Good Value Wines May 2005

By Natalie MacLean Print this page   Send this page to a friend

White Wines

2004 Ironstone Symphony Obsession 355784 $14.95 11.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: MD = medium dry, California: What a beautiful wine! Springy, refreshing floral aromas with lovely citrus acidity. The symphony grape is a cross between muscat and grenache gris. This wine also comes in the convenient half bottle size for $7.95. Ideal for shellfish, seafood, lightly spiced dishes and as an aperitif. This is actually part of the Vintages monthly release, but I missed it. Call 1-800-ONT-LCBO to find out which stores still have it or for a sales agent near you who represents the wine. Score: 90/100.

2004 Bonny Doon Ca' del Solo Malvasia Bianca 948737 $19.75 12.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: MD California: One of the most interesting and pretty whites from California. Aromas of daisies, orange blossoms and stonefruit. This medium-bodied, balanced wine comes out almost every year through the Vintages monthly releases. However, you can order some from the winery itself or from agent Rob Elvy at 613-547-2669 or Drink with shellfish, salads, pork and chicken. Score: 91/100. Favorite White Wine

2003 J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay 258699 $19.15 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 California: A nice, oaky chard, goes down easy like well-worn, comfy jeans. Aromas of ripe pears, nectarine and butter. Made in the cool region of Monterey County. Pair with seafood, cream pasta, corn dishes, pork with apple sauce and lobster in butter sauce. Score: 89/100.

2004 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 316570 $17.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (XD): VC: This perennial classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of gooseberry, grass, citrus and passion fruit. Intense lively fruit on the palate, crisp acidity with a lingering, slightly minerally finish. My note: Another one of my long-time favorites, this wine is part of the Vintages Essentials section of the LCBO, meaning it's in larger LCBO stores. Score: 90/100.

2004 Coopers Creek Sauvignon Blanc 957407 $17.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Marlborough, South Island (XD): Love it! Herbal, grassy, gooseberry, stonefruit and citrus notes. Breaks through with rays of sunshine on a cloudy day. Screwcap is a bonus. Score: 89/100.

2004 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 426601 $15.10 12.7% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 New Zealand: A maritime climate on the southern Pacific Ocean allows this wine to develop zesty tropical fruit, citrus and grassy notes. Drink with vegetarian dishes, salads and seafood. Score: 90/100. Best Value White Wine

2004 Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 293043 $14.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 New Zealand: A cool climate SB with classic herbal, grapefruit, passionfruit and lime aromas. Zippy and refreshing acidity for warm summer days. Medium-bodied. A great match for salads and shellfish. Score: 86/100.

2002 Stoneleigh Marlborough Chardonnay 288795 $14.65 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. New Zealand: A simple oaky chardonnay with ripe melon, nectarine and peach notes. Smooth texture, medium- to full-bodied. Drink with corn dishes and lobster in butter sauce. Score: 86/100.

2003 Wolf Blass Riesling 505370 $13.00 11.9% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Australia: Refreshing and simple notes of lemon and lime. Crisp and zesty. Medium-bodied. Drink with fish, cream pasta and any dish with a lemon base or sauce. Score: 85/100.

2003 Konzelmann Pinot Blanc V.Q.A. 219279 $8.95 11.2% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 Ontario, Canada: A delicious medium-bodied wine with sunny aromas of ripe melons and peaches. Drink with seafood, mussels, oysters, pork and cream-sauce pasta. Score: 84/100.

2002 Inniskillin Riesling Reserve V.Q.A. 253278 $13.25 12.0% Alcohol/Vol. Ontario, Canada: A bright, zippy white with lime and citrus aromas. Refreshing as an aperitif or great with seafood, salads and cold chicken. Available at the LCBO, Wine Rack stores and winery. Score: 85/100.

2003 Inniskillin Pinot Grigio VQA, Niagara, Ontario 348979, $12.25 12.5% Alcohol/Vol.: A mouth-watering. Medium-bodied white wine with classic peach and floral aromas. Pair with shellfish, seafood and salads. Score: 84/100.

