Summer 2012

(Hint: click on labels and photos for even more information!)

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

Rosé Wines

Dry Red Wines

Sparkling Gems

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:

Margadio da Torre Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2011        88
Vinho Verde, Portugal
0960955 (v) $17.95

A fine example of this northern Portugal specialty, bone dry yet lean and steely with clean-cut lime and orange zest riffs on a wet stone, chalky mineral base. The grape, known as Albarino in Spain delivers fresh acidity that’s nicely balanced and refreshing.

Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc ’10Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc ’10        88
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
686972 (v) $14.95
A good wine in a good cause, deliciously aromatic and elegantly fruity (pink grapefruit and ripe gooseberry) this is a top-notch Loire-style Sauvignon from the vineyards of Chateau des Charmes. There’s a melony-mango tickle on the tongue and racy, food-friendly acidity. Goes with oysters, fish and veggie dishes. Profits go to Mike’s Foundation to help Canadian children in need.

Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko/Athiri 2010        89
Santorini, Greece
0276535 (v) $16.95
Made by a top grower from volcanic Santorini’s signature grapes, this elegant, well-structured bone-dry classic shows stony notes against floral, distinctive grapefruit-citrus and spicy gooseberry aromas and flavors. A highly individual wine from a unique place.

Chateau de Chasseloir Cuvee des Ceps Centenaires 2007        90
Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine, Sur Lie, Loire, France
0653485 (v) $19.95
Steel, wet stone and brine, dry as a razor on the palate and perfect with shellfish, seafood and as aperitifs. The fruit core is citrus and melon and there’s an odd but pleasant hint of milk chocolate on the finish.

Jean-Paul Mollet l’Antique Pouilly-Fume 2010        92
Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France
0277327 (v) $25.95
The inspiration for Mondavi’s Napa Fume-Blanc: this original has smoky gunflint aromas and complex nuances of barrel aging that frame its restrained apricot-melon central core flavors. Crisp, elegant, bone-dry and extraordinarily good.

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2011        89
Marlborough, South Island, N Zealand
0278556 (v) $19.95
The tropical fruit-forward style of Kiwi Savvy in this bottling: featuring uber-ripe melon-mango and fresh pineapple with some Indian spice notes, perhaps garam masala, increasing the delicious complexity. Now to 2015.

Martin Codax Albarino 2010        88
Rias Baixas, Spain
0984906 (v) $16.95
Spain’s sophisticated take on this elegant, racy grape variety adds extra elements like pencil lead aromas, stone fruit and white grapefruit flavor markers to the ensemble. Refreshingly dry and clean as a whistle. Seafood, shellfish.

Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010        87
Stellenbosch, S Africa
0231282 (v) $17.95
The Chenin, locally known as Steen, is a Loire grape originally that’s become a white wine icon in South Africa with good examples like this showcasing white grapefruit and white pepper spiciness and mouth-watering fig, persimmon and quince fruitiness. A juicy value for early enjoyment.

Vincent Raimbault Les Tarrages Demi Sec Vouvray 2010        90
Vouvray, Loire, France
0271973 (v) $17.95
Like a late-harvest Ontario Vidal with benefits: this medium-sweet sipper packs perfumed floral aromas and succulent flavors of quince, lime zest, earthiness and honeyed pears. Serve with orchard fruit and mild cheeses.

Trimbach Reserve Pinot Gris 2008        90
Alsace, France
0971762 (v) $22.95
Hints of sea salt and walnut skin mingle with pure white peach and tangerine and honeycomb and beeswax that frame the harmonious melange. Mineral and lime zest acidity braces the juicy, fruity notes in this drink to enjoy now.

Lucien Albrecht Cuvee Henri Riesling 2009        91
Alsace, France
0281402 (v) $23.95
A zesty, fresh medium-bodied, elegant ultra-dry wine with a pleasingly viscous texture and many-layered persimmon, star-fruit, lime zest and mineral gun-flint notes. Versatile as a sipper or with firm-fleshed white fish, herb-roasted chicken, crab and lobster.

Chateau Brondelle Classic Sauvignon/Semillon 2010        89
Graves, Bordeaux, France
0626507 (v) $15.95
Indeed a classic blend of Semillon and Sauvignon, the Bordeaux white duo, this very well priced elegant wine is a marker for the much improved Bdx whites of recent years. There was a period when the local trade cruised on the fine reputation of the early years. These days the wines are beautifully made, sublimely balanced and crisply fruity. Welcome back!

La Chablisienne Vaulorent Chablis 2009        90
Chablis 1er Cru, Burgundy, France
0111666 (v) $31.95
Steely, with limestone, mineral and earthy notes, this outstanding wine from a respected co-op is served in some of the snootiest restos in Paris. Try it with raw oysters, lobster and seafood salads.

