In this last Vintages release before the Canada Day long weekend, the LCBO has put its main feature on Southern France, for some inexplicable reason, though there is a smaller sub-feature on great wines to sip for Canada Day.
Here we’ve highlighted our 20 favourite from a release of maybe 100 or so. They do include some spectacular bottles from France and other parts of the world, as well as excellent local wines worth celebrating Canada Day, or any day of the year.
Hidden Bench Estate Riesling, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON 2014
Fresh, bright aromas of lemon, steel and lime follow through to the zesty and zingy palate that adds green apple, flint and a hint of pine to the flavours profile. Crisp, focused acid offers mouthwatering appeal. A perfect wine for southern fried chicken, vegetarian sushi or vegetable tempura. 89 points.
Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir, VQA ON 2013
This Baco is made with 100% Estate fruit, coming from Henry of Pelham’s Short Hills Bench vineyard, one of the warmest sites in Niagara. Mixed spice, meat and vanilla notes make up the nose, while the palate is rich and supple with plush tannin and concentrated flavours of smoke, char, coffee, toffee, and black cherry ice cream. You could age this for another five years, but why wait? Enjoy now with grilled lamb or barbecued ribs. 90 points.
Kacaba Cabernet/Syrah, VQA Niagara Escarpment, ON 2013
Savoury aromas of black pepper, cedar and bay lead currently dominate the nose, and the spice comes through on the palate to mingle with tart red cherry, cassis and black licorice. Medium bodied with fine tannin, this is very good and a terrific price. 90 points.
Tawse “Laundry Vineyard” Cabernet Franc, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, ON 2012
Cabernet Franc is one of our favourite varietals that Ontario produces, and Tawse does a particularly spectacular job. The Laundry Vineyard has some of the oldest Cab Franc vines in Niagara (20+ years) and is sustainably farmed, producing spicy, elegant wines. Smoked meat, macerated black cherry and dried leaves come through on the nose and palate. Lean and focused with fine-firm tannins this is an intriguing and seductive red that can be cellared for another five years, or decanted and enjoyed now with steak tartar, charcuterie plates or lamb chops. 90 points.
Wildass Rosé, VQA Niagara Peninsula 2015
The palate verges on silky with with notes of strawberry cream, fresh raspberry, citrus and a bitter orange peel finish. Vibrant acidity for bright freshness – pair this with ceviche, turkey burgers or cheese plates. 88 points.
Domaine de la Fruitière Muscadet Sevre & Maine Sur Lie, Loire 2014
Sur Lie refers to a wine that has been allowed to age or sit with the dead yeasts (the lees) to give extra body, texture and flavour. Here it lends a creamy, silky mouthfeel to the otherwise refreshing wine that shows flavours of green apple, apple jelly and apricot with a saline-mineral undercurrent. Knot a scarf around your neck and pair this with moules frites. Tres Bon. 88 points.
Domaine Michel Juillot Les Champs Martins Mercurey 1er Cru, Burgundy 2012
Mercurey is the largest appellation in the Côte Chalonnaise region of Burgundy and has more than 30 Premier Cru vineyards including Les Champs Martins. Rich, full and powerful, the nose shows red plummy fruit, baking spice and a bit of forest underbrush. Fine-firm tannin on the palate, with flavours of tangy red fruit, black berry and licorice. Pair with seared duck breast, prime rib or salmon. 90 points.
Château Saint-Roch Chimères, Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2014
A red blend that’s dominated by Grenache, look for sweet raspberry, bay leaf, black pepper, and chocolate on both the nose and palate. Juicy, fresh and easy drinking this is a good pick for cheeseburgers or charcuterie plates. 88 points.
Domaine Les Yeuses “Les Épices” Syrah, Pays d’Oc IGP, Midi 2013
Pays d’Oc IGP specifically refers to a wine that has been produced in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France and has met specific criteria in the wine making process. This is a fabulous example of spicy, savoury Syrah at an unbeatable price. Aromas of mushroom and campfire smoke dominate the nose while the palate offers concentrated earthy aromas, spice, stemmy herbs, tangy red fruit of cranberry and pomegranate and a touch of creme brûlée topping. An excellent wine with loads to offer, this should not be missed. 90 points.
Mas des Bressades “Le Vignes de Mon Père” Cabernet/Syrah, Vins du Pays du Gard, Midi 2013
More and more we are becoming true fans of the consistently reliable Mas des Bressades, a winery in the southern Rhone Valley, just north of Nimes. The Cab/Syrah is juicy and concentrated with ripe black fruits and smokey notes. This is a great option for cottage cookouts and backyard barbecues. 88 points.
Pierre Amadieu “La Grangeliere” Vacqueyras, Rhone 2014
The nose shows a good mix of ripe berry fruit with black pepper spice, while the palate is plush and concentrated with loads of black cherry and raspberry interwoven with mixed spice. 88 points.
Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc Rosé, Pays d’Oc IGP, Midi 2015
Made from a blend of Grenache Gris and Noir, this pours a pale, nearly watery, orange, but the colour belies the flavourful palate which has generous notes of tangerine, peach and mineral. A solid choice for al fresco seafood dinners. 88 points.
St. Urbans-Hof Old Vines Riesling, Mosel 2014
Bright focused acidity is rounded by off dry flavours of peach, yellow apple and passion fruit. Voluptuous and giving, the finish has an impressive, lip smacking tangy edge. 90 points.
Bersano Gavi di Gavi, Piedmont 2014
The nose is predominately stone fruit, though there is a subtle earthy note of raw wild mushroom. Creamy and fresh on the palate with flavours of apricot purée and vanilla pudding. Try with simple roast chicken, rare tuna or avocado toast. 88 points.
Ca’ Viola Brichet Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2012
Typically in this market we’re more accustomed to cheap and cheerful Barberas that are priced around the $15 range. This heft sample weighs in at more than double, which is a bit of an eyebrow raiser – until you taste the contents. Medium bodied, but plush and densely flavoured with earthy raspberry, tangy cherry and black licorice alongside some subtle spice notes. Acidity is fresh as you would expect, and plush tannins make for very enjoyable drinking. Pair with grilled game birds, peppercorn steak or hearty eggplant dishes. 90 points.
Borge Scopeto Chianti Classico, Tuscany 2013
A savoury nose of bay leaf, thyme and fresh earth leads to a medium bodied palate with fine-firm tannin and tangy acid framing flavours of tart red cherry, chocolate and cooking spice. 88 points.
Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico, Tuscany 2013
A wonderful wine that shows aromas and flavours of Christmas cake, red cherry, smoked spices, and subtle earthy notes. Medium bodied, with firm tannin this is a good pairing for roast game, charcuterie or veal parmigiana. 89 points.
Nederburg “Manor House” Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Cape 2013
A juicy, ripe crowd pleaser, earth, vanilla, mocha and cassis come through on the nose, while the palate shows loads of ripe, dark berries and some charred, meaty notes. Fine tannin with a plush mouthfeel, this is a perfect party wine for barbecued steaks and burgers.
Marqués de Vitoria Gran Reserva, Rioja 2005
What a steal for a wine where all the aging has been done for you. To be called “Gran Reserva,” Spanish winemakers in Rioja must age their wines at least 2 years in oak and another 3 years in bottle before release. In this case, the winemaker doubled the bottle age to six years. The result is a smooth and silky wine with fine, well integrated tannin and complex notes of ripe black cherry, currant, mocha, smoke, sundried black olive and a slight saline note. Pair this with leg of lamb, roast porchetta or braised chicken thighs. 88 points.