2003 Vineland Estates Riesling Semi-Dry VQA, Niagara, Ontario 232033, $10.95 11.8% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 2: This slightly sweet, light-bodied white wine offers zippy refreshment on its own or with grilled fish, poultry or pasta. Score: 84/100.

2003 Jackson-Triggs Gewürztraminer VQA, Niagara, Ontario 526269, $10.95 12.7% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1: A medium-bodied white with a touch of sweetness that makes it perfect for Asian and medium-spice dishes. The wine shows classic lychee and orange blossom aromas. Score: 85/100.

2003 Strewn Semi-Dry Riesling VQA 616599 $10.95 11.4% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Niagara, Ontario: Floral and lemon notes. Refreshing acidity. Chosen the Ontario general list white wine of the year at the Cuvee awards. Drink with fish and vegetarian dishes. Score: 84/100.

2004 Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc 527465 $7.95 12.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: A crisp, simple and refreshing wine with aromas of green apples. Named after the earliest people of the Cape. Drink with poultry and seafood. Score: 83/100.

2004 Hippo Creek Sauvignon Blanc 385450 $9.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. South Africa: A zippy herbaceous wine from the Western Cape. Drink with simple pasta, chicken and white meats. Score: 84/100.

2003 Fleur du Cap Chardonnay 340406 $11.35 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. South Africa: Very oaky, creamy, buttery, fat chardonnay that has been barrel fermented and aged. Drink with corn dishes, lobster in butter sauce, cream pasta and roast chicken. Score: 84/100.

2003 Pinot Grigio Trentino Concilo DOC 637595 $11.40 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy: A simple, refreshing white with typical pinot grigio aromas of lemon and grapefruit. Good acidity to pair with seafood, salads and cream pasta. Score: 83/100.

2003 Dopff Au Mouli Riesling 649772 (LCBO product code number) $14.00 12.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 Alsace, France: Terrific medium-bodied white with citrus and spicy pear aromas. Perfect for Asian and medium spicy dishes. Score: 85/100.

2004 Moselland Bernkasteler Kurfurstlay 15875 $8.30 9.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 3 Moselle-Saar-Ruwer, Germany: A lovely, soft wine that has just a nice amount of sweetness to make it perfect for spicy and Asian dishes as well as barbecue chicken wings. Ideal as an aperitif. Score: 85/100.

2003 Balbach Riverside Riesling (Weingut Gunderloch) 499814 $10.05 10.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 2 Rhine Rheinhessen, Germany: Get hooked on riesling and you'll never look back. This value wine was made along the Rhine River by a terrific producer and offers aromas of ripe peaches and pears with a touch of sweetness. A racy acidity makes it ideal for shellfish, Asian dishes and turkey. Score: 87/100.

2002 Langguth Erben Spatlese 73783 $11.95 9.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 5 Rhine Rheinhessen, Germany: A soft, floral wine with aromas of field flowers and peaches. Some sweetness makes it perfect for glazed ham, dishes with wine reduction sauces and Asian fare. Score: 84/100.

Rosé Wines

2004 Malivoire Wine Company Rosé VQA 559088 $15.00 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: D Niagara, Ontario: One of the loveliest rosés I've tasted. Elegant, balanced and delicious with fresh aromas of strawberries and raspberries. This wine is the promise of a summer day. Will pair with salmon, pate, cold meats, chicken and simple pasta. Score: 92/100. Favorite Rosé

Red Wines

2003 Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz 145367 $11.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Australia: A jammy, purply, sound wine with aromas of sweet red fruit. When you want to try something different from Yellow Tail but not really. Drink with hamburgers and gruel. Score: 83/100.

2002 Palandri Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 602607 $17.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 West Australia: Made from 63% cabernet sauvignon and 37% merlot in shale soils and a cool climate. This round, smooth-textured red has aromas of red berries and oak, in which it was aged for 12 months. Full-bodied. A nicely-balanced acidity. Drink with steaks and stews. Score: 85/100.

