Sunday, October 30, 2005

More October Whites (1): Australia Viognier

ZILZIE VIOGNIER 2004, Victoria, Australia, 13.9% D, #660936 $15.95 (Tasted October 30, 2005)

Vintages writes: "A Gold-Medal winner at the 2005 International Wine Competition in London, England It's quite restrained on the nose, although the palate shows good varietal character – musk and dried apricot fruitiness with a pleasant viscous texture as well as some delicious juiciness. I loved the previous vintage, too: it's good to see that Zilzie are capable of consistency with this new grape variety. Rating: Bloody Good. (Peter Forrestal,, July 29, 2005." The label says: ".... shows intense peach and apricot flavours enhanced with French oak barrel ferment characters. A rich palate.... lingering spicy finish." Tony Aspler says: "This wine is a steal at the price. Straw coloured; rich, spicy peach nose; full-bodied, ripe peach, toffee and toast flavours. * and rates it four stars. A Vintages release October 29, 2005. My notes: A convenient screwtop. A pale yellow with a just perceptible nose of wild flowers and lemon. Flavours of juicy lemon and orange full in the mouth (viscous?) with some acid without tartness - needs to be chilled. The finish is long and citrusy, becomes warmer over time. Good with reheated turkey and brussels. 'OK' as a sipper. A drink-now white.

Friday, October 28, 2005

More October Reds (4): France Merlot, Australia Cab Sauv (2), Australia Gren/Shir/Touriga

CHATEAU PERRIN MERLOT 1998 CUVEE BARRIQUES, Cotes de Castillon, France, 12.0% XD, CP143-2207 $15.58 (Tasted October 28, 2005)

Opimian writes: "... this gem. .... hand picked only fully ripened bunches from the steepest slopes above Dordogne. Fermentation was long and slow, in refrigerated stainless steel tanks before maturation in new American oak casks on the fine lees. .... showing refined and soft vanilla flavours, the oak has added tannic characters marrying sympathetically with the hearty fruit that wells up like a wave of succulent blackcurrant. .... made to last and mature. Lay down two or several years." My notes: Ordered in May and cellared October of 2002. A soft magenta? hue and a soft nose of blackcurrant, black cherries and mint. Medium-bodied with flavours of black cherries, blue berries and a short, drying finish - just enough acid to avoid being flabby. Pair with mild meat dishes, lamb or turkey. Drink now.

ST. HALLETT BAROSSA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1999, Barossa, Australia, 14.0% XD, #744458* $14.90 (Tasted October 28, 2005)

My notes: *No longer listed by the LCBO, was a General release. Cellared February 2002 and has a colour of dense ruby with a slight brick edge. Velvet rich nose with some cedar but full plum/prunes and a bit of peppery spice, medium-bodied well integrated with slight tannin and acid and a full flavour of blackberry, black olive and mint. The finish is long and smooth. Although quite dry can be a sipper, likely better with full flavoured meat dishes, stews, pepperoni pizza or red sauced pastas. Could cellar a few more years.

ST HALLETT ‘GST' GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/TOURIGA 2004, Barossa, Australia, 15.0% XD, #660910 $23.95 (Tasted October 30, 2005)

Vintages says: "Here's a GST you won't mind paying for, this extremely tasty wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 45% Shiraz and 5% Touriga Nacional. The inclusion of the classic Portugese Port variety Touriga Nacional enhances the unique flavour profile. Expect ripe and juicy berry fruits to mingle with rich flavours of raisin, dried figs, spice and meat in this distinctive, medium-bodied blend." The St Hallett website says: "...St Hallett GST is a blend of old vine Barossa Valley grenache, shiraz and the lesser known Portuguese variety touriga nacional, varieties historically used in the production of fine ports and fortifieds by St Hallett and other Barossa winemakers. This medium-bodied wine encompasses luscious juicy fruit and game flavours of a typical Grenache Shiraz blend; whilst the exciting new element of Touriga enhances the wine with distinctive, yet subtle, lifted floral and spice characters. Savoury complexity and softness on the palate is the result of storage on secondary lees and maturation in 2–3 year old French oak for eight months." A Vintages release October 29, 2005. My notes: A rich, dark ruby with aromas of a fruit cupboard, unctious and integrated berry/cherry/plum with an edge of savoury figs. A medium-to full-bodied flavour of ripe plums, figs and cherries balanced with soft tannins and a light spicy edge like a cross between a ripasso and a port. A great sit-by-the-fire-and-sip wine. The finish carries well into the next sip or forkful - pair with zippy cheeses, full flavoured stews, game meats, lamb shank, or grilled T-bones. Ready now but should be able to cellar this for several years.. five to eight is my guess.

