By Natalie MacLean
As the temperature takes a dip, warm up with these full-bodied fall wines that pair perfectly with hearty dishes.
Antinori Guado al Tasso 2015, Bolgheri DOC, Italy (LCBO #986380, $117.95): A modern-style Italian red, with fleshy ripe blackberry and lots of toasty oak. This Italian Superiore is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot grapes. The wine was aged in small oak barrels for 18 months and then in the bottle for another 10 months before being released from the winery. Food pairings: Filet mignon, prime rib, rack of lamb, gourmet burger. Alcohol: 13%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2025. Score: 94/100.
Drappier Carte d’Or Brut Champagne, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #726281, $54.95): A crisp, refreshing, muscular Champagne with notes of golden apple and freshly baked bread. A long, satisfying finish. Enjoy on its own or with shellfish. Food pairings: Seafood canapés, smoked salmon, salads. Alcohol: 12.3%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018– 2020. Score: 92/100.
Gardet Cuvée Saint Flavy Brut Tradition Champagne, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #924654, $43.95): An excellent-value Champagne. Crisp, with green apple and baked bread on the nose and lime and lemon citrus on the palate— a great aperitif. Food pairings: Salad, cheese, poultry, Thai coconut shrimp, pasta with cheese-based sauce. Alcohol: 12%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018– 2020. Score: 92/100.
Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz 2016, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia (LCBO #636407, $64.95): A full-bodied, deeply concentrated Australian Shiraz with attractive aromas of black plum and blackberry. Mouth-filling and delicious. Food pairings: Marinated pepper steaks, burgers with blue cheese, grilled pork chops, Muscovy duck. Alcohol: 15.8%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2022. Score: 92/100.
Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO #60020, $69.95): An elegant vintage that you can take anywhere for dinner—but it still needs cellar time as it has quite a firm tannic grip on the palate. A long, very dry, blackberry and cedar spice finish. Classic red wine aromas of blackcurrant and cassis. Decant for two hours. Food pairings: Hearty meat dishes, hard cheese, meat-lover’s pizza. Alcohol: 14.4%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2024. Score: 92/100.
Hervé Azo Vau de Vey Chablis Premier Cru 2015, Burgundy AC, France (LCBO #240655, $42.95): Lovely! Green apple and almond aromas with terrific mouth-filling lusciousness. Wonderful for Chardonnay lovers who don’t like oak but still want richness. Try this with your holiday turkey dinner. Food pairings: Prawn bisque, fondue, chicken breast. Alcohol: 12.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2022. Score: 91/100.
La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnant 2016, Côtes du Rhône, Rhône AC, France (LCBO #171371, $22.95): A powerful red wine from the Rhône Valley, with seriously rich and fleshy ripe brandied cherry aromas and flavours. Balanced, full-bodied and savoury. Although Grenache leads in the blend at 80%, there’s also 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre grapes in this cuvée, and winemaker Stéphane Vedeau has lovingly brought forward the luscious fruit flavours of the Syrah. Robust and smooth, yet with terrific concentration and complexity. Attractive notes of black raspberry, violets and wild brush appear on the mid-palate, and polished tannins with anise and blackberry on the finish. Decant for one hour for maximum pleasure. Food pairings: Braised beef ribs, Porterhouse steak, standing rib roast. Alcohol: 14%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2025. Score: 90/100.
Ringbolt 21 Barriques Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia (LCBO #367870, $44.95): From Western Australia’s Margaret River and the Yalumba Wine Company, this is a medium-bodied, inky-purple Cabernet Sauvignon with ripe blackberry, blackcurrant, savoury herb and black olive flavours. There’s lots going on with this wine, including a minty blackberry nose. It’s full-bodied on the palate, supple and smooth. Even so, decant for one hour. Savoury, some grip and a good finish. Food pairings: Hearty meat dishes, hard cheese, striploin steak on the barbie. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2024. Score: 92/100.
Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay 2015, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (LCBO #959619, $39.95): Viscous, mouth-filling and luscious—oh yum! Pure green apple sunshine infused with a toasted almond finish. This Chardonnay was fermented half in stainless steel and half in 30% new oak, then the oak-fermented portion went through malolactic fermentation to give a creamier mouth-feel. Food pairings: Grilled pork chops, stuffed chicken breast, roast chicken. Alcohol: 13.9%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2022. Score: 93/100.
Pol Roger Vintage Brut Champagne 2008, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #411793, $96.95): The 2008 vintage of the robust Pol Roger Brut shows mature aromas of toasted nuts and golden apple. Racy acidity for shellfish. This Champagne house was founded in 1849 and has been owned by five generations of the same family. Food pairings: Wild mushroom risotto, pan-fried sweetbreads, moules-frites. Alcohol: 12.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018– 2025. Score: 92/100.