CASA RIVAS MERLOT RESERVA 2002, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0%, #590786 $15.95
Vintages release March 19, 2005. Tony Aspler gives it 4 & 1/2 stars and says: "Dense purple-black colour; intense blackcurrant and cedar nose; full-bodied, thick and rich on the palate, sweet blackcurrant and peppery black cherry flavours encased in controlling tannins. Good value." The distributor says: "100% Merlot grapes ... are selected and harvested by hand in the cool of the night. . They are quickly soft pressed and macerated at cold temperatures, fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for eight months in French oak, one year in the bottle and left unfiltered. ... Well structured and elegant with integrated flavors of ripe red fruit and spice. Age seven to ten years." My notes: This wine must be decanted or let breathe an hour. For seasoned sippers, this is a full-bodied tannic red with a dense nose of black currants and cedar. Ageing for four years will soften and blend the tannins, fruit and acids to produce a good value robust red. Have in large goblets with roast beef, breast of duck, braised lamb shanks or long ribs.
PENMARA 5 FAMILIES SHIRAZ 2002, New South Wales, Australia, 13.0%, #565929 $13.15
A 'Beppi' recommendation March 26th of a General listed wine. LCBO says: "Medium ruby colour; aromas of bramble, berries, vanilla with a hint of tar; dry, medium to full bodied, with jammy fruit flavours and a lingering finish." The Penmara website says: "The colour is deep red with a purple rim. The nose appears complex, while revealing spicy, peppery, rich Shiraz overtones. The palate is full flavoured and accompanied by subtle oak and fine tannins. Harvested from our members' vineyards at optimal ripeness during March. The fruit was taken to our winery where it was crushed and destemmed. The "must" was transferred to stainless steel fermenters where it was inoculated with a cultured yeast to start fermentation. The wine was pumped over to assist with colour and tannin extraction. Portions of the wine were transferred to small barriques for maturation and Malolactic fermentation. Bottling was late in the vintage year. etc. " My notes: The nose is nondescript. Bramble, tar, and dull over-ripe fruit dominate the flavours of this atypical Australian and unpleasant shiraz. My guess is there was too much process or poor handling of the fruit. Don't try it, avoid it.