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.

Whether you’re building your dream cellar collection, or looking for the ideal pairings, here are some ideas to get you started…

 

By Natalie MacLean

hf_ChateauNuef2011 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe La Crau, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône AC, France (LCBO #951475, $96.95): Superb! Polished, bright and vibrant, when I expected a
monster of a dark-red wine. The heftis there, yet it’s unbelievable that the alcohol on this is 14.5%—it’s so balanced, elegant and long in the finish. Pair with Kobe beef.
Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: 2016–2028. Score: 96/100.

hf_LouisJadot22009 Louis Jadot Beaune Theurons, Burgundy AC, France (LCBO #42838, $58.95):This premier cru offers lots of enjoyment in the glass. Fleshy black cherry, earth and some dark spice. This medium-bodied French red wine is smooth and long lived, with a great finish. Pair with line-caught fresh seafood. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: now–2020. Score: 91/100.

2011 Pascual Toso Alta Reserve Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (LCBO #261958, $33.95): The grapes for this towering Argentine red wine were sourced from the Barrancas Vineyard. It provides the deepest, darkest concentrations of blackberry, blackcurrant and black plum that I’ve tasted in a while. Full-bodied and smooth, this delivers lots of hedonistic satisfaction. This wine will benefit from two hours’ decanting. A long, satisfying finish. Pair with filet mignon or a pepper steak, or with herb-roasted lamb. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: now–2019. Score: 93/100.

hf_Penfolds2010 Beringer Quantum, Napa Valley, California, United States (LCBO 362400, $69.95): Mocha and dark chocolate are provided by generous oak aging, then step back to reveal dark fruit and spice on the palate. This wine needs serious cellar time and decanting before you enjoy it with hearty meat dishes. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: 2016–2022. Score: 91/100.

2011 Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia, Australia (LCBO #414987, $44.95): A hallway breeze of minty cool rushes out of the glass, then you open the door to fleshy black fruit on the palate and a lovely long finish. Full-bodied and smooth. This is a flagship wine for Australia, from a master producer. Great complexity, balance, structure and depth. It will do well in the cellar, but I challenge you to wait as it’s terrific now! Decant for 1–2 hours. Pair with filet mignon, pork tenderloin or hard cheeses. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: now–2021. Score: 92/100.

2011 Luce, Luce della Vite 2011, Tuscany IGT, Italy (LCBO #685263, $99.95): Drop-dead gorgeous, creating a wine spa for your tongue. This is a proposal wine: Make any offer while sipping on this blockbuster and you’re almost guaranteed acceptance. The seductive nose is of black violets dipped in moonlight and fleshy black plum. But this is all about texture: Satin, wrapped in silk, wrapped in clouds. Pair with truffle-accented pasta. Sweetness: extra dry. Drink: 2015–2028. Score: 98/100.

2003 José Maria Da Fonseca & Van Zeller Vintage Port 2003, Portugal (LCBO 638924, $24.95): An excellent port with tremendous depth, concentration and length. Aromas and flavours of fleshy back fruit, dark spice and smoke. Perfect for evenings when a fire is blazing and the comforts of home are around you. Try it with hard cheeses, Black Forest cake, and gripping mystery novels. Sweetness: Sweet. Drink: 2014–2020 Score: 96/100.

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.

HF Spa Diaries…

Running wild Now you can run for your life at a women’s only running and wellness retreat organized on some of the world’s best trail-running destinations. This year’s newest addition, the Vancouver Island Trail. British Columbia’s old-growth rainforests and Pacific

Culture, Chianti and cocooning

By Kylie MacKenzie Since the 12th century, Castello Del Nero’s historic 740-acre estate has been home to traditional Tuscan farming with its vineyard, olive groves and beehives. Now, as part of Christina Ong’s COMO Group, its much-awaited Shambhala Wellness Retreat

Leaping leopards

Located high on a ridge of the world-famous Sabi Sand Wildtuin, Kirkman’s Kamp has a gracious and rich history.

Summer splurge

What better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than with outdoor grilling?

HF Spa Diaries…

Running wild Now you can run for your life at a women’s only running and wellness retreat organized on some of the world’s best trail-running destinations. This year’s newest addition, the Vancouver Island Trail. British Columbia’s old-growth rainforests and Pacific

Culture, Chianti and cocooning

By Kylie MacKenzie Since the 12th century, Castello Del Nero’s historic 740-acre estate has been home to traditional Tuscan farming with its vineyard, olive groves and beehives. Now, as part of Christina Ong’s COMO Group, its much-awaited Shambhala Wellness Retreat