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 - 12 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* 
  • Cline Family Cellars Zinfandel 2013, 83  --  G, Lodi California, #489278  $15.95
  • Castello di Ama Riservva Chianti Classico 2009, 82a  --  V,  Tuscany, Italy, #403824 (375 mL)  $16.95  
  • Ring-Bolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2012,  r-v  --  V,  Margaret River, Australia, 14.0% D 4g/L, #606624  $19.95
  • Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2012,  r-v  --  G, Livermore Valley, California, #301507  $17.95
  • Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013,  r-v  -- V, Central Valley, Chile, #323881  $14.90                        
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
  • 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    
  • Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley,  r-v  --  V, Okanagan Valley, BC,  #545004  $19.95*       
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 tbd)

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014. *Reduced from $21.95 until April 26, 2015.  My notes:

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

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014.  My notes:

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 tbd)

A General listing.  My notes:  

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 tbd)

A General listing.  My notes:

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

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April 2015 Wines - 18 Tasted of 18

Hanging up the corkscrew?

Over the years I have progressed from Blue Nun and Baby Duck, white and red juices pressed offshore ready to ferment, filter, bottle and mature(?) in my closet. For many of the years I followed Opimians monthly wine selections with Ken Christie's (1973 -  20xx)  expanded notes. More recently orders on wine agencies have been complemented by purchases from the BCLB (British Columbia) and LCBO (Ontario) and trips through a dozen North American and New Zealand wine districts. I enjoyed the imaginative blending and the unique preparation of grape varieties with their regional signature.

Over this period I've also discovered there is such a thing as 'crap' - wines that exude a smell and taste of lacquer... of farm field putrification... some so thin their labels hide truth with poetical descriptors... and some that have replaced 'somewhereness' with 'nowhereness'... and there's some very drinkable wines priced well beyond their enjoyment value, not 'crap' - just not worth it.

British India
Lately I've noticed a real push on commercial labels. Business entities rather than wineries resulting from acquisitions, mergers and takeovers as independents decide there's an easier way to make a dollar: sell the business and position their experience as a Corporate Executive. In parallel an affiliated industry of chemical additives, some good some not so, has been spawned.

Art Deco
My focus isn't on expensive wines although each price point has its share of 'crap'. At the higher end there's a double whammy of poorer value and simulated product. Wine is a beverage turned into status symbols for the well heeled. I find I'm needing to use more discretion when buying from either Vintages or the General shelves. In my January and February blogs I tasted thirty-three low price point wines, most being Discontinued or On-Sale. Of the thirty-three wines, nineteen were rated 'not a value' including two that were discarded.

I've decided to change my approach. I enjoy pulling out corks and twisting screwtops so I'm not giving up my corkscrew. I'll be looking for 'psychic responses'. I'll look at the rows, close my eyes and let the glass mosaic speak to me. Better yet, the set below was selected by my spouse.

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites and bubblies)

  • Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 89-2**  (91-3)  --  G,  Modesto, California,  #392647  $14.95* 
  • Harewood Shiraz 2011, 89-1 --  V, Denmark, Australia, #401380  $19.95
  • Akarua Rua Pinot Noir 2012, 89-1  --  V, Central Otago, New Zealand, #295592  $24.95 
  • Chloe Red No. 249 2012, 86  --  G, Livermore, California,  #392589  $16.95* 
  • MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, 85a  --  G,  Santiago, Chile, #619205  $12.05 
  • Domaine Les Yeuses Les Épices Syrah 2012, 85  --  V, Midi, France, #177584  $15.95
  • Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Riserva 2010, 83  --  V,  Siena, Italy, #111641  $15.95 
  • Lionel Osmin & Cie Reserve Malbec 2011, 83a  --  V, Cénac, France,  #328641  $13.95 

