Find the right wine at the right price, right now.

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks:Value-priced bottles that will warm you up

These easy-drinking value-priced wines warm the body and the soul as we head into colder weather. Find them

Bottega Rosé Vino dei Poeti
LCBO No. 277202; $12.25

This special-edition (pink ribbon on the bottle) pale rose-coloured sparkler is a blend of pinot nero and raboso grapes from Veneto and Lombardia. A portion of profits is donated to BHI, the Breast Health Institute internationally and in Canada this month to Princess Margaret Breast Cancer Foundation (October is Breast Cancer Awareness month).  Off dry with a festive, easy to drink character, it has a floral bouquet and ripe raspberry/strawberry taste.

Argento Bonarda 2011
LCBO No. 292458; $9.95

Argento’s value-priced wines are well constructed by head winemaker Silvia Corti to deliver above expectations with fruit purity and flavour concentration. This deep purple Mendoza red from 100% bonarda grapes is full bodied and rich on the palate with a rounded, soft finish. Full of ripe raspberry flavours with an overlay of oak, it goes well with a spicy stew.

Volcanes Summit Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011
LCBO No. 292607; $9.95

In Chile’s Rapel Valley, the Bodegas Volcanes wine-making team searches out grapes influenced by volcanic soil. This blend of largely cabernet sauvignon with 35% merlot is violet-tinged garnet in hue. Medium bodied, it has ripe berry on the nose and palate with some oak overtones. Cedar, spices and herbaceous notes make an appearance as well, especially in the firm dry finish. Have with pepperoni pizza or pasta puttanesca style.

Filed under: Appetizer, Wine, , ,

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Customer favourites from Vintages

These well-priced customer favourites from Vintages have solid appeal. View these and all of Margaret’s Wine Picks at

Prà Soave Classico 2011, $19.95

With good reason this soave is back in Vintages. From old vine, low-yielding garganega grapes, it sets the benchmark for the varietal. Gently floral and fruity on the bouquet, it’s lively on the palate with flavours of fresh soft tree fruits with hints of minerals and almonds in the lingering finish. Medium bodied with a good grip, it’s versatile enough to suit many dishes.

Gladiator Primitivo di Manduria 2010, $16.95

This is the seventh consecutive Vintages release for this Puglia primitivo (a.k.a. zinfandel), and it’s as forward as ever, with sweet, jammy flavours. Velvety smooth, medium-full bodied with a rich texture and a spiced finish, it’s a good wine for cool fall nights. Match with game or meats braised in red wine.

Grant Burge Shiraz 2010, $17.95

Now is the time to buy this Barossa red — price is a dollar off until Nov. 11. Dark purple-edged garnet with a brambleberry pie and vanilla bouquet, it’s medium-full bodied with juicy, sweet berry flavours. Savoury spice notes and a fine acidity liven up the palate. Pair with beef tagine with dried fruits or bobotie, South Africa’s curried meat dish.

Filed under: Appetizer, News, Wine, ,

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Southern Rhone reds

Vintages released a selection of southern Rhone reds today tailor-made for barbecued meats. Find these picks via

Domaine de Pierre Pape Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2010
$37.95 (91 Points)
This is a full-bodied Rhône from Vignobles Maynard, a fifth-generation family-run estate. Vines are an average of 45 years old with grenache the dominant grape; the rest are syrah and cinsault. Deep with ripe berry and prune flavours, and notes of pinecone and garrigue, it’s a good match for grilled lamb or steak.

Domaine Grandy Vacqueyras 2010
$18.95 (89 Points)
A blend of 60% grenache with the rest syrah and mourvèdre, this vintage scored a gold medal at the Concours des Vins à Orange 2011. Tannins are velvety and the bouquet is of ripe berry with notes of wild herbs and chocolate. Mouth-filling with ripe strawberry/cherry flavours and hints of meaty bacon while a lively acidity keeps all in balance. Have with grilled duck breast.

Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux La Tour Sarrasine Gigondas 2010
$26.95 (91 Points)
This blend of largely grenache with syrah and mourvèdre grapes is sustainably grown on a family estate at the foot of the mountain range les Dentelles de Montmirail at Gigondas. It’s medium-full bodied, complex and spiced, yet remarkably balanced with silky tannins. Pair with game meats such as venison and wild boar.