KATNOOK “FOUNDER'S BLOCK” CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2002, Coonawara, Australia, 13.5% XD, #660332 $17.95 (Tasted October 29, 2005)

Vintages says: "Master winemaker Wayne Stehbens creates the ‘Founders Block' range of wines in a ready-to-drink, mellow style that is fruit-forward and bursting with Coonawarra character. You can expect aromas of red berry fruit and a touch of mint in the medium-bodied, supple Cabernet. With its generous fruit flavours and long finish, you will discover for yourself what makes Coonawarra so special." A Vintages release October 29, 2005. The label says: "fragrant with regional aromas of red berries, violets and mint with some whole mocha and vanilla oak. .. drink now or cellar for five to eight years for further depth and complexity." My notes: Has a convenient screw top. A deep purple-red, dense with rich aromas of berries, vanilla, and light peppery spices. Flavour is full, smooth, with ripe berries, plums and dark chocolate. The finish is equally stunning; soft, round on the tongue and full of blackberries. A pleasing sipper or pair with any braised ribs, grilled steaks, full-flavoured stews, etc. A value Cabernet Sauvignon, now or for cellaring.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

October Sparkles (2): Australia Shiraz

BANROCK STATION SPARKLING SHIRAZ, South Eastern Australia, 14.0% D, #971507 $13.95 (Tasted October 16, 2005)

Vintages released this October 15, 2005 saying: "Banrock Station Sparkling Shiraz proves that fizzy shiraz is not just a novelty. Serve it ice cold: the blast of blackberry fruit knocks your socks off. Boatloads of flavour, and it's refreshing. Clearly, the Aussies are onto something. (Panel, 2005 Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition,, Jan./Feb. 2005)" The label says: "Rich in colour with an intense bouquet of ripe berry aromas. ... and a spectrum of fruit flavours and character, combined with a soft texture and clean finish. Aperitif or serve with poultry and with grilled meats." My notes: Opening the bottle carries the aromas of the winery during fermentation, fruity... almost see the fruit flies. Colour is ruby red and the nose is of plums and black cherries. Flavours the same but with a noticeable accent of red lees and initial sweetness. Fine mousseux bubbles last through a deep froth with a long and strong berry finish. A summer sipper (with crushed ice perhaps?) or as a change with turkey, ham, pork or lamb roast. A drink-now bubbly.

SEAVIEW SHIRAZ SPARKLING, Victoria, Australia, 13.5% D, #644054 $12.95 (Tasted October 18, 2005)

The LCBO says: "Deep purple violet with definite mousse; vibrant aromas and flavours of ripe plum mullberry, raspberry, leather and vanilla; full-bodied, silky smooth and rich on the palate with refreshing carbonation and acidity. Serve slightly chilled with roast lamb, sausages, or roast turkey." A General release. My notes: A good froth of medium sized bubbles, a ruby colour and fragrant berry nose. Not as full, fragrant or fruity as the Banrock Sparkling Shiraz but as light as the Seaview white bubbly. Flavours of light berry fruit, fizzy on the palate with some tartness. Supposed to be a '3' sugar code but doesn't carry through to that level. Moderate finish with a pleasant tart berry that lingers. Have with grilled chicken or turkey, Italian sausage perhaps or just sip on a summer day. A drink-now sparkle.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

October Reds (7): Australia Merlot, Italy Chianti, Canada Foch, Spain Blend, Australia Shiraz, Spain Tempranillo, France Languedoc

WYNDHAM ESTATE BIN 999 MERLOT 2003, South Australia, 13.0% D, #336347 $16.00 (Tasted October 11, 2005)

The LCBO says: "Garnet colour; blackberry, cherry and plum aromas with light oak; ripe fruit flavours, soft tannin, oaky finish. Have with veal tenderloin, poultry. A General release. " The label says: "A medium-bodied wine with the distinct plum and cherry characters of classic Merlot. Balanced with mouth-filling softness...etc. " My notes: A commercial red with a see-through ruby colour and very light plum/cherry nose. Light- to medium-bodied with flavours of mild red cherry with pronounced sharpness and warmth in the throat. Finish starts but doesn't develop, is short and uninteresting. Not a sipper. Have with lightly flavoured cheeses, mild bruschetta and cheese/vegetarian pizza or with prime rib, ie. lightly flavoured beef.

