Wednesday, July 01, 2015

July 2015 wines - 1 Tasted of 13


Canada's 148th Birthday

Mel Lastman Square (North York)
Just a couple of websites listing July 1st events:


East York  (my 'home town')

This is hoping you`ll find a place to celebrate and something enjoyable and of value to refresh your thirst!

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites and rosés)
  • Torres Celeste Crianza Tempranillo 2011,  r-v  --  V,  Ribadeo, Spain, #210872 $20.95
  • Seven Falls Cabernet Sauvignon 2011,  r-v  --  V, Washington, USA, #360222  $19.95
  • Faustino VII Tempranillo Rioja 2012,  r-v  --  G, Rioja, Spain, #315234  $12.95 
  • Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec 2011,  r-v  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #017061 $17.00 
  • Casas del Bosque Reserva Carmenère 2013,  r-v  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #205872  $14.95 

  • Colomé Torrontés 2013, 91-3  --  V,  Valle Calchaqui, Argentina, #357913  $13.95
  • Faustino VII Blanco Rioja 2013,  r-v  --  G, Rioja, Spain, #399568 $12.65
  • Eradus Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014,  r-v  --  V,  Marlborough, NZ, #225557  $18.95
  • Ironstone Obsession Symphony 2012, NAPA Valley, r-v  --  G, California, #295931  $14.95
  • Casas del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014,  r-v  --  V,  Casablanca Valley, Chile, #974717  $13.95      

  • Faustino V Rioja Tempranillo Rosé 2014, r-v  --  G,  Rioja, Spain, #404517 $12.90
  • Gassier Sables d'Azur Rosé 2014,  r-v  --  V, Provence, France,  #033621  $15.95
  • Charles & Charles Rosé 2014, r-v  --  G,  Columbia Valley, Washington,  #406603  $15.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


GASSIER SABLES D'AZUR ROSÉ 2014, Provence, France,  12.5%  D  3g/L, #033621  $15.95  (Tasted tbd)

Release by Vintages on May 30, 2015 and rated 92 by Natalie MacLean (December 2004).  My notes: The 2010 vintage, priced $14.95, was tasted on May 14, 2011 and rated 89.

TORRES CELESTE CRIANZA TEMPRANILLO 2011,  Ribadeo, Spain, 14.0% XD 7g/L, #210872 $20.95  (Tasted tbd)

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2015.  My notes: The 2003 vintage, priced $19.95, was tasted on March 14, 2006 before ratings.

SEVEN FALLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, Washington, USA, 14.5% D  10g/L,  #360222  $19.95  (Tasted tbd)

Released by Vintages on May 30, 2015. Rated 90 by Harvey Steiman (June 15, 2014).  My notes.  A Château Ste. Michelle wine.

FAUSTINO  VII TEMPRANILLO RIOJA 2012, Rioja, Spain, 13.0% XD 5g/L, #315234  $12.95  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing. Beppi Crosariol in his June column rated this Rioja an 88.  My notes:

FAUSTINO VII BLANCO RIOJA 2013, Rioja, Spain, 11.5% XD xg/L, #399568 $12.65  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing. My notes: Made from 100% Viura grapes. 

FAUSTINO V RIOJA TEMPRANILLO ROSADO*, Rioja, Spain, 13.0% XD xg/L, #404517   $12.90  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing.  My notes: 

ERADUS AWATERE VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5%  XD  6g/L, #225557  $18.95  (Tasted tbd)

Released by vintages on May 16, 2015. Rated 4 1/2 out of 5 by Rod Phillips (May 2015).  Previous vintages were rated 90+ by the Wine Enthusiast.  My notes:

BODEGA NORTON RESERVA MALBEC 2011, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.5% XD  8g/L,  #017061 $17.00  (Tasted tbd)

Released by Vintages on May 2, 2015. My notes:

CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.5%  XD  4g/L,  #974717  $13.95  (Tasted tbd)
Released by Vintages on June 27, 2015. Beppi Crosariol gives this an 89 in his column June 27th.   My notes:

IRONSTONE OBSESSION SYMPHONY CALIFORNIA 2012, NAPA Valley, California, 12.0%  M  21g/L, #295931  $14.95  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing.  My notes: 

CHARLES & CHARLES ROSÉ 2014, Columbia Valley, Washington,  12.2%  XD  xg/L,  #406603  $15.95  (Tasted tbd)
A General listing. My notes:  

COLOMÉ TORRONTÉS 2013, Valle Calchaqui, Argentina, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #357913  $13.95   (Tasted July 2, 2015)

