Thursday, September 18, 2014

West coast Trip, September 2014 - 10 Tasted of 11

Destination: Trader Joe's

TJ's Reds Aisle
TJ's Bubbles Aisle
TJ's Charles Shaw Aisle
With a grandson in Vancouver and a son in Fort MacMurray Skype comes in handy. This time we decided a trip to Vancouver while both were there was due.

Before our son had to leave for the Fort of the North we were treated with a day trip to Trader Joes' in nearby Bellingham and a relaxing overnight at Semiahmoo Resort near Blaine, (Washington State, US) on the
shore of Semiahmoo Bay across from Whiterock (Canada).

Both locations were chances to purchase and taste wines from the local retailers.

Cheers, Ww
Semiahmoo Pier
THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Bubblies)
  • Meomi Pinot Noir 2012,  93-3  --  Monterey County, California,  $17.99US
  • Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2012, 86-1  --  Clarksburg, California, $8.99US
  • F. Coppola Diamond Collection Claret Black Label 2012, 84 --  Geyserville, California, $14.99US
  • Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 82  --  Clarksburg, California, $8.99US
  • 1884 Reservado Escorihuela Syrah 2012, 82  --  Mendoza, Argentina, $16.99
  • 1884 Estate Grown Escorihuela Malbec 2013, 82  --  Mendoza, Argentina, $16.99

  • Blasted Church Hatfield's Fuse 2012 VQA Okanagan, 92-3  --  Okanagan, BC, $17.99
  • Gray Monk Pinot Auxerrois 2013 VQA Okanagan Valley, 91-2  --  Okanagan, BC, $16.99
  • NK'MIP Pinot Blanc 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, 89-2  --  Okanagan, BC,  $15.99
  • Sandhill Hidden Terrace Pinot Gris VQA Okanagan Valley, 84  --  Okanagan, BC, $16.99

  • Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz, r-v  --  Australia, $22.99
  (V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)
Semiahmoo at dusk
A View to the Beach

MEOMI PINOT NOIR 2012,  Monterey County, California,  13.8%  D xg/L, $17.99US  (Tasted September 8, 2014)

Purchased from Trader Joe's in Bellingham, Washington State, USA.  My notes: A blend of grapes from Santa Barbara (34%), Sonoma (31%) and Monterey (35%) Counties. A deep ruby clear top to bottom, shiny and bright. Lays a moderate film with a smooth rim running smooth legs. Flavour of freshly crushed black cherries with a dusty raspberry tang. Has an intensity to encourage solo sipping. Pair with short ribs in a savoury sauce, slow cooked prok ribs or bacon wrapped filet mignon. Finishes dry exceptionally long with a hint of sweet.  93

F. COPPOLA DIAMOND COLLECTION CLARET BLACK LABEL 2012, Geyserville, California, 13.5%  XD 5.7g/L, $14.99US (Tasted September 8, 2014)

Purchased from Trader Joe's in Bellingham, Washington State, USA. Retails for $21.00US. My notes: A blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. The nose has a thin black cherry with a earthy mushroom scent - not too pronounced. A swirl lays an uneven film partially fragmenting at the rim. The firt sip is double sided - bone dry tannin with a long finish and a lime tainted fresh cherry/berry. Interesting as a solo sipper suitable for an open bar. A bright complement for tomato sauced pastas or pizzas. Should keep several years altho' not changing much. 84 

BOGLE VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, Clarksburg, California, 13.5% XD 5.6g/L, $8.99US (Tasted September 8, 2014)

Purchased from Trader Joe's in Bellingham, Washington State, USA.  My notes: A dense blackberry, charcoal hued for emphasis. The first sip is both brambly and velvety retaining a subdued fruit and going into a long extra dry finish. A swirl leaves a smooth layer with full rim quickly shedding long legs. There's a slight sweetness adding interest and shifting initial focus to a mineral dryness. A meal red where savoury dishes mask a the bramble. A drink now. Not aromatic but has a hint of heat. 82

BOGLE VINEYARDS OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2012, Clarksburg, California, 14.5% XD  5.3g/L, $8.99US (Tasted September 9, 2014)

Purchased from Trader Joe's in Bellingham, Washington State, USA.  My notes:  A see-thru ruby leaving a moderate film running long legs and lacework. Aromas of plum black cherry with a clean edge dissipate quickly. Tannin layers the palate from the first sip to a long extra dry finish. A style for those preferring Xdry, warm with dusty fruit. Have with steaks, osso buco or savoury stews. 86

1884 RESERVADO ESCORIHUELA SYRAH 2012, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% XD xg/L, #744532BC $16.99 (Tasted September 11, 2014)

Purchased from a BC Outlet in Vancouver, British Columbia.  My notes: A charcoal hued ruby swirls a viscous film with a moderate rim that runs fast tears. Ascerbic purple plum and berry flavours last throughout for a mildly interesting med-bodied drink now. Leaves a brambly coating for an extra dry finish. Pair with beef steaks and savoury stews.  82

1884 ESTATE GROWN ESCORIHUELA MALBEC 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.8% XD xg/L, $16.99 (Tasted September 11, 2014)

Purchased from a BC Outlet in Vancouver, British Columbia.  My notes: A dense, almost black purple hued colour. A subtle/absent nose with a firm film running fast forming, flowing legs and a ring of tears. The flavour is metallic edged with a dried grape skin aspect shallow in depth and changing to a crushed seed finish. A drink now and a dull sipper. Pair with beefburgers, pizzas or polish sausage w/mustard. 82

