Buyer’s Guide to Summer Sippers

Last of the chilled summer tips for spills, thrills and sips

By Michael Godel with notes from David, John, Sara and Megha

When heat needs to be beat and quenching one’s thirst becomes a daily act of necessity, embracing the righteousness of whites and rosés requires little creativity.

In these times of thermometric accumulation, laying chilled praise on reds is in fact a less obvious ethos and, in the wrong sort of crowd, might elicit more than one hairy eyeball.

Hang with the right sort of folks and the mantra oft repeated would be “chill some red wines for another hot weekend.” With at least two more sunny and warm ones on the predictive weather horizon, it looks as though that watchword will get a workout. Try it. Take that bottle of red and lay it down in the icebox for 20 minutes. The reward will be a cool and refreshing summer drink.


Many years ago I ran a poll on the topic: How do you feel about chilling red wine? The responses were uber-liberal, forward-thinking and informed. Zero people answered “it was wrong on so many levels,” and “I have not tried it but I’m willing to” but also “I add an ice cube to my red wine.” That is correct. Zero responses to these three options.

The votes were split between “I would only chill light-bodied reds” at 60 percent and “I do it all the time.” The people have known the physical and mental health benefits of chilling red wines for quite some time.

No one is suggesting to serve reds ice cold, but cellar temperature will do, that is to say between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius. Certain grape varieties and blends should not be at the top of a chilling list. Bordeaux reds, Rhônes, Aussie shiraz, cabs and blends, zinfandel, Montalcinese and Chianti Classico sangiovese, Piedmontese nebbiolo and barbera are but a few examples and yet a degree or two of cooling would not be wrong were you wanting these sorts of sips whilst the mercury is persistently rising. Remember that a tannic red’s subtleties can be masked by low temperature. That said, the likes of gamay, frappato, zweigelt, St. Laurent, dolcetto, grignolino, pinot noir, criolla and vermentino nero would surely benefit from some air-conditioning. Get creative — you won’t regret it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program in which whites, rosés and even skin-contact (aka, orange wines) are the darlings of the hot months. But wait! There’s so much more — most importantly those low-alcohol sparkling bottles of endless fun that quench thirsts like a revivalist band’s touch headlining an August festival on a long weekend. The genre of pétillant-naturel — affectionately known as pét-nat — is a fad no more. From Gemischter Satz in Austria to the same treatment with gamay in Ontario, pét-nats are commonplace these days. As they do want to be a little jumpy, winemaking will diverge from the sparkling norm, more often than not requiring a quick riddle so that these pressurized wines don’t explode. L’Acadie Vineyards in the Annapolis Valley makes an example called Pétillant-Naturel Méthode Ancestrale.

Winemaker Bruce Ewert’s is the story of saccharomyces paradoxus, wild yeast naturally present in the vineyard like pre-packaged enzymatic magic ready and prepared to give a pétillant-naturel its head start. At this year’s National Wine Awards of Canada, a silver medal was awarded to B.C. winery 50th Parallel’s Glamour Farming Petillant 2020. Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge is a Canadian pioneer with this method — in fact, they package it in a can. In Ontario’s Prince Edward County, Hinterland took on the sparkling category with their Lacus Pétillant-Naturel. At Trail Estate, Mackenzie Brisbois makes a red version. Encouraging wines like this is something we need to do. The ancestral style is called “Vino Rifermentato in Bottiglia” in Italy — sealed under crown cap with as much of the lees as a winemaker can pretty much capture inside.

Rosé has expanded in style worldwide and how much fun it is to watch, speculate and assess what a winemaker is looking for, especially as it pertains to crafting rosé from a new world frontier. Canadian makers of rosé are more than capable of making wines that can saunter with the very best of Southern France. But wait, there’s more! There are rosés dry as the desert, sweet as dessert, and made as sparkling, still or vin gris. There are red and white grapes living together and — if this year’s NWACs (National Wine Awards of Canada) are any indication — the future of rosé is as unpredictable as climate change. As Canadians we need to be thankful for paths taken that continue to avoid the “dextrinization” of Rosé, meaning winemakers are eschewing chemical avenues for more natural and meaningful methodologies. The goals include higher viscosity, solubility, colour and stability rather than manipulations that change hue, aroma and flavour.


