Summer 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


Fruit Wines

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:

Mazzolada Pinot Grigio '02   86
DOC Lison-Pramaggiore, Veneto
746560 (v) $12.95
Dry, crisp, light and fresh, tongue-tingling refreshment from northern Italy. This pale-gold quencher is reminiscent of Bosc pears, lime flowers, hints of apricot and stone fruit. Perfect lunch sipping with light pastas, warm salads, poultry, seafood.

Pelham Sauvignon Blanc 2002   89
VQA Niagara Peninsula
430546 (v) $14.95
Great summer wine value, especially for fans of elegant Loire-style Sauvignon. Delicate gooseberry-nettle notes with a core of ripe peach, fine, racy acidity and just a hint of oak to complement shellfish, seafood and summer salads.

Dry Creek Fumé Blanc '01   88
Sonoma County, CA
277715 (v) $24.95
For a contrarian, here’s a classic California Sauvignon, ultra-ripe, tropical guava, honeydew, pink grapefruit and pineapple notes with a toasty-smoky oak component. Big, silky and mouth-filling to complement spicier, richer main course dishes. Great with grilled shrimp, lobster.

Staete Landt Sauvignon Blanc '01   90
Marlborough, New Zealand
962423 (v) $15.95
Also in the tropical, lush style, this well-priced wine interplays passion fruit-pear-mineral with tangy lime-lemon acidity, hints of lemon curd and gooseberries. From a new winery with an ancient name (given by New Zealand discoverer Abel Tasman in 1642) and high aspirations.

Malivoire Pinot Gris 2002   88
VQA Niagara Peninsula
591305 (v) $18.00
Musky peach-floral aromas lead into delicious citrus, lemon-lime, ripe pear and stony flavors on the tongue. Graceful dinner party aperitif and first-course seafood starter.

Capel Vale Unwooded Chardonnay 2001   86
Western Australia
723635 (v) $13.95
Not exactly a barrel of fun! Made entirely in flavor-neutral stainless steel: non-toasty, non-oaky, just pure fruit citrus-apple flavors, clean, zippy acidity and freshness that make this an easy to enjoy summer sipper.

Fortant Chardonnay 2002   86
Vin de Pays d'Oc, France
256560 LCBO $9.45 (magnum $17.45)
Fresh, clean, lively summer Chardonnay with predominantly grapefruit-melon flavors, hints of spring flowers and a whiff of vanilla. Seafood friendly aperitif perfect. Fortant also offers a rose-petal pink White Merlot at $9.95 that’s fun with grilled food (86); and a BBQ-friendly $9.45 Syrah with red berry fruit, spice and licorice notes (86).

La Farelle Chardonnay '01   89
Vin de Pays d'Oc, Jeanjean
701326 (v) $13.45
Surprisingly good for the price. Attractively toasty, oaky and packing hefty apple-pear, citrus fruitiness. Midweight, good length of flavor and crisp aftertaste. From one of the most respected producers in the Midi. A food-versatile fridge staple.

Devil’s Lair Chardonnay '98   90
Margaret River, W. Australia
543447 (v) $42.95
More Burgundy than Australia, from the cool-climate Margaret River, aged in French and American casks, here’s a serious Meursault-ish white for the collector.

Wolf Blass Chardonnay 2001   90
Premium Selection, S. Australia
394908 (v) $20.95
More affordable, in a similar vein but somewhat more honeyed, tropical fruit flavors along with the charry oak, this other Oz is quite complex and concentrated. Can cope nicely with grilled and cream-sauced fish and poultry.

Markham Chardonnay 2000   88
Napa Valley, CA
747006 (v) $28.95
Cream, toffee, crème brulée, vanilla aromas. Sound good? Add some spicy oak, ripe pear-apple on the palate and you got some of the reasons Chardonnay is Number One in sales worldwide. Lobster, feathered game, rich, creamy sauced dishes.

Olivier Leflaive Montagny '01   92
Burgundy, France
748673 (v) $25.95
Hints of Granny Smith and mutsu apples, stony minerals and dried apricots on the nose. Racy, elegant echoes on the palate with hints of biscotti, brioche and preserved plums, pear and lemon-lime. Superbly food friendly.

Wegeler Erben Riesling Kabinett '99   88
Mosel, Germany
905323 (v) $13.95
Suggestions of pencil lead, petrol, orange peel, peach blossom, lime fruit and slate. Typical Mosel complexity, delicious sipping, great value. Medium dry. Keep this one to yourself.

