Summer 2005

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

Sweet (and Dry) Pleasures

Pretty Bubbles

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:

La Cave les Costières de Pomerol Picpoul de Pinet ’04   89
Hugues de Beauvignac, Côteaux du Languedoc, France
350124 (v) $11.95
Granny Smith crispness, incredible freshness, just perfect for summer quenching, fresh oysters, or a shellfish stew. Fermented in stainless steel to maintain the typical zippy acidity of this grape variety, the wine offers grapefruit, mango and lemon notes, too.

Devois des Agneaux d’Aumelas Blanc ’03   88
Côteaux du Languedoc, France
653543 (v) $17.95
Speaking of sheep, the name Devois refers to the old lamb pastures around Montpellier, and it’s made from made from Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache, tiny production, quite dry and offering attractive marshmallow, pear, floral, vanilla character. Great with fish stew.

Terradora Dipaolo Greco di Tufo ’03   89
Loggia della Serra, Campania, Italy
983197 (v) $19.95
Old gold color, spicy, floral, apricot, tropical fruit, rich, full, elegant. Greco is the native grape and with the help of this very modern winery, delivers a full-bodied wine to accompany a major salmon, tuna, lobster feed.

Adrian Mathier Fendant Côteau de Sierre ’03   86
Valais, Switzerland
692376 (v) $20.95
Rare opportunity to taste a Swiss offering, in this case Fendant, made from the principal grape variety, Chasselas, with your fondue or raclette. From a winemaking family with 600 years of experience and finely crafted with a rich, cedary, creamy, creamed corn, pear and toasted nuts character. From one of the warmest spots in the country and the wine shows it. Good with trout, bass, bream, soft cheeses.

Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina ’03   86
Sannio, Italy
650622 (v) $18.95
From a top Italian producer, a dry but deliciously ripe wines from a rare and ancient grape variety linked to the legendary Falernian wine of yore. Crisp with hints of gooseberry, mineral and citrus. Sipper or seafood partner par excellence, seafood, shellfish, white meats, lemon tart.

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc ’04   90
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
677450 (v) $19.95
Wow! Classic zingy, zippy Kiwi Sauv. Racy and lively with all that good gooseberry, grassy stuff, tropical and ripe citrus fruit that’s so great with oysters, white meats, spicy Thai, even Indian cuisine – the lemon grass element can work well here. Enjoy now. Named for the dogs that once guarded New Zealand’s 80 gazillion sheep!

Joseph et Christian Binner Riesling ’01   91
Ammerschwihr, Alsace, France
982108 (v) $18.95
Old gold color, delivering a massive flavor burst of citrus, peach, mango and floral notes with fine, racy acidity and palate-cleansing freshness. Shrimp, shellfish, lightly spiced Asian dishes, white meats. Very good value.

Lucashof Riesling Kabinett ’04   89
Forster Bischofsgarten, Pfalz, Germany
681007 (v)$15.95
I like the 007 bit: licensed to thrill! Stylish, elegant wine with an Ontario connection through the Weiss family who used to run Vineland Estates in Niagara. Nice racy acidity and food friendly rich mineral, grapefruit and slatey freshness. Serve with seafood, grilled white meats, shellfish, pork and all alone.

D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Riesling/Sauvignon/Marsanne ’04   87
McLaren Vale, S. Australia
922203 (v) $12.95
Quite a mouthful, an aromatic, lively blend with peachy, spicy, grassy and tropical fruit references, easy-drinking and refreshing as an everyday quaffer or well-chilled with light summer dishes.

McManis Family Viognier ’03   90
658112 (v) $19.95
Very good value in a sleek, stylish New World Viognier, which won Gold at the ’04 California State Fair in its first competition. Apricot, acacia flower, honey, and honeysuckle aromas jump out of the glass and there’s good lemony acidity for freshness. The McManis Syrah ’03 $19.95 is a cleanly made silky red, with luscious red fruit and milk chocolate notes (88) 658104. In Consignment, there’s a Chardonnay, $20.95, big, lush, peachy with a vanilla kick and a touch of new oak (86) a Merlot ’03, $20.95, chocolate, smoke and spicy berries, and a Cabernet I haven’t tasted. Call Robert Groh, 416/693-7994.

Badischer Winzerkeller Gewürztraminer ’03   87
Baden, Germany
336735 LCBO $9.95
Laughably underpriced (the fate of many fine German wines) but delicious in terms of vanilla, sweet, ripe apple notes and perfumes of fresh spring flowers, with a nice zesty acidity. Produced by 25,000 small growers with a passion for wine making. Give ’em a big hand!

Trimbach Gewürztraminer ’02   89
Alsace, France
958462 (v) $23.95
From one of the most respected Alsace producers, packed with complex white pepper, apricot, peach, lychee and rose petal notes, rich and sensuous, dry on the palate. A pretty wine, elegant and subtle but eloquent as a partner to Asian, ocean, and shellfish dishes. Now to 2008.

