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Weekend Wine: At the LCBO

With the new year, the LCBO has begun an initiative of weekly Super Sales which run Thursday through to the following Wednesday and consist of five wines and four spirits. Whether this continues beyond the third of February remains to be seen.

With the new year, the LCBO has begun an initiative of weekly Super Sales which run Thursday through to the following Wednesday and consist of five wines and four spirits. 

Whether this continues beyond the third of February remains to be seen.   

From January 13 until Wednesday, January 20, you will find three decent reds.

My preference of the three is the Catena High Mountain Vines Malbec 2013, $15.95 this week instead of $19.95. 

It has an enticing bouquet reminiscent of sandalwood or cedar.

The mouth feel is very good - full, but more medium in weight than heavy, with dark fruit. 

It is balanced with generally soft, integrated tannins.

Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon is a California fruit bomb with 15 grams of sugar per litre. 

Nevertheless, back in July the Wine Enthusiast awarded it 90 points, saying “it is concentrated, bold, and stands out from the pack”.

Regularly $16.95, it will be just $12.95 through the 20th, and you can anticipate lush, berry and candied fruit with chocolate and spice on the finish.  

If your style tends towards Apothic or Bodacious Red, then this is your baby.

From Niagara-on-the-Lake, the G.Marquis Pinot Noir 2014 is made from 25 year-old-vines, which suggests the wine will have significant depth of flavour. 

Normally $19.95, this will be just $16.95 for the week. 

It has that delicate, muted floral Pinot nose, and enters the mouth very nicely with good fruit extraction. 

The drawback is that there is significant tannin and accompanying bitterness on the finish. 

It is a wine to enjoy with food – let’s say lamb or pork. 

Perhaps with time to breathe the bitterness may dissipate, but I can’t promise. 

It is a good wine, and I wonder if the terrible 2013-2014 winter had an impact here. 

I’ll have to ask.

For the next week, Thursday, January 21 to Wednesday, January 27, the best picks would be two Ontario whites, and, if you’re feeling flush, a wonderful Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the very well regarded Perrin Family.

Flat Rock Cellars Twisted White, a Vintages Essential, will be $13.95, a $3 saving. 

This is one of those aromatic blends which are becoming very popular in Ontario, in this case a combination of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay.

The Riesling provides some citrus and minerality, while the Gewurztraminer adds spice and tropical notes. 

The chardonnay contributes depth, adding roundness to the mouthfeel, along with apple and pear nuances. 

Medium-dry, it will be both a pleasant aperitif and could match well with Asian cuisine. 

The Henry of Pelham VQA Riesling, $11.95, is a savings of $3. 

It is relatively dry with good fruit. It will be lively and crisp, and you can expect very good value from one of Niagara’s most solid producers.

Famille Perrin Les Sinards Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012, usually $36.95, will sell for $31.95.

When I tasted it at the Primum Familiae Vini event in Toronto, it gave me the impression of dark fruit, earth, and smoke. 

It is pure, deep, complex and solid, and received 92 points from

The final week, January 28 to February 3, features Apothic Red as mentioned above - $3 off at just $13.15.  This is another of those very plush and fruity reds with higher sweetness, (17g/litre) – you can compare it with the Carnivor if you bought it earlier.

An organic Cab from California, the Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon will be $4 off at $15.95.

The whole Bonterra line impresses in the way that they express the character of the varietal exactly. 

These are not blockbusters, but instead have a fine balance with an impression that grows as you continue tasting the wine.  

This wine has less than half the residual sugar of the Apothic, but don’t think you’re going to be sucking lemons. 

Rather, it is balanced with dark berry notes and some herbal elements.

It is a rare day when you can try a Ripasso for under $12, but that is the case with the Farina Le Pezze Valpolicella Ripasso, $4 off for $11.90

Ripasso wine is made from putting Valpolicella through a second fermentation on the skins from the Amarone that had just finished fermenting. 

Amarone is made from grapes that have been allowed to dry or “raisin” so that flavours are concentrated. 

The “ripasso” process adds intensity to the previously vinified Valpolicella.

With this particular Ripasso, you will notice the fruit, most certainly, but there is also a fair bit of tannin on the finish.

I would certainly want to pair it with food.