2003 Three Corners Merlot 599027 $10.25 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 New South Wales, Australia: A delicious, plush wine with notes of chocolate, berry jam and cherries. Pair with hamburgers and steak. Score: 86/100.

2002 Tyrell's Old Winery Shiraz 457093 $12.10 Australia: A full-bodied wine with aromas of dark red fruit, mint, plums, spice and vanilla smoky oak. Smooth. Drink with yet more hamburgers. Score: 86/100.

2002 Penmara Five Families Shiraz 565929 (LCBO product code number) $13.15 13.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 New South Wales, Australia: Those who love shiraz will go snaky over this one. Full-bodied warmth and ripeness. Jammy fruit with light mint aromas. Made from the collaboration of five small producers rather than one of the big corporations. Staggeringly great value. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Score: 88/100.

2002 Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 311795 $13.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Australia: A good value-priced wine with aromas of red berries, pepper, spice and light oak. Medium-bodied. Pair with grilled meat and hamburger. Score: 86/100.

2001 Wolf Blass Cabernet Merlot 611483 $15.95 13.2% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Australia: Warm, jammy fruit, plums and berries. Spicy oak. Full-bodied. Drink with barbecued meats and prime rib. Score: 86/100.

2001 Wolf Blass Shiraz Premium Selection 348540 $24.95 Premium Selection, South Australia (XD): VC: From one of the most recognized names in the world of wine today comes a Shiraz with pizzazz! Lovely aromas of mint, blackberry, cassis, vanilla and black pepper lead to rich concentrated fruit flavors, exotic spice nuances, and a long toasty fruity finish. A perfect pairing for smoked meats. My note: Masterfully-made wine. Best bang for your big wine bucks. Full-bodied with blackberries, black plums and black currants. Score: 91/100.

2001 Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon Premium Selection 321927 $24.95, South Australia (D): VC: Wolf Blass has taken the world by storm by consistently producing high quality wines like this full-bodied Cab with aromas of blackcurrant, eucalyptus, and dark chocolate. Dry and fruity, it has a medium long finish. My note: Staggeringly great wine for an unbelievably great price. Rich with layers of plummy warmth and Aussie sunshine. Wolf Blass is making some of the best high-end Australian wines available to us here. Part of the Vintages Essentials collection. Score: 93/100. Favorite Red Wine

2001 Wolf Blass Brown Label Shiraz 390872 $29.95 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Australia: Another winner from WB. Rich, deep layers of opulent ripe red-black fruit and light spice. Full-bodied and plush. This wine is made from grapes from the McLaren and Barossa Valleys and was barrel fermented. Then it spent 18 months in American and French oak. Pair with steak, lamb and beef. Score: 90/100.

2002 D'Arenberg D'Arry's Original 942904 $19.95 McLaren Vale, South Australia (D): VC: This grenache/shiraz blend has aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, cinnamon, roses and menthol with coffee and caramel in the background. The wine lands softly on the palate, and finishes long and smooth. Delicious with beef. My note: Heavily-extracted wine (loads of flavor, color and alcohol). Full-bodied with delicious black plum, mint and chocolate aromas. Part of the Vintages Essentials collection. Score: 90/100.

2003 Santa Rita 120 Merlot 286179 $9.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Rapel Valley, Chile: staggeringly great value. Although Chile's marketing spin is now on more expensive wines, there's no denying that they're still best in the value range of $10-$15. Although I didn't get to try many Chilean wines (and would have welcomed the opportunity to try some of those priced at $15 and higher), I found some absolute gems in the value range such as this one. Rich aromas of dark chocolate, red fruit and herbs. Excellent concentration in this full-bodied wine. A touch tannic. While most wines recommended in this batch won't cellar more than a year or two, I believe that this one will keep until 2008. Pair with veal and stew. Score: 87/100.

