Summer 2016

(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

Pink and Dry

Sparkling Treasures

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:

Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay 2013                93
Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, St David’s Bench
$22.95 from the winery
Delivers wonderful crème brulée, freshly toasted brioche, ripe pear, banana-citrus and vanilla aromas and flavors to match. Buttery and silky on the palate. Barrel-fermented, barrel aged and toasty in the Old World style. Michele Bosc’s pick for the perfect lobster wine! And don’t miss Bosc’s lovely 2014 Estate Pinot Noir from the same vineyard which rates 92: delicate, nuanced and superbly food friendly with silky notes of violets, brambles and cassis. A Sunday wine. Think herb-crusted lamb, rib eye and salmon steaks. $35 from the winery.

La Griffe Bernard Chereau 2014                90
Muscadet de Sevre & Maine Sur Lie, Loire, France
948182 (v) $16.95
If you could squeeze lemon and grapefruit juice out of a stone this would be the result. A more austere wine would be hard to find, yet the saline, herbaceous minerality and sheer elegance of this ultra-dry Atlantic coast white are pure seafood/shellfish nirvana.

Domaine Lafage Cadireta Blanc 2014                88
IGP Cotes Catalanes, France
448472 (v) $16.95
Blending a little aromatic Viognier into 95% Chardonnay gives a lovely floral lift with hints of banana, apricot and vanilla to a wine with a touch of toasty new oak barrel-aging. Think moules frites, veal blanquette, raclette and couscous.

Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2013                88
VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula
5686347 (v) $24.95
From a venerable Niagara vineyard site away from the lake and the river, a Chard that’s silky-smooth, inflected with vanilla, melon-oak and buttered figs, finishing with a ripe, cedar-tinged grace note. Drink over the next 4 years.

Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling 2014Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling 2014                90
Edra’s Vineyard, VQA Niagara Peninsula, ON
67587 (v) $17.95
Just slightly off-dry and very food friendly (think Asian) showing intriguing tangerine, lime zest, wet stone and binned pear-apple notes, this is a nicely aromatic and elegant Riesling for early drinking.

Dirty Laundry Secret Affair 2014                87
BC VQA Okanagan Valley
464115 (v) $19.95
Peach, pear, honeydew and citrus: promises, promises! Dirty Laundry has done it again. The tantalizing label does deliver all this and more. A tropical-fruit slightly off-style blend of Sauvignon, Pinot, Viognier and Gewurz is not exactly subtle and elegant but it’s everyday sipping enjoyment. Dirty Laundry’s website’s worth a visit, too!

McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2015                90
Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia
724492 (v) $19.95
There’s a wonderful oiliness and flavor intensity about Hunter Semillon: it’s a wonderfully ageable combo of lanolin, lemon oil, grapefruit, lemongrass and Granny Smith apple that never fails to delight. No need for oak aging here and there was none: only stainless steel tanks and cool fermentation.

Baron de Hoen Reserve Pinot Blanc 2014                89
AC Alsace, France
446419 (v) $13.95
From one of those unbelievably cute half-timbered wineries along the Alsace Wine Route yet inside it’s a state of the art operation at Beblenheim Cellars – and quality is king! Softly ripe and perfectly proportioned floral peach-tinged and slightly spritzy. Great with fresh fish dishes and Asian cuisine, or on its own. Today.

Babich Black Label Pinot Gris 2014                90
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
447417 (v) $19.95
Sleek, smoothly made and full-bodied. Ginger, gooseberry, green pepper and quince lead the attack, with help from pear-peach compote, passion fruit and cut grass/floral notes. Here’s a perfect partner for scallops, seafood and poultry. Now to 2021.

Nals Margreid Pinot Grigio 2014                91
DOC Sudtirol/Alto Adige, Italy
290924 (v) $16.95
Dry and zesty with zippy lime-lemon aromas, undertones of almonds and stewed rhubarb on the palate and hints of pineapple on the finish. Very good value from Italy’s northernmost wine region as a wine to enjoy right now. From 80-year-old vines gently handled in a super-modern winery.

Framingham Sauvignon Blanc 2015                92
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
606848 (v) $18.95
A touch of oak barrel aging lends complexity to this nicely concentrated Loire Valley style of NZ Savvy. There’s a yellow plum and chalky mineral note running through the rich, tropical fruit range, from passion fruit to red currants. With oysters, seafood and vegetarian dishes.

Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2015                88
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
919514 (v) $19.95
That good old cat pee on a gooseberry bush! It’s here again. When New Zealand crashed the world stage with this style 15 years ago, it was all the rage. Many of the Kiwi styles of Sauvignon have moved on now to milder pastures, but here’s a bit of a throwback. For faithful fans of the genre.