Released by Vintages on June 27, 2015.  Rated 91 by Stephen Tanzer (March 2014) and 89 by Beppi Crosariol in his June 27th columnMy notes:  A pale yellow leaving a thin film with long legs falling from a ragged rim ending with nodules on the glass. At pouring temp of 10oC an aroma of dewy green vines, not full fruit. The first sip is pleasantly silky with a broad taste of grapefruit zest, muted orange/lime. Interesting as a sipper for a lasting penetration that maintains its presence with seafood, broiled chicken and other fowl - XD. Went well with grilled trout showing pairing flexibility. Similar to the Torrontés from Susan Balboa tasted in June at the same price. Cellar several years or buy in as a house white. 91

CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.0%  D  4g/L, #205872  $14.95  (Tasted tbd)

Released by Vintages on June 27, 2015.  My notes:


Monday, June 01, 2015

June 2015 Wines - 16 Tasted of 16

Thanks for the Memories!

My wine consumption has taken a nose dive recently - not without good reason though and I hope recoverable. 

An abnormality had gradually crept into my daily life - an inability to remember strings of numbers, a familiar place in conversation, of people's names, movie or TV titles and lists of things to do (fix, visit, buy, etc.). Not bad enough to isolate me but of concern.
A Cranial Road Map
I found that creating mental searches or associations helped on-the-spot recollections. A common routine would be to silently run through the alphabet sequentially. Often the 'missing' word would spontaneously pop into my consciousness.

For example: my late brother-in-law's first name - his face and demeanour was clearly visible in my mind. Retaining this image I would run through the alphabet, ie. A, B, C, .... N!  Got it! His name was Norman! It's not so much that I remembered but that the letter 'N' prompted the rest of the name.

This routine, however, had  deteriorated over the last year such that, if the letter stimulated a slight familiarity I would combine the consonance with a run through of the vowels, a-e-i-o-u. Often the combination would shake loose the elusive word. I put this at the nuisance level. But what next?

A visit to my GP suggested a CAT Scan which showed nothing unusual, then a Memory Test: two hours answering questions, performing simple written associations and drawing or connecting objects. Evidently one or two of my cranial lobes are starting to limp. This is my prognosis - a full diagnosis needs more tests.

The Specialist's current recommendation is to limit my daily wine intake then return in three months. Trying to avoid 'cold turkey' I suggested 4 - 5 ounces daily which was agreed and a second appointment at the end of August. I'll then see if my sacrifice has been worthwhile.

Cheers, Ww
PS. For those interested, a website that provides a considerable amount of information on progressive memory loss is The HelpGuide .

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites and bubblies)

  • Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012, 88a-1  --  V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #272682  $12.75
  • CRIOS Malbec 2013, Mendoza, 88-1  --  V, Argentina, #162529 $14.95
  • Passion of Portugal Red Reserva 2013,  86-1  --  G, Alentejo, Portugal, #146449 $8.25 
  • JP Azeitao Red Tinto 2014, 83  --  G, Setubal, Portugal, #286195  $8.95
  • Yauquen Bonarda Bodega Ruca Malen 2013, 83  -- V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #360115 $14.95
  • Candidato Oro Tempranillo Garnacha 2011,  82a  --  G,  Castilla, Spain, #523811  $7.60
  • Thelema Mountain Red 2012, NR  --  G, Helshoogle, South Africa, #222570 $12.95                    
  • CRIOS de Susana Balboa Torrontés 2013, 91-3  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #001834  $13.95
  • Humberto Canale Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013  89-2,  --  V, Patagonia, Argentina, #384321  $14.95
  • Horse Valley Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, 84  --  V, Danube Plain, Bulgaria, #398222  $15.95* 
  • Las Mulas Organic Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014, 83  --  G, Central Valley, Chile, #272609  $12.95
  • Charles & Charles Chardonnay 2013, 83  --  G, Washington State, USA, #394734  $15.95  
  • See Ya Later Ranch Chardonnay 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley,  83  --  V,  Okanagan, BC, #126912  $17.95
  • Mezzomondo Pinot Grigio Chardonnay IGT 2013, 81  --  G, Sicily, Italy, #079301  $8.95*   
  • Finca el Origen Reserva Torrontés 2014,  NR  --  V, Cafayete Valley, Argentina, #262089  $15.95      

  • Bisol Desiderio Jeio Colmei Extra Dry Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV, 89-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #030601  $16.95 
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended) 


SEE YA LATER RANCH CHARDONNAY 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, Okanagan, BC, 13% XD 7g/L, #126912  $17.95  (Tasted June 2, 2015)

