Winter 2010

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:

Château des Charmes Riesling, Estate Bottled ’08    91
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
61499 LCBO $12.45
From the original vines Paul Bosc planted in 1978, here’s an aristocrat among Rieslings, elegantly dry with a vibrant tang of pear-citrus, refreshing and very food-friendly, especially with dim sum, white meats and delicate fish dishes. Selected as the LCBO’s VQA “Superstar”.

Vineland St. Urban Reisling '07Vineland Estates St Urban Riesling ’07    90
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
38117 (v) $20.00
Elegance and finesse and a low, 9%, alcohol with a supporting cast of racy, limey minerality and nuances of melon, pear and Granny Smith.

Domdechant Werner Riesling Kabinett ’07    90
QmP Hochheimer Hölle, Rheingau, Germany
722418 (v) $19.95
Pristine off-dry Riesling with yellow plum and persimmon aromas and refined melon-pear and Granny Smith flavor nuances. Hoch, of course, gave the English the name Hock for those lovely old whites from Germany.

Agnus dei Albariño ’08    89
DO Rías Baixas, Spain
146241 (v) $17.95
Steely, razor-sharp mineral scented whites from the cool northwest Atlantic coast of Spain with no barrel influence – get the shellfish/seafood ready kinds of whites. The lamb of God wouldn’t be a good food match, trust me! Mussels and clams are OK, too!

Masseria Altemura Fiano ’08    88
IGT Salento, Italy
159475 (v) $13.95
Change of pace with the ancient Fiano grape of Campania, here grown in Puglia to good effect. Crisp, bold, slightly nutty, with apple, grapefruit and herbaceous notes and a hint of bitters on the finish. Poultry perfect now to 2013.

Reif Estate Pinot Grigio ’08    87
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
118513 (v) $16.95
Complex and charming with quite aromatic aspirations: Bosc pear, Delicious apple and Chinese melon with a dash of muscat and no contact with oak, therefore crisp and fresh. To enjoy right now with honey chicken, pork kebabs and sushi.

Domaine Wachau Gruner VeltlinerDomäne Wachau Terraces Grüner Veltliner ’08    88
Wachau, Austria
155812 (v) $15.95
You could have knocked me over with a foil-cutter when I saw the price. Affordable and Austria in the same sentence, 16 bucks! Grüner, Gru-Vee as promoted to the hip crowd, is a great, racy white grape, silky, racy, floral, rich in kiwi-melon aromas and crisp citrus. Well, hello, and welcome!

Planalto Reserva Branco ’08    87
DOC Douro, Portugal
586420 (v) $13.95

From a mix of local grapes grown on a high plateau above the river and made without any oak contact by powerhouse Sogrape in a crisp, floral style with some yellow plum, quince, citrus and apple with a sniff of chamomile. Shellfish, seafood and white meats. Now to 2014.

Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc ’08    87
Nelson, S Island, New Zealand
694737 (v) $15.95
One reason the Kiwis are flooding the wine markets in Australia with SB is – it’s different! In this case, the fresh-squeezed tomato leaf aromas added to the pungent flavors of green pepper, rhubarb and green pea and citrus zest taste profile would provide a clue. Goat cheese souffle is the preferred food match here. Get yours now!

Don Cristóbal 1492 Chardonnay ’09    90
Mendoza, Argentina
144402 (v) $11.95
Exceptional value and delicious, impressive wine. Unoaked, crisp and lightly citrus on the attack with pear, apple and nectarine on the palate. Food friendly and a swell aperitif. Now before the recession ends! 1492, by the way is when Columbus set the first European foot in the New World.

Backsberg Chardonnay ’09    88
WO Paarl, S Africa
156661 (v) $16.95
Light, fresh, vibrant and super-crisp fruity refresher with the requisite apple-peach-melon creaminess and this time without the toasty oak. Mevushal.

Peller Estates Private Reserve Chardonnay ’07    88
VQA Okanagan Valley, BC
6182989 (v) $17.95
Is 100% more ripe, exotic and tropical-fruit style than the Backsberg, the product of a warmer location and vintage – it’s also oak aged, giving an extra butterscotch, popcorn layer on the palate. Yummy, as they say in Canadian Living! Think fruit-sauced dishes or BBQ back ribs. Ready now.

Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay ’07    91
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
33910 (v) $40.00
Burgundy prices, I know, but they say a great Burgundy will cost you $250: $50 each for the so-so first four and $50 for the Great One. Meanwhile, here’s reliably one of North America’s best and it’s a doozy. High in glycerol, sleek as an eel, subtle as toasted hazelnuts and white fruit so integrated you could say applepeachmelon and not be wrong. A soupçon of new oak and voilà! Now to 2023.

