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waters on wine

Meyer Family Vineyards launched its Tribute Series Chardonnay with the 2006 vintage to honour a Canadian who in some way has made an outstanding contribution. Recipients over the years have included hockey luminary Pat Quinn, artist Bill Reid and health official Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Now in its 14th release, the new Tribute Chardonnay celebrates the late Terry Threlfall, the talented sommelier who opened Hawksworth Restaurant, served as sommelier for the Vancouver International Wine Festival and helped establish the British Columbia chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. Threlfall was working as wine and spirits buyer for Selfridges department store in London, England at the time of his death from a heart attack in 2020. He was 43.

As part of the honour, Threlfall’s family received seed money from the Okanagan winery to establish the Terry Threlfall Scholarship with the BC Hospitality Foundation. The award will be granted annually to an individual wishing to pursue wine education a at an eligible B.C. postsecondary institution.

The new Tribute Chardonnay is one of this week’s recommended wines that offer a mix of personalities and styles that are truly appealing right now.

Château La Pirouette 2016 (France), $18.95

Rating:90 /100

Château La Pirouette’s good value red from Medoc combines 50-per-cent cabernet sauvignon, 45-per-cent merlot and five-per-cent petit verdot, which makes for a ripe and savoury expression. Generous structure and firm tannins provide classic character for a wine that’s ready to drink and promises to evolve over the next two or four years. Drink now through 2025. Available in Ontario.

Domaine Carneros Avant-Garde Pinot Noir 2019 (United States), $36.95

Rating:89 /100

From Champagne Taittinger’s operation in Napa Valley, Calif., this pinot noir is made in a classic style with grapes grown in various estate vineyards and aged for eight months in French oak barrels. A bright and fruity expression, this delivers cherry and berry fruit with spice and oak-derived notes. Easy to appreciate concentration and texture. Vegan friendly. Drink now through 2029. Available in Ontario.

Kim Crawford Pinot Gris 2019 (New Zealand), $19.95

Rating:88 /100

Small amounts of gewurztraminer and riesling are used to give more intense aromas to this fresh and fruity white wine. Made in a dry and crowd-pleasing style, this is easy to appreciate with its layers of tart and tropical fruit flavours and spice notes. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia and Manitoba, various prices in Alberta, $21.99 in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, $20.15 in Quebec, $23.99 in New Brunswick, $22.99 in Nova Scotia, $21.98 in Newfoundland.

La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (South Africa), $24.95

Rating:90 /100

Inspired by early wines made in South Africa, La Motte blends a small percentage of cinsault into this cabernet sauvignon to produce a rich and flavourful, full-bodied red. This is a dry red that offers classic cabernet character with terrific complexity and focus. Drink now through 2026. Available in Ontario.

Liquidity Chardonnay Estate 2019 (Canada), $29

Rating:89 /100

Made from a single vineyard and a single clone of chardonnay (clone 76 for anyone interested), this is a pure expression with a ripe core of citrus and tropical fruit flavours that gain complexity from spice and floral notes. The wine’s creamy texture is nicely balanced by a refreshing finish. An easy to appreciate style. Drink now through 2024. Available at the above price direct through, various prices in Alberta.

Maison Valdesday Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2017 (France), $20.95

Rating:89 /100

Here’s an affordable pinot noir from Burgundy with a ripe core of cherry and berry fruit flavours that’s nicely balanced by earthy and spicy notes. A dry red with attractive savoury and sweet aromas and flavours, this is made to be enjoyed now. Drink now through 2023. Available in Ontario.

Meyer Family Vineyards Tribute Series Chardonnay 2020 (Canada), $31.39

Rating:93 /100

Produced with chardonnay grapes from Meyer’s Old Main Road vineyard in Naramata, the Tribute Series from the 2020 vintage is a standout, with vibrant apple and citrus notes rounded out by nutty and earthy accents. The focus, purity and length make this truly enjoyable. Drink now through 2030. Available at the above price in British Columbia and direct through, various prices in Alberta.

Montresor Capitel della Crosara Valpolicella Ripasso 2018 (Italy), $19.95

Rating:88 /100

This is a hearty and rich red made with traditional grapes from the Veneto using the ripasso method, which sees the wine refermented with the pomace (the solids leftover) from amarone production to gain more alcohol, structure and colour. A mix of spicy and savoury notes add to the ripe fruit flavours for wine that’s particularly enjoyable with a meal. Drink now through 2025. Available in Ontario.

Spearhead Winery Saddle Block Pinot Noir 2019 (Canada), $36

Rating:91 /100

Spearhead’s efforts with pinot noir continue to reward consumers with a range of ripe and complex red wines from estate vineyards in the Okanagan Valley. The Saddle Block comes from the winery’s estate in Kelowna, B.C., and reveals an intriguing mix of cherry, cedar and pepper flavours with a supple texture and lingering finish. Drink now through 2025. Available at the above price in British Columbia or direct through, various prices in Alberta.

Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Pinot Grigio 2020 (Canada), $13.99

Rating:86 /100

Sumac Ridge, British Columbia’s first estate winery, launched in 1981, celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. This is a simple and fruity white wine with pleasant citrus notes and a hint of honey to round out the palate. It’s made in an easygoing style that works on its own or with a meal. Drink now. Available in British Columbia at the above price ($12.99 until Jan. 29), various prices in Alberta.

Zonte’s Footstep Hills Are Alive Shiraz 2018 (Australia), $24.95

Rating:90 /100

Established in 2003, Zonte’s Footstep has grown to produce a range of wines from estate grown and purchased grapes. Most sport inventive names, such as Super Trooper Shiraz Cabernet or Hills Are Alive Shiraz, which is a savoury and elegant red wine from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. The bright and spicy red captures the personality of the shiraz grape with a refreshing style. Drink now through 2028. Available in Ontario.

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