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A funny thing happens when you taste through thousands of wines each year: an unerring picture of quality comes into focus. Members of our tasting panel continually taste new wines from all over the world, looking for the best bottles to share with you.

Wines Of Australia
Wines Of Argentina
Wines Of Canada
Wines Of Chile
Wines Of France
Wines Of New Zealand
Wines Of South Africa
Wines Of Spain
Wines of USA
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The wines in this section were individually assessed and assigned a rating based on criteria that include: aromatics, flavour profile, balance, finesse, overall enjoyment and its relation to varietal characteristics from its region.

  Amanda Allison (AA)
  Christopher Waters (CW)
  Daenna Van Mulligen (DVM)
  Michael Botner (MB)
  Rod Philips (RP)
  Sara d'Amato (SD)


Penfolds Wines 2007 Yattarna Chardonnay

Australia  $124 (558643)
Working exclusively with fruit from cooler-climate regions of Tasmania, Adelaide Hills and Henty, winemaker Peter Gago was able to dial-in the fresh character on this amazingly complex and layered Chardonnay. The lemon-lime notes help cut through the concentrated fruit and oak-derived notes, refreshing the flavour profile on the long, lingering finish. Australian Chardonnay has come a long, long way towards respectability recently and this is one of the finest examples.  (CW)

Xanadu Wines 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Margaret River, Australia  $24.99 (76141)
This bold and wonderfully concentrated wine presents chocolate and mouth-watering cassis with tobacco undertones on the nose. There is notable intensity and concentration on the palate, making the wine seem almost chewy, with liberal berry, bittersweet cocoa and espresso flavours. There is impressive structure and balance with firm, ripe tannins.  (DVM)

Plunkett Fowles Wines 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria, Australia  $19.95 (212761)
creative team of Matt Fowles and Sam Plunkett are working diligently to raise the profile of the Strathbogie Ranges region through impressive and polished wines like this. True to type blackcurrant and cedar notes gain depth and complexity from chocolate and ripe dark fruit notes. Youthful, ripe tannins add grip to the satisfyingly full-bodied structure and generous finish. This rewarding red makes the most of its focus and charm, delivering solid flavour and character for the price.  (CW)

Casella Wines 2010 Lucky Penny White

South Eastern Australia, Australia  $17.99 (110536)
From the makers of Yellow Tail, this blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Grigio is a sibling to a red blend of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot. The new wines were created after three years of marketing and development research. The white holds the most appeal, with its fruit cup aromas accented by lime, flower water and marshmallow. Some lively acidity balances and cleanses the palate. Enjoy with spicy Asian-inspired noodle dishes or light curries.  (DVM)

Kangarilla Road Vineyard and Winery 2008 Shiraz

McLaren Vale, Australia  $18.95 (212738)
Kangarilla Road has carefully cultivated its reputation as a prime regional wine producer since its launch in 1997. The winery also boasts one of the best labels going, each varietal features a black-and-white photo of the leaf from the grape variety that produced the wine in the bottle. This engagingly plummy and perfumed model of Shiraz conveys classic McLaren Vale character, with its chocolate-covered cherry and spicy personality. The wine’s ripe, generous texture is another regional hallmark for McLaren Vale in particular and South Australia as a whole. Highly recommended.  (CW)

Peter Lehmann Wines 2008 Shiraz

Australia  $19.95 (572875)
The Lehmann Shiraz doesn’t get the credit it deserves for consistently and quietly delivering the goods for three decades. The 2008 vintage delivers classic Barossa character — concentrated plummy fruit mixed with chocolate notes, creamy texture and mellow tannins. Approachable now, this would be a great partner for grilled steak or lamb. It also has the stuffing to develop nicely over the course of the next four to six years.  (CW)

Yabby Lake Vineyard 2008 Cooralook Pinot Gris

Strathbogie Ranges/Mornington Peninsula, Victoria,Australia  $14.95 (212712)
Pinot Gris, the same grape variety as the affable Pinot Grigio, is produced in a style inspired by France’s Alsace region, which is lush, full-bodied and full of peach and honeysuckle notes. The wine comes from the cooler Victoria region where this delicious style is becoming all the rage.  (SD)

