Saturday, February 26, 2005

2 Riesling: Australia, France

ANNIE'S LANE RIESLING CLARE VALLEY 2003, South Australia, Australia, 11.5%, #937086 $18.95

The winery claims "... pale in colour with vibrant green tones. It presents the classic characters of Clare Valley Riesling with citrus. lime and lemon with floral overtones. The palate exhibits intense citrus flavours, which are balanced in a long finish with crisp and fresh acidity." My notes: I found it to be the same golden straw as the 2002 vintage with a characteristic petrol nose altho' milder and a slight lemon zest but no lavender. Left a dryness on the lips from too much stalkiness and a light grapefruit-lime flavour. A long dry aftertaste. The 'fresh acidity' should be accompanied by hors d'oeuvres, cheeses, or better yet a grilled seafood dish. Now with a screwtop. Not a stellar vintage. Vintages release July 28, 2004.

CAVE VINICOLE de HUNAWIHR RIESLING, RESERVE 2000, Alsace, France, 12.0%, $14.50

Cellared May 2002 Opimian describes it as a "bouquet led by citrussy floral aromas followed by stunning fruit with lemon and lime sharpening the attack on the palate." My notes: The nose is of lime/orange peels with a flower or two to soften and the colour, a light straw. The flavours are lemon and lime and do attack but pleasantly with a lasting tartness. A dry sipper or have with seafoods, shellfish or white meats. Available from the Opimian Society.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

3 Muscadet: France

HENRI POIRON MUSCADET SÈVRE & MAINE, SUR LIE 2002, Loire, France, 12.0%, #608893 $13.95

My notes: Nice labelling on a nice bottle.... light pleasing flavours and fresh acidity, true to the Melon grape varietal. Straw in colour with a light sour apple nose. Cellaring for a year will help mellow out the 'mineral' context of the fruit tho' even now the Poiron is a sipper if you like 'dry'. Good length. Best served with a salad with light vinegar dressing or with seafood - mussels, clams, raw oysters - as most French wines are tailored for food and Severe et Maine is coastal. Can be cellared up to six years. This is a Vintages release February 5, 2005.


LCBO writes: "A top Muscadet producer dazzles with this exceptional match for oysters on the half shell." My notes: The same light straw colour with more 'roundness' in the sip giving a smoother first impression than the others. A softer floral rather than sour apple nose along with softer citrus flavours and a soft yeasty finish. Match with seafoods as above. This is a Vintages release February 5, 2005.

SAUVION & FILS MUSCADET SEVRE ET MAINE, SUR LIE 2002/2003, Loire, France, 12.0%, #143016 $9.90*

My notes: The 2002 vintage was cellared January 20, 2004 and tasted now: a faint straw colour; a light grapefruit, apple nose. The Melon de Bourgogne grape gives a dry white with crisp acidity, a clean citrusy fruit and sugar pea flavours and a light yeasty finish. OK chilled as a dry sipper or, as above, goes well with shellfish and seafood. *The current vintage on the shelf is 2003 with a price of $10.35. The 2003 is slightly tart, otherwise the same but lighter nose, lighter flavours with some mineral notes and a very slight tannic finish. Likely cellaring the 2002 for a year is the difference. This is a General listing.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

4 Pinot Blancs: Canada, France, Austria

SANDHILL BURROWING OWL PINOT BLANC 2002, BC, Canada, 12.5%, #541185 $14.00

My notes: Cellared in February 2004 this vintage has a very light straw hue with glistening clarity and hardly any 'legs' on the glass. As it loses its chill, it has a delicate granny smith nose. Malba apple without the sweetness but with the acid is one of the flavours, and a thin honey roundness. A lengthy apple aftertaste, even a pineapple touch. Slowly sip or match with steamed or lightly grilled seafood - telapia, cod, snapper, mussels or crab. Vintages release February 21, 2004.

WEINGUT MACHHERNDL E.R.A. PINOT BLANC&NEUBURGER 2002, Wachau, Austria, 13.0%, #925222 $16.95

My notes: The owner/winemaker Erich Machherndl Jr. blends an old Austrian grape, Neuberger, with Pinot Blanc giving the E.R.A. additional body and roundness. A straw colour with light aromas of peach, apricot, and apple. Medium-bodied, dry with additional depth or interest and a long, balanced finish. Vintages release March 20, 2004. A good sipper or with light seafoods.

TRIMBACH PINOT BLANC 2001, Alsace, France, 12.0%, #089292 $14.95

My notes: Light straw colour and a light apple, pear fragrance with lime tones. Light-bodied, dry with clean apple flavours and a bright finish. This is a General listing. An OK sipper or with scallops, shrimp or white fish.

