By Natalie MacLean
Whether your choice is a wine that’s light and fun or you opt for something more celebratory, ‘tis the season to shake up your palate and get outdoors. Beat the heat with a fruity white or watch the sun go down while enjoying a sultry sautern. And you’ll be the host with the most when you beef up your family barbecue with a heavy-hitting big red.
2006 Pol Roger Vintage Extra Cuvee De Reserve Brut Rosé Champagne, Champagne A.C., France (LCBO #411819, $105.95):
A beautifully crafted rosé champagne from a well-respected house. On the nose, lovely aromas of field strawberries and raspberries. Finishes with a bright core of minerality. Pair with planked salmon, lightly spiced curry dishes, white turkey meat, tacos. Alcohol: 12.5%. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: 2014-2020. Score: 93/100.
2012 Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf Du Pape, Rhône A.C., France (LCBO #711317, $89.95):
Beautifully made with superb craftsmanship! Full-bodied, concentrated and complex with layers of rich black fruit flavour and smoke. Great cellar potential, but why wait? Pair with roast beef. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: now–2020. Score: 95/100.
2011 Ramey Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States (LCBO #394528, $90.00):
Seductive blend of hazelnut richness and vibrant green apple acidity. Perfect blend of both sides of Californian Chardonnay. Pair with roasted or grilled chicken, beef bourguignon, pasta with tomato sauce, pork tenderloin, lobster with melted butter. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: 2013-2018. Score: 92/100.
2010 Stag’s Leap Winery The Leap Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, United States (LCBO #142844, $89.95):
A benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon from the heart of Napa Valley. This stunning red wine offers layered complexity and flavour. Aromas of ripe blackberries mingle with cedar. Great length, depth, balance and savoury character. Pair Cabernet Sauvignon with steak, hearty meat dishes, hard cheese or prime rib. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: now–2022. Score: 94/100.
Natalie MacLean, author of the bestseller Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, offers a free newsletter and mobile apps on Ontario’s largest wine site at www.nataliemaclean.com.