MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #337238 $17.95 (Tasted December 6, 2005)
The label says: "Limited production, aged in French oak for fourteen months. With its intense black cherry aroma and fig flavour evoking the Puente Alto terroir, the wood adds generous hints of coffee and vanilla. ... medium-bodied and pleasant tannins." Vintages says: "2003 vintage: 91 points – Wine Spectator (30.9.05) The ‘Marques de Casa Concha' rides again with aromas of cassis, blueberry, vanilla, smoke and cedar. The ripe black fruits lead on the palate with a hint of pepper and a medium finish. Enjoy with beef tenderloin and root vegetables." Gord Stimmell writes: "With lavish blackberry, smoky black cherry and chocolate notes, it's a real power tripper red from Chile" and rates it 92. My notes: From the Vintages Essentials Collection. A deep garnet with a soft spicy ripe plum, vanilla hints and faint cedar nose. Flavours of vanilla, licorice and ripe black cherries - seems to develop further in the glass. Full- and soft in the mouth with soothing tannins and a touch of black pepper. The finish is long and smoothe. A great red dry sipper.... not intrusive for mild to medium cheeses, bruscetta or pizza squares. Should be great with lamb shanks, beef stews, prime rib or lightly spiced red pasta dishes. Still has a few more years cellaring but a SUPER drinker now.
CHATEAU GROSSOMBRE (BEATRICE LURTON) 2000, Bordeaux, France, 12.5% XD, #943712 $18.95 (Tasted December 6, 2005)
The label says: "... 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot, is aged for a year in oak barrels. ... full-bodied ... with complex aromas of fruits, woodland scent, and spice. ... have with red or white meats., and cheeses." Vintages Wine of the Month (November) saying: "The red wines from Beatrice Lurton... offer 'one of Bordeaux’s greatest bargains' according to Tom Stevenson (Sotheby’s New Wine Encyclopedia). From the superb 2000 vintage, this supple, approachable Bordeaux blend offers impressive aromas of coffee, cedar, cassis and vanilla bean. Dry, robust and almost chewy, this wine is medium to full-bodied with a lingering fruit and silky tannin finish. While certainly enjoyable on its own, it really shines with food such as beef Wellington or lamb stew." My notes: A deep ruby with a light cherry and pepper nose. Medium- to light-bodied with light tannins, balanced acid and red cherries. The finish is also light with cherries, tannins and a light tang. An OK sipper with mild cheeses but better paired with grilled Ontario lamb chops and baked potato, perhaps a ham steak with melted cheese. At its peak now.... not enough interest for a sipper but OK with a meal. Nothing left to cellar - a drink-now.
CONCHA y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA MERLOT 2003, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #939827 $18.95 (Tasted December 9, 2005)
Vintages says: "It is very expressive aromatically and quite deeply flavored, with rich, concentrated fruit notes reminiscent of plums and dark berries. With well-balanced oak edging and lovely undertones of cocoa and vanilla, this is both complex and symmetrical. It is also remarkably stable, remaining fresh and expressive for days after opening. (Michael Franz, The Washington Post, March 9, 2005)" Natalie says: "Aromas of chocolate and red berries make this rich, deep wine a lovely companion to full-flavored dishes. Will cellar in the short-term. Drink 2005-2008. Score: 89.5/100." A Vintages release November 26, 2005. My notes: A deep ruby red with an aroma of peppery raspberries and black cherries... flavours of ripe berries, vanilla with soft tannins and a nice edge. There's a background flavour of overripe fruit that spoils this as a sipper for me but it should be great paired with grilled steaks: T-bone or New York cuts or flavourful beef stews, even prime rib with horseradish and Yorkshire pudding. The finish is long and chalky.
RAIMAT ABADIA 2002, Costers del Segre, Spain, 13.3% D, #935460 $13.95 (Tasted December 11, 2005)
The label says: "... a blend of cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo that is aged 12 months in American oak... " Vintages writes: "The Spanish version of a Bordeaux blend with Cabernet Sauvignon taking the lead, followed by Merlot and finishing with Tempranillo. Engage your senses with aromas of raspberry, strawberry, earth and oak. It's a traditionally styled dry and fruity wine with a medium full body and a long lingering finish that will transport you to beautiful Barcelona." My notes: A Vintages Essentials wine. A clear light ruby with a light raspberry and red cherry nose. Light bodied with a slight raspberry and cherry flavour and a short light finish with pronounced tannins (how many times can I say 'light'?) - tempranillo predominates. A dry light sipper better paired with a grilled medium-rare strip steak marinated in beer, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. A drink-now red.