Le Moguen Riesling 2000   90
Mosel, Germany
993956 (v) $10.95
More apple-peach and with a similarly immaculate pedigree, even better value. Again medium-dry. They’re giving this stuff away! Schnitzel, pan-fried trout, meditative sipping.

Kurt Darting Riesling Kabinett 2000   92
Durkheimer Michelsburg, Pfalz
950212 (v) $14.95
Yellow-gold, summer in a glass. From the warmer Pfalz region just across the Rhine from Alsace, all lemon-lime and peaches and with a little more heft to pair well with white fish, Thai and Chinese food.

Anselmann Gewürztraminer Kabinett '01   89
Edesheimer Schloss, Pfalz
988253 (v) $11.95
That Spicy Grape, in great form. Luscious exotic pineapple, lychee, peach, white pepper flavors and bright acidity all meld in aromatic harmony. Pan-seared scallops, smoked fish and smoked oysters.

Bava Coconato Moscato d'Asti '02   90
Piedmont, Italy
712547 (v) $15.95
A gently sweet, low-alcohol glassful of orange blossom aromas and red berry pleasure. Fragrant and refreshing, one of summer’s great sipping joys.


Perrin Réserve '02   88
AC Côtes du Rhône
719062 (v) $11.95
From the owners of Château Beaucastel, hiding its pink light in a conservative green bottle, this wine shows, apple-grapefruit-strawberry flavors to happily match summer sandwiches and picnic platters.

Château Val Joanis Rosé '02   85
AC Côtes du Lubéron
707281 (v) $12.55
Apple skin, Granny Smith, lilac and cherry aromas mingle with crisp citrus acidity. Light and lively and food friendly: clams, mussels, roasted nuts, warm salads.

Dry Reds:

Mommessin Fleurie '02   87
AC Domaine de Presle, Beaujolais
736769 (v) $19.95
Elvis has left the building. Oh, sorry, that’s Presle! Dry, crisp and fleshy, here’s an overflowing fruit basket of strawberry, raspberry, red grape and mulberry. Friendly as a new puppy, great outdoors with grilled salmon, burgers, cheese sticks. Can be lightly chilled.

Girardin Santenay '99   90
Clos de la Confrérie, Burgundy
978155 (v) $32.95
Silky, profound and sensuous. Odors and aromas of warm baked raspberries, blackberries and cassis, from an excellent vintage and top producer. Pinot Noir comme il faut, which, translated, means you’ve won the Pinot Noir lottery.

Albet y Noya Tempranillo Classic '01   87
DO Penedés, Spain
961565 (v) $11.75
Barbecue-friendly, inexpensive, organic to help the allergic, and tasty. Vanilla, mocha, cherry-berry and cinnamon spice with very soft tannins for instant pleasure. Made from the Rioja grape grown in Catalonia, great with Mediterranean cuisine, for current consumption.

Manzone Dolcetto d’Alba '01   90
DOC La Serra, Piedmont
715680 (v) $16.95
Plums, spice, hints of dark chocolate, meaty notes and velvety tannins. Ready now and quite elegant for the price. Great with simple roasts, smoked meats, BBQ, wieners.

Domaine de la Couroulu '99   89
Guy Ricard, AC Vacquéyras
738054 (v) $21.95
Robust, distinctive red with intense flavors of mineral, licorice, leather, iron, smoked meat, blackberry-elderberry fruit and firm tannins. The charming Curlew label doesn't adequately suggest the power in this excellent Rhone package from a hot new district. Roasts, stews, smoky ribs, saddle of lamb.

Domaine de l’Ameillaud '01   87
VDP de Vaucluse, Rhône
719286 (v) $9.50
Very good value. This hierarchically more junior but still high-quality Vin de Pays property in the village of Cairanne sends us consistently pleasant smoky, spicy, toasty picnic-barbie perfect quaffers with fruitiness to burn.

Rio de Plata Merlot 2001   88
Mendoza, Argentina
515890 LCBO $9.15
Soft, sweetly ripe and dry on the palate, here’s a well-priced partner for lamb chops, chicken and pasta. Blueberry, cherry, new leather and black plum notes, from cool vineyards at the foot of the Andes mountains at 1000m above sea level.

