Aside from focusing on the wines from Ontario on this website, I do taste a lot of wines from outside the borders of Canada.
I review international wines for Tidings Magazine and a couple of other publications on a regular basis.
Here’s a roundup of reviews from around the world that I’ve tried and liked recently.
Ruffino Modus 2010, Toscana IGT ($29, 92 points) — Such an elegant and enthralling Super-Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made in a modern style. The nose starts with earth and wild berries and moves into tobacco, cherries, plums and savoury spices. It is so young, yet irresistible with its complex blend of earth, fruit and spice. The palate reveals dark fruits, minty herbs, black tar, loam and plums to go with smooth tannins through a long finish. Great followup to the amazing 2009.
Salviano Orvieto Classico Superiore 2012, Umbria ($15, 88 points) — A traditional white blend that shows lemon-lime, fresh apple, pear and honeydew notes on the nose. The fresh citrus and apple flavours are tempered by a creamy feel on the palate yet balanced by racy acidity. Try with herbed grilled chicken or seafood.
Renieri Invetro Toscana IGT 2010, Tuscany ($21, 91 points) — A fabulous wine with a nose of currants, black cherry, plums, leather, cinnamon and cigar leaf. It’s sleek and polished on the palate with lovely cassis, currants and plums with supple tannins and bright acidity. You can age this blend of Sangiovese, Cab Sauv and Merlot for a few years.
San Raffaele Monte Tabor Pinot Grigio 2012, Veneto ($15, 88 points) — A lovely nose of grapefruit, peach cobbler, apricot and mango. It’s clean and fresh on the palate with flavours of white peach, tropical fruit and fairly balanced by the acidity. Good fruity sipper or serve with chicken kabobs.
Chateau de Ventenac Grande Reserve Cabardes 2009, Languedoc-Roussillon ($18, 89 points) — An inviting nose of blackberry, cherry-kirsch, campfire smoke and vanilla spice. The fruit is quite intense on the palate with soft tannins and gorgeous spice to balance it out. For drinking now with rack of lamb or any beef dish. A comfort wine made from Cab Sauv, Merlot, Syrah and Grenache.
Chateau de Fontenelles Cuvee Notre Dame 2009, Languedoc-Roussillon ($17, 90 points) — A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvédre, this is one hot wine for the price. It’s a dark ruby colour with rich cassis, currants, raspberry, pencil shavings, eucalypt, spice and smoky aromas on the nose. The fruits are rich and savoury in the mouth with lovely integrated spices, cedar and a subtle minty note on the finish. Serve with grilled meats.
La Cadierenne Bandol Rose Grande Tradition 2012, Provence ($19, 89 points) — Winter may be setting in but this serious rose, made with Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre, is an all-season pink wine. Light raspberry, summer herbs, grapefruit and watermelon aromas jump from the glass. It’s complex, completely dry and opens up in the glass to reveal a bounty of red fruits, citrus and herbs. Bold enough to serve with salmon steaks.
Jean-Max Roger Sancerre Cuvee G.C. 2011, Sancerre ($25, 91 points) — A really nice Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of fresh summer flowers, riverbed minerality, pear, lemon, grapefruit and subtle cut grass notes. It washes the palate with zippy citrus, quince, herbs and a nice core of minerals. Great summer wine or serve with oysters or goat cheese.
Domaine Durand les Coteaux Saint Joseph 2009, Rhone, France ($29, 91 points) — I eat a lot of beef. Rare, tender, blood-dripping and it always has a bit of searing from high heat on the BBQ. So I look for wines that pair with that style of cooking. Syrah from the Rhone Valley is always a fantastic match and this one, from the still affordable Saint Joseph appellation in the Rhone Valley, works brilliantly with steak. The savoury fruit ranges from field raspberry to blackberry and currants and is backed up by all those lovely earthy Syrah notes of tar, licorice, violets and pepper spice. Wonderful stuff.
Adobe Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Casablanca Valley, Chile ($14, 88 points) — A very nice Sauvignon Blanc made from organically grown fruit that shows lime, grapefruit, fresh herbs, some grassy notes and a touch of tropical fruit on the nose. This is fresh and balanced on the palate with lovely grapefruit-lime notes and just a hint of herbs and grass.
