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waters on wine

Seeking out bottles for entertaining during the summer typically means hunting for value-priced wines made in crowd-pleasing styles. But there are also numerous recent releases for anyone looking to have something more serious on hand.

This week’s selections centre on more expensive bottles that are worth the investment. The focus on richly, concentrated red wines might not be the most seasonally appropriate, but they’re the sort of bottles that are unlikely to sit on store shelves or online inventory until fall. It’s best to snap them up while you can, even if it means tucking them safely away until you’re ready to enjoy them.

The recommendations also include a sumptuous new addition to the Glenlivet portfolio and the latest release of Dom Pérignon, the celebrated vintage Champagne which until recently was a fixture in Canadian wine shops’ inventory, waiting to be purchased for a special occasion. Today, in most parts of the country, it’s increasingly in short supply due to continuing supply chain issues.

When you get a great vintage like 2012 in the Champagne region, all eyes are the release of Dom Pérignon and this bottle definitely lives up to its legendary reputation. If you get a chance to try it, savour it.

Bachelder Saunders “Warren Saunders 100″ Chardonnay 2019 (Canada), $47.95

Rating:93 /100

The Saunders family grows grapes on a 17-acre Beamsville, Ont., property located next to Thirty Bench winery. The chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, which have been certified organic since 2013, are cultivated for winemaker Thomas Bachelder. This vintage’s label honours the 100th birthday of owner Warren Saunders. This is a smooth and generous style of Niagara chardonnay, with rich flavours that carry through to a refreshing finish. Drink now to 2029. Available at the above price in Ontario through lcbo.com, $49.75 in Quebec.

Bodegas Muga Reserva 2017 (Spain), $27.95

Rating:92 /100

This popular red made by Bodegas Muga in Rioja is always one to watch. The Reserva label typically represents more than half of the winery’s production each year. Because frost and drought conditions reduced the yield of the 2017 harvest, this was the only red wine produced. The classic character of the Reserva offers a mix of savoury and fruit flavours as part of a nicely concentrated and structured red wine. It’s appealing now, with potential to age. Drink now to 2028. Available at the above price in Ontario, $31.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $25.95 in Quebec (2018 vintage).

Château Bouscassé 2016 (France), $22.95

Rating:91 /100

Made by one of the leading producers in Madiran, a village located in southwest France, Château Bouscassé is really well priced for its quality (and age). A blend of tannat, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, this has a concentrated and bright character that makes it a meat lovers’ red wine. Drink now to 2028. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $20.95 in Quebec.

Dom Pérignon Brut Vintage Champagne 2012 (France), $285.95

Rating:97 /100

The newly released 2012 vintage of Dom Pérignon is a remarkable wine that offers the classic hallmarks of a young Dom (that enticing lemon zest/curd on the nose) with more depth and concentration of fruit thanks to the exceptional growing conditions. Yellow plum and apricot aromas mix nicely with white flower and toast notes, but this truly shines on the palate thanks to its rich concentration that is balanced by vibrant acidity. The purity of the fruit and integration of the acidity suggest this has a long, long life ahead of it. Drink now to 2035. Available in Ontario at the above price, $289.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $285.49 in Saskatchewan, $335 in Manitoba, $261.99 in New Brunswick, $290.24 in Nova Scotia, $265.49 in Prince Edward Island, $336.06 in Newfoundland.

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2015 (Italy), $139.00

Rating:95 /100

Here is a remarkable red wine from one of Brunello di Montalcino’s most celebrated recent vintages. Hot and dry conditions rewarded growers with a healthy, ripe and bountiful crop of sangiovese grapes to produce a range of rich and concentrated red wines. This Riserva showcases an intense and inviting character, with fine tannins and a supple texture. Drink now to 2035. Available at the above price in Ontario, released as part of the July 7 Classics Collection release at LCBO.com, various prices in Alberta.

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (United States), $79.95

Rating:93 /100

Freemark Abbey enjoys a long and storied history in the Napa Valley and continues to be one of the most exciting producers to watch. Thriving as part of the Jackson Family Wines portfolio, it can be counted on for age-worthy and affordable (by Napa standards) wines like this expressive cabernet. The blend features small percentages of merlot, petit verdot, malbec and cabernet franc to build complexity and character, resulting in an appealing mix of ripe and savoury flavours and impressive structure. Drink now to 2037. Available in Ontario at the above price, $77.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta.

Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Spain), $69.95

Rating:94 /100

Mas La Plana is one of the Torres family’s most collectable wines, offering a concentrated and fragrant style of cabernet sauvignon that is nicely integrated and ready to drink upon release, but has potential to age. Its core of black cherry and currant flavours gain interest from floral, tobacco and cedar notes. Drink now to 2030. Available at the above price in Ontario at lcbo.com, $76.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $75.99 in Manitoba, $75 in Quebec (2017 vintage).

The Glenlivet 14yo Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Scotland), $79.95

Rating:94 /100

The Glenlivet distillery in Speyside has expanded its already sizable collection of single malt whiskies, with new bottlings finished in used cognac casks that newly released in Canada. After extended aging in old bourbon and sherry barrels, this whisky went into used cognac barrels for an undisclosed amount of time before bottling. The cognac barrels contribute to the sweet and fruity profile of this approachable style of whisky, adding raisin and chocolate to the traditional Glenlivet mix of orchard fruit, vanilla and honey notes. Available at the above price in Ontario, $86.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $89.99 in Manitoba, $72.98 in Nova Scotia.

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