Xanadu Wines 2009 Next of Kin Chardonnay

Margaret River, Australia  $14.95 (212647)
The stylish design of the white, grey and black label matches the crisp and direct wine that’s inside the bottle. Oak plays a supporting role here, while some lees contact during the time it was aged in barrel adds a pleasant creamy, nutty character. Lean, with citrus, apple and subtle straw character, this good value wine would be an enjoyable match for creamy Brie-style cheeses or pasta dishes.  (AA)

De Bortoli 2009 DB Family Selection Traminer Riesling

Riverina, Australia  $12.95 (207381)
A classic Germanic blend of Riesling and Traminer works well together in this golden-hued Aussie beauty. Soft rose petal and bright citrus notes on the nose are welcoming, while fruity tones like juicy peach are streaked with refreshing acidity. A satisfying bottle for the price and ideal fit with Thai-influenced dishes.  (AA)

Knappstein Enterprise Winery 2010 Insider White

Clare Valley, Australia  $14.95 (212746)
A lively blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer, this is a playful and refreshing wine. Easy-drinking with crisp lemon, rose petal and melon notes, the Insider White is zesty and outgoing. The finish is pleasantly creamy, rounding out the zippy acidity, which makes this a good bottle to enjoy with company, with or without appetizers.  (AA)

McWilliam’s Wines Hanwood Estate Moscato NV

South Eastern Australia, Australia  $13.95 (212696)
Moscato has become the new "It-wine" in the United States and there’s no reason that its aromatic charms won’t work the same magic on Canadian consumers. This winning example from McWilliam's popular Hanwood Estate label captures all of Moscato’s crowd-pleasing attributes — peachy fruit, pretty floral aroma and honeyed sweetness. Made in an off-dry style, its six percent alcohol content makes it a great Sunday brunch option or aperitif for fans of fruity  (CW)


Bodega Quattrocchi 2007 Reserve Malbec

Mendoza ,Argentina  $18 (525576)
Originally from Italy, the Quattrocchi family has been making wine in Mendoza since the 1970s. Without a doubt, this is a generous and fragrant wine. Look for blueberry, vanilla and exotic spices with a potpourri of floral notes. The palate is supple and fresh with dominant ripe fruit spiked with sweet spice flavours and smooth, integrated tannins that linger. Delicious.  (DVM)

Familia Cassone 2007 Obra Prima Malbec Reserva

Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza , Argentina  $25.00 (139550)
This exceptional Mendoza red hails from a 90-year-old vineyard in the respected Malbec-producing appellation of Lujan de Cuyo. It is a potent and fruit-driven style, with loads of dark fruit, floral, cedar, tobacco and molten chocolate aromas. The palate is supple, quite slick and very concentrated. There is dense, concentrated fruit and plenty of spice accented by some saline minerality and coffee flavours.  (DVM)

Finca Flichman 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Oak Aged

Roble Mendoza, Argentina  $9.99 (713388)
Here’s a meaty red that you can sink your teeth into the next time you have the grill fired up. The aroma offers red currants, smoked meat, leather, cocoa and earthy notes. The palate follows suit by delivering abundant juicy red fruit flavours layered with spice, cocoa and tobacco. There is some nice freshness here, with fine but firm tannins on the finish.  (DVM)

Pasual Toso 2009 Reserve Malbec Barrancas Vineyard

Mendoza, Argentina  $20 (447888)
This reserve Malbec offers berry, sweet spices, bittersweet chocolate and savoury notes on the nose. The palate is fruit laden. Its approachable and supple texture is highlighted by ripe berry, espresso and toasted oak flavours. Made in a crowd-pleasing style, with a nice plush texture.  (DVM)

Terrazas de los Andes 2008 Malbec Reserva

Mendoza, Argentina  $17.95 (209280)
The success of Malbec from Argentina has created a sea of bright, jammy reds that offer little in the way of structure, character or complexity. Thankfully this expressive, dry red represents a welcome alternative. The mix of savoury and floral notes adds interest to the core of cherry and berry fruit and oak-derived spice. The richness, depth and intensity on offer make this a great value wine that is worth cellaring over the course of two to four years.  (CW)

Bodega Catena Zapata 2009 Catena Chardonnay

Mendoza, Argentina  $19.95 (918805)
Chardonnay has been a work in progress for many Mendoza producers who are seeking to get the best expression of fruit. A blend of fruit from the Lujan de Cuyo and Tupungato regions, this rich model of Chardonnay offers bold tropical fruit and smoky oak aroma and flavours. Its mouthfilling, creamy texture is nicely balanced by some citrusy acidity. Fans of big and plush Chardonnays take note.  (CW)


