With the weather improving, here are a dozen wines fit for sunnier Calgary days

Although May is clearly well into spring, in Calgary, May isn’t really that grand. We typically have some nice days, the snow is gone (usually) and we usually have a lot of rain. Wine picks should range from dry whites, tropical, almost summery whites, to hearty, rainy day wines.

Most importantly, this is the time of year when the weather begins to cooperate, when our household chores become time spent outside: mowing the lawn, washing the windows, and cleaning out the garage. A rest after your labours can also take place outside whether chilling on the hammock, cooking on the grill, or just sitting around on the deck with friends and family. Why not enjoy a nice glass of wine too?

Tinhorn Creek 2013 Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris

Clean white fruits of peaches and pears with a hint of herb and “Popeye candy sticks” (you know-those candy cigarettes you had as a kid). About 1/3 of the wine gets some malolactic fermentation and there is a pinch of residual sweetness lending some body to the mid-palate. A nice pinot gris for the grownups. $25

Espino 2011 Chardonnay, Maipo Valley, Chile

Espino Chardonnay

Chablis icon William Fèvre pulled up stakes in France and began the Espino project in Chile a few years ago. Just beautiful to smell with citrus, mineral, and Fiji apple fruits, it’s balanced, crisp, and has a touch of creaminess on the mid-palate. Virtually unoaked, more chardonnay should taste like this. $25

Emiliana 2011 Adobe Reserva Rosé, Rapel Valley, Chile

Emiliana Rose

Fully organic, the nose is quite spicy with hints of cedar and pepper to boot. Some sugar creeps up on you in the mouth, but the full flavours and zingy acids bring great balance to a slightly creamy back end. I’d suggest pairing with grilled pork or some nice charcouterie. $15

Masi 2012 Rosa dei Masi, Veneto, Italy

Masi Rosa dei Masi

Stalwart Masi Agricola produces a number of well-known and well-regarded wines available to Albertans. Made from the little-known refosco grape, plenty of spice and citrus character offset some berry fruits. The palate is quite dry with rich fruit presence right through to the finish. Summer salads, or sipping solo, it is about $16 on the shelf.

J. Biondi Santi 2009 Sassoalloro IGT, Tuscany, Italy

J. Biondi Santi

The “entry-level” wine from Biondi Santi is anything but entry-level quality. Look for black fruits, tar, liquorice and lots of earthy flavours. Drink now or cellar 2-3 more years to soften the tannins a little. The 2009 was also a Judges Selection winner at the 2013 Alberta Beverage Awards. $39

J. Biondi Santi 2006 Annata Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

Biondi Santi Brunello

If your pocketbook doesn’t fit the Riserva, or you like drinking your wine within 20 years,consider the excellent Annata Brunello. Layers upon layers of complex flavours including cherries, tar, menthol tobacco, dried herbs, and floral notes. Tannins are big, but this a beautiful ride for the tastebuds. Drinking well now, or keep if you’d like 5-10+ years in the cellar. $150

Castello di Gabbiano 2010 Bellezza, Tuscany, Italy

Castello di Gabbiano

Stunning wine from Chianti juggernaut Gabbiano. This wine will fit under the new “grand selection” tier of chianti with the 2013 vintage, but for now, just know it’s delicious. Generous fruits, floral character, menthol, leather and spice box balanced by perfect tannin structure. Drink or keep, it retails around $44.

Tinhorn Creek 2011 Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc

I’ve long been a fan of the cabernet franc being made at Tinhorn Creek. Spicy, gingerbread aromas and flavours without that pesky green character cab franc can have. With lifted herb and flowery notes complementing berry fruits and some pretty delicate tannins. Tasty, through and through. $26

Espino 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile

Espino Cabernet Sauvignon

Higher altitude cabernet with 15 percent cabernet franc yield a good range of berry fruits with liquorice, dill, and a touch of smokiness lead to not-too-heavy flavours on the palate, with cedar, spice box, and just slightly chewy tannins. Drink now or within a year or two. $25

Longview Devil’s Elbow 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Adelaide Hills, Australia

Longview Devil's Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon

New to the market, and an uncommon variety from Adelaide Hills, look for liquorice, lilac, pipe tobacco, cherry fruits, and mint leaf. Rich and full in the mouth, big, black fruits, and some full-on tannins mean this should be a good bet for a barbecue. $27

Quarto di Sole 2005 Reserva, Campania Italy

Quarto di Sole

Made from 100 percent aglicanico, the current vintage on the market is the well-aged 2005. Aglicanico can be a bit strident when very young, but the extra years behind the 2005 make it a stunning bottle right now. Olive, black cherry fruits, and liquorice jump out of the glass-balanced by perfect tannins. Around $45

Blandy’s 5 Year Old Verdelho, Madeira, Portugal

Blandy's Verdelho

A medium-dry madeira (with 70 grams of residual sugar), look for almond and lime notes with toffee, brine, and a touch of dried leather on the nose. Zingy, wonderful acids complement the toffee and hazelnut flavours. The long, nutty finish is perfect with desserts that aren’t too sweet. Around $28

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