Released by Vintages on January 10, 2015.  My notes:  A Constellation Brands Inc. winery.    A bright golden in the glass and a scent of freshly cut apple touched by subtle floral and tangy lime. A sip lays a thin butter and leaves a prominent tartness on the palate. An extra dry finish carries flavours that fade to crabapple. Serve chilled as a commercial drink now perhaps with a cube or two and maraschino cherries could be a patio refresher - or pair with seafood: shells, filets, grilled freshwater shrimp or a marine platter. 83

BISOL DESIDERIO JEIO COLMEI EXTRA DRY VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% XD 15g/L*, #030601  $16.95  (Tasted June 7, 2015)

A Vintages release on March 7, 2015.  My notes: The colour is a pale golden showing a burst of varied bubbles quickly settling to a dozen fine streams. The nose has a clean pear fragrance creamy edged and a slight hay scent. Each sip has a soft spritz that fills the mouth while a faint dust covers the palate. A light warmth and suspicion of sugar follows for a long pleasing finish. Serve chilled to a festive crowd gathered for a special occasion: baby/bridal shower, wedding nuptials or good friends on the summer patio. I enjoyed with my 4pm salty crackers and hummus. Cellar several years for a drier bubbly and possibly a fuller body.  89

JP AZEITÃO RED TINTO 2014, Setubal, Portugal, 13.5% D 8g/L,  #286195  $8.95  (Tasted June 4, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  There's a scarlet hue to the deep ruby of this economical red. Thin bodied with chalk dry tannin and red cherry flavouring summarizes first impressions. A swirl leaves a fine rim running fast tears and a sniff senses a fine bright aroma of cranberries. No sense of sweetness flows across the palate tart and clean. A long finish adds a metallic polish until the next swallow.  Serve with a charcuterie of firm cheeses, crackers and hummus or pair with meat lovers pizza, Italian sausage/chorizo in a spicy tomato pasta. A drink now for those empty handed at a neighbourhood barbeque. 83
PASSION OF PORTUGAL RED RESERVA  2013, Alentejo, Portugal, 13.0%  D  11g/L, #146449 $8.25  (Tasted June 15, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  The second Passion from Portugal the first being a Malbec, rated 91 on May 2, 2011 and priced at $14.95. This Reserva is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Tinto Barroca and Syrah. The colour is a cheerful red cherry with a matching but subdued nose. A thin film quietly recedes first showing a mild laciness then leaving the glass clear. The first sip has the brightness of crushed red cherries tart enough to clean the teeth and falling into chalky spread. Should go well with red meat dishes. We're having with sweet and sour ginger pork ribs. A drink now - cellar short term to mellow the brightness. 86

LAS MULAS ORGANIC SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE 2014, Central Valley, Chile, 13.0% XD 4g/L, #272609  $12.95  (Tasted June 4, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Pale yellow with a mild gooseberry scent blended with just perceptible banana. The film slides down leaving a lacy rim. Some long legs are shed until the glass quickly shows no trace. A bright tartness and slight silk quickly freshens the palate and interest grows for more. A pleasing sipper however thin bodied and moderate flavour with a short lived extra dry finish. A summer drink now. Grilled cod or halibut with bean sprouts gives this white a chance to compete. 83

CANDIDATO ORO TEMPRANILLO GARNACHA 2011,  Castilla, Spain, 13.0% D  7g/L,  #523811  $7.60  (Tasted June 28, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes: A deep black cherry colour amber hued and with a muted smoky red cherry aroma. A swirl lays a moderate film that quickly recedes through long legs. The first sip leaves the throat dry and warm with shy fruit balancing light herb and smoky oak. Aerating worked for me as a sipper. Otherwise a meal red - serve with grilled steak, liver & onions or veal marsala . Buy now for near term consumption. 82

CRIOS MALBEC 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% XD  5g/L, #162529 $14.95  (Tasted June 23, 2015)

Released by Vintages on May 30, 2015. My notes: Rated 90 by Natalie MacLean  December 2014. A deep raspberry colour swirling a moderate film that thins as a rounded rim drains thru long legs. The nose shows bramble and berry fruit while the first sip is full of tang, smooth tannins and dull berries, medium bodied with a long warm finish. Decanting an hour before serving or aerating softens the bite a tad and is recommended. A solid roasted, grilled and stewed beef, lamb or wild meat complement. Cellaring a few years should show marginal change over today's rating. 88a

YAUQUEN BONARDA BODEGA RUCA MALEN 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% XD  10g/L, #360115 $14.95  (Tasted June 11, 2015)