NEPENTHE 'THE ROGUE' CABERNET/MERLOT/SHIRAZ 2003, Adelaide, Australia, 14.0% XD, #998542 $17.95 (Tasted December 13, 2005)
Vintages says: "Winemaker Peter Leske designs 'The Rogue' year after year to express the best of the cool Adelaide Hills. With the blend changing every vintage, this scoundrel keeps you guessing. The '03 is 59% dark and serious Cabernet Sauvignon with 22% soft and fleshy Merlot and 19% spicy Shiraz. Enjoy with roasted lamb or game." Gord Stimmell says: "... Nepenthe (is) rich, smooth, minty chocolate notes, a crowd pleaser of the first order" and rates it 90. Vintages release December 10, 2005. My notes: Comes with a convenient screwtop. A see-through smoky rose edged ruby with soft aromas of plums and subtle nutmeg. I found it difficult to separate the varietals ..... the fruit flavours are evenly matched and well integrated with tannins and acid. It's full and smoothe with a long finish and a touch of oil on the lips. A wonderful dry sipper or have with anything red: meats, game, red pastas or pepperoni pizza though not highly spiced. Cellar for several years but it's hard not to indulge now.
CHATEAU PIQUE-SEGUE DAUZAN LA VERGNE 1998, Cote de Bergerac. France, 12.5% XD, CP138-1941 $19.17 (Tasted December 17, 2005)
The Opimian Cellar Plan describes as: ".... showing a bright, magenta trimmed colour, it is perfumed with vibrant oak, combining with cassis. In the mouth, waves of mellow fruit carry memories of plum, cherry and soft berry. .... develop over a few more years." My notes: Purchased from the Opimian and cellared December 2001, still showing a deep clear ruby and a clear aroma of plums, cherries and soft spice (cassis?). Medium-bodied and smoothe, the fruit is subdued being integrated with soft tannins and acid. The finish is long and shows a pleasing plum with some light oak remnants. Should be great with prime rib, T-bone or New York cut steaks, even dark fowl and lamb. Drinking well now but cellaring isnt likely to spoil this as a dry red sipper.
BOLLA SICILIA ROSSO 2003, Venezie, Italy, 13.1% XD, #621128 $10.95 (Tasted December 23 and 27, 2005)
Beppi recommends saying: "..smart, avant-garde blend of shiraz and nero d'avola . .. medium full-bodied and very ripe and almost raisiny, it hints of plum and black cherry, with nuances of vanilla and chocolate on a velvety frame." A General release. My notes: Interesting nose if you're into musty socks.... uncharacteristic of either fresh shiraz or nero d'avola. Ruby red with perhaps a terracotta edge and medium-bodied with a flavour of ripe black plums, faint tannins and light spice. If you get past the nose - decanting didn't help - it's not a bad sipper although with a very ripe fig focus. Better paired with a tangy red pasta dish or pepperoni pizza. The finish is long and raisin-cherry (still with socks). Surprisingly it had improved by the fourth day. Cellaring won't likely improve this red but if you have a bottle or two a few years is worth a try rather than sip now.
VINCENTE GANDIA GRAN VEREMA 'OLD VINES' TEMPRANILLO RESERVA 2000, Rioja, Spain, 13.5% XD, #660548 $14.95 (Tasted December 23, 2005)
Beppi recommends and writes: "... a terrific buy, medium full-bodied and chunky, with nuances of chocolate, cedar, vanilla and minerals. Another fresh, flavourful, modern Spanish red." Vintages writes: "A rich, ripe and deeply delicious Tempranillo made for braised beef or lamb dishes. Aromas suggest strawberry jam, plum, spice and smoke. Dry, velvety and quite supple. Medium-bodied with a long finish. (Vintages panel, Feb. 2005)." A Vintages release December 10, 2005. My notes: A ruby red and a faint non-distinct aroma. Light- to medium-bodied red berry and red cherry with soft tannins and a hint of chocolate. The finish is long, smoothe with a slight tart cherry. A dry sipper but more of an entree wine where the entree is any braised red meat, a crock pot lamb stew or Texas style (more beef than beans) chili con carne. A drink-now dinner wine - save for uninvited guests.
BODEGAS MONTECILLO CRIANZA 2001 LA RIOJA , Rioja, Spain, 13.0% XD, #144493 $12.95($14.95*) (Tasted December 23, 2005)
The LCBO says: "Medium ruby red colour; raspberry, sweet cherry, violet, lavander and cassis fruit aromas with hints of vanilla and oak; dry, medium-full bodied, good acidity with ripe plum, cherry, cedar and leather notes on the palate; long, smooth finish. Have with rabbit stew, rack of lamb or paella." A General listing (*indicates regular price). My notes: A brilliant ruby with a soft cherry nose. Light- to medium-bodied with rounded flavours of raspberry and sweet cherries, some other floral mix evenly integrated adding interest to the basic fruit. The finish is moderate, smoothe leaving some tannin on the palate and oil on the lips. A sipper if you like a dry red - have with grilled steaks, prime rib, lightly seasoned red pastas, lamb stew -grilled pork is likely stretching it but likely. Should be able to cellar for a few years but basically a drink-now dry red.