These wines pair well with sunny patios, garden decks and cottage docks. Wine is often called “bottled sunshine,” so why not enjoy a glass outside?
By Natalie MacLean
Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne 2012, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #368415, $102.95): A full-bodied and complex Champagne with layers of dark cherries and strawberries from the Pinot Noir in the blend as well as violets, nutmeg and toast. A stupendously long finish. Is there anything more festive during the holidays than pink bubbly? Float a raspberry on top. These folks also make the coveted Cristal Champagne. I visited Louis Roederer in chapter three of my book Red, White and Drunk All Over to discover the secrets behind top bubblies. I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the Champagne region. Food pairings: Roast pheasant, lamb, Sichuan beef, halibut, nachos. Alcohol: 12%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2020. Score: 97/100.
Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut Champagne, Champagne AC, France (LCBO #384529, $86.95): A robust and complex Champagne from one of the region’s top producers. Bollinger always delivers and this special cuvée is no exception. Aromas of freshly baked bread, lemon zest and toasted almond. Food pairings: Alaskan king crab, pasta with cheese-based sauce, white turkey meat, lamb stew. Alcohol: 12.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2015–2021. Score: 93/100.
Roche de Bellene Les Charrons 2009, Meursault, Burgundy AC, France (LCBO #541235, $82.95): A full-bodied, rich, round Old World Burgundian Chardonnay that has been aged in French oak barrels, of which 40 per cent was new. Aromas of toasty oak, toasted almond and Asian pear. The vines were planted in 1981 at a density of 10,000 feet/ha with a north-east exposure in clay and limestone soils. The wine has undergone 100 per cent malolactic fermentation. Food pairings: Roast chicken, buttered lobster rolls, roast duck. Alcohol: 13.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2025.
Kistler McCrea Vineyard Chardonnay 2015,Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, USA (LCBO #353706, $119.95): A full-bodied Californian white wine with classic Chardonnay aromas of green apple, peach, butterscotch and smoke. Layered and complex. Kistler is known for producing benchmark Californian Chardonnay and it shows in this example. The 2015 vintage was bottled unfiltered and unfined, and therefore may leave a natural sediment in the bottle. Food pairings: Cornish hen, quail, lobster with melted butter, barbecued pork, roast chicken. Alcohol: 14.1%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2023. Score: 94/100.
Faust Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO #238261, $59.95): Blackened chary cassis and blackcurrant with lots of toasty oak. Full-bodied, rich and smooth. Needs a rare steak. Food pairings: Grilled lamb chops, Asian chicken salad, pork tenderloin. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2022. Score: 90/100.
Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Les Clous 2015, Meursault, Burgundy AC, France (LCBO #661322, $62.95): Excellent balance and elegance on this Chardonnay. In Meursault, gentle hillside slopes are exposed to the morning sun and this area is particularly known for its exceptional white village wines. Les Clous vintage 2015 is one of these. The word “clous” is very similar to the word “clos”, describing a walled vineyard. This is classic Old-World Chardonnay with tremendous balance and finesse. Enticing aromas of green apple and freshly baked bread. Food pairings: Lobster, chicken, salads, roast turkey. Alcohol: 13.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2024. Score: 92/100.
Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir 2015, Russian River, Sonoma County, California, USA (LCBO #119081, $84.95): Sweet raspberry jam aromas on the nose of this luscious Californian Pinot Noir. Fleshy ripe with black cherry notes on the palate. Doesn’t taste hot even though the alcohol is 14.2% which is high for Pinot Noir especially from a cool climate region like Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. That’s because this wine is packed with everything: fleshy depth, complexity, and layers and length. Some spice on the finish. Food pairings: Roast chicken, veal medallions, lamb in a red wine sauce, roasted pork loin, tourtière. Alcohol: 14.2%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2025. Score: 94/100.
Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz 2016, Mclaren Vale, South Australia, Australia (LCBO #327379, $54.95): Full-bodied palate-whacker from Australia, with aromas of black fruit and toasty oak. Food pairings: Roast game meats, bison burgers, grilled chicken breast. Alcohol: 14%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2024. Score: 91/100.
Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (LCBO #943472, $118.95): A classic, well-crafted Californian red wine with terrific depth, concentration, balance and length. Decant for two hours. Savoury and rich with aromas of cedar brush, dried herbs and cassis. There is a splash of Merlot in this wine. Food pairings: Prime rib, rare steak, grilled pork, roast chicken. Alcohol: 13.9%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2028. Score: 92/100.
Silenus Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO #422394, $69.95): A classic Californian cabernet with aromas of mocha and dark chocolate from oak aging, followed by fleshy blackberries and some warmth from the high alcohol. Full-bodied, layered and intense. Decant this baby for two hours then pair with rare filet mignon. Food pairings: Lamb bolognese, grilled New York striploin, hard cheese, braised pork shanks, veal chops. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2018–2024. Score: 90/100.
Natalie MacLean is the editor of Ontario’s largest wine review site and mobile apps at nataliemaclean.com.