2003 Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 275925 $12.95 12.2% Alcohol/Vol. Colchaqua Valley, Chile: Made in the foothills of the Andes. Classic Bordeaux-style wine: balanced with aromas of cassis and black currant. This full-bodied wine has a long finish and spent 9 months in oak. A touch tannic. Drink 2005-2008. Pair with lamb and steak. Score: 86/100.

2003 Vina Tarapaca Cabernet Sauvignon 249599 $9.05 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Maipo Valley, Chile: From Chile's premium wine producing region. This full-bodied red shows notes of dark chocolate, blackcurrants and cassis. Drink with steak and stew. Score: 86/100.

2003 Santa Alicia Carmenere Reserve 309302 $10.45 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Maipo Valley, Chile: Full-bodied goodness with notes of plums. Plush, juicy and round. Pair with steak, hamburger, and roast. Score: 86/100.

2003 Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 212993 $14.80 12.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1, Chile: An awesome wine and value that I've recommended several times. Lovely rich cassis, plums and currants. Score: 88/100.

2003 Isla Negra Merlot (Cono Sur) 516294 $10.10 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Chile: I challenge you to find a better $10 wine out there. This just isn't the best value wine of this tasting; it's the best value wine in my life so far. Unbelievably rich and full-bodied, yet it's no fruit bomb. Aromas of plums, cassis, dark chocolate. Drink 2005-2008. Pair with grilled meats, steak, stew and nothing at all: just drink it for pure bliss. Run now to stock up for your big parties this summer.. they'll think you paid two to three times more for it. Score: 89.5/100. Best Value Red Wine of the Century So Far

2002 R.H. Phillips Dunnigan Hills Shiraz 576272 $13.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 California: The Dunnigan Hills are east of Napa Valley. This full-bodied shiraz (often called syrah in California and France) has warm aromas of sweet plums. Screwcap is a bonus. Drink with game dishes. Score: 86/100.

2003 Delicato Merlot 520148 $12.45 13.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 California: The grape unfairly trashed in the fabulous movie Sideways. This one is smooth, luscious and silky with dark red fruit and chocolate notes. Full-bodied. Perfect with steak, lamb and game meats. Great Value. Score: 86/100.

2002 Sterling Vineyards Merlot 330241 Vintages Essentials $28.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: D California: Gorgeous texture with plush plums, smoke and a long finish. Drink 2005-2008. Score: 89/100.

2001 Estancia Meritage 678375 Vintages Essentials $17.95 375 ml half bottle 14.1% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: D California: A plush wine with dark plums. Great structure. Made from 53% merlot and 47% cabernet sauvignon. Drink 2005-2010. Lovely with chicken and meat dishes. Score: 90/100.

2002 Fetzer Valley Oaks Zinfandel 234617 $14.95 10.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 California: Lovely zin for the money. Spicy red berries and brambleberries. Medium- to full-bodied. Drink with hamburgers, grilled meats and tomato-sauce pasta. Score: 87/100.

2002 Cline Syrah 733758 Vintages Essentials $17.95 California: Dark fruit, leather and smoky oak. Full-bodied. Drink with pepper steak, barbecued meats and Brad Pitt if you can wrench him away from Angelina. Cad. Score: 88/100.

2002 Ravenswood Zinfandel 359257 Vintages Essentials $19.95 'Vintners Blend', California (D): Juicy, mouth-watering red with ripe berries and spice. Full-bodied. Food match: steak, pizza, sausage. Drink now. Score: 88/100.

2003 Rosenblum Zinfandel 284653 Vintages Essentials $19.95 California (D): More zin, zin, zin! Black raspberries with a racy spiciness. Yum. Medium- to full-bodied. One of my favorite zins. Food matches: pepper steak, hamburgers. Drink now. Score: 88/100.

2001 Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon 342428 Vintages Essentials $20.95 12.09% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: D = dry California Fetzer Vineyards: Full-bodied wine with rich, round black currants and cherries. Organically farmed and certified. Drink with hearty meat dishes, stews, hamburgers. Score: 88/100.

