Here it comes, the day when Love rules, and gifting is in order. It can be simple, or fraught with all kinds of implications. So much can be read into the choices we make to express our “devotion.”
Hearts and flowers, Cupid and arrows, diamonds…and chocolate. There is a whole lot of symbolism tied up with Valentine’s Day. How then, do our wine choices figure in to the equation?
One would hope that the selection made is one we know that the recipient will enjoy and appreciate. Depending on the stage of the relationship, we would want the choice to reflect it, too.
This brings us to the wines that are being promoted by the LCBO particularly for Valentine’s Day.
Some wines, of course, regardless of quality, probably wouldn’t convey the sentiments of the occasion very well. Gabriel Meffre is a very good producer in the south of France, but his line of “Fat Bastard” wines would likely sent a message far from romantic. The same might be said for the California red blend, “Freak Show”, no matter how good the contents of the bottle might be, the name promises to be a liability, not an asset.Other wines, with names like Troublemaker and Velvet Devil are edgy, but might fill a niche. That might easily apply to Apothic Inferno, $19.95, as well. Aged for 60 days in whiskey barrels, it is certainly distinctive. At 8 grams per litre, it has about half the sugar of Apothic Red, and is fairly full-bodied with distinct bourbon flavours. Just how this figures in for Valentine’s is really up to you. Is the name an indication of a torrid relationship… or one noted for its meteoric ups and downs?
Perhaps a simpler choice would be Apothic Crush, until Feb. 25 $2 off at $14.95. This version emphasizes dark fruit flavours, and even some chocolate. It is no drier than the Inferno, but has a completely different impact.
One site, influenster.com, displays many customer reviews, a number of which are “5 star”. Interestingly, they are all posted by women. Gentlemen, if your sweetheart likes softer, fruitier wines, this might be the one. And what better day to have a “Crush” than on Valentine’s!
Sparkling wine are often considered celebratory, and these figure into the LCBO’s schemes as well.
Spain’s Sandara Frizzante Rosé, $12.95, comes in a bottle with an enchanting white filigree on the glass, through which the lovely pink colour of the wine shines through prettily. This is a sweety, with nearly 60 grams of sugar per litre. Given the price, I would certainly expect a box of quality chocolate to accompany it.
An off-beat choice, exactly right for when you don’t want the gift to suggest a deeper relationship – or deeper ambitions – than currently exists, is the Santero 9-5-8 Sweetheart Spumante, $14.95. Relatively dry, this wine fits into the Prosecco category. When you see the red cartoon-like lips and hearts on the white bottle, you can understand why this choice is a more fun-loving expression of your feelings.
What will the Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rosé, $18.95, say about your intentions or relationship? Dry, with ripe black currant and raspberry along with some grapefruit on the finish, the wine comes in a bottle that is pure elegance, with a rose embossed in the bottom and closed with a glass stopper. Understated, but impressive.
If this is the moment you really need to make a statement of your Valentine’s importance in your life,the best option might be Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Rosé, $82.95. Apparently the best-selling champagne in the world, this bubbly offers harmonious red fruit – strawberry raspberry, with the acidity reminiscent of blood orange – full of verve and flavour.
So much depends on image, doesn’t it, and the rest is implication. The alternative, of course, is knowing what kind of wine your Heart’s Desire enjoys, and then providing it, with love.
There are many other options on the shelves, and you can check my last column for some suggestions from the Feb. 3 Vintages release, or consider the following.
The Feudo Maccari Noto Nero d’Avola 2015, $16.95, has a 90 from winecurrent.com, which suggests “it offers firm structure and velvety texture. It balances concentrated dark fruit flavours and savoury herbal notes through the long, mineral-laden finish.”
The same reviewers loved the Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014,$27.95 from Sonoma. “Charred toast and black currant aromas precede rich, complex and balanced waves of cassis, bramble berry and dark cherry interlaced with fresh mint, savory herbs and oodles of juicy tang.” - 93.
Also recommend highly is the German Darting Düerkheimer Hochbenn Riesling Kabinett 2015Prädikatswein, Pfalz $21.95. Off-dry to sweet, this white gem offers “an explosion of exotic spice and tropical fruit flavor.” wineandspiritsmagazine.com – 92.
If going organic is important, then the Emiliana Organic Brut Sparkling wine, $16.95, From Chile’s biggest organic/biodynamic producer will bring real pleasure. A classic Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend, it is lush, with tropical fruit and citrus flavours and the high quality this producer regularly delivers.
February 17 Vintages Release
Santa Ema Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2016, $16.95 – “full-bodied, round and flavorful, generous” – James Suckling – 92.
Snapper Rock Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016, $16.95, from New Zealand is new to Vintages. While dry, this style of wine still carries quite rich flavours, suggestive of peach or apricot, as well as exotic spices. Vintages suggests candied pear, and citrus.
Zenato Pinot Grigio 2016, $16.95, from the Veneto would provide an interesting comparison with the wine above. Normally the Pinot Grigio style would come across as drier and more citrus-like, but here, writer David Lawrason finds more richness with a creamy mid-palate followed by a dry “grapefruity” finish. - 88
HÃHÃ Sauvignon Blanc 2016, $18.95 – also from the Marlborough region, this wine “offers excellent fruit purity and intensity, wonderfully framed by juicy acidity,” according to wineorbit.co.nz – 93.
Redstone Chardonnay 2013, $25.70, from the Niagara Peninsula took the Platinum Award at the National Wine Awards of Canada. This is Moray Tawse’s latest venture, and certainly commands our notice. “Beautiful texture up front and some complex nut, popcorn lemon and stone fruit” - Wine Align – 92. (You may need to order this one in, or buy it on-line at lcbo.com)
Echeverria Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2016, $15.95. (Chile) “What sophistication! Refined and elegant with inviting aromas of red fruits, wet earth and leather. Quite evolved for its age but beautifully complex with an amazingly satisfying texture. Dry, crisp, fresh and savoury. Drinking beautifully now.” –Decanter – 95.
Lornano Chianti Classico 2013, $17.95, comes highly recommended. The vintage was classic with a warm summer and long autumn, and the result is a textbook Chianti Classico. Full-bodied with lively fruit and cedar notes, good intensity and length. Italian writer Luca Maroni suggest “floral notes combine with wild forest touches. Creamy, warm and long. Exceptional harmony” – 97 (Others are less enthusiastic, but still rank it in the 90’s)
Finca Sophenia Reserve Malbec, $19.95, (Argentina) Layers of bright cherry and dark berry, with subtle spice and cigar box accents. Aged in oak, the wine is smooth and balanced with a tannic backbone, but the fruit is not muted at all. Gorgeous now, it is capable of aging. Decanter notes its length and elegance, and gives it a 96.
Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2016, $21.95 - This popular Aussie red has big aromas of peppery dark “Christmas cake” fruit, with dense, lush dark berry impressions and mocha, finishing with silky tannins on the palate. Rich and spicy. Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge 2016.Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2015, $21.95, is the latest release of this excellent Zin from one of California’s Zinfandel experts. Not as “sweet” as some, it has terrific depth and integration, with dark plum fruit and savory spice notes. Steak or burger, it doesn’t matter, this wine will fill the bill.