  • Pilliteri Canadian Gothic Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012, 88-2  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #395624  $12.95
  • Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2013, 88-1  --  G, Livermore Valley, California, #175430  $17.75 
  • Ziraldo Riesling 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 88-1  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #357640  $19.95 
  • Ormarine Carte Noire Picpoul de Pinet 2013, 86-1  --  V,  Pinet, France, #525287  $12.95   
  • San Raffaele Monte Tabor Soave 2013, 86-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #277392  $13.95
  • Jean Biecher & Fils Reserve Riesling 2012, 84  --  V, Alsace, France, #403105  $14.95
  • Chloe Chardonnay Sonoma County 2012, 84  -- G, Livermore, California, #392597  $17.95
  • Jean Geiler Réserve Particulière Riesling 2013,  83  --  V,  Haut-Rhin, France, #408237  $14.95
  • Rabl Löss Gruner Veltliner 2013, 83  --  V, Kamptal, Austria,  #295709  $14.95

  • Bisol Desiderio Jeio Colmei Extra Dry Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV, 88-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #030601  $16.95  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


CHLOE RED NO. 249 2012 , Livermore, California, 13.5% D  10g/L,  #392589  $16.95*  (Tasted April 7, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $17.95.  My notes:  A deep ruby colour, very smooth on the glass with a film dropping quickly until slow tears form an unbroken rim. A crushed raspberry and plum aroma, subtly tart with a suspicion of sweetness that comes forward from the first sip then steps back as the fruit is replaced by a chalk dry finish and a soft woodiness. Sampling 249 wine lots as stated in the winery's notes, seems a stretch but the combination in this recipe produces a social sipper and satisfying complement to a variety of meaty meals.  86

CHLOE CHARDONNAY 2012 , Livermore, California, 13.5% D 8g/L, #392597  $17.95  (Tasted April 20, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:A clear mid yellow swirls a thin film hanging from a lacy rim. The nose is a blend of lemon and fresh cut honey dew - no sign of sweet yet. The first sip brings a more than a touch of sugar balancing the tartness nicely then a lining of chalk, a repeat of honey dew and suspicion of vanilla.  Flexible as a creamy sipper or a seafood white: filets of artic char, tilapia or Cuban cod. Finishes long and dry. To me it comes off as a put together chardonnay - the winemaker's choice. 84

WENTE MORNING FOG CHARDONNAY 2013 ,  Livermore Valley, California, 13.5%  D  7g/L, #175430  $17.75  (Tasted April 14, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A crystal clear mid yellow with a sharp aroma of yellow plums and slight vanilla. The film is thin leaving a fragmented rim then a ring of tiny tears. The first sip penetrates politely while the first swallow cleanses the palate. A taint of banana blended with lemon shows a pleasing silky texture and ends with a patch of plaster. Keep a few chilled for unexpected guests or bridge party.  A commercial drink now. Serve with pineapple chicken or a Bento box. We had with Ricardo's Pork Loin with White Button  Mushrooms in a butter sauce . 88

HAREWOOD SHIRAZ 2011, Denmark, Australia, 15.0%  XD  7g/L, #401380  $19.95  (Tasted March 28, 2015)

A Vintages released on March 7, 2015 rated 93 by James Halliday  (July 11, 2013).  My notes:  WineAlign rates this 2.5 .  The colour is a dense, coal hued ruby. A biting acid fills the first sip along with a coating of fine tannin, enough for a velvet texture to flavours of crushed dark fruit. A swirl leaves a firm film topped by a tight rim eventually shedding long slow legs. Full-bodied, bold with an intense finish and, for me, a sipper. Have with roast ribs, short, long, back, beef or pork - slow cooked with The Keg seasoning. Great with meat lovers pizza.  A Shiraz fortified by process. Could age several years without change.  89-1

ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI RISERVA 2010,  Siena, Italy, 13.5%  XD  xg/L,  #111641  $15.95  (Tasted April 8, 2015)

A Vintages release on December 1, 2014. My notes:  WineAlign  rates this vintage 3 of 5. On the other hand,  James Suckling rated it 91 (November 6, 2013). A deep ruby colour spreads a viscous film on the glass that settles to form a thin rim shedding tiny tears. Best to allow this to breathe 20 minutes or aerate for release of extra dry crushed red cherry aroma and tart woody flavours that, with a thin body, continue through a long finish. Not a sipper - a red to match spicy tomato sauces - if it's Italian it'll be a match. A drink now and not a value. 83

