There’s nothing quite like the crack of a crisp riesling on a bright spring evening. That bolt of vibrant, citrusy acidity, followed by a flood of peach, pear, honey and wildflowers. But wait, what’s that odd scent—is it flint? Or diesel fuel? Riesling disciples use the term “petrol” to describe its unusual aroma. Although I would argue for the grape’s virtues—as a versatile food wine and as the world’s best cellaring white—riesling has never gained a mainstream following. Not just because of its idiosyncratic bouquet, but because attempts to mass-produce it on the cheap have often resulted in limpid, overly sweet wines. Recently, however, better rieslings have made in-roads on wine lists across the city, thanks in large part to the excellent bottles produced here in Ontario. The LCBO also carries many refreshing, off-dry examples in the over-$15 range that make superb patio sippers and offer extraordinary value—just check out the point-to-price ratios on the following bottles.
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Greek wines are as intriguing as their popular French and Italian counterparts, and they’re half the price
Pine-scented retsina has left a bitter taste with many wine drinkers, but Greek wine has moved on, and it’s poised to become the next big thing, with more Greek labels making their way into trendy restaurants beyond the Danforth. More than 300 indigenous grapes are grown in the country’s 28 wine-growing appellations, which are home to more than 650 wineries. And the quality and value has only been getting better over the last 10 years. The new Greek wines combine the firm acid and mineral structure of many European wines with the ripe, bright fruitiness often found in hotter New World regions. The country’s core strength is aromatic yet steely whites, like moschofilero and assyrtiko, that will appeal to riesling and gewürztraminer fans. Lighter-weight, complex reds like xinomavro and agiorgitiko are similar to pinot noir and Italian nebbiolo. The LCBO’s selection is still meagre, but Vintages carries some excellent-value bottles, while Kolonaki Group, an Ontario-based Greek wine specialist, offers great buys by the case. Here, nine bottles worth trying, even if you’re not serving souvlaki.