GRAY MONK PINOT AUXERROIS 2013 VQA Okanagan Valley, Okanagan Valley, BC,  12.5% D 11.6g/L,  #96222BC $16.99 (Tasted September 8, 2014)

Purchased from a BC Outlet in Vancouver, British Columbia.  My notes: A pale blond with a suspicion of lemon touched with honeysuckle. The film coats to a thin rim attempting rounding but instead fragments and falls. Distinct nutty flavours linger along with soft apple and ginger. A lightish medium-bodied delivers a mineral finish making for an interesting sipper. Compatible with ginger seasoned dishes, Bento box with tempura shrimp/vegetables or a Chinese buffet. Cellar several years should retain terroir and mellow existing tang. 91 

BLASTED CHURCH HATFIELD'S FUSE 2012 VQA Okanagan, Okanagan Valley, BC, 12.3% D  6.2g/L, #734475BC $17.99  (Tasted September 7, 2014)

Purchased from a BC Outlet in Vancouver, British Columbia.  My notes: A blond or light straw colour, smooth textured not quite waxy but long. A slight white peach, a touch of lime pulp and pink grapefruit for flavour. Pleasing as a sipper for its intensity. Serve chilled to savour changes as nose and flavours somplement the occasion. Have with seafood or chicken breast in a creamy sauce -- or sip, sip. This blend shows balance and appealing uniqueness. 92

NK'MIP PINOT BLANC 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, Okanagan Valley, BC, 13.0% XD  3.85g/L, 626432BC  $15.99 (Tasted September 9, 2014)

Purchased from a BC Outlet in Vancouver, British Columbia.  My notes: A pale grapefruit slow to release a pear and subtle honey scent. The film sticks hanging from a full rin to slowly recede uniformly. Fresh filling the taste buds with mild apple pear, slight spice leading to xdry mineral. An interesting sipper balancing silk, mild fruit and luscious depth. Have with seafood variety, soft cheeses or a fruit salad. Shelf a year or two. 89

SANDHILL HIDDEN TERRACE PINOT GRIS 2013 VQA Okanagan Valley, Okanagan Valley, BC, 14.0% XD 5.5g/L, #169060BC  $16.99 (Tasted September 9, 2014)

Purchased from a BC Outlet in Vancouver, British Columbia.  My notes:  A pale onion skin leaving a ring of drooping tears. A subtle pear/apple/peach scent develops with slight warming. A quaff reveals an xdry chalk texture and mild tea flavour. A drink now or with pickerel, bass or sweet sunfish - try charcuterie as well. 84

BLACK CHOOK SPARKLING SHIRAZ NV, Australia, 13.0%  D  xg/L, #847343BC  $22.99 (Tasted tbd)

Purchased from a BC Outlet in Vancouver, British Columbia.  My notes:

Vancouver - random scenes:  

Stanley Park Lookout

A Welcomed visitor
English Bay anchorage
Robson Street FC
Burrard Street Bridge?

Monday, September 01, 2014

September 2014 Wines - 12 Tasted of 18

Pat's View - August 30 '14
A Rant:

Is it my imagination or have prices at our favourite wine outlet crept 'up, up and away' as the comic hero would shout starting a climb to the stratosphere. Compared to a few years ago what I believe was in the $10 - $20 range is now the innumerable commercial recipes that cater to a targeted consumer profile. Drinkable? Yes. Having a large percentage of their content a grape derivative? Yes. Also in this group are wines the product of  many 'traditional winemakers'. By that I mean winemakers that have stood an ethical ground. Raised with a firm understanding of how to capture the character of soil and vine they are loyal to generations of their craft. The 'commercialists' have their focus on profit... turning grapes into higher margins.

It would be wrong to think a winemaker doesn't or shouldn't  look for a substantial return for his skill and investment.  The basic difference between the traditionalist and the commercialist is in  avoiding mutilation of the end product, from wine to a soft drink. Both participate in an industry that is relatively unregulated - modern winemaking has a component that is a byproduct of market research, innovative technologies and biological experimentation. Add an edge of sweetness to counter unnatural acids. Add a rose scent to tame off-flavoured fruit - and much more.

A consumer can't know what foreign substances are part of an effort to save an unpredictable vintage, a mysterious terroir or even market driven concoctions. Vines planted on a back 40 that has been fallow for several years after a few unsuccessful attempts to mask over a fermenting garbage dump hidden below. Or the vacant lot next to an industrial property or commercial agricultural crop - where 'blow over' contains chemical pesticide and fertilizer dust with a 'not my problem' attitude. It's an ecological miracle how a vine can filter slime into non toxic juices. The sweet smell of commerce passes for the smoky hangover of 'forest floor' or 'nuance of truffles'.

Packaged to sell includes a hefty markup, a hefty one-and-a-half pound bottle, a gold imprinted or embossed label and a layer of promotional exaggeration added by our local monopolistic retailer. What is a poor wine consumer to do? Thank Bacchus for the majority of wine critics not tainted by cronyism . You just have to search for them!