Phillips Toasted-Head Merlot 2000   90
Dunnigan Hills, CA
969816 (v) $26.95
Herbal, fresh, with aromas of smoky cherries, plums and mocha, and user-friendly tannins. So what's not to like? Delicious with lamb, venison, veal chops and medium-strength cheeses. Now in the Vincor family with Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs.

Viña Carmen Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon '01   86
Maipo Valley, Chile
358309 LCBO $15.95
Charming, quite complex smoky plum, new leather with a hint of oak, menthol and eucalyptus. Good value, easy drinking. There’s also a new companion Carmen Classic Chardonnay '02 that’s peppery, toasty and pleasant, LCBO 235663 $9.95 (85).

Trumpeter Cabernet Sauvignon '01   91
Rutini Wines, Maipo, Chile
723288 (v) $14.95
Very (pleasantly) Bordeaux! A subtle weave of cedar, pencil lead, mocha, blackberry, mulberry, cassis and oak, for a great price. A hint of the good things to come from Argentina, and more competition for everybody. Good for us!

Laura Hartwig Cabernet Sauvignon 2000   91
Colchagua Valley, Chile
727495 (v) $15.95
Another wow! Softer, New World style, deep color, blackcurrant, chocolate and crème brulée notes with a sweet jammy core and gentle tannins, 12 productive months in French barriques. BBQ heaven.

Clos Apalta 2000   94
Colchagua, Rapel Valley, Chile
723676 (cc) $75
Possibly the best red yet from Chile. Styled by Bordeaux uber-enologist Michel Rolland, a velvety Merlot, Carmenère, Cabernet blend (from pre-phylloxera vines imported from France in the last century) that reeks of mocha, kirsch, red fruits, black cherries, raspberries, vanilla and new leather. Owned by Casa Lapostolle of Grand Marnier fame, an ageable classic.

Thomas & Vaughan Cabernet Sauvignon 2000   90
Beamsville, VQA Niagara Peninsula
913749 $21.95
Blackberries, black currants, black cherries, white oak and oriental spices mingle in this densely concentrated Ontario red. Ageable, elegant, with good structure and fine tannins. A companion release is the delicious Meritage 2000, from low-yield Merlot and Cabernet vines in the same terrific vintage, $24.95 (91). Invest in a half-case of each!

Phillips Toasted-Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2000   89
Dunnigan Hills, CA
969873 (v) $26.95
Dry herbs, with nuances of fresh, elegant blackberry, cassis, blueberry, spicy oak, supported by supple tannins and a pleasant whiff of oak.

Alter Ego de Palmer 2000   90
AC Margaux, France
748533 (v) $82.95
For the collector, second wine of 1st Cru Chateau Palmer. Merlot-driven (2/1 ratio with Cab Sauvignon), it's lush, plush and seductive, with ripe, fleshy blueberry, vanilla-oak, cassis and new leather notes. Cellar until 2015.

Château Potensac 2000   88
AC Medoc, Cru Bourgeois
954107 (v) $35.95
Cab Sauvignon nicely to the fore, classic cassis, cedar, mulberry, red currant and new leather. All nicely balanced and ageable and kind of affordable from this sought after vintage.

Château Sénéjac 2000   90
AC Haut-Médoc, Cru Bourgeois
903542 (v) $36.95
Spicy, smoky, supple and approaching drinkability now and for another 10 years. Elegant and quite good value for a classic Bordeaux.

Château de Pez '99   91
AC Saint-Estèphe, Cru Bourgeois
717389 (v) $43.95
A favorite among Ontario claret fans for many years, shows mocha, fresh cream, new leather, cedar and oak with a herbal top note, and suggestions of black berries, cherries, pipe tobacco, and medium tannins. Cellar for now, best after 2005.

Grant Burge 'Miamba' Shiraz '01   90
Barossa Valley, S. Australia
725127 )v) $19.95
With the sweet ripe coconut scents of American oak, vanilla, raspberry-blackberry, cherries, citrus and mace, a succulent, rich, slightly sweet-tasting crowd-pleaser for short cellaring or current enjoyment. Spicy meat dishes, lamb, osso bucco, pizza.

Unison 2001   93
Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, NZ
943282 (v) $27.95
Wow! Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon combine to deliver mocha, dark chocolate, blueberry, new leather and spicy oak flavors From a well-drained, emerging district more famous until now for its elegant Pinot Noirs but, hey, we’ll take the blends, too! Lamb, lamb, and more lamb, please.