ZIRALDO RIESLING 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.1% D 13g/L, #357640  $19.95  (Tasted April 8, 2015) 

A Vintages release on February 1, 2014.  My notes: Grapes from the Victoria vineyard. Natalie McLean rates this 88 of 100 . There's a bronze tint to the crystal liquid and a subtle mineral aroma edged with lime. A ragged rim takes time to accumulate a ring of falling tears and leave a lacy reminder. Lip-smacking, a bright acid and a sweet lining then a tart chalk finish provides polite interest as a sipper. Pair with seafood, mussels in a wine sauce with a light garlic or fresh arugula and avocado slices. A drink now. 88

LIONEL OSMIN & CIE LA RÉSERVE MALBEC 2011, Cénac, France,  13.0%  XD 6g/L,  #328641  $13.95  (Tasted April 10, 2015) 

A Vintages release on March 21, 2015.  My notes: Wine-Searcher gives a rating of 87/100. An average 3 of 5 of 277 ratings on the vivino website . The colour is a deep ruby with a black cherry, see-through meniscus. A thin film adheres well leaving a lacy rim. The nose has a spicy plum core complemented with a red cherry brightness. Bold and tangy then a tad metallic on the first swallow - best to aerate. A woody aspect carries red cherries through a moderate, extra dry finish. A quencher at an outside bbq of ribs, T-bones or burgers. A drink now. The empty bottle weight is an eco-unfriendly 1.5lbs. 83a

SAN RAFFAELE MONTE TABOR SOAVE 2013, Veneto, Italy, 12.5%  XD  5g/L, #277392  $13.95  (Tasted April 9, 2015)

A Vintages release on February 7, 2015. My notes:  A green hued mid yellow with an aroma of grassy lemon plus a delicate stone fruit with an acid balance. The film is thin and lays motionless until long tears drain through slow legs and fragmented lace. Chalky mineral, tart lemon leaves the palate extra dry and clean. Have with broiled pork chops, cod on Cuban risotto or tomato pizza with anchovies or smoked salmon slices. A sipper if you prefer dddrrryyy and mineral biased lemon but makes an interesting seafood white. Serve chilled. 86-1    

PILLITTERI CANADIAN GOTHIC CHARDONNAY VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.0%  D  6g/L, #395624   $12.95  (Tasted April 12, 2015) 

A General listing. My notes:  WineAlign  rates this vintage 2.5 of 5 .  My notes: The colour is a bright mid yellow and, at a serving temperature of 10oC, a delicate stone fruit nose. Silky on the lips and well balanced stone and fruit, faint pineapple and apple flavour followed by a modest fullness with tart lemon. An evolving mineral builds a long, pleasing finish given time to appreciate. Have with mild fish dishes, breaded or with a white wine sauce. A drink now and a solid value. 88  

RABL LÖSS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013, Kamptal, Austria,  12.0%  XD  5g/L, #295709  $14.95  (Tasted April 24, 2015)

Released by Vintages on March 21, 2015. Beppi Crosariol gave this 91 of 100 in his G&M March  26th article. My notes: A shallow yellow in colour lays a thin film that gradually etches a lacy rim with each swirl. A slight floral and tangy fragrance titillates the nose persuading a first sip. Served chilled there's a subtle apple and dry mineral along with a tart finish that has some appeal as a social sipper. OK with broiled white fish on butter rice or with puréed cauliflower - a tad short for savoury seafood and chicken. A drink now - not for cellaring.  83

DOMAINE LES YEUSES LES ÉPICES SYRAH 2012, Pays d'Oc Midi, France, 13.5%  XD  4g/L, #177584  $15.95  (Tasted April 3, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 6, 2014.  My notes:  A flat charcoal stained ruby that leaves a thin film hanging from a lace edged rim until draining as fragments. The nose is a lightly spiced delicate plum and black cherry not pushing itself as a sipper nor a meal red while accommodating both. Finishes with ripe dark fruit long and dry on the palate. Spice is well managed. Have with grilled chops, lamb or pork, or with slow cooked short ribs and savoury osso bucco. A drink now - short term cellaring. 85

