What’s your favourite wine? Ask a dozen people and you will probably get 12 different answers. It’s a question I get asked all the time and for me there is no right answer. I like wine and I like a lot of different wines so I often use this canned reply: “My favourite wine is the one that is in my glass.” I follow up this impudent response by asking them what their favourite wine is.
Now, I’m aware that many who ask me this question are doing so with the intention of learning a little bit more about wine. So when they tell me that they drink only red or white wine, I regard it as an opportunity to introduce them to something different.
For me, wine really depends on the season, and often on the food I will be pairing it with. In the summer I tend to open more chilled, crisp white wines and in the winter find that I often reach for full-bodied reds. Change is good, and sometimes having a lively pinot grigio on a cold winter night just seems so right.
There are several wines that I do tend to open a little more frequently throughout the year. These are inexpensive wines that offer amazing quality for the price. I guess you could call these some of my favourites.
Vineland Cabernet Franc (LCBO #594127, $14.95) — On a recent visit to the LCBO I found bottles of both the 2016 and 2017 vintages on the shelf. The wine geek that I am saw an opportunity to do a vertical tasting. Both vintages offered ripe blackberry, juicy cherry, and a hint of cedar. Noticeably missing in both (and, to me, a good thing) were those herbaceous green bell pepper notes that are often found in Ontario cab francs. Both were fruity and medium bodied.
Vineland Estate Winery, located on the Niagara Escarpment, is one of Ontario’s top producers of cabernet franc. A 2015 reserve cabernet franc with a $50 price tag sold out quickly at LCBO’s Vintages locations and between 2018 and 2019. Vineland’s winemaker will release a series of six “Cab Ride” wines that are all about “terroir.” They will come from six different Niagara vineyards (Neumann, Smith, Van Bers, Nichol, Hunter, Briar Creek). They are reported to all taste remarkably different even though the only difference is where the grapes are grown. These wines will first be made available to Vineland wine club members. Any that remain unsold they will be made available to the general public.
For details on Vineland’s wine club visit vineland.com
Pelee Island Pinot Noir Reserve (LCBO #458521, $17.95) — Good Ontario pinot noir can get a bit pricey. From time to time I have seen this wine on sale and I stock up. Pinot noir is so versatile. It pairs well with many dishes but is also enjoyable on its own.
The 2017 Pelee Island Winery reserve pinot noir was 50% barrel-aged in French and European oak for six months. Red berry fruit surrounded by subtle vanilla and earthy notes. Ripe, crisp finish.
I recently paired this wine with fresh grilled Atlantic salmon with citrus marinated plum tomatoes and balsamic reduction. It was perfect!
Quai Du Vin Signature Series White (LCBO #485821, $15.35) — I first tasted this wine last summer when visiting the winery. I purchased a couple of bottles on that trip and later wished I had picked up a few more. I shared it with company and everyone liked it. I am happy to see that it is now available at the LCBO, although currently somewhat limited in locations and supply. Buy some if you find it!
An off-dry blend of riesling, vidal, pinot gris, and seyval blanc. Fermented in a combination of steel tanks and older French oak barrels, then blended. Red apple, pear, and lemon fruit notes dominate with a tasty off-dry lingering finish.
Wines To Look For
Several issues ago I wrote an article on Alton Farms Estate Winery, which is located in Plympton-Wyoming, about an hour west of London. Since then the winery has been able to have two of their wines available in select LCBO locations in Lambton, Middlesex and Oxford counties. Both are $16.20.