Bargain wines for the summer that wasn't

Viña Santa Rita 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, left, and Two Oceans 2014 Sauvignon Blanc....

Viña Santa Rita 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, left, and Two Oceans 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. (Supplied)

Christopher Waters, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:21 PM ET

While watching the umpteenth video of someone drenching himself or herself with ice water, the thought occurred that Mother Nature has been subjecting Canadians with her own ice bucket challenge this summer. Only there’s precious little charity seeing spirits dampened during what should be the dog days of summer.

Pity the wineries looking at stockpiles of rosé in their inventory as pool and patio hours dwindle away. Weather is a prime motivator to buy wine and this unseasonable Aug-tober is a major buzzkill.

Pity, too, the grape growers in Ontario looking into vineyards that are lagging behind schedule.

Two years ago, Ontario wineries were hauling in grapes to make sparkling wine. Today, they’re polishing tanks and cleaning presses in preparation. The first grapes of the year, those barely ripe berries used to make lively and bright bubbly wine, aren’t expected to be ready for harvest until October.

The long-range forecasts suggest Ontario’s vineyards will see an upturn come fall, but not quite the balmy weather predicted for the prairies through to the Pacific. A burst of summer in the fall would be a blessing for grape growers with late ripening varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon on their hands.

Lailey Vineyard winemaker Derek Barnett says he has a healthy crop in the winery’s Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyard, but is conscious of the fact he’s losing time to get those grapes ripe in time.

“There’s going to be a lot of rosé made in 2014,” Barnett predicts. Red wine grapes that fail to deliver the raw ingredients to make robust, complex wines often are funneled into wineries’ rosé programs.

Of course, more rosé from this vintage calls for a long hot summer of 2015 to help drain the supply. Here’s hoping next summer’s ice buckets will be chilling bottles to help beat the heat.

Wines of the Week:

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Viña Santa Rita 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

Maipo Valley, Chile

BC $14.99 (211623) | AB $15 | MB $15 (211623) | ON $13.95 (211623)

Chilean wineries have a knack for delivering exceptional value Cabernets that taste like no others. There’s a consistent herbal note to these wines that is alternately described as bay leaf, rosemary or mint. Santa Rita offers a successful model that’s dry and flavourful with appealing minty notes mingling with cassis and chocolate flavours. Refreshing and versatile, this could be your new house red.

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Two Oceans 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Western Cape, South Africa

BC $9.50 (340380) | AB $11 | MB $11 (340380) | ON 11.95 (340380)

The popular Two Oceans brand has updated its label in a bid to keep pace with modern wine drinkers. The Sauvignon Blanc in the bottle continues to impress, with refreshing fruit and green, herbal flavours. This is a simple, but effective white that also represents good value.

 


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