Charles Baker Wines 2009 Picone Vineyard Riesling

Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Canada  $35 ()
The latest edition of Charles Baker’s Riesling project is a benchmark white from a classic cool-climate vintage. This has everything you could want in Niagara Riesling: vibrant, racy character, a core of fleshy fruit and a long, refreshing finish. In short, it’s enchanting and delicious. A charming wine with terrific concentration and purity that will age 10-plus years if you have the willpower. The sad part is that yields were way down in 2009 so there’s little more than 300 cases. charlesbaker.ca  (CW)

Foxtrot Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir

Okanagan Valley, Canada  $55 ()
The past three releases of Foxtrot Pinot Noir have consistently delivered, albeit with some vintage variation, great Pinot Noir character. The newly released 2008 is a lovely wine that offers more feminine character than the 2007 vintage. Like any good Pinot Noir, it evolves as you sip. The aromas of cherries and wild red berries, cedar and fine spice that first greet you develop into a more complex spectrum, suggesting notes of sweet pipe tobacco, floral and wild herbs. Elegant and finely woven on the palate, its juicy berry/cherry fruit, cocoa and leather flavours linger on an impressively long and silky finish. foxtrotwine.com  (DVM)

John Howard Cellars 2007 Megalomaniac Statement Series Merlot

Niagara Peninsula, Canada  $44.95 ()
The success of the 2007 vintage encouraged John Howard to create a new tier in his Megalomaniac portfolio. The Statement Series features wines that were aged for two years in specially designed French oak cigar barrels that were originally made to the specifications of Jean-Philippe Janoueix, with whom Howard owns Château La Confession in St. Emilion, Bordeaux. This small-batch wine stands on the top rung. It’s a convincing red that showcases classically ripe fruit, rich structure and as much character as one would expect from a wine whose label instructs, “My delusions of grandeur are way bigger than yours.” megalomaniacwine.com  (CW)

Mission Hill Family Estate 2007 Oculus

Okanagan Valley, Canada  $80 (202291)
The new release of Mission Hill’s flagship proprietary red blend, Oculus, is a dramatic wine that manages to harness the quintessential power of the Okanagan’s desert-grown fruit with a balanced equilibrium of structure, acidity and complexity. The fruit and oak notes are layered just right, making this the most expressive and enjoyable Oculus to date. John Simes has got the premium red winemaking program fine-tuned — Mission Hill’s reserve wines have never looked better. missionhillwinery.com  (CW)

Tawse Winery 2009 Quarry Road Chardonnay

Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Canada  $34.95 ()
The Quarry Road Chardonnay leap-frogged Tawse’s flagship Robyn’s Block Chardonnay a few vintages back. It maintains the upper hand even in a year that sees the best Chardonnays produced at Tawse come to market. The Quarry Road is an elegant white that is defined by its structural quality, particularly its focused acidity and minerality. This impressive Chardonnay promises to blossom slowly in the bottle over the next five to seven years. tawsewinery.com  (CW)

Therapy Vineyards 2010 Alterego White

Okanagan Valley, Canada  $24 (161968)
This premium white blend is a new addition to the Therapy Vineyards portfolio. The lush, aromatic wine is composed of 45 percent Pinot Gris with 35 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 10 percent Viognier and 10 percent Chardonnay. It offers aromas of melon, mango, butterscotch and sweet spices. The palate follows suit with tropical fruit, honeydew melon and toffee flavours that roll into a clove and apple finish. Beautifully balanced, this evolves nicely as you sip. therapyvineyards.com  (DVM)

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery 2007 Reserve 7

Okanagan Valley, Canada  $25.00 (114546)
This impressive Meritage blends Cabernet Sauvignon with 40 percent Merlot and five percent Cabernet Franc. It has generous aromas of sweet blackcurrants, raspberry, vanilla and rainforest floor. The palate is juicy, with plums, cherries and mocha leading the charge followed by sweet spice and licorice. It has lovely concentration and balance with a smooth, delicious finish. Pair this wine with grilled beef, roasted lamb and hard cheeses such as cheddar or Manchego. township7.com  (DVM)

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery 2009 Family Reserve Chardonnay