Released by Vintages on May 30, 2015 and rated 90 by Kim Marcus  July 31, 2014. My notes: A black ruby conveys intensity in fruit and aroma. The film sticks to the glass delaying tears and conveying a smooth and full mouthfeel while the nose is neither fruity nor floral and is without acid sharpness. There's cranberry in the first sip with a bright acid but without distinct fruit. A touch of crushed blackberry seed spreads a uniform layer of tannin lasting through a long dry finish. Serve this with a seared steak, a meaty pizza or beefy hamburgers - a better choice than sipping where the dryness and bitterness becomes prominent. Cellar short term to smoothen some current roughness. 83
CHARLES & CHARLES CHARDONNAY 2013, Washington State, USA, 13.9% D  6g/L, #394734  $15.95  (Tasted June 11, 2015)

A General listing. My notes: A clear mid gold leaving a moderate film to immediately fragments before receding with only droplets remaining. A faint  aroma of dried plums tartly edged. The first sip is bright and has a vanilla caramel flavour appealing for its uniqueness. The flavour fades quickly leaving a round, extra dry, stewed plum. Serve with grilled chicken or schnitzel - did not go with grilled Pacific salmon. Cellaring several years could intensify profile without overall improvement. 83

MEZZOMONDO PINOT GRIGIO CHARDONNAY IGT 2013, Sicily, Italy, 12.%  XD  7g/L, #079301  $8.95*  (Tasted June 9, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $9.95* until June 21, 2015.  My notes: A light soft green shade casts a film that fragments quickly to a clear glass. A fresh leafy vegetable aroma is the first sniff and a medley of green melon, near the skin, with some smoothness balancing a dry, tart citrus form the first sip. The finish has flat flavourings with a subdued vegetable likeness.  Serve with shellfish, mild seafood on flaky basmati rice -  Started fresh then quickly faded when partnered with a coconut curry (mild) chicken breast and vegetable stir-fry. 81

VALLE ANDINO RESERVA ESPECIAL SYRAH 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 13.5%  XD  7g/L,  #272682  $12.75  (Tasted June 29, 2015)

Released by Vintages on February 7, 2015.  My notes:  A deep ruby with smoky aroma of prominent red cherries and some plum. The film is thin and fragments quickly from a light rim to slowly form small tears. Tannins layer the palate with metallic edged, bright red cherry making an interesting but tart sipper. The finish has a dry lining, all that remains of a the initial bright fruit. This may cellar up to 2 years but essentially a drink now - aerating is recommended. Serve with rare steaks, Osso Bucco and savoury stews. We're having with broiled flat iron (skirt) steaks marinated in a pepper sauce . 88a

HUMBERTO CANALE ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013. Patagonia, Argentina, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #384321  $14.95  (Tasted June 14, 2015)

Released by Vintages on November 22, 2014.  My notes:  A pale yellow, a thin film and a ragged rim introduces this extra dry, refreshing white. A slight silk on the tongue with some warmth conveys a blend of southern fruit without revealing distinctness. The finish continues to open up adding a touch of oil on the lips then eventually fades leaving a light layer of chalk. A pleasing patio sipper and a meal white paired with shellfish. Serve chilled. Avoid opening other whites so as not to compete. 89

FINCA EL ORIGEN RESERVA TORRONTÉS 2014, Cafayete Valley, Argentina, 14.3%  XD  4g/L, #262089  $15.95  (Tasted June 12, 2015)

Released by Vintages on May 16, 2015.  James Suckling rates this 91 (July 30, 2014)  My notes: A pale greenish tinged yellow that recedes leaving a uniform film topped by a ragged edged rim. Hints of vegetable aroma introduces a tangy chalk dry flavour difficult to discern for its subtlety which continues through an extra dry chalky finish. Any sweetness is veiled by a penetrating tang. A difficult sipper for its bitterness and a flavour that did not pair with BBQ'd chicken pieces. Not recommended. Bottle was discarded.

