Thursday, March 16, 2006

More March Reds (8): Australia Shiraz,Chile Cab Sauv, Chile Merlot, Italy Valpol, Chile Blend, Canada Cab Sauv, Australia Pinot Noir, Chile Pinot Noir

DEEN DE BORTOLI VAT 8 SHIRAZ 2004, New South WAles, Australia, 13.5% D, #621649 $14.95 (Tasted March 28, 2006)

A General listed wine with no LCBO description. The label says: "This generously flavoured Shiraz displays concentrated ripe berry and black fruit characters with firm tannins softened and balanced by twelve months in oak." Their website says: "Aromas of black fruit mixed with spicy oak. Intense spicy fruit flavours with hints of cracked black pepper. Sweet fleshy fruits with subtle vanillin and savoury oak.This wine can be enjoyed immediately or cellared for up to 3 years." My notes: Different from DE BORTOLI 'dB' SHIRAZ 2004 (#595314@$12.95) tasted January 7, 2006 (see Archives) and an improved offering. A soft spicy nose with ripe berries and pepper with bright black fruit flavours carrying into a long, smooth lip-smacking finish with some spice left over. Pair with red meats with a savoury touch, medium to full-flavoured cheeses, meat and cheese pizzas, hamburgers, a variety of meaty dishes that make this a house staple in the cellar.

VINA CARMEN CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2003, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #358309 $16.95 (Tasted March 26, 2006)

The LCBO says "Deep red/violet colour; aromas of plum, blackcherry fruit, leather, vanilla with hints of cedar, smoke & coffee; dry, med-full body, well balanced, with moderate tannins, ripe blackcurrant/blackberry & mint flavours; long sweet berry fruit finish. Lamb, roast duck and other rich poultry dishes." VH of rates it five stars saying "This is one of those wines about which wine snobs get upset when they see all those stars. After all, how good can it be at this price? Damn good. It is a stunningly, rich red that bursts forward with aromas of mint and cherries. It is full-bodied, creamy smooth and beautifully structured. Juicy cassis and black, spicy plum flavours abound and the ripe silky smooth tannins and zingy tang coalesce into a hummer of a wine. It finishes with dark chocolate, raspberries and a fair grip. Even so, you can enjoy it now and to 2012 with a slab of grilled medium-rare venison smothered in sautéed shitakes." The website describes it as "85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 5% Merlot and richly concentrated and complex . A wine that combines impressive wild black cherries, black currant and cassis with some hints of mint, cedar, clove, tobacco and spices. Ripe and generous in the palate, sweet fruity flavours, fleshy and powerful, followed by dark bitter chocolate, cigar box and fine structured tannins. A superb length." My notes: A dark ruby, and peppery nose with plums, vanilla and smoke. Initial taste is of tannins, cherries and coffee with a strong and long, dry, cherry finish. Have with anything grilled and meaty red.... or softer meats such a lamb or game meats and full flavoured stews. A sipper if you like very dry - have with full-flavoured cheese, garlic and tomato bruscetta, pizza slices, etc. A great value now but better if cellared several years.

VINA CARMEN RESERVE MERLOT 2003, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #620690 $16.95 (Tasted March 23, 2006)

The LCBO says "Deep ruby red colour; aromas of cherry, oak with earthy notes; dry, medium bodied, with ripe fruit flavours and notes of almond, coffee and plum. Serve with fried mushrooms or lamb." The label says: ".... a generous aroma of berries and prunes, spicy nuances and a beautiful Merlot character. .... Medium- to full-bodied, with great finesse, the wine has an intense richness and a long finish." The website says: "This vintage (2002, Rapel Valley fruit) combines the silky fruit (Merlot), with Carmenere (5%) in the mid palate and Cabernet Sauvignon’s (10%) powerful structure and tannins." My notes: A rich ruby with a warm prune and licorice nose. Medium- to full-bodied with ripe plum, cherry and coffee flavours, a light tannin, and a long, soft finish. A merlot that more carmenere and/or cabernet sauvignon could help, altho' this could be a personal preference, but otherwise a pleasant dry sipper. Pair with mild meats, mild cheeses or grilled mozzarella on focaccia. A drink-now.

LUIGI RIGHETTI VALPOLICELLA ‘CAMPOLIETI' 2003, Marano, Italy, 12.5% D, #695890 $16.95 (Tasted March 22, 2006)

A Vintages release on March 18, 2006 and described as " This offering from the always-reliable Luigi Righetti is mild-ruby in colour with complex scents of dried berry, floral, spice, paraffin, oak and sundried tomato. Light- to medium-bodied, it's crafted in a round, easy-drinking style with lots of flavour and good length. Very versatile, it can go with everything from salmon to roast beef. (VINTAGES panel, July 2005)." The 'smallwineries' website says "Campolieti means 'happy fields' ... The wine is a traditional (Valpolicella) blend of the corvina, rondinella and molinara grape varietals that have had a second fermentation on the pressings of the Amarone grapes ('ripasso')...." Natalie says: "A stunning wine with aromas of leather and chocolate. Nicely woven together. Terrific price. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Score: 90 (of 100) and the 'Best Value Red Wine'. " My notes: A red ruby with a dried berry and slight lavender nose, medium-bodied, with natural flavours of ripe cherry. I didn't get the influence of 'ripasso'... no figs or prunes.... but an appealing valpolicella. Besides sipping, goes with red but not too spicy pasta, prime rib or lamb and leek entrees. A drink-now but no harm in cellaring in the short term.

