There's nothing quite like packing up the car and heading to the lake for the weekend. Be it Canadian Shield cottage country, a secluded campground or a beach community, getting out of the city is usually just what the doctor ordered.
Among all the packing to be done and the lists to be made, we sometimes forget to pick up wine until it's too late -- suddenly we're forced to choose from a small handful of questionable, suspiciously dusty bottles at the tiny rural liquor vendor.
Many of Winnipeg's private wine stores put together "cottage cases" at the beginning of summer -- whites and reds (and sometimes rosés) are chosen, packaged together and usually offered at a slightly discounted price. It's a great idea, allowing customers to pop in, grab a box and hit the road to the cottage.
In the spirit of these "cottage cases," I've compiled a half-dozen wines I've tried recently that made me think of getting out of the city and enjoying lake life. If my choices don't appeal to you, that's OK -- at least I'll have reminded you to stop and pick up some vino before heading out of town, where the pickings are usually slim.
BRUNCH WINE: De Bortoli "Emeri" Sparkling Pinot Grigio (South Eastern Australia -- $15.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Mineral, peach, pear and floral aromas are fresh and crisp on the nose here. The Emeri is light-bodied, with just a hint of sweetness to the peach. Bubbly is one of the few wines that typically works well with eggs -- factor in the typically light, crisp nature of Pinot Grigio and you've got a great brunch/mimosa/hangover wine here. 86/100
DECK/DOCK WINE: Concha Y Toro 2011 Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc (Central Valley, Chile -- $11.95, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Lime rind, herbal, grapefruit, green apple and light bell pepper notes on the nose are as crisp and fresh as can be. This light-bodied white has enough racy acidity to ramp up the citrus and green apple notes, with great intensity and length of flavours--especially for the price. Grab some fresh fruit, park yourself on the dock/deck and enjoy the summer sun. 88/100
SHORE-LUNCH WINE: Clayhouse 2010 Adobe White (Central Coast, Calif. -- around $21, private wine stores)
This California white is a blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc and others, and as such is quite compelling on the nose: peach, tangerine, spice, perfume, red apple and more. A medium-bodied white, the Clayhouse delivers stone fruit, nectarine and cantaloupe flavours in a big way without too much sweetness -- it's an intense, viscous wine that will work well with the pan-fried fish you just caught in your secret fishing spot. Heck, try with any seafood dish and enjoy -- this is an excellent white. 90/100
BOARD GAME WINE: Ch¢teau Mas Neuf 2010 Rh¥ne Paradox Rosé (Costieres de NÆmes, France -- $14.49, Liquor Marts and beyond)
This blend of red grapes Cinsaut, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache is extremely pale pink in colour, and brings dried cherry, herbal, strawberry candy and raspberry juice aromas. It's dry, extremely light-bodied and fairly complex, with red berry flavours mashed up with light peach notes and a distinct lactic note. Chill this right down and pop it open with some mild cheeses while playing your favourite board game. It may not appeal to everyone, but neither will your dusty old board games. Remember: "paradox'" is huge points in Scrabble. 85/100
GOOD BOOK/CROSSWORD PUZZLE WINE: Undurraga 2009 Sibaris Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley, Chile -- $14.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Currants, cassis and blackberries are big on the nose, with secondary tarry and raspberry notes and some sturdy oak. The Sibaris is full-bodied and silky, with a chocolate/black pepper/blackberry note on the palate that's fairly common in Chilean reds. The oak isn't obtrusive, nor are the tannins -- both help structure the ripe dark fruit flavours. While there's some complexity, it's still a solvable red, which will hopefully inspire you to finish that trashy murder mystery or crossword puzzle. 87/100
BARBECUE WINE: Mike Weir 2008 Cabernet Merlot (Niagara Peninsula, Ont. -- $17.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Mike Weir's golf game may have dropped off as of late, but this Ontario red wine holds up quite nicely. A Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend, the latter grape leads the way on the nose, with big plum and blueberry notes and secondary ash and herbal aromas. It's medium-plus bodied and juicy, with plum and blackberry notes sparked by light acidity and devoid of much mouth-drying tannin. It'll do well with burgers, ribs, smokies, etc. Are golf courses BYO these days? 88/100