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Best of what's left from the fest

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While my initial plan was to write about many more of the wines brought in special for the Winnipeg Wine Festival, a quick trip to the Grant Park Liquor Mart (where all the leftovers landed) Thursday revealed many of the wines have already flown out the door.

What I thought I'd do instead then is let you know about a half-dozen of my favourite festival-only wines that you are still actually available at the Grant Park Liquor Mart. A few of the Argentine and New Zealand wines I wrote about a few days ago are still hanging around too, but not in large quantity for the most part.

Cono Sur NV Sparkling Rosé (Bio-Bio, Chile — $13.99)

This dry pink bubbly is made from Pinot Noir grown in the Bio-Bio region of Chile — further south than most grape-growing regions, Bio-Bio is a touch cooler than other spots, which is good for Pinot. Toasty bread dough notes work well with raspberry, cherry and strawberry aromas on the nose. It's lighter on the palate and the bubbles are very lively, adding intensity to the red berry flavours here. That bread dough note comes through on the finish as it does on many of my favourite sparkling wines. A fantastic value. 89/100

Musita 2012 Catarratto (Sicilia, Italy — $13.99)

Mineral, peach skin, perfume, lemon and green apple notes are aromatically intense on this Sicilian white. It's a medium-bodied, viscous white (Catarratto is the grape variety, incidentally), with big red apple and mineral notes, a dollop of honey and an almost-peppery complexity to the finish. It sounds weirder than it is; the Musita over-delivers for the price, and would be excellent with most seafood dishes. There's some of the 2012 Grillo left too, which is also quite a good Italian white. 90/100

Lionel Osmin 2011 Villa Grand Cap (France — $16.23)

A blend of Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc and Grand Manseng grapes, this French white offers mineral, herbal, lime rind, pear and spice notes on the nose. It's a lean, light-plus bodied white with lots of complex mineral, chalky, herbal, and lemon flavours and a splash of racy acidity that would work wonderfully with mild, creamy cheeses or pasta with a cream sauce. I still can't get over the fact that of the 130+ booths at the Winnipeg Wine Festival, only two were pouring French wine. More on this in a column to come. 88/100

Peter Dennis 2011 Matilda Shiraz (McLaren Vale, Australia — $20.04)

Aussie winemaker Peter Dennis can be found pouring his wines himself nearly every year at the Winnipeg Wine Festival, and this year was no exception. Cherry, raspberry, perfume, vanilla and spice aromas are accentuated by a hint of wet earth. A full-bodied Shiraz, the Matilda delivers on these same traits on the palate, with some black pepper notes in there that are typical of the grape. This is an elegant, restrained Shiraz. 88/100

Rodney Strong 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley, California — $29.99)

If you like California Cabernet Sauvignon, you'd be doing yourself a favour by treating yourself to the Rodney Strong. Juicy blackberry, blueberry, licorice, vanilla and spice notes on the nose are unmistakably (and enticingly) New World. It's a dense, silky, full-bodied Cab that balances dark ripe fruit with a hint of bell pepper, light but firm tannin and just enough oak. Impressive stuff. If you want to take it to the next level, the 2010 Symmetry, Rodney Strong's icon red blend, is one for the cellar and available among the fest wines at Grant Park for $79.99. 91/100

Rosewood 2008 Mead Royale (Ontario — $16.01)

If you've never tried a mead (honey wine) before, this is as good a place to start as any. Perfume, light herbal, citrus rind and floral notes make the distinct honeyed aromas sing. There's a great viscous texture to the Mead Royale, and while it's unmistakably honey in here it's not overly sweet. Floral and spice notes add great depth here, as does a bit of time in oak barrels. I typically try about a dozen meads a year — most of which are made in Canada but aren't available here — and this is one of the best I've had. 90/100

Twitter: @bensigurdson

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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