Bollini Chardonnay Barricato 40 ’03   84
Trentino, Italy
987503 (v) $13.95
Meaty, solid, chunky Chard and a good fruit, acid, toasty oak balance, reasonable finesse and good everyday value. The Bollini Pinot Grigio ’04, $15.95 (86) is lighter, livelier and fresher, with a spicy Granny Smith core and a citrus note. Chill ’em both well. There’s also a Merlot ’03, $13.95, that’s fairly tannic but a good, fruity, everyday pizza gargle (4).

Stonehedge Chardonnay ’01   87
544841 (v) $12.95
Good everyday white with a nicely buttery, smoky, toasty character usually found in a higher snack bracket, a decent whack of melon, peach, pear fruit down the middle, and a clean, fresh finish. All for the low, low price of... Food friendly, enjoy now.

Chartron & Trebuchet Pernand-Vergelesses ’02   91
Burgundy, France
925099 (v) $28.95
The real thing. Chardonnay from the source, Burgundy: vanilla, toast, pear, melon, minerals and very subtle oak with a delicate dry, crisp acidity to refresh the palate and transmute oysters, clams and lobster into dishes to die for...

Dry Reds:

Birchwood Estate Cabernet Franc ’02   89
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
694422 (v) $14.95
Terrific expression of Ontario signature grape, well handled by this tiny but exciting young winery beside the Beamsville Bench. Sweet tobacco, mulberries, herbs, toast, a hint of cranberry, raspberry and sour cherry, quite appealing and food friendly. Chillable as a summer wine, to enjoy now.

Blason de Bourgogne Pinot Noir ’03   87
Burgundy, France
657387 (v) $16.95
Featured release and good value. Earthy, spicy, fleshy and showing good varietal character with beetroot, raspberry, cherry flavors and a silky mouth feel. Drinking well now, and good with grilled meats, medium cheeses and summer salads.

Marqués de Riscal ’00   88
Rioja!Rioja, Spain
032656 LCBO $23.00
The 0 in the CSPC tells you this has been an LCBO purchase forever. Riscal has had its ups and downs over the years but now is back on its game: sinewy, elegant, intriguing and complex, full of red berry fruit, subtle oak with balsamic and cinnamon notes. Versatile food wine, now

Vina Bajoz Joven ’03   87
Toro, Spain
651919 (v) $12.95
As fruity and endearing as Beaujolais, here’s a very affordable pleasure chest of ripe strawberry, cherry, raspberry flavors and a whiff of bacon and oak. Medium-bodied, crisp, and even chillable for the summer heat. Food friendly and ready to serve now. There’s a companion white, Ovación, also $12.95 (85), that’s steely and fresh with nuances of apricot, apple and quince, a companion for trout, shellfish and summer salads.

Cave du Haut-Poitou Gamay ’03   86
Haut-Poitou, France
707869 (v) $11.95
Beaujolais-lite and that’s a good thing! Tons of fresh, up-front cola fruit and soft, easy-drinking, from a company that includes 95% of the appellation’s 350 vignerons. Try it with grilled salmon, ham, portobello mushrooms and tangy cheeses. Chillable for summer sipping, too.

Rutherford Hill Merlot ’01   91
Napa Valley, California
948935 (v) $15.95
This Merlot specialist winery’s strong suit: A beautiful and nicely staged production of vanilla, toasted oak, dark chocolate, sweetly ripe black cherries, red currants, spicy blackberries, blueberries and smoky raspberries. Now through 2010, with your finest steaks.

Château Calissanne Clos Victoire ’01   88
Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France
982207 (v) $34.95
Old-vine Syrah-Cabernet blend of the highest quality from a top-notch producer, a big, sensuous smoky plummy concentrated dry red to partner small game, fresh Ontario lamb on the grill, or spicy Mediterranean cuisine. From ancient and spectacular Mediterranean vineyards dating back to Roman times. Ageable but delicious now, too.

Gabriel Meffre Rasteau Laurus ’01   90
Côtes du Rhone, France
652222 (v) $19.95
Ripe, rich, red and ready to enjoy, now. Super-fruity and delicious from Gigondas-based and quality-driven Meffre, which has ISO and eco-friendly credentials and is a leader in wine research. Enjoy with goat cheese, roast lamb, rabbit, venison, boar, hard cheeses.

Terra d’Aligi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ’02   91
Abruzzi, Italy
981399 (v) $11.95
Leather, game, bacon, red and black berries, smooth tannins, right now! A surprisingly good $12 wine with some aging capacity but ready for the big (BBQ) smoke today. Very nice value and versatile with spicy, tangy or tomato-based dishes. Ciao, Terra!

Château Porto Carras ’00   88
Côtes de Meliton, Greece
921577 (v) $24.95
The two Cabernets plus Merlot and the local Limnio grapes do the heavy lifting here, and it’s to good effect. A slightly rustic, spicy, leathery, oaky, meaty entry with tobacco-cedar notes and cassis fruit. Think Cahors. Good with roast lamb, turkey, ham or venison.

