1. Applewood Farm Winery Trio 2010, $14.95 for 750 mL: a juicy combo of a third each of raspberry, black currant, and cranberry fruits, featuring both off-dry and tart flavours, with an SC of 2. Absolutely delicious with the fruit jumping out at you followed by bracing acidity. Great with savoury foods. 13% ABV, twist-off top.
2. Applewood Farm Winery Iced Apple Cider 2010, $19.95 for 375 mL: incredible richness and tang, with an SC of 25. Created the same way as ice wine (pressing frozen fruit), this Gold Medal winner comes in a new vintage. Ready for release now, finished with a cork. Great apple tones.
3. Applewood Farm Winery Crazy Eights Raspberry Cider 2011, $3 for 341 mL bottle (or $50 for a two-four): this gluten-free alternative to beer hits the spot, with its rich and ripe raspberry tones. The winery has been making it every year since 2006. This latest batch from the 2011 harvest is still 8.8% ABV, crown cap, and an SC of one that is barely perceptible. This has to be my favorite all-time drink. I regularly buy six cases a year, and always pay for my own tasting sample with a whole bottle. I own no stock, etc. No conflict-of-interest here. Just value and flavour something has to be my fave, and this is it.
4. Applewood Farm Winery Smokin' Apple 2008, $14.95 for 375 mL: a nifty wine for cooking with apple flavours iced cider with black pepper and other savoury spices, some hot, great for BBQs anytime of the year. 12% ABV, and also available as a Chef Pack (a dozen for $120). Sounds terrific for the Christmas bird or ham.
5. Applewood Farm Winery Rhubarb and Caramelized Onion Relish (it's almost chutney if it had had any raisins). It contains some of the aforementioned smokin' apple wine, fermented rhubarb, onions, and other condiments. It's a spread for any BBQ or dinner, not a drink, although I am sure that Matt Passafiume, winemaker at Applewood, could probably do an alcoholic version. Maybe next year. $6 for a medium-sized jar.
From F.F.W. Langguth,
1. Blue Nun Rivaner 2010 Deutscher Tafelwein Rhein, +729, $9.45 General List: This has been around the LCBO a long time (check out the low product number only three digits). But it is no longer your mother's Blue Nun. The blend is now just from the rivaner grape, the alcohol has been cranked up a bit to 9.5% ABV, and the wine is less sweet, more balanced, and some peaches remain. It is still a social wine, and the magnum (+24075) delivers the same orchard fruit value at a cheaper price of $14.95 ($7.48 a 750 mL equivalent).
2. Black Slate Riesling Mosel QbA, +176917, $10.95 General List delivers Euro value for an off-dry riesling that exhibits minerality and peaches and pears. Good for appetizers and first courses, 11% ABV.
From Chateau des Charmes:
1. Chateau des Charmes Riesling Old Vines 2008 NOTL VQA, $16.95 Vintages +277228: run, don't walk, to snap up whatever is left of the initial 200 cases (or order from the winery) for a Riesling that is just off the wall in Ontario. It's the highly acclaimed Ontario Wine Award White Wine of the Year 2011, Gold Medalist. Made from vines planted in 1978, 12% ABV. Succulence like you would not believe, but off-dry Alsatian character, with three years of aging. A beaut.
2. Chateau des Charmes Pinot Noir 2008 NOTL VQA, $14.55 +195511 General List: one of the last few pinots in Ontario to be sold at such a low price. This is traditional pinot noir in the French style, cool climate, light and delicate with red berries and cherries. Some older vines are in the mix. Aged in French barriques for six months.