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waters on wine

Portugal continues to be an excellent source of quality wines at affordable prices. Long established and respected labels, such as Grao Vasco, Periquita and Vila Regia, produce enticing wines from the abundance of available native grape varieties.

These tend to be characteristically generous and flavourful wines that are enjoyable with or without a meal and usually appeal to a wide range of wine drinkers. There is a tremendous number of red and white wines with juicy and fruity characters, elegant structure and ample acidity, which makes them great everyday options.

Aveleda is another name to know, especially since its crowd-pleasing assortment of white wine has been joined by an equally inviting red blend. A new listing at LCBO outlets, Aveleda Lisboa Red is featured as one of my recommendations this week, alongside other enjoyable drinks including a new non-alcoholic beer, to consider for your long-weekend shopping list.

Aveleda Lisboa Red 2021 (Portugal), $12.90

Rating:87 /100

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Lisboa Red comes from Aveleda, the popular Portuguese brand known for its light and refreshing white wines. A blend of touriga nacional, tempranillo (tinta roriz) and alicante bouschet, this medium-bodied red has a soft and juicy character that gives it mass appeal. Its simple style makes the most of its core of red fruit flavours with spicy and mocha notes. Drink now. Available at the above price in Ontario, $13.49 in Quebec, $17.99 in New Brunswick, $17.97 in Nova Scotia.

Bitburger Premium Pilsner (Germany), $3.05

Rating:88 /100

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This classic German pale lager offers plenty of flavour and refreshment. There’s an appealing mix of floral and bitter hop notes that add interest to the malty and cereal flavours in the crisp and satisfying pilsner. Available at the above price in Ontario (500 ml), $2.89 in British Columbia ($2.59 until June 1, 500 ml), various prices in Alberta, $3.59 in Manitoba (500 ml), $3.98 in New Brunswick (500 ml), $4.49 in Prince Edward Island (500 ml), $5.06 in Newfoundland (500 ml).

Flat Rock Pink Twisted Rosé 2023 (Canada), $17.95

Rating:87 /100

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Part of Flat Rock’s popular Twisted line of blended wines, this hot-pink-coloured rosé is a mix of red and white wines, including gamay, riesling and chardonnay. The unconventional approach results in an off-dry (12 g/l residual sweetness), medium-bodied wine with mixed berry and citrus flavours. An easy-going style with enough freshness to balance the fruity character. Drink now. Available at the above price in Ontario, $18.15 direct,, various prices in Alberta.

Hampton Water Rosé 2023 (France), $27.95

Rating:90 /100

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A joint venture between French winemaker Gérard Bertrand, rock star Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse Bongiovi, Hampton Water is a rosé produced with grenache, cinsault, mourvedre and syrah grapes grown in the Languedoc region of France. The style hits the right notes, with a fashionable pale-pink hue and balanced strawberry and citrus flavours enhanced by floral and a subtle saltiness in the thirst-quenching finish. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario.

Libra Lemongrass Ginger Saison (Canada), $32.95

Rating:85 /100

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Created by Charlottetown’s Upstreet Craft Brewing, Libra is a line of non-alcoholic beer that includes an enjoyable IPA and pale ale. This dry, flavourful beverage is a new limited edition. The lemongrass and ginger notes combine with herbal and floral notes that contribute to an overall lemon tea-like flavour that’s easy to appreciate. Available direct, (12 x 355 ml), $11.99 in New Brunswick (4 x 355 ml).

Peroni Nastro Azzurro Stile Capri (Italy), $16.95

Rating:87 /100

Peroni expands its range of refreshing pale lagers with Stile Capri, a beer infused with Mediterranean-inspired citrus and olive leaf flavours. The style isn’t fruit-dominant like a radler, it keeps with the clean and simple Peroni character with some lemony accents and bitterness on the finish. Peroni’s head brewer suggests serving chilled in a tall glass, which helps draw attention to the aroma and flavour compared with sipping out of the bottle. Available at the above price in Ontario (6 x 330 ml).

Nautilus Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2019 (New Zealand), $39

Rating:91 /100

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This is a great example of the polished and perfumed style of Marlborough pinot noir from one of the region’s top producers. Nautilus has a dedicated pinot noir winery within its winery where winemaker Clive Jones works with grapes from a wide assortment of clones from different vineyards in the cooler and drier Southern Valleys sub-region. The 2019 is ripe and concentrated with a satisfying smooth texture and a complex mix of plummy fruit, earth and spice flavours. Drink now to 2029. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta.

Tantalus Rosé 2023 (Canada), $25.99

Rating:92 /100

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Tantalus likes to blend pinot noir and pinot meunier to create its dry rosé each year. For the 2023 vintage, the pinot noir increased to 80 per cent of the blend, which results in a more generously fruity style than usual. Ripe berry, red apple and pretty floral notes stand out, with a lingering finish that’s lively and flavourful. Drink now to 2026. Available at the above price in British Columbia, $23.48 direct,, various prices in Alberta.

The Chocolate Block 2022 (South Africa), $41.95

Rating:93 /100

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Boekenhoutskloof’s popular dry red wine the Chocolate Block continues to impress even as production increases. The syrah-based blend has grown from 15 barrels in its first vintage (2002) to 3,951 barrels for the current 2022 edition, with all the grapes coming from the winery’s vineyards in Swartland. This shows classic Chocolate Block style, with a polished texture and complex flavours that suggest a mix of ripe fruit, with savoury, meaty and floral accents. The flavour showcases more syrah-centric spicy and peppery notes than chocolate if the name is a concern. Vegan. Drink now to 2035. Available at the above price in Ontario, $44.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $47.99 in Manitoba, $42.95 in Quebec, $43.19 in New Brunswick.

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