2001 Beringer Stone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 606798 $13.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 (just a touch of sweetness, though it tastes like it's dry) California: Medium to full-bodied with bright red fruit and berries. Smooth on the palate. Terrific with sun-dried tomatoes and grilled steak. Score: 87/100.

2003 E & J Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon 223552 $8.95 13.1% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 California: Gallo still suffers (unfairly) from a nasty hangover image as a jug wine. But insiders know that this winery now produces just about the best great-value wines on the market. This red is delicious, supple and bursting with ripe blackberries and plummy goodness. Round and full-bodied. This is an ideal house wine to always have on hand and great for large parties. (Also comes in the 1.5 liter magnum size for $15.95.) Drink with grilled meats, simple and lightly spicy chicken. Score: 86/100.

2003 E&J Gallo Sierra Valley Zinfandel 527440 $8.95 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 California: A simple jammy wine with aromas of delicious berries. Drink with grilled steak. Score: 84/100.

2003 Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir VQA, Niagara, Ontario 57349 $10.95 12.0% Alcohol/Vol.: A peppery, spicy medium-bodied red with ripe cherries. A simple, easy-drinking wine to pair with steak and stews. Score: 84/100.

2002 Jackson-Triggs Proprietor's Reserve Meritage VQA, Niagara, Ontario 526228 $11.95 12.4% Alcohol/Vol.: A full-bodied red with rich, dark aromas of black plums and cassis. Made from 30% cabernet sauvignon, 29% cabernet franc and 41% merlot. This wine spent twelve months in French and American oak. Drink with grilled steak, lamb and hearty meat dishes. Score: 85/100.

2002 Peninsula Ridge Merlot VQA, Niagara, Ontario 592261 $19.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: XD: Deep, concentrated wine with blackberry and cassis aromas. A balanced mouth-watering acidity makes this full-bodied red a good partner for hearty meat dishes. Score: 84/100.

2002 Jackson-Triggs Proprietor's Reserve Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon VQA, Niagara, Ontario 560680 $11.95 12.8% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1: Full-bodied aromas of plums and blackcurrants. A plush, round wine to pair with prime rib. Score: 85/100.

2003 Robert's Rock Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 523456 $8.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: Delicious juicy red with lively aromas of red berries and currants. Medium-bodied. Pair with hamburger, shepherd's pie and barbecued meats. Score: 86/100.

2002 Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 111526 $12.45 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Stellenbosch, South Africa: Lively acidity for hearty meat and Italian dishes, game and stew. Aromas of red berries and cassis. Medium-bodied. Score: 85/100.

2002 Nederburg Shiraz 527457 $12.45 14.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Stellenbosch, South Africa: Oaky with a lively attack of acidity. Dancing cherries. Full-bodied fun. Pair with spicy lamb, Italian sausage, kebobs and souvlaki. Score: 85/100.

2003 Bellingham Shiraz 554360 $13.15 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: My favorite South African value shiraz. Rich, deep aromas. Like a generous friend who keeps paying for dinner every time you go out. Aromas of plums, cherries, blackberries and smoke. Medium-bodied. Pair with hamburgers, steak, stew. Score: 87/100.

2002 K.W.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 22004 $11.05 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: Lovely, smooth wine with mocha and plum notes. Medium- to full-bodied. Long finish. Pair with game meats and lamb. Score: 86/100.

2003 Simonsig Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 520569 $10.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: Deep layers of mocha, plum and red berry warmth. A dark heart. Medium- to full-bodied. Long finish. Pair with smoked meats, roast beef and lamb. Score: 87/100.

2004 Obikwa Shiraz 527499 $8.45 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: A juicy simple red with delicious sweet plummy and red berry aromas. Drink with red meats, hamburger and simple pasta. Score: 85/100.

2004 Fleur du Cap Merlot 340414 $13.35 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: Aromas of red plums, mocha, blackberries and light smoky oak. Full-bodied. Pair with roast lamb and beef and game dishes. Score: 84/100.

