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Wine notes: Robert Mondavi offers expressive Chardonnay

Plus a unique story behind Chile’s Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil)

Robert Mondavi is one of the golden names in California wines, and his Private Selection Chardonnay offers a lot of lush, butterscotchy elegance for $23. This expressive Chardonnay combines that classic oaky-buttery style with flavours of green apple, pear, and honey alongside a racy complement of pineapple and other tropical fruit notes, a spritz of acidity, and a lingering, spicy finish. Luscious yet fresh on the palate, this aromatic charmer is rich and creamy but never cloying.

Wine notes columnist Robert Moyes (Don Denton photo)

What’s in a name? Well, in the case of Chile’s Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), it offers a great story about how a long-ago owner declared that the cellar where his best wines were stored was haunted by the devil – thus guaranteeing his superstitious workers wouldn’t dare sneak in to grab the good stuff. These days, a mere $18.50 gets you their tasty Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, a yummy, fruit-driven crowd-pleaser with intense notes of cassis and plum accompanied by a soft mouthfeel and a long finish. Heavenly!

READ MORE: Matter of Beer: good times brewing at Victoria Beer Week

Although northern Italy’s Piedmont region is justly renowned for its high-end Barolo and Barbaresco bottlings, that area’s Barbera varietal also makes exciting, food-friendly wines – ones that are delicious but also affordable. Founded more than a century ago, the Fontanafredda Winery makes a particularly attractive Barbera, whose lively acidity perks up its fresh, juicy flavours of cherry and raspberry. Medium-bodied and supple, this slightly effervescent wine would be a great dinner guest for $23.

If you’re feeling a bit posh, why not indulge yourself with something tasty from Mendoza, Argentina’s premier wine region? Zuccardi is an important family-run winery and their “Q” series includes a lovely Tempranillo (the main varietal used in Spain’s esteemed Rioja wines). Made from 40-year-old vines, this plushly expansive wine, dark and silky, offers flavours of blackberry, plum, and black cherry with hints of spice and chocolate. This is available for $32.75 at Cork & Barrel, in Oak Bay’s Athlone Court, where it is a perennial “staff pick.” (All prices include tax.)

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