Wednesday, June 29, 2005

3 Reds: California Syrah, Canada Meritage, Rhone Syrah/Mourvedre

WOODBRIDGE SYRAH 1999 (ROBERT MONDAVI), Lodi, California, 13.5% D, #594176 $13.95

The LCBO says: "Deep ruby; spicy sweet plum, blueberry and cassis nose with light gamey notes; dry, with sweet fruit, soft tannins; good length, easy drinking style. Burritos, tacos or other spicy meat dishes." The Woodbridge website says: "Blend of 91% Syrah, 6% Barbera, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon - the wine explodes with jammy layers of black cherry, blueberry and plum. Nuances of dark chocolate and crushed spices... rich, inky color, seductive aromas, and intense, velvety flavors come from Syrah grapes that are primarily grown in Lodi’s deep alluvial soils. .... compatible with boldly flavored foods.... barbecued ribs with blackberry glaze, pepper-crusted steak or grilled lamb kebabs with onions and peppers." My notes: Cellared February, 2002 and has thrown some sediment. A warm plummy nose with a light oakiness and cassis note. Almost opaque red. Flavours are a soft plummy velvet with a metallic edge - not unpleasant rather full and complex. The finish lastsss.... A steak or grilled rib wine rather than a sipper although it would be great with full flavoured cheeses, smoked oysters or italian sausage pieces. This is a General listing.

HAWTHORNE MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS MERITAGE 1998, Okanagan, BC, 13.0% XD, #440628* $17.90

The label says: "Classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Full rich flavours of blackberry, cherries and plum are followed by lots of tannin and full-bodied finish. Serve with barbequed meats, roasts, stews, pasta dishes, flavourful cheeses, great with game. Unfiltered and decanting is suggested." My notes: Cellared February, 2002 A full warm cedar and berry nose with a spicy edge. Colour is a deep almost opaque ruby and flavours of cherries and blackberry integrated with a tannic acidity. Slightly drying on the tongue but a long warm berry finish. A full-bodied sipper that slows you down to savour its depth. Have with any grilled or bbq'd red meat, game or hamburgers. *No longer listed.

TORTOISE CREEK SYRAH/MOURVEDRE 2001, Pays d'Oc, France, 12.5% XD, CP144-2259 $10.75

Opimian says: "..complexity and finesse take a front seat with masses of .. damson, blackcurrant and ripe black cherries. Acerbic spice flavours .... ripe tannin .. fading to soft, ripe generous tone. Length is good etc. Lay down six months to two years." My notes: Cellared November, 2002 and initially quite boring until now. The colour is a deep ruby and nose is of soft berries and light oak. Flavour is medium- to full- with a good balance of berries, plums and tannin. The acid goes well with a full flavoured meat dish: spicy tacos, hamburgers, grilled ribs, steaks. A medium, soft finish. A good value food wine worth the wait. Available from Opimian.

Monday, June 27, 2005

5 Rosés: Spain Tempranillo, Bordeaux Merlot, Rhone Grenache, Tavel Grenache(?), Canada Pinot Noir

PENASCAL TEMPRANILLO ROSÉ 2004, Spain, 12.5% D, #621276 $9.95

Tony Aspler says: "Deep pink colour; earthy, candied raspberry with orange peel; medium-bodied, touch of sweetness, well-extracted fruit; hot finish. A hefty summer rosé. ***1/2. Have with chicken salad; pork ribs." The label says: "Crispy dry, with a light cherry colour ... fresh floral aromas of cherry and strawberry notes. Have with fresh salads, pasta seafoods and rice." My notes: Glistening red cherry in the glass and a full nose as described on the label with an emphasis on 'strawberry'. Dry strawberry on the palate and the finish slightly spicy. Super value for a summer patio refresher. Have with broccoli dip, cream cheese on foccacia, humus or a variety of tapas. This is a General listing.

CHATEAU DE SOURS MERLOT ROSÉ 2002, Bordeaux, France, 13.0% XD, SO38-2293 $21.95

Opimian describes this as: "... from prime quality free run juice from premium merlot grapes. Ripeness.. is combined wtih masses of juicy acidity. A 'drink-now'. " My notes: Cellared August, 2003. A light ruby colour very clean and crisp in the glass. Now a soft black cherry nose, smooth and dry on the palate with a long light cherry finish. Pair with chicken breast slices on greens, ham steak or just sip. Past peak but still a pleasant sipper. Available from the Opimian.

