Monday, January 02, 2006

January Reds (8): Italy Valpol, Canada Meritage, Chile Merlot, Australia Shiraz(3), Chile Blend, South Africa Blend,

BOLLA 'LE POIANE' VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 1999, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% XD, #135293 $19.95 (Retasted January 18, 2006)

My notes: Cellared November 2004 and last tasted May , 2005 with the comment: "...just past peak ... softer than at time of purchase but still with a bite etc. ". Still a ruby red with a soft cherry nose. Flavour is a natural black cherry with a slight edge and a short, bright finish. No tannins left and the raisin overtone from 'skin' fermentation is gone. Well past peak but still a pleasant valpolicella sipper just lighter body and milder than originally tasted. Was good with potroast in hoisin, onion and garlic sauce and would also do well with rack of lamb, red pasta dishes, or pizza.

JACKSON-TRIGGS PROPRIETORS GRAND RESERVE MERITAGE 2001, Jordan, Canada, 13.1% XD, #594002 $23.95 (Retasted January 18, 2006)

My notes: Last tasted September 2005 part of my comment at that time "Will likely benefit from another year in the cellar" and it has in four months. A mellow ripe plum, berries, black pepper and cinnamon aroma from the bottle as it pours. Flavours of red currant and cherries with a light tartness and soft tannin making it pleasant as a sipper - doesn't really need decanting now but go ahead anyway to get the rush of aromas. Full-bodied with a medium mahogany finish. Even better with full flavoured appetizers: bruscetta, grilled sausage pieces, meatballs flavourful cheeses or with roast red meats and stews. Cellaring well and likely can carry a few more years.

SERGIO TRAVERSO MERLOT RESERVA 2000, Lontue Valley, Chile, 13.0% XD, CP146-2389 $18.00 (Tasted January 14, 2006)

Opimian writes: "Wonderfully spicy, with a real bite across the tongue, it has a warm attack and pungency in the nose, with red berry fruit by the bucketful; raspberry and nuances of jam, spinach and even nettle flood out of the glass. Delicious! Drink this year (2003)." My notes: A rich ruby colour and a nose of red berries and soft oak. Its tartness wipes the palate clean, warms the throat and overrides whatever subtle flavours may be there. Not pleasant as a sipper that appetizers may not soothe - too aggressive for me - but something is needed to restore the palate. Better paired with tangy pizza, seasoned steaks, bbq'd hamburgers or spicy ribs. Did not age well since Opimian's writeup and not recommended.

AMBERTON BAROSSA SHIRAZ 2001, Barossa, Australia, 13.5% XD, #567933* $18.95 (Retasted January 13, 2006)

My notes: Originally rated 93 by Gord Stimmell and tasted July 10, 2004 I found 'as a luscious sipper'. After the intervening months (*and no longer listed) it is still a deep ruby colour with, after breathing thirty minutes, a soft mahogany and plum nose. Medium- to full-bodied the taste ranges from soft black plum to licorice and tobacco full of warmth. The finish is liquid velvet with lasting subtle ripe black cherry, plum, soft tannins and some pepper. A unobtrusive sipper great with all cheeses, even chocolates. Pair with roast beef, prime rib, NY steaks, venison, rack of lamb, etc. The original fruit has been replaced by a mild earthiness that provides lots of interest. I'd say cellaring has changed it to another level... but it's a drink-now now.

DE BORTOLI 'dB' SHIRAZ 2004, SouthEastern, Australia, 13.5% XD, #595314 $12.95 (Tasted January 7, 2006)

