Monday, January 31, 2005

4 Reds: Italy, Australia

MANZONE DOLCETTO D'ALBA 2001, Piedmont, Italy, 13.0%, #715680 $16.95

James Suckling gave it a 90 and says: "Fantastic, with an intense, complex nose, featuring ripe damson, Indian spice and gamy, meaty aromas. Medium- to full-bodied, fresh and fruity with velvety tannins and a chocolate-tinged finish. Drink now." ( , November 15, 2002). My notes: A more accurate description was in Beppi's column Jul 26, 2003: "quite tannic and firm..... showing cherry flavour and a hint of dried herbs. (Vintage release July 26, 2003.)" So I bought a few and laid them down 'til now. Nose is a soft ripe red cherry. Medium-bodied, light tannin and acid balanced with cherry flavours with an herb edge. A dry sipper but good with burgers, and should be good (but not full-bodied) with teriyaki beef, prime rib or even not-to-spicy pastas. Vintages release July 26, 2003.

GEOGRAFICO CHIANTI COLLI SENESI 2001, Tuscany, Italy, 12.0%, Opimian $11.58

My notes: Ordered on April 12, 2002 described as "Still rather dumb, needing time to develop a softer profile but one already detects the unctuousness of the sun-ripened fruit." And it was 'dumb' when first tasted but now (January 2005)... the wait was definitely worthwhile. A touch of Tuscan red in the colour with full cherry and plum aromas bloom in the glass carrying through to flavours on the tongue. Medium-bodied with just enough acid and a soft tannin edge to add interest. Good with red pastas, pork, even an Italian BMT Sub sandwich with a few jalapenos.

SALTRAM MAMRE BROOK SHIRAZ 2000, Barossa, Australia, 14.0%, #906677 $19.95

My notes: Lush berries and full-bodied on the first swallow. Ruby red with long legs when the glass is swirled predicting the soft roundness in the mouth. Whether slowly sipping or with meat dishes Saltram 2000 hasn't disappointed since purchased a year ago. Delisted for now - I'm hoping the new vintage will still come this quarter. Neither the grapes nor recipe should change from this producer - other Saltram labels are in a much higher price bracket.

BARONE RICASOLI TOSCANA VENDEMMIA 2002, Italy, 13.0%, #241844 $13.10

LCBO describes this as: "Ruby red with brick edges; complex nose of spicy fruit and earthy notes; warm fruit flavours with soft tannins and spice in the finish." and Beppi (Jan 29, 2005) describes this as "... drinks like a $20 Chianti." My notes: Don't I wish! Decanting took the off odour/flavour away but didn't increase the slight "ripe cherry" flavour. What's left is a fairly uninteresting medium-bodied red with a dry finish. This is a General listing

Thursday, January 27, 2005

2 Viognier: France

HUGH RYMAN RICHEMONT VIOGNIER 2001, Midi, France, 13.0%, #944819 $12.95

LCBO writes: "Medium yellow gold with aromas of golden rod, peach, lilac and other floral tones. Dry, soft, ripe, good mouthfeel with a nice oily texture to the finish." Vintages release January 24, 2004. George Stimmell rated this 90 in his column January 14, 2004. My notes: Very similar to the next one - perhaps not as full - and hasn't changed much in a year. Lighter floral nose but a full mouthfeel and smooth oily finish. Telapia, cod, halibut, roasted shrimp or scallops in a creamy pasta. For a different white this should be tried next time it's available.

DOMAINE PERRIERE VIOGNIER 2000 VIN DE PAYS D'OC, Midi, France, 12.5%, $10.08

Opimian wrote: "What can one add to the fact that this wine was declared to be the 'Best Wine of the Year' in the British Market (June 2001). One could say it has an excitingly fresh aroma, it shows masses of fruit, a well balance of acidity and a long clean fruity character.... etc. " My notes: Tasted in December 2001 I thought it showed full-bodied rootiness - an 80. Tasted this week it shows a golden straw colour with a full floral bouquet. It fills the mouth with well integrated fresh fruit: pineapple, lemon, orange peel and honey - no more roots. If I were counting likely a 90. Same food match as above - or just sip. Originally from Opimian.