DOMAINE PEIRIERE GRENACHE ROSÉ 2002, Pays d'Oc, France, 13.0% XD, CP149-2524 $11.67

Opimian says: "This is a stunner, fragrant with perfume of strawberry jam, light in flavour with just the right amount of fruit etc. A 'drink-now'." My notes: Colour is bordering on peach and nose is not now apparent Light flavours of spice, orange and strawberry, nice light acid balance, light-bodied. Cellared December, 2003 and likely this last bottle has been neglected. Still an OK sipper with a warm moderate finish. Better with salty crackers and cream cheese dip, or pan-fried telapia. Available from Opimian.

CHATEAU D'AQUERIA TAVEL ROSÉ 2004, Tavel, France, 13.5% XD, #319368 $18.95

Vintages says: "For years, Robert Parker Jr. has found this rosé to be one of the finest produced in Tavel. With such power and rich display of fruit, there is personality to burn here. Enjoy with a variety of foods, including red meat dishes." My notes: A light cherry colour and an imperceptible nose. Well-balanced acid with a very light strawberry, cherry, raspberry blend - this vintage is definitely not 'rich'. A dry uninteresting but OK sipper with a warm spicy finish. Have with any nibbles or pair with fowl dishes or grilled pork. Vintages release May 28, 2005.

MALIVOIRE LADYBUG ROSÉ 2002 (PINOT NOIR), Niagara, Canada, 12.5% XD, #559088 $15.00

My notes: Cellared February 2003 and last tasted December, 2004. Has lost a bit but is still slightly herbal with a light strawberry nose although now almost imperceptible. A pretty, deep pink colour - and a medium-bodied rose with slight acid balancing the light strawberry fruit making it a pleasant, dry but not tart sipper with a short finish. Should go well with mushroom tarts, vegetarian pizza, hummus, grilled vegetables, tapenades, sushi or as a summer sipper. Went well with roasted scallop pieces wrapped in bacon. This is a General listing.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

2 White Sparkles: Australia, Italy

YELLOWGLEN 'YELLOW', Australia, 11.2% D, #592980 $11.95

Vintages says: "Yellowglen is all about bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles. The non-vintage 'Yellow' was first launched in 1996 with much success. More than just a fun fizz, this zesty and fruity sparkler is quite refined and appropriate for momentous occasions as well as casual fêtes." The Website says: "Yellow is a vibrant, rich, fruity style of sparkling with lifted melon, pineapple and citrus flavours and a wonderfully refreshing crisp, dry finish." George Stimmell comments: "a real steal... with toasty, lemony, apple spice flavours - an 89." My notes: One of 'Yellow, Pink and Red' from Yellowglen the colour is very pale blond with a soft yeasty citrus nose. Lots of fine but not moussy bubbles that sparkle on the palate. Flavour is a light lemony honeydew, extra dry without the bite of a 'brut'. The finish accumulates pleasantly on the tongue and is still spritzy after several minutes. Have on any social occasion or liberally in the summer with strong/mild cheeses, smoked oysters, salty nibbles or between seafood courses. A 'drink now' value. Vintages release June 25, 2005.

PETALO IL VINO DELL'AMORE MOSCATO BOTTEGA, Veneto, Italy, 6.5% SC9, #588780 $12.20

The LCBO says: "Pale straw colour; fresh and fragrant floral aromas with notes of orange and honey; sweet, delicate and well balanced with refreshing bubbles and a pleasant finish. Serve with biscotti, white chocolate or fruit desserts." The website says: "This wine is a Moscato Spumante made with juicy grapes grown in the Euganean Hills area in the district of Padua. A thriving rose-growing area, when the roses are flowering bees carry their subtle perfume to the nearby vineyards. A characteristic of the wine is then the unmistakable hint of roses, evoking images of the petals that are depicted on the label. Cellar up to five years." My notes: Pale yellow, fine bubbles and a soft nose. I believe the 'roses' part but can't detect them, just a subtle floral aspect. The sweetness is covered by the moussy texture of yummy apple and pear. A great celibratory toast, even the bottle looks festive. Great with belgium chocolate or, for dessert, pour over frozen melon balls (LCBO recipe). The finish is long and yummy. This is a General listing.