When it comes to talking about the current state of orange wines I encourage you to read Megha Jandhyala’s Category Overview from the 2022 National Wine Awards of Canada. Megha writes: “as a category, it is especially versatile in the context of food pairing. While off-dry riesling is the classic pairing for South Asian food, orange wine may rival it for the harmonious, even symbiotic, relationship it is able to forge with decadent, spice-infused sauces. It is also a delightful companion to rich and flavourful preparations from other parts of the world, including examples of Iranian, Moroccan, and West African cuisine. Its tannins help cut the richness of these foods and its concentrated flavour profile helps it stand up to their bold and expressive character, where many white wines may pale when placed in such a juxtaposition.” From British Columbia, look for Eauvivre On The Edge Viognier 2020 and, in Ontario, Adamo Legacy Viognier Orange Wine 2021.

Below you will find 14 wines that come highly recommended by the WineAlign critics but we encourage you to peruse the lists of medal winners at this year’s National Wine Awards of Canada for the deepest of counsel and advice on what Canada is currently doing best. Seek out the wines of Ontario but also those from British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Quebec, especially if you are willing to invest in a case for inter-provincial delivery.

(Note: if you are interested in purchasing wines that are listed as consignment, please contact the agent.)

A Buyer’s Guide to the last of the summer sippers


Alpamanta Breva Pet Nat 2021

Alpamanta Breva Pet Nat 2021, DO Mendoza, Argentina
$36.95 (Consignment), The Living Vine
Michael Godel – Picked in February, bottled in March with 8 g/L of sugar, and then winemaker Andrej Razumovsky waits until the fermentation finishes in that bottle, sometime in April. This is a great use of criolla, a variety so suited for pét-nat, with wild flavours and spices, taking and combining varietal and sparkling styles by the theory, reigns and practice. Leave it in your glass for five minutes, twig the volatility drift-off, and sense the wild berry flavours popping out. It’s for your mouth and the energy flow is moving indeed.

Blomidon Cuvée l’Acadie Brut, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
$40.00 (VINTAGES), Le Sommelier Inc.
David Lawrason – This a fine, lighter bodied, tart-edged sparkler rounded by a hint of sweetness. There is pretty apple character with some intriguing saffron and licorice character. I like the balance here. There is juicy acidity, very good focus and length.
Michael Godel – It must be conceded that the Nova Scotia varietal specialty is destined to create cracker, lightning rod, back beats and bites in Nova Scotia sparkling wine. This from Blomidon adds spice, apple skin, orange zest and stony moments throughout. It’s amazing.
John Szabo – Fresh, breezy, highly citrus-lemon-scented, minty, like a fresh breeze off the sea and a squeeze of lime, this is crunchy, balanced, lively sparkling wine in the traditional method that delivers tension and happiness.

13th Street Premier Cuvee 2015

13th Street Premier Cuvée 2015, Niagara Peninsula
$39.95 (Winery), 13th Street Winery
Michael Godel – Intensely sharp and excited sparkling that, while 50-50 pinot and chardonnay, may as well be a striking example of blanc de blancs. Dry as the desert in zero dosage style and — my oh my — attention is grabbed with the fullest extent of the traditional method sparkling law.
John Szabo – A lovely, clean nose leads off here on this classic traditional method bubbly, just starting the shift to more mature flavours but with plenty of road ahead. The palate is very dry, frothy, crisp and fresh with crackling acids corseting the ensemble and excellent length.

Rosé and Orange

Malivoire Vivant Rosé 2021

Malivoire Vivant Rosé 2021, VQA Beamsville Bench
$18.95 (VINTAGES), The Case For Wine
Sara d’Amato – Stylish and perfectly pale with a luminous colour, this rosé blend of pinot noir and pinot gris is notably dry and refreshing. Featuring flavours of rose petal, cranberry, raspberry and pink grapefruit along with a hint of dried mint on the palate. Juicy with memorable length
Megha Jandhyala – A blend of pinot noir (88 percent) and pinot gris (12 percent), this is a dry, bright rosé with flavours of ripe strawberries, raspberries, and pink grapefruit, and the scent of fresh roses. It is light to medium-bodied with tart, citrusy acidity and the length is very good.

