Saturday, August 20, 2005

3 Whites 2005: Canada Viognier, Canada Chardonnay Musque, Canada Chardonnay

CHATEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID'S BENCH VIOGNIER 2003, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% D, #432948 $18.95 (Tasted August 20, 2005)

Vintages says: "Paul Bosc was the first to release Viognier in Ontario …The 2003 shows piquant Viognier spice, lime blossom and green pineapple aroma … has mouthwatering vibrancy and very good length. Try with sushi. (David Lawrason, Wine Access). The label says: "...very smooth wine with melon and citrus flavours on the palate and peach aromatics. ....have with seafood or poultry or on its own as an aperitif. Only 7,416 bottles of this very rare wine were produced." Natalie says: "This is the style of viognier I love: floral but subtle, mouth-watering for food but not overpowering. Perfectly calibrated for pleasure. Score: 90/100." A Vintages release August 20, 2005. My notes: A pineapple-lemon drop nose develops in the glass. Colour is a clear lemon blond. A pleasant sipper with a full round texture of lemon and melon flavours leading to a reasonably long crisp finish. Great for mild seafood dishes or even roast pork with apple sauce, perhaps a Bento box of tempura shrimp, sushi and sticky rice.

FIELDING ESTATE CHARDONNAY MUSQUE 2004, Beamsville, Canada, 12.8% D, Winery $13.45 (Tasted August 23, 2005)

Awarded the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce Unoaked Chardonnay Award Gold medal. The winery describes this as: "..tropical fruits, oranges and honey on the nose, hints of cloves and warm spices on the finish. Medium body. 350 cases produced." My notes: Purchased from the winery July 15, 2005. A soft light yellow in the glass with an aroma of muscato and slight spice. Initially sweet on the palate with slight tartness and a round honey and slight citrus fruit flavours. A pleasant sipper with a moderately long light orange and melon finish - should go (haven't tried) with sweet and sour dishes, sushi, white rice and pork or cold chicken slices on greens. Excellent value for a summer patio sipper. Could be cellared a year but more of a drink-now.

KONZELMANN ESTATE WINERY CHARDONNAY 2002, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% XD, #200535 $10.60 (Tasted August 30, 2005)

The label says: ".... has a mere touch of lightly toasted French oak from Nevers and Allier barrels. ...excellent acid balance and flavour concentration - ripe apples, pears and citrus. Match with seafood, white meats or pasta with cream sauce." The LCBO says: "Bright yellow-gold colour; citrus fruit with light tropical fruit and vanilla notes; medium-bodied with a zesty, citrus finish. Grilled chicken; creamy cheeses; grilled salmon." This is a General listing. My notes: A light blond with soft chardonnay nose - a touch of citrus and very slight oak. The flavour is a soft pear and granny smith apple with a light butter - warming the glass slightly removes any chill and improves sippability. A nice crisp finish with lasting smoothness. Pair with seafoods, cheeses, broiled chicken sliced on creamy rissoto/rice or grilled tuna simmered in herbs and cherry tomatoes. A reasonably priced 'house white'.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

2 Rosés: France Grenache blend, Spain Garnacha blend

DOMAINE DU GRAND CROS ROSÉ 2004, Cotes de Provence, France, 14.0% XD, #748822 $12.95 (Tasted August 7, 2005)

Vintages says: "After escaping the battlegrounds of Canadian politics, in 1989 Hugh Faulkner (a former cabinet minister in Pierre Trudeau's government) and his wife Jane fell in love with the vineyards near the village of Carnoules. Over the last 15 years, they and their team have reduced the yields, changed the trellising system and adopted an environmentally friendly approach to winemaking. The resulting wines are richer, riper and more impactful on the palate than many Provençal rosés. Enjoy with grilled seafood dishes. This is an August 6, 2005 release." The label says: "...known for its lively and fresh fruity character. Made from Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan ... etc. Serve with trout, salmon or grilled white meat as well as Asian dishes." My notes: Light pink with a peach hue in the glass and an imperceptible nose. Light-bodied, very dry on the palate with faint strawberry notes, improving slightly off-chill. Finish is dry, not tart but crisp and fairly long. Should pair nicely with white fish dishes, unlikely grilled salmon but poached OK, and chinese pork/chicken/seafood rice dishes.