2 Whites: Canada Meritage, Chardonnay

SUMAC RIDGE WHITE MERITAGE 2002, Summerland, BC, Canada, 13.8% XD, #434977 $14.95

Vintages says: "Sumac Ridge's Meritage White is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (80%) and Semillon (20%). Jurgen Gothe, writing in The Georgia State in 2002, said generally about this wine: 'If there is a better white wine made in BC, or in Canada, I haven't tasted it.' " The label says: "... typical of the great white wines of Bordeaux. A crisp, clean wine imparting hints of gooseberry balanced with light vanilla oak finish. Excellent with salmon, etc. A big wine to say the least! " My notes: Not the 'Private Reserve 2003' (rated 90 by Gord Stimmell) but five dollars less and perhaps worth a taste. The nose is soft yeast and melon. A light blonde colour leaving legs on the glass. Medium-bodied and light flavours of melon, citrus, oak and some honey. A dry sipper better with mild cheeses or broiled or creamed mild seafood dishes. A persistent smooth finish. Must have peaked in 2003, now, not value. Vintages released on August 7, 2004.

UNITY CHARDONNAY 2001, Niagara, Canada, 13.5% XD, #606608 $19.95

Vintages says: "The motto of Vincor's new venture - 'Two regions. One wine.' - is quite apt, as it represents the first deliberate attempt to meld the best fruit of Niagara in Ontario with the best of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Before a final blend took place, the Niagara wines were fermented and aged for 12 months in a combination of new and seasoned French barriques. The BC wines were partially whole cluster pressed while the remainder was crushed and destemmed. Fermented in stainless steel, the wines were then aged on their lees for 13 months in new American oak. The wines were also allowed to go through full acid-softening malolactic fermentation." Gord Stimmell rates it 90. My notes: The same blond colour as above with an atypical soft spicy nose as the glass is warmed slightly in the hand. A light oak note to firm creamy melon flavours well past peak (IMHO). A smooth finish with warmth. . A reasonable social sipper or pair with light bouillibaise, cold soups, white fish dishes with a sliced fruit side dish. Vintages release June 12, 2004.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Red: Argentina Malbec/Corvina

MASI TUPUNGATO PASSO DOBLE ROSSO 2003, Argentina, 13.5% D, #620880 $14.95

Vintages says of the 2000 vintage (released FEbruary 7, 2004 as #996439): "Referred to by Masi as an 'Experimental Production', the idea is to use 'Argentina's red grape', Malbec and blend it with Veneto's Corvina and a touch of Merlot. Masi gives the Corvina a touch of mat drying (20 days) or as they call it in Spanish, semiappassita (partial drying) then adds it to the already fermented Malbec and Merlot. Replicating the technique they use in Veneto for the production of Ripasso wines, adding the partially dried grapes starts a second fermentation. The result is a finished product with intensified flavours and higher alcohol." Gord Stimmell rates 89 and describes as "opaque red brims with ripe summer plum, black cherries and cedar aromas.... black fruits and vanilla... hint of cocoa powder." My notes: A deep ruby colour with warm plum and black cherry fragrance. Medium-bodied with lots of tannin for cellaring and plum, cherries and a light vanilla. The finish is long with drying notes along with lip-licking value. This is now a General listing.

Monday, June 20, 2005

6 Whites: Sauvignon Blanc NZ; Chardonnay Argentina; Riesling France; Italy Pnot Gris

COOPER'S CREEK CAT'S PEE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004, Auckland, NZ, 12.5% D, #606384 $12.95

LCBO says: "Pale straw yellow; fresh herb, grapey/apple, lime aromas with hints of gooseberry; dry, medium bodied, with flavours of green apple, pink grapefruit and herbs; lively acidity with a pleasant citrus finish. Grilled herbed chicken; fish dishes; pan seared sea bass served with cilantro salsa." My notes: A light golden colour with a light floral nose... some gooseberries (if you close your eyes). Flavours of soft citrus, grapefruit and stonefruit (peach?) in the background. An OK sipper and a short OK finish - have with salad greens, lightly pan-fried white fish or shrimp in a cream pasta. This is a General listing and has a screwtop.

STONELEIGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% D, #293043 $14.95

Winemaker's comments (on label): "full-bodied ... with a bouquet of tropical fruit aromas, a lively palate of passionfruit and stonefruit flavours, a touch of dry grass and a crisp, succulent finish." My notes: A light golden colour with a wonderful nose of gooseberry and citrus that fills the nostrils with each sip. Citrus and passionfruit flavours with a touch of dryness on the palate - and crispness on a long finish. A tangy flavourful sipper and should be great with seafood or chicken dishes. A screwtop and a General listing.

TRAPICHE CHARDONNAY 2003, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0% D, #588004 $8.25

LCBO says: "Medium straw colour; melon, lemon-lime, pineapple, citrus, baked apple and tropical fruit aromas and flavours with some smoky oak; dry, full bodied, full flavoured and well balanced; good length on palate. Lobster, crab, white meats such as roast chicken, shellfish, grilled swordfish or halibut, gourmet sausage." Gord Stimmell rates this 88 describing it as "delivering pear, melon and spicy apple aromas. Flavours show golden apple with a spicy delivery.... hints of smoky oak and butter. " My notes: A light yellow colour with an almost imperceptible golden apple nose. Flavours are brighter with apple and spice and the 'smoky oak and butter' - all light. A short finish with some butter remaining on the palate. Have with delicate fish dishes and stir fry vegetables. This is a General listing.

MUEHLFORST HUNAWIHR RIESLING 1999, Alsace, France, 12.5% XD, CP135-1765 $16.50

Opimian says: "fabulous example of the steely, crystal-cut flavours of the noble Riesling.... the richness of the '99 fruit is intertwined with aromas of ripe pineapple and orange. .... best in the last decade. Cellar six mos. to two years." My notes: Cellared January, 2001 this is close to the last bottle and is past peak. Colour is a soft yellow with green notes, the nose is faint orange and minerals following with flavours of light pineapple, petrol and citrus. Light oily finish crisp and long. A dry white to sip with cheesey nibbles, smoked oysters, mussels, clam chowder, chicken strips on greens, etc. An Opimian wine.

TRENTINO VIVALLIS PINOT GRIGIO 2004, Alto Adige, Italy, 12.5% D, #637611 $6.95

The LCBO says: "Bright lemon yellow colour; delicate aromas of herb and melon with floral/almond notes; dry, balanced palate with moderate acidity and lemon curd and lightly spicy flavours. Salads, light shellfish dishes or past in a cream sauce." My notes: A pale yellow perhaps with a peach tinge and a fresh, grassy nose. Has a light-bodied creamy texture with a light spicy grass flavour and a short smooth finish with a slightly stalky edge. An uninteresting sipper better paired with mild appetizers, eg. foccacia and cream cheese or with creamy seafood dishes. This is a General listing.

PASQUA DELLE VENEZIE PINOT GRIGIO 2004, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% XD, #213496 $10.45

LCBO says: "Pale straw colour; light floral aroma; light body, light lemon flavour, short lively finish. Serve chilled with torrtellini in cream sauce. " My notes: A pale golden with a green tinge colour and a spicy apricot nose. The flavour is nicely balanced with a lemon twist. A medium length with a lively finish for sure. A pleasant dry sipper or with cheese or vegetable appetizers, eg. celery and cream cheese or mushroom tarts, or pair with seafood dishes. A General listing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

2 Merlots: Italy, California

SANTA MARGHERITA 'VERSATO' MERLOT 2002 (PATERNO), Veneto, Italy, 12.5% XD, #933333 $16.95*

Vintages release June 11, 2005. Vintages notes: "... This partly barrique-aged Merlot is exceptionally versatile. Try with seared tuna, roast chicken, beef or pasta in tomato sauce." The website says: "Versato means highly skilled and competent in Italian. This merlot is created exclusively from the grapes grown in the Eastern part of the Veneto region, where the moderate climate and clay soil allows slow ripening for maximum flavor development. A brillant ruby-red with purple overtones. A delicate full nose with elegant hints of morello cherries and plum tinged with vanilla and violet flowers. A fresh, slightly tannic taste with a velvetly texture." My notes: Deep ruby with a soft warm plum nose. Medium-bodied dark cherries with a sharpness that masks the tannin and velvet - cellaring for another year might soften. A food wine rather than a sipper. Have with spicy pasta, salami pizzas, grilled ribs,etc. *The Vintages Shopping LIst (see website) prices at $14.95.