CRIOS DE SUSANA BALBO TORRONTÉS 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D  5g/L,  #001834   $13.95  (Tasted June 22, 2015)

A Vintage release on April 1 2015.  My notes:  A Ratings sticker of 90 from Tim Atkin MW (2014).  A mid yellow with a green tinge. A fruit aroma: lime, orange, apple with some of the perfume from earlier blooming. A swirl casts a thin film receding from a ragged rim. The first sip bursts on the palate full of butter, tangy lemon juice and flavours following the nose then ending with a light layer of chalk. Cellar up to five years, possibly longer. The occasional gulp brings out its intensity. An interesting sipper for sure and a suitable companion for seafood or roasted fowl.  91

HORSE VALLEY SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2013, Danube Plain, Bulgaria, 13.5%  D  3g/L,  #398222  $15.95*  (Tasted June 17, 2015)

Released by Vintages on April 4, 2015. Priced reduced from $16.95 until June 21, 2015.  My notes: A mid yellow with an earthy pear aroma and leaves a light film with a crackling rim. A round texture, extra dry, more earth with a stinging tartness for a refreshing sipper. There's a pumpkin flavour to offset a seared butter background lasting into a long finish. Sipping will vary widely - I wouldn't expect a rush for seconds. More of a meal white to pair with pork, roasted chicken and a rich portobello mushroom sauce. A drink now for those of a curious nature. 84

THELEMA MOUNTAIN RED 2012, Helshoogle, South Africa, 14.5%  XD  6g/L, #222570 $12.95  (Tasted June 25, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  There's a hint of off-ripeness to a back cherry aroma in this blend of Shiraz (37%), Petit Verdot (25%), Cab Sauvignon (23%), Merlot (10%), Grenache (4%) and Cab Franc (1%) that neither aerating nor decanting an hour ahead could alleviate. The first sip is extra dry, has an initial sting to the acid and a bitterness to the fruit before going into a long smoky finish. A curious salty edge comes forward as the cherry recedes. A swirl lays a moderate film shedding long fast legs from a rounded rim. Not a sipper - pair with savoury sauces and grilled beef patties, a spicy pasta or pizza. Cellaring may mellow and blend but not improve the flavours overall. A 'return' if served at a restaurant. 79  NR


Saturday, May 02, 2015

Numbers or Stars?

Rock Bridge, Michilmackinac '64

It's been awhile since I've commented on rating systems. What twigged me this time was a wine blog with the oft asked question of the 100 point rating system, "What's the difference between an '88' and an '89'? "  I say, "Ask a stupid question and you'll get a stupid answer". 1!  "What's the difference between 1 Star and 2 Stars?" 1 Star!  An answer doesn't negate either as a Rating System!

Numbers I grasp quickly  - Stars I don't. I grew up with numbers: grades on exams, miles on a map and weight on a bottle or jar. Now 750ml I understand very well. Stars came with my Birthday card and on top of a tree baring gifts. A glittering star is at the end of Snow White's (or is it Cinderella's) wand that with a 'poof' frogs are changed to Princes. So the choice between Stars or Numbers could be personal preference - perhaps even marketing inspired if the bottle jackets at the LCBO attest to anything.

Usually when the question is asked the poser doesn't explain the possibilities for the "1". He's satisfied he's stumped his audience. Any taster that uses the Wine Advocate Rating System, among others (*Ref 1), aka Robert Parker Jr.'s 100 point system, knows enough to reply "That's a stupid question!" or, if polite, move to a different table.

Using WARS the '1' could refer to any one of a wine's Colour (5), Nose (15), its Finish & Flavour (20) or cellaring (10) Potential. The numbers in brackets being the maximum value for that component. Add these to a Base of 50 for a total of 100. An example of two wines apparently the same could be B50 C5 N15 F&F18 P0 = 88  and B50 C5 N10 F&F18 P5 = 88, the first having insignificant cellaring potential and the second having a less appealing nose. What distinguishes these two wines using Stars? Abbreviated to a single quantity neither helps a buyer decide. TaDa!! Words, eg. Tasting Notes, a Vintages or LCBO description, a voice from the internet...  fill the gap. 

Bottom line: To question any Rating System without an understanding of its components is equivalent to a panzerotti without the filling!  You need the stuffing to be satisfied!  WARS has more of what I need. 

My opinion, Ww

Ref: 1
Wine Advocate Rating System 

Wine Wheel 1 
Wine Wheel 2 
Essential Wine Tasting Guide  
Wine Spider
The TS Wine Rating System

Friday, May 01, 2015

May 2015 Wines - 16 Tasted of 16

One marvellous trip...... 