Okanagan Valley, Canada  $30 (639641)
Made from 100 percent estate grown Chardonnay, the Quails’ Gate Family Reserve Chardonnay is both elegant and delicious. It is a chic, cool-climate example of the variety that offers fresh sweet melon, pear and a hint of stone fruit, exotic blossoms, warm toasted spice and a mineral core. It has a lovely weight and appealing creamy texture with a fantastic balance between fruit, vibrant acidity and well-handled oak. It would be an excellent match for smoked sablefish, creamy scalloped potatoes and buttery sunchoke purée. quailsgate.com  (DVM)

Young & Wyse Collection 2010 Amber

Okanagan Valley, Canada  $20.00 (16584)
Here is a lovely example of the very popular multi-varietal white blends we are seeing more and more of these days. The Young & Wyse version blends 47 percent Viognier with 38 percent Pinot Gris and 15 percent Gewürztraminer. Named for Michelle Young & Stephen Wyse's daughter Amber, this aromatic white offers stone fruits and honeysuckle, pear compote and tangerine oil with a hint of marshmallow. The palate is crisp, clean and dry with plenty of zesty citrus as well as a fruit-cup of lightly spiced apple, pear and peach flavours. This offers great balance and is simply delicious. youngandwysewine.com  (DVM)

Fielding Estate Winery 2010 Chardonnay Musqué

Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula , Canada  $16.95 ()
95 This tank-fermented Chardonnay Musqué captures the powerful aromatics of the variety without losing definition on the palate. There’s nice freshness overall, with exotic tropical fruit notes and a clean finish that accents the wine’s balanced character. Drink now to best enjoy the wine’s appealing fruit and floral notes at their best. fieldingwines.com  (CW)

Henry of Pelham Family Estate 2009 Gamay

Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Canada  $14.95 (291112)
This is an outstanding example of one of the lesser known grapes that does so well in Ontario. Made from estate-grown fruit, this Gamay has all the characteristics of a u-pick farm with both berries and earthier aromas. It’s vibrant and juicy on the palate, with great acidity alongside cherry, pepper and spice notes. A perfect bottle for pizza, barbecues or picnics. henryofpelham.com  (AA)

Malivoire Wine Co. 2009 Old Vines Foch Albert’s Honour

Ontario, Canada  $19.95 (551036)
Albert’s Honour is a tribute to winery owner Martin Malivoire’s great uncle, who was awarded the French Legion of Honour medal for heroism in World War I. What a fine tribute it is. Made from the hybrid grape known as Maréchal Foch, this is a cool-climate answer to full-bodied, deep, dark reds like Malbec. Smoke, cedar and red fruit greet the nose and black berries and cherries follow through the palate. With a refreshing acidity that makes it easy enough to drink alone, this would be a great match for the first barbecue of the season — before or after the grill is lit. malivoire.com  (AA)
Nyarai Cellars 2007 Veritas.jpg

Nyarai Cellars 2007 Veritas

Niagara Peninsula, Canada  $24.95 (222794)
Winemaker Steve Byfield had high hopes for his inaugural reserve red blend, but even he seemed surprised when it took top honours in the assemblage category at Cuvée 2011 earlier this year. The addition of Syrah into this Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot mix adds more depth and spicy complexity to the finished wine. You certainly sense the power and richness of the 2007 vintage, but the savoury character and solid structure add refinement. nyaraicellars.com  (CW)

Southbrook Vineyards 2008 Triomphe Cabernet Franc

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Canada  $22.95 ()
This is certified organic and biodynamic wine is cool-climate Cabernet Franc in the best sense. The unmistakable fragrance of the grape variety greets you, with appealing floral, cherry and red pepper notes on the nose. On the palate, its supple and almost creamy texture conveys black licorice, dark fruit and refined tannins. The tannin/acid balance is pitch-perfect here, making for a flavourful red that will improve over the course of three to five years in bottle. (CW)

Lailey Vineyard 2010 Sauvignon Blane

Niagara Peninsula, Canada  $20 ()
The hot 2010 vintage and all-embracing cellar work make for a riper, richer textured Sauvignon Blanc than recent releases from Lailey Vineyard. Barrel fermentation in French oak lends vanilla notes that add greatly to the appeal of this smooth and creamy white. The citrus fruit on the palate is juicy and ripe, while avoiding becoming too flabby or Chardonnay-like. This would be a fine match for grilled scallops or shrimp. 230 cases. laileyvineyard.com  (CW)

