Thursday, July 28, 2005

4 Reds: USA Zinfandel, USA Merlot, France Bordeaux, Australia Cabernet Sauvignon

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.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

2 White: Australia Viognier, Canada Gewurztraminer

YALUMBA 'Y SERIES' VIOGNIER 2004, South Australia, Australia, 14.5% D, #624502 $13.95 (Tasted July 28, 2005)

Vintages says: "After a visit to Condrieu in the Rhône Valley, the home of Viognier, Yalumba's Peter Wall was inspired to plant Australia's first commercial vineyard of the grape over 25 years ago. Always innovative, Yalumba has since become the Australian ambassador for the grape with four different Viogniers in their portfolio, including this popular and easy drinking 'Y Series'. It is known for its floral nose and rich fruit flavours." The Website says: "An enchanting wine with aromas of lemon and honeysuckle with hints of spice. The palate is rich, luscious and silky with juicy tropical fruit, citrus and lychee." George Stimmell comments: "...real panache.. with classic clover-blossom aroma and spicy lime and lemony accented flavours - an 89." My notes: A lgiht blond with a green cast, nice legs on the glass and a lemon pineapple nose. Full-bodied, a citrus tartness balances the mineral and wild, ie. not cultivated, tropical fruit. Has a long warm finish. Suitable with grilled seafoods: tuna, shrimp, lobster or spicy mussels. Should be able to cellar for a year but nice and fresh now - a handy screwcap. Vintages release June 25, 2005.

FIELDING ESTATE GEWURZTRAMINER 2004, Beamsville, Canada, 12.5% D, Winery $13.45 (Tasted July 24, 2005)

The winery describes this as: "Rose petals and ripe melons on the nose - medium body...offers a long finish with lingering tropical fruits. 270 cases produced." My notes: Fielding Estate is a new winery this year on the Niagara escarpment and several whites were purchased from their tasting room on July 15, 2005. This Gewurztraminer is a light blond with a faint wild rose and citrus-zest nose. It is medium-bodied and has a light off-dry lemon/lime melon flavour with a creamy touch and a long kiwi fruit and citrus finish. A pleasant if tart 'gewurz' sipper but the 'creaminess' throws me - should pair nicely with raw oysters, steamed mussels, sliced fruits, toasted bruschetta, vegetable pizza or grilled white fishes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

3 Whites: Canada Aligote, Canada Pinot Gris, Germany Riesling

CHATEAU DES CHARMES ALIGOTE 2003 (ESTATE BOTTLED), Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, 12.5% XD, #284950 $11.95

The 2003 is on LCBO shelves and is generally described as: "Pale straw colour; green apple and citrus aromas with floral notes; dry, medium bodied, crisp and refreshing palate with green apple flavours and a pleasant mouthfeel. Mild creamy cheeses, trout with lemon or shellfish." The website says: "Château des Charmes Winemaster Paul Bosc was the first North American winegrower to import the Aligoté grape variety from Burgundy. By restricting the yield in the vineyard he is able to produce a dry, white wine with hints of green apples and butter. Crisp with excellent fruit concentration. Aligoté is best enjoyed with seafood, particularly shellfish or on its own as an excellent aperitif". Of the 2004 vintage Beppi Crosariol says: "..offers nuances of pear, green apple, lemon and minerals in a lean but beautifully balanced and crisp, refreshing package.... awesome offbeat white and terrific value." My notes (2003 vintage): A clear pale yellow. The nose is grapefruit and green apple. Starts out lean and clean then turns on the fruity citrus notes. Finish is long, clean and warm citrus. Perfect for fish dishes, a good value and a different grape for short term cellaring, likely a 'drink-now to a year'. As a postscript, tried the 2004 at the winery today (July 15th) and found it to be tart, grassy and without fruit to balance or soften the flavours. Perhaps the bottle had sat open too long but still disappointing. This is a General listing.

SANDHILL PINOT GRIS 2003 (KING FAMILY VINEYARD), Penticton, BC, 13.5% D, #626002 $15.95

Vintages says: "The King Family vineyard (one of four) located in the middle of the Okanagan Valley features more clay and experiences somewhat cooler temperatures than vineyards in the southern part. The result is this crisp and fruity Pinot Gris. Enjoy it with grilled shrimp or freshwater fish." George Stimmell comments: "... delivers lush classic pear aromas and spicy flavours - an 88" My notes: A pale yellow colour with a wildflower and spice nose. A mineral tang on the tongue and a warm fullness or honey note. Leaves a slight tangy mineral aftertaste. The winemaker (Howard Soon) says that changes in King Family vineyard management in 2004 'gave more depth of aromas and flavour, balanced acidity, increased body and greater length'. OK with italian sausage and pineapple appetizer and likely any white seafood dish. I suggest waiting for the 2004 vintage. Vintages release June 25, 2005.

LOUIS GUNTRUM RIESLING KABINETT HALBTROCKEN 2002, Rhine, Germany, 11.5% D, #651976 $15.95

Vintages says: "A tangy, fresh wine with scrumptious aromatics and flavours, including apricot, peach, lime and white flowers. Medium dry with a superb balancing acidity. Medium body with a lingering finish. (Vintages panel, July 2004)." Natalie says: "Great attack on the palate. Pears, peaches and petrol. Score: 91/100." My notes: Soft floral, lime, grass and yeast aromas from a pale yellow with a tinge of green colour. A faint fruit and abrupt acid with a long, fading smoothe finish - to me, no petrol and likely a year or two too late. Off dry, meant for sipping or with light foods. Went OK with grilled chicken breast and greens. This is a Vintages release July 09, 2005.