TRINCHERO 'FAMILY SELECTION' MERLOT 2003 (SUTTER), California, USA, 11.0% D, #550566 $16.95

Vintages release June 11, 2005 Vintages notes: "Lovely plum and cedar aromas and flavours. Dry, ripe, with nice tannin tones. Good balance and attractively priced. (David Churchill, Vintages, April 2005)" The website says: "Our 2003 Trinchero Family Merlot was fermented using the rack-and-return method (Delestage) favored by many top Bordeaux chateaux. During this process we rack the fermenting wine into an empty tank, allowing the cap to settle to the bottom. We then return the wine back to that original tank, splashing the juice over the cap. This helps to develop deeper color and greater flavor extraction. It also gives us the opportunity to remove seeds... After a 14-day maceration, the wine was transferred to a combination of new and used American (63%) French (35%) and Hungary (1%) oak barrels. To preserve the wine's bright fruit and rich texture, it was bottled unfiltered. ... The 2003 merlot is dark, rich, lush and remarkably smooth. It delivers the cedar, plum, ripe cherry and cassis character one associates with this noble grape. " My notes: A deep ruby with a soft raspberry and cedar nose, a ripasso nose and flavour. Hardly the fruit of the 2001 some flatness and more tannin in the finish. Pass as a sipper but OK with meat, potatoes and a gravy sauce, not too spicy. The 2001 and 2002 were tasted February 7, 2005 each vintage being entirely different.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

4 Sparkling Whites: Australia, Canada


LCBO note: "Medium straw colour, moderate mousse; lightly fruity aroma showing lemon, pear/apple and cherry; dry, light bodied, well balanced, with fresh fruity, apple, citrus flavours; soft velvety finish. Serve as a apéritif, with party fare or soft, surface-ripened cheeses." Website notes: "Mid straw green with a fine and persistent mousse. The citrus and toasted cashew nut flavours of Chardonnay are married to the fresh attractive breadcrust characters of Pinot Noir. Elegant fruit flavours enhanced with creamy yeast autolysis providing depth and flavour. The wine finishes soft, crisp and clean." My notes: Pours bubbly in the glass, small but not fine, with a pale yellow colour. Nose is yeasty pear and light citrus. Bright in the mouth with some smooth yeasty flavours remaining in the moderate finish. More tart than I remember my first tasting several years ago. This is a General listing.

SEAVIEW BRUT, Australia, 11.1% D, #216333 $11.45

LCBO note: "Pale yellow colour, lively sparkle; delicate nuances of pear, apple & apricot fruit with light yeasty notes; barely off-dry, clean, crisp citrusy fruit flavours and a lasting finish. Serve chilled as an aperitif or to celebrate." My notes: Pale yellow, medium bubbles with some citrus and pear in the nose. Light bodied with some fruit and some citrus - an uninteresting sipper, more like pop with a buzz. Have on the deck in the summer or in a white sangria perhaps. This is a General listing.

PELLER ESTATES CRISTALLE (FOUNDER'S SERIES), Winona, Canada, 11.5% MD, #542142 $29.95

Vintages notes: "This sparkling wine is made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes in the traditional 'méthode', naturally fermented and aged in the bottle. After the lees are disgorged, a 'dosage' of Vidal Icewine is added, enhancing the wine's intensity. Perfect by the fire after a hard day in the rat race." On the label: "... marries the crisp elegance of a premium sparkling wine with the rich fruitiness of Icewine. etc..... enjoy as an aperitif or a finish to the meal." My notes: A mass of bubbles burst to fill the glass then subside to a steady trickle of fine mousse from the bottom. The nose is a delicate peach, pear and toffee and the flavours creamy, sweet but not too, predominantly pinot noir rather than chardonnay. Smooth on the lips and a long finish. A great celibratory bubbly, still with a spritz after several minutes. A Vintages release February 19, 2005.

