These styles of wine are of excessive quality. Here are which ones to get at the LCBO
It is easy to assume that expensive wines offer great sensations. But high prices do not guarantee joy. Of course, this happens sometimes. But when it does, you kinda expect it because you paid for it. Discovering an inexpensive bottle that is insanely good is more exciting. This is what makes you a domestic hero. So here are four styles that often work too much, starting with something local: Ontario Riesling.
Riesling does well in the cool Ontario climate. So many local wineries grow it relatively easily and produce versions that go from deliciously dry to deliciously sweet. But even sweeter Rieslings tend to have a well-balanced, thirst-quenching taste – like a nice glass of lemonade – due to the wine’s naturally high acidity.
Cave Spring Vineyard, Flat Rock Cellars, Thirty Bench, and Vineland Estates Winery immediately come to mind for their excellent rieslings, some of which are LCBO listed. And a wine-only bottle that deserves your attention is the Redstone Limestone South Vineyard Riesling 2019, VQA Twenty Mile Bench ($ 22.15, redstonewines.ca).
This wine is full of aromas of lime zest lightly mixed with moist pits. Each sip tastes crisp and pure like a bite of lime sorbet – zippy and fresh – with hints of lemon, peach, stone and spray. Sassy local expression that lingers for centuries upon arrival. Good deal. Result: 94
If you’re the type to sauté a bottle of champagne on a regular basis, crémant français is one style to keep in mind.
Crémant is quite simply a sparkling wine from outside Champagne. Usually under $ 25 a soft drink here in Canada, it offers exceptional value because it is made the same way as champagne. Thus, the cellars make a still wine by assembling different cuvées, bottling the final blend, then refermenting the wine in the bottle before finishing it and butchering it. This labor-intensive method creates an elegant and nuanced wine with tiny bubbles.
A shining example is the NV Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurore Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne from France (LCBO 48793, $ 22.95). Louis Bouillot is a bit of an expert in Crémant de Bourgogne – or sparkling wine from Burgundy – specializing in this style since 1877. And this bottle which is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gamay could certainly sell more.
In the glass it shines pale pink with coral inflections and smells of freshly baked strawberry custard pies – all berries and pastry with a touch of custard. The attack is restrained, dry and delicate with whispering flavors that echo the allusions found on the nose while being superimposed on a little baked apple, red currant and white flowers. Effervescence is a soft foam that lifts with each sip. An incredible quality / price ratio. Result: 92
For dry and crunchy whites, opt for the South African Chenin Blanc. It’s a style that can offer subtlety and finesse, even at rock bottom prices. A simple example is the 2020 Robertson Winery Chenin Blanc (LCBO 495507, $ 10), which starts with subdued grapefruit and stone scents with a hint of beeswax. The entrance is bright and crisp, linear – a flash that changes to reveal flavors of grapefruit, lanolin and steel with a puff of smoke somewhere. Little smart white for $ 10. Result: 93
For red wines, the Spanish reserves of La Rioja are often undervalued. Here’s why: Spanish law requires red Rioja Reserva to be aged in cask and in bottle for at least three years, one of those years in oak barrels and at least six months in bottle. Only then can it be put on the market. For a wine to withstand this minimum level of oak aging and processing, the fruit must be of a high standard. And many wineries exceed these aging requirements. Yet despite these rigorous standards, La Rioja’s reserves often remain at a reasonable price.
A remarkably good version is the Marqués de Riscal Reserve 2016 (LCBO 32656, $ 27.45). Still young at five years old, this wine opens with the intoxicating scent of cherry and vanilla as well as cola and blackberry. Then, a sumptuous touch of cashmere fruit follows, embellished with flavors of red and black berries – cherries and blackberries – nuanced with vanilla cream, toffee, kernel, rubbed oregano and more. And the finish is long. Result: 93
So the next time you’re shopping for a delicious bottle of wine, keep these styles in mind. They over-deliver most of the time while keeping your budget under control.