The signs of spring include daffodils, migrating birds, soft rains and fresh wines in your glass. Some of the wines I've gathered together today are light and white, while others are more robust and red for the barbecue. As the temperature warms up and we start to cook outdoors more frequently, it's these lively reds and whites that do well when competing with the smoke of the grill and the smell of fresh cut grass. So pull up a deck chair and top up your glass with me.
Creekside Laura's White 2010, V.Q.A., Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Lovely blend of Chardonnay, Chardonnay Musque, Pinot Gris, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Gorgeous aromas of butterscotch, toasted almond and white peach. Floral notes and light spices on the finish. Try it with fresh seafood. Yum! Drink: 2013-2017. 121764 13% D 750 mL $18.95 Score: 92/100.
Babich Gimblett Gravels Gewürztraminer 2011, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand: Aromatic and classic and bone-dry. Floral with baking spices and lychee but not over-the-top. Try with curries, spices and Asian fare and grilled chicken. Drink: 2013-2016. 309617 14% D 750 mL $16.95 Score: 90/100.
Muga Barrel Fermented White 2011, D.O.C.A., Rioja, Spain: This gorgeous wine is a blend of 90% viura and 10% malvasia grapes that was fermented in new French oak barrels and aged for 3 months on the lees. Lovely yellow apple, Asian pear and lily aromas. Medium-bodied. Dry and refreshing. Try with roast chicken or fresh shellfish in melted butter. Drink: 2013-2016. 958736 13% XD 750 mL $15.95 Score: 89/100.
Loimer Grüner Veltliner 2011, D.A.C., Kamptal, Austria: Green apple and lime refreshment: clean, crisp and pure. Great aperitif or companion to seafood and salads. Medium-bodied. Pair with spring salads and field greens. Drink: 2013-2015. 142240 13% XD 750 mL $19.95 Score: 89/100.
Running Duck Fairtrade Organic Stellar Organic Winery Chardonnay 2012, W.O., Western Cape, South Africa: Lovely butterscotch and green apple notes on the nose and palate. Bit of a matchstick smoke finish. Medium- to full-bodied. This organic wine has just 23 mg/l of free sulphur. Pair with: salmon steaks. Drink: 2013-2015. 149856 14% D 750 mL $14.95 Score: 87/100.
Malivoire Guilty Men Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010, V.Q.A., Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Very supple and friend cab merlot blend with lovely fleshy black plum notes. The oak isn't evident. Luscious layers and very food friendly from pork chops to hamburgers. Drink: 2013-2016. 186247 13% XD 750 mL $19.95 Score: 89/100.
Pierre Henri Morel Signargues 2010, A.C., Rhône, France: Dense black fruit, licorice and smoke on the nose of this amazingly well-priced wine. Full-bodied and supple with black plum and black raspberry on the finish. This is a terrific blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes. I'm still shaking my head at the great price. Try it with meat lovers' pizza or grilled steak. Drink: 2013-2016. 277038 13.50% XD 750 mL $15.95 Score: 91/100.
Tenuta Di Ghizzano Veneroso 2009, I.G.T., Tuscany, Italy: Love it! Classic and structured and intriguing. Black fruit and smoky mystery on the nose. The palate floods the senses with black plums, anise and dark spices. Considerable structure, complexity and concentration. This will do well in the cellar, but it'll be difficult to wait. The wine is a blend is 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Perfect for meat on the grill. Drink: 2014-2022. 103218 13.50% XD 750 mL $29.95 Score: 96/100.
Skillogalee Basket Pressed Shiraz 2008, Clare Valley, South Australia, Australia: Minty blackberry on the nose with full-bodied juiciness. Lots of layers. Pair with grilled pork chops. Drink: 2013-2016. 165753 14.50% D 750 mL $26.95 Score: 92/100.
Luca Laborde Double Select Syrah 2010, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina: A seductive nose of coffee and brooding black fleshy fruit opens up to mouth-filling richness on the palate. The grapes for this wine came from 48-year-old ungrafted vines and then the wine was matured for 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Velvet layers of dark fruit, tanned leather and cigar box. Perfect for hearty meat dishes. Drink: 2013-2016. 167346 14.50% XD 750 mL $22.95 Score: 93/100.