CHATEAU THEBOT 1998, Bordeaux, France, 12.5% XD, CP143-2208 $16.42 (Tasted February 14, 2006)
Opimian describes this as "...handpicking ensures only perfect bunches are used... on French oak for twelve months. ....juicy cherry and a plummy tang before wads of fruit pile to show supple flavours supported in the background by pillars of tannin. The toughness will soften with a little more time as it reaches its fragrant and velvet promise. Cellar at least two years." My notes: Purchased May 2002 and cellared in October same year. A clear ruby red colour with a nose of cherries and soft vanilla, flavours are bright cherry with a tannic edge and evolve in the glass. A cheerful sipper with no 'toughness' - even a little subdued with flavours developing further in the mouth. Good with mild to nippy cheeses and paired with grilled filet, lamb stew or dark fowl. After several years cellaring this is a drink-now.
MALIVOIRE MOIRA VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2000, Beamsville, Canada, 13.5% XD, Winery $35.95 (Retasted February 12, 2006)
My notes: Cellared December 2001 and last tasted November 2005 with the comment 'letting breathe twenty minutes.... revealing an interesting savoury vanilla and smoke nose'. Now an interesting cherry, leather and vanilla nose, a pleasing dry tannin with acid edge to flavours of light cherries, mint and rhubarb. The finish is dry and moderate. Pair with lighter game meats, duck, turkey, cold greens layered with strips of rare prime beef, a wedge of Balderson aged cheddar, etc. - was great with filet mignon. Cellaring further isnt needed but I will anyway.
JINDALEE SHIRAZ 2004. Victoria, Australia, 14.0% D, #591818 $9.95 (Tasted February 12, 2006)
The LCBO says "Medium deep ruby colour; rose, cherry and plum aromas; dark fruit flavours with good balance. Serve with baked pork loin, roasted duck." The website describes this as "The Murray River Turtle (far right) has featured in the hunting and gathering customs of Aboriginal river tribes for thousands of years. To this day, the turtles can be found sunning themselves on logs and diving underwater..... The Jindalee Shiraz shows pepper and spice on the nose and is full of rich fruit flavors on the palate. Flavors of plums and blackberries combine well with the vanillin American oak. It shows great balance and is an easy drinking Shiraz that is great with or without food. Crimson/red...." BBB recommends this and its companion Jindalee chardonnay (second left) as the 'Best pair of animal labels' of 2005. My notes: Two more labels are in the 2004 Jindalee collection all with a screwcap. A deep ruby with an earthy plum aroma. The flavour includes white pepper, some bright plum and cherry somewhat shallow in depth but a medium-bodied mouthfeel. The finish is smooth, well balanced tannin and acid with some plum and pepper leftover. There is nothing to complain about but we can rave about the price. Has enough acid for pizzas, red pastas, lamb roast or grilled steaks. A drink-now or cellarable for up to a year.
INNISKILLIN INTERNATIONAL SERIES SHIRAZ 2003, Niagara, Canada, 13.3% XD, Craft Store $13.45 (Tasted February 9, 2006)
The label says, The Shiraz is elegantly styled with aromas of ripe plum and chocolate. Flavours of wild berry, white pepper and licorice invigorate the palate, while spice lingers on the palate." My notes: The website doesn't list Inniskillin's International Series of wines. A deep ruby colour with a very faint warm plum nose, medium-bodied with thin flavours that include a sharp edge to a plum or cherry and a hint of chocolate. The finish is short with some drying tannin , light peppery spice and lastly a trace of licorice. An uninteresting, earthy sipper better paired with grilled red meats, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizzas, etc. but could be lost in a full-flavoured entree: eg. spiced ribs or savoury stew. Not a recommended drink-now and not a cellaring candidate imho.
