Summer 2015

(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

Dry Red Wines

Sparkling Gems

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:

Pierre-Luc Bouchaud 2013                89
AC Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, Loire, France
82461 (v) $14.95
Stony, flinty, smoky and ultra-dry (as in tart!) and that’s Muscadet, the real test of whether a person loves “dry” wines. Or maybe with just a hint of residual sugar. Just sayin’. People who like Muscadet really love ‘em and for good reason. They’re great with shellfish and any kind of seafood or as an aperitif. If you like this, you’ll love…

Tor Alte Reben Reserve Gruner Veltiner 2013Tor Alte Reben Reserve Gruner Veltiner 2013                91
Salomon-Undhof Kremser, DAC Kremstal, Austria
392332 (v) $21.95
Like a Muscadet with muscle! Stony mineral and almost brutal crisp acidity like an underripe pear yet as refreshing as a wine can be! From Austria’s signature GV grape variety and aimed to be served with food or as a palate cleanser/aperitif.

La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2013                87
Sella & Mosca, Sardinia, Italy
627067 (v) $16.95
Crisp, bright and straightforward, unoaked and perfect for summer refreshment. Some mineral and light citrus notes for a simple quaff.

Muralhas de Moncao 2014                88
DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal
80374 (v) $15.95
A classic v. verde from the cool north of Portugal, slightly spritzy with fine acidity and vivid white grapefruit, melon and green apple notes. Seafood, shellfish and aperitifs are its forte.

Alpha Estate Axia Malagouzia 2014                88
IGP Florina, Greece
371666 (v) $16.95
Aromatic with a hint of fresh white pepper, lime zest and citrus flavors. Nicely balanced and crisp. You might also like Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2014, Vieilles Vignes, IGP Epanomi, 416702 (v) $23.95. It has a little more intriguing floral and wet stone-oak finesse as well as the citrus notes (89).

Finca Las Caraballas Verdejo 2013                90
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain
418699 (v) $16.95
More oxidative (Sherry-like) than the Verdejos of Rueda and heavier in style, a little like the Semillons of Australia and none the worse for that. Still with the same cut grass and orchard fruit notes but offering a subtle hint of clove and anise. A serious white for summer.

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2014                90
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
677450 (v) $24.95
There’s a struck flint element to this intense and delicious Sauvignon along with the usual slightly grassy and rhubarb-grapefruit pie context of Kiwi Savvies. There’s a fleshiness about the weight on the palate that’s quite satisfying and adds to the overall length of flavor in the mouth.

Jean-Pierre Bailly 2013                88
AC Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France
408815 (v) $22.95
The Fume bit is from the region’s ancient limestone underpinnings and their smoky effect on the Sauvignon Blanc wines, thank you very much! Add a silky, oily weight in the mouth and intense white peach-apple fruitiness and, voila!

Therapy Vineyards Pinot Gris 2013                88
VQA Okanagan Valley, Canada
422477 (v) $19.95
It’s no accident that Sigmund Freud’s bearded mug is staring out at you from the label! Just lie back and let the waves of yellow apple, Bosc pear, honey and fresh lemon waft over your inner thoughts! There’s a whiff of basil and enough minerality to suggest oyster therapy in your future.

Norman Hardie Riesling 2013                93
VQA Ontario
131169 (v) $21.00
Hardie is perhaps best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but this Riesling is a stunner: low alcohol (great for summer sipping) yet viscous and sleek on the palate, elegantly German-style, and brimming with floral, grapefruit, pear and peach layers on the tongue. Gorgeous stuff.

Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2013                90
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
89029 (v) $17.95
Lighter, fresher and more citrus driven, this refreshing take on Riesling is zippy and zesty and will make you smile – and salivate. Perfect with grilled chicken or pan-fried lake trout on the patio.

Mr. Riggs Ein Riese Riesling 2013                88
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
412478 (v) $19.95
There’s a great lime zest and white grapefruit power to this finely constructed Riesling with its silky, almost oily mouth feel. Summer sipper and also versatile with light to medium veggie and white meat dishes.

Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2013Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2013                90
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
256552 (v) $18.95
Light, bright and juicy with good flavor intensity and a pleasant soupcon of toasty new oak and peachy, creamy, apple pie nuances to cheer your day, at lunch or dinner or summer picnic.

Flat Rock The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2012                 90
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula
1552 (v) $24.95
Reminiscent of a delicious Macon from Burgundy, this expertly crafted Chard has complexity, silky smoothness and a harvest festival of ripe fruits. Another reason Chardonnay is the most popular white on earth: food friendly, sippable and affordable. Isn’t it great that Ontario does it so well!