Massolino Barbera d’Alba ’03   89
Piemonte, Italy
910752 (v) $22.95
Dense, dark, ripe and plummy with a touch of oak and mocha, and slatherings of ripe black and red berry fruit. Soft, supple and food friendly What’s not to like?

Quinta da Lagoalva Castelhao & Touriga ’02   86
Ribatejo, Portugal
938449 (v) $13.95
Rustic, pleasant and delicious in a mulberry, anise, mocha, spicy cherry and damson plum mode. The C & T in the name are classic Portuguese grape varieties, by the way, with a little Cabernet added in the New World manner by this very modern and elegant winery, also home to one of the world’s great stud farms. Rare roasts, burgers and pizza.

Thorn-Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz ’03   87
Barossa Valley, Australia
595306 (v) $15.95
Easy-drinking, minty, mega-fruity blackberry-cherry, in your face Shiraz with a hint of eucalyptus and chocolate and spicy oak. What could be better? Produced by the sixth generation of a family that started out as gold miners in Barossa, today the mother lode of great Shiraz.

Wolf Blass Classic Shiraz Grey Label ’01   89
Barossa/Clare/McLaren Vale
390872 LCBO $29.95
Soft, drinkable, supple tannins, great with char-grilled rib-eye and field mushrooms or beef teppanyaki, a big, 14.5% red with spicy raspberry, chocolate, pepper, cherry cola and toasty notes. Drink right now!

David Traeger Shiraz ’99   90
Victoria, Australia
595330 (v) $24.95
Big, agreeable chocolatey, peppery, minty, fruity Shiraz with tons of complexity and attractiveness. Now or best left a couple of years and good for another eight. BBQ'd Chinese duck, lamb, roast pork perfect!

Famiglia Bianchi Malbec ’02   91
San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina
677559 (v) $15.95
Sleek, balanced, fine, and with a massive flavor hit of plum, cherry, blackberry, elderberry, and spicy toast with layers of minerals and subtle oak. Silky and well made, from Argentina’s signature grape with a smidge of Cabernet and Merlot for complexity. With red meats, richly sauced pastas, game or venison.

RavenwoodRavenswood Vintner’s Blend Zinfandel ’03   89
359257 LCBO $19.95
A Vintages Essential and a popular red in Ontario packing a little Carignane and Petite Syrah into its delicious cépage sourced across California and aged in French barrels. Smooth and fruity with an array of raspberry, cherry, spicy blueberry crafted for immediate pleasure, especially at BBQ time! “No wimpy wines” is the motto here. For grilling tips from Ravenswood, call 416/368-5108.

Portile Primitivo del Tarantino ’03   88
Masseria Pepe, IGT Puglia, Italy,
651927 (v) $14.95
One of the best and most approachable Primitivos I’ve tasted: elegant, with restrained alcohol, 13.5%, subtle yet potent fruit flavors and a good, lingering aftertaste, mostly black plum, ripe apple, oriental spices and rich berry fruits. BBQ or more sophisticated fare, enjoyable this summer.

Sweet (and Dry) Pleasures

André Petit Pineau des Charentes ’02   88
Cognac, France
709873 (v) $17.95
Very charming, lively, and grapey, of course, since it’s fresh grape juice fortified with Cognac, but sporting a lovely hazelnut-vanilla and sweet chestnut character that’s charming and lasts and lasts! A great summer aperitif.

Delgado Zuleta La Goya Manzanilla   90
Jerez, Spain
944710 (v) $15.95
Superb value, lovely wine. The dry, dry Sherry with hints of camomile, white flowers and straw, from coastal Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The name, by the way is not for the great painter, it’s the stage name of dancer Aurora Jauffré. Who knew?

Taylor Fladgate LBV Port 2000   92
Douro, Portugal
501362 LCBO $17.95
One of the great values, a Vintage Port lookalike at a fraction of the price: chalky, minty, an explosion of sweet berry, plum, spice and earthy flavors, ready right now, from the creator of this innovative style of early-drinking Port. Sip, contemplate, sip some more.Nothing to sniff at.

Pretty Bubbles:

Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Chardonnay ’01
Burgundy, France
680686 (v) $19.95
Name’s a bit of a mouthful but so’s the wine. Fresh, zippy, with threads of lemon and lime, green apple, pears and oven fresh-biscuit. Not bad for the price!

Villa Sandi Cuvée Prosecco di Valdobbiadene   87
Veneto, Italy
738542 (v) $18.95
Another mouthful...softer, with fresh ripe cantaloupe, pear, citrus rewards and you can use the bottle itself for those old-fashioned Indian clubs workouts they did during the Raj. Everyday sipper, aperitif, palate cleanser. Chill well.

Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne ’96   90
Champagne, France 983874 (v) $64.95
A thoroughbred with the classic oven-fresh brioche, toasted bread, biscuit, bread dough, vanilla, fresh lemon, mineral and earthy flint tones of a fine bubbly. Seafood, shellfish, white meats, aperitifs and whatever you want to toast today!

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