Delheim Pinotage '01   89
WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, S. Africa
714253 (v) $18.50
Could make a Pinotage fan out of anybody. The idiosyncratic, love-or-hate signature grape of S. Africa, usually all iron, rust and fresh blood, has been tamed here into a fairly elegant, clean, cherry-plum, leather and oak midweight contender. Like it with grilled sausages, venison, lamb or kebabs.

Barolo Vigneto Cerequio '98   92
Batasiolo, DOCG Piedmont
933994 (v) $58.95
A dark beauty. Collectible, expensive, good value. Intensely concentrated, brooding, velvety, oozing bright black fruits, small berries, saddle leather, oak, chunky tannins and earthy minerals. Yes, it's better than the '97, and that’s something special. Cellar 5-10 years.

Pier delle Vigne '97   88
Botromagno, DOC Puglia
978940 (v) $22.00
A blend of Italy's Montepulciano and Aglianico grapes, gamey, leathery, rustic and charming, with sunbaked fruit flavors, especially black cherry/blackberry from the Deep South. Now to 2005, or tonight with pizza.

Chianti Rufina '99   86
Colognole, Tuscany
974501 (v) $17.95
Rufina is a rival region to the premier Classico zone, and this version is a typical, slightly rustic, softer, more accessible Chianti, offering a prune, leather and cherry profile for easy-drinking. Pizza, pasta, meatballs.

Chianti Classico 2000   90
Vicchiomaggio, Tuscany
710194 (v) $19.95
Taut, tight, bright, lively, with a profile of new leather, fresh blood, and sour cherries. Very good value as an aperitif, companion for lighter dishes. Can cellar 2-4 years.

Vitiano 2001   90
Falesco, IGT Umbria
950204 (v) $13.95
Black cherries, mulberries, bacon bits, spicy licorice, dried herbs and leather: an appealing value from Umbria made by award-winning Riccardo Falesco. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Sangiovese. Now to 2006, with grilled seafood, BBQ.

Quinta dos Roques '99   87
DOC Dão, Portugal
986075 (v) $14.45
Leather, currants, spicy cherries and smoky oak. Solid, chunky and ripe, for today or to cellar until 2005. Can handle big meat stews, flank steaks, BBQ.

De Rham Primitivo '01   86
IGT Salento, Puglia
992701 (v) $11.95
Low-sulphur, organic quaffer that’s very Zin-ny, plum, sun-dried tomato and spicy cherry with light tannins for easy drinking right now. To be consumed to loud music by the barrelful with any kind of food outdoors.


Blanc de Blancs Brut Delamotte '97   88
963694 (v) $49.95
Melon, white grapefruit, warm brioche and honeyed toast with a lemon burst of refreshing acidity and a long, clean aftertaste. A Laurent-Perrier label, 100% Chardonnay for an aperitif or for elegant dining.

Fruit Wines

Southbrook Cassis   96
339044 (v) $14.95
Double wow! One of the great wines of Canada, fruit or grape. On its own or over ice cream, over a fruit pie, added to white wine or sparkling wine (5 wine to 1 Cassis) as Kir or Kir Royale. The essence of ripe black currants. Doesn’t get better than this, folks.

Mariandl Sparkling Apricot   87
Lens Moser, Austria
117366 (v) $9.95
At 7% alcohol, a perfect garden party bubbly aperitif that’s all honey and apricots and a hint of menthol. Off-dry, zesty and refreshing. Chill out.

Graham’s Fine White Port   88
Oporto, Portugal
192377 (v) $14.95
Anise, white plum and fresh grape flavors, to be enjoyed well chilled as an aperitif/sipper on the porch of an evening.

High Spirits:

The Arran Malt   88
Island Single Malt, Scotland
981084 (v) $46.95
Hay, straw, peat smoke, toffee, pines and tea leaf, that’s part of the smooth appeal of this new distillery off the Lowlands coast. Still a little raw but potent and sure to improve with age. Take a wee drop of water with it.

Hine Signature Cognac   93
Petite Champagne, France
981654 (v) $49.95
Rich, sweet caramel, burnt sugar and crème brulée with prune, tea and dried banana notes and a long warm aftertaste. A VS level of Cognac with a blend of brandies averaging 4-5 years old from a single vineyard.

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