Monday, April 03, 2006

April Reds (9): Australia Shiraz, USA Zin, Italy Valpol, France Cab Franc, Spain Tempra, Australia Blend, Chile Merlot, Canada Pinot Noir, Spain Blend

KILIKANOON 'KILLERMAN'S RUN' SHIRAZ 2002, South Australia, 14.5% XD, #925453 $18.95 (Tasted April 18, 2006)

A Vintages release April 15, 2006 and described as ".... is produced from vineyards Kevin Mitchell sources primarily in the Clare Valley and Barossa. It is a dense, full-throttle, big, chewy, peppery, black fruit-dominated Shiraz offering sweet tannin, an attractive plushness, and an up-front style designed for consumption over the next 2-4 years. Score - 90. (Robert Parker Jr.,, Oct. 2004)." says: "... ready to drink now and will be a delicious partner for grilled lamb during the summer. It provides wads of sweet black fruit and black pepper, a plump texture that's smooth and mouth-filling, and ripe, easily-managed tannins. (RP)" and rates it four stars of five. Alan Kerr says: "This is pretty, dense, full of flavour and well balanced. I find a chewy creamy palate with layers of black fruit, pepper and star anise. Good value and ready to sip." Beppi says: "Thick and creamy, it shows black cherry, vanilla and hints of spice and tar, with a fresh kick of acid on the finish." My notes: Cedar and plum aromas from a dark ruby colour. Flavours are cedar, sharp blackberry, pepper, and cinnamon.The finish is of woody berries with a drying tannin. Went well with moroccan lamb and couscous and should with any red meat grilled with a barbarian spice. Cellaring for a few years will mellow the acid and integrate into a smoother structure. Fairly smooth now and a sipper if you're into DRY tannic wild berry. Even seemed smoother after a day or so!

GNARLY HEAD 'OLD VINE' ZINFANDEL 2004, Calif. USA, 14.5% XD, #678698 $17.95 (Tasted April 17, 2006)

A Vintages release (date unkown and not described). Natalie MacLean says: "I love this wine! Made from 80-year-old gnarly vines that are head pruned, it has wonderful aromas of brambleberry, blackberry, cherry, liquorice and smoke. It's supple and a great complement to a wide range of dishes including pork, chicken, steak and tomato-sauce pasta. Medium- to full-bodied. Score: 90/100 - tied for NM's Favourite Red Wine". The Gismondi website rates it 85/100 saying "Cedar bark, chocolate, prune, black cherry, prickly nose. Soft, round, slightly dry entry with warm cedar bark, peppery, mocha, resiny, licorice flavours. Simple commercial dry, red wine with a slightly tannic finish." My notes: A 'prickly' cedar nose with possibly a raw plum note. A dense ruby colour, full-bodied with a prune and cherry flavour and a strong tannic, acid bite. Improves slightly with decanting but nothing worthwhile imho. The finish is long, sharp and tannic craving a grilled steak or full-flavoured stew - not a sipper. Did not go with grilled pork chops, baked yam and green salad with light basalmic dressing.

BOLLA 'LE POIANE' VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2001, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% XD, #135293 $19.95 (Tasted April 15, 2006)

A Vintages release on April 15, 2006 and described as "Unlike standard Valpolicella, Bolla's 'Le Poiane' goes through the secondary fermentation of ripassato. The juice is pumped onto the skins of grapes left over from their Amarone wine production and allowed to macerate for 20 days. The wine is then aged for one to two years in small oak barrels prior to bottling. Deeper in colour, bolder in flavour and higher in alcohol than most Valpolicellas., this wine matches a wider range of cuisine including steak, lamb or rich pasta sauces." The website says: "Aged for up to two years in oak casks, Le Poiane is a dry, full-bodied, spicy wine, intensely ruby red in color, velvety rich, complex and exceptionally well-balanced. Serve with game, roast beef, beef stew, spaghetti with meatballs, agnolitti and barbecued chicken." My notes: The grapes used in Valpolicella are Corvina Veronese (40-70%), Rondinella (20-40%) and Molinara (5-20%). The vintner can also add up to 15% complementary varieties, which include Rossignola, Negrara, Trentina, Barbera and Sangiovese. 'Superiore' is produced with at least a year of aging, and must be 12% alcohol or more. The 2001 has a soft, plummy, fig nose and a ruby colour with a suspicion of brick on the edge, similar to the 1999 vintage. Medium-bodied with flavours of tar, plums, touch of raisins, a little black pepper and a pleasant sharp edge. The finish is very long and plummy with a tobacco note. Already aged five years another two years may be the limit. Pair with any red meats prepared in any full-flavoured style: stews, roasted ribs in a caramellized onion sauce, grilled steaks, grilled hot Italian sausage, etc. To me, a super valpolicella sipper.