Penfolds Thomas Hyland Chardonnay 2011Penfolds Thomas Hyland Chardonnay 2011        88
Adelaide, South Australia
0611228 (v) $19.95
Ripe, mellow and exotic with tropical layers of sensuous pineapple, mango, melon, banana and guava fruits and a toasty-vanilla contribution from clever oak-aging. Easy drinking and excellent with Asian dishes and BBQ-seared seafood.

Domaine Latour-Giraud Les Narvaux Meursault 2009        89
Meursault, Burgundy, France
0012389 (v) $45.95
Smoke, stone, white peach, pear and floral marzipan notes are the markers for this outstanding village wine. Beautifully balanced and crisp with great depth and flavor.

Fielding Viognier 2010        91
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
0142323 (v) $25.95
Seductive aromas of spiced apricot and fruit compote lead the senses into a lush yet dry almond-marzipan and melon mid-palate. There’s a nice concentration and silky texture that leaves you wanting more yet fully satisfying. Best Viognier at Cuvée 2012.

Malivoire Gewurztraminer 2010        93
VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
0542522 (v) $24.95
Wow! Here’s an eye-opener for an Ontario Gewurz. With all the subtle lychee-white pepper and rose petal character we expect from a thoroughbred from Alsace plus the crisp, steely-fresh acidity of cool-climate Niagara vines. Lovely balance, charming finish.

Rosé Wines:

Southbrook Triomphe Organic Cabernet Franc Rose 2011        90
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
0279117 (v) $19.95
From Ontario’s most successful grape, Cabernet Franc, a subtly elegant dry pink wine to rival the fabled Tavels of France. Tomato-skin, lavender, rosemary and cherries are the key flavour components. Chill lightly.

Chateau St. Roch Syrah/Grenache Rose 2011        88
Cotes de Roussillon, France
0276352 (v) $14.95
A lean, crisp wine with floral-citrus and melon-cranberry flavors to sip and savor or pair with lightly grilled seafood or cold chicken salads at a picnic.

Casa De Santa Vitoria Rose 2011        88
Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal
0273797 (v) $12.95
From Spain’s Tempranillo grown in Portugal (for many generations, admittedly) an interesting crowd-pleaser that offers redcurrant, melon, Delicious apple and cherry cola pleasure.

Dry Red Wines:

Michael David Petite Petit 2009Michael David Petite Petit 2009        87
Lodi, California
0213017 (v) $24.95
From Petite Syrah and Petit Verdot, two unrelated small and generally unloved grape varieties (in an 85%-15% blend) this is a flavor-burst of dark chocolate, mocha, cocoa, blackberries and vanilla! Cheerful fun stuff.

Laurent Gauthier Grand Cras Vieilles Vignes Morgon 2010        88
Morgon, Beaujolais, France
0279059 (v) $15.95
Rich and concentrated cherry and chocolate scents greet your nose and dissolve deliciously on your palate. The 65-year-old Gamay vines have yielded an upscale Beaujolais that you could serve with venison alongside a fine Burgundy at a special dinner.

Longplay Lias Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009        86
Chehalem Mountains, Washington
0267344 (v) $27.95
A simple, supple and appealing Pinot with an appetizing array of herbaceous blueberry, cassis, black plum and pudding spice flavors. A must-buy for fans of vintage vinyl records!

Pisano Rio de los Pajaros Reserve Merlot/Tannat 2008        88
Progreso, Uruguay
0269506 (v) $15.95
Rarely seen (in Canada) wine from Uruguay. Cleverly softening the beefy Tannat grape of Madiran in SW France with mellow Merlot to smooth out any puckery tannins and showcasing perfectly ripe blueberry, black olive and black cherry fruit napped with woodsmoke and mocha nuances. BBQ or smoked meats match merrily.

Clos de los Siete 2009        89
Mendoza, Argentina
0622571 (v) $21.95
An iconic wine from uber-enologist Michel Rolland and his six partners (Los Siete) based on the country’s signature Malbec grape. Spicy, packed with black fruit flavors, dark chocolate notes and silky tannins. Charcuterie, sausages or grilled meat of any kind!

Chateau Lamothe-Cissac 2005        90
Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France
0206755 (v) $23.95
Smooth yet concentrated red from the Cabernet-heavy left bank of Bordeaux and the terrific 2005 vintage that’s now drinking well. Silky tannins support nuances of mulberry, blackberry and plums with a dusting of mocha and black olives. Roast lamb, anyone?