HENRY OF PELHAM CUVEE CATHARINE BRUT, St. Catherine, Canada, 12.0% XD, #616441 $29.95

Vintages release December 4, 2004 Vintages description: "'Cuvée Catharine' is named in honour of Henry of Pelham's wife, the matriach of the property's founding family. Since its introduction a little more than two years ago, it has been consistently praised as one of the best sparkling wines from the Niagara Peninsula." The website says: ".... 57.5% Chardonnay and 42.5% Pinot Noir grapes were hand picked and bunch selected. Gentle whole cluster pressing followed. .. a wine with complex and elegant aromas. Bright fruit with subtle toast and baked apple tones. Secondary fermentation was finished in bottle followed by a further 30 months aging on the lees. Able to develop for 2-3 years but intended for drinking upon release. Food matches - Salmon caviar with sour cream; Malpeque oysters with a hint of lemon." My notes: Pleasant yeasty nose with lots of small bubbles rising quckly but lasting. Light apple and grapefruit creamy in texture with a moderate length and bright finish. Good celebratory bubbly or even with olives and stuffed red peppers.

Monday, June 13, 2005

4 Whites: Malivoire Pinot Gris, Malivoire Chardonnay

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2002, Beamsville, Canada, 12.0% XD, #591305 $18.00

Vintages note: "Our panel's tasting note: Pale straw colour with aromas of pear, lemon/lime and mineral. Very dry, racy and lively in the mouth. An excellent palate refresher between courses or with steamed clams or mussels. Medium body and finish. (Feb. 2003)." My notes: Purchased from the winery and laid down November 2003. Now a clean and clear pale peach with a soft citrus toffee nose. Its original stalkiness has softened leaving a smooth pear and lemon medium-bodied blend that stays in the mouth and on the lips. An OK sipper but better with nibbles. Almost a crisp dry European but more velvety. Pair with any seafood: oysters, mussels, or salmon. Vintages release July 26, 2003.

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2000, Beamsville, Canada, 13.2% XD, #591305 $17.95

My notes: Purchased from the winery and cellared January, 2001. Colour is a now a soft amber and the nose is soft light peach and minerals. Flavours of pink grapefruit and tea with some warm honey in the mouthfeel. An OK grigio sipper with a smooth finish. Mild cheeses, seafood appetizers or white fish grilled without too much spice or seasonings with stir fry vegetables or light salads. Should drink this year.

MALIVOIRE CHARDONNAY 2001, Beamsville, Canada, 13.5% XD, #573154 (now $36.00)

Vintages notes: "This is both opulent and elegant chardonnay. Fine textures and concentration, with acidity deeply embedded. The flavours are showing some peach and deft oak spice, but also some yogurty buttery notes and a bit of green mintiness. Excellent length; and real panache. Score - 89. (, Nov. 2002). Vintages release July 12, 2003." The website says: ".... The significant alcohol provides an “oiliness” for a round, full mouth feel which is supported by the subtle richness of toasty vanilla. The tangy acidity leads to a dry, crisp, refreshing finish. Drinking optimally now, to 2005. ... Think of wild salmon in pastry, with fragrant herbs like rosemary, tarragon and dill etc, ..." My notes: Milder than the 2000 but the similar nose and nondescript flavours. Short length with unimpressive finish. Not recommended.

MALIVOIRE MOIRA VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2000, Beamsville, Canada, 14.5% XD, #542522 $24.95 (now $54.00)

The website says: "Elegant and complex, this wine opens with a leesy aroma of apple and citrus. Round mouth feel supported by the subtle richness of toasty vanilla. The tangy acidity leads to a crisp, refreshing finish. Ready to drink now. Rich enough to enjoy on its own or with a very broad variety of foods. Think of salmon in pastry, with fragrant herbs like rosemary, tarragon and dill. Try it with a mustard-glazed roasted pork tenderloin with apple, caper, red onion and sweet corn salsa. Or try trout on leeks and wilted greens in butter." My notes: Purchased from the winery and cellared November 2001. An initial nose of oak and very little discernible fruit... followed by a flavour dominated by stalky grass and alcohol. Not a sipper, you hope the food overcomes the flavours. Generally a disappointment.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

2 Reds: Australia Merlot and Shiraz

WOLF BLASS EAGLEHAWK MERLOT 2003, South Eastern Australia, Australia, 13.5%, #520577 $11.95