SEGURA VIUDAS VIÑA HEREDAD ROSADO 2004, Penedes, Spain, 11.5% D, #680918 $11.95 (Tasted August 7, 2005)

Vintages says: "In our market, Segura Viudas is best-known as a producer of superior sparkling wines. However, for some years they have also created a complete line of fine still wines, such as this rosé. A blend of 45% Garnacha, 35% Tempranillo and 20% Cariñena, this rosé is elegant, soft and very fresh with the bright fruit tones balanced by crisp acidity. Enjoy it with summer salads, aperitif or simply prepared fish or seafood dishes. This is an August 6, 2005 release." The label says: "..aromas that remind one of raspberry, redcurrant and ripe bananas. etc. ... refreshing acidity, long and tasty." Beppi writes: "excellent.... quite substantial, showing cherry and spice and zesty acidity on a clean, lingering finish." My notes: A vivid strawberry in the glass with imperceptible nose. Quite similar to the Domaine du Grand Cros Rosé except for the tempranillo giving a comparatively stronger strawberry and redcurrant aspect to the flavour. Very dry, light-bodied, crisp without being tart. Finish is smoothe on the lips with a persistent berry in the mouth. Pair with white fish dishes, chinese or even thai, cheeses, italian cold cuts.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

8 Red: Chile Cab Sauv, Canada Shiraz, Canada Cab, USA Cab Sauv, New Zealand Pin Noir, Australia Shir, Canada Merl, Australia Cab Sauv-Merl

ERRAZURIZ MAX RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Santiago, Chile, 14.5%, #335174 $15.90 - on sale from $17.90 (Tasted August 4, 2005)

The label says: " Full-bodied with concentrated ripe fruit and velvety tannins. Serve with roasted meats, casseroles and cheeses." Gord Stimmell writes: "... a monster gush of blackberry, black cherry, dense plum aromas and complex, rich black fruit flavours, also showing hints of vanilla bean. This is a bold, dense red with lingering intensity, a powerhouse. A 90 rating." My notes: Deep ruby appears almost opaque in the glass, nose is soft with light oak, plums and pepper. Full-bodied for sure, with flavours of ripe plums and black berries accented by soft tannins and an acid edge. The finish is long, soft and carries the same ripe fruit forever. A great sipper and even better paired with seared roast beef, bbq'd backribs, or rich beef stews. The website says it should cellar well six or seven years. This is a General listing.

CREEKSIDE SHIRAZ 2003, Jordan Station, Canada, 13.0%, Winery $15.95 (Tasted August 7, 2005)

The label says: "..has aromas of spicy, black pepper with black raspberry and plum fruit and leathery savoury undertones. Soft rounded textures in the mouth... . cellar up to 2011." Their website says: "The Shiraz grapes for this wine were entirely hand harvested from our vineyards in St. David, Niagara-On-The-Lake. The inaugural vintage of our Estate Shiraz is a promising one. Deep garnet in colour, this elegant shiraz has a forward bouquet highlighted by fresh cracked white pepper with deep undertones of bright plum and black raspberry, accented with a leather and cedar spice. Medium bodied, with a smooth and savory feel on the palate. This wine will drink now with some time in a decanter but will benefit with ageing between 2006 – 2011." My notes: Deep ruby with a soft tobacco box and faint plum nose. Medium-bodied with light blackberry flavours, a pepper edge and light tannins - light compared to an Aussie or California Shiraz. Finish is slightly puckerish with drying tannin on the tongue. Long plum aftertaste. OK with cheeses, baked ham, lamb or bbq'd back ribs. Cellaring, perhaps two years, should integrate the flavours and the structure. Purchased from the winery July 15, 2005. Available from the winery.

CREEKSIDE CABERNET 2002, Jordan Station, Canada, 13.0% #620708 $12.95 (Tasted August 8, 2005)

The label says: "Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc shows dark, rich aromas of cherry, plum, vanilla and toasty oak. In the mouth, a sweet core of black fruit fills our a soft, full-bodied frame. Cellar five to seven years. Fabulous with cheesburgers, filet mignon, etc. " Their website says: "60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet colour, purple at the rim, with high viscosity (“great legs”). Dark and rich on the nose, with aromas of cassis, mocha, black raspberry, plum, vanilla, and toasty oak spice. On the palate, a sweet core of black fruit fills out a big frame of wood and fine grape tannin. Full-bodied with youthful vigour, but has soft rounded edges and flavour complexity suggesting the wine is entering prime time. Drinking well now: best with robust foods or sharp full-flavoured cheeses. Ageable 5-7 years."My notes: Colour is a see-through ruby, clear and a nose of cedar/oak, cassis with a barnyard side odour. Decanting may mellow off-odour but its light enough to ignore. Medium-bodied with light tannin and flavours of cedarwood, light plum and red cherry. The finish is short, dry and tart red cherry. Have with cheese nibbles, chicpea hummous or with grilled strip loin steaks. Purchased from the winery July 15, 2005. This is a General listing.

