Eight wines to brighten up Mother’s Day celebrations
It’s been a while since this column focused on a holiday or occasion. After two long years where planning has been strewn with uncertainties, we are heading towards Mother’s Day on a stronger footing. Many families will come together to celebrate in person and in my family, and many others, serving wine is a no-brainer.
Something bubbly is likely to be opened when everyone arrives and gathers in the kitchen. An expressive and easy-going white, red or rosé will follow – all three simultaneously, if the number justifies it – as an aperitif or with a meal.
But choosing a wine for Mother’s Day or any family reunion is never about finding the right wine – there are too many variables to consider, from the weather to what’s on the menu to the individual tastes – it’s about finding charming, even better, tasty, mass wines. If it’s a day of pampering as well as honour, it also makes sense to serve carefully selected wines. Does Mom have a favorite grape variety or style of wine? A favorite producer or wine region? Buy accordingly.
This week’s recommendations are a short list I’ve put together of tasty wines that have impressed in recent tastings. There are more Chardonnays than many wine lovers might think, but I suspect that can be attributed to strong recent releases.
Argentina’s El Enemigo is a winery that wine lovers should know. The chardonnay is magnificent. I love the classic style of both Chablis producers and think Martha Stewart’s entry into the wine industry is a wise move, especially since the wine has the tasteful, crowd-pleasing style expected from the pop culture phenomenon.
The other bottles offer different atmospheres, depending on your projects or who come together for Mother’s Day. The mood is as important as the food when it comes to selecting wines for a crowd. They range from light to full-bodied and flavorful, but are styles with considerable personality and charm, making them ideal for entertaining.
19 Crimes Martha’s Chard 2020 (USA)
RATING: 88 PRICE: $19.95
Australian wine brand 19 Crimes continues to expand its California wine portfolio with this ripe, round Chardonnay crafted in partnership with lifestyle guru Martha Stewart. Nice use of oak contributes toasty and sweet flavors in a well-integrated and easy-drinking wine in the best sense of the word. It’s ready to drink now. Available in Ontario at the price above, $19.99 in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, various prices in Alberta, $20.49 in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, $17.95 in Quebec.
Bouchard Father & Son Petit Chablis 2020 (France)
SCORE: 90 PRICE: $28.30
Here is a nice and flavorful chardonnay from vineyards spread over several sites in Chablis. Its juicy texture shows the balance between fruit and acidity, with classic notes of citrus, peach and flowers. The freshness and intensity make it a pleasant wine with or without a meal. Drink through 2025. Available in Ontario.
Domaine Laroche Saint-Martin Chablis 2020 (France)
SCORE: 91 PRICE: $26.40
Named after the patron saint of Chablis, Laroche Saint Martin is a hearty, characterful Chardonnay that shows up well in the 2020 vintage. It offers attractive green apple and peach fruit with honey and saltiness adding flavor. interest and balance to this elegant Chablis. Drink through 2025. Vegan. Available in Ontario at the price above, various prices in Alberta, $26.10 in Quebec, $36.79 in Nova Scotia, $34.99 in Prince Edward Island, $34.98 in Newfoundland.
El Enemigo Chardonnay 2019 (Argentina)
RATING: 93 PRICE: $24.95
El Enemigo has quickly become one of Argentina’s most dynamic wineries, with a range of exceptional red and white wines, often from single vineyards. This expressive Chardonnay is crafted in a rich and refreshing style. Concentration of pear and apple is enhanced by spicy, toasty and stony notes that carry through to a long and rewarding finish. Drink now through 2029. Available in Ontario at the price above, various prices in BC and Alberta, $37 in Nova Scotia.
Featherstone Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (Canada)
RATING: 88 PRICE: $17.95
There’s tremendous concentration and weight in this Ontario Sauvignon Blanc thanks to a small portion of the blend that was fermented in old Canadian oak barrels. It adds more texture and complexity to a wine that shows the expected crisp acidity and blend of citrus, peach and tropical fruit aromas and flavors. The lingering finish helps refresh the palate. Available in Ontario at price above or $18.15 direct, featherstonewinery.com
Joel Gott Zinfandel 2018 (United States)
RATING: 90 PRICE: $25.95
Joel Gott has been producing Zinfandel in California for over 20 years, so you can expect him to have his winemaking style pretty much under control by this point. Working with vineyards in Amador County, Borden Ranch, Sonoma and Lodi in 2018, Gott crafted a layered, well-defined red wine with notes of black pepper and dark fruit rounded out by vanilla flavors from the aging in American and French oak barrels. This is an attractive, full-bodied and concentrated fruity red with a pleasant structure and grip. It’s prime time red barbecue. Drink now through 2025. Available in Ontario at the price above, $25.99 in British Columbia ($23.99 until June 4), various prices in Alberta, $29.99 in Saskatchewan.
Speck Bros. Three of Hearts Rosé 2021 (Canada)
RATING: 90 PRICE: $19.95
The new vintage of Three of Hearts Rosé shows the delicate fruit, vibrant acidity and generous mouthfeel of a well-made dry rosé. The aromas and flavors are reminiscent of red fruits and currants with a juicy acidity that makes it a refreshing and appetizing wine. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the price above and direct from henryofpelham.com.
Quails’ Gate Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris 2021 (Canada)
RATING: 88 PRICE: $19.99
With a blend based on a Chasselas vineyard planted in 1961, this easy-to-enjoy wine from Quails’ Gate continues to be the best-selling white wine in British Columbia. The new vintage plays an aromatic profile of fruit salad that reveals notes of citrus, pear and melon. It is a simple and pleasant white to drink this summer. Available in BC at above price or direct, quailsgate.com, various prices in Alberta, $22.49 in Saskatchewan, $21.99 in Manitoba, $19.95 in Quebec (vintage 2020), 21.98 $ in Nova Scotia.
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