INNISKILLIN OKANAGAN PINOT BLANC 2003, Okanagan, BC, Canada, 12.5%, #626051 $12.95

LCBO writes: "Straw yellow colour; floral aromas with notes of white peach, anjou pear, gooseberry and citrus; dry, crisp, medium bodied, with citrus, tart apple flavours." My notes: A vivid imagination at work! A faint yellow, a faint Granny Smith nose and a somewhat light-bodied tart gooseberry flavour. This is a General listing. For me, not a sipper. Didn't go with broiled salmon with a hoisin-based sauce - maybe OK with cream sauce dishes - but I'd pass altogether. (Inniskillin's Reserve PB, Vintages #650390 at $13.95 is also available at some Outlets but was not tasted.)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

4 Chardonnays: 3 Australia, 1 France

PELEE ISLAND WINERY PREMIUM SELECT CHARDONNAY 2002, Ontario, 13.0%, #216044 $10.95

LCBO writes: "Light yellow with greenish tinge; apple, citris with a touch of vanilla in aroma and flavour; dry, medium bodied, with balanced acidity, soft citrus and oak on the finish." My notes: All true, to me anyway, altho' I could take this for a Pinot Blanc. A pleasant sipper due to its fragrance and smooth butter feel - no butterscotch though. Perhaps a trifle stalky for some unless with finger food, a light seafood or creamy chicken dish. This is a General listing.

WOLF BLASS CHARDONNAY 2003, South Australia, 13.5%, #226860 $14.95

LCBO writes: "Bright yellow gold; tropical fruit and citrus with toasty, buttery oak aromas; full-bodied with intense flavours; smooth, warm spice and a long finish." My notes: A light fragrance slowly develops in the glass, medium- to full-bodied, no tropical fruit but a light citrus and oak flavouring with some traditional butterscotch. A soft gold in the glass. Have with food: grilled tuna/swordfish, lobster or a chicken & mushroom penne casserole. This is a General listing.

LINDEMANS BIN 65 CHARDONNAY 2004, South Eastern Australia, 13.5%, #142117 $10.95

LCBO writes: "Light yellow gold colour; floral with citrus and vanilla aromas; ripe fruit flavours; soft clean finish" My notes: A field-of-daiseys' fragrance? anyway, a pleasant floral nose when poured. Light golden colour with a fresh light grapefruit-lime flavour and a long finish. Medium-bodied, suitable as a sipper but best with a seafood or chicken salad, smoked oysters or even a ham steak. This is a General listing.

FORTANT DE FRANCE CHARDONNAY 2001, Languedoc, France, 13.5%, #433185 $10.95

My notes: Light straw colour with a faint pineapple nose. A light-bodied dry white with a light peachy vanilla flavour and a crisp, tangy finish. A inoffensive (ie. uninteresting) sipper or have with mild chicken or fish dishes. This is a General listing. Air Canada serves this kosher white in 200mL bottles.

Monday, February 07, 2005

3 Merlots: California, Australia

STERLING VINEYARDS VINTNERS COLLECTION MERLOT 2001, Napa, California, 13.5%, #622837 $15.45

My notes: A bright aromatic sipper with enough tannin and acid to pair with a variety of meat dishes. A rich ruby colour with soft berry/cherry aromas followed by medium-bodied supple fruit roundness - reminded me of chocolate-dipped cherries. Sterling Vineyards releases a price range of wines with Vintners Collection being the lowest - but, I think, good value. The weather in 2001 started out as cool and then bud growth accelerated with sustained warmer weather leading to a quick harvest of fully ripened fruit. The 2002 vintage benefited from a longer growing season and could be another worthwhile cellaring wine - don't know if/when 2002 will show up at the LCBO. A General listing.

WOLF BLASS CABERNET MERLOT 1999, South Australia, 13.0%, #611483 $16.95

LCBO describes this as: "Deep ruby; mint, cassis and chocolate aromas; big toasty fruit flavours, well balanced." My notes: I agree (but don't know what 'toasty' does to fruit). Sufficiently full-bodied and balanced for grilled or roasted red meats, bbq'd ribs or spicy italian sausage pastas. Cellared April 2002, now tannins and acids have mellowed for dry wine sipping or with a meal. Some pleasing tannin still present. A General listing.

TRINCHERO FAMILY SELECTION MERLOT 2001,(and 2002) San Luis Obisco, California, 13.5%, #550566* $18.95

My notes: A nose of soft blackberry with a spicy violet edge, colour is a clear ruby red. Flavours are soft as well; cherries, touch of cedar with lighter tannins and acid. Cellared November 2003 the raspberry aromas rose fragrantly from the glass but not now... pleasant to sip, too soft for a spicy dish - likely lamb, bbq'd chicken or 'sweet' pizza. The 2002 vintage is on some shelves but not recommended. Predominant herbaceous flavours replace the fruit which I dont think will cellar out - and LCBO reduced the 2002 price to $13.50. A General listing.