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Sparkling)

  • McManis Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 91-2  --  V, Ripon, California, #212126  $19.95
  • Ravenswood Vintners Blend Old Vine Zinfandel 2012, 88-1  --  V, Acampo, California,  #359257  15.95*
  • Liberty School Syrah 2011, 86  --  V, Central Coast, California,  #942383  $18.95
  • Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 84  --  V, Paso Robles, California, #738823  $19.95
  • Farnese Fantini Sangiovese Daunia 2013, 82  --  G, Abruzzo, Italy, #512327   $7.95 
  • Blackstone Winemaker's Select Pinot Noir 2012, 81  -- G, Acampo, California,  #358937  $16.95
  • Citra Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013, 80  --  G, Abruzzo, Italy, #446633  $7.75   
  • Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, r-v  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #614669  $11.95
  • Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2012,  r-v  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #222281 $11.95
  • Trapiche Reserve Malbec 2013,  r-v  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #614651   $11.95    

  • La Cappuccina Soave 2013, 87-1  --  V, Verona, Italy, #081489  $15.95
  • Sibling Rivalry White 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82  --  G, St. Catharines, Ontario, #126144  $13.95 
  • Willm Réserve Riesling 2013, 82  --  V, Alsace, France, #011452  $ 14.95*
  • Juno Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 80  --  G, Paarl, South Africa, #370312  $11.85
  • Kuhlmann Platz Pinot Gris 2012,  r-v  --  V,  Alsace, France, #224204  $17.95 
  • Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula, r-v  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #686972  $13.95*
  • Sandbanks Riesling 2012 VQA Ontario,  r-v  --  G, Wellington, Ontario, #139022  $13.95*    

  • Treveri Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine NV, 76  --  V, Columbia Valley, Washington State, #383844  $19.95 

(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


WILLM RÉSERVE RIESLING 2013, Alsace, France, 12.0%  XD  7g/L,  #011452  $14.95*  (Tasted September 15, 2014)

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014.  Reduced a dollar until August 17, 2014.  My notes: Not much of an aroma when first poured at 12oC and doesn't develop over the tasting. The colour is a crystal light lemon and a thin film recedes quickly leaving a bare surface. The first sip has a tame tang and subdued lemon pear flavour ending 'bone' dry. I can see why this vintage was reduced as it lacked an expected roundness and a honey depth of the 2012 vintage and is more like the 2009. Character improved as the temperature increased to 14oC with a balance of texture and tang with the flavour remaining subtle. Have with coconut shrimp or bacon wrapped scallops or a mixed charcuterie. A drink now. 82

RAVENSWOOD VINTNERS BLEND OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2012, Acampo, California,  13.5%  D  7g/L,  #359257  15.95*  (Tasted September 5, 2014)

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014.  Priced $2 lower until August 17, 2014.  My notes: The 2004 vintage was tasted on February 18, 2007 and the 2003 on July 31, 2005 - both before ratings. Unique for the LCBO in this case is the reduction in price from previous vintages - from $19.95 for the 2003 and $20.10 for the 2004. This label doesn't appear on the Ravenswood website - perhaps a wine for export. The colour is a ruby toned ebony and swirling a thin film that quickly separates into a lacy veil. The nose is evident on pouring then settles to a subtle, spicy, woody blackberry. The first sip is quite appealing with a touch of sweet suggesting freshness, a touch of blackcurrant and fine tannins to layer the mouth followed by a long warm finish. This could be a crowd pleaser as a prenuptial sipper and/or a standby rubbed red meat companion. A commercial drink now.  88

LA CAPPUCCINA SOAVE 2013, Verona, Italy, 12.0%  D  8g/L,  #081489  $15.95 (Tasted September 4, 2014)

Released by Vintages on June 7, 2014 and made from 100% Garganega grape. My notes: The 2012 vintage was tasted in May 2013, a dollar less and rated 82, drinkable but not outstanding. Served at 12oC there's a floral aspect to the nose and added to a lemon zest along with a soft scent that could be interpreted as nutty. The film is thin leaving a lacy pattern then rapidly draining to a scant veil. A light cream, medium-bodied, a tang and drying mineral finish provides interest as a sipper (14oC preferred). Slightly sweet and retaining mild fruit, pear and apple, would be a charmer with crab cakes, seafood ravioli, shrimp in sauce with crepes or lobster pieces in a tomato sauce. Went well with breaded sole and potato casserole. A drink now. 87

TREVERI EXTRA BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS SPARKLING WINE NV, Washington State, USA, 12.0%  D  4g/L, #383844  $19.95  (Tasted September 17, 2014)

Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014 and rated 90 by Harvey Steiman  (May 31, 2012).  My notes: $14US at the winery and online. Perhaps drinkable for imbibers with taste buds similar to Harvey Steiman but not mine. There's a flow of mixed bubbles on pouring that subside quickly into a few occasional strings. The nose has a light model glue scent on top of a mild grapefruit - best to air for several minutes. The colour is blond and body is light. A burst of spritz livens the palate then an off citrus carries a grassy dope taint unpleasant for sipping. Not to be served unless at a tasting of bubblies for comparison - this being one extreme - not recommended. I'm surprised this passed the LCBO Tasting Panel. 76

LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON  2012, Paso Robles, California, 13.5%  D  8g/L, 738823  $19.95  (Tasted September 16, 2014)

Release by Vintages on April 18, 2014.   My notes:  The 2006, 2007 and 2010 vintages were tasted with high points -- now for the 2012:  The colour is a deep garnet and the nose is subtle cherry plus a blackberry/blueberry scent, a steely edge suggests the spice to come. The film covers the glass quickly forming a lacy edge that recedes promptly. The first sip has a sharp acid layering the fruit then changing to an extra dry tannin mouthfeel. The finish comes quickly with a woody reminder of the fruit - light to sip. Pair with anything beefy from steaks to beef stews. Not for cellaring and thin compared to previous vintages. 84

LIBERTY SCHOOL SYRAH 2011, Central Coast, California,  13.5%  XD  11g/L,  #942383  $18.95  (Tasted September 18, 2014)

