TORRES 'CELESTE' TEMPRANILLO 2003, Ribadeo, Spain, 13.5% D, #672691 $19.95 (Tasted March 14, 2006)
A Vintages release February 18, 2006 and described as "This red is powerful and austere, with ironclad tannins, a thick texture and dark flavors of coffee, earth and mineral. Impressive, but hard to like now; give it time. Best after 2007. Score - 90 (Thomas Matthews, www.winespectator.com, Nov. 15, 2005)" The website says: "Intense blackberry colour. Spicy and intense nose, with liquorice and black pepper hints on a base of well ripened fruits (blackberry and cherry). On the palate, very fruity at first with ripened tannins, also persistent and full bodied." My notes: Thomas Matthews is right.... I didn't like it now. It's subdued with oaky aromas and flavours. The tannins line the palate, not objectionable but chewy. However decanting and waiting eliminated the oakiness and, although still subdued and tannic, it showed the blackberry flavour with licorice and pepper. What's there now? A deep, opaque purple hued ruby colour in a full-bodied accompaniment to grilled red or dark game meat or a full flavoured stew. The finish is long with lingering mature berries and black cherry. Better to cellar for at least two more years.
INNISKILLIN INTERNATIONAL SERIES SHIRAZ 2003 (nonVQA), Niagara, Canada, 13.3% XD, Craft Store $13.45 (Retasted March 13, 2006)
My notes: Last tasted Feb 9, 2006 with the comment 'an uninteresting sipper, etc. '. When this bottle was first opened the nose was dominated by oak, also the flavours. Left awhile (several hours, by chance not planning) it now has a soft plum nose and flavours of mature berries and plums with a peppery edge and a light tannin. The finish lingers with subdued fruit and pepper, fading slowly leaving an earthiness as before. Not a wine I'd take as a gift.. nor one to share with good friends.... but OK if encountered at a house warming or outdoor bbq. Perhaps cellaring a few years will take advantage of the tannin and acid and mellow the structure.
ROSEMOUNT DIAMOND GRENACHE SHIRAZ 2004, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0% D, #476838 $13.20 (Tasted March 10, 2006)
The LCBO says: "Rich purple/black colour; ripe, juicy black fruit, with raspberry compote and cracked pepper notes on the nose and palate; dry, full-bodied, soft and silky with a plush finish; fruit driven style. Serve with red meats; game; assertive cheeses; stews; bbq'd baby back ribs and most bbq sauce coated grilled meats." The label says: "..displays the bright berry flavours of grenache enriched by the exotic spiciness of shiraz." The website says: "This wine shows deep raspberry and cherry fruit flavours ..enhanced by exotic spice and pepper characters. This is an aromatic, flavoursome wine with a soft, rounded finish. The luscious soft fruit, low tannins and absence of oak enable this wine to be enjoyed chilled in hot weather." My notes: A rosy hue to a ruby red giving it a murky caste and a nose of berry jam and pepper. Medium-bodied, smooth, drying, fresh berries liberally sprinkled with pepper and a moderate finish. To me Grenache and Shiraz don't complement each other - save the grenache for a silky, flavourful rose. An uninteresting sipper, better paired with bbq'd red meats, spicy red sauces or save for a sangria. Not for cellaring.
R.H. PHILLIPS TOASTED HEAD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, North Coast, California, 13.5% XD, #969873 $17.95* (Tasted March 9, 2006)
A Vintages release February 4, 2006 and *regularly $19.95. Vintages says of the 2002 vintage "Silver-Medal winner at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2005. Lush and concentrated, with lots of black currant and berry fruit, accented by notes of menthol/cedar, woodspice and anise. It finishes with rounded, earthy, chocolate-tinged tannins. No additional aging necessary; it's ready to gulp down. Score - 90 (Bob Johnson, www.vvdailypress.com, June 15, 2005)." The 2003 label says: "..has an intense bouquet of cherry and blackberry, rich sweet (toasted) oak... and traces of chocolate, leather and roasted coffee." Their website says: "(of 2003) medium-bodied with a bouquet of herbs and ripe berries. ...complex characters of anise, sage and tobacco. ..ready to drink now but excellent aging potential." My notes: A faint bouquet of cherries and blackberry, and some chocolate - the rest I didn't get. Medium bodied and a deep ruby colour with flavours that are more pronounced. Rich cherry and blackberry with a delicate, almost satin, touch - nice warmth and spice edge on a long finish. Should be great with any red meat or game bird....was great with rotini with a meaty red sauce... or just sip. An 88 as a comparison with the 2002. Drink now - I don't think cellaring will do much.