Toro de Piedra Grand Reserve Chardonnay ’14                90
Maule Valley, Chile
417493 (v) $17.95
A lot of wine at the price: complex oak-inspired notes of vanilla, butterscotch and smokiness introduce fruity layers of pineapple, banana, nectarine and grapefruit. Perfect for butter-sauced shellfish or chicken dishes.

Robert Oatley Signature Series Chardonnay ’13                90
Margaret River, Western Australia
350900 (v) $18.95
From the (cool-climate) bottom left corner of Australia, which produces some amazing wines: finely balanced fruit and oak play well together here and offer by turn white peach, grapefruit and nectarine nuances that dance on the palate. Great value.

Willy Gisselbrecht Tradition Gewurztraminer ’12                91
AC Alsace, France
928390 (v) $17.95
Softly aromatic and sensuous on nose and palate, fragrant with typical nuances of lychee, honey and ripe apricot, from one of Alsace’s oldest and most respected wine families. Serve with Oriental dishes and spicy foods.

Teliani Valley Medium-Sweet White 2013                88
Kakheti, Alazani Valley, Georgia
416750 (v) $11.95
Add a little sweetness to your life with wine from an ancient grape that was once seen as the great Canadian Wine Hope. Rkatsiteli from Georgia was brought into BC because it’s hardy and prolific. Here it’s honeyed, pleasant and offers lemon-apple and spiced peach nuances with a bready aftertaste. Pleasant sipping.

Dry Red Wines:

Grange of Prince Edward Estate Cabernet Franc 2011                88
VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario
173187 (v) $19.95
Plum, strawberry, raspberry and cherry with a tangy acidity and a sprinkle of fresh herbs, such as anise and sage. Not a bad combo! From a notably good cool-climate grape, Cab Franc, which ripens a couple of weeks earlier than Cab Sauv. A good effort from one of the pioneers of this emerging Ontario region.

Tawse Gamay Noir 2013                89
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
322545 (v) $18.95
A Beaujolais grown in Canada, you say. Yes, there’s the typical Band-Aid, bubble-gum note (love it or hate it) and the big fruit show of black cherry and shoe polish character. Drinkable now and ageable for 4-5 years but why wait?

Rosehall Run Cuvée County Pinot Noir 2011                90
VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario
225748 (v) $22.95
Beautifully balanced Pinot that’s every bit as good as a decent village Burgundy: cassis, cranberry, black cherry, strawberry and baking spices. Silky tannins and fresh acidity to complement a steak or burger.

Tarapaca Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2013Tarapaca Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2013                90
Leyda Valley, Chile
404210 (v) $17.95
There’s a perfectly ripe fruit quality here that endears the wine to us. Berry heaven with a whack of oaky vanilla, black licorice, and earthy-stony minerality for another dimension of flavor. White meats, fine steaks and warm salads.

Buena Vista Pinot Noir 2011                90
Carneros, California
304105 (v) $24.95
Big, brawny style of Pinot Noir that asserts its California-ness even though it’s now French-owned (Boisset of Burgundy). Not a wine for the faint of palate unless you love the cranberry and cherry part of the spectrum. In which case, yee-hah!

Dominio del Plata Limited Edition Red Blend ’13                90
Crios, Mendoza, Argentina
366146 (v) $14.95
From top winemaker Susana Balbo, a blend of Malbec, Bonarda, Tannat and Syrah that gets the job done. Winemakers love blends they can be creative with. Intense and complex with berry-cherry and chocolate leanings as well as some toasty new oak and vanilla. Hard not to love! Very good value!

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2012                90
Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
723478 (v) $19.95
From two selected vineyards, a quality Malbec that upholds Argentina’s talent for getting the most out of this ancient French grape variety. Black berry fruit and smooth tannins make this very gluggable, especially for us carnivores doing what we all love best.

Domaine Tournon Mathilda Shiraz 2012                90
M. Chapoutier, Victoria, Australia
327395 (v) $19.95
From that Chapoutier, the one in France’s Rhone Valley… Where they call it Syrah and make it in a more medium-bodied less in-your-face style. Playing away from home, Chapoutier has crafted an elegant plummy, smoky Shiraz with good heft and notes of black olives, tar and rose petals. And that can’t be bad!

Stella Bella Skuttlebutt Shiraz/Cabernet 2011                90
Margaret River, Western Australia
58131 (v) $18.95
Raspberry tart in a glass! This combo of Shiraz and Cab dances on your taste buds like Ginger and Fred and the cool-climate ambiance has imbued it with a similar black berry fruity elegance and a caress of fine oak.

Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2012Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2012                91
VQA Ontario
461699 (v) $24.95
One of the classic Ontario grapes and a signature of H of Pelham, Baco is a wonderful chocolate and berry wine with huge depth and delicious nuances of vanilla, licorice, cocoa and toasty oak. Think Shiraz from Australia with a finer, racier acidity.

Chateau le Doyenne 2011                91
AC Cotes de Bordeaux, France
416735 (v) $24.95
Just a wonderfully balanced and elegant claret. Typical Bordeaux hallmarks of cedar and pencil lead frame perfectly ripe mulberry, strawberry and cassis fruit nuances balanced on silky tannins and just a nudge of fine oak.

Chateau Tour Carmail 2010                90
Antoine Moueix, Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux
419002 LCBO $19.95
Midweight and easy to love with its Merlot-driven silky tannins and perfectly ripe Cabernet berry fruit, hints of graphite and cedar. No wonder we all love Bordeaux reds! They so often over-deliver.

Domaine des Tavans 2013                88
La Cave des Coteaux du Rhone, Cotes-du-Rhone Villages, France
414458 (v) $14.95
Terrific raspberry-inflected smoky fruity herbaceous Rhone Ranger. The famous Mediterranean garrigue – endless sunny scrublands of wild thyme, lavender, juniper, rosemary and sage – has done its good work here, helping season and create perfectly food-friendly wines from the classic trio of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

Chateau de Cenac Cuvée Prestige Malbec 2010                91
AC Cahors, France
414532 (v) $21.95
From the deep southwest of France, home of Malbec, now Argentina’s signature grape, comes the original Malbec, deep, dark, brooding and delicious. Still closed with hints of old oak, black olives and ancient minerals, there are signs of tomorrow’s vivid black berry fruit and complexity. One to cellar or serve only after serious decanting.

Grand Terroir les Aspres Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache 2011                90
Gerard Bertrand, Cotes du Roussillon, France
413245 (v) $18.95
Bertrand has sought out specific terroirs with enormous potential and this is one: again, garrigue and dry, austere conditions for concentrated wines of character. Black cherry, violets, raspberries and wild herbs come together in a terrific food-friendly red at a great price.

Barbi Brusco dei Barbi 2013                87
IGT Toscana, Italy
673160 (v) $15.95
Perfect earthy, spicy red to wash down the sizzling sausages, salume and rich pastas. There’s a little smoky note amid the dark fruit and new leather nuances. The price is right, too.

Finca Nueva Crianza 2009                90
DOCa Rioja, Spain
292763 (v) $16.95
Spain’s Tempranillo and Burgundy’s Pinot Noir have always had an affinity and the Pinot-like finesse is here in spades, or make that spoonfuls, of strawbs, cassis, plum and cherry. There’s a little vanilla and coconut dimension from aging in American oak and that’s great!

Tomas Cusine Llebre 2013                87
DO Costers del Segre, Spain
418558 (v) $15.95
Waiter, there’s a hare in my glass! Oh, it’s the wine. Yes, the label image does give it away, as does the name Llebre in Spanish. And jugged hare could be a good food match with the firm fruitiness and earthy minerality of this nicely crafted earthy-smoky bargain.

Sparkling Gems:

Cordillera Pinot Noir Brut Blanc de NoirCordillera Pinot Noir Brut Blanc de Noir                87
Miguel Torres, Methode Traditionnelle, Chile
404129 (v) $25.95
From the best known wine name in Spain, Torres, a Chilean bubbly that’s bright, fresh and full of spicy, ginger, citrus and orchard fruit delights. Beautifully balanced zippy acidity cleans the palate and there’s depth and minerality to please the connoisseur.

Pierre Sparr Brut Cremant d’Alsace                88
Methode Traditionnelle, France
416040 (v) $18.95
Toasty, bready and vibrant with hints of lemon curd and hay-apple fruitiness at a fabulous price point. From France’s cool northwest, Alsace, home of some of the most interesting varietal wines, in this case 100% Chardonnay.

Juve & Camps Cinta Purpura Reserva Brut ’11                89
DO Cava, Spain
352864 (v) $18.95
From another highly regarded boutique Cava house, this bubbly, too, sparkles above its weight, lighter in style but layered with a summer’s day’s worth of warm hay and dried grass notes as well as orchard fruit and a crisp grapefruit-lemon acidity.

Just Desserts:

Gonzalez Byass del Duque Amontillado                94
Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum, Sherry, Spain
694331 (v); 375 mL $38.95
A rare jewel indeed! A mosaic of complexity in 50 shades of gold: caramel, roasted nuts, church pew, honey, dried and candied fruits brought to a classic melange of intensity and sensory pleasure by more than 30 years of careful aging. A sip for the ages. With walnuts, smoked salmon or barbie stuff.

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