RAVENSWOOD VINTNERS BLEND ZINFANDEL 2003, California, USA, 13.5%, #359257 $19.95 (Tasted July 31, 2005)
Beppi (July 30, 2005) says: "Blended from juice .. from around the state tends to vary considerably from year to year. The 2003 is a standout. Full-bodied, rich and luscious, it hints of blackberry, blueberry and raspberry, layered with silky chocolate and vanilla and a dusting of black pepper on the finish. A bona fide premium Californian zin. at a very good price." The Ravenswood website of the Vintners Blend: "The goal of Ravenswood Vintners Blend, then, is accessibility — in terms of both character and price ($10US). Up-front, fruit-forward, and immediately enjoyable, these wines exude attractive youthfulness, but also contain enough complexity to give evidence of the winemaker's craft." This is a Vintages release. My notes: Ravenswood specializes in zinfandel and their Vintners Blend is an entry level brand overpriced on the Ontario shelf. Colour is a deep ruby and the nose is a soft cedar with not much fruit, Full-bodied and flavour hints of blueberry and raspberry - didn't get the blackberry - but if luscious is soft and full with little fruit, it's luscious. A long finish of soft chocolate and pepper. A smoothe sipper and should go well with prime rib roast, lamb, perhaps pork, and beef-kebobs - nothing too spicy. Drink now or cellar for a year.
STERLING VINEYARDS VINTNERS COLLECTION MERLOT 2003, Napa, California, 13.5%, #622837 $15.40 (Tasted July 5, 2005)
Of the 2001 vintage tasted February 7, 2004 I said: "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." Somehow I missed the 2002 vintage and the 2003 is now on the shelves. The LCBO describes the 2003 as: "deep ruby colour; ripe blackberry fruit aromas; medium-full bodied with supple fruit and integrated tannins. Well balanced. Pepper steak, pork roast or grilled meats." My notes: The 2003 is a deep ruby colour altho' with some inkiness. Soft aromas of cherries and berries with a touch of spice. Flavours of rich almost full-bodied supple cherry/berry and even a chocolate note. A warm medium length leaving a smoothness on the lips. A value soft sipper, not aggressive for sure. Pair with prime rib, beef stews, perhaps even spicy mussels, or a sizzling teriyaki beef platter. This is a General listing.
CHATEAU TIMBERLAY BORDEAUX SUPERIEUR 2002, Bordeaux France, 12.5%, #030072 $14.90 (Tasted July 5, 2005)
LCBO says: "Deep ruby/garnet red colour; complex bouquet of prunes, bell peppers, cedar and smoky notes; rich flavours follow nose, balanced long finish and firm tannins. Serve at cellar temperature with rack of lamb or beef wellington." The website says: "This clear, bright wine is a superb ruby-red colour, with a complex nose of soft fruit (blackberry, blackcurrant and strawberry), and attractive woody and spicy overtones. Château Timberlay is soft and full-bodied, with quite good structure and acidity, as well as very elegant tannin. It is very long on the palate, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 70% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc" My notes: A deep ruby with a cherries, smoke and spice nose. The flavour has a touch of cherry, but mainly an off-forest floor with a touch of black pepper. Medium-bodied with a long, faint truffle finish - perhaps past peak.... not a sipper. Have with hamburgers (with the works), wurst on a bun, sloppy joes, chili con carne, etc. This is a General listing.
McWILLIAM'S HANWOOD ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2004, South East Wales, Australia, 13.5%, #214577 $13.95 (Tasted July 28, 2005)
Today's LCBO Glossy (front page illustration shows the 2003 vintage) describes this Cabernet Sauvignon as, "Rich, soft and generous palate displaying herbal, dark chocolate and blackcurrant fruit flavours complemented by mocha and cinnamon oak characters. .... have with roast duck and cherry sauce." The label says about the same but the McWilliam's website only describes the 2002 vintage. My notes: The 2004 has a dense ruby colour with a soft plum, cherry and restrained black pepper nose, full-bodied with a balanced flavour of blackcurrants, chocolate mint, light tannins leaving a long warm finish of cedar and blackcurrants. Should be able to cellar for a year or two. A reasonably priced dry sipper but better with roast beef, bbq'd ribs, or venison. As described above a fruit sauce would add a sweetness to complement this red. This is a General listing.