Food & WineSip & Savour

Sip & Savour

Sip & Savour

I hate to say it but summer is coming to a close. Labour Day has passed, the kids are ensconced in school and we close up the cottage for another season. For wine, it’s shoulder season, a confusing time. Do we begin to stock up on winter warmers or do we take the plunge with a few more refreshing whites for that last gasp of warmth we hope autumn will bring? Thankfully, we can do both.

The LCBO, that liquor monopoly, is pulling double duty this month.  It will promote the heck out of the world of wine in Vintages, but will also deem it appropriate to promote wines closer to home (mighty big of them).

To continue celebrating the summer, pick up a bottle of some French sparkling wine. At a third the price of Champagne, the Monmousseau Brut Rosé Crémant de Loire ($16.95 - #0226233) is a beauty of a celebratory beverage at a price that you can afford to enjoy every night, or at least every weekend. A dusting of peach and apple are met with a hint of raspberry in this creamy, moussy and lovely bubbly. As for a winter warmer, look to Port. Bargains in this department can be found in a Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) number. The wine is aged longer in cask so it’s ready to drink sooner than the more pricey Vintage numbers. Dow's 2005 LBV ($16.95 - #0613927) is full of spice, plum black cherry and chocolate. Nothing beats a glass in front of a roaring fire in the dead of winter.

Still in summer mode? Then look for one of my best buy selections of the release. Ventisquero 2010 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc ($12.95 - #0211904), with lots of sweet grass and sweet citrusy-grapefruit – really reminiscent of summer. Winter wonderlands won't be complete without the Cline 2009 Ancient Vine Carignon ($19.95 - #0032177), this perennial favourite is lush, deep and rich with big bold flavours full of plum, blackberry, cherry, vanilla and chocolate, and the alcohol usually hits around 15%.

Riesling, to me, says summertime, and nothing says Riesling more than a mineral-laced Mosel wine from Germany: St. Urban-Hof 2009 Riesling Kabinett ($21.95 - #0216622) Peach and apple are interlaced with mineral and hints of sweetness ... a pure sipper for lay-your-head-back enjoyment.  If summer is dead to you then look for the South African Lammerchoek 2006 Roulette ($25.95 - #0058164) to smash through cold weather blahs. It's a blend of 5 grapes full of winter-warming pleasure: black fruit and mocha with enough spice to bring it all together.

Not ready to wave goodbye to heat or welcome the cold just yet? Then enjoy the shoulder season with this amazing buy: A to Z Wineworks 2006 Chemin de Terre ($14.95 - #0234742).This 7-grape blend from Oregon is sure to wow and will nicely bridge the gap between summer and winter.

As we land back on Canadian soil, Ontario has been deemed worthy enough to get its own release and these choices should be in store by mid-September.

Fans of bubbly should be sure to put their hands on a bottle (or three) of 13th Street Premier Cuvee ($29.95 - #0142679) with its nutty and baked apple smells and toasty-nutty palate that finishes with apple and lemon zest.

I know people who say Ontario is their go-to-place for whites and you'll find a number of reasons why. Try the Cave Spring 2009 Estate Chardonnay ($18.95 - #0256552), a soft yet fruity Chardonnay with a mineral note running down the seam; Featherstone 2010 Black Sheep Riesling ($16.95 – #0080234) named after the Ewe-nionized labour that tends its vines. This wine has a citrus melon core that's irresistible. Finally, in the white wine category, there is another of Niagara's famed Rieslings: Fielding 2010 ($18.95 – #0251439). This one is a chock-o-block of fruit and has a nice acid balance.

I hope you don't write off Ontario reds as lightweights as the 2010 vintage is shaping up to be another 2007, but 2009 is no write-off, especially for those who love Pinot Noir or red blends with character.  Case in point? Try Coyote's Run 2009 Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir ($24.95 - #0079228) pretty floral and red fruited with cranberry, raspberry, strawberry and beet root on the palate. Lailey 2009 Pinot Noir ($25.00 - #0591404) is traditional in nature with more cranberry and earthy nuances and also adds clove, cinnamon, beet root and earthy-strawberry on the palate. It is a touch lean but quite good. Rosewood's 2009 Pinot Noir ($20.00 - #0112177) straddles somewhere between the Coyote and the Lailey. It takes the pretty nose adds black cherry then continues it all into the mouth with hints of earth and spice, very intense flavour.

Finally, these two blends should impress even those not fond of Ontario's vinous output.  Henry of Pelham's 2009 Family Tree ($19.95 - #0247882) a new label line for the Pelham boys has dominating red berries on the nose while the darker fruit inhabits the palate and good balancing acidity making it go well with a variety of foods. Ontario's first Wine Access Winery of the Year recipient, Tawse, shows us why it took that honour with the Sketches of Niagara 2009 Cabernet-Merlot ($19.95 - #0130252) pepper, blackberry and cassis hit the nose with a bang and pleases the palate.

So, pop open a bottle and enjoy a red or white and enjoy a season — whichever one you end up choosing.

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