Croix de Montceau St-Véran ’08    87
Terres Secrètes, St-Véran, Burgundy, France
159046 (v) $21.95
Lemon, nectarine and green and Mac apple are at the heart of this well-made Chard. Nice citrus-floral aromas and now drinkability. Enjoy this lightly oaked Chardonnay today to 2014.

Domaine de Chevallier ’07    89
Claude & Jean-Louis Chevallier, Chablis, France
112227 (v) $22.95
Shuck those oysters, right now! And any other interesting seafood or shellfish. Here’s their match made in steely white wine heaven. Citrus-pear mineral with a racy acidity to sanctify fruits de mer. Now to whenever it runs out.

Trius White ’08    86
VQA Ontario, Hillebrand Estates
54957 (v) $19.95
This one put me in a Conundrum, as in melange of highly aromatic grapes that say lychee, muscat, mango, papaya, as well as citrus, pear, apple. Unexpected in a winery’s standard white offering, I thought. A fellow writer opined this as a bold effort to create an Ontario style. Might surprise a few customers, I thought. Think Thai, spicy dishes.

Grandes Serres Les Portes du Castelas ’08    89
Côtes du Rhône Blanc, France
103697 (v) $13.95
Intense Bosc pear suffuses this bone dry, mineral-driven crowd pleaser with its floral, honeyed aromatics. Great value and perfect with spicy roast chicken, Thai pad, or mildly spiced white fish dishes.

Alsace Willm Gewurztraminer ’08    90
Alsace, France
156745 (v) $26.95 Kosher
Seems a tad pricey but you’re getting an amazing, exotic spice-scented flavor bomb of roses, violets, winter melon, lychee, mango and Muscat magic in a glass. It’s labeled as 16% alcohol although that doesn’t (fortunately) show through on the subtle palette of pleasures. Dry and perfect with Thai, Moroccan or Indian. Now to 2014.


Five Stones Shiraz/Cabernet Rosé ’09    89
Beckett’s Flat, Margaret River, W Australia
120006 (v) $21.95 Kosher
Just slightly off-dry and a fine way to inhale wild strawberry, red currant aromas while you quench a thirst alongside tapas, mezes and toasted hazelnuts. Spring forward with this cutie.

Ogier Rosé ’09    88
Côtes du Ventoux, France
134916 LCBO $11.95
Elegantly delicious (90), dry, delicate, redolent of wild strawberries, fresh cake spices and crushed elderberries. Enjoy today with fresh spring salads, grilled shrimp, chicken.

Dry Red Wines:

Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Franc '07Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc, Estate Bottled ’07    92
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
277236 LCBO $13.95
An exceptional warm, dry growing season delivered grapes brimming with flavor, concentration and finesse. Nine months in French oak has added spice and smoke without masking the seductive cassis and blackberry fruit at the core. Ageable five years but delicious now with pork loin, New York steak, rabbit and feathered game.

Elvi Wines Ness ’07    86
DO Ribera del Júcar, Spain
156729 (v) $16.95 Kosher
Smoky red currant, strawberry, incense, cedar and new leather on the nose, bramble, mixed berries and musky underbrush on the tongue, from Tempranillo, Bobal, lots of Merlot, and Cabernet grapes. Júcar is in Cuenca, central Spain, and the river flows through rugged country to the Med. Hope to see more wines from here.

Terres d’Avignon Les Cardinalices Grande Reserve ’07    88
Côtes du Rhône, France
155473 (v) $14.95
Hints of new leather and rare beef on the nose, with cherry and hazelnut hovering by. The fruit core on the palate is stewed red and black berries with hints of vanilla and a touch of marzipan. Still in its youth with 6-8 good years to go, with rich stews, osso buco, confit of duck.

Domaine de Dieumercy ’07    89
Côtes du Rhône, France
155507 (v) $12.95
Leather, warm earth, licorice and thyme usher in this ripe and rewarding red. Black fruit and a splash of ripe strawberry on the palate with fine tannins and a refreshing acidity that pairs well with stews, roasts and pizza or tomato-based pasta.

Les Vignerons de Roaix ’07    91
Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France
156000 (v) $13.95
A haven of black fruit, sour cherries, ripe plums, fresh road tar, slight gaminess, rosemary and thyme – you’re in the South of France and that’s the smell of the great outdoors! Throw that herb-encrusted leg of Ontario lamb in the oven now and settle back for a feast. Now to 2018.

Les Vignerons du Castelas Vieilles Vignes Signargue ’07    89
Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France
34116 (v) $17.95
Exuberant, youthful and bursting with aromas/flavors of strawberry, blackberry, black cherry, thyme, rosemary, black pepper and craisins. A winner at the respected Vinsobres fair and priced to move you. Now to 2015 and will open in the glass or with early decanting.