The LCBO says: "Medium ruby red with violet colour; aromas and flavours of plum, red cherry, raspberry, liquorice and spice; dry, full bodied, well balanced acidity with rich, soft palate; easy drinking style. Perfect party sipper or try with grilled fare." No notes for the 2003 vintage were found on the website. The 2002 vintage was described as 'is a vibrant red colour with fantastic cherry/berry aromas. etc. " My notes: The 2003 is a deep burgundy colour, perhaps a bit murky, with a light oak and cherry/raspberry nose. Soft fullness with plums and liquorice flavours. Short warm finish... not as fruity as expected... but for the money a reasonable red for a wedding reception or a house red. Pair with red meats, grilled or roasted, if not too seasoned. A 'drink now' red. This is a General release.

WOLF BLASS EAGLEHAWK SHIRAZ 2004, South Eastern Australia, Australia, 13.5%, #589564 $11.95

The LCBO says: "Almost opaque, purple/ruby colour; fruit forward aromas of black cherry, vanilla, caramel and raspberry with a minty note; dry, moderately full on the palate with a silky texture, balanced fruit to oak and chocolate & mint flavours; balancing tannins. Grilled meat; roasted lamb; steak; bbq ribs." The Wolf Blass website doesn't have any record of this Eaglehawk product. My notes: Deep ruby colour, nose of cedar, mint and spice. Flavour of red/black cherries with a pleasing finish of black cherries, chocolate and slight tannin. More flexible with foods than the Eaglehawk merlot and as a sipper could lead to a low cost single dinner red for more convenient serving. A 'drink now' red. This is a General listing.

2 Whites: Chile Sauvignon Blanc, Australia Chardonnay

SANTA RITA SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE 2004, Valle de Casablanca, Chile, 13.5% XD, #275677 $12.45

The LCBO says: "Straw yellow colour; Intense herbal, grassy, cooked asparagus and gooseberry aromas; Dry, medium bodied with gooseberry/citrus and mint flavours; pronounced acidity on finish. Seafood; Goat's cheese; Vegetarian dishes; Herbed dishes." Website notes: "A pale straw green colored wine; intense varietal aroma with dominant characters of grapefruit, citrus blooms, apricots and a black currant background of cassis tones. Good potency and concentration, a balanced wine with good acidity and a long lingering aftertaste." My notes: The nose is heavier on cooked asparagus than gooseberries and the colour is a pale yellow. Flavour is a light gooseberry with a balanced tang and a short light citrus finish. A low cost house sipper with mild cheeses, shrimp with cream dip or pair with chinese foods or mild seafood dishes. A 'drink now' white. This is a General listing.

WYNDHAM ESTATE BIN 222 CHARDONNAY 2004, South Eastern Australia, Australia, 12.5% XD, #093401 $11.95

The LCBO says: "Lemon yellow colour; fragrant aromas of tropical fruit, pineapple, peach and vanilla oak; dry, medium-bodied with soft fruit flavours; citrus and spice on the finish. Grilled chicken, pork chops; shrimp dishes." Website notes: "Distinctive varietal fruit flavours with excellent structure and length. Fresh melon and peach fruit aromas with subtle yeast and oak complexity lead to a full, soft palate highlighted by attractive fruit flavours and a creamy, rich texture as a result of partial oak maturation." My notes: A pastel yellow. The nose is soft, might be appealing even to a non-chardonnay sipper but very light if you expect a medium-bodied chardonnay. Light-bodied with light butter, no -scotch though. The finish goes quickly leaving a bit of butter on the lips. A low cost house sipper with mild cheeses, shrimp with cream dips or pair with chinese foods or mild seafood dishes. A 'drink now' white. This is a General listing.

