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waters on wine

With August winding down, summer’s hourglass is decidedly half empty. Labour Day weekend will be here before we know it. Soon enough, the leaves will be turning, too. But hang on. There is still plenty of time for unhurried meals lingering on porches, patios or poolside and opportunity to open something cool and refreshing that compliments the laissez-faire atmosphere. (I love well-made rosé all year round, so I don’t see that window needing to close to usher in pumpkin spice season).

Local produce and homegrown vegetables, however, have me craving herbal-laced wines of late, which explains why this week’s column is so focused on sauvignon blanc. These are terrific to enjoy with ripe tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, peppers and zucchini. I am looking forward to serving one of these alongside juicy, grilled peaches or nectarines as part of a savoury salad before we bid farewell to summer.

Since wines made from sauvignon blanc and blends aren’t to everyone’s taste, I’ve also recommended a richer chardonnay and viognier that fit the bill, and I’ve also included two recently introduced ready to drink selections to consider.

Aloette Espresso Martini Fizz (Canada), $3.25

Rating:88 /100

First served by London cocktail connoisseur Dick Bradsell back in 1983, the espresso martini faded into obscurity only to rebound as one of the hottest cocktail trends thanks to posts on TikTok and Instagram. This intensely flavoured ready to drink version comes from Aloette, a Toronto establishment celebrated for its cocktails. To my taste, the coffee and caramel laced vodka-based mixer is best enjoyed served over ice with lemon, but some fans will enjoy it right out of the can. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price for a 475 ml can.

Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (United States), $19.95

Rating:88 /100

Bonterra is a leader in organic grape growing in California. This expressive and enjoyable sauvignon blanc is made from grapes grown in vineyards across the state to produce this bright and citrussy white wine. The mouthwatering character is rounded out by ripe tropical fruit notes that add weight and texture. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta, $20.75 in Quebec, $25.49 in New Brunswick.

Darling Mimosa Sparkling Orange (Canada), $3.25

Rating:87 /100

Darling advertises that it uses fruit juice and Ontario wine, without preservatives or additives to produce this enjoyable single serve orange mimosa. The ratio of juice to wine makes this 5 per cent alcohol, with a nicely balanced and refreshing taste. They also make a grapefruit version, which is less sweet (13 g/L residual sweetness compared to the 28 g/L in the orange version.) Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price for a 355 ml can.

Francois Lurton Sauvignon Blanc Bordeaux 2020 (France), $14.80

Rating:86 /100

Francois Lurton produces wine in its native Bordeaux as well as other parts of France and Spain as well as Argentina and Chile. This affordable white from Bordeaux is a fresh, bone dry wine marked by almond and tangy grapefruit flavours that carry through to a sour-fresh finish. Made in a crisp and refreshing style, this is a great bottle to enjoy with seafood or salads. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $14.99 in Manitoba ($12.99 until Aug. 31).

J. Lebegue Graves 2019 (France), $17.95

Rating:88 /100

This dry white wine from the Graves region of Bordeaux is a blend of sauvignon blanc and sémillon, which contribute refreshing grapefruit, lemon and floral aromas and flavours to the profile of this sleek textured, stylish white. The straightforward, medium-bodied style makes it an excellent aperitif or wine to enjoy with a meal. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.05 in Quebec.

Lakeside Cellars Portage White 2021 (Canada), $21

Rating:88 /100

Portage White is an appealing, flavourful blend of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot gris from a winery located on Osoyoos Lake in the southern Okanagan. The aroma and flavours suggest a mix of citrus and tree fruit, with some spice and earthy accents. The vibrant and fresh style is made to drink now. Available direct through lakesidecellars.ca

Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (New Zealand), $19.95

Rating:87 /100

A classic and consistent producer of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Stoneleigh delivers the intense herbal, citrus and tropical fruit flavours one expects from the style. This is a simple and enjoyable wine, with a mouthwatering and juicy character that makes it a terrific summer sipper. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price ($17 until Aug. 14), $18.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $21.99 in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, $20.79 in Manitoba, $18.95 in Quebec, $24.29 in New Brunswick, $20.99 in Nova Scotia, $21.20 in Newfoundland ($19.20 until Aug. 27).

Tantalus Bear Chardonnay 2021 (Canada), $23.50

Rating:91 /100

Tantalus winery in Kelowna rightfully attracts attention for its distinctive rieslings and complex pinot noirs, but wine lovers should not overlook the rest of the portfolio, including this tasty and well-priced chardonnay. The Bear label is produced from younger chardonnay vines on the estate. It is made in a rewarding style, with vibrant citrus and apple fruit rounded out by rich earthy and creamy notes. Drink now to 2025. Available at the above price direct through tantalus.ca, various prices in Alberta.

Terravista Vineyards Viognier 2021 (Canada), $24

Rating:92 /100

Located on the Naramata Bench of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Terravista specializes in aromatic wines, including this lovely white produced from grapes grown on its estate and in the Similkameen. A vibrant and exciting expression of viognier, a white wine grape with real personality and character, this strikes a balance between the juicy peach and apricot fruit common to viognier, with zesty lime notes alongside fragrant floral and ginger accents that add depth and complexity. Drink now to 2024. Available direct through terravistavineyards.com

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