Southbrook Vineyards 2010 Connect White

Ontario, Canada  $14.95 ()
Too some, the word “organic” can come across a bit hoity-toity. Southbrook is out to dispel that perception with the enjoyment-first philosophy of its Connect line. Made from 100 percent Vidal grapes, this is clean and clear on the nose, with rich floral, honey and stone fruit notes. It has good weight and is nicely balanced with both sweet and tangy notes. This shows how enjoyable an underrated grape can be when treated with care and attention. southbrook.com  (AA)

Therapy Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada  $20 ()
This is one good-looking blond, with a fair and sunny complexion. Enticing peach and apricot jam notes on the nose set the stage for the nicely rounded mouthfeel and pleasant citrus zest and pear fruit on the palate and lingering finish. This is easy to drink and makes refill decision-making even easier on the looming hot days of summer. A solid match for food, such as a wheel of brie with crackers or lightly grilled shellfish. therapyvineyards.com  (AA)


Viña Errazuriz 2009 Max Reserva Shiraz

Aconcagua Valley, Chile  $20 (361311)
Densely coloured and engagingly aromatic, this enjoyable Shiraz is laden with aromas of dark fruit, chocolate, white pepper, tobacco and mixed spices. Lush on the palate, it offers chocolate and berries with plenty of mocha flavours that linger. It has very good concentration with balanced acidity and smooth tannins.  (DVM)

Viña Concha y Toro 2010 Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc Reserva

Central Valley, Chile  $10.95 (578641)
At a recent tasting of Chilean wines, this was my favourite Sauvignon Blanc of the bunch. Its pleasant aromas of citrus and tropical fruit were backed by just enough classic grassy notes to make it interesting. Crisp, clean and well-balanced, this has a refreshing zip on the finish that makes it remarkably easy to drink. This will transition nicely from an aperitif to a solid match for summery salads or white fish dishes.  (AA)

Viña Carmen 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

Colchagua Valley, Chile  $10.95 (78980)
You get a lot of bang for your buck from this Chilean Cab. Bright cherries mingle alongside smokier and earthier notes on the nose. Firm, plush tannins and complex, leathery flavours on the palate lead into a fruitier finish. This is a wine that will please the crowd at your next barbecue and will still work nicely into fall or winter.  (AA)


Domaine Lafond 2009 Roc Epine Rosé

Tavel, Rhône Valley , France  $23 (110411)
From the home of rosé wines, Tavel, here is a significant version that drinks more like a red wine. You can expect cherry and red berry aromas, with dried flowers, tobacco and wild herbs notes. There is impressive power on the palate. It is dry and full-bodied, with nice weight and bright flavours of red fruit, spice and citrus zest that linger. Great paired with aged goat cheese or hearty seafood salads on the patio.  (DVM)

Louis Bernard 2009 Côtes du Rhône

Rhône Valley , France  $11.65 (589432)
A blend of four white varieties including Grenache Blanc and Vioginer, this is a rounded, expressive wine. More subtle aromatics including rose petals and citrus lead nicely into a well-balanced palate with more mineral and fruitier notes. An energetic finish lingers with lively acidity. This is a good value and a solid match for seafood.  (AA)

Mommessin 2009 Vin de France Chardonnay

France  $9.95 (201178)
Cleverly packaged to capture the eyes of the 20-something wine drinker, the easy-drinking Chardonnay inside this bottle should appeal even to those outside that age bracket. It has some typical apple pie and vanilla notes, but they’re toned down next to citrus and mineral flavours. And you’ll always know when it’s ready to serve, thanks to a small blue dot on the front label that changes colour when the wine reaches its perfect pouring temperature.  (AA)

South Africa

Boekenhoutskloof Wines 2009 Porcupine Ridge Syrah

Coastal Region, South Africa  $14.95 (595280)
Boekenhoutskloof was founded to present the best possible expression of South African Syrah and Syrah-based blends across a portfolio that includes the Porcupine Ridge, the Chocolate Block and estate labels. This robust red wine presents abundant spicy and smoky notes alongside ripe black berry fruit aromas and flavours. There’s a rewarding richness and complexity here, which you don’t typically see in bottles that sell for this price.  (CW)