Monday, January 24, 2005

3 Reds: South Africa, Chile, Australia


Robert Parker Jr. writes "I was extremely impressed with the wines of Boekenhoutskloof Winery. Marc Kent, the young, talented winemaker, combines the power and ripeness of the New World with the elegance and precision of the Old." My notes: Yes, but how does it taste..... a rich red colour with an unusual nose which may improve with decanting (didn't try). Not a lot of fruit although full-bodied and smoothe - high tannin. It doesn't have the bandaid nose and ascerb flavour characteristic of South African reds but is somewhat musty for a Syrah. Not a sipper but worth the $12.95 with a meat stew or prime rib. Vintages release January 22, 2005.

SERGIO TRAVERSO MERLOT RESERVA 2000, Lontue, Chile, 13%, Opimian, $21.00

Opimian describes this as "full-bodied with velvety soft tannins.... Assertive yet remaining subtle." My notes: Subtle this merlot is not! Ruby red, a soft and warm bouquet builds an expectation of velvety smoothness which is met with an astringency that cuts the palate. Decanting allows the full-bodied fruit to companion any grilled red meat meal: bbq'd steak or honeyed ribs are needed to tame this wine. Even decanted this is a bold wine. Traverso is available from Opimian.

DE BORTOLI dB RIVERINA SHIRAZ 2002, New South Wales, Australia, 13.5%, #595314 $12.95

Beppi writes "A good value, full-bodied and velvety, with sweet dark fruit, chocolate and mint, lifted by peppery spice." My notes: Brighter than the South African above with a light port-like nose and more berry fruit with balanced acid, light- to medium-bodied and smoothness of suede rather than velour. Chocolate and mint I didn't get but some spice with a light tannin length. A drink-now wine - with turkey, lamb, shepherds pie or ham steak. Vintages release January 22, 2005.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

3 Riesling: Canada, France, Australia

ANNIE'S LANE RIESLING 2002, South Australia, Australia, 12.0%, #937086 $18.95

My notes: Golden straw colour with a characteristic petrol nose with fresh lavender and orange peel. Dry in the mouth with noticeable pear and grapefruit - a short finish but the dryness lasts. An OK sipper or with lightly flavoured seafood dishes. Harvey Steiman (Wine Spectator) gives this an 89 Vintages release July 28, 2004 (2003 vintage).

LAKEVIEW CELLARS ESTATE RIESLING 2003, Niagara, Canada, 12.3%, #307157 $10.95

My notes: Light straw colour; no petrol but a lime and green apple peel nose. Stimmell says "very aromatic sweet green apple, honey, petrol and citrus aromas; dry, rich, ripe honeyed, baked apple fruit flavours; persistent finish. Rating of 89. " I wouldn't say 'very' or 'rich' but a nice blend of apple and citrus flavours mingling with light acidity. The flavours lingered on the tongue. An OK sipper or with white fish, creamy dishes; lightly spiced entrees; - salmon or ham steaks would drown the delicate flavours. This is a General listing.

MUEHLFORST HUNAWIHR RIESLING 1999, Alsace, France, 12.0%, $16.50

Golden straw colour with a very appealing petrol and floral nose worth the wait as it develops in the glass. Opimian describes this as a "Fabulous example of the steely, crystal-cut flavours of the riesling grape. .... richness of the fruit is intertwined with aromas of ripe pineapple and orange." My notes: A bit over-the-top... Some mineral side notes with pineapple and lime differentiates this from the others. Sip or with seafoods, sushi, or chinese (not sechuan). If the others are 89 this is 90. Available from the Opimian Society.

