Winemaker Miguel Torres took inspiration from the Mediterranean when he launched an intensely perfumed and flavourful white wine called Vina Esmeralda. The name is a reference to the emerald colour of the sea while the blend of muscat and gewurztraminer made good use of two grapes that are well suited to the Catalonia region of Spain.
Vina Esmeralda was first produced in 1976 when white wines were the height of fashion. Chardonnay and pinot grigio had yet to become a dominant force around the world – rosé was still decades away from respectability – but remarkably as consumer tastes in wine have changed, this aromatic, easy-drinking wine continues to rank as one of top three sellers by volume from the Familia Torres portfolio. It’s a style of wine that’s cheerful and easy to appreciate, particularly during warm weather months.
One of its keys to success is how versatile the fruity and floral wine is with a variety of food. The slight sweetness makes it a nice foil to spicy dishes, while the lighter body works with seafood, vegetarian and Mediterranean cuisine as well.
The latest vintage of Vina Esmeralda is one of this week’s recommendations, which focus on styles of wine that are well suited to warmer days and nights that call to mind your own private Mediterranean experience.
Arboleda Chardonnay 2019 (Chile), $18.95
Here’s a terrific value barrel fermented chardonnay that comes from an estate located in the coastal section of Aconcagua. The restrained style shows flinty mineral, smoke and citrusy notes that are a marked departure from the creamy and buttery chardonnays typically coming from Chile at this price. Arboleda has mastered this model of chardonnay, offering a distinctive white wine with balance, harmony and persistence. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $23.99 in Saskatchewan, $20.60 in Quebec.
Alois Lageder Terra Alpina Dolomiti Pinot Grigio 2020 (Italy), $19.95
The Terra Alpina range is produced with a mix of estate grown grapes as well as fruit purchased from neighbouring vineyards in Alto Adige. This stylish pinot grigio offers a crisp and refreshing character, with pleasing floral, fruit and herbal aromas and flavours. The bright and lively style is easy to enjoy. Drink now. Available in Ontario.
Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2020 (South Africa), $29.95
This old vine chenin blanc is made in a rich and rewarding style that pushes ripeness and concentration along with honeyed, nutty and toast notes. Grapes from old chenin blanc bush vines (between 37 and 49 years of age reportedly) growing in Stellenbosch, Paarl and other South African regions are used to great effect here. An underlying lime zest note adds freshness to the palate from start to finish. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta, $26.45 in Quebec (2019 vintage).
M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem 2018 (France), $26.95
This spicy and complex blend of grenache and syrah comes from vineyards in Latour-de-France in Roussillon, near the Spanish border. It’s a fragrant red that offers an array of earthy, spicy and leather notes with black olive and dark fruit adding interest. On the palate, this is full-bodied and smooth; a suitably generous style of wine with nicely balanced acidity, alcohol and tannin that nicely combines power and drinkability. A terrific barbecue wine. Drink now to 2028. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $33.99 in Saskatchewan, $32.99 in Newfoundland.
McWatters Collection Brut 2017 (Canada), $64.99
This traditional method Brut sparkling wine is the latest addition to the McWatters Collection. It was specifically launched with the 2017 vintage to celebrate Harry McWatters’s 50th anniversary of making wine in the Okanagan. McWatters, who died in 2019, was an early promoter of sparkling wine in B.C., launching Sumac Ridge’s Stellars Jay in 1989. This serious and age-worthy sparkling wine is a fitting tribute to his legacy. This dry and lean in nature, with tart citrus and green apple flavours that gain richness from toasted bread notes. Drink now to 2030. Available direct, timewines.ca
Quails’ Gate Rosé 2021 (Canada), $19.99
This easy to appreciate rosé is a blend of pinot noir and gamay noir, which were fermented separately before being blended to create this refreshingly dry and flavourful wine. The mix of berry and watermelon notes are enhanced by some tropical fruit and savoury herbal notes. The style is enjoyable with or without a meal. Drink now. Available in B.C. at the above price or direct quailsgate.com, various prices in Alberta, $21.49 in Saskatchewan.
Spearhead Pinot Noir Rosé 2021 (Canada), $22.49
Made from pinot noir grapes grown at different estate vineyards in the Okanagan Valley, this is a vibrant and fruity rosé that offers berry, grapefruit and watermelon notes. The crisp and refreshing character makes this a rosé best enjoyed with a meal. Drink now to 2023. Available in B.C. at the above price, $25 direct from spearheadwinery.com.
Val d’Oca Prosecco (Italy), $20
Located in Valdobbiadene in Veneto, Val d’Oca is a co-operative winery with 600 members that produces 25 different styles of sparkling wine. This is its flagship, the Millesimato Extra Dry, a Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore which has been available in Canada for 25 years. A classic expression of Prosecco made for mass appeal, this delivers peach and yellow apple flavours with some floral and nutty notes with gentle bubbles and a citrusy finish. Drink now. Available in Ontario.
Vina Esmeralda 2020 (Spain), $14.95
Esmeralda is a fragrant and fruity white blend of muscat and gewurztraminer that delivers pleasing floral and honey notes with a range of citrus, pear and tropical fruit flavours. Made in crowd-pleasing style, this aromatic wine is flavourful enough to enjoy on its own and balanced enough to serve with a meal. Drink now. Vegan friendly. Available in Ontario and Quebec at the above price, $17.49 in B.C., various prices in Alberta, $16.99 in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, $18.98 in Newfoundland.
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