Summer Wine Picks Wrap Up

On the eve of my official return to work, post-summer break, it seems fitting to weigh in on the last of the CBC “All in a Day” summer wine picks. We managed to try all 6 bottles since we found the list in July, and included a few friends along the way in our taste testing. I got around to formally reviewing 4 of them, which are all linked below. The final 2 were a bit lack lustre, so I’ve just included a few notes on them below.

To Recap: “All in a Day” Wine Panel’s Summer Picks

Rod’s Picks:

Stacey’s Picks:

  • White: Grooner Gruner Veltliner (Austria) $13.30– 8/10 for taste and 3.5/5 for value.
  • Rosé: The Beach House Rosé (South Africa) $9.95- Overly sweet and a bit yeasty. Felt like a cheap bottle of flavoured wine, it was just missing the fake strawberry taste. Would not buy again, although would never have bought it, had it not been on the list.
  • Red: Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere (Chile) $11.95- A dry red, spicy and peppery. Had a high alcohol content that took a long time to dissipate. Not the greatest because the alcohol really overwhelmed the flavour.

Trying these new bottles was a fun experiment, although it was not extremely useful in finding wines I would buy again. I think my wine taste is closer to Rod’s, I would buy both his red and white recommendation again, probably next summer. Stacey’s picks weren’t my favourite, all of them were a bit blah or cheap feeling, which is disappointing, because there are lots of $10 wines out there worth buying.

I think the verdict is, there are lots of wines on my $10 list that I would recommend ahead of these 6.

Thanks to Joe Shlabotnik for the photo.


Cono Sur Bicycle Viognier

2010 Cono Sur Bicycle Viognier, $9.95. LCBO#64287.

We are making good progress on the “All in a Day” summer wine list, having polished off 4 of the 6 bottles so far. We tested bottle number 4 out at a BBQ hosted by white wine loving friends. The wine was served well chilled while we nibbled on some Fifth Town goat cheese, with crackers and olive tapenade from Tuscany. Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

The wine went wonderfully with the cheese, and was also great on its own.  A medium golden colour with plenty of ripe fruit on the nose, some peach and melon for sure. The taste is full of orchard fruit as well as something a bit tropical, with a nice citrus acidity. It is a 1 in sugar content, but is well balanced and not overly sweet.

It’s a really fresh and fruity wine that is optimally consumed with bare toes touching the grass, and one’s bottom cushioned by a comfy deck chair. It’s backyard gathering wine for sure. I don’t know if I would pick it up in the winter, it probably would not be as fun to drink.

This wine went well with goat cheese, both sharp and mild, and would also be a great pair to some spicy asian takeout, seafood or fried chicken. At the $10 price tag, you can’t go wrong.

Overall, I give this wine 8.5/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.

Antonin Rodet Cotes-du-Rhone

Antonin Rodet Cotes-du-Rhone, $12.95. LCBO#8979.

This wine is the third we’ve tried from “All in a Day’s” 6 summer wines, and the first that I would buy again. It was exciting to turn to Kevin and say “I really like this one!” It started out well from the pour, a beautiful deep ruby colour, the kind that promises flavours just as rich.

There was some oak and cherry on the nose, with cherry on the palate. It is dry, yet balanced, and medium to full bodied. It is great for steak or burgers, but isn’t overwhelmingly big and fruity.

I definitely agree with this as a summer pick, as I sometimes find full bodied reds just too much in the heat. This bottle hits the right balance of body and fruit, without going overboard.

Overall, I give this wine 8.5/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.

Grooner Gruner Veltliner

2010 Grooner Gruner Veltliner, $13.30. LCBO#168625.

This bottle was my second test of “All in a Day’s” 6 summer wines. I brought it along to a girl’s night of wine, cheese and chatter (thinly disguised as watching So You Think You Can Dance). This white was a good match for the Camembert and pate we gobbled down, and also was sippable on its own.

I was intrigued by the Austrian heritage, as I rarely drink European bottles from beyond the Mediterranean region. Gruner Veltliner is described as a dry white, and a match for Sauvignon Blanc, but I would disagree. I would put it somewhere more in the neighbourhood of Pinot Grigio, bordering on off-dry, while not actually being sweet. It just didn’t have the acidity I enjoy in a white during the summer; however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a nice wine. Plus, the label is extremely fun and cheeky.

There are flavours of apple and pear, but I didn’t pick up on the promised citrus. This would be a good bottle for folks who like something refreshing but not overly crisp or tart. I however, will be saving $2 and sticking with my favourite cheap and cheerful summer white. The Grooner was perfectly passable, but just not a fit for my personal tastes.

Here’s hoping that I find something from the picks that becomes a regular on my wine list.

2 down, 4 to go.

Overall, I give this wine 8/10 for taste and 3.5/5 for value.

Masi Modello Rosato Delle Venezie

2010 Masi Modello Rosato Delle Venezie, $10.95. LCBO#587725.

We started our trial of “All in a Day’s” 6 summer wines with a rosé when my friend Eve popped by last week for an impromptu dinner with us. Since she loves wine like I do, and isn’t afraid to give pink wine a chance, it seemed like the right audience for this bottle.

All 3 of us had trouble identifying much on the nose or in the taste, no specific fruit jumped out in this wine. The description says berries and plums, but I couldn’t come up with that. The wine is fairly dry with a slightly tart finish; it’s quite fresh and was enjoyable in the heat. It stood up on its own and with a meal of roast chicken and veggies, and would also be good with fish or a salad.