Marimar Estate Acero Chardonnay 2014                88
Don Miguel Vyd., Russian River Valley, Sonoma
383943 (v) $34.95
Named for the patriarch, Marimar’s father, this superb site yields rich, intense wines: California Chardonnay at its best, a cornucopia of mango, lychee, fig, vanilla and lemon butter riffs on a tropical fruit core. Perfectly ripe fruit untouched by oak barrel influences. Now to 2020.

Hogue Gewürztraminer 2014                87
Columbia Valley, Washington
461137 (v) $14.95
Add a little spice to your life with this lovely Gewürz (the German word for spice!)! Honey, apple, melon, peach and lychee vie for your attention. There’s a slight minerality and fresh acidity and this is great with South Asian dishes.

Alta Vista Classic Torrontes 2015                88
Salta, Argentina
450478 (v) $17.95
Speaking of spice, the Torrontes grape could be Argentina’s response to Europe’s Gewürz! There’s more of an orange blossom, lemon oil and white peach accent here, although the lychee and Muscat elements come through nicely, too. Versatile summer wine, indeed.

Dry Red Wines:

Moraine Cliffhanger Red 2014                90
BC VQA Okanagan Valley
464131 (v) $24.95
Moraines are rocks and soil once carried along by ancient glaciers and, in this case, the geology (and vineyards) slope nicely down towards Lake Okanagan. The wine isn’t a cliffhanger surprise: it’s competent and delicious, a blend of Malbec and Merlot that tastes of crème de cassis, chocolate and savoury spices. Think pizza, pasta and grilled sausages.

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Merlot 2012                88
Sonoma County, California
962217 (v) $26.95
Mostly Merlot with a smidge of Malbec and Cabernet, this K-J delivers new leather, black plum, cherry and blueberry pie pleasures in a smooth fruity package finished off with a little cocoa powder flourish. Carnivore heaven.

Vignoble des Robinieres l’Alouette 2014Vignoble des Robinieres l’Alouette 2014                90
AC Bourgueil, Loire, France
450494 (v) $19.95
A masterpiece of the underrated Cabernet Franc, earlier ripening sibling of more highly regarded Cab Sauvignon. Cab F has a distinctive tobacco-smoky note, fleshy, elegant blackcurrant character, light to medium weight and fine balance. Perfect with anything barbecued or grilled.

Domaine des Versauds 2012                86
AC Morgon, Beaujolais, Georges Duboeuf, France
424879 (v) $19.95
Savoury, slightly bitter with kirsch-like fruitiness, fig jam, cherry, strawberry and red currant puree – from the Gamay, another underrated variety that blossoms in Beaujolais and also in cool-climate Ontario. From Beaujolais’ most iconic producer.

Rhiannon 2014                88
466995 (v) $19.95
An unusual blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Barbera that delivers a berry ripe array of flavors backed by hints of dark chocolate, toasty oak, cherries, raspberry, mocha and new leather. Delicious everyday drinking pleasure at a fair price.

Castle Rock Pinot Noir 2014                88
Willamette Valley, Oregon
366880 (v) $23.95
Rich, thick and juicy – like a good steak! And a good carnivore’s partner, too. Cinnamon, clove, cherry and pomegranate flavors are framed by smooth tannins and supported by fresh acidity that makes your mouth water. Drinking well now.

Chateau d’Angles Classique Mourvedre/Syrah/Grenache 2012                90
AC La Clape, Languedoc, France
286484 (v) $17.95
From that lovely appellation whose name always causes titters among Les Anglais. Made by talented chef/entrepreneur Eric Fabre, this typical southern French red is sweetly ripe, drinking dry, full of sunshine, new leather, bramble berries and baking spices. Keep one on the kitchen counter!

Chateau Rigaud 2012                90
AP Faugeres, France
393561 (v) $16.95
A rugged schist-heavy southern geology that retains the prolific heat of the sun, with south-facing slopes, where winemakers say their grapes ripen “overnight”, yielding rounded, mature wines with soft tannins. In this case, black licorice, grilled toast and baking spices as well as black plums and black currants. Great value to enjoy now.

Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres Grenache/Mourvedre/Syrah 2013           90
AC Cotes du Roussillon, France
413245 (v) $18.95
Another terroir-driven red from rugby international Bertrand: grown on the sun-drenched foothills of the Pyrenees (aspres is arid in Catalan), it has licorice, smoke and garrigue scents on a core of chocolate and black fruit flavors. Full bodied and smooth.

Estate Papaioannou Single Vineyard Agiorgitiko 2010                88
AP Nemea, Greece
47977 (v) $20.95
The closest you’ll come to tasting After Eight mints while drinking wine! Not a bad thought. Along with cherry, blackberry and plum, that’s not bad. From a pioneering family in Nemea, the ancient Greek wine region, and delicious with beef, pork or chicken.