2003 Cape Indaba Shiraz 630384 $10.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: Juicy and mouth-watering with red berries, spice and a lovely acidity to complement pizza, sausage, tomato-based pasta and grilled steak. Score: 84/100.

2003 Tribal Merlot 623702 $9.10 13.2% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: Dark chocolate and black fruit aromas. A touch tannic. Full-bodied. Pair with juicy steak and roast beef. Score: 84/100.

2003 Drostdy-Hof Merlot 345371 $11.05 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: Nicely balanced with a smooth texture. Notes of plums. Medium-bodied. Pair with lamb, meats and game birds. Great party wine. Score: 85/100.

2002 Graham Beck Shiraz Coastal 607796 $17.95 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Africa: Part of the Vintages Essentials collection. A wine of stunning depth and richness. This top producer hand-picked the grapes. The wine spent 12 months in American oak. Aromas of blackberries and blue berries with white pepper. A deep, long finish. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Score: 90/100.

2003 Noemie Vernaux Pisse-Dru Brouilly 614024 AOC Burgundy, France $16.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol.: Bright red berries. Light- to medium bodied. Drink with roast beef, simple chicken and pasta. Score: 85/100.

2003 Mommessin Beaujolais AOC Burgundy, France 313734 $10.95
12.0% Alcohol/Vol.: A basket of fresh raspberries and strawberries. Lightly spicy with juicy, mouth-watering acidity. Light- to medium-bodied. Perfect for pate, cold chicken, pork, simple pasta and salmon. Great value. Serve lightly chilled for more refreshment, especially as an aperitif. Score: 86/100.

2003 George DuBoeuf Beaujolais Brouilly 70540 $17.95 12.7% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 Burgundy, France: A juicy red wine with medium body. You'll lose out on a lot of pleasure in life if you ignore beaujolais. It's a jubilant, country dancing kind of wine. Perfect for pate, cold chicken, pork, simple pasta and salmon. Score: 86/100.

2000 Antonin Rodet Pinot Noir 589341 $17.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 Burgundy, France: A simple medium-bodied red with a lot of acidity (it needs food to accompany it: pork, grilled meats, salmon). It's unusual to find a vintage this far back still in the regular stock. With some age, you also get intriguing aromas of leather, spice and darker cherries. It would be fascinating for a tasting group (or anyone on their own) to try this wine side by side with the two wines above and the one below to note the dramatic differences in style and age. Score: 85.

2002 Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot Beaune les Greves Premieur Cru Vintages Essentials 680421 Vintages Essentials 375 mL half bottle $26.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: XD Burgundy, France: I loved this wine! A rich, deep luxurious aroma of cherries, mocha and optimism. It's a rare thing to find terrific half bottles which you can open on a weeknight without the guilt of getting soused or not finishing the bottle. It's not cheap given it's a half bottle, but good Burgundy is never cheap no matter what the size. Score: 90/100.

2002 Calvet Chateau St. Germain 152587 $13.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content : 1 Bordeaux, France: Full-bodied red with Old World restraint and balance. Leather and spice and not a lot of fruit aromas. Drink with lamb. Score: 86/100.

2001 Chateau Cane, Domaines du Soleil Minervois, Languedoc, France 320598 $12.95 14.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1: This warm, full-bodied red is made near Canal du Midi in southern France. It enjoys both Mediterranean and Atlantic climates and is mostly (85%) made from syrah, the other name for shiraz. It's nicely balanced with aromas of ripe plums and smoky oak. Drink with a roast or steak. Score: 87/100.

2003 Lapaccio Primitivo Salento IGT Pasqua 588822 $11.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Puglia, Italy: One of the hot "new" regions in southern Italy is Puglia, producing delicious wines of excellent value like this one. Aromas of bright berries, cherries and strawberries with a kiss of oak and a velvet texture. This medium-bodied wine spent four months in oak barriques. Made from 95% of the primitivo grape (believed to be the clonal cousin of zinfandel) and 5% of the negromaro grape. A balanced and even acidity that makes it an outstanding food wine for veal scaloppini, grilled meats and game dishes. Score: 86/100.