Friday, January 14, 2005

1 Dessert: Portugal

JOSE MARIA DA FONSECA ALAMBRE MOSCATEL 2000 (Setubal, Portugal), #357996 $13.95

Tony Aspler gives this four and one-half stars. My notes: The Setúbal wine region is known for its Moscatel-based fortified wines. It's a rich, full-bodied dessert wine with sugar level of 8 so not as sweet as ice wine but rich in raisiny butterscotch and fig flavours and a very low price. The colour is a beautiful orange/amber and the finish is long and nutty. As this wine ages its fragrance becomes more intense - it's not unusual to age ten years. Chill as an aperitif or have for dessert with or without crème caramel. A little goes a long way. Vintages release January 8, 2005

Thursday, January 13, 2005

2 Pinot Grigio: Italy

BANFI PLACIDO PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2003, Venezie, Italy, 12.0%, #588897 $11.95

My notes: Nice label.... pale colour with apple peel nose, hints of tropical fruit; a crisp palate with light pineapple flavours and a moderate finish. Stimmell describes this as "full fruity, floral lime and pear aromas - with hints of apricot and lime. And rates it 88". Although this is a well-made pinot gris I didnt find it full, floral or pearish - closer to an 86. This is a General listing.

TIEFENBRUNNER PINOT GRIGIO 2003, Alto Adige/Trentino, 13.0%, Italy, #954024 $16.95

My notes: Pale colour... Bavarian style with trace minerals and an almost imperceptible pear nose. Spicy, soft and dry. From northern Italy, it's a fresh wine and a good companion for creamed asparagus, mushroom soup or white fish. Stimmell's 90 is somewhat high, more like an 88 - but tasting is better than counting. Vintages release January 8, 2005.

To these two my preference is from Argentina: BODEGAS ESMERALDA ARGENTO PINOT GRIGIO 2004, Argentina, Argentina, 13.0%, #620492, $9.95.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

2 Fumé Blanc: California, France

GRGICH HILLS FUMÉ BLANC 1998, Napa, California, USA, 12.8%, #346296 $34.75

Mildly herbal in scent and charged with some grass and green-melon fruit in the mouth, the wine is slightly tangy with light acids -Gooseberries came to mind on first sip. Full and smoothe. It's great with bbq'd chicken or on its own. Scored 91 given by Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine, Feb. 2004 - more like an 88. Doesn't have the 'blue spruce' scent of a Cloudy Bay SB. Vintages release was the 2002 vintage at $37.95, September 4, 2004.

JACQUES ET LURTON LES FUMÉES BLANCHES, Languedoc, France, 12.5%, #472555 $9.95

Mildly herbal in scent and charged with some grass and green-melon fruit in the mouth, the wine is slightly tangy with light acids -. Sound familiar?? Lighter on the gooseberries but only slightly. It's great with bbq'd chicken or on its own. Pale straw colour with a soft finish. Comes with a screwcap for freshness. You won't find me spending more while this is available. Stimmell rates this 88. This is a General listing.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

3 Pinot Grigio/Gris: Argentina, Italy, Canada

BODEGAS ESMERALDA ARGENTO PINOT GRIGIO 2004, Argentina, Argentina, 13.0%, #620492, $9.95

My notes: Bright, light straw colour; perceptible apple and citrus bouquet with a hint of pineapple - carries through to the taste. Medium to light bodied with crisp acid but with a smooth texture. Excellent with stuffed salmon or curried mussels, other seafood dishes. Pleasing aftertaste. A great value. A 'drink now'. This is a General listing.

SANTA MARGHERITA PINOT GRIGIO 2003, Alto Adige, Italy, 12.0%, #106450, $15.95

My notes: Pale straw with aromas of citrus, melon and apple. Dry, soft, balanced, pleasing with medium, refreshingly crisp finish, a slight crispness is the difference between this and above plus the $6. A 'drink now'. Vintages release October 9, 2004.

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2002, Niagara, Canada, 12.0%, #581305, $18.00

My notes: Mine was cellared for 12 months. The colour is a vibrant straw with a peach hue. Dry, round and lively, pear, citrus and honey on the palate. Should be great between seafood courses of spicy mussels, roasted scallops, etc. Full-bodied with a short but pleasant finish. None left in Ontario but look for the next release..... for sure.. LCBO or the Niagara vineyard. May be stalky at first but becomes more 'complex' with ageing. Vintages release July 26, 2003