JEAN BIECHER & FILS RESERVE RIESLING 2012 , Alsace, France, 12.0% D 10g/L, #403105  $14.95  (Tasted April 23, 2015)

Released by Vintages on February 21, 2015. Rated 90 by Alison Napjus  (2013).  My notes: A clear light yellow colour with the tartness of fresh lemon to brighten the first sip and begs at least a tray of soft cheeses as counterpoint. A swirl leaves a thin film shedding light tears from a ragged rim. Serve chilled. As a flavour, this has its own blend of lemon muted by grapefruit and soft melon - couldn't tasted 'ginger'. The texture is smooth having a dryness that lasts through a long stony finish. A light bodied white to pair with white fish filets breaded and grilled. Try before if  buying to cellar.  84

ORMARINE CARTE NOIRE PICPOUL DE PINET 2013, Pinet, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L,  #525287  $12.95  (Tasted April 16, 2015)

Released by Vintages on January 24, 2015 and a gold medal winner at the 2014 Concours Général Agricole in Paris.  My notes:  67 ratings on the vivino website averaged 3.9 of 5. Beppi Crosariol gave it 87 of 100 in his March 26th G&M article.  The colour is a mid yellow with a fine clarity in the glass. The film is thin gradually separating into islands draining from a fragmenting rim. A slight aroma of field grass and a soft texture is a welcomed first sip, some lemon and apricot finishing extra dry primarily mineral and a suspicion of fruit. Serve well chilled for a sipper. Better as a house white with seafood: red snapper or tilapia with a white wine and butter sauce. 86

BISOL DESIDERIO JEIO COLMEI EXTRA DRY VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% D 15g/L, #030601  $16.95  (Tasted April 6, 2015)

Released by Vintages on March 7, 2015.  My notes: Serve at 8oC. Serve at 8oC. Pours with a full spritz and an aroma of subtly tangy tangerine. Some subtly sweet apple and mineral are included as a sip brings more character to the surface. The colour is a light straw, crystal clear, showing fine bubbles that persist. Smooth, a touch of chalk for texture and noticeable fresh fruit. Plan for summer festivities and sunny weather on the deck, marine or otherwise. A reasonable value that should cellar for a few years. Have with morning pancakes, sausage drizzles with maple syrup. 88

AKARUA RUA PINOT NOIR 2012, Central Otago, New Zealand, 14.0%  XD  5g/L,  #295592  $24.95  (Tasted April 14, 2015)

Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014 and rated 4 of 5 by Michael Cooper (Buyer's Guide to NZ Wines, 2014).  My notes:  A deep plum shading from the meniscus to an almost see through centre. A moderate film that leaves a rough rim to drain through slow tears. The nose is delicate with a touch of anise on black cherry, just discernible. Then a burst of fresh cherry, dark chocolate and tart spice nicely balanced to let the fruit predominate. A delicious blend that fades evenly into a extra long dry finish. Could serve as an interesting sipper for a wine crowd or as a fruit addition to roast chicken, duck or with a buffet of bacon wrapped asparagus, pigs in a blanket etc. Cellaring a few years may justify the price. 89

JEAN GEILER RÉSERVE PARTICULIÈRE RIESLING 2013, Haut-Rhin, France, 11.5%  D  8g/L, #408237  $14.95  (Tasted April 18, 2015)

Released by Vintages on April 4, 2015.  My notes:  A pale yellow with aromas of lemon lime softened by light grapefruit. A swirl casts a thin film quickly disintegrating from a lacy rim. There's a silk texture and tight acid on the first sip that changes rapidly to chalk that parches the mouth - as in 'licking plaster board'. A sipper if served with finger food or with raw oysters, seafood crepes or sunny-up eggs on syrupy pancakes. Unique for its extremely dry, pucker finish - try blind tasting with two or three other Rieslings or sample first.  83 

CARNIVOR CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Modesto, California, 14.0%  D  15g/L,  #392647  $14.95*  (Tasted April 19, 2015)

