REIF CABERNET MERLOT 2003 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% D, #565713 $13.95 (Tasted February 27, 2006)
The LCBO says: "Light garnet colour; dry and medium-bodied with aromas and flavours of red cherry, anice, leather, tobacco and mineral; dry, with crisp acidity; firm, gripping tannic core; medium long finish. Serve with game stews, roasted or grilled red meats." The label says: "A medium-bodied ruby red wine displaying rich aromas of dark berry fruit. The palate is layered with black currant, licorice and a hint of smoky oak. Enjoy now up to five years. Pair with roasted leg of lamb, filet mignon with wild mushrooms, egg-plant parmesan or heavy cheeses" The website describes only the 2004 vintage - no data on percentages of merlot or cabernet varietals. My notes: A light ruby colour and, if you really sniff hard, a smoke-tinged red cherry aroma - didn't get the anise, leather or tobacco. A smooth red cherry flavour thin on the palate, a slight tannin and acid although this slowly builds to be noticeable. Let breathe for twenty minutes.. A light-bodied quaffer with an acceptable cherry finish. Should be OK with roasted red meats, turkey or pork - nothing savoury or spicy. A drink-now.
COLIO HARROW ESTATES CABERNET/MERLOT VQA, Harrow, Canada, 13.0% XD, #432054 $10.95 (Tasted February 24, 2006)
Alas, the label is Colio Estates, not Harrow, and this vintage isn't and a VQA, not now - what else has changed? The LCBO description likely applies to the original release describing it as: "Ruby red colour; plum aroma; berry, cedar with a touch of pepper. Serve with steak and grilled mushrooms." The label says: "another fine example of the Colio Estates collection of premium quality wines... representative of our winemaker's (Carlo Negri) innate ability to create noteworthy wines of reliable consistency. Have with stronger cheeses, hearty broths, mushroom based entrees, beef or sip on its own." My notes: A light medium-bodied, ruby red with an aroma of a faint cherry/plum mix. Starts out as a smooth approach to the palate with a tart attack and some drying tannins, a light red cherry developing after a few sips. A short finish with a dry aftertaste. 'Premium quality', I don't think so.... 'noteworthy', nope! Not remarkable as a sipper... better paired with spicy pizzas or burgers. A 'drink-now' if there's nothing else.... or save for a house party.
LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Paso Robles, USA, 13.5% XD, #738823 $19.95 (Tasted February 23, 2006)
A Vintages release November 26, 2005 described as "A simply delicious Cabernet Sauvignon ... has concentrated dark fruit (cherry, plum, berries) with spicy and savoury notes, a rich, layered texture, and great balance. The tannins are firm and drying, but manageable now with rare meat. Liberty School can clearly teach a few other producers a thing or two. Score - 5 Stars (out of 5) (Rod Phillips, www.winecurrent.com, July 9 2005)." Their website says: "aromas of blackberry and cherry, chocolate, cassis and hints of vanillin. ...deep berry flavours enhanced by soft, elegant tannins and a rich, full finish. ..a perfect complement to grilled, braised or roasted meats, Mediterranean fare and semi-aged cheese." My notes: A very faint nose of plum and cherry warmed by oak hints - needs time in the glass. A deep ruby, medium-bodied with a warm smooth flow on the palate and a soft acid and tannin with the swallow. Cherry, plum and berry flavours havent fully developed in this bottle. A tad of spice and mushroom follows into the moderate finish. An undergraduate cabernet compared to the claims imho but nevertheless a mellow balanced sipper and should pair nicely with grilled, baised or roasted meats, etc. A drink-now.
OSBORNE SOLAZ TEMPRANILLO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2004, Rueda, Spain, 13.5% D, #610188 $9.70 (Tasted February 19, 2006)
The LCBO says: "Dark ruby colour; strawberry, fruit compote, tar, smoke and plum aromas; dry, medium bodied palate with medium body, plum and currant flavours and moderate tannin on the finish. Serve with tapas, barbecued spareribs, burgers or roast poulty." The label says: "a modern blend... a fruity wine with deep red colour, elegant aromas and roundness that comes from four months ageing in oak barrels. ... serve at 63F. " My notes: A faint soft nose of plums and cherries. A bright red currant and plum flavour against a healthy background of tannins. The finish is dry and short with some red currant lingerings. Overall, lighter than expected in a medium-bodied red, the tempranillo coming ahead of the cabernet sauvignon influence. Uninteresting as a sipper, more of a low cost red for grilled red meat dishes - was great with red sauce pasta with a few crushed chilis.. A drink-now rather than cellaring.
OSBORNE SOLAZ SHIRAZ TEMPRANILLO 2004, Rueda, Spain, 14.0% D, #620922 $10.00 (Tasted February 17, 2006)
The label says: "... blend results in an intense purple-coloured wine with red fruit aroma, a spicy, structured taste, and roundness that comes from four months of oak ageing. ...for grilled red meats and matured cheeses." BBB describes this as 'best alternative to Aussie Shiraz of 2005'. The LCBO says: "Medium red violet colour; aromas of cedar, oak/vanilla and ripe berry; dry, medium bodied, with flavours of cherry, blackberry, cedar and spice. Serve with roasted chicken sandwiches, Spanish jamon or serrano ham, or stew." My notes: Deep, purple hued ruby colour with soft but faint aromas of smoke and ripe berries - I didnt get the vanilla. The initial sip wakes up the taste buds with a full-bodied dash of pepper and gulp of tannin. These smooth out with successive sips into an earthy mix of cherry, berry and plum flavours with less of a fruit focus than an 'Aussie Shiraz'. The finish is long and dry with a light tar. Have with spicy or flavourful appetizers, grilled sirloin, T-bones, pizzas, hamburgers, buffalo wings, bbq'd ribs, stews, etc. More of a drink-now value than for cellaring.
CHATEAU LA CLOTTE-FONTANE MATHIEROU 2000, Languedoc, France, 13.5% XD, CP144-2266 $15.92 (Tasted February 16, 2006)
Opimian says: "This is the finest and possibly the fullest of the wines of the Midi that we have tasted. ..... vines are old, only Grenache and Syrah in equal proportions... It will keep ten years but in five its flavour will be explosive." My notes: Ordered in June 2002 and cellared November 2002. Now a soft cedar and ripe plum nose from a garnet red, medium- to full-bodied wine, silky textured balanced with white pepper, tannin and acid. The flavours develop in the glass and on the palate so sipping is slowed to appreciate the mellow tones of French oak, the slight tars, black olives and subdued ripe plums. The finish is long and soft: the grenache coming through with its fullness and syrah with its peppery spices. A meal wine so to be paired with roasted or grilled red meats, dark game meats or savoury stews. Not 'explosive' yet.... continued cellaring will show if the Opimian prediction is met.