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waters on wine

Pelee Island Winery in Kingsville, Ont. Pelee Island farms 65 acres of pinot noir vines and produces a range of wines including the Pinot Noir Reserve.Ian Virtue

There’s growing interest in pinot noir from Ontario vineyards, particularly bright and intense examples with focused berry fruit flavours. While the grape variety isn’t as widely planted as chardonnay, riesling or cabernet franc, it has been singled out by the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario as one of five signature varieties to promote to consumers.

Ontario’s pinots are made in a classic cool climate style, with red fruit, earthy and oak spice flavours. They are often pale in colour and made in a light or medium bodied style. The best examples become smooth and silky with a bit of age. To my taste, Ontario pinot noirs start to show their best after two years in bottle.

This style of pinot noir, with pronounced acidity and lighter weight may not be to your taste but try it with a meal and you can see how enjoyable it can be.

An affordable example of pinot noir from Pelee Island is one of this week’s recommendations. It sits with a range of wines from Canada and abroad that are suitable for spring and summer enjoyment.

Aberdeen Wine Company Black Angus Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Australia), $56.99

Rating:92 /100

The Angus the Bull brand was developed to be a red wine that was an ideal match for red meat. The winemaker has taken that philosophy a step further with this elegant single vineyard cabernet from Heathcote in Victoria, Australia. Made in a full-bodied style, this offers smoke, mint and dried herbal notes that add complexity to the ripe core of dark fruit flavours. Drink now to 2027. Available in British Columbia at the above price ($49.97 until April 30, 2022), various prices in Alberta, $49.99 in Manitoba.

Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva 2018 (Italy), $24.95

Rating:90 /100

This satisfying Chianti Classico is made in a traditional style, with a blend of mostly sangiovese with merlot and canaiolo aged for 18 months in large oak casks. The result is a pleasing red with ripe red and plummy fruit with spicy accents. The balance of fruit, acidity and alcohol is nicely balanced, which makes for a terrific red wine to enjoy with a meal but it’s flavourful enough to enjoy on its own. Drink now to 2028. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $25 in Quebec (2019 vintage).

Beronia Rueda Verdejo 2020 (Spain), $14.95

Rating:88 /100

The verdejo grape produces zesty and refreshing white wines that have a similar vibe to sauvignon blanc albeit with less grassy or herbaceous character. The variety has been grown in Spain’s Rueda region for more than 1,000 years and is enjoying a surge in popularity, thanks to its bright citrus and melon fruit character with subtle fennel and floral notes. This affordable example is made by Beronia, a brand closely associated with Rioja, which established a winery in Rueda in 2017. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $14.99 in Manitoba, $17.45 in Quebec.

Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2018 (Australia), $24.95

Rating:92 /100

This ripe and flavourful shiraz offers classic Barossa character. A richly concentrated and full-bodied dry red made from shiraz grapes grown on vines ranging from 25 to 124 years of age, which makes for a powerful wine with rich black forest cake and spice notes. It’s a remarkable red from a family that celebrated its 40th vintage in 2021. Drink now-2033. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta.

Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (New Zealand), $24.95

Rating:91 /100

Husband and wife team Kim and Erica Crawford launched Loveblock after selling the Kim Crawford brand. This fresh and focused sauvignon blanc comes from estate vineyards in Marlborough. The result is a delicious array of pineapple, peach, citrus, grass and herbal notes. It’s stylish and mouthwatering in nature, with a juicy texture and refreshing finish. Drink now to 2026. Vegan friendly. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $25.99 in Manitoba, $30.79 in Nova Scotia, $26.59 in Prince Edward Island.

Heirloom Vineyards Shiraz 2019 (Australia), $22.95

Rating:91 /100

Shiraz from McLaren Vale comes in a range of styles, from the concentrated chocolate berry reds popularized by Wolf Blass to more vibrant and fragrant examples from the likes of Gemstone. This expressive red lands in the middle, with rich and rewarding fruit and appealing fragrance. It’s approachable now but also ages well. Its style is refreshing, refined and ready when you are. Drink now to 2030. Available in Ontario at the above price.

Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (Canada), $24.99

Rating:90 /100

The juicy and fruity personality of this expressive sauvignon blanc makes for a delightful warm weather style. The mix of zesty citrus and ripe tropical fruit is nicely enhanced by lemongrass and sage notes, while the wine’s texture benefits from blending components that were aged in stainless steel tanks, concrete eggs and oak barrels. Drink now. Available in British Columbia at the above price or $25 direct, missionhillwinery.com, various prices in Alberta, $26.49 in Saskatchewan.

Pelee Island Reserve Pinot Noir 2019 (Canada), $18.95

Rating:88 /100

This value priced pinot noir from Ontario shows nice harmony and balance, with a juicy acidity complementing the cherry and berry fruit flavours. Made in a medium-bodied and very drinkable style, this is food-friendly, pizza, pasta or burger red that would be welcome at your next barbecue. Drink now. Available at the above price in Ontario or direct, peleeisland.com, various prices in Alberta, various prices in Manitoba, $19.29 in New Brunswick, $19.70 in Nova Scotia, $19.99 in Prince Edward Island, $17.69 in Newfoundland.

Sandhill Rosé 2021 (Canada), $20.99

Rating:90 /100

Made from merlot and gamay that were grown to produce this enjoyable rosé, Sandhill’s latest pink wine offers appealing red berry and citrus aromas and flavours. The combination of those grape varieties and the hot, dry growing conditions in 2021 make for a juicy and fruity medium bodied rosé with a refreshing finish. Drink now. Available in British Columbia at the above price or direct, sandhillwines.ca, various prices in Alberta, $22.49 in Saskatchewan, $21.99 in Manitoba.

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