Spier 2009 Pinotage

South Africa  $15 (520155)
This is a good option for those who may be a bit timid about Pinotage, the distinctly South African cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. It releases aromas of red fruit, grilled peppers and spicy carob bound by an earthy core. The palate is very juicy, with tart red fruit supported by flavours of cocoa, tobacco and spice with hints of smoky bacon. Nice balance, integrated tannins and plenty of acidity make this a perfect dinner wine for pasta with spicy tomato sauce or slow-cooker vegetable stews.  (DVM)

Robertson Winery 2010 Shiraz

Robertson Valley, South Africa  $10.95 (610949)
From this long-established winery in the Western Cape comes a bottle great for summer parties and barbecues. Smoke, cherries and spices like clove and pepper are found on the nose. Full-bodied with rich tannins and more cocoa and deep red fruit notes through the palate make this an enjoyable wine for food. Ready to drink now.  (AA)


Ramon Bilboa 2007 Tempranillo Edicion Limitada

Rioja, Spain  $28 (441139)
Here is a wine with Old World elegance that will not disappoint New World drinkers with a lack of fruit. It offers a complex fusion of strawberries, red plums, saddle leather and fine spice with hints of iodine. The palate is smooth and juicy with succulent fruit and sunbaked earth flavours. There is nice structure here, good balance and plenty of acidity for pairing with rich tomato-based sauces and slow-roasted meats.  (DVM)

Martin Codax 2009 Albariño

Rias Baixas , Spain  $24 (524801)
When you become bored with your everyday Chardonnay or want something less intense than Sauvignon Blanc to pair with fish or just a simple platter of bread, cheese, nuts and olives, this stunner will fit the bill. This appealingly golden-coloured Albariño presents honeyed, leesy, almost nutty aromas lashed with ripe tree fruits and citrus. There’s nice complexity in the mouth and a creamy rounded palate-weight balanced with racy acidity followed by a long, dry finish.  (DVM)

United States of America

Louis M. Martini Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa Valley, California , United States  $29.95 (232731)
This is a well-made Napa Cab that captures the essence of superior Cabernets from that region. It’s full of fresh, layered fruit, with fleeting and attractive notes from the oak. With very good structure, balance and firm but manageable tannins, it’s a great pleasure to drink. Enjoy it with roasted or grilled red meats.  (RP)

Stags’ Leap Winery 2009 Chardonnay

Napa Valley, California, United States  $34.95 (655381)
This is one of those seductive Chardonnays that combine a weighty, creamy texture with bright, crisp freshness. The roundness comes from some lees-aging, while the fresh acidity is accentuated by some fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The overall effect is impressive and it’s a pleasure to drink. Try it with rich scallops, roast pork or rich poultry dishes.  (RP)

Trinchero Winery 2007 Mario’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa Valley, California, United States  $64.95 (214346)
The Mario’s Vineyard is located on the property of the stunning new Trinchero Winery in St. Helena. This 100 percent Cabernet offers a delicious core of ripe fruit and seamless, supple texture, but what really sets it apart is the complexity and elegance that counters the wine’s rich concentration. Bold spice and floral notes enhance the enjoyment of the nose and palate, adding layers to a generous and nicely structured red. (CW)

Joel Gott Wines 2008 Zinfandel

California, United States  $21.95 (224139)
Where many wineries look to spin romance copy on its back label, Joel Gott’s simply states one word: Enjoy. An equally single-minded dedication lies at the heart of Gott’s robust Zinfandel. The jammy fruit, spice and cocoa character calls to mind the style of Amador County Zinfandel that Gott’s father produced gallons of during the early days of Montevina Winery. A blend of fruit from Amador, Lodi, Napa and Sonoma, this rich, layered red is flavourful with appealing intensity. The juicy and refreshing personality makes this approachable, desirable and, yes, enjoyable.  (CW)

Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards 2009 Russian River Ranches Chardonnay Estate Bottled

Russian River, Sonoma, United States  $22.95 (608653)
The new vintage of this consistently enjoyable Chardonnay offers a pleasant nutty complexity on the nose. Hazelnut and almond butter notes gain lift from lively citrus fruit aromas. The nut butter note replays on the palate with vanilla, pink grapefruit and key lime flavours that carry through to the clean finish. The refreshing character of this medium-bodied Chardonnay makes it a food-friendly white for grilled fish with a cream sauce or buttery cheeses like Gouda or Camembert.  (CW)