Drink, learn, laugh, repeat

This summer tickle your taste buds and learn a little more about these splurge-worthy picks for entertaining, family fun or quiet romantic dinners alfresco.

By Natalie MacLean


Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Napa Valley, California, United States (LCBO: 711663, $219.95). Chocolate, mocha, espresso, coffee and smoke on the nose of this full-bodied Californian Cabernet. Fleshy sweet black plums and blackberries. Full-bodied and supple. Pair with a juicy steak. Food pairings: Filet mignon, pork tenderloin, pizza, pasta, hard cheese. Alcohol: 15.2%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2022. Score: 92/100.


Queenston Mile Vineyard Sparkling Brut 2016
St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada (LCBO: $50.00). This vibrant Niagara sparkling wine was aged for three years on the lees for extra richness and mouth-filling texture. It’s a blend of Chardonnay (58%) and Pinot Noir (42%) grapes grown on the St. David’s Bench Vineyard. Aromas of green apple and freshly baked bread. Enjoy as an aperitif or with shellfish. Food pairings: Devilled eggs, basil vinaigrette salad. Alcohol: 12.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2020–2024. Score: 91/100.


Markus Molitor Bernkasteler Badstube Green Capsule Riesling 2016
Mosel Prädikatswein, Germany (LCBO: 15287 $72.95).The lovely 2016 vintage of the Riesling Bernkasteler Badstube Auslese Green Capsule offers a profusion of white florals and a deep core of minerality. Racy acidity balances the luscious apricot and peach flavours. Perfect for seafood.
Food pairings: Roast pork, mild curries, BBQ pork ribs, pad Thai. Alcohol: 11.5%. Sweetness: Medium. 750 ml. Drink: 2020–2025. Score: 96/100.


Benziger Family Winery Tribute 2015
Sonoma, California, United States (LCBO: 613695, $105.00). A spectacular California red wine blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is the first Demeter-certified biodynamic wine from Sonoma and in North America. Aromas of rich dark ripe plums and berries with a hint of smoke. Food Pairing: Filet mignon. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2020–2027. Score: 94/100.


Türk Ried Kremser Thurnerberg Grüner Veltliner 2019
Kremstal D.A.C., Austria (LCBO: 16622, $41.95). From the Kremstal D.A.C. in Austria, Türk Ried Kremser Thurnerberg 2019 Grüner Veltliner is a juicy, minerally and vibrant Grüner with bright citrus, white pepper, chalky and mineral flavours on its medium-bodied frame. Elegant and beautifully balanced with spot-on acidity, chill and enjoy it with all things seafood.
The Türk winery is located west of Vienna near the village of Stratzing in Kremstal. The winery is family-owned and operated with a wine history dating back to the 18th century. Produced by winemaker, Franz Türk. Food pairings: Seafood dishes, charcuterie and cheese, fish and chips, bouillabaisse. Alcohol: 14%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2022–2030. Score: 91/100.


Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Stewart Family Chardonnay 2018
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia BC V.Q.A., Canada (LCBO: 639641, $44.95). Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve 2018 Chardonnay is a dry, medium-bodied, rich and mouth-filling Chard. vibrant with ripe apple, pear, buttery brioche, smoky, toasty spices and flinty mineral flavours long on the palate. Grapes were whole-cluster pressed and fermented in new and previous-use French oak barrels for 11 months and left to age on the lees with some bâtonnage. Food pairings: Roast chicken salad or poached salmon with a caper butter sauce, grilled cheese sandwiches. Alcohol: 13%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2021–2026. Score: 94/100.


Domaine Drouhin Roserock Pinot Noir 2019
Eola Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, United States (LCBO: 529107, $42.95 ). From Domaine Drouhin, Roserock 2019 Pinot Noir is a dry, medium-bodied, earthy PN with grapes sourced from Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley wine region. A lovely balance of vibrant red berry fruit, earthy florals, sous bois, dried tobacco leaf and subtle baking spice flavours rich, silky and finishing long on the palate. Drink or hold in cellar for up to 10 years. Food pairings: Rack of lamb, sausage cassoulet, grilled hanger steak. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2022–2035. Score: 97/100.



Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2019
Rhône A.C., France (LCBO: 700922, $68.95). From a great vintage, Le Vieux Donjon 2019 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is rich, mouth filling and elegant with ripe blackberry, wild herbs, smoked meat, pepper and savoury spice flavours concentrated and long on the palate. Good now, better in 2023, although it will be able to age in cellar for 15-plus years. Drink or hold. Food pairings: Crown pork roast, veal chops in red wine sauce, Margherita pizza. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2023–2043. Score: 97/100.


Creekside Backyard Bubbly 2019
Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (LCBO: 398628, $30.00).Robust with toasty and mouth-watering white peach notes. Layered with a freshly baked bread finish. Some bright citrus notes on the mid-palate. Food pairings: Fresh shucked oysters with lemon, triple cream brie cheese and smoke salmon, roasted turkey or chicken. Alcohol: 11.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2011–2017. Score: 90/100.


Natalie MacLean offers Ontario’s most popular online wine and food pairing courses, tasting classes, expert reviews and mobile apps at nataliemaclean.com.

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