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680 NEWS wine reviews – January 24 

  1. Chocolate Grappa
    With Valentine's Day coming up, instead of chocolates this year, why not give your inamorata chocolate-flavoured grappa? Now, I know for most non-Italians grappa is something that fuels a 747, but Gianduia Crema Cioccolato e Grappa is deliciously sweet and chocolatey. It's a cream liqueur based on an old Piemontese recipe that uses chocolate, milk, cream, hazelnuts with a grappa base. There's also a white version of this liqueur grappa called Gianduia Fior di Latte that involves vanilla and cream. Don't ask me to pronounce it again. Just ask for the chocolate or white chocolate grappa at your local LCBO store. Both versions cost $29.95 for 500 mL. For post City magazines, I'm Tony Aspler. (LCBO #111781)
  2. Reif Off-Dry Vidal 2004 (Ontario)
    It's hard to find an Ontario white wine for 8 bucks and change that has real style and character. But I was really taken by Reif's Off-Dry Vidal 2004 that sells at the LCBO for $8.35. Vidal is the grape variety that Ontario vintners usually reserve for Icewine, but Reif has made a very decent table wine out of it. It's very pale in colour with a sweetish, peachy nose. It's medium-bodied, off-dry, with pear and peach flavours, almost like a Vouvray from the Loire Valley. Serve it with pork loin or Thai dishes. That's Reif Off-Dry Vidal 2004 from Ontario. For Post City magazines, I'm Tony Aspler. (LCBO # 111781)
  3. René Barbier Tempranillo Merlot (N/V)
    In my never-ending quest for inexpensive wines at the LCBO that you can actually drink without wincing, I've come across a lively red from Spain. It's a non-vintage René Barbier Tempranillo Merlot blend that sells for $8.95. And it's better than the price suggests. Medium ruby in colour, it has a cedary, red berry nose; it's medium-bodied with blueberry and blackberry flavours and a hint of coconut from ageing American oak. There aresome dusty tannins on the finish, so serve it with hamburgers or pizza. That's Rene Barbier Temprnaillo Merlot from Spain. For Post City magazines, I'm Tony Aspler. (LCBO #640193)
  4. Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2002
    Here's a very tasty Chardonnay that won't hurt your budget and it comes from Niagara. It's Chateau des Charmes Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2002. It costs $12.95 at the LCBO. Straw coloured with a nose of hay, apples and a touch of oak, the wine is quite full-bodied with a flavour of ripe apples and toasty oak and a refreshing zing of acidity. It's mouth-filling with good length, thanks to the acidity, and has a warm finish. Try it with roast chicken or salmon steaks. That's Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2002 from Ontario. For post City magazines, I'm Tony Aspler. (LCBO #81653)
  5. Robert Mondavi Merlot 2002
    Occasionally, it's worth splashing out $20 for a really good wine to have at a dinner party or on a special occasion. You'll find such a wine on the California shelves at the LCBO. It's Robert Mondavi Merlot 2002 from the Central Coast. The colour is deep ruby with a characteristic bouquet of cedar and blackberry. On the palate it's medium to full-bodied, with well balanced blackberry, blueberry and plum flavours and seamlessly integrated oak, very elegant. Cook something special to match it, like Beef Wellington or breast of duck. That's Robert Mondavi Central Coast Merlot 2002. For post City Magazines, I'm Tony Aspler. (LCBO #524769)
  6. Nobilo Fall Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2005
    I'm a great fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; this grape has become that country's signature wine. On general release at the LCBO is Nobilo Fall Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2005. The "fall harvest" means the grapes will have extra ripeness, which translates into sweeter fruit. This wine, at $15.65 a bottle, is medium straw in colour with a nose of passionfruit and newly cut grass. The flavour is sweet gooseberry and passion fruit, very fresh and lively on the palate. Try it with goat's cheese or a Caesar salad. That's Nobilo Fall Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. For Post City Magazines, I'm Tony Aspler. (LCBO # 554444)




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