Springtime in the vineyard has a special energy as the vines awaken from their winter slumber and push through new buds. As wine lovers, let’s enliven our palates with these zesty and invigorating wines.
By Natalie MacLean
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Rosé Champagne 2008, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #69831, $98.95): A lovely, mature rosé Champagne from one of the region’s most respected producers. Aromas of field berries and dried flowers, with some cherry on the finish. Enjoy as an aperitif or companion to salmon. Food pairings: Pasta with cheese-based sauce, caviar, lobster thermidor, sushi. Alcohol: 12%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2025. Score: 92/100.
Ruinart R de Ruinart Brut Champagne, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #189878, $86.95): A vibrant, fresh and lightly floral Champagne with a long toasty finish. Very fine craftsmanship. Food pairings: Oysters, smoked salmon on baguette, tempura seafood, hors d’oeuvres. Alcohol: 12%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2020. Score: 91/100.
Lallier Grand Cru Brut Rosé Champagne, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #385179, $56.95): A vibrant, full-bodied rosé Champagne with aromas of fresh strawberries and toast. Food pairings: Smoked oysters, grilled shellfish, smoked fish. Alcohol: 12.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2022. Score: 89/100.
Far Niente Chardonnay 2015, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO #539130, $108.95): Luscious and rich with layers of orchard fruit flavour. Terrific balance in this classic Californian Chardonnay, with green apple and toasted almond aromas. Nice acidity and a mouth-filling richness on the mid-palate. Food pairings: Steamed mussels, lemon-herbed chicken, roast turkey, pan-fried trout. Alcohol: 14.3%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2022. Score: 93/100.
Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2015, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO #26682, $59.95): A gorgeous, robust Californian Chardonnay with layers of pleasure and aromas of ripe peach, pear, freshly baked bread and toasty oak. Food pairings: Roast duck, rabbit fricassee, turkey burgers. Alcohol: 14.7%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2022. Score: 96/100.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #724559, $109.95): One of the most iconic and coveted rosé Champagnes on the market. Stunning. Robust, with aromas of cherry and toast. Perfectly balanced and elegant. This is the convenient half bottle size (375 ml): perfect for when you and your partner want to start a meal with a glass of bubbly each, then move on to something else. Great refreshment and cleansing acidity for a variety of dishes from fried chicken to shellfish. Food pairings: Smoked salmon, seafood appetizers, dim sum dumplings. Alcohol: 12%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2016–2022. Score: 92/100.
Kistler Chardonnay 2015, Sonoma County, California, USA (LCBO #183921, $107.95): Rich and luxurious on the nose and palate, yet not heavy. Toasted almond with freshly baked bread aromas. Wakes up the senses with great acidity and green apple vibrancy. Most Kistler Chardonnays are sourced from a single vineyard, but this is the winery’s only multi-vineyard-site Chardonnay. Food pairings: Panko-crusted grilled chicken, salmon steaks, basil pesto, prawn bisque, cheese fondue. Alcohol: 14.1%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2021. Score: 92/100.
Burrowing Owl Meritage 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia VQA, Canada (LCBO #343038, $58.95): A beautifully balanced and textured BC red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from the exceptional 2013 vintage. Complex, rich, deep and long: This Canadian flagship wine has it all. A great cellar candidate as well. Taste the very best of what BC (and Canada) can produce from this top-notch winery in a superb vintage. Food pairings: Slow-roasted duck, roast beef, tourtière. Alcohol: 14.9%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2024. Score: 93/100.
Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO #45476, $154.95): Stupendously gorgeous, always balanced, yet a blockbuster in character and taste. Full-bodied with aromas of fleshy ripe black plums, toast and some spice. Decant for two hours before drinking. Food pairings: Barbecued meats, venison steak, bison burgers. Alcohol: 15.3%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2025. Score: 96/100.
Duckhorn Merlot 2014, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO #992529, $64.95): Savoury and juicy with aromas and flavours of fleshy black plums and smoke. Firm tannins, so decant for one or two hours. An ultra-plush red wine for diehard Merlot fans seeking the Platonic ideal of Merlot. Founders Daniel and Margaret Duckhorn have created quite a following for their Merlot-based wines since they first made them in the 1970s, as well as for other classic Bordeaux grapes. Cellar this beauty or enjoy it tonight. Food pairings: Bison burgers, steaks, crown pork roast. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2021. Score: 93/100.
Natalie MacLean is the editor of Ontario’s largest wine review web site and mobile apps, at nataliemaclean.com.