Barone Ricasoli Albia Rosé 2021, IGT Toscana, Italy
$18.95 (VINTAGES), The Case For Wine
Michael Godel – Ricasoli makes this full and engaging rosé from sangiovese with trenchant purpose and rich design. It offers full fruit flavour with great intensity and traction, not to mention varietal purpose without any undue distraction. The 2021 is another vintage to speak of Gaiole, and the Ricasoli method meets ancient acumen in the recipe. Great saltiness suggests something like vermentino in the mix. Could it be the case?
Megha Jandhyala – A blend of sangiovese and merlot from a historic producer, this rosé has an alluring nose, perfumed with rose water, cherries, peaches, and mandarins. The palate is dry, elegant, and tart; fresh fruit precede gentle salinity, followed by a citrus rind-like bitterness, and finally a finely textured finish. The price represents good value given how charming and enjoyable this wine is.

Leaning Post Rosé 2021, VQA Niagara-on-the Lake
$18.95 (VINTAGES), Leaning Post Wines
Michael Godel – Only pinot noir — and in rosé the grape can take two apposite avenues. One is dry, earthy and rustic with the other fruit-driven, vinous and varietally pure. That second path is the Leaning Post way, purpose-grown, quick-pressed and fuller than many of its ilk. This is precise and lucky at the same time, all the fruit scents and flavours captured without any undue distraction. Really pure and proper, crisp and satisfying.
Megha Jandhyala – This expressive, striking orange-pink rosé is positively brimming with tart strawberries, redcurrants, and cherries. Generous, open, and engaging, with a pleasing balance between tart acidity and a hint of sweetness, it is a versatile and food-friendly wine that should make for a delightful companion to a summer meal on the patio.

Angels & Cowboys Rosé 2021, Sonoma County, California
$24.95 (VINTAGES), Rogers & Company
David Lawrason – This is a very pale, pristine-looking rose that with real freshness, good acid and modest 12.5 percent alcohol, whereas many California pinkies are heavier and sweeter. Expect vaguely floral, redcurrant/strawberry fruit notes. The finish is a touch earthy and slightly bitter, but the length is very good and it works overall.
Michael Godel – Quality acidity and moderate alcohol help season the fruit and engage the senses in this Sonoma rosé on the salty, herbal and dusty side of the road. Crisp and understated yet satisfying because it’s really quite free and easy. The drying qualities and citric acids are what give it interest and life. Hard not be wooed by the natural swagger of this blush.
Megha Jandhyala – Pale and delicate, the colour of a pink rose, the Angels & Cowboys rosé is a blend of grenache, syrah, and carignan. It is fresh and light with flavours of tart red fruit, oranges, and lemons. The palate is light and fresh with vibrant acidity and a concentrated pink grapefruit finish. This is a winsome wine, easy to enjoy.

Southbrook Vidal Skin Fermented White Orange Wine 2020, VQA Ontario
$29.95 (VINTAGES Online Exclusives), Vinexx
Michael Godel – The OG skin-fermented wine wrote the book on the subject and the VQA designation so credit is due Southbrook and Ann Sperling in this the seventh installation of vidal as an Ontario orange wine. This may just be the wine’s most openly generous and come-to-get-it iteration. Notes like tea, lemon, honey and grapefruit are just as present and 2020’s subtle softness is a virtue while layering brings a sense of completeness to the overall theorem. Reality too for this VSFW is a pleasure to sip.


Flat Rock Cellars Twisted White 2020, VQA Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (VINTAGES Essential), Flat Rock Cellars
Michael Godel – Classic mid-weight, nearly off-dry, open and generous white appellative blend. Pour this for anyone at any time. There will be no sad faces.
John Szabo – 2020 marks a particularly solid, ripe and flavourful Twisted White blend from Flat Rock, a little more on the tropical side than previous vintages, well made as usual. I like the pineapple and orange flavours, the juicy acids, the lingering finish. It’s also quite dry, drier I’d say than previous vintages. A fine patio/porch/park sipper.