Mt. Cook, A Study in Blue, 2003



  • Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 90-2  --  V, Columbia Valley, Washington, #210047   $16.95*
  • Zuccardi Santa Julia Magna 2012, 88-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #093799 $13.45*
  • C. J. Pask Gimblett Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec 2010, 85  --  V,  Hawkes Bay, New Zealand,  #279869  $19.95
  • Wolf Blass Langhorne Creek Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013,  84  --  G, McLaren Vale, Australia, #251876  $13.95* 
  • Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, 83  -- V, Central Valley, Chile, #323881  $14.90  
  • Cline Family Cellars Zinfandel 2013, 83  --  G, Lodi California, #489278  $15.95
  • Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2012,  83  --  G, Livermore Valley, California, #301507  $17.95
  • Ring-Bolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 83  --  V,  Margaret River, Australia, #606624  $19.95  
  • Castello di Ama Riservva Chianti Classico 2009, 82a  --  V,  Tuscany, Italy, #403824 (375 mL)  $16.95                     
On the Road North, 2003

  • Toasted Head Chardonnay, Barrel Aged 2013, 89-1  -- V, Acampo, California, #594341  $15.95*
  • Forrest The Doctors' Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 87  --  V, Renwick, New Zealand,  #317842  $19.95
  • Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley,  86  --  V, Okanagan Valley, BC,  #545004  $19.95*
  • Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 84  --  G, Marlborough, New Zealand, #308288  $15.80*
  • Miguel Torres Santa Digna Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014,  82  --  G, Central Valley, Chile, #177444  $14.95 
Central Otago, NZ '03
  • Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Cap Classique 2012, 90-1  --  Stellenbosch, South Africa, #342758  $22.95
  •  La Jara Brut Prosecco Organic NV,  86  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #402438  $15.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


FORREST THE DOCTORS' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Renwick, New Zealand, 9.5% D 10g/L,  #317842  $19.95  (Tasted May 11, 2015)

Released by Vintages on April 4, 2015 and rated 91 of 100 by Natalie MacLean August 2014.  My notes: Beppi Crosariol gives this 91 in his G&M column of April 11th. Thin on the surface of the glass breaking quickly and leaving a brief lacy pattern. A light natural blond with a whiff of mineral and tangy grapefruit with lime nuances. The first sip gives notice of a corresponding flavour and clean texture. A flat mineral finish fades quickly with only a flat reminder. Paired well with freshwater shrimp done on the barbie with a squirt of lemon, my preference over lobster. A drink now - extra dry as a sipper. A $16C value. 87

C J PASK GIMBLETT ROAD CABERNET/MERLOT/MALBEC 2010,  Hawkes Bay, New Zealand,  13.5% XD  6g/L, #279869  $19.95  (Tasted tbdMay 4, 2015)

Released by Vintages on February 21, 2015 and rated 4.5 of 5 by Rod Phillips  May 10, 2014.  My notes: The Winemaker is Kate Radburnd who produced the Sun Kissed Pinot Gris 2013 tasted (87-1) in January this year. The colour is a somewhat quiet ruby see through  - needs candle light for effect. A swirl leaves a thin film running long legs as it clears the glass. The scent is a subdued plum with a mild tang for unexciting sniffing. The first sip has a well balanced tang, a moderate fullness and extra dry tannin and a swallow builds the dryness in the throat fading the fruit for long quiet finish. Have with lamb chops, souvlakis or slo-cooked shoulder. Blending doesn't show well in this vintage - perhaps past peak. A drink now. 85

WHITEHAVEN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 , Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.0%  XD  2.8g/L, #308288  $15.80*  (Tasted May 11, 2015)

A General listing. Price reduced from $18.80 until Apr 26, 2015.  My notes: Labelled 'For Canada Only'.  A pale golden blond with a light film forming a fine jagged rim that recedes quickly. Allow to warm gradually to reveal a soft, moderately grassy gooseberry fragrance. Thin fruit is overwhelmed by a sour note that catches the palate on the first sip then declines slowly through a long extra dry finish. Serve with grilled/planked salmon/arctic char or mussels in a garlic sauce. From what I remember of early NZ savvies, light on fruit and more on clay - a drink now.  84

LA JARA BRUT PROSECCO ORGANIC NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.0%  D  10g/L, #402438  $15.95  (Tasted May 9, 2015)

Release by Vintages on April 4, 2015. Rated 90 by Decanter  (August 2, 2013). Made from the Glera grape using the Charmat Method.  My notes: Not recognized as Organic by the LCBO (for Canada). Awarded a Gold by Mundus Vini, The Great International Organic Wine Award, Germany 2014.  To be served at 6 to 8oC.  A pale yellow with a burst of bubbles that quiesces to a steady stream. There's a slight apricot apple scent added to the softness of a clean tang edging the first sip. Bright and  lively on the palate to carry through a moderate finish. A light body detracts if not for a smooth as silk texture. Share with a plate of fresh oysters, a tray of soft cheeses or a seafood main course. An economical toast or a summer refresher for a crowd - not to impress but to please. In a 1.625lb bottle.    86

