There are two wines that were released by the LCBO in June that you’ll need to do a little digging around for but they are well worth the effort. Starting with a sweetie from Spain: Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro ($16.95 / 500ml – #642173). Why this one? Simply put, it’s something you won’t soon forget with candied-spiced and caramelized orange peel that are so silky and smooth and luscious in the mouth. This wine makes its way into Vintages every four to six months or so, keeping your eye out for it. You won’t regret it. It’s underpriced for what you get (****½). It’s a perfect after-dinner indulgence, especially in the fall and winter, so get some to have on hand. My other back-dated selection is a little more season-appropriate. It’s a Chardonnay from Burgundy, Chardonnay’s traditional birthplace. Now, you usually hear Chardonnay and Burgundy in the same sentence and open your wallet wide. But I have found this exception: Mallory & Benjamin Talmard Mâcon-Uchizy 2011 ($14.95 – #733956). It’s got everything good Chardonnay should have except the high price tag. Search it out. You won’t be disappointed (****+).
I like to kick things off with a little bubbly. Always keeping an eye out for a good one under $20. The July 6 release has just the one. A traditional method from Burgundy, known as Crémant or Sparkling. This Crémant de Bourgogne: Cave de Lugny Cuvée Millésime Brut 2010 ($18.95 – #183764) is refreshing, fruity and bubbly with lime and apple as the focus.(****).
White wine fans, and especially Sauvignon Blanc lovers, should fall over backwards for the Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($21.95 – #735043) from New Zealand. Now before you start saying: “I’ve had my share of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc”, let me assure you this is not your typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It mixes grapefruit with some tropical fruit, then adds touches of herbalness. It’s more subtle than what usually comes out of Marlborough (****+).
Looking to buy local? There are two reds from Château des Charmes. Both are worthy of a look and taste and both are from the fabulous 2010 vintage.The Old Vines Cabernet Merlot ($19.95 – #222372) and the Gamay Noir ‘Droit’ ($16.95 – #346742); one is for drinking now (the Gamay), while the other can be held a few years – scoring is (****) and (****+), respectively.
Looking outside our borders? The Two Hands 2010 Yesterday’s Hero Grenache ($29.95 – #009506) is a lush, smooth and supple affair that just sings of juiciness in the glass (****). If you’ve never heard of Grenache, then you’ll want to try something a little more traditional in the Grenache department. Head to the Spanish section where you’ll find it to be a staple grape of the country’s winemaking (either as a blend or stand-alone grape) They refer to it as “Garnacha” and you’ll want pick up the Pinyolet Garnacha 2011 ($17.95 – #271791). This one’s sweet of fruit with strawberry and cherry and even has hints of red licorice. There’s also a mineral component that keeps the fruit very much in check so as not to overwhelm (****+). This one can be enjoyed by those familiar with the grape and by novices.
Moving on to the July 20 release: you’ll want to start your search of the shelves for a Chardonnay out of New Zealand by Nautilus, the 2011 to be exact ($24.95 – #657569). Here you’ll find a real nice caramel apple sweetness in the wine, but it’s balanced with citrus-style acidity leading to a melon-vanilla finish; perfect for cool nights and seafood dinners – lobster with butter sauce or lemon-herb salmon anyone? (****+)
It has been some time since a really juicy Merlot has crossed my palate but those looking for one may want to pick up the Sebastiani Merlot 2009 ($32.95 – #672659). It features juicy blueberry and blackberry with generous notes of cherry (****). Speaking of juiciness, you’ll want to try Argentina’s second gift to red wine lovers, next to Malbec, Bonarda. When done right, this can be a quaffable BBQ red for not a lot of money. The Las Moras Black Label Bonarda 2010 ($15.95 – #260901) fits the bill nicely with cherries and chocolate, mocha and blackberry, all with hints of vanilla backing it up. This one is “juicy, juicy, juicy” (as Cary Grant would say). You’ll want to pick up a few bottles as it will go fast (****+).
Shiraz drinkers need look no further than the Sister’s Run Epiphany 2011, another $15.95 gem, (#269464). This consistent Shiraz producer never fails to put a little finesse into the bottle.There’s always something intriguing about their wines that you just can’t quite put your finger on but you know good when you taste it. This one really is a tour-de-force of interesting flavours: eucalyptus leads things off, heads into the lots-of-fruit department before taking a hard right into chocolate-town on the finish (****+).
I am a fan of Rhône Valley wines. The price-to-quality ratio is usually outstanding, especially from the good producers. M. Chapoutier is one such producer and the Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem 2010 ($24.95 – #643239) is one of those wines. It is exquisite and complex with a fruit-to-tannin balance that’s near perfect, this bottle shows real finesse. Pull this one out to impress over the next five to seven years (****½).
Besides the Rhône, regular readers will know my love of Zinfandel and the next best thing to California Zin is its kissing cousin, Primitivo, usually found in Puglia, Italy.Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria 2010 ($19.95 – #261784) Cherry and chocolate mix with cola and vanilla for a near Zinful experience – break out the BBQ ribs (****+). We’ll end with another Italian specialty wine, a style that’s starting to make an appearance here in Ontario winemaking: “appassimento” (the art of making wine by drying grapes). Farina Parziale 2011 ($15.95 – #326702) offers good value in this cherry-vanilla-chocolate-dominated wine before it finishes with white pepper – all with a fine acidity holding it together.
Enjoy the nice weather. Be sure to look for my weekly recommendations on the Ottawa Life blog site to keep you well hydrated in wine.