Vintages says: "The 'dB' range of wines from De Bortoli achieve incredible quality at 'best buy' prices. Look for bright berry and black plum fruit flavours with notes of licorice and smoky oak. Enjoy over the next two years with fettuccine Bolognese with parmesan cheese or gourmet pizza." The de Bertoli website says: "Grown in selected vineyards in south eastern Australia, the fruit is picked at optimum maturity to exhibit a true expression of varietal fruit and regional character. With their generosity of flavour and fine texture these wines are great with food and guaranteed to make friends." Gord Stimmell rates it 88 saying "...exceptional value... with minty black cherry, cedar, pine needles and smoky blueberry, showing a nice sweet-edged finish." A Vintages release January 7, 2006. My notes: More smoky black plum and chocolate in the nose than berry - and flavours of blueberry, licorice and stewed plums than bright berry. The finish is unusual for its absence of fresh fruit and is largely process, ie. smooth French oak leaving a predominant mellow toastiness. Cellaring may do something but I don't think so. A tier brand tailored for the North American market perhaps, however, it missed the mark for me! Reserve for a meal of spicy meat sandwiches, eg. SubWay BMT with halepenas, or red sauced pastas - or just skip.

PENFOLDS 'THOMAS HYLAND' SHIRAZ 2003, South Australia, Australia, 14.0% XD, #611210 $19.95 (Tasted January 5, 2006)

Vintages writes: "From Vintages Essentials Collection and always available. Thomas Hyland helped shape Penfolds into Australia's most famous name in wine. The Shiraz that bears his name has robust aromas of ripe berries, raspberry, red currant, chocolate and spicy oak. Ripe plum and berry on the tongue mingle with silky tannins. Subtle oak and a long, ripe, fruity finish. Enjoy pairing it with venison or eggplant lasagna." Part of Vintages release October 29, 2005. The label says: "... exudes in rich spice and dark berry fruit... and finely interwoven oak. Matured in French oak for ten months... drink now or cellar medium term." Gord Stimmell says: ".. a big winner... dishes up plummy, peppery, black cherry potency - a big bang for the bucks." and rates it 90. My notes: A deep ruby and a smooth faint aroma of peppery plums and smooth berries. Flavours show a smooth french oak influence on black cherries and plums. A firm medium-bodied red suitably mellow - those preferring a robust red will call this bland - for social sipping with or without a variety of appetizers: foccacia, flavoured cheeses, meatballs in a savoury sauce or pair with grilled lamb, prime rib or red sauced pastas - not too much spice. A drink now red.

CONCHA Y TORO TRIO 2003, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #433912 $14.95 (Tasted January 3, 2006)

Vintages says: "Although the label indicates the wines are from Maipo Valley, Concha y Toro sources from three regions for this wine because each variety has its best expression in each region. Expect rich cassis fruit and body from the Cab Sauv, blackberry and peppery tones from the Shiraz and a lovely herbaceousness from the Cab Franc. Enjoy with a roast beef dinner. Tony Aspler gives it 4 1/2 stars". A Vintages release October 29, 2005. My notes: Has an artificial cork. A medium-bodied blend of cabernet sauvignon (70%), shiraz (15%) and cabernet franc (15%). A smooth light plum nose leading to a smooth, pepper edged plum and black cherry fruit with a long plummy finish. A house red that is light- and smooth enough for most guests but neither fruity nor full- enough for most red drinkers. Should be OK to pair with prime rib, red sauced and mushroom, cheese-stuffed ravioli. A drink-now red.

FAIRVIEW GOATS DO ROAM RED 2004, Paarl Valley, South Africa, 14.0% XD, #718940 $12.95 (Tasted January 2, 2006)

A Vintages release Oct 15, 2005. Vintages says: "... A friendly, straightforward and fun wine, that delivers berry fruit and plum aromas with some pepper and earth in the background. A great party wine!" Gord Stimmell in his column writes "... with plums, black cherry, vanilla and smoky peppery flavours." and rates it 90. My notes: A convenient screwtop. The Fairview website hasn't been updated for some time so no 2004 winemakers or climate notes. A clear ruby with soft berry, cherry and plum aromas.... medium-bodied leaning toward light- , smooth on the palate with a good warm swallow of black cherry and plums. The finish is long and warm with a smidge of tannin and some spiciness - smoke and pepper I'd say describes it well. A drink-now house red at the right price.

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