MISSION HILL RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley,  Okanagan Valley, BC, 14.0%  XD  3g/L,  #545004  $19.95*  (Tasted May 27, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014. *Reduced from $21.95 until April 26, 2015.  My notes:  A brilliant golden laying a thin but firm lacy edged film quickly falling to the meniscus. A scent of apple pineapple barely raises a presence but leaves a strong melon, light pineapple/pear flavour blend with the first tangy sip. A suspicion of crème caramel, both flavour and texture, adds interest to a long extra dry finish. Unless comparing chardonnays this is not my kind of sipper. Pair with saucy cod or halibut, a tomato and chorizo pasta or slices of Pizza Nova Polo (feta/spinach/chicken) pizza. A drink now. 86

RING-BOLT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012,  Margaret River, Australia, 14.0% D 4g/L, #606624  $19.95  (Tasted May 31, 2015) 

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014.  My notes:A deep ruby with a subtle grey when swirled leaves a firm film forming a rounded rim slowly releasing tears then legs creeping down. The first sip has a chalky dryness that coats the palate grabbing the buds with a pungent tang. There's an extra dryness to a long brambly berry. 'Going down beautifully' isn't an expression I'd use... 'laying a biting bitterness' perhaps. Not a sipper but a bold red needing a flavourful and full sauce covering a thick, seared sirloin, a saucy Beef Wellington or lamb stew. Not to improve with cellaring.  Airing a day improves significantly. 83

CASTELLO DI AMA RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009,  Tuscany, Italy, 13.5% XD  5g/L, #403824 (375 mL)  $16.95  (Tasted May 11, 2015)

Released by Vintages on March 21, 2015 and rated 92 by Monica Larner 2 years ago August 2013. Anticipated to reach maturity 2014.  My notes: A blend of 80% Sangiovese, 20% each Merlot and Malvasia Nera. A charcoal tinted dense ruby leaving a thin film with grains of fine cork remnants following filtering. Aerate or decant then let stand forty minutes. The nose is delicate being mostly flat red and black cherry and dry earth if allowed to accumulate in the bowl. The first sip is polite with a light tannin, cherry flavour and mild cranberry going into a fading finish. I didn't get the 'autumn leaves, wet earth or wild mushroom' of Monica Larner's Note.  A medium bodied red, difficult to pair with a meal and an unattractive sipper.  82a 
I feel taken in with this Chianti.   1st. the empty 375mL bottle weighs an un-ecological 1 lb.   2nd. Vintages has referenced an old Tasting Note with a 92 rating.   

TOASTED HEAD CHARDONNAY, BARREL AGED 2013, Acampo, California, 14.0%  D  7g/L, #594341  $15.95*  (Tasted May 19, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014.  Price reduced from $17.95 until April 26, 2015.  My notes: A product of the R.H. Phillips Vineyard & Winery. First impression was of a California Chard of the past - not my thing. This has a colour of bright gold and a subtle aroma of burnt butter and apple becoming more prominent off chill. A swirl leaves a finely jagged rim with lazy tears. Serve at 12-14oC for a tangy taste of apricot and pecans, finishing dry with palette pleasing flavours and a smooth smoky butter reminder. Was great with Ricardo's Shrimp & Tomato and Bocconcini Salad  accompanied by grilled salmon and sweet potato fries. Has cellar potential - another 4 years or so. 89

COLUMBIA CREST H3 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, Columbia Valley, Washington, 14.0% D 9g/L,  #210047   $16.95*  (Tasted May 2, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014. Reduced from $19.95 until April 29, 2015.  My notes: A Ste. Michelle Wine Estates of Washington, U.S. product.  K&L Wine Merchant's website has several complimentary tasting notes including Wine Spectator's 91 and a price of $10.99 US. Dark and royal, a purple hued ruby in the bowl with a swirl dropping full legs from a rounded rim forecasting a silky smooth first sip. This is well balanced, has a tangy tannin and bright cherry flavour with a subtle tar edge. The finish carries along a satin dryness and tang providing interest as a social sipper. Not as warm as expected. Serve with savoury stews, charcoal barbecued ribs or leg of lamb. Has some cellaring potential although there's plenty to enjoy now. 90