Released by Vintages on June 21, 2014 and rated  88 by Sara d'Amato (November 1, 2013).  My notes: The Syrah is not listed on the winery website - perhaps it's an entry level for export? A charcoal stained ruby leaving a firm film and rounded rim running slow legs. A touch of spice with a sniff of red cherries softened by an earthy edge. Softer than a Shiraz but more dominant than a Sirah this makes for a brighter sociable sipper - better with a hard cheese selection. A mellow first sip cushions then lets go with a dry as chalk finish. A touch metallic before the second sip - a complement with souvlakis, lamb, beef or pork. A commercial drink now not for cellaring. 86

MCMANIS  CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Ripon, California, 13.5%  XD  9g/L,  #212126  $19.95  (Tasted September 1, 2014)

 Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014.  My notes: The 2011 vintage is still on Vintages' shelf while the winery claims the 2012 is available and is 'the best selling' by the winery. There's a definite sweetness framing spicy black currant, berry and oak aromas and some rose colouring in its deep ruby. The film forms quickly topped by a rounded rim followed quickly by a few flowing tears. The first sip is silky and penetrates coating the palate evenly for a long warm, dry finish. Rewarding as a sipper for its pleasing blending of flavours, textures and depth. There's sufficient fruit to combine and complement most savoury meat dishes - sip rather than quaff for optimum contribution. Cellaring several years could soften spice and acid from its current youthfulness. Drinking well now. 91 

BLACKSTONE WINEMAKER'S SELECT PINOT NOIR 2012, Acampo, California, 13.5%  D  5.8g/L,  #358937  $16.95  (Tasted September 2, 2014)

A General listing produced for Constellation Brands.  My notes:   A winemaker's selection of 89% Pinot noir, 6% Syrah and 5% Petite Sirah.  The colour is a garnet hued deep ruby. The film separates quickly leaving a fragmented rim and a scattered lace pattern. A soft floral with sidelights of berry cherry combine for the main nose and more sips reveal a lightish body with a thin silky texture and not so subtle candied peel edge then finishing as brief bright remnants. Sipping isn't for me - quaffing helps. Perhaps pair with veal cutlet, chicken parmigiana or hard cheeses and saltines. 81

KUHLMANN PLATZ PINOT GRIS 2012, Alsace, France, 13.0%  D  15g/L,  #224204  $17.95  (Tasted tbd)

Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014. Winner of a Gold Medal in Paris Concours Général Agricole 2013.  My notes:

SIBLING RIVALRY WHITE 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula, St. Catharines, Ontario, 12.5%  D  15g/L,  #126144  $13.95  (Tasted September 18, 2014)

Made by Henry of Pelham. My notes: A blend of riesling, chardonnay and gewurztraminer using a rock, scissors, paper process. As delicate as the colour, the flavour is a unique white peach and subtle pear combination matching the nose and finishing as remnants of sweet fruit, a touch of spice wrapped up in a mineral dryness. Swirling leaves a moderate film forming a slight rim that slowly recedes. Did not go well with seared scallops/shrimp with spaghetti a la vodka - perhaps would pair with fried freshwater fish or a fruit salad. A pop wine. 82 

JUNO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Paarl, South Africa, 13.0% XD  3g/L,  #370312  $11.85  (Tasted September 20, 2014)

Made by the Juno Wine Company (Pty) Ltd.  My notes:A crystal clear blond with prominent aromas of sour apple and green gooseberry. A swirl leaves a light film forming a jagged rim that quickly laces. An gooseberry smoothness has an intense sour touch and a burnt match taint - a uniqueness that could win or detract sippers. My choice would be to pair with seafood with a lemon based sauce - or avoid. 80

TRAPICHE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D  9g/L, #614669  $11.95  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing.  My notes:

TRAPICHE RESERVE SYRAH 2012, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D  7g/L, #222281 $11.95  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing.  My notes:

TRAPICHE RESERVE MALBEC 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D  7g/L, #614651   $11.95  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing.  My notes:  

SANDBANKS RIESLING 2012 VQA Ontario, Wellington, Ontario, 11.0%  M  19g/L, #139022  $13.95*  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing reduced $1 until October 12, 2014.  My notes:

MIKE WEIR SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5%  D  8g/L,  #686972  $13.95*  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing and reduced $1 until October 12th. Rated 41/2 of 5 by Rod Phillips, June 7, 2012.  My notes:  

CITRA MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2013, Abruzzo, Italy, 13.0%  D  12g/L, #446633  $7.75  (Tasted September 20, 2014)

A General listing. My notes:  A charcoal hued cherry red on pouring with a barnyard taint to black cherry aroma, just enough to notice. Aerating softened the nose as well as some of the off-putting aroma. A swirl leaves a smooth film with a lacy pattern that slowly recedes. The first sip shows a smoky, thin black cherry still off flavoured in the background and followed by a dull finish. A quaffer with a meat lovers pizza slathered with passato sauce and anchovies, also veal parmigiano or smoked back ribs. A drink now. I recommend skipping this vintage in spite of the price. 80

FARNESE FANTINI SANGIOVESE DAUNIA 2013,  Abruzzo, Italy, 12.0%  D  16g/L, #512327   $7.95  (Tasted September 20, 2014)

A General listing.  My notes:  A dark garnet and a nose that isn't. Yes, there's a hint of leather, coffee, cherry and cranberry blended as a just-detectable nose becoming more noticeable with a first sip. A swirl lays a thin film with a rapidly fragmenting rim - not much depth however a velvet texture turns the corner for this to become an acceptable soft meal red. Cherry, smoky plum and red currant flavours combine nicely with tannin and a soft texture. Pair with anything spicy, beef or chicken, roasted or grilled. I had mine with a chicken chipotle pita. A drink now.  82