A General listing - price* reduced from $16.95 until April 26, 2015.  My notes:  A deep ruby with an attractive beet edging and an aroma blend that includes soft plum, a touch of sharp pepper and pencil shavings. Swirling leaves a substantial film that quickly sheds long legs. A smooth and full first sip fills in a profile with fine tannin, bright berry fruit finishing velvet smooth, a tad woolly. A pleasing sipper and a complement with burgers, slow cooked ribs or beef cobbler. Buy to imbibe now rather than cellar - but should keep a few years.  89** **Rating upgraded when paired with Stephano's Beef Cobbler - smoothness complimented by Conivar's fullness with the reserved red wine sauce of the Cobbler - perfect, add 2 for a 91-3 rating.
MONTGRAS CAB SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2013, Santiago, Chile, 13.5%  D 8g/L, #619205  $12.05  (Tasted April 22, 2015)

 A General listing.  My notes: The vivino website gives an average rating from 204 reviewers a 3.3 . WineAlign's rating is 3.0 of 5. The colour is a deep ruby and a swirl leaves a firm film that sticks to the glass until tears/legs cascade from a building rim. The nose has a brambly rawness not enticing as a sipper and the first sip carries the aroma into a dull flavour and dry finish - a touch of sweet cherry shows after airing. Serve with beef burgers,  grilled strip sirloin or lamb souvlakis. Decant and air forty minutes or aerate to add 2 for an 85a. 

5  Stars         It’s hard to imagine better quality (94-100 points).
4 ½  Stars    Excellent quality (90-93 points). 
4 Stars         Very good quality (87-89 points).
3 ½ Stars     Good quality (85-86 points).
3 Stars         Well-made wine but without distinction (82-84 points).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 2015 Wines - 6 Tasted of 6

What is this Generation coming too?

Somewhere in this mix of 'art' (see previous blog entry) are the labels released by younger generations going through a cycle of running the family business. I.e. that phase when the offspring of winery owners have left their teenage years and are now ambitious entrepreneurs. The parents have given free reign to the imagination of a new age grown tolerant of ripening grapes vintage after vintage and the acrid smell of fermentation.

Some will have the maturity to adopt century's of wine processes, styles and the pairing of earth to vine and styles to market - others will follow in the family's footsteps not because they have an understanding but of a trust there will be a transfer of something rewarding resulting from their energetic direction. Meanwhile parents winter at their seasonal homes saying 'the kids will look after things'.

This can also be the age easily intrigued by streamlined production equipment spewing wine as if creating money in a bottle.

Mindsets aren't necessarily passed from one generation to the next. The ambitious with a few hectares planted with this and that soon realize producing wine is more difficult than planting, picking and packaging. Now, being tenants of a craft winery, these newbies are susceptible to the tales spun by Conglomerates. The advantages of volume production with an offer to merge with a collection of wineries. Often retaining their individual labels along with their staff they rely on a Corporation to exceed previous profits or possibly bring the winery back on track. Modern upgrades installed as necessities: a chem lab, automated pickers, crushers then bottling lines, centralizing/expansion of docking and warehousing, all supporting modern techniques from preparing the earth to squeezing grapes.

The family name is imprinted on stylish blends of volume plonk or, if lucky, new generation labels of higher priced 'estate' wines. Hidden in the detail is a Corporate name bartering for shelf and print space ghost writing every tasting note. A wine to match new age consumers encouraged to pledge local loyalty... at least for the first release or the first sip.

My opinion, Ww 

Canoes at Harura Falls, NZ

THE LINEUP:  (reds and whites)

  • Buried Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  North Coast California,  91-1  --  G,  North Coast, California, #356113 $19.95
  • Chateau Timberlay Bordeaux Superieur Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 89-1  -- G, Bordeaux, France, #030072  $16.45
  • ZOLO Classic Bonarda 2013, 88-1  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #398271   $13.95
  • Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2013,  80  --  G, Barossa, South Australia, #665471 $14.95*  

  • Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2014, 81  --  G, Stellenbosch, South Africa, #340380  $10.25
  • Voga Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2013,  NR  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #669226  $15.30 
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)

