YALUMBA 'Y SERIES' SHIRAZ VIOGNIER 2004, South Australia, 14.0% XD, #624494 $13.95 (Tasted January 30, 2006)
The LCBO says: "Deep violet colour; blueberry, plum and currant aromas with a hint of anise; fresh, juicy palate with chocolate notes. Serve with grilled bison burgers, lamb or firm cheese." The website says: ".... bright and youthful. The nose is full of spices, licorice and plum fruits with subtle hints of Viognier emphasised by soft jam of fresh purple grape aromas. The palate is supple, chewy and delicious with sweet vinour fruits and loose-knit tannins. A spicy, savoury and silky wine with a lingering finish." My notes: The label calls this a 'White' - not likely with a deep ruby colour and a nose of ripe cherries, blueberries and some light tar. A medium-bodied sip carries bright flavours of ripe cherries and milk chocolate and just what the LCBO describes. The finish is soft textured with well balanced acids and tannins - long and pleasant. Have with any red meat dish from bbq'd sausage pieces to flavoured cheeses and prime rib to roasted leg of lamb. Cellarable two to three years as well as a drink-now value house red.
'LA SYRAH DE VILLERAMBERT JULIEN' 2003, Minervois, France, 13.5% D, #669549 $13.95 (Tasted January 25, 2006)
Vintages release on January 21, 2006 described as "Owner/winemaker Michel Julien is one of the Languedoc's great experimenters, ensuring the right soil and microclimate is used for growing each grape variety. This finely structured wine shows classic Syrah aromas and flavours of blackberry, pepper and plum. It also has a good tannin grip suggesting good short to mid-term ageing potential (2-5 years). Enjoy now with rare cuts of beef." My notes: The 2003 label is now white rather than red of the previous vintage, the first year produced. A deep ruby with a warm plum and slight pepper nose. Medium-bodied with bright flavours of black cherry well balanced with soft tannins. The finish is light with some lingering cherry. A good value as a house red - unimposing as a dry sipper, good with most appetizers: a cheese tray, shaved proscuitto, almost any italian meats. With a meal, pair with prime rib, rack of lamb, a clove spiked ham, bacon-on-a-bun. Likely would cellar well a few years but a pleasant drink-now.
JOAO PORTUGAL RAMOS SYRAH 2004, Alentejano, Portugal, 14.5% XD, #998682 $20.95 (Tasted January 24, 2006)
Vintages release on January 21, 2006 and described as "All you would expect from Syrah; blackberry, spice and pepper is here plus the added bonus of tar and blueberry... On the palate it is dry with a very good fruit structure surrounded by supple tannins. Medium full-bodied with a long finish. Enjoy with rib-sticking stews. (Vintages panel, July 2005)" Tony Aspler gives it four 1/2 stars and says: "Dense purple colour; a nose of vanilla, blackberries and oak; full-bodied, sweet blackberry fruit with a tarry note; firm structure and good acidity." My notes: The website doesn't describe the 2004 vintage as of writing - 2003 was a reportedlly a great vintage. The 2004 is a clear ruby medium-bodied red with aromas of blackberries and white pepper, flavours of red cherries with a nice touch of drying tannins and tar and a finish with a short fruit ending in a longer soft tar note. Was mild for grilled filets and kremeni mushrooms and should be good with stews, rack of lamb or prime rib. Likely too mild but OK for grilled seasoned T-bones or NY cut. A drink-now to a year then try..... cellaring longer may smooth out the tannins and leave more integrated fruit - or not. Not a value.
TYRRELL'S 'RUFUS STONE' SHIRAZ 2003, Australia, 14.5% D, #542100 $19.95 (Tasted January 21, 2006)
A Vintages release on January 21, 2006 and described as: "An attractive wine of length and freshness whose spicy perfume of plums and cassis reveals meaty, molasses-like undertones. Juicy, forward and vibrant, it's spicy and quite restrained core of intense blackberry, mulberry and plum-like flavour is framed by firm, drying tannin. Cellar 2008-2011. Score - 90 (Jeremy Oliver, www.onwine.com.au, Oct. 8, 2005). Gord Stimmell describes it as: "showing smoky blackberry, dried cherry, graphite and vanilla with chocolate notes on the finish." and rates it a 90. The website says: "The 'Rufus Stone' has been selected as a banner name for Tyrrell's super premium wines from regions outside of the Hunter Valley. Tyrrell's Willunga vineyard .... features a block of 35 year old Shiraz vines that consistently produce outstanding fruit for the Rufus Stone range. A full flavoured Shiraz style that has been boosted with additional palate structure and length from a small addition of Malbec. Aromas of ripe black berries, spicy black pepper and a subtle sweet lift of vanillin oak. The palate is full bodied with a long finish that is reminiscent of pure cocoa chocolate with a savoury edge. This wine is excellent drinking now and will cellar for the medium term. Rich and full bodied, it will complement a wide array of equally robust and intense foods, such as roasts of lamb or beef, game dishes, casseroles and hard cheeses." My notes: A screwcap (this is the year of screwcaps it seems). Like putting your nose into a bowl full of ripe plums and blackberries with a black pepper edge. The colour is a rich deep ruby up to the rim and full-bodied flavours of berries, plums and savoury spice. The finish is long and mellow with overtones of smoke, ripe plums and leaves a slight tannic dryness - perhaps it's the Malbec showing through with a very slight cloying aftertaste. Should be great with any red meat: grilled, broiled, stewed or raw, or full flavoured appetizers: cheeses with pastrami, salami, -wursts. Drinking well now but cellaring for more than a year may not promote the 'good' things - it could go 'flat'.