Bottles with the most bonus Air Miles: Evans Hammond

Through May 20, these wines will net collectors extra points when they’re purchased at the LCBO.

By: Carolyn Evans Hammond Published on Tues Apr 25 2017 on Star Touch and Sat Apr 29 2017 in The Toronto Star, syndicated

Air Miles collectors, this one’s for you. Although the LCBO normally offers one Air Mile for every $30 spent at the LCBO on a monthly cumulative basis, it also offers bonus Air Miles on a changing roster of bottles. But they change all the time so they’re tough to track. With this in mind, I did a bit of digging to find you the best bottles with the most bonus Air Miles now through May 20. After all, summer vacation season is coming up fast.

2015 Lupi Reali Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, Italy (LCBO 486647 $10.80 (price subject to change) in stores and online)

You definitely need to know about this new general-list thriller that just hit shelves last week. It’s a smooth, easy-drinking, organic wonder that punches way above its price. Fetching aromas of smoked meat and cherries lead to juicy flavours of dusty black and red cherries underpinned with allusions of balsamic and granite. Love how a lingering chalkiness on the finish lends a bit of finesse to the experience. Perfect pizza pour.

Score: 90

Bonus Air Miles: 4

NV Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Rosé Brut, VQA (LCBO 217505 $29.95 in stores and online)

Shining a deep coral colour, this local bubbly exudes pronounced aromas of bumbleberry jam and homemade bread before racing across the palate like a thing possessed with brisk, cranberry-lemon flavours and a whole lot of zing. More electric than elegant, this is a wine to chill well and quaff in the sunshine, maybe with a plate of cheese and crackers — the salt and fat balancing palate-scraping acidity of this popular pour.

Score: 88

Bonus Air Miles: 10

2012 Villa Annaberta Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto, Italy (LCBO 433961 $39.35 in stores and online)

This wine tastes darker than dark with rich, robust flavours of blackberry, black plum and black cherry imbued with layers of polished slate, espresso, bitter chocolate, black earth, black licorice and warm tar with a tug of tannin on the finish. Well-balanced and well-made, this is a wine with gravitas that will appeal to those with a taste for earthier styles of Amarone. Pour it with a braised short rib and mashed potato for comforting, hearty meal.

Score: 89

Bonus Air Miles: 15

Radio Boka Tempranillo Valencia, Spain 3L (LCBO 491118 $37.90 in stores and online)

Last week, I named this wine one of the best new bag-in-box offerings at the LCBO, but it bears a mention this week too because buying it now will earn you 25 bonus Air Miles. Juicy and approachable with silky-crisp berry flavours edged with caffe latte and white pepper, Radio Boka is the number one selling Tempranillo in Ontario and the bestselling Tempranillo in Canada. At the price and with the bonus Air Miles, it’s tough to beat. Pour it with almost anything.

Score: 90+

Bonus Air Miles: 25

2013 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California (Vintages Essential 710426 $116.95 in stores and online)

Taste this bottle to see why the Cakebread family, which owns and runs the winery, has earned itself a solid reputation for crafting outstanding Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Saturated yet elegant flavours of crème de cassis and cherry mingle with baking spices (nutmeg, allspice and clove), crushed granite, cocoa powder, and dried blueberry while firm, ripe tannins frame the fruit. With wedding season just around the corner, it might be a nice bottle to tuck away to give a lucky couple.

Score: 91

Bonus Air Miles: 30

Carolyn Evans Hammond is a Toronto-based wine writer. She is also a London-trained sommelier and two-time bestselling wine book author. Reach her at carolyn@carolynevanshammond.com .