Friday, August 01, 2014

August 2014 Wines - 25 Tasted of 25

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Rosés, Sparkling)
The White Table event from the 15th floor, July 11th
    • Vizcarra Senda del Oro Roble 2011, 93-3  --  V,  Ribera Del Duero, Spain,  #331249 $19.95 
    • Tamaral Roble Tempranillo 2011, 91a-2  --  V,  Ribera Del Duero, Spain,  #375766   $16.95
    • Domaine de la Valériane Vieilles Vignes Côtes du Rhône 2012,  91-2  --  V, Rhône, France, 14.5%  XD  6g/L,  #374280  $17.95
    • Maria Alvarez Serrano Abadia de Gomariz 2010,  90-1  --  V, Leiro, Spain, #344077  $20.95
    • Luccarelli Primitivo Puglia IGT 2013, 89a-2  --  G, Puglia, Italy, #253856   $10.95
    • Casas Patronales Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 88c  --  V,  Maule Valley, Chile, #274134 $18.95
    • Sol de Andes Reserva Especial Syrah 2008, 87-1  --  V, Colchagua Valley, #274159  $16.95
    • L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2012, 86-1  --  V, Quadalupe Valley, Mexico, #983742  $11.95
    • Raimat Castell de Raimat Tempranillo 2011, 86a  --  G,  Costers del Segre, Spain, #372177   $14.95 
    • Small Gully Mr. Black's Little Book Shiraz 2011, 84a  --  V, Barossa Valley, Australia, #287979  $17.95               
    • Miguel Torres Gran Vina sol Chardonnay 2012, 93-3  --  V, Penedès, Spain, #171660  $15.95
    • Steve Bird Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 93-3  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #178319  $18.95
    • Château Ksara Blanc de Blancs 2012, 92-3  --  V, Békaa Valley, Lebanon, #744805  $16.95  
    • Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 92-2  --  V,  Marlborough, NZ, #677450 $23.95
    • Pighin Pinot Grigio 2013, 91-2  --  V, Fruili, Italy, #987545  $16.95   
    • Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 91-2  --  V, Nelson, New Zealand, #694737  $19.95 
    • Rabl Lengenlois Gruner Veltliner 2012, 90-2  --  V,  Kamptal, Austria, #377457  $16.95
    • Clos St. Thomas Les Gourmets Blanc 2012,  87-1  --  V, Békaa Valley, Lebanon, #363523  $15.95 
    • Code Inspiration Viognier 2013,  86-1  --  V, Pays d'Oc, France, #380758 $14.95 
    • Nyarai Cellars Viognier 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86  --  V,  Annan, Ontario, #378414  $21.95  
    • Henri Bourgeois les Baronnes Sancerre 2012, 83  --  V, Chavignol, France,  #542548  $22.95*  

    • Tommasi Masseria Surani Helios Negroamaro Rosato 2013,  84  --  V, Puglia, Italy, #374876  $14.95  
    • Château de Lancyre Pic Saint-Loup Rosé 2013, 83c  --  V,  Languedoc, France, #374900  $17.95 

    • Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2013, 86  --  V, Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, #256289  $24.95
    • Langlois- Château Brut Crémant de Loire NV, 85  --  V, Loire, France, #996272  $21.95  

    (V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


    MARIA ALVAREZ SERRANO ABADÍA DE GOMARIZ 2010,    Leiro, Spain, 13.5%  XD  xg/L,  #344077  $20.95  (Tasted August 2, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on September 28, 2013.  My notes: A blend of four indigenous Spanish grapes: Sousón, Ferrol, Brancellao and Mencia - the last two widely grown in northwest Spain. The colour is a deep black cherry. Quite unique from the first sniff, very smooth with the first sip and, for taste, a combination of red currant and flat blackberry softened by smoke and a bit of liquorice in a extra dry finish. The film sticks then slowly drains through a few long legs to the meniscus. Have with lamb chops, osso bucco, Italian sausage including chorizo in a spicy pasta or meat lovers pizza, anchovies and olives included. Cellaring four more years would likely retain the brightness while keeping most of the fruit.  90

    DOG POINT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5%  D  4g/L, #677450 $23.95  (Tasted August 2, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on May 10, 2014 and rated 93 by Jamie Goode  (October 11, 2013).  My notes: The 2011 vintage priced at $21.95 was tasted in October 2012 and rated 92. Price of the 2013 at the winery is $289.00NZ for a case of 12. Serve well chilled this has the full spicy fragrance of a NZ sauvignon blanc. The colour is an off white showing a light blond and the first sip is one to be continued 'til the next bottle arrives. Gooseberry with a hint of beeswax for aroma and a smooth texture is an entertaining sipper as well as seafood complement. Finishing dry with a lingering spice that is uniquely Dog Point, one that could cellar a few more years. Considerably improved over the 2005 vintage tasted in 2006 and having the same rating as the 2011 tasted in 2012.  92

    HENRI BOURGEOIS LES BARONNES SANCERRE 2012, Chavignol, France, 13.0% XD 4g/L,  #542548 $22.95*  (Tasted August 20, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014 and *reduced $2 until July 20, 2014.  My notes: Previous vintages were priced in this range, $23.95 for the 2003 vintage tasted in April 2005 and $24.95 for the 2007 vintage tasted in October 2008 and rated 92. The 2012 has a subtle blending of floral, grapefruit and faint gooseberry to greet the nose and the colour, a pale blond. A thin film recedes from a jagged rim quickly leaving an empty pattern. Slight cream and a cleansing, penetrating acid leaves a vapour trail of its former self, warm and distinctly different than kiwi with an extra dry mineral finish. Pair with celery/carrot sticks and a creamy dip, crab cakes or a list of seafood dishes. This vintage is a drink now - a steal at $22 (LCBO does the stealing). 83