FATTORIA LA LOGGIA TERRA DEI CAVALIERI CHIANTI CLASSICO 1997, Italy, 12.5% XD, #738146* $14.90 (Tasted October 12, 2005)

*LCBO number is no longer listed. Recommended by Beppi Crosariol and cellared February 2002. The website says: "Intense aroma of ripe grapes; the wine is balanced on the palate; it has an outstanding structure and it is extremely pleasant and harmonious. Blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon." My notes: A see-through ruby colour with a soft aroma of plums and cherries. A light- to medium-bodied chianti with red cherries and ripe plums well integrated with noticeable acid and tannins. Tannins and tar show up moderately on the light but lengthy finish. A pleasant perhaps tart, dry sipper. Have with hors d'oeuvres: a mixed cheese, olive and proscuitto plate, or with pasta and red sauces, italian meatballs/sausage, ham or duck.

MALIVOIRE OLD VINES FOCH 2002 (Canadian Oak), Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5%, #Winery $25.00 (Tasted October 13, 2005)

My notes: Purchased from the winery and cellared November, 2003. A deep see-through ruby with a soft cedar, vanilla and blackberry nose. Medium-bodied, not too 'fochy' with flavours of black cherry, plums and licorice well integrated with soft tannins and acid. A smooth dry sipper with some acetic zip. The length is fruity, warm and long. Pair with any red meat prepared in any way but not too savoury.

BODEGAS PIQUERAS CASTILLO DE ALMANSA 'SELECCION' 2000, Spain, 13.5% D, #586719 $19.95 (Tasted October 15, 2005)

Vintages released this May 28, 2005 saying "located between La Mancha and Valencia, the Almansa DO is a red and rosé production zone. Bodegas Piqueras is considered one of the region's finest producers. Our panel found this wine to be rich, smooth and fruity." My notes: A blend of monastrell, tempranillo, sirah and garnacha tintorera. Aged twelve months in american and french oak. A rich ruby with plum and cherry nose, some spice on the side. Medium-bodied with flavours of cherries and berries with enough bite to pair with peppercorn steak, savoury tapas, and pepperoni pizza. Pleasant enough as a dry sipper a bit tart without appetizers though. Finish is long with a red cherry lightness, some soft tannins and a mineral edge. May be at peak now... could get harsh if kept longer?

ELDERTON 'FRIENDS' SHIRAZ 2003, Vineyard Series, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% XD, #660480 $19.95 (Tasted October 17, 2005)

Vintages released this October 15, 2005 saying: "While most Elderton wines are 'estate grown', for this intensely flavoured Shiraz fruit was sourced from a number of small growers across the Barossa. We are grateful that the folks at Elderton have such good 'friends'. This is a big, rich Shiraz, that has wonderful black fruit aromas and flavours. Crushed black and blueberries, plum and hints of chocolate mingle together all the way to the finish. With friends' like this, you won't have any enemies." The label says that some Matao was added for structure and it was aged in American oak for eight months. My notes: A deep berry aroma from a rich ruby colour. The berries follow through to the taste with a nice acid edge, very little tannins and some sweetness initially. "big, soft, rich and juicy" claimed by Elderton is right on.... a new world fruitiness that may detract from some entrees. Finish is dry and full of berry but passes quickly. An interesting social sipper and added a different aspect to pork roast slices (leftovers) with mashed potatoes and squash. Likely a drink-now red, perhaps cellar a year at most.

FELIX SOLIS LOS MOLINAS GRAN RESERVA 1997, Valdepenas, Spain, 13.0% XD, #620971 #13.95 (Tasted October 20, 2005)

Gord Stimmell says: "Amazing freshness, considering this is a 1997. Minty black cherry, mahogany and cedar, leather and black plum aromas get the senses going. Flavours are dominated by minty black cherry, laced with chocolate notes and vanilla bean nuances. A silky texture and spicy finish lift this wonderfully. Have with beef or game stews. Rated 90. " The label says: "Exacting Tempranillo grape selection, expert vinification and long ageing produce this deeply complex but easy to enjoy Gran Reserva. Ripe red fruits accompanied by silky tannins and a long, spicy finish etc. " This is a General listing. My notes: Has a smooth nose like inhaling a mint dish through a cedar straw but with many more side aromas. Strong tannins coat the palate along with fresh cherries and plums dissolving into a long, spicy finish. Medium-bodied although initial impression is much fuller. Have with any red meat dish, red pasta dishes, hamburgers, roasted backribs or with strongly flavoured cheeses. It's likely close to the end of cellaring - drink now.