Adobe Reserva Merlot 2011 Rapel Valley, Chile ($13, 87 points) — Smoky red fruits, all organic, on the nose to go with black pepper, licorice, anise with just a pinch of mint. It’s soft and fruity on the palate with cherry-raspberry fruit, peppery notes and light spice. Great BBQ sipper or serve with swordfish, tuna, cured hams or sausages.
Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough ($20, 90 points) — A vibrant and exciting nose of lime, kiwi, tangerine, grapefruit, light, fresh grass and herbs. It’s zingy and energetic on the palate with pure citrus and tropical fruits and fresh herbs lifted by bracing acidity. Zesty and pure SB that offers good value.
Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2011, Marlborough 2011 ($23, 89 points) — A meaty Pinot with cherry, violets, field raspberry, bramble bush, light spice and leather notes. On the palate look for black cherry, cedar, licorice, anise and tobacco delivered on a smooth bed of tannins.
Primal Roots White Blend 2011, California ($13, 87 points) — An oddball blend of Viognier, Colombard, Riesling and Gewurztraminer that makes for a pleasant little wine that’s a little off the beaten track. Loaded with lychee, clove, apricot, pear, and honeysuckle. It’s the Gewurz that shines on the palate with grapefruit, spice, peach and a squirt of citrus. Something new to pair with Asian and spicy food.
The Dreaming Tree Crush 2010, North Coast, California ($17, 88 points) — Dreaming Tree is a joint project between Steve Reeder and musician Dave Matthews to make easy-drinking wines from California fruit. This is a six-variety red blend, mostly Merlot, that shows currants, raspberry, blackberry, plums and spices with just a hint of smoke and eucalypt. It’s smooth and quite approachable on the palate with sweet black cherry, licorice, savoury spices, minty herbs and soft tannins on the finish. Rock on, Dave, rock on.
7 Deadly Zins Old Vine Zinfandel 2010, Lodi, California ($25, 89 points) — At 15% alcohol and the fruit to back it up, this is unabashedly a big bruiser from California’s classic grape. Plump blackberry, cherry and plum fruits on the nose to go with earth, boysenberry, black pepper and even blueberry jam. It explodes in the mouth with black fruits, lavish spice, peppercorns, ripe tannins and some decent acidity to pick it all up. Manly, yes, but women might like it, too.
Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz 2011, Australia ($16, 88 points) — The Diamond series represents the heart of the Rosemount portfolio. The Shiraz shows dark plums, blueberry pie and raspberries with nutmeg and peppery spices. It’s smooth on the palate with dark fruits, raspberry-cherry notes and all backed up by an array of baking spices and pepper.
Rosemount Diamond Label Pinot Grigio 2011, Australia ($15, 87 points) — A nose of lemon-citrus zest, melon and orange rind. It’s fresh and lively on the palate with spicy pear, fresh tangerine wedges and citrus fruits. Good summer sipper.
Lucky Penny Red 2010, Australia ($18, 88 points) — A new wine that’s hitting the shelves from the land Down Under, Lucky Penny bills its wines as “approachable, unpretentious and bursting with flavour.” The red is a blend Shiaz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and shows notes of blueberry, cherry-raspberry, bramble, plums, pepper and vanilla on the nose. It has some tannic structure on the palate with blackberry fruit, jammy red fruits, licorice, spice and tar notes.
Lucky Penny White 2011, Australia ($17, 88 points) — The white Lucky Penny is a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Grigio. It’s fresh and forward on the nose with orchard and tropical fruits with a whiff of wild honey. There’s a touch of sweetness on the palate but balanced out by generous acidity. The flavours range from apple and pear to citrus and apricot.
Castano Hecula Monestrell 2011, Yecla, Spain ($9, 89 points) — Not sure if there is a better wine at this price available ANYWHERE. Such an incredible deal. Thick and rich currants, blackberry, mature plums and lovely vanilla spice on the nose. The palate reveals ripe dark fruits, licorice-anise notes, spices and vibrant acidity for balance. Just a good, honest red wine to serve with grilled steak or roasted lamb.