There’s not much to say about this one…it’s perfectly acceptable, but didn’t excite me. I wish I had something more glowing to say about the first of the summer wines. The price is right and it is well suited to a hot summer night, but will I buy it again? Most likely not.

Overall, I give this wine 7.5/10 for taste and 3.5/5 for value.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc

2010 Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc, $9.00. LCBO#275909.

I think I have the recipe to recovery after a very disheartening day at the office: Have your significant other make you dinner, drink some cheap wine, eat a Cadbury cream egg and watch Law & Order. The wine will relax you, the dinner & chocolate will cheer you up, and Law & Order will reassure you that your life is really not that bad. You could be on trial for murder, after all. Even the worst of work days must be better than a day in the courts.

I grabbed this wine yesterday in the LCBO, it was right beside my favourite affordable Sauvignon Blanc, Cocha y Toro, which recently moved from $10 to $11. I was curious if this $9 Chilean bottle could live up to my reliable cooking and drinking white wine.

The wine is a pale straw colour, with lots of tropical fruit and herbs on the nose. Those same notes show up in the taste, with some papaya and pineapple coming through. I find it slightly lacking in zip, with a need for more citus punch. It’s a teensy bit light, flat or watery…hard to pinpoint which.

With all that said, it is still highly drinkable, just not as special as my go-to white wine. I am sad to report that I’ll need to keep paying a few bucks more to get the exact balance and flavour I’m looking for.

Overall, I give this bottle 7.5/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.


Ruffino Chianti

Ruffino Chianti, 2009. $14.95. LCBO#1743.

I love presents. Especially when they are drinkable. And even more when they aren’t actually for me, but I still get to drink them. Kevin just had a birthday, and our lovely friend Jenn gifted him a bottle of her favourite red.

Naturally, a few days later, I suggested that this bottle of hearty Italian Chianti would pair well with beef stew. And, of course, it did; I think it would be even more marvelous with roast beef or steak.

The wine is a bit of a sneak attack in your mouth. It starts out mellow and light-medium bodied, but then explodes on your palate with cherry fruit, and finishes with a zip. I really enjoyed it, there’s a good sweet-tart balance, and it is very drinkable alone or with food.

We had a smidge left over and I’m drinking it now, with some very dark chocolate. It’s still tasty, even a few days on, and is a marvelous match for the chocolate. It adds an almost cherry cola quality to the wine.

This bottle was a wonderful treat, and one I will definitely buy again. Maybe to go with some pot roast or spaghetti and meatballs. Yum.

Overall, I give this bottle 9/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.

La Puerta Shiraz

2010 La Puerta Shiraz, $9.15. LCBO#614636.

I was first introduced to this bottle at my favourite Calgary restaurant, Aida’s Mediterranean Bistro, as it was the house wine for a long time. Perhaps it still is, I sadly have not been there for a few years. One of the downfalls of moving across the country, of course. I always enjoyed this wine, especially with Aida’s garlicky hummus and baba ghanoush, and other appetizer sized treats, but could never find it at the Kingston LCBO. Last month, as I was browsing the Argentina aisle, this very distinctive and memorable label jumped out at me. I was shocked to see that it fit my $10 price point, and immediately added a bottle to my basket.

We drank this wine with friends during a games night, and I have to say it went well on its own, and with some simple veggies and dip and chips. Sadly the spread was nothing like Aida’s delights, but the wine is versatile. Medium to full-bodied, deep plum in colour, with a bit of cellar-like funk on the nose that quickly dissipates. It has ripe berry flavours, but also some depth and peppery spice, with a pleasingly dry finish. I am happy to add this bottle to my $10 list.

Overall, I give this bottle 8.5/10 for taste and 4.5/5 for value. And bonus points for a fun, graphic label.

Fetzer Merlot

2008 Fetzer Merlot, $14.95. LCBO#341131.

Last week, we hosted a lovely little dinner party, and tried this new bottle. I am a big fan of Fetzer Zinfandel, and was hopeful that the merlot would also be delicious. I don’t tend to buy merlot, as I’m always worried it will be a bit boring, but it seemed a safe choice with guests.

I was impressed with this bottle. It is very smooth, medium to full bodied, smoky with oak and ripe with berries. It has a bit of a sweet-tart quality, which I love in a fruity wine. It went well with roasted chicken and tomato-basil pasta, but also was great on its own, and with dessert. A keeper for dinner parties! It really hits all my favourite wine notes, and definitely matches the tastiness of their zinfandel. I’m going to have trouble choosing a bottle when standing in the California aisle at the LCBO. Which is really nothing to complain about.

Overall, I give this wine 9/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.

Aquila Estate Shiraz

2005 Aquila Estate Shiraz, $21-$25.

I thought I was finished blogging for 2010, but then this lovely bottle of wine crossed my path this week. It was purchased in Calgary, and is sadly not carried by the LCBO, so this will probably be my one and only taste. Those of you who live in a less fascist wine state than Ontario should hurry out and buy yourselves a bottle!

This shiraz is everything I would expect in an Australian bottle. Full bodied, ripe with berries and a touch of oak. It is very well balanced, with a bit of zip and a smooth finish.

I’ve searched all over the net for more information on this bottle and the Aquila Estate winery, and have not come up with much. All I can say is that it delivers for the price, and captures everything that is great about Aussie shiraz.

Overall, I give this wine 9/10 for taste and 4/5 for value.