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In the absence of traditional long weekend activities such as music festivals, community fairs or gatherings of family and friends, it seems summer is ending before it truly began. Nevertheless, Labour Day’s arrival signals the shifting of the season with more authority than summer’s actual departure date on Sept. 22.
Summer’s almost gone, whether we like it or not. With that in mind, here are nine fresh and inviting wines to celebrate its last days. Sweater weather will soon inspire a thirst for wines and meals with more richness and weight. Before that happens, let’s enjoy the moment as best we can.
While there’s more to summer wine than just rosé and sauvignon blanc, a couple of striking pink wines and an iconic Marlborough brand feature amongst this week’s recommendations. There’s also a trio of enchanting white wines from the Okanagan that are well worth seeking out.
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (New Zealand)
Now in its 35th vintage, Cloudy Bay continues on as one of New Zealand’s top sauvignon blancs. While there are certainly more affordable selections on the market, few deliver the concentration, complexity and character of this iconic label. Savoury and fruity in turns, this wine presents provocative white pepper and celery notes alongside a balanced assortment of tropical, green apple and lime zest flavours. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, $36.99 in British Columbia, $39.49 in Saskatchewan, various prices in Alberta, $37.88 in Manitoba, $35.50 in Quebec, $41.73 in Nova Scotia, $42.49 in Prince Edward Island.
Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards The Unwinder Ehrenfelser 2019 (Canada)
When they owned CedarCreek, the Fitzpatrick family helped propel the ehrenfelser grape into one of the Okanagan’s most talked-about varieties. It’s no surprise to see the Germanic white continue as an essential part of the portfolio for their new estate winery in Peachland. Ehrenfelser’s exotic floral and tropical notes seem best suited to the summer season, but I might be saying that based on the fact that this wine sells out so quickly. I’ve only ever had it then. Smart customers should snag some with an eye on opening with Thanksgiving dinner. This crowd-pleasing style would be a great match for the traditional turkey-and-fixings dinner. Drink now. Available in British Columbia at the above price or $19.50 per bottle direct through fitzwine.com.
Hester Creek Terra Unica Sémillon 2019 (Canada)
The Terra Unica wines are made exclusively for Hester Creek’s wine club, which helps find an audience for some of the interesting small-batch wines made from the winery’s Golden Mile Bench vineyard. Made in a fresh and unoaked style, this sémillon has the honeyed richness and waxy texture for which the grape variety is known, with enjoyable ruby grapefruit, pear and yellow apple notes. It’s a vibrant white showing that definitive Okanagan dried sage note that adds so much interest and complexity. Drink now to 2023. Available direct through hestercreek.com.
La Crema Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 (United States)
Widely known for the quality of its chardonnays and pinots, La Crema delivers this crisp and fruity rosé made with pinot noir grown in five vineyards located in Monterey County, Calif. The purity of fruit flavours and its easygoing nature make this worth the splurge. Look for refreshing cran-cherry, melon and citrus notes that are nicely balanced and finish with a clean sweep of acidity. Drink now to 2021. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $30 in Quebec (2016 vintage).
Paco & Lola Albariño 2019 (Spain)
Known as the ’polka-dot wine’ due to its bold graphic label, Paco & Lola’s stylish white from the Rias Baixas region of Spain is a recent addition to the Essentials program at LCBO Vintages outlets. That means it will be stocked year-round, which is good news for fans of floral-scented dry whites with complex flavours. The mix of zesty citrus and juicy peach are nicely enhanced by honeysuckle and blossom notes. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price ($17.95 until Sept. 13), $18.40 in Quebec.
Pfaff Riesling Cuvée Jupiter 2018 (France)
An attractive mix of apple, pear and lemon notes stand out in this appealing riesling from one of Alsace’s leading producers. The vibrant and honeyed character makes it extremely food-friendly and flavourful enough to enjoy on its own. Drink now to 2022. Available in Ontario at the above price, $16.30 in Quebec.
Ravine Vineyard Gewürztraminer 2019 (Canada)
This balanced and engaging gewürztraminer took patience to make. Due to the cooler conditions throughout the growing season, the grapes used were slow to display the aromatic intensity that makes this fragrant white wine so distinctive. While the finished wine doesn’t fully capture the oily texture and exotic character that gewürztraminer can convey, it is a complex white that’s satisfyingly rich, refreshing and tasty. Drink now to 2022. Available direct through ravinevineyard.com.
Sandbanks Rosé 2019 (Canada)
Founded in 2001 in Prince Edward County by Catharine Langlois, Sandbanks is now part of the Arterra family of Canadian wineries, which includes Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs. Made in an unassuming and easy-to-appreciate style, this off-dry rosé presents a simple but enjoyable mix of citrus and berry notes. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price or direct through sandbankswinery.com.
Stag’s Hollow Albariño Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2019 (Canada)
Made with grapes grown in a single vineyard just north of Okanagan Falls, this vibrant and aromatic white has the capacity to charm. The commercial success of Spanish and Portuguese examples has led other winemakers to audition albariño in their own vineyards. The consistent success of Stag’s Hollow’s version suggests the grape has found a suitable home in the Okanagan. It’s certainly a style of wine to enjoy while it’s fresh and fruity, but this has balance and concentration to mature nicely. Drink now to 2023. Available direct through stagshollow.com.