Filed under: Appetizer, Wine, , ,

Margaret Swaine’s Spirit Picks: Summer cocktails

These products are perfect for creating delicious summer cocktails. Find them via

Alizé Gold Passion
$24.95 (87 Points)
This exotic cordial, created in concert with a French family known for its jams and juices, blends passion fruit juice with cognac, French vodka and sugars. Its nose is aromatic with passion fruit, which carries through on the palate. It’s sweet but not overly so with orange juice-like notes. Add sparkling wine for a great mimosa or tequila for a margarita with a twist.

Limoné Natural Lemon Liqueur
$19.95 (86 Points)
Limoncé is Italy’s No. 1 selling limoncello. Lower alcohol at 25%, with no artificial colours or flavours, it’s all about the sweet lemon peel. A little syrupy but with a good lemon peel finish, mix with soda water and gin for a tall cool drink or vodka and cranberry juice for a Limonpolitan.

The London #1 Gin
$44.95  (93 Points)
One of a handful of super-premium gins distilled in London, its light turquoise colour is derived in part from gardenia flowers and a final infusion of bergamot oil. Triple distilled, made from high-quality English grain spirit and 12 botanicals, this is a highbrow gin. The aromatics and flavours jump out of the glass — juniper first, then citrus peels and cinnamon and liquorice in the finish. Distinctive yet smooth on the palate, enjoy in a martini, stirred not shaken.

Filed under: Appetizer, ,

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Summer sippers

This Saturday’s Vintages release features some cool summer sippers. Find these picks via

Domaine de la Tourlaudière Muscadet 2010
$13.95 (89 Points)
This is a standout example of the dry Loire Valley varietal that’s perfect with oysters and fish. There are bready, floral and mineral notes on the bouquet. Medium bodied, dry yet supple and smooth on the palate, this is both lively and delicate with good length. From an excellent year, it’s softly fruity, complex and elegant.

Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc 2011
$21.95 (91 Points)
From New Zealand’s Marlborough region, this is a forward, expressive white with a passion fruit and tropical cocktail bouquet. Full bodied and plump on the palate, it’s full of juicy fruit with a zesty finish. This wine handles Thai, Indian and other flavourful cuisines well.

Lucien Albrecht Reserve Pinot Gris 2010
$15.95 (89 Points)
Albrecht is amongst the pioneers of viticulture in Alsace with a wine-growing history that can be traced back to 1425. Plump, peachy and ripe with a balancing acidity, this white has honeyed notes on the palate so it tastes just off dry. Medium-full bodied, round and supple in the mouth, it’s great with Berkshire pork chops or fish in a beurre blanc sauce.

Filed under: Appetizer, Wine, , ,

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Italian Reds

Vintages’ recent release of northern Italian reds has landed us some lovely selections.

Canonica a Cerreto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007
$17 (91 Points)
This medium bodied wine from a Tuscan property in the heart of the Chianti hills is largely sangiovese with some cabernet sauvignon and merlot aged in French oak barrels. There’s a nice perfume of violets in the bouquet with lots of ripe red berry, oak and cedar in the taste. Well structured and value priced.

Monte del Frá Tenuta Lena di Mezzo Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2008
$15.95 (89 Points)
Lena di Mezzo is an entirely terraced estate of 17.8 hectares that lies in the heart of hilly Fumane zone.  Aged 12 months in oak, this Veneto red is mainly corvina veronese and corvinone with 20% rondinella. It has a spiced cherry bouquet that carries through on the palate. Elegant and layered, it has a good intensity.

Tedeschi Capitel Nicalò Appassimento Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009
$15.95 (90 Points)
This value-priced deep purplish Veneto red is made in the appassimento style wherein fully ripe grapes are dried for about a month before pressing. The result is a rich, spiced wine with raisiny, prune fruit flavours with balsamic and cherry overtones. Chewy in texture and concentrated, it has a long finish.

Filed under: Appetizer, Wine,

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Savoury reds

These smooth, savoury reds over deliver for their price. Find this trio via

Corte Giara Ripasso Valpolicella 2009
$16.95 (90 Points)
This northern Italian red is deliberately made in an approachable ready-to-drink style. Robust and quite full bodied with an aromatic bouquet, it’s generous with supple tannins. There’s a tangy dried cherry flavour with spiced savoury notes. Delicious with quail, grilled meats or braised dishes.

Tin Barn Vineyards Cabernet Blend 2007
$37.95 (93 Points)
This organically farmed Napa Valley Meritage blend of mainly cabernet sauvignon with some merlot and cabernet franc was aged partially in new French oak. It’s velvety smooth with deep, savoury spice and berry flavors. Full bodied, complex and touched by toasty oak, it’s perfect with a juicy rare steak.