BURIED HOPE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010,  North Coast California,  14.2% D  xg/L, #356113 $19.95  (Tasted March 18, 2015)

 A General listing. Made in California, USA by Pernod Ricard Winemakers Ltd.  My notes: A blend of blackberries and soft black currant offers a start for the sniffer while a balanced flavouring of bright fruit and lasting dryness partners well with bbq'd meats and tomato sauced pasta dishes or meat lovers pizzas. A swirl drops long legs from a fragmenting rim. There's an unexpected smoothness that becomes more prominent as the finish develops. Could cellar a few more years but sample regularly. 91 

ZOLO CLASSIC BONARDA 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.8%  XD  7g/L, #398271   $13.95  (March 22, 2015)

A Vintages release - date not given. Sustainably farmed. My notes: The winery's website excludes the Bonarda label. Almost black although the meniscus shines with deep ruby purple in candlelight. The viscous produces slow legs dropping from a well rounded rim and there's a silky smoothness to the first sip. Heavy tannins leave a fine chalk texture to a soft blackberry flavour with bright acid and a natural impression. The finish is long but fairly flat making pairing limited, try veal Scaloppini or slow grilled calves liver with a onion and mushroom sauce. At peak now with a few more years of cautious cellaring. 88

JACOB'S CREEK RESERVE SHIRAZ 2013, Barossa, South Australia, 14.5%  XD  6g/L,  #665471 $14.95*  (Tasted March 31. 2015)

A General listing *reduced from $16.95 produced by Wyndham Estate Wines Ltd.  My notes:  The 2004 and 2006 vintages were previously tasted with ratings of 79 and 81 respectively. This vintage has an attractive opaque violet ruby colour spreading smooth with a rim that fragments into long legs and lacework. The nose has an assertive tang balancing light aromas of tannic berries warmed by the sun. The first sip is bitter discouraging an invitation to sip then is flat and woody with an extra dry finish. Further sips have little appeal unless with the right savoury meal. Pair with meat lovers pizzas or grilled ribs. A 'serve with discretion’ shiraz that’s not likely to support further cellaring. 80 

TWO OCEANS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 12.0%  XD  7g/L,  #340380  $10.25 (Tasted March 31, 2015)

A General listing by Distillers Corporation Ltd.  My notes: The 2014 vintage fact sheet isn't as yet available on the website . There's a green tint to a mid yellow colour and a swirl leaves a thin film separating at the rim into lace and falling slowly. The aroma is delicate releasing a blend of dry tang and fumes of withered grass. The first sip at 12oC is bright, shows a slight gooseberry lime taste for an instant then goes into a long drying finish. Has a balanced start to herbaceous finish and a general appeal. Pair with barbecued chicken, mushroom or shepherds pie. A commercial drink now.  81

VOGA PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2013, Veneto, Italy, 12.0%  D  10g/L, #669226  $15.30  (Tasted March 30, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Snooth (link above) has it priced just under $9CAD with the last review saying 'tastes like stinky cheese, really acidic...'. The nose has a dry tartness of lemons without the aroma. A thin film falls slowly from a jagged rim leaving a clean surface - the colour, a pale lemon juice. Tart and chalky on the lips then to the palate - a subtle sugar softens a long dry finish. I didn't recognize a grape and other fruit was undetected. Could pass in a crowded social setting where there's focus on conversation and a seafood buffet. I used part in a Cuban Cod recipe tried to pair with the meal but didn't work, not enough there - discarded the remainder. NR

CHATEAU TIMBERLAY BORDEAUX SUPERIEUR MERLOT - CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, Bordeaux, France, 13.0%  D  6g/L, #030072  $16.45  (Tasted March 23, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Several vintages of this wine were tasted in previous years with somewhat inconsistent results. The colour is a dark ruby still brightly edged.  The nose has a floral touch to spicy raspberry plum aromas. A stiff tannin lays a background for a dry, woody, raspberry with the fruit fading quickly letting the tannins support the wood - a long and extra dry finish. A value with grilled beef or lamb and bbq'd ribs. At peak with a few years left. A drink now. 89