a true Amarone, Zonin has a 2006, 86207 for $39.95 that’s rich, smooth as silk. Made from air-dried Valpolly grapes, long-lived and intense (90).

Baleno Pagnana Oro Chianti ’06    87
DOCG Tuscany, Italy
165167 (v) $14.95
The “Bordeaux of Italy”, Chianti’s on a comeback as a go-to red with food. Midweight, elegant cran-raspberry and sour cherry aromas, slightly leathery with a healthy acidity and firm tannins leading to a creamy texture on the finish. Serve with Steak Florentine, roast lamb and gourmet sausages.

Alentex Premium ’06    88
DOC Alentejo, Portugal
21527 (v) $14.95
Slightly leathery and rustic, but a vivid, charming sweetly ripe red from the local grape Trincadeira and from Aragonez aka Tempranillo in Rioja. Aged in American oak, it has a spicy toasty note, well integrated and mellow to match with spicy meat and game.

Bodegas Valdemar Inspiración Valdemar ’05    88
DOCa Rioja, Spain
166512 (v) $19.95
Tobacco, Asian spices, blackberries and wild strawberries are a Tempranillo grape signature and oak aging adds cinnamon-toasty vanilla as it softens this elegant, savory bottling in the grape’s ancestral Spanish home. Enjoy with stews, grills and dry cheeses.

Fortius Reserva ’04    90
Bodegas Valcarlos, DO Navarra, Spain
166611 (v) $16.95
This is a honkin’ great Tempranillo/Cab with a kaleidoscope of savory red and black fruits led by cassis-plum, black raspberry and strawberry, with dried herbs and firm tannins. Steak à la minute, baby lamb chops, Iberico ham.

Mas Igneus Barranc Dels Closos ’06    90
DOCa Priorat, Spain
166660 (v) $19.95
Makes Fortius look like a wimp (at 15% alc)! Almost Port-like in its power, with major mocha, black cherry, black plum and hot summer earth notes, ripe tannins and expressive aromatics. Serve with boar, venison, stews and cassoulet.

Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga d’Alba ’05    90
DOCG Piemonte, Italy
173195 (v) $27.95 500mL
Elegant nose with raspberry, blackberry and licorice, new leather, scents of violets and lavender leading into fine tannins on the palate. Full-bodied, tight in its youthfulness and needing 5-plus years of cellaring and good for another ten.

Sparkling Gems:

Bailly Lapierre Reserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne    90
AC Burgundy, France
991562 (v) $17.95
The poor (wo)man’s alternative to Champagne for one-third the price! Clean, fresh melon, vanilla, mineral, green apple and grapefruit notes are centre stage in a crisp bubbly that may not have the leesy, bready nuances of Champers but still offers crisp refreshment.

Aperitifs & Desserts:

Gutiérrez Colosia Fino SherryGutiérrez Colosia Fino Sherry    91
DO Jerez, Spain
172395 (v) $14.95
I’m constantly amazed by the price-value ratio of Sherry, the world’s most underrated wine. Here’s a great example of the extra dry, racy end of the Sherry spectrum, geared to aperitif, roasted almonds, green olives and tapas al fresco as spring gets into gear. Slightly nutty with stony mineral and camomile nuances, razor sharp acidity and freshness. Delicioso!

Delaforce Fine Ruby Port    88
DOC Douro, Portugal
164608 (v) $12.95
Fantastic value everyday sipper with an appealing profile of vanilla, bitter chocolate, sultanas, raspberry, red currants and black plums. The French use this as a daily aperitif, and why not? The price is right and it’s a great alternative to Vintage Port for everyday enjoyment.

Inishowen Irish Whiskey    90
Andrew A Watt & Co
656017 (v) $37.95 700mL
Very peaty and smoky for an Irish dram, this is a lighter, milder version of an Islay malt and none the worse for all that. Showing some dried fruit, pudding spice and vanilla with a malty sweetness on the finish.

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