    DOMAINE DE LA VALÉRIANE VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012, Rhône, France, 14.5%  XD  6g/L,  #374280  $17.95  (Tasted August 11, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on May 24, 2014 and winner of a Gold Medal in 2013.  My notes: A dark ruby colour with a delicate spicy tar aroma when first poured and throughout tasting. The film strings a full rim shedding several slow flowing tears. This layers a suede texture from start to long finish and adds an extra dry rasp/blackberry flavour to warm the throat. Pair with Beef Wellington, osso bucco and other savoury stews. Great with Sassy Spareribs. Cellaring for several years could mellow the blend (50% grenache and 50% syrah)  and merge the winemaker's fermentation by-products. 91

    VIZCARRA SENDA DEL ORO ROBLE 2011,  Ribera Del Duero, Spain,  14.5% XD 6g/L, #331249 $19.95  (Tasted August 5, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 5, 2014. 100% Tempranillo and rated 93 by Robert Parker Jr. (August 2012).  My notes: A black cherry skin colour and shows a viscous film on the bowl with a full rim running slow tears. The fragrance is full with a blackberry and Australian liquorice scent on first pouring. Full-bodied, nicely round and luscious while being suede dry. A long warm finish lets the fruit and liquorice fight it out for the palate's attention. Pair with a T-bone or anything beefy - savory gravy with a touch of hot could complement well. Could keep several more years but drinking nicely now. 93

    TAMARAL ROBLE TEMPRANILLO 2011,  Ribera Del Duero, Spain,  14.5% XD 7g/L, #375766   $16.95  (Tasted August 13, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 24, 2014. Rated 92 by (June 2013).   My notes:  An ebony toned dense ruby swirling a film that sticks then slowly forms a beaded rim dropping a curtain of tears. The nose is a muted combination of spice, liquorice and smoky berries. The first sip lays tannin with spikes of acid coating the mouth for a warm extra dry blend. For Scotch drinkers or those preferring sting with their sips. Aerating is recommended achieving the strength and subtlety I prefer in a full-bodied red, sipping or pairing. An alternative is to decant a day ahead. Have with grilled steaks. Cellaring a dozen years may give a smoother velvet. 91a 

    RAIMAT CASTELL DE RAIMAT TEMPRANILLO 2011,  Costers del Segre, Spain, 14.0%  XD  8g/L,  #372177   $14.95  (Tasted August 10, 2014)

    A General listing.  My notes: Recommended in a tweet from Beppi Crosariol.  A cherry edged ruby in colour and a spice edged cherry scent for a nose sets a savoury tone as a sipper.  The film is thin coating then immediately fragmenting to leave a fine lacework on the bowl. Acidic from the first sip with a red cherry warmth the main theme start to long extra dry finish. Aerating lessens a raw bite and is recommended. On the light side of medium-bodied - an accompaniment to a winter buffet, hard cheeses or complement to red meats grilled or stewed. Drink now or cellar for several years to soften its youthful character.  86a

    RABL LENGENLOIS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2012, Kamptal, Austria, 12.5%  XD 4g/L,  #377457  $16.95  (Tasted August 10, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 19, 2014 and rated 92 by Beppi Crosariol (G&M, July 26, 2014).  My notes:  A crystal bright grapefruit juice yellow with an aroma of pear peel softened by a floral scent. The film lays evenly receding and picking up speed until the bowl is clear.  The first sip has a polite tang and roundness providing an interesting lusciousness provided a short time to develop on the palate. Match with grilled fresh water fish or, as we did, with Swiss Chalet chicken breast and chips, hold the gravy. This exudes charm as a solo sipper starting with uninhibited flavour and shifting to a long dry finish with a touch of spice.  A drink now. 90

    MIGUEL TORRES GRAN VIÑA SOL CHARDONNAY 2012, Penedès, Spain,  13.5%  XD  5g/L,  #171660  $15.95  (Tasted August 5, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 19, 2014.  My notes:  A crystal clear mid yellow frosting the glass at 8oC. The film is light enough to leave a fragmented rim draining slowly to fine lacework. An apple, pear nose with a pleasing vanilla edge slows sipping while a smooth texture, a tangy nip and more apple and pear with a long dry finish would extend the pleasure pairing with delicate seafood. We had with tortillas stuffed with marinated chicken strips, guacamole, sour cream, seared red pepper and onion letting the tangy fruit coordinate the mix. This should cellar well... five years. 93

    CODE INSPIRATION VIOGNIER 2013, Pays d'Oc, France, 13.5%  D  5g/L,  #380758 $14.95  (Tasted August 6, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 19, 2014. My notes: A mid yellow with a film that sets a ragged rim receding immediately to leave a nodule covered surface. Fresh apple and a noticeable wild vine floral both tangy and sweet balanced for both to have full presence then slowly shift into a grassy, nippy finish. A match for seafood and carried its share when paired with grilled salmon and potato fries, sweet and regular, with a touch of ketchup. A sip and savour table white. 86

    STEVE BIRD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% D 5g/L, #178319  $18.95  (Tasted August 28, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 24, 2014 and rated 4 stars of 5 by (December 11, 2013) . My notes: The 2012 vintage was tasted in August 2013 and rated 90. The vintage on the shelf was 2013. The 2012 vintage was tasted in August 2013 and rated 90. A pale yellow suggests a steely fullness - a sharp edged gooseberry grapefruit leaving a thin film with a lacy rim slowly swelling as it accumulates freshness. At 10o - 14oC a slosh of a sip wakens the mouth with a green gooseberry layer finishing as tangy chalk. For those that enjoy a kiwi style, ie. no subtlety - a touch of sweet with lots of  pay-attention brashness.  Have with seafood or chicken  tacos w/lots of salsa. Sufficiently flexible to keep several on the shelf.  93