CHATEAU LA CLOTTE-FONTANE, CUVEE MATHIEROU, 2001, Languedoc, France, 13.5% XD, CP149-2543 $19.17 (Tasted October 25, 2005)

Opimian says: "This "reserve cuvee" has masses of forward fruit that combines the juicy appeal of New World reds with those of revered old vineyards. Richly flavoured and opulent, showing powerfully deep aromas with black fruit overlaid with spicy pepper and black olive, the silky subdued tannis are never far away, their subtlety adding to the lengthy structure of a thunderingly good bottle. " My notes: Cellared December, 2003. A medium-bodied see-through ruby colour with smooth aromas of plums, bacon and black olive and flavours of black cherries balanced with soft tannins and a light clean acid. The finish is long and subtle black fruits. Likely will cellar well a few more years but good now for prime rib, Chateaubriand, lamb or even turkey. As a dry sipper have with mild cheeses or tapas.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

October Whites(7): Australia Ries, USA Pinot Gris, Canada Pinot Gris, France Gewurz, South Africa Chenin B/Chard, Australia Chard Sem, Australia Chard

WOLF BLASS 'GOLD LABEL' RIESLING 2004, South Australia, 11.0% XD, #606269 $19.95 (Tasted October 4, 2005)

This is a Vintages release October 1, 2005. Vintages says: "Wolf Blass has had huge success with their expertly made 'Gold Label' series. Unique to this range is its regional designation. The grapes come specifically from the Eden and Clare Valleys. Eschewing cork for the more wine-friendly screwcap, the full line-up has been met with both critical acclaim and consumer excitement. Although he did not write a review for this 2004 Riesling, Australian wine expert, Jeremy Oliver (, 2005), scored it a 93." My notes: Comes with a screwcap. A slight green tint to a blond hue and a wild flower and cold tea nose. The flavours have a citrus astringency, orange peel and slight tea stalkiness. A long finish of light petrol and citrus perhaps ending a bit flat. Sipping needs an appetizer: smoked oysters, salt mackerel, or cheese. Pair with any seafood. Cellaring for a year or two would add smoothness, complexity and improve integration.

HOGUE PINOT GRIS 2004, Columbia Valley, USA, 13.0% D, #624486 $12.95 (Tasted October 5, 2005)

Philips-Hogue is part of Canada's Vincor International who acquired it for $95 million in 2000. Philips produces about 750,000 cases per year and Hogue Cellars of Washington State makes about 450,000 cases. The Hogue Pinot Gris was the Best of Show (White Wine) and Gold Medal - 2004 San Diego National Wine Competition. The label says: "....snappy melon and stone-fruit flavours with hints of nuts, spice and honey. Enjoy with poultry, seafood and after a sunny day sailing." Gordon Stemmell says: "...a fresh affordable white... (Washington state wines) tend to echo 'great apple orchard' bright-flavoured fruit profile." This is a General release. My notes: Has a screwcap. The economy level of three Hogue Cellars brands: Hogue, Genesis, and Hogue Reserve. This pinot grigio is a light blond with a fresh lemon drop nose. Flavours of honey coated lemon, some pineapple and a layer of lime. The finish is moderate with a nice acid edge like a mild Courtland apple but falls away quickly. Didn't carry itself well with grilled salmon - the sweetness came through - nor with grilled Shopsy's dogs - better with sole stuffed with spinach and rice.

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2002, Niagara, Canada, 12.0%, #581305, $18.00 (Tasted October 7, 2005)

My notes: Vintages release July 26, 2003 and purchased from the winery. Cellared since November, 2003 and tasted January 2005 with the following note: "Has an artificial cork. The colour is a vibrant straw with a peach hue. Dry, round and lively, pear, citrus and honey on the palate. Should be great between seafood courses of spicy mussels, roasted scallops, etc. Full-bodied with a short but pleasant finish. None left in Ontario but look for the next release..... for sure. May be stalky at first but becomes more 'complex' with ageing." Tasted today this bottle has gone downhill. Still a pleasant golden with peach hue the nose is straw with a strong off-odor, very unpleasant. Flavour is well balanced without fruit or compensating appeal and, at least initially, has a strong 'rotting rubbish' taste perhaps a hangover from the nose. Decanting helps considerably.