2001 Casale Del Giglio Shiraz 524819 $15.00 12.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Lazio, Italy: Australia isn't the only one producing wines made with the wildly popular grape shiraz: Italy, South Africa and California are now producing excellent versions. Medium-bodied. This one has aromas of red berries and plums. Nice acidity for tomato-based pasta, pizza, sausages and prime rib. Score: 84/100.

2001 Catullo Rosso IGT Bertani 588889 $17.85 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Veneto, Italy: A lovely wine from northern Italy. Aromas of cassis, black currant and mocha. This wine is made from 60% of the grape cabernet sauvignon and 40% of the grape corvina veronese. Drink with red meat and game dishes. Score: 85/100.

2000 Dievole Sangiovese Rosso Toscano 612705 $13.10 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Tuscany, Italy: My favorite Italian wine on the general list. A consistently excellent producer year after year. Rich, deep aromas of earth, leather and bright cherries. Medium- to full-bodied. Perfectly calibrated acidity for tomato-based pasta dishes, pizza and lasagna. Score: 88/100.

2002 Ca' Bianca Barbera D'Asti DOC Gruppo Italiano Vini 588905 $12.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 : Piedmont, Italy: Another lovely wine from northern Italy. Aromas of plums and mocha. Medium- to full-bodied with a smooth, easy-drinking texture. Pair with venison. Score: 85/100.

2002 Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 3962 $23.90 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Tuscany, Italy: Look who's back baby! Forget the macramed chianti you knew in the 1970s; this is a thoroughly modern wine with knock out flavor. This medium- to full-bodied, plush red made from the sangiovese grape has it all: balance, beautiful fruit (dancing cherries on your tongue) and a lovely acidity for tomato-based pasta, pizza, lasagna and sausage. The wine was made on the border of Siena and Florence, so even if you can't live under the Tuscan Sun, you can at least drink it. The Ricasoli family has owned the castle since 1141. (Can you imagine saying: "Yes, my family has owned the castle where we make wine since 1141." Heaven help the woman who hears that in some quaint bistro in Florence. Take me now!) Score: 88/100.

2001 Castillo de Almansa Reserva, Bodegas Piqueras 270363 $10.15 13.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 Almansa, Spain: A mouthful to say and a mouthful to drink. Ola! Rich aromas of dark and red plums. Full-bodied sun-ripened goodness. Made from a blend of traditional Spanish grapes: tempranillo, monastrell and garnacha. Aged 12 months in oak. Lovely mouth-watering acidity. Drink with roasts, grilled meats and pasta. Score: 86/100.

2002 Mederano Tinto Seco Freixenet 636951 $10.05 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 La Mancha, Spain: A simple, juicy, medium-bodied wine with red fruit aromas. Drink with stew and casserole. Score: 84/100.

2003 Bodegas Palacio Vina Portil 636936 $11.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Rioja, Spain: Rioja wines aren't usually priced this low; this is an excellent value. Vibrant red berries and spice with a smooth texture. This full-bodied wine is made from the tempranillo grape. Serve with beef and grilled game. Score: 86/100.

1999 Martinez Candidato Oro 523811 $8.00 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Rioja, Spain: Another great value from Spain's most famous wine region. This medium- to full-bodied one has notes of black cherries and herbs and a clean, modern style. The wine was made from 90% tempranillo and 10% granache. It spent 14 months in oak, two years in stainless steel tanks and one year in the bottle before being released. It's marvelous to taste the difference age makes. Drink with lamb. Score: 86/100.

2002 Torres Coronas Tempranillo DO 29728 $11.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Penedes, Spain: A simple, juicy red with spicy notes and ripe red cherries. A full-bodied wine made from 86% tempranillo and 14% cabernet sauvignon. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Score: 86/100.