    CHÂTEAU DE LANCYRE PIC SAINT-LOUP ROSÉ 2013,  Languedoc, France, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #374900  $17.95  (Tasted August 22, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 5, 2014.  My notes: The Specs say 50% Syrah with 40% Grenache and 10% Cinsault. I'd guess the mix is 40%, 30% and 30%. The colour is a bright coral with the penetrating aroma of lemon, lime, orange zest and cosmetic floral. The film separates quickly leaving only lacy pieces and the first sip has an attractive silk texture to go with apricot and cantaloupe attempting to balance an extra dry mineral layer going into a long finish. Was overly floral with roasted ham slices and a tomato pasta - better with sushi or sashimi (hold the wasabi) or a bento box of tempura veggies and shrimp. A drink now for the curious - possibly a youthful expression needing a few years on the shelf. 83c 

    TOMMASI MASSERIA SURANI HELIOS NEGROAMARO ROSATO 2013, Puglia, Italy, 12.5%  D  11g/L, #374876  $14.95  (Tasted August 16, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 5, 2014. My notes: Pours with a fine spritz and a bright coral colour. A thin film sticks then slowly recedes from a jagged rim leaving the glass bare. At 14oC the nose is a faintly floral cherry and has a partly ripe strawberry flavour unusual for a carrot edge, noticeably sharp and finishing with a touch of sweet and mineral dryness. Served at 16oC each sip grows in flavour and has a softer texture. Sip beside a buffet table of choices: pieces of sweet fruit, proscuitto wrapped asparagus, bacon stuffed mushroom caps, soft cheeses or smoked salmon. Cellaring could be unpredictable with fruit fading leaving a vegetable focus - try a year or two to see where its going. 84

    LANGLOIS-CHÂTEAU BRUT CRÉMANT DE LOIRE NV, Loire, France, 12.5% D  14g/L, #996272  $21.95  (Tasted September 3, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on June 7, 2014 and rated 92 by Natalie MacLean. My notes:  Sixty percent chenin blanc with the remaining equal parts chardonnay and cabernet franc. A foam of bubbles, all sizes, fills the glass on pouring then settles to a dozen fine threads. A pale blond with a declining light pear-apple scent,  clean on the nose and preceding an extra dry flavour blend. A subtle acid refreshes the palate and finishes light-bodied and almost sugar free. Sipping increases intensity although remains subdued on the palate - a contrasting tangerine peel highlight is late coming forward for a unique ending. Have with battered Halibut/cod & chips, sushi, a sweet and sour Chinese buffet or any mild Thai. A safe bubbly to serve on most occasions and a drink now. 85

    SOL DE ANDES RESERVA ESPECIAL SYRAH 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 13.9%  XD  5g/L,  #274159  $16.95  (Tasted August 19, 2014)  

    Released by Vintages on November 23, 2013 and rated 90 by Jay Miller, (December 2010).  My notes: A deep black cherry red lays a thin film with a lacy rim full of fluid legs that run quickly. With a slosh of the glass the nose is smoky crushed blueberries with a hint of papaya. A penetrating acid turning to dry chalk disguises a light-bodied cherry-berry fruit and leaves a warm extra dry finish. A sipper if you like dryyyyyy and a red whose flavour turns to bramble and tang. Have with spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna , beef lovers pizza or burgers. A drink now. 87a

    SMALL GULLY MR. BLACK'S LITTLE BOOK SHIRAZ 2011, Barossa Valley, Australia, 13.5%  XD  5g/L, #287979  $17.95  (Tasted August 8, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on July 24, 2014 and rated 91 by Natalie MacLean (March 17, 2014).  My notes:  On the charcoal side of black cherry and with black liquorice added to the blackberry nose this shiraz needs airing/decanting to bring forward muted aromas. The film stays whole as it forms a well rounded rim then sheds long legs. Berry flavours have a metallic edge. The texture soft and mellow, dry as chalk leaning to acidic and leads to a long tannic finish. Pair with anything beefy - a meal red. Try four or more years in the cellar - it could soften revealing some fruit.  84

    L.A. CETTO PETITE SIRAH 2012, Quadalupe Valley, Mexico, 13.5%  XD  4g/L, #983742  $11.95  (Tasted August 17, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014.  My notes:  A purple hue types this grape along with the mellow aroma of ripe black fruit. Some liquorice, not Australian this time but more restrained and a bit smoky. The film lays evenly then fragments quickly showing only fine residuals on the glass. Some initial barnyard dissipates quickly, fine tannins and crushed semi-tart berries start a sip then finish pleasingly dry. Pair with T-bone rubbed with a savoury, not hot, spice. A soft red to share with guests as a sipper or with anything grilled, stewed and beefy and a drink now or put on the shelf for unexpected drop-ins. Less dramatic than previous vintages. 86 

    CASAS PATRONALES RESERVA PRIVADA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 ,  Maule Valley, Chile, 14.5%  XD  7g/L, #274134 $18.95  (Tasted August 6, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on June 21, 2014.  A Gold Medal winner at the 2013 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.  My notes: A slight purple fringes this plum colour. The film sticks then slowly releases long legs before fragmenting. There's a rawness to the first sip until acid edged blackberries dig in to coat the palate with an extra dry berry-currant fruit. I suggest cellaring four more years for a fuller blending of flavour and depth - one dimensional as a drink now. Spice rubbed steaks, ground beef and black bean chili or burgers just off the grill could be a match. 88

