Food + Drink

February wine picks

Bottles to turn the winter blahs into ahhhs

by MICHAEL PINKUS

It’s February and all that comes with it has arrived … Groundhog Day (Wiarton Willie predicts an early spring, while Punxsutawney Phil says the US is in for six more weeks of winter), Valentine’s Day (what do you get a loved one during a lockdown?), Family Day (though haven’t you spent enough time with them?) and of course, the February blahs.

This year it might be said that we’ve all been drinking a little too much (but we’ll just keep that between us). Let me help you drink better—and for less—with a few under $20 recommendations recently released at the LCBO.


SCORE KEY

Good ★★★ ½

Very Good ★★★★

Excellent ★★★★ ½

Outstanding ★★★★★

+ Wines with a little bit extra.



Zonte’s Footstep 2017 Canto

Australia, $18.95, Vintages 289967

★★★ ½

A blend of Italian grape varieties: Sangiovese and Lagrein, grown in Australia—in the Fleurieu region of South Australia—what it delivers is a far cry from what you expect, but still a delicious wine. Strawberry and balsamic notes from the Sangiovese, while the Lagrein adds those cherry, earthy notes all balanced with a tartness before opening up to add floral, spiced-plum, Christmas cake and even a jammy nuance. It’s a fun little frolic of a wine from grapes grown outside their native land and makes for an unusual yet playful wine.  



Pongracz Cap Classique Rosé

South Africa, $18.95, Vintages 646968

★★★ ½+

A South African traditional method bubble made from classic vinifera grapes: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. An intense aroma of cherry and raspberry grip the nose adding in floral and lime which also follows onto the palate. The finish is dry and offers up black cherry and earthy characteristics. Pleasant entry and lovely mid-palate with a finish that has you craving more.  

Wakefield 2019 Chardonnay

Australia, $16.95, Vintages 711556

★★★ ½+

Australia is learning new ways to reconquer Chardonnay after years of over-oaking. This Wakefield shows a real delicacy of tropical fruit, both on the nose and palate, displaying pineapple along with grapefruit, apple and melon rind. There’s some nice citrus zest on the finish that helps balance off that punchy sweet fruit character.

Vina Tarapaca 2018 Gran Reserva Merlot

Chile, $17.95, Vintages 17132

★★★★+

This is a Merlot with a good future ahead of it. The nose kicks off with blueberry, mocha and menthol while the palate plays possum with subtle smoky notes and rambunctious cassis fruit flavor, all hiding behind a richness of acidity and tannins. My suggestion would be to age three to five years before cracking another bottle—or with enough air and a big glass, this wine becomes smooth and silky and a treat for the senses.  


Le Pupille 2018 Morrelino Di Scansano

Italy, $18.95, Vintages 455659

★★★★

This red blend from Italy is dominated by Sangiovese, but also adds Alicante and Ciliegiolo for added depth of both flavour and colour. A note of cherry, both the fruit and the blossom on both the nose and palate dominate this fruit-forward wine bringing with it some blackberry, floral and subtle smoky nuances on the finish. Gentle tannins and good acidity make it a drink now quaffer with tons of flavour.


McPherson 2017 MWC Shiraz Mourvedre

Australia, $17.95, Vintages 16032

★★★★+

An unexpectedly soft supple wine from the place that usually brings ballsy Shiraz to the table. It’s the raspberry-mocha on the palate that will get your attention, as the nose is as quiet as a church mouse. The mid-palate is juicy and savoury with plenty of red fruit and a wonderful acidity that keeps everything in check and in balance. I could drink this all night long—and you will want to do the same.

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