J. LOHR PASO ROBLES SEVEN OAKS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2002, California, USA, 13.5%, #656561 $22,95 (Tasted August 21, 2005)

Vintages says: "While you're waiting for your huge Cabs to age, sustain yourself with this drinkable wine tonight. It's soft and gentle, with pretty flavours of blackberries, black cherries and coffee. Has an elegance that belies the affordable price. Score: 88. (Steve Heimoff, Wine Enthusiast, May 2005)" The label says: "grapes grown in the Estrellis Hills area of Paso Robles... one of only three that produce 'world class' Cabernet Sauvignon. .... aromas and bouquets of cherries, blueberries, violets and vanilla. .. lusciously full balanced with firm tannins." A Vintages release August 20, 2005. My notes: A dense ruby with aromas of warm berries, mint and vanilla. Flavours of blue- and blackberries with a sharp edge and soft tannins, a long finish that dries and warms the palate. A dry - like licking chalk - cab sipper and excellent with grilled T-bone steak or seasoned stews. Cellar for a year minimum to integrate tannins and flavours.

GOVERNOR'S BAY PINOT NOIR 2003, South Island, New Zealand, 12.5%, #656405 $18.95 (Tasted August 22, 2005)

Vintages says: "The fruit for this wine was sourced from both the Canterbury and Marlborough regions. Pale ruby in colour, it has layers of complex aromas including cherry, raspberry, bacon and smoke. Dry, medium-bodied and very well balanced with lots of cherry fruit on the palate, leading to a medium-long, crisp fruit finish. Very satisfying. (D. Churchill/G. MacDonald, Vintages, June 2005)." The label adds: "The wine shows 'old vine' characters so sought after in Burgundy.... shows vibrant bouquet of fruit and earthy aromas. Exuding flavours of raspnerry with a smooth lingering finish and an ideal accompaniment to meat and game.." Natalie's comment: "New Zealand is hitting it out of the park with red wines too. I love their take on pinot: spicy, racy and bursting with lovely red fruit. Score: 90/100." A Vintages release August 20, 2005. My notes: Comes with a screwcap. Pours as a beautiful clear, light ruby with an aroma of 'Foch' and cranberry - airing for awhile helps considerably. Light-bodied with cranberry, red cherry and vanilla flavours with a crisp edge. A short finish transitions to a pleasing oiliness on the palate. A sipper if you like Foch: not, if you don't (or let it sit for awhile). Pair with light beef or lamb dishes, sweet pastas, pork, turkey or grilled chicken.

BLUE PYRENEES SHIRAZ 2001, Victoria, Australia, 14.5%, #935890 $19.95 (Tasted August 25, 2005)

Vintages says: "This wine boasts an impressive number of honours, but none more prestigious than its Gold Medal from the 2003 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, England. Intensely minty, meaty and menthol-like aromas of cassis, plums and sweet vanilla oak precede a firm, powdery and structured palate whose slightly cooked plum, currant and pruney fruit delivers length and some leathery charm. Should ease back into a typically meaty, minty Victorian red. Score: 90. (Jeremy Oliver,, July 2004)." The label says: "This wine has rich, ripe berry and peppery aromas. Generous dark fruit, plum and spicy flavours combine with subtle oak and soft tannins for a lingering finish. .... have with beef, lamb and game." Natalie's comment: "Juicy and full-bodied. Dark plums and a hint of mint in the aroma. Score: 89.5/100." Gord Stimmell describe it as: ".. with rich supple chocolate and mint accents. A 90." A Vintages release August 20, 2005. My notes: Aromas are rich and complex, spicy mint and peppery plum - very mellow. Colour is a deep ruby. Flavours fill the mouth with tart prunes and blackcurrant, a luscious fullness and a warm finish with soft tannnins. Not as much blackerry as a Jeanneret but close and five dollars cheaper. Excellent with red meats roasted or grilled with a reasonable herby seasoning, rich stews, hot italian sausage or just sipped slowly.