Mas de Bressades Cuvée Tradition ’08    87
AC Costières de Nîmes, France
143099 (v) $14.95
Hefty aromas of leather and roast meat signal a “serious” wine, a Syrah/Grenache blend aged in tank rather than barrel and decidedly berry fruit-forward with gentle tannins and a lush, silky vanilla finish. Jeans wearers know Nîmes as the place denim originated and this wine fits your budget, too!

Domaine Coudoulis ’06    89
Lirac, France
155531 (v) $18.95
Like a bouncing baby Châteauneuf, showing whiffs of menthol and basilic that frame intense core flavors of black fruit, cassis, chocolate, thyme and sunburned earth. Its red earth vineyard littered with giant pebbles (galets) reflects and hoards sunlight on the right bank of the Rhone. Good genes!

Domaine du Peloux ’07    89
Vacqueyras, France
143081 (v) $19.95
A dry wine yet with sweetly ripe fruit, dark chocolate, figs, spring flowers and silky tannins that flatters the palate and tickles the fancy. Perfect partner for Ontario lamb, venison, and feathered game. Or tomato-based pasta. Now to 2015.

Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2005    90
DOC Veneto, Italy
0413179(v) $49.95
Rich, rotund and delicious, majestic (16.5% alc), almost chewable, like liquid dried fruits, chocolate, raisins and cola, with a pleasant bitter almond grace note, made from the sun-ripened and then raisined fruit of Verona’s classic Corvina grape, with a smidge of Rondinella and Sangiovese. Mushroom risotto with white truffles would be nice.

Canalicchio di Sopra ’03Canalicchio di Sopra ’03    93
Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
125070 (v) $47.95
Traditionally made at a small family winery, this is a vibrant, full-bodied and palate-coating Brunello for careful ageing: as sweetly ripe as roast chestnuts with new leather and cherry shoe polish on the nose. Packed with black fruit notes and rich tannins. Big and splendid.

Maxwell Silver Hammer Shiraz ’08    88
McLaren Vale, S Australia
89599 (v) $19.95
The Beatles’ song reference was lost on a fellow writer and I felt 1,000 years old... There is a bang, bang, bang of powerfully ripe, juicy Shiraz, however, at work in this spicy, mocha-infused rocker, with a kiss of sweet American oak for luck. Fire up the barbie and toss on a side of beef!

Santa Julia Reserva Syrah ’08    87
Mendoza, Argentina, Famiglia Zuccardi
127613 (v) $13.95
A more mellow take on the Shiraz grape, piccolo vs tuba, perhaps, and none the worse for that. Nice berry aromas and rich, perfectly ripe cassis, elderberry and black cherry core flavors. Soft tannins and just a hint of oak set this up to pair with spring lamb, veal stew or game birds.

Cono Sur Visión Syrah ’07    89
Colchagua Valley, Block Los Lingues, Chile
24661 (v) $15.95
Across the Andes, this Syrah has a spectrum more bramble, plum and blackberry, with a lilt of black olive and cracked pepper. Well made, well priced, now to 2015 with gourmet burgers, grilled salmon and lamb chops. Cono Sur, connoisseur. Get it?

Evans & Tate Cabernet/Merlot ’04    89
Margaret River, W Australia
721548 (v) $14.95
A tad restrained though very elegant for the price, this midweight contender is suave and generous, showing black berry fruit, black olive and a sunny disposition. Should be enjoyed this spring and summer with great roasts and steaks.

Van Ruiten Old Vine Zinfandel ’07    88
Lodi, California
58685 (v) $18.95
Big wine, medium price, good value, flavor galore including craisin, prune, cracked black pepper, cassis and especially, bacon! Yes, this must have been made with baconium, a recently discovered element that’ll have you coming back for more! Serve by the jugful with anything barbecued.

Domaine du Grand Tinel ’07    92
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
993964 (v) $35.95
Splendid vintage and a gorgeous rendering of this Rhône classic. Vanilla, roasted herbs, plums, mixed berries, cracked black pepper, dark chocolate and raspberry liqueur leap out of the glass and caress your taste buds. A New World take on a fine tradition. Now to 2022.

Sparkling Gems:

Elvi Wines Cava Adar Brut    87
DO Ribera del Júcar, Spain
156737 (v) $17.95 Kosher
Toasty, sprightly and full of fun, citrus and apple aromas to the fore with a hint of toasted hazelnuts. From Spain’s regular Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada grapes and made to celebrate the pleasures of every day, with or without food. Made in the traditional method, i.e. like Champagne.

Just Desserts:

Château des Charmes Late Harvest Riesling, Estate Bottled ’07    91
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
432930 LCBO $21.95 375mL
Harvested in October, not frigid December, this wine as a movie could be “Icewine, the Prequel”. Fantastic value as a subtle Icewine understudy. This Gold Medallist from the 2009 Ontario Wine Awards was 100% stainless-steel fermented and aged using a yeast specifically matched to Riesling. Think apricots, marmalade and fresh lemons. Alone, over berries or with chocolate.

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