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Father's Day Wines  (June 12, 2008)

An open letter to my wife and kids:

Dear Deborah, Annabel and Guy,

I don't have to remind you – or maybe I do – that Father's Day comes up on Sunday, June 15th. It happens to fall eight days after National Kids Day, which is new to the calendar if I recall; but since Deborah is my Designated Memory I will defer to her in these social matters. But you know by now I don't put much store in these Hallmark occasions. Take Mother's Day, for instance. Why isolate one day in the year when you celebrate your Mom by giving her breakfast in bed? Shouldn't this be an all-year-round activity?

Okay, enough of the moralizing. I know you will want to give me a gift of some kind but nothing too expensive. Let's say we set the limit at $50 among the three of you. Pinot the Wonder Dog can contribute too if she feels so moved.

I don't need another tie, leather tool belt or squash bag, nor a nose-hair clipper or a self-help book on how to declutter my life. But a bottle of wine would be appreciated.

A few thoughts before you venture into Vintages stores (because that's where you'll find wines that are cellar-worthy and ageable). Don't buy a man white wine unless it's domaine-bottled white Burgundy from Jadot, Latour, Bouchard Père et Fils or small independent producers like Leroy, Bonneau de Martray or Coche-Dury. But these will be way more costly than the budget I've set. The other exception is Champagne. Champagne is always acceptable.

I would be more than happy to pop the cork on any of the following:

  • Drappier Blanc de Blanc Signature Brut Champagne (Vintages #599860, $42.60)
  • Chapuy Champagne Brut Carte Noire Tradition (Vintages #0068304, $37.95)
  • Gosset Brut Excellence (LCBO #669143, $48.60)
  • Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne (LCBO #41889, $49.95).

Five Inexpensive Sparklers For the Dock, Deck or Patio

Fresita, a strawberry-flavoured organic wine made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in Chile. A sweet strawberry flavour you can cut with a slice of orange (LCBO #56697, $13.95).

Bottega Petalo Il Vino dell'Amore Moscato from Veneto. A delightfully light and fresh sparkler at 6.5% alcohol. A nose of honey, orange and carnations. Sweet and easy drinking (LCBO #588780, $12.75).

Bottega Vino dei Poeti Prosecco Brut from Veneto. Pale straw in colour with a minerally, apple peel nose and a dry apple and citrus flavour; light-bodied at 11 per cent alcohol and persistent on the palate. (LCBO #897702, $13.30).

Colio Estate Lily from Lake Erie North Shore, a crisply dry bubbly with an apple and citrus flavour. (LCBO #509083, $14.85).

Neirano Brachetto d'Acqui from Piedmont, a ruby-red bubbly with a rose petal; nose and sweet red berry fruit at a slim 6.5 per cent alcohol (Vintages #47227, $15.85).

Vintage Port is another very desirable Father's Day gift, but you won't find any Vintage ports of quality under $50, so head for the red wine shelves. The California producer Ravenswood has a motto which should guide your approach to choosing Father's Day gifts: "No Wimpy Wines."

Look for gutsy reds, especially from Australia, such as Chain of Ponds The Ledge Shiraz 2003, a full-bodied red, dense purple in colour with earthy, blackberry and pepper flavours but elegant for all its muscularity (Vintages #0059899, $27.95); Chapel Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, a purple-black wine with an intense vanilla, cedar, graphite and blackcurrant bouquet, richly extracted sweet fruit with a firm finish (Vintages 0965830, $20.95); or Craneford Basket Pressed Quartet 2005 (the three Bordeaux grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc – with Shiraz), again a dense purple-black wine with a vanilla oak and ripe blackcurrant fruit with black pepper notes and lively acidity (Vintages #0059964, $26.95).

Or from California a really beefy, full-bodied Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley – La Crema Pinot Noir 2006, ruby coloured with minerally raspberry nose, well extracted sweet fruit, firmly structured with great length (Vintages #0906404, $44.95).

And I wouldn't turn my nose up at a tasty South African blend of Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Simonsig Frans Malan 2003 from Stellenbosch, dense purple-black colour with a nose of cedar, blackcurrant and vanilla oak; a mouth-filling wine with sweet black fruit and licorice flavours, ending on a tarry note (Vintages #57521, $20.95).

If, on the other hand, you find yourself in the Italian section, you know I'm partial to Piemontese wines made from the noble Nebbiolo grape. You might pick up a bottle of Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco 2004, a full-bodied ruby-coloured wine with a nose of red licorice and wild strawberries; dry, elegant and firmly structured; a great food wine (Vintages #60855, $43.95) or Famiglia Anselma Barolo 2000, full-bodied, aged ruby with an earthy strawberry nose, dry and majestic but it needs time (Vintages #0065524, $55.95). Yes, I know it's over the budget I set, but you wouldn't begrudge your old Dad a great wine experience in future for $5.95, would you? OK, I'll pay the difference, and what's more, I'll open it for dinner in a couple of years with all of you. Love, Dad.




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