Restock your wine rack for less than $100

Prepare for warmer weather with five bottles that are perfect for spring.

By: Carolyn Evans Hammond Published on Sat Mar 18, 2017 in The Toronto Star and on Star Touch, syndicated

As spring draws near, we start daydreaming about sunshine. Heat. Frolicking about outdoors without a parka and toque firmly in place. Sure, we still might be blasted by a blizzard, but we know with certainty the chill won’t last. It all boils down to this really: time to restock the wine rack. Here’s a ready-made springtime cellar to set you up, and all five bottles set you back less than $100 ($99.75 to be exact).

2015 Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc, Languedoc, France (Vintages 409870 $16.95 in stores)

Vintages releases this palest of pale rosés on March 18. It’s a delicately nuanced number from the south of France that starts with barely there aromas of white flowers, cherries, figs and lemon zest before racing across the palate all shiny and cool. The wine is racy but not fruit-forward, instead taking an understated approach to charm as it winks and nods toward floral-berry-melon-and-brioche notes and then tapers to a long, vibrant orange zest finish. Pour this elegant wine with poached fish. And be happy.

Score: 89+

2015 Jaffelin Bourgogne Aligote, France (LCBO 53868 $16.95 in stores and online)

Made from Aligoté, the second white grape variety of Burgundy after Chardonnay, this unwooded beauty tastes bright and crisp — like a ray of sunshine on a brisk morning. It’s pure refreshment teeming with mouth-watering acidity and notes of mixed citrus and green apple that scrapes the palate clean with razor sharp acidity then retreats leaving a compellingly chalky finish on the tongue. This bone-dry wine is a great way to usher in spring, particularly with spicy grilled shrimp or aged goat cheese.

Score: 89

2016 White Cliff Winemaker’s Selection Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand (LCBO 610972 $14.95 in stores and online)

Aromas of a freshly mowed lawn and handfuls of damp herbs leap from the glass of this classic but very well-priced Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, calling to mind all things fresh and green. Then attack is brisk and mouth-filling with saturated flavours of lemongrass, lime puree, fresh asparagus and snow pea. This absolutely tastes like springtime in a glass. Pour it with pasta tossed with parsley, peas and feta for a real treat.

Score: 88

2015 La Vieille Ferme, Cotes du Ventoux, France (LCBO 263640 $10.95 till March 25, reg. $12.45 in stores and online)

This raspberry, violet and earth-scented red wine is light and lively with a slightly savory flair and dried herb underpinnings that draw to mind bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. It’s a silky-tasting red wine with finely grained tannins and a chalky finish that holds the flavour in place and lends a certain gravitas to an otherwise purely affable, easy-drinking, French blend of Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah grapes. Outstanding value wine to pour with pan-fried poultry and steamed, buttered vegetables.

Score: 89

2013 Ravenswood Dickerson Vineyard Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California (Vintages 599183 $39.95 in stores)

For many of us, the only real way to usher in springtime is by grilling that first steak of the season to enjoy with a killer red with the power to stand up to grill marks. If that’s your gateway to the season, grab a bottle of this Californian Zinfandel, which is a new Vintages release that hits shelves March 18. It’s not cheap, but it’s definitely worth every penny with its rich, robust flavours of blackberry, stewed black cherry, mint, cedar, tobacco wrapper, red meat, toasted oak, coffee, cocoa powder and nutmeg. Complex, saturated and velvety, this bottle just sings.

Score: 91