Farina actually has three different ripassos in the system, and I compared the one on the regular list which is going on sale with one in Vintages at $17.95 which isn’t – both are from the 2013 Vintage. 

For twelve bucks, the first one is a good deal, but if it were full price, I would spend the extra $2 and really enjoy the experience. 

The difference is impressive. 

There is a bit more fruit, and the overall result is one of smoothness. 

There are still tannins, but they are soft and integrated.

These two wines, along with the G.Marquis Pinot Noir, provide a true tannic contrast.

The Pinot left an impression of bitterness, the Farina Le Pezze Ripasso finished ‘rough’ and the Vintages example from the very same winery and very same vintage was essentially smooth.

One last Ontario red on the sale would be worth trying.   

Eastdell Black Cab, normally $13.95, will be $10.95

It is a blend of Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon in roughly a 40/30/30 ratio. 

It would be a good choice with ribs or burgers. 

Writer Tony Aspler, the dean of Ontario critics, noted its smoky plummy nose and blackberry and plum flavours.

Stokely Creek

We will be holding one of our very popular wine tastings at Stokely Creek Cross Country Lodge, about 30 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie in the Goulais district on Saturday, February 13.

We will take you through 6 wines with hors d’oeuvres for $25; however, stay for dinner and the whole evening, including tax, is just $60 a person.

If you’re “from away” you may not know that Stokely Creek is one of the top cross-country skiing venues in North America.  If you decide to make a weekend of it – or just stay overnight, the wine-tasting is only $20.

Because skiers get hungry early, the tasting begins promptly at 5 o’clock. To book, call 705-649-3421.

January 23 Vintages Release

As bountiful as the January 9 release was, that of the 23rd is far leaner, especially in whites.  That said, there are still some good basically inexpensive reds to enjoy.


South Africa’s Porcupine Ridge line from Boekenhoutskloof   - try saying it three times fast… or, just try saying it -  provides us with a 2015 Sauvignon Blanc for $13.95.

If it is anything like their other wines, it is bound to be good, and great value.

There is new-mown hay on the nose, with fresh citrus fruit on the palate. 

The addition of some Semillon adds some mid-palate weight and softens the acidic finish.

Italy’s high northern reaches, the AltoAdige/Trentino region brings us Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio 2014, $15.95, an elegant and flavourful white with lemon/lime and apple notes, very decent weight, and some wet stone minerality towards the finish. 


While I personally don’t always enjoy Carmenère as a single varietal wine, many people do, if the amount that flows out of our stores is any indication.

However, I am a big fan of Concha Y Toro’s Marques de Casa Concha line, and am quite willing to shell out for the 2013 Carmenère, $19.95, which carries a 92

Tormaresca Trentangeli 2012, $19.95 is an intriguing red from Puglia; predominantly Aglianico, one of Puglia’s signature grapes, it also contains 20% Cabernet and 10% Syrah – perhaps Puglia’s answer to The Super-Tuscans. awarded it a 91+, saying it is “persuasive and compelling,” with “opulent ripe fruit…blackberry preserves…rum cake…Indian spice… and bacon fat!” It is “recommended enthusiastically!” 

I am sure the “30 angels” mentioned in the wine’s name have a lot to do with everything except, perhaps, the bacon fat.

From Spain’s Alicante region we have Vinessens Sein 2013, $16.95, bearing a Parke92

A Monastrell/Syrah blend, it should be drinking well, with “the roundness of the old Monastrell and the freshness of the young Syrah”.

On the Shelves

Still available everywhere but Timmins is Sicily’s Orestiadi Ludovico 2009, $19.95, a Nero d’Avola/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. 

It earned a Wine Spectator 90 for being “dark and meaty… rich and chewy, with a long smoky finish.”  It really is impressive and enjoyable.

Though released last April, Norman Hardie Prince Edward County Unfiltered Chardonnay 2013, $39, is still available in Sault Ste. Marie and Barrie.

In its December issue, Wine & Spirits Magazine gave it a heady 96, calling it “both sumptuous and energetic” and, while ”tightly cinched in the middle, it slowly relaxes into a long, lightly smoky, spicy finish.”

It might be worth the $40 to find out just how magnificent a wine from the eastern shores of Lake Ontario can be.