Natalie McLean, Homefront's wine expert is Canada's most quoted wine writer and editor of the country's largest wine review website. Here is a sample from her recent choices for us.

By Natalie MacLean

Time to put up your feet, curl up with a warm blanket and pour yourself another glass of wine.

Matthias et Emile Roblin Enclos de Maimbray Sancerre 2016, Loire AC, France (LCBO: 527200, $36.95). From the Loire wine region, a mouth-watering, bone-dry, 100% Sauvignon Blanc with bright grapefruit, citrus and fine herb flavours. A chalky, clean mineral finish lingers on the palate. Fresh, crisp and very zesty. Chill and enjoy with a goat’s cheese and herb quiche. Alcohol: 13.1%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2022. Score: 90/100.

Caves d’Esclans Rock Angel Rosé 2018, Côtes De Provence, Provence AC, France (LCBO: 491027, $49.95). Produced by Domaines Sacha Lichine from Grenache and Rolle (Vermentino) wine grapes sourced from the Provence wine region. I love the bright cherry, raspberry and ripe red berry flavours, balanced with crisp acidity and just a smatter of white pepper lingering on the palate. Chill and pair with grilled prawns. Alcohol: 13.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2021. Score: 92/100.

San Felice il Grigio Chianti Classico 2014, Tuscany DOCG, Italy (LCBO: 403477, $48.95). I really enjoy the ripe cherry, tanned leather and smoky aromas on this medium-bodied Sangiovese with bright cherry, fresh red berry and dusty herb flavours on the palate. Nicely done. Enjoy with a Margherita pizza. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2025. Score: 94/100.

Elderton Command Shiraz 2015, Barossa, South Australia, Australia (LCBO: 716142, $99.95). A single-vineyard Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in South Australia, produced from 120-year-old vines. Big and bold with a ton of ripe, tarry dark fruit, cake spice and dark chocolate flavours on the palate, finishing with a smoky kiss. Excellent now and for the next 15 years. Pair beef prosciutto or black bean soup. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2034. Score: 94/100.

Wente Wetmore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Matured for 20 months in new French, American and Slovenian oak barrels. Rich with ripe blackcurrant, red berry compote, vanilla minty herb and smoky flavours on the palate. Simply delish. Pair with roast duck. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2022. Score: 91/100.

Château Lilian Ladouys 2014, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux AC, France (LCBO: 647917, $49.95). This superb Merlot-based Bordeaux red wine blend, which also has 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, is a shining example of the leadership of owner Jacky Lorenzetti (who is also the president of a leading French rugby club). Excellent length, depth and concentration of flavour. Aromas of dark fruit, cigar box and spice. Decant for two hours and enjoy with a rare steak. Alcohol: 13.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2022–2025. Score: 93/100.

Southbrook Saunders Family Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2017, Beamsville Bench,
Niagara Escarpment, Ontario VQA, Canada (LCBO: 275958, $34.95). Fresh and youthful with intense blueberry, dark plum, red berry, earthy violet, oak spice and smoky flavours on the palate. A good cellaring candidate for about five years. Pair with Brazilian slow-cooked pork. Alcohol: 12.6%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2025. Score: 91/100.

Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2014, Tuscany DOCG,
Italy (LCBO: 378257, $56.95). I love this full-bodied, mouth-watering Brunello with ripe dark fruit, cherry, wild berry, savoury herb, nutty and underbrush flavours on the palate. The tannins are structured and fine. Give it a couple of years in the cellar and it should drink well into the late 2020s. Pair with a roast leg of lamb or hard cheese. Alcohol: 13.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2020–2029. Score: 91/100.

Earthquake Zinfandel 2015, Lodi, California, USA (LCBO: 59717, $42.95). A big, towering Californian Zinfandel with equally powerful plum, blueberry and blackberry jam flavours on the palate. Full-bodied and juicy. Produced from old vines in the Lodi region of California. Pair with rib-eye steaks with sage and a smattering of blue cheese. Alcohol: 15%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2024. Score: 91/100.

Domaine Saint-Préfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016, Rhône AC, France (LCBO: 539973, $67.95). A full-bodied red blend of 85% Grenache aged in concrete with Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Syrah aged in previous-use 600 litre oak barrels. Look for rich, ripe raspberry and plum flavours on the palate, finishing spicy and smooth. Pair with veal medallions. Alcohol: 15%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2029. Score: 93/100.

La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino 2013, Tuscany DOCG, Italy (LCBO: 279083, $69.95). A powerful, concentrated Brunello with liquid cherry and dried tobacco leaf flavours. Vibrant on the palate. The tannins are polished. Pair with veal piccata. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2020–2030. Score: 95/100.

Truchard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Carneros, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO: 59683, $41.95). This Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied and smooth, with layers
of ripe dark fruit, ripe raspberry, cassis and dark chocolate flavours on the palate. Well-balanced with fine, supple tannins. Enjoy now with a prime rib. Alcohol: 14.2%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: Now–2025. 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.

Bucket list: A zero waste adventure

In a national park on the Alaska Peninsula that’s home to more than 2,000 brown bears (more than there are humans), Alaskan brown bear and grizzly viewing is the carbon neutral, name of the game.

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