2003 Torres Sangre de Toro 6585 $10.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Penedes, Spain: Here's another wine I recommend year after year. Round and plummy. Medium- to full-bodied. Made from the garnache and carinena grapes. Drink with casserole, game and grilled steak. Score: 87/100.

2001 Barcelo Penascal-Castilla Y Leon 343434 $9.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Rueda, Spain: A consistently good producer. Rich, round and warm with red fruit, America oak. Smooth and plush texture. Medium- to full-bodied. Pair with
lamb. Score: 87/100.

2000 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 32656 $22.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Rioja, Spain: If you want to know what classical, well-aged Rioja smells and tastes like, buy this one. It's one of the more expensive wines on this list but still represents good value. Aromas of leather, cigar, oak, smoke and red fruit in the background. It's a reading in the library, Dad's old favorite kind of wine. Full-bodied. Drink with prime rib, pork roast and stew. Score: 88/100.

2001 Sogrape Grao Vasco Dao 14977 $7.55 12.0% Alcohol/Vol. Dao, Portugal: A simple cedary medium-bodied wine with aromas of red cherries. Named for the painter Grai Vasco (1480-1543), a pseudonym for Vasco Fernandes. The wine is made from the traditional grapes of the Dao region. Drink with meats and poultry. Score: 84/100.

2001 J.P.Vinhos Tinto Da Anfora 227256 $12.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Alentejo, Portugal: A deep, juicy, mouth-watering wine with red-black fruit: red cherries and blackberries. Full-bodied blend of traditional grapes from the Alentejo region plus cabernet sauvignon. This wine spent 12 months in oak. Drink with pepper steak and hamburgers. Score: 88/100.

1999 Fonseca Terras Atlas Dao 10892 $8.05 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Dao, Portugal: Portugal doesn't just produce great fortified wine, port, it also now makes excellent dry table wines. This full-bodied, plush wine has aromas of jammy cherries and plums. Pair with duck in a port sauce and hamburgers with relish. Score: 85/100.

2001 Charamba Douro 352963 $8.25 12.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Douro, Portugal: A vibrant, jammy, full-bodied red with pepper and cedar notes. Aged in French and American oak. Drink with roasts, chicken. Score: 86/100.

2003 Pedras Do Monte Castelao 565762 $9.35 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Setubal, Portugal: For the Yellow Tail crowd: why pay more? This full-bodied, juicy wine has aromas of sweet raspberries and almost liqueur-like black cherries. So full-bodied, it needs a girdle. Perfect with roasts and barbecue anything. Score: 85/100.

2002 Deinhard Pinot Noir Dornfelder 00630533 $10.95 12% Alcohol/Vol. Germany: Lovely medium-bodied wine with aromas of red fruit, cherries and plums. Germany may be best known for its riesling, but it's now making outstanding pinot noir both in the value and premium ranges. This wine would drink well with a variety of dishes: meat, chicken, pasta and game. Score: 86/100.

Fortified and Dessert Wines

2004 Bartenura Artenura Moscato D'Asti 897876 $14.35 5.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 10 Italy: You haven't lived if you haven't tried a moscato d'asti wine. A lightly frizzy wine with a touch of sweetness, it's the ultimate after-dinner as-the-sun-is-setting-sitting-on-the-dock wine. It's lovely as an aperitif and drink it with a fruit flan, strawberry shortcake, roasted almonds or biscotti. Aromas of ripe peaches and pears. This is a Kosher product. Score: 89/100.

2003 Neige Apple Ice Wine 375 ml half bottle $19.99 Quebec, Canada: If you like apple pie, apple rhubarb, you'll love this dessert in a glass. Drink it on its own or with a dessert that's not sweeter than it is, such as fruit flan or even nuts and cheese. Wine stores throughout Canada and the U.S. are now stocking this gorgeous dessert wine. (The LCBO usually brings it in once a year through the monthly Vintages releases.) Call the winery at 450-247-2899 or visit Score: 90/100.

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