Friday, June 03, 2005

2 Whites: NZ Sauvignon Blanc, Australia Marsanne

SHINGLE PEAK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.5% XD, #309591 $16.95

Vintages release April 30, 2005. Vintages says, "Showing good weight, depth and roundness, it's an instantly attractive, dry wine, with an array of tropical-fruit and herbaceous flavours, fresh, vibrant and strong. **** (out of 5). (Michael Cooper, Buyer's Guide to New Zealand Wines, 2005)" The Matua website says, "Distinctive and vibrant aromas of gooseberry, passionfruit and floral citrus dominate the nose. These well-proportioned and concentrated ripe tropical aromas flow into the palate and linger on the refreshing and lively finish. Further cellaring, up to eighteen months, will develop more mature sauvignon blanc characters. Match this zingy Sauvignon Blanc with Oyster Soup garnished with sprigs of watercress." My notes: An intense, rich and warm, tropical fruit nose. Gooseberry, orange with passionfruit complete with seed tang, astringency coats the throat. A long stalky citrus finish. Have with raw or smoked oysters, spicy mussels, etc. Should compliment most seafoods, or poultry and although extra dry may have sweet highlights with some foods. Has a screwcap.

TAHBILK MARSANNE 2002, Central Victoria, Australia, 12.5% XD, #117945 $13.95

Vintages release November, 2004. Cellared and tasted November 20, 2004, Marsanne offered a different nose and flavour... easy to sip with or without a meal.... was rated 90. Pair with something light - grilled seafoods, cheesy vegetable casseroles/pastas - but not salmon or other strong flavours. My notes: Cellaring has softened what little raw edges there were - still light fresh nose but lighter honey and citrus still with balanced acid. This is a 'drink now' white and cellaring has not improved drinkability. My conclusion is that Marsanne doesn't have the body of a Chardonnay or French Sauvignon Blanc - closer to a Pinot Blanc. "Wine & Spirits" says "Marsanne is one of the 12 "Great & Undervalued" wines in the world". Tasting now it's an uninteresting sipper and, with a salmon steak and salad, was too light to add to the meal.

1 Red: Italy Valpolicella (Ripasso)

PASQUA SAGRAMOSO RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2002, Verona, Italy, 13.5%, #602342 $17.05

This is a General listing. The LCBO says: "Bright medium-deep ruby red; aromas of sweet dried fruits, oregano, ripe black cherry, damson plum and date; dry, med-full bodied, rich and ripe, balanced acidity, smooth velvety texture, with flavours of fig, cherry fruit, plum and chocolate notes. Have with Italian sausage; hard cheeses such as Asiago; grilled veal or beef." The description on the website is unchanged from their 2001 vintage: Grapes are "Corvina 60%, Rondinella 20%, Corvinone 10%, Negrara 10%. Ruby-red, with granate hues, this wine offers intense aromas of wild cherries, underbush and hints of toasting. A rich, full-bodied wine, round and warm on the palate. My notes: (Notes for the 2001 vintage were posted May 19th) The nose is apparent as soon as the cork is pulled, a soft pepper/plum/cedar aroma reminiscent of fermenting skins. Medium- to full-bodied in which tannins, acid and fruit are balanced for a velvet mouthfeel. The finish is fairly long, warm and plummy. A smoothe sipper to go with full flavoured appetizers or any red meat or red pasta dish, cheese pizza, etc. Good now but can be cellared a short time - the 2001 has softened a tad since November 2004

Thursday, June 02, 2005

2 Reds: Australia Cab Sauv/Merlot

WOLF BLASS CABERNET MERLOT 1999 (2003), South Australia, 13.0% (13.5%), #611483 $16.95 ($15.95)

A General listing. My notes: The 1999 vintage was recommended by Beppi April 2002 and was cellared July 17, 2002 - the label states "will develop over three to six years." The colour is a dark crimson and nose is now a fragrant toasted cherry vanilla. Full flavoured medium-bodied still with a light tannin and well balanced acid - fruit is a light red cherry. As a sipper the 1999 is OK, dry with soft fruit and a smoothe long finish but better paired with roast beef, grilled ribs, steaks, portabello mushrooms and rich stews. The LCBO describes the current vintage (2003) as: "Deep ruby; mint, cassis and chocolate aromas; big toasty fruit flavours, well balanced. Serve with roast prime rib of beef." and the website says (of 2001 - couldn't find 2003) "nose of lifted berry and plum characters supported by spicy oak. Flavours (much the same)." The 2003 has the same colour but a much lighter cherry aroma, no discernible oak. I could not distinguish any distinct flavours, plum/cherry maybe in a stretch. An uninteresting sipper - if a 2003 is in the cellar use in the stew above or perhaps a summer sangria.