Wines for the weather

Warmer, colder, warmer, colder: the path from winter to spring isn’t straightforward, so here are our picks for lighter and more robust wines (appropriate food matches included) to suit whatever the weather throws at us.


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Sauvignon blanc

When grown in cooler climates and processed in stainless steel tanks, this aromatic white grape makes bracingly dry wines with green and citrus notes. Warmer climates overlay stone and tropical fruit. When winemakers ferment and mature the wine in oak, the style (sometimes known as Fumé Blanc) has toastiness and a round body.

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Lighter style

Emblematic of the crisp, bright style that’s iconic of New Zealand’s Marlborough region, pale greenish-gold Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc has signature cut-grass and gooseberry scents, plus tastes of lush passion fruit, peach and lime.

From a pocket of France’s Loire region renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, Jean-Max Roger Blanc Cuvée Genèse Sancerre has a pleasingly flinty minerality that adds a hint of smoke to its crisp lemon and pear flavours.

Pair with Sushi Cake Squares.

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Richer style

Full of tropical fruit and melon notes, Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc, from California’s Sonoma region, is partly fermented in French oak barrels for a rich mouth feel.

A Sauvignon Blanc-dominant blend that’s typical of the Bordeaux region in France, Mouton Cadet Bordeaux White AOC adds Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes for a mellower flavour and rounder body.

Pair with Herbes de Provence Veal with Creamy Brie.


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Riesling

Fragrant, with a range of floral, citrus and stone fruit flavours, Riesling is often thought of as a sweeter wine. Yet drier modern bottlings tend to strike an ideal balance between natural sugar and bright acidity, leaving your palate refreshed and, when paired with spicy foods, beautifully soothed.

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Lighter style

Forget what you thought you knew about overly sweet German Riesling: Deinhard Dry Riesling has a lemon zest nose and mouth-watering green apple crispness, yet is smooth enough to pair with vibrant Asian-inspired food.

Pair with South Indian Fish Curry.

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Richer style

Famous for its sheep-grazed Niagara grapevines, Featherstone Winery makes its Black Sheep Riesling with tree-fruit and citrus flavours, plus the refreshing minerality for which Ontario Riesling is renowned.

With medium sweetness in balance with tart lemon-lime, this floral-scented Tawse Quarry Road Organic Riesling from the Niagara Escarpment has a creamy, mouth-coating texture and a drop of honeyed ginger.

Pair with Cider-Braised Sausage Pie with Scrunched Phyllo Crust.




Pinot Noir

A dainty and early-ripening grape, Pinot Noir needs the right cool-to-moderate climate. Delicate winemaking techniques (such as light crushing, cooler fermentation and nuanced use of oak barrels) create elegant cherry-hued, fruity wines. Warmer-climate and longer-aged Pinot Noirs can be complex and savoury, with earthy spice, mushroom and “forest floor” accents.

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Lighter style

One of California’s pioneering Pinot Noirs, Mirassou has ripe raspberry and cherry flavours with a touch of tart cranberry. A dollop of creamy vanilla makes it smooth and easy-drinking.

Along with vibrant plum and cherry flavours, New Zealand’s Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir Marlborough has hits of clove and pepper.

Pair with Lemon Rosemary Brined Roast Chicken & Vegetables.

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Richer style

British Columbia winery Quails’ Gate stakes its reputation on its silky Pinot Noir, full of cherry, plum and strawberry notes with whiffs of wildflowers and dried sage.

The spiritual home of Pinot Noir is France’s Burgundy region, where Latour Pinot Noir is grown and made. Juicy, with black fruits and berries, this wine has lovely earthy, herbal undertones.

Pair with Southern-Style Pulled Pork Pies with Buttermilk-Chive Biscuits.


Chardonnay

The queen of white grapes is grown worldwide, making versatile wines that range from austere and minerally to as ripe as a peach. Stainless steel tanks make lean, zesty Chardonnays, while Old World techniques (including barrel fermentation and ageing) create creamy, buttery versions.

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Lighter style

From the most iconic French region for crisp, unoaked Chardonnay, Albert Bichot Chablis AOC has citrus, green apple and pear, balanced with flinty dryness.

A white Burgundy kept brisk and bright through stainless steel-only ageing, Bouchard Père & Fils Mâcon-Lugny Saint‑Pierre opens with floral aromas and tastes of pear, with a trace of nuttiness.

Pair with Poached Side of Salmon with Pea-Sprout Vinaigrette.

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Richer style

Find peach and creamy vanilla, plus toasty spice, in Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay Adelaide Hills.

Citrus zest and palate-cleansing minerality balance its richness. Buttery and creamy, lush and fruity, Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay has just a wisp of smoke from oak barrel fermentation and ageing.

Tangy baked tree fruit and a kiss of pastry-like toastiness on the finish make Malivoire Chardonnay VQA an Ontario gem.

California’s Mendocino and Monterey counties are hot spots for velvety, stone fruit- and honey-tinged whites like Josh Cellars Chardonnay, which finishes with warm, toasty spice.

Pair with Whole-Wheat Niçoise Pasta


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Pinot Grigio/Gris

When it’s called Pinot Grigio, as in bottlings from its adopted Northern Italian homeland, this wine is dry, light and highly quaffable and pairable. But when it is made with more unctuous and tropical fruit character, it will be labelled Pinot Gris, a wine style that stands up to pairing with heartier fare.

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Lighter style

A citrus-infused dry California white, Longshot Pinot Grigio has an aroma of fresh spring blossoms, a juicy melon flavour and a tinge of almond.

A VINTAGES best-seller, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, from this style’s Northern Italian cradle, refreshes with the tastes of fresh apple and citrus, and a crisp, palate-cleansing finish.

Pair with Yellow Pepper & Almond Soup.

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Richer style

Flowers and herbs, lemon and melon give Ontario Cave Spring Pinot Gris VQA a range of lively flavours and aromas to complement its soft mouth feel and bright finish.

Pierre Sparr Pinot Gris Calcaire AOC
bursts from the bottle with apricot and nut aromas on the nose, with citrus, honey and a tinge of peppery spice. It has a rich mouth-coating texture that’s typical of the slightly sweeter Alsatian style.

Pair with Roasted Root Vegetable Tartine.




Primitivo/Zinfandel

The grape known in California as Zinfandel makes opulently full-bodied black-fruit and berry wines. It’s also grown in the hot Southern Italian region of Puglia, where the wines labelled as Primitivo tend to be fruitier and zestier but are as great with meat dishes as their American cousins.

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Lighter style

From 15- to 30-year-old vines in Southern Italy, Luccarelli Primitivo Puglia IGT has a dark red, almost purple-tinged colour with bold plum and prune flavours and soft, full tannins.

Redolent of dark dried fruits, unctuous and smooth, Doppio Passo Botter Primitivo Salento IGT from Puglia is off-dry but as lively as the “double-pass” Italian football style for which it’s named.

Pair with Sautéed Steak with Spanish Tomatoes.

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Richer style

Almost four decades of Sonoma family winemaking expertise go into Cline Zinfandel, packed with blackberry, chocolate and spice that lingers on the long finish.

Pair with Chunky Lamb Chili.