FREIXENET BRUT DE NOIRS NV, Penedes, Spain, 11.5% D, #352369 $11.75 (Tasted February 8, 2006)
The LCBO says "Rose colour, fresh crisp lively sparkle; fruity aroma and flavour, dry wine. Serve chilled as an aperitif with finger foods." The website describes the bubbly as: "... Wine Spectator called this sparkling wine "An appealing quaff for a lazy afternoon." In addition to naming it a "Best Value", Wine & Spirits went on to say "There's plenty of ripe strawberry in this deeply colored rosé; still the wine leaves a dry impression in a smooth, mild finish." My notes: A deep rosé colour with a slight strawberry marshmallow nose. Pours with full effervescence subsiding quickly then providing an inverted shower of fine streams spilling at the surface. Delicate strawberry juice flavours with subtle acid, bright and a lighter 'freixenet' sharpness. The finish is long with a light creaminess. A great sipper for special occasions where a rosé adds a festive colour. Have without appetizers or with oysters, mild cheeses, white or dark chocolate dipped ladyfingers or fruit glacées. Should be able to keep a year or two without losing a thing.
YVON MAU CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2004, Languedoc, France, 12.5% D, #349860 $8.60 (Tasted February 3, 2006)
The LCBO describes this as "dark ruby colour; leather and cassis aromas with earthy notes; medium bodied with sour cherries and plums on the palate; medium finish; light tannin. Serve with beef stew; roasted vegetables; roast chicken." The label says: "....deep ruby red with aromas of woodland fruits and spices. ... rich, balanced and supple..with all of the characteristics of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape." My notes: A ruby colour with a very light berry nose, light- to medium-bodied with light flavours of blackberry, earthy oak, pronounced tannins and an mild acid edge. The finish is slightly drying and moderately berryish. Not a bad sipper for the price, mild and some fruit. Better with grilled beef, french onion soup and broiled french stick slices covered with melted cheddar - can't see 'roast chicken'. A house red for a crowd. Not for cellaring.... buy to drink NOW.
WOLF BLASS EAGLEHAWK SHIRAZ 2004, South Eastern Australia, 13.5% D, #589564 $12.10 (Tasted February 3, 2006)
The LCBO says: "Almost opaque, purple/ruby colour; fruit forward aromas of black cherry, vanilla, caramel and raspberry with a minty note; dry, moderately full on the palate with a silky texture, balanced fruit to oak and chocolate & mint flavours; balancing tannins. Serve with grilled meat; roasted lamb; steak; bbq ribs." The website says: "The 2003 [2004 not shown] Eaglehawk Shiraz is a fruit driven style with a bouquet of lifted spice, plum and red berry fruit characters and subtle oak overtones. The palate is of medium body, showing soft complex fruit flavours with rich berry characters. Soft tannins help finish the wine with a dry lingering finish." My notes: A deep ruby colour with a black cherry, berry and light tar aroma. A silky mouthfeel, medium-bodied with bright black cherry and blackberry flavours, soft tannins and well balanced acids. The finish is a light cherry and chocolate with a soft touch of burnt oak. A reasonable dry sipper by itself or with meaty appetizers, cold or hot, or flavoured cheeses. Pair with prime rib, bbq'd ribs, red pastas, meat pizzas or a wide range of beef/lamb stews. Should be able to cellar for two to four years but really a drink-now red. A reasonable value.
VITAE SANGIOVESE 2003, Puglia, Italy, 13.0% D, #621029 $10.60 (Tasted February 1, 2006)
A General listing and described as "Deep ruby colour; aromas of plum fruit, spice, sweet oak, earth and anise; medium-bodied, with good plum/cherry fruit, integrated with sweet oak, anise, tar, earth notes; medium finish. Serve with veal parmigiano." Gord Stimmell gives an 88 describing as "has gobs of fruit.... ripe and ready to drink, appealing to party goers... a versatile red to match with a wide range of veal or pork dishes..... a solid red choice with mass appeal (e.g. weddings)." My notes: An attractive bottle shape for a light- to medium-bodied sangiovese, bright but thin ripe red cherry and spice flavours with a subtle sweet edge. The finish has a drying tannin mouthfeel phasing into a pleasing cherry. A drink-now red - great for Italian buffets: shaved meats, red pastas, or just to wash down pizza slices. Not for cellaring, the 2003 may be past peak.... would be interesting to have tasted at time of release or to compare with the latest vintage, 2004.