WENTE SOUTHERN HILLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, Livermore Valley, California, 13.5%  D  6g/L, #301507  $17.95  (Tasted May 29, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Several vintages of this wine were previously tasted: the 2006* tasted in November 2008, priced at $17.25 and rated 89, the 2008 was tasted in March 2011, priced at $16.95 and rated 92, the 2009 tasted in September 2011, priced at $16.95 and rated 88. This 2012 is a dark ruby and leaves a viscous film running long slow legs and having a noticeable tangy plum aroma. Some cherry brightness taints the first sip that is smooth, velvety and long lasting with a dry, fuzzy finish. A subtle tannin and light tang for an adequate social sipper. Pair with grilled steaks, liver and onions or bbq'd back ribs. A drink now from a crowd pleasing recipe - not up to previous vintages. Empty weighs an eco-unfriendly 1.5 lbs. 83

CLINE FAMILY CELLARS ZINFANDEL 2013, Lodi California, 14.0%  D  9g/L, #489278  $15.95  (Tasted May 6, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A charcoal tinted deep ruby leaving a moderate film to quickly accumulate and fall as a single curtain. A slight whiff of raspberry jam in the nose, having a noticeable sweetness overwhelming a tangy edge. Viscous mouthfeel, silky smoothness and warming penetration adds interest for a social crowd. Too cloying as a sipper for my taste - serve with well rubbed T-bone, sirloin, roast duck or a pre-barbecue sipper. For the 'pop' market. 83

MIGUEL TORRES SANTA DIGNA RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Central Valley, Chile, 13%  XD  4g/L, #177444  $14.95  (Tasted May 2, 2015)

Released by Vintages on January 24, 2015.  My notes: A pale yellow, a thin film quickly receding and a zesty vegetable aroma difficult to parse so as not to infer distinct scents. The flavours also are not easily identifiable by fruit or herb but leans to a vegetable blend resembling sauvignon blanc.  The finish is long, bright and from the first sip extra dry and tangy. Not a sipper. Did not go well with English style fish and chips - try with a charcuterie, mixed sliced meats and cheeses or pair with Indian entrées also mussels in a curry sauce.  82

ZUCCARDI SANTA JULIA MAGNA 2012, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  XD  6g/L, #093799 $13.45*  (Tasted May 1, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 6, 2014. *Price reduced from $14.95 until April 26, 2015. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Malbec (40%) and Syrah (10%) rated 91 by Wine & Spirits Magazine (June 2014).  My notes:  A soft, deep, ruby colour that leaves a firm film and solid rim before draining uniformly or, tilted, with long fast legs. The first sip is politely tangy with wood dominating plum and black cherry fruit entering a long, extra dry finish moderately full in the mouth. The aroma has something unique, fruity not floral. Comes across flat as a sipper - better served with roast leg of lamb, souvlakis or slow cooked ribs in a savoury sauce. This may cellar a few years - at peak now. 88

MIGUEL TORRES SANTA DIGNA CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2013, Central Valley, Chile, 14.0%  D  7g/L, #323881  $14.90  (Tasted May 27, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes: A deep charcoal tinted ruby showing a firm smooth film seamlessly receding until slow tears fringe the rim.  A tart note fills the nostrils and the first sip stings the buds with a penetrating burst of woody plum and black cherry. The mouth acclimatizes for a long warm dull cherry finish. Decant then pause for thirty minutes or aerate for a smoother approach - a rude & crude red. This may cellar for several years but lose fruit to emphasize a brambly character.  83

WOLF BLASS LANGHORN CREEK YELLOW LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, McLaren Vale, Australia, 13.5%  XD  xg/L, #251876  $13.95*  (Tasted May 15, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $16.95 until May 24, 2015.  My notes:   A charcoal tinted dark ruby and an earthy tang to a plum and black cherry scent. A tilt and a swirl shows a moderate film topped by a swollen rim eventually shedding slow tears. Moderate tannin edges a penetrating sharpness that builds with each sip then is  sustained going into a warm, extra dry finish. An economical sipper better with steaks or hamburger grilled outdoors - a family affair. A drink now. 84
SIMONSIG KAAPSE VONKEL BRUT CAP CLASSIQUE 2012, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 12.5%  D  9g/L, #342758  $22.95  (Tasted May 16, 2015)

Release by Vintages on May 16, 2015. Rated 90 by Natalie MacLean (December 2014).  My notes:  Pours through a burst of bubbles, all sizes with the lasting ones fine and the basis for a strong spritz. The colour has a golden lustre with a suspicion of peach and a mild mineral scent. There's unsweetened peach blended with a tangy brine in the background coming forward in the finish. Pair with aged cheddar, bacon wrapped asparagus or oysters with a piquant sauce. Medium-bodied and smooth textured makes this appealing as a sipper. Three years aged now with a few more to go - I'd try five. The empty bottle is an eco-unfriendly ~2 lbs. 90