HUNAWIHR VIN d'ALSACE GEWURTZTRAMINER RESERVE 2000, Alsace, France, 13.5% D, CP140-2072 $19.17 (Tasted October 9, 2005)

Opimian says: "The most successful clone, the 'Roter Traminer', reaches its zenith in Alsace where its extravagant bouquet leads to a richly flavoured compote of tropical fruits, with mango and lychee charging alongside peach and mandarin. Etc. It will gain great elegance as it matures. " . My notes: A golden blond cellared February, 2002. A benchmark gewurz. Subtle lemon and wild honey nose fills the glass. An elegant, soft texture with well balanced acid to refresh, tropical fruits to interest the taste buds, and an offset herbal touch - everything claimed. The long finish warms and soothes. Have at any excuse to sip a delicious white - scallops skewered with green pepper, onion pieces and bbq'd, sole stuffed with herbal treats, warmed wild mushroom tarts or shrimp basted in garlic, lemon, a few crushed chillie seeds and grilled.

ROBERT'S ROCK CHENIN BLANC-CHARDONNAY 2003, South Africa, 13.5% D, #501304 $7.45 (Tasted October 12, 2005)

The RR website says (2004 vintage): "The wine has a lively, greenish tint. An enticing nose with guava scents giving way to tropical aromas and a subtle vanilla finish, which leaves a lingering, complex mouthfeel." This is a General release. The LCBO says: "Pale lemon; dry and light-bodied with mineral, grass and gooseberry aromas and flavours; crisp and fresh on the finish, with a good balance of citrus and herbaceousness; hint of vanilla. Serve with aperitif; light seafood; patio fare." My notes: Cellared October 2003, recommended by Gord Stimmell. A crystal clear light yellow with a hint of green. Nose is a light pineapple and green grass blend. Flavour is pleasantly sharp with a hint of lemon and the finish is a long and smooth citrus. Went OK with grilled halibut, green beans and greens. Should go with bacon bits and cheese nibble, white seafood or scallops - nothing highly flavoured. A good value house white with the right entree.

ROSEMOUNT ESTATE CHARDONNAY/SEMILLON 2004, South Eastern Australia, 12.5% D, #248971 $11.95 (Tasted October 16, 2005)

This is a General release. The LCBO says: "Golden colour; tropical fruit and oak aroma; tropical fruit and vanilla flavour with citrus & smoky oak finish. Serve with smoked chicken & pasta." My notes: A blond tinge otherwise a clear colour with a nose of subdued lemon and distant wild flowers. The flavour is of honey and citrus with a slight smoothness, nicely balanced acids. Finish is moderately long with tropical fruit flavours tapering slowly. A pleasant sipper or with mild cheeses, asian cuisines, seafood, poultry or pork roast and mashed yams. A drink-now white.

DE BORTOLI DEEN 2004 VAT 7 CHARDONNAY, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0% D, #598896 $14.95* (Tasted October 20, 2005)

This is a General release (*reduced to $11.20 at a local outlet). Gord Stimmell says: "New, but a delicious sleeper on our shelves. Aromas include vanilla layers and spiced apple, with hints of floral acacia and melon. The flavours yield apple, butternut, coconut, lemon zest in a toasty oak style. The finish shows lime and coconut and lingering peachy character.. Have with king crab in butter. Rates as 88." The label says: "... typical ripe peach melon aromas and a rich full-bodied palate. " My notes: One of eight in the Deen Vat series from De Bartoli Winery, the Chardonnay colour is a faint blond with a hint of green. The nose is light, toasty with a lemon/pineapple focus and bright without being tart. Flavours, expanding as chill goes off the glass, of granny smith, honey, lemon and touch of butter. and the finish is long leaving a warm reminder of the flavours. Was great but at its match with grilled salmon steak - should be great with scallops, shrimp, white fish entrees or mild cheeses. Will develop more butter if cellared for a few years. Even at full price this is good value IMHO.