VINA CARMEN GRANDE VIDURE CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2003, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #439166 $16.95 (Tasted March 19, 2006)

The LCBO says "Deep purple ruby colour with violet hue; intense nose of cassis, licorice, violets, smoky oak, green pepper and herbs with toasty notes; dry, full-bodied flavours as in nose, medium tannins and good length. Leg of lamb, roast or grilled beef, burgers, or a firm, hearty cheese." VH of rates it four and a half stars saying "This 60% Carmenère (Grande Vidure) blend has a lovely aromatic profile of toast and black licorice. It is full-bodied with rich ripe fruit flavours that include dark chocolate cherries and spicy raspberries. It has a silky feel and offers good complexity and balance. The dry finish has a touch of earthiness and would be a lovely match to Osso Bucco with truffle risotto. These reserve wines are hand-picked, receive a premium oak regimen plus additional winery-ageing before release." The website describes it as "Dark ruby red in colour. A rich and refined wine, with plenty of ripe fruits character and spices. Intense wild black cherry fruit aroma, followed by notes of laurel, clove, mint, pepper, dark chocolate and black olives. Well structured and concentrated with a lovely balance of jammy and dark ripe fruit along with peppery flavours and sweet oak. Fine grained, smooth and velvety tannins. A complex wine with a long finish." My notes: The website description is pretty well 'on' - a rich ruby colour with a soft black cherry and warm, slight cedar and spice nose. The swallow is full, velvety with ripe berry fruit and delicate tannins and pepper. The finish is long and full of ripe fruit, very pleasant. I'd imagine this could cellar for several years but is drinking well now. Have with any red meats, grilled or roasted, full-flavoured stews, even mushroom risotto or just sip. A great value.

ANGELS GATE ‘SINGLE VINEYARD' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% XD, #678417 $18.95 (Tasted March 18, 2006)

A Vintages release on March 4, 2006 and described as "Dark ruby in colour this is a very appealing wine with lots of ripe red fruit on the nose, notably plums, as well as sweet vanilla oak and violets. Medium full-bodied, very fresh tasting, more ripe fruit flavours and plenty of balancing acidity. The tannins are quite mild and it has a long minerally finish. Great stuff. (VINTAGES panel, Aug. 2005)." The label says "...has an intense nose of dark berries, spice, cassis, red peppers and oak. .... youthful tannins and a dark chocolate finish .. pair with favourite beef and lamb dishes." My notes: A lovely deep ruby, not opaque but clear, with a light nose of oak with a hint of vanilla and spicy blackberries. A medium-bodied red with flavours of clean berries, nothing distinct comes to mind, but light and fresh, well balanced acids and tannin. There is a pleasing brightness in the finish although little flavour is there to carry through. A red for a light meat dish - lamb, rib eye steak, prime rib...... expect it to be a passive partner in a meal. A drink-now.

LINDEMANS BIN 99 PINOT NOIR 2005, South Eastern Australia, 14.0% D, #458661 $11.95 (Tasted March 16, 2006)

The LCBO says "Garnet colour; berry/cherry fruit with earthy/mushroom notes; light- bodied with berry fruit and vanilla on the palate; delicate spicy notes in the finish. Serve with chicken; vegetarian dishes; duck; mushroom risotto." The label says " a soft, ripe, full flavoured wine that can be enjoyed with duck, lamb or veal dishes." My notes: A ruby colour with a rose hue and a light strawberry nose. A light-bodied Pinot, smooth and round with a faint flavour of cherries and a hint of strawberry. The finish is moderate, flavourful with some tannin on the palate. A pleasant pinot noir sipper, not full flavoured but low priced. Suitable for a variety of light entrees: pork, turkey, chicken - don't see lamb or beef though. A drink now.

CONO SUR PINOT NOIR 'VARIETAL RANGE' 2005, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #341602 $9.95 (Tasted March 16, 2006)

The LCBO says "Ruby red colour; cherries, earth and berries with a touch of spice in both aroma and flavour; dry, medium-body with mild tannin and a soft fruity finish. Serve with spicy casserole, roast capon or ham." The website doesn't list the 'Varietal Range' just the Expressive Varietals (shown) - perhaps the 'Range' is a tier brand made for export. The website says of the 2004 EV: "Almost purplish red in colour, deep and young, our Pinot Noir has a wonderful nose of cherry, raspberry, leather and tobacco notes. Red, fresh fruit is predominant to the palate. Its elegance will strike the drinker: silky, full, structured and softly persistent." The Varietal Range 2005 label says "Taste the voluptiousness of this single varietal Pinot Noir in its rich fruit tones of cherry, plum and strawberry. etc. " My notes: The colour is a light ruby with a rose tinge. The nose is light medicinal with no apparent fruit type. Flavours are mineral with slight tannins and an uninteresting finish. Not a sipper and too light in body and flavour for pairing with foods. Best to skip the 'Range' tier from Cono Sur imho.

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