Mas D’Auzierès les Éclats 2009
$16.95 (89 Points)
From southern France, this syrah-based red with grenache and mourvèdre is smooth and flavourful with savoury rustic notes, ripe fruit and hints of dark chocolate. There’s a stone and minerals uplift from its site where the soil has shards (“les Éclats”) of quartzite and iron-laced limestone. Have with pork sausages, burgers or souvlaki.

Filed under: Appetizer, Wine, , ,

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Gallic flavours

These three French wines in today’s Vintages release deliver classic Gallic flavours at bargain prices. Find them via

Domaine des Richards Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise 2010  
$16.95  (90 points)
This lightly fortified dessert wine from the Rhone Valley is made from muscat grapes. The bouquet is fragrant with blossoms, grape and orange peel, which carries through on the palate. Medium-full bodied with orange marmalade flavours balanced by good acidity, this is great on the rocks as an aperitif or chilled for after a meal.
$18.95 (90 points)
From Côtes du Roussillon-Villages in southern France, this is the fourth release of this popular red. Grenache noir based with 30% syrah and 5% carignan, it’s ultra smooth with ripe, rich berry flavours. It sees no wood but has some spiced, savoury notes from its terroir. Perfect for venison or duck breast.

Chateau de Fontenelles Cuvée Notre Dame 2008
$15.95 (89 points)
A gold-medal-winning blend of syrah (55%), grenache, carignan and mourvèdre from Corbières, this dark purplish garnet wine is medium-full bodied with lots of fruit concentration. Smooth with velvety tannins and good depth, it has flavours of ripe berry, savoury spices and cedar. With its firm, dry, earthy finish, it goes well with red meats.

Filed under: Appetizer, News, Wine, ,

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Easy to drink bottles

These easy-to-drink wines are ultra friendly and affordable.  Find them via

Grooner Grüner Veltliner 2009
LCBO No. 168625; $13.35 (87 Points)
Despite its kitschy label, what’s in the bottle is pleasing, cheerful and easy to enjoy. From the Lower Austria wine region (Niederösterreich), this white is fresh, fruity and medium-light bodied with crisp apple and hints of white peppercorn typical of the varietal. It’s versatile: have as an aperitif, with salads, vegetarian dishes, light meats or fish.

Fairview Goats do Roam Red 2011
LCBO No. 718940; $12.95 (87 Points)
Winery owner Charles Back claims the Goats do Roam blend (syrah, cinsault, mourvèdre, carignan and grenache) represents their goats’ favourite vineyard picks when his son let them out one day. It’s a smooth, slightly spiced Rhone-style red with a medium body, berry fruit and some oak notes (gained from inner staves). Value priced with spot-on commercial appeal.

Apothic Red 2009
LCBO No. 234369; $15.95 (86 Points)
Apothic Red, which launched nationally across Canada in 2011, has reinvigorated the California “red blend” category. A bold blend of syrah, zinfandel and merlot, it fills the mouth with tastes of sweet raisiny fruits, dark chocolate, brown sugar and mocha. Rich, plush and off-dry with soft tannins, it can accompany hearty braised dishes, Asian spiced meats or even chocolate desserts.

Filed under: Appetizer, Wine, , ,

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Bubblies

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

There are good bubblies available to ring in the New Year whatever your budget.  Find these sparklers via

 Codorniu Brut Classico Trio Pack  $10.95 (86 Points)

This trio of 200mL bottles are all about fun and value. From Spain, made in the traditional ‘champagne’ method, this bubbly is fresh, medium bodied and fairly dry with decent soft fruit flavours. The twist open top is easy to pop off for a swig while dancing. Or use to make individual sparkling cocktails by adding a splash of fruit liqueur to a flute before pouring.

Cuvée Catharine Brut LCBO $29.95 (90 Points)

A medium full bodied blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, this dry sparkler made in the traditional method has spent 30 months aging on the lees. There’s a nice touch of toast throughout and good depth of fruity-citrus flavour with mineral notes. Have with caviar or oysters as a special treat. Or add a dollop of cabernet franc icewine for a pretty and festive all Canadian Blushing Kir.

Piper-Heidsieck Brut  $49.95 (91 Points)

Made in a lively, elegant style this true Champagne brand was first created in 1785. The House style has always been crisp yet approachable with charm and focus. Lightly toasty, medium bodied with a fresh floral and apple bouquet, there’s a good tang of citrus fruit on the palate. The overall impression is delicate, fresh and quite light on the palate with intriguing secondary flavours that keep you returning to the glass.

Filed under: Appetizer, Wine, , ,

WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008