MURATIE ESTATE SHIRAZ 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 13.4% XD, #663278 $19.95 (Tasted March 5, 2006)
A Vintages release on March 4, 2006 and described as "This Shiraz has consistently won Gold Medals and high scores from John Platter over the last three vintages.... Seductively fragrant 03 has black cherry, prune & dark chocolate aromas, similar flavours. More berries, & more graceful & approachable than previous. Score - **** (out of 5)." The label says "one of the best examples of this varietal coming out of South Africa with hints of both the Old and New World. ..... lovely on release but will reach its full potential five to eight years after release." Rod Phillips says "This is a delicious Shiraz that delivers a complex range of aromas and flavours. There's an initial note of oak on the nose, but it comes through in the flavours as added complexity to the primary flavours of black cherry and plum. Throw in some pepper and spices, fine structure, sweet and firm tannins, and you have a delicious mouthful. Pair it with grilled or roasted lamb or game." My notes: A deep red ruby with a subtle oak and faint cherry nose warm to the senses. The initial swallow is very smooth, silky with light (sweet?) tannins and a taste of prunes and berries. A faint acid adds life to a long finish that is a velvet plum. Very nice sipper if you like 'smoooothe' - I didn't get very much 'pepper and spices'. Should go well with meaty or cheesy appetizers, roast red meats, turkey, rare tenderloin on focaccia or burgers. If cellaring is recommended then this is a subdued beginning to a great future - worth putting down for a few years.
CARDINHAM CABERNET/MERLOT 2003, Clare Valley, Australia, 13.8% XD, #694570 $18.95 (Tasted March 4, 2006)
A Vintages release of February 4, 2006 and described as "Expect vibrant currant fruit, eucalyptus and bell pepper notes in this fresh medium-bodied blend." The label says: The weather has .... "created one of the best Cabernet Merlot blends we have made. ... some gentle vanilla characters beneath the sweet cherry/chocolate and ripe plum aromas. Soft berry characters dominate the beautiful rich full palate .... with fine tannins and spicy oak. The flavours linger forever and ever." My notes: The Cardinham website doesn't list the 2003 vintage. The 2003 has a subtle nose as described except I didn't get the vanilla. A medium- to full-bodied deep, opaque, ruby red with a soft tannin, a light acid and flavours of black plum with a mild pepper spice. A long smooth plummy finish with a slight chalkiness or an 'unfiltered' texture. A good sipper, or with German sausage pieces, meat tray assortment, mild to medium flavoured cheeses, savoury stews, French onion or other full bodied soups or roasted red meats. Cellaring for several years should throw some sediment and evolve a 'cleaner', more complex structure.
LEGENDS ESTATES PINOT NOIR RESERVE 2003, Niagara, Canada, 12.4% D, #661876 $17.95 (Tasted March 3, 2006)
A Vintages release February 18, 2006 and described as "Ruby red with a tinge of amber, this complex Pinot proves quite convincingly that the difficult grape has viability in Ontario. It expresses powerful aromas of wet earth, cola, cherry, leather and smoke. Dry, medium full-bodied with cherry and mineral flavours, soft tannins and a medium finish. This is very good Pinot that would pair well with roast duck, veal chops or mushroom risotto. (Vintages panel, Dec. 2005)." The website describes the 2002 as, and this is similar: "A nicely balanced Pinot, with flavours of cherries, strawberries and smoked plums. An oaky undertone with caramel notes. Nice body that delights the palate. Good tannins that will help develop the wine over time. Have with steak, gourmet pastas and pizzas, rich pies and sauces." My notes: It's a see-through ruby with a delicate aroma medley... I'd say a pleasant earthy berry/cherry. A quiet, medium-body red with a light mixture of strawberry and cranberry with a satin texture - a soft bite on the swallow. A light, long finish - smoothe and slowly warming, building tannins each sip. Not an aggressive fruit forward New World Pinot... but a great sipper now - the website claims the style is burgundian - if true it's at a bargain price. Have with game meats, prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, turkey.... a flexible meal red. Should be able to cellar for a few more years.
LEGENDS ESTATES MERLOT 2003 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% XD, #675074 $15.95 (Tasted March 1, 2006)
A Vintages release of February 18, 2006 and described as "Dark cherry red, with aromas of smoke, raspberry and earth. The more serious-minded nose belies the ripe, sweet red fruit flavours and hints of vanilla on the palate. Medium full-bodied, with smooth tannins and good structure this would match nicely to a hearty beef stew or grilled lamb chops. (Vintages panel, Dec. 2005)." My notes: The bottle should be allowed to breathe twenty minutes or wine should wait in the glass for about five to eliminate an earthy oakiness. After breathing there is an aroma of red cherries and mild berries. A cherry red and a light- to medium-bodied wine with flavours predominately of bright cherries. A fresh, dry sipper well balanced with acid and light tannin, not tart and not sweet. The finish is moderate, fruity with the hint of vanilla. OK with ravioli in a tomato sauce and a pinch of crushed chilis, should be great with burgers, T-bone or grilled red meats including lamb. A drink-now but cellaring a year or two might pay off with a firmer structure.