KITTLING RIDGE MERLOT PROPRIETOR'S CUVEE, Niagara, Canada, 11.5%, #386086 $8.95 (Tasted August 30, 2005)

The label says: "this medium-bodied red wine has a smooth, velvety texture, and displays excellent cherry and red berry notes, with a slight herbaceous aroma providing complexity. A soft and lingering finish makes this a perfect sipping wine on its own or pair with subtly flavoured roasted meats or lightly sauced pastas." The LCBO says: "Ruby red colour; ripe berry aroma with light spicy notes; soft berry fruit flavour with a hint of toasty oak in the finish. Serve with pasta or grilled meats." This is a General listing. My notes: A non-vintage, non-VQA wine giving uncertainty about its heritage. Pours ruby red in the glass, a medium-bodied dry red with very light cedar and berry nose. Flavour is drying on the tongue with a light cherry and almost a raspberry note. Finish is uninteresting and drying. Pairs OK with bbq'd strip loin beef and salad.

RIDDOCH COONAWARRA CABERNET MERLOT 2002, South Australia, 13.5%, #713255 $15.95 (Tasted August 31, 2005)

Vintages says: "It's a great thing to find a Coonawarra wine that's good and inexpensive. Its smooth texture is an asset! Its plum fruit is fairly taut, and has gumtree-earthy accents, rather than sweetish, caramelly ones. Though I detected greenness on the nose right out of the bottle, it dissipates with time in the glass. Score: 88. (Wine Enthusiast, May 2005). " The label says: "The palate is well balanced and features dark berry and redcurrant fruit, subtle oak and a lingering finish with soft tannins." Vintages release August 20, 2005. My notes: Likely a 60/40 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend giving a soft berry nose with a light oak and some warm mint from a deep ruby colour. Light tannins support a medley of soft blackcurrants and spice. A great sipper alone or with a range of cheeses, chicken wings, or grilled short ribs. A soft currant/plum finish with a pepper edge and light tannin that doesn't overwhelm appetizers or an entree. Should cellar for two to three more years.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

4 Whites: France Melon de Bourgogne, Canada Pinot Gris, Canada Riesling

SAUVION ET FILS MUSCADET SEVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE 2002, Loire Valley, France, 12.5% XD, #143016 $9.90 (Tasted August 2, 2005)

My notes: Cellared January, 2004 and has maintained full fruit and freshness but likely won't improve with further cellaring. Grape variety is Melon de Bourgogne having a light blond colour and a bright citrus/melon nose. Medium-bodied with flavours of lemon, apple and minerals and a light creaminess. Finish is long and bright, lip-licking like a crisp granny smith. Great as a dry sipper but better paired with grilled white fish, grilled shrimp, scallop or lemon chicken dishes. A real value. This is a General listing.

The current vintage on the shelves is 2003 (tasted August 3, 2005) with a white label and 20 cents less.... same colour and slightly more citrus nose (less melon?). The 2002 is preferred as a sipper which has slightly more fruit, a softer approach on the palate and a longer refreshening finish. Paired with seafood either is appropriate.

FIELDING ESTATE PINOT GRIS 2004, Beamsville, Canada, 11.2% D, Winery $15.95 (Tasted August 5, 2005)

Awarded the Wine Access Pinot Gris Award Silver medal in the 2005 Ontario Wine Awards. The winery describes this as: "an elegant pinkish hue - notes of red plums, candied fruits and tangerines.... fresh, well balanced. 180 cases produced. " My notes: Purchased from the winery July 15, 2005. A pleasant pink hue to a just-perceptible pale blond. A nose of tropical citrus and light apple with flavours of Bosc pear, lemon zest and crabapple tartness. Finish is long, pleasingly refreshing with citrus and a savoury - tangerine zest? - note. Save for a hot day on the patio or with vegetable or seafood appetizers - maybe lightly grilled shrimp or scallops, bbq'd chicken kebobs, zsechuan, or spicy mussels. A drink-now Pinot Gris... perhaps up to eight months cellaring. Available only from the winery.

FIELDING ESTATE RIESLING RESERVE - ROSOMEL VINEYARDS 2004, Beamsville, Canada, 10.5% D, Winery $19.95 (Tasted August 10. 2005)

The winery describes this as: "from twenty-seven year old vines, notes of grapefruit and minerals jump out... hints of citrus and lime make way for a long crisp finish. 270 cases produced. " My notes: Light blond and crystal clear colour with a lemon drop aroma. A round sweetness is first impression followed by citrus and apple tartness refreshening the palate. Finish is long and crisp citrus Sweetness is a fleeting surprise before the crispness settles in making this a pleasant sipper. Pair with white fish dishes, grilled or poached: telapia, scallops, shrimp, or chinese foods. Purchased from the winery July 15, 2005.