I was on vacation this past week, visiting my family in Ontario, and thus subject to the provincial monopoly for purchasing wine.
At least there was a Liquor Control Board of Ontario with a Vintages section about 25 miles from my parent’s house. Vintages carries more limited items, often one-time releases, as opposed to the general listings section, which offers larger-volume labels and brands that can be restocked easily.
So it’s always a challenge to pick up a few bottles to enjoy with some grilled steak, chicken or burgers.
Not surprisingly, I found a few Malbecs from Argentina that were reasonably priced. During the week we enjoyed several bottle of Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Mendoza 2008, a good deal for CDN$14, especially when you consider there was a 15 percent discount on the exchange.
The Malbec was bright and fruity, with loads of blackberry flavor, if not a lot of depth and richness. Delicious, however, with the pork ribs my brother finished on the grill lightly brushed with a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce.
A few days later, we paired a vibrant, black currant-tinged Viña Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley Alpha Apalta Vineyard 2007 (CDN$22) and a rich, spicy, black cherry-flavored Greg Norman California Estates Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast 2005 (CDN$25) with perfectly grilled bone-in rib steaks.
The Perrin & Fils Côtes du Rhône Réserve 2007 (CDN$15) delivered a blast of ripe blackberry, wild herbs and black pepper that stood up to spicy grilled chicken legs.
With grilled scallops wrapped in bacon as an appetizer, followed by lobster, I picked up two bottles of Merryvale Chardonnay Napa Valley Starmont 2006 (CDN$29). The first bottle was corked (which the LCBO replaced), but the second provided rich, buttery peach and fig notes and just the right amount of oak to match the seafood.
Last Friday, my brother grilled some tasty New York strip streaks from his Italian butcher that outshone the Pascual Toso Malbec Mendoza 2008 (CDN$13), which showed meaty blackberry flavors but finished with gritty tannins.
All things considered since one is only allowed to bring 1.14 liters into Canada duty-free, we didn’t go thirsty. But I think I’ll enjoy a good red Burgundy this weekend.