Pietra Pura Mandus 2013                93
DOP Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia, Italy
216457 (v) $16.95
Raspberry and mocha. Got you, so far? There’s a touch of pipe tobacco, saddle leather, vanilla and fig jam in there, too. The possible ancestor of California’s Zinfandel, Primitivo can rise to starry heights as a robust, lip-smacking red. This one does.

Ferruccio Deiana Sileno 2012                89
DOC Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, Italy
455600 (v) $18.95
Sweet cherry compote and blackberry puree kick off the proceedings with a nod to white pepper, black licorice and mocha. Cannonau in Sardinia is Grenache or Garnacha, brought from Aragon by Spanish conquerors in the 14th C. The wines tend to be high in anthocyanins and polyphenols, antioxidant-rich compounds linked to heart health.

Brancaia Tre 2013                91
IGT Toscana, Italy
164715 (v) $23.95
Drinking beautifully now, a lovely mid-weight Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet with new leather, black berry fruit and bright acidity – great as a food match – pasta with red sauces, grilled fish, grilled lamb or ham.

Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo 2013                87
DOC Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore, Italy
165662 (v) $20.95
Mid-weight strawberry and black cherry driven with a little saddle leather, cigar box, subtle oak, tobacco, plum and tar on the side. From a “repassing” of the young wine over dried Amarone grapes and all the better for that! With anything Italian!

Casa de Mouraz Tinto 2011Casa de Mouraz Tinto 2011                90
DOC Dao, Portugal
456079 (v) $20.95
From one of Portugal’s hottest new table wine regions – Dao. Smoke and vanilla lead the way in a juicy and lip-smacking leather and plum kind of wine. Barbecue, grills and smoky ribs lie in this wine’s future – and yours!

Confidencial Reserva 2012                90
Casa Santos Lima, Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal
452789 (v) $14.95
Juicy, fresh and fruity everyday favorite, with fine acidity and a solid core of red berries, leather, soft acidity and soft, leathery tannins. Good to go now with a good steak and will be excellent over the next five years.

Cims del Montsant Garnatxa/Carinyena 2010                88
DO Montsant, Spain
311894 (v) $15.95
Smoky blackcurrant and old leather, some herbaceous notes, hints of licorice and baking spices. Some strawberry and earthiness with a hit of blueberry on the palate. May be at its peak now and not a cellar keeper, but good today with fine steaks.

Gordo Tinto 2012                90
Vinos del Atlantico, DO Yecla, Spain
432435 (v) $18.95
A hot wine from a hot spot! A Monastrell-Cabernet blend organically grown on chalk and limestone showing pencil lead, black raspberry and ripe blueberry – full bodied enough to enjoy with blue cheeses, spicy stews, BBQ wings, pulled pork and other spicy stuff!

Tenuta Sant’Antonio Monti Garbi Ripasso 2013                91
DOC Valpolicella Superiore, Veneto, Italy
29850 (v) $19.95
This Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara wine is added to a cask with the skins and lees from Amarone wines. The “repassing” gives color, texture and flavor. It also ups the alcohol. Result: peppery savory, cherry, beefy notes with lots of red berry flavors. All for under 20 bucks!

Pink and Dry:

Chateau Gassier Le Pas du Moine Rosé 2015                89
AP Cotes de Provence, Sainte-Victoire, France
450874 (v) $21.95
Peach pie comes to mind as you sip this beauty. Hints of Mediterranean garrigue (lavender, thyme, etc.) from a mishmash of local Provence grapes, but elegant and beautifully dry. Salmon or poultry.

Chateau d’Aqueria 2015                90
AP Tavel, France
319368 (v) $21.95
A smoky and serious Rhône Valley wine from multiple Rhône grapes lightly fermented into a bright, well balanced food-friendly dry pink. One of the world’s great rosés and we love ‘em. Curry, poultry, bouillabaisse…Asian.

Sparkling Treasures:

Cathedral Cellar Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine 2010Cathedral Cellar Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine 2010                90
WO Western Cape, South Africa
462762 (v) $16.95
A fine mousse from 100% Chardonnay fermented in the bottle, Champagne style. There’s a Key lime, hay-straw note to the bouquet and attractive pear-apple compote core on the palate. Tremendous value and likeable style for everyday enjoyment.

Laboure-Gontard Brut                91
AC Cremant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France
401018 (v) $20.95
Made by the Champagne method, using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, for one-third of the Champers price. Vivid and bright, fresh and delicious with citrus, lime zest and grilled toast on the nose and lemons and sea salt on the palate. Another great value for immediate pleasure.

De Castelnau Blanc de Blancs 2002                89
AC Champagne, France
439315 (v) $75.95
Note the vintage! Well and truly aged and ready to go: it has the gout Anglais, that intriguing back end of the bell curve, full of complex biscuit-forest floor aromas and flavors. There’s a lively thread of citrus crispness that makes this food-friendly or an aperitif today or three years from now.

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