Follas Novas Albariño 2021, DO Rías Baixas, Spain
$18.95 (VINTAGES), Azureau Wines & Spirits
Michael Godel – They are different, these albariño from Rí­as Baixas, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Case in point this lime citrus, dried herbal, mint tisane and wet concrete notable example. As crisp as it gets and here with a definite note of botanicals, more tonic than gin, of course.
David Lawrason – With a slight and slender 12.5 percent alcohol this flavourful albariño is all about zest, tension and minerality. And catching the salty tang of the Atlantic Ocean. Look for lifted lemon, unripe pineapple and fresh herbs/mint on the nose, plus considerable lemon and tartness on the finish. Quite bitter as well. The length is very good.

Kir Yianni Le Nord Assyrtiko 2020

Kir Yianni Le Nord Assyrtiko 2020, IGP Florina, Greece
$18.95 (VINTAGES), Kolonaki Group Inc
David Lawrason – This is very satisfying, with energy yet substance. It is not a fruity, aromatic variety, with reserved vaguely tropical, lemon character plus herbs and mineral. Chablis crossed my mind. It is medium weight, dry and almost austere, but intense at the same time. The length is excellent.
Michael Godel – A stoic, dry, lean and intense assyrtiko, verging on the profound. It’s a different sort and one that must be embraced, by growers and also consumers. There is a mild bitterness in a gin and tonic way but it adds to the complexity and the distinction. At under $20 this represents the greatest of value for striking white wine.
Megha Jandhyala – Mineral and savoury notes are layered over flavours of lemons, peaches, and crunchy apples, supported by taut acidity. Length is excellent, a gentle saline note waxing over the mid-palate, then waning, leaving a warming sensation in its wake.

Vincent Raimbault Bel Air Vouvray 2019

Vincent Raimbault Bel Air Vouvray 2019, AC Loire, France
$21.95 (VINTAGES), The Case For Wine
John Szabo – Attractive aromatics lead off the top, floral, wooly, appley in the classic varietal idiom, with judicious creamy-lees influence and impressive complexity overall in the price category and beyond. I like the zesty, mostly dry palate, the saliva-inducing acids, the salinity that drives additional sips, and the overall balance. A representative and quality Vouvray at an attractive price. Enjoy or hold mid-term — no rush here.
Michael Godel – A reductive, flinty and uber-dry chenin blanc, smelling of dried herbs and also flowers, lightly tart and salty to finish. Perhaps just ever so slightly honeyed on the nose but ultimately it is aridity that makes this go. Unique personality and really functional in how it carries itself. A dry sense of humour and also honour, if you get the drift.
Megha Jandhyala – This is a bewitching and beguiling Vouvray, perfumed with elderflowers, green pears, and honey drizzled apples. The palate is sprightly and lively, its zesty acidity softened by an ethereal sweetness, and delicately rounded by lees-contact. Length is very good to excellent with varietally classic, refreshing bitterness appearing on the mid-palate and lingering on the finish.


Planeta Frappato Sicilia Vittoria DOC 2020, Sicily, Italy
$22.95 (Consigment), Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.
Michael Godel – That frappato in Planeta’s way can deliver this fresh strawberry and reductively earthy combination is testament to soil and sea. Think of the ripest fruit cut clear and clean by wet stoniness and sharp imagery. Crystalline vintage here for Planeta, potent, vehement and heartfelt. There is no hiding from such clarity and tempered ethos.

Domaine Anita Coteau De Malval 2021, AC Beaujolais Villages, Bourgogne, France
$27.95 (Consigment), Wilson Group Wines & Spirits
Michael Godel – Clearly a mineral and fruit-focused step up in quality but also determinate passion for village level Beaujolais. The tight grain of all parts, including a crispness of fruit and acid are all at the level one should demand and expect in gamay. So very good.
John Szabo – Clean and fragrant with lovely perfume, particularly floral, a light and juicy wine, with very fine tannins and appealingly crunchy acids. Fruit is vibrant and fresh, just-ripe, while texture is silky and length very good. A very solid Villages-level Beaujolais, succulent and sapid, for current consumption or short term hold, best with a light chill.
David Lawrason – This is a very fresh, juicy, rather high-toned gamay with generous plummy, raspberry fruit and almost lavender-like and red rose florality. It is light to midweight, juicy and fresh and completed centred on fresh fruit. Acid is tart and sour-edged, tannins barely exist, making this very easy to enjoy now. Focus and length are excellent. Delicious.

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for the latest WineAlign recommendations, tips and other interesting wine information.