    CLOS ST. THOMAS LES GOURMETS BLANC 2012, Békaa Valley, Lebanon, 14.0%  XD  3g/L, #363523  $15.95  (Tasted August 14, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014.  A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier, and was a Gold Medal winner at the Les Citadelles du Vin in France 2013. My notes:  A light lemon colour and a floral citrus scent with a penetrating tang are the first attractions. The film is thin sticking to the glass and rapidly receding until a scant residual is left. Each grape is noticeable in this unique meal white. Paired well with Cuban cod on rice with snap peas and cherry tomatoes and would do well with grilled shellfish: crab cakes, lobster pieces, octopus or clams. The finish peaks on a swallow, smooth then fading into a soft chalk landing. 87

    SPINYBACK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Nelson, New Zealand, 12.5%  XD  5g/L, #694737   $19.95  (Tasted August 11, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014 and rated 4 1/2 of 5 by (December 11, 2013) and 93+ by Wine Orbit.  My notes:  A mid yellow swirling a thin film that recedes and fragments quickly. There's a touch of floral and a noticeable sharpness to the nose. A quaff brings forward all aspects in a luscious wave fading slowly to a dusty tang, a memorable first sip and this kiwi's forte.  Pair with pork chops in a cherry sauce and many seafood dishes and Thai. Cellaring several years could show more, if not fruit then a rounded texture. Try cellaring a few bottles for a few years. 91

    CHÂTEAU KSARA BLANC DE BLANCS 2012, Békaa Valley, Lebanon, 13.0%  XD  2g/L,  #744805  $16.95  (Tasted August 30, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014. A blend of 55% sauvignon blanc, 25% semillon and 20% chardonnay.  My notes: A mid yellow swirling a fine film that sticks, rounds a rim then drops a few slow legs. The nose has a pleasing spiced honey aroma, lines the palate with a bright sweetness, infuses a tropical citrus flavour then adds a dry mineral finish. Luscious and medium-bodied that would compliment many dinner options. We had with mussels simmered in a mild creamy curry sauce - each mouthful enhanced with each sip then straight through the sauce. Cellaring several years could soften some of the spirited acid - drinking well now.  Something unique to sip or pair and a value. 92

    NYARAI CELLARS VIOGNIER 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Annan, Ontario, 13.0% D 5g/L, #378414  $21.95  (Tasted August 7, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014 and rated 4+ of 5 by Michael Pinkus, (January 20, 2014).  My notes:  A wine from Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery located near Georgian Bay and made from Niagara Peninsula grapes . Served at 14oC there's an indistinct but appealing nose during sipping. A mid yellow colour, crystal clear, leaves a thin film that fragments quickly to lacework then to a few beads. The initial sip has a dry tang without prominent nor recognizable fruit/herb although its subtlety as well as clean texture and balance has definite appeal. The finish is long, soft and extra dry. Equally subtle entrées: seared scallops or shrimp, halibut or cod on basmati rice or potato risotto, perhaps with a ginger sauce, could pair well. Cellaring a few years could work but not improve overall.  86

    PIGHIN PINOT GRIGIO 2013, Fruili, Italy, 12.5%  D  3g/L,  #987545  $16.95  (Tasted September 1, 2014)

    Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014.  My notes:  The mid yellow colour has a slight dullness on pouring. Aromas of melon, floral honeysuckle and apple in a combination makes for interesting sniffing while medium-bodied with a creamy texture, gives some silk on the palate provides for interesting tasting. This has the flexibility to pair nicely with shrimp in a tomato sauce or asparagus wrapped in proscuitto - spinach and smoked salmon pizza as well and other seafood. The finish lasts a short while introducing a mild lanolin - keep chilled to hold on to the fruit and minerality.  Cellaring for several years would work well - try a year at a time.  91

    BENJAMIN BRIDGE NOVA 7 2013, Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, 7.0%  M  68g/L, #256289  $24.95  (Tasted August 24, 2014) 

    Released by Vintages on July 19, 2014.  My notes:  The Nova 7 receives high ratings by Canadian wine critics . Now a dollar cheaper than the 2011 tasted and rated 92 on August 15th, 2012.  I'll see where the 2013 settles.  The colour is a delicate coral showing moderate bubbles on pouring then quickly settling to a few fine streams and large bubbles on the glass. The first sniff has a perfumed ginger and sweet Anjou pear aroma. A mild spritz and tangy lime join a noticeable sweetness for a lively tooth cleaning... the finish retains some dryness on top of natural fruit. Having a low alcohol a suitable bubbly for quaffing with friends or toasting at happy events, ie. baby showers. Possibly a companion for sorbets or fruit salads. A quaff now.  86 

    LUCCARELLI PRIMITIVO PUGLIA IGT 2013, Puglia, Italy, 14.0%  D  16g/L,  #253856   $10.95  (Tasted August 31, 2014)

    A General listing produced by Farnese Vini Srl.  My notes: Farnese wines have been tasted previously in this blog and have not been  rated high for character at their below $10 price point. This primitivo is very consumable if not stretched to pair with a delicate meal - a 'soccer and pizza' red. The colour is a bright ruby. There's a light silk in the first sip combined with a fine tannin and pronounced acid finishing extra dry. Decanting an hour ahead or aerating is recommended to soften slightly before sipping. Medium-bodied with a flavour of blended red currant and brambly blackberry sufficient to support youthful acids. More 'brightness' may age out with cellaring - 5 years recommended. Pairing with grilled Italian sausage from mild to chorizo would take advantage of this wines present 'attack mode'.  89a