Chateau Perenne 2005        89
Bernard Magnez, 1er Cotes de Blaye, Bordeaux
0283150 (v) $18.95
Good vintage, modest price, grown across the river from Cissac and an interesting dinner party comparison/companion. More old leather, dusty tannins and cherry-wild strawberry leaning towards plum pudding with fresh acidity. Enjoyable now with rare roast beef or lamb.

Domaine de Viaud 2001        87
Lalande-de-Pomerol, Marius Bielle, Bordeaux
0282475 (v) $25.95
Excellent value and already aged for you. Lately purchased by the LCBO, this Merlot-driven 2001 is fully mature, of course, and showing the subtle violets, dried fruit, dried flower charm of an older wine. Round as a pebble and ready to pour with a great steak.

Punt Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2008Punt Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2008        92
Napoleone Vineyards, Yarra Valley, S Australia.
0280255 (v) $27.95
Highly rated in Oz, this Cab is a good example of a cooler growing region and offers elegance and power to spare, delivered with Cadillac smoothness. There’s a touch of chocolate, Kirsch and plums in mid-palate and an undertone of earthy minerality that lingers happily on the palate. Enjoy with veal, pork or grilled lamb.

CJ Pask Gimblett Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec 2008        88
Hawkes Bay North Island, N Zealand
0279869 (v) $19.95
Well-priced and well made from one of the best-drained gravelly vineyard sites, this Cab-driven red is midweight, with subtle cassis, mint, black pepper and black olive notes. The tannins are soft and the acidity restrained. A polite wine.

Domaine Portet Fontaine Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot 2010        90
Yarra Valley/Heathcote, Victoria, S Australia
0281410 (v) $19.95
A triple threat with these fine grape varieties playing nicely together. The result is ultra-smooth, easy drinking stuff that’s food friendly with refreshingly crisp acidity and elegance. Enjoy now with pasta, pizza and anything with Parmesan.

Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2009        90
Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria, S Australia
0243592 (v) $35.95
A lean, Rhone style Shiraz. More ladylike than an Aussie fruit-bomb and we’re happy with that. Nice fresh-ground black pepper with pudding spices, black plum, Bing cherry, rose petal, dark chocolate, black licorice and tar notes. Pepper steak or anything with feathers. Marmite, anyone?

Le Cirque Carignan/Mourvedre/Syrah 2010        88
Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes, France, Johanes Boubee
0277079 (v) $14.95
This Cirque has seen lots of soleil and embodies it in a gloriously savoury, herbaceous South of France lavender, rosemary and thyme classic at a terrific price. Blackcurrant, raspberry and brambleberries deliver the lively flavor components and suggest early drinking.

Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel Grenache/Syrah/Carignan 2008        90
Cotes du Roussillon-Villages, France
0272575 (v) $17.95
Again from the Deep South, the reliable Gerard Bertrand delivers a savoury blackberry, cocoa and herbaceous blend with blueberry-blackcurrant, tar and cherry top-notes. Serve with anything from the smokehouse or the BBQ.

Gabriel Meffre Laurus 2009        88
Gigondas, Rhone, France
0163113 (v) $26.95
Bacon and berries is the first impression, then raspberry gelato and Kirsch with a dab of anise and woodsmoke. How good is that? About as good as the Clos des Cazaux Cuvee St. Roch 2009 from neighboring Vacqueyras, 0279513 (v) $18.98. This near sibling is meaty, almost like beef jus and red berry fruits (87).

Paolo Conterno Bricco Barbera dAlba 2010        90
Barbera d’Alba, Piemonte, Italy
0744714 (v) $16.95
From Barbera vines in the hilly Bricco vineyard, this fleshy, almost chewy red has lovely raspberry, mint and cranberry notes and slightly leathery tannins that call for rare steaks and roasts.

Quinta Do Cachao Reserva Tinto 2009        88
Douro, Portugal, Vinhos Messias
0280396 (v) $18.95
A softie with a sturdy backbone. Well rounded with a black berry fruit core that’s ripe and satisfying, framed by tea-like tannins. Will age more but is delicious now with stews and braises.

Sparkling Gems:

Mike Weir Sparkling Brut        87
VQA Niagara Peninsula Methode Traditionelle, ON
187294 (v) $24.95
Like a fruit salad of white grapefruit, lemons and apple pie with a dash of nectarine and Bosc pear. The acidity is fresh and cleansing and this fizz is very food friendly.

Tenuta Santa Anna Prosecco        89
Prosecco Superiore de Valdobbiadene, Italy
281386 (v) $18.95
A superior sparkler from the Veneto sporting a fresh ginger and pear and orchard fruit core with floral-citrus nuances and a whiff of summer straw. Chill out with this pretty Italian this summer.

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