Summer sips for when the temperature soars

By Natalie MacLean

G.H. Martel Victoire Gold Edition Fût de Chêne Brut Champagne 2012, Champagne A.C., France. G.H. Martel Victoire Gold Edition 2012 Champagne is a fresh bubble made from 60% Chardonnay with the balance in Pinot Noir. Look for ripe apple, red berry, nutty, briny mineral, coco-nut and vanilla flavours delivered on a fresh and elegant mousse. Drink or hold. Food pairings: Grilled prawns, smoked salmon on baguette, oysters on the half shell. Alcohol: 12%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2023–2027. Score: 92/100. LCBO: 25967. $99.95.

Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay 2019, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California, United States. A gorgeous, luxurious Californian Chardonnay with aromas of butterscotch, toffee, golden apple and peach. Full-bodied with a long finish. I first had this wine at the California Grill restaurant at Disney, and it is as magical now as that memory is to me. Pair with grilled or roasted chicken. Food pairings: Turkey burgers, smoked king crab legs, chicken breast, cheese, pork loin topped with pineapple. Alcohol: 14%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml  Drink: 2021–2024. Score: 92/100. LCBO: 958975. $29.95. 

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rosé Champagne, Champagne A.C., France. A top-notch producer of Rosé Champagne year after year, especially in this non-vintage bottling. Aromas of field berries. Crisp and refreshing.
Food pairings: Beef and root vegetable stew, grilled salmon, lobster, white turkey meat. Alcohol: 12%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now. Score: 93/100. LCBO: 158550. $99.95.

Benziger Family Winery Chardonnay
Sonoma County, California, United States. Benziger 2018 Chardonnay is produced from sustainably-grown grapes from the Sonoma County wine region. Pale gold in the glass with a buttery nose of apple crisp, caramel, ripe pear; on the palate, the wine is dry, full-bodied, creamy and crisp with lively peach, pear, lemon meringue and buttery caramel toasty and long on the finish. Chill and enjoy with roast turkey. Benziger’s sustainability program focuses on bio-diversity, soil revitalization and integrated pest management. Food pairings: grilled calamari, roast chicken, buttered lobster rolls. Alcohol: 14%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2021–2024. Score: 91/100. LCBO: 34777. $19.95.

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2019, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia BC V.Q.A., Canada. Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve 2019 Pinot Noir is fragrant with ripe cherry, raspberry, mocha, cinnamon and nutmeg spices. The wine is dry, medium-bodied and elegant balanced with spot-on acidity with a long and silky finish. Tannins are velvety. Enjoy with pan-seared duck breast. This is the flagship red wine at Quails’ Gate, with grapes sourced from premium blocks in the estate vineyard with some vines dating back to the 1970s. Food pairings: Duck confit, coq au vin, beef bourguignon. Alcohol:14%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2022–2029. Score: 93/100. LCBO: 639658. $64.95.

Emiliana Coyam Organic Red Blend 2019, Colchagua Valley, Chile. This dazzling, full-bodied Chilean red wine blend is made from organically grown grapes. Aromas of dark spice and fleshy ripe black fruit. Pair with grilled meats. Food pairings: Roast leg of venison with sautéed mushrooms and sweet onions, roast pheasant, fried wild rabbit on toast. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2023–2029. Score: 94/100. LCBO: 63891. $34.95. 

Bolla Le Origini Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2016, Veneto D.O.C.G., Italy. Bolla Le Origini Riserva 2016 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico is so rich and savoury on the nose with cherry compote, dried fruits, dark spices, dried herbs and smoky vanilla flavours savoury and tangy on the palate. Tannins are dusty. Produced from Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella wine grapes sourced from the Veneto wine region. Bolla is one of the oldest Amarone houses. Food pairings: Grilled lamb, roast of pork, grilled sausages. Alcohol: 15.5%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2022–2026. Score: 93/100. LCBO: 204792. $53.95 

Reif Estate Winery First Growth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Niagara River, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada. A blockbuster Niagara Cabernet Sauvignon that needs more cellar time. Aromas of black plum and black cherry liqueur with a seductive weave of smoke. Supple. Decant 1-2 hours. Food pairing: Rare steak. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2020–2030. Score: 92/100. LCBO: 17500. $100.20.

Château La Garde 2015, Pessac Léognan, Bordeaux A.C., France. From Pessac Léognan, Château La Garde 2015 is produced from sustainably-grown grapes and is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. Look for ripe blackberry, cassis, smoky, savoury herbs and spice concentrated, harmonious and smooth on the palate. The Château dates back to the 18th century, when Domaine de “Lagarde” was already featured on the “carte de Cassini” the first general map of France drawn by the Cassini family in 1756. Food pairings: Grilled venison loin, tenderloin pork Wellington, grilled lamb chops. Alcohol: 13%. Sweetness: Extra Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2022–2029. Score: 94/100. LCBO: 191163. $52.95.

Caves d’Esclans Rock Angel Rosé 2021, Côtes De Provence, Provence A.C., France. From Sacha Lichine, Caves d’Esclans Rock Angel 2021 rosé is produced from Grenache, Cinsault and Vermentino wine grapes sourced from the Provence wine region. Grapes are hand-harvested, manually sorted, destemmed and then gently crushed with the free run and first-pressed juice partially vinified in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tank, as well as 600-litre barrels or demi-muids. Dry, medium-bodied and with the racy acidity of Sancerre, the wine is also rich and elegant with red berry, strawberry, fine herbs, flinty notes and a kiss of white pepper creamy, silky and long on the palate. Food pairings: Roast turkey, grilled chicken salad, feta and goat cheese salads. Alcohol: 13.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2023–2024. Score: 93/100. LCBO: 491027. $44.95.


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

Natalie is the author of the new, bestselling book,
Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much.

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