CHINON 2001, DOMAINE CHARLES PAIN, 'CHEZELET', Panzoult, France, 12.0% XD, CP144-2246 $17.83 (Tasted April 13, 2006).

Opimian describes the 2000 vintage as "the Domaine produces three different cuvées, all of which we tasted before choosing the most generous from the 2000 vintage. The colour has a dense, closely packed maroon hue, followed by a wonderful aroma showing a vibrant, juicy structure with forward spice and herbal quality. Fleshy flavours with rich morello cherry add piquancy to the delightfully earthy souvenirs of the 'terroir'. A true Cabernet Franc." My notes: Opimian shipped the 2001 vintage instead, which was received November 2002 and cellared 'til now. Still has a deep ruby red colour with a delicate vanilla and soft black cherry nose. The flavours are mild, silky, ripe black cherry supported by a backbone of soft tannins and subdued acids. The finish is moderate, smooth and earthy. If sipping let air and note nose and flavour change - but really a red meat or game bird wine. Have with prime rib to full-flavoured stews, turkey breast or legs, pheasant, etc. Should be able to cellar another four years without harm.

RISCAL TEMPRANILLO 2004, Castilla y Leon, Spain, 14.0% XD, #620898 $11.45 (Tasted April 7, 2006)

The LCBO describes this as " Medium ruby red; aromas of red berry, sandlewood and oak; dry, sweet berry, with a slight tannic grip. Serve with grilled lamb loins or medium cheese." Tony Aspler says "....100% Tempranillo grapes. The wine is ruby-purple in colour with a bouquet of black cherry, minerals and sweet oak. It's full-bodied, earthy with concentrated fruit flavours on a solid oak base. Works well with red meat dishes." My notes: A clear ruby with aromas of cherry and oak. Medium-bodied, an earthy cherry flavour with a tannin and acid edge. The cherry finish is short lived leaving an earthy aftertaste. A meal red... have with pizzas, hamburgers, chili con carne - or just skip it.

HAMILTON'S EWELL VINEYARDS ‘STONEGARDEN' GRENACHE, SHIRAZ, MOUVÈDRE 2003, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% XD, #662973 $18.95 (Tasted April 7, 2006)

A Vintages release April 1, 2006 noting that "This vibrant and plush Grenache-based blend from the incomparable Barossa Valley offers terrific value. Expect ripe raspberry fruit, mint, spice and chocolate character along with notes of oak and vanilla on the long finish. Enjoy with Shepherd's pie or a beef rib roast." The newsletter rates it four and a half stars saying: "... usually abbreviated 'GSM'. On the other hand, the wine's as much a mouthful as the full name. This was a "wow!" wine for me, and I dickered between 4.5 and 5 stars. It delivers beautiful fruit with marvelous complexity and a really elegant texture that has hints of the best sort of rusticity - an edge that lifts the wine with another dimension. .... and make sure you snag some of this (RP)." Gord Stimmell rates this 90 saying "brims with smoke, wild blueberry and cedar charm from ...Oz." My notes: The original Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards was sold to Mildara Wines in 1979.... and the brand disappeared by 1988. Mark Hamilton, a grandson and a former Director of the original winery, re-established the brand... and gradually built the largest private holding of vineyards on the Barossa Valley floor. Colour is a smoky black cherry with nose to match, full of soft smoke, mint and black cherry. The flavours reflect the colour and nose: full-bodied with ripe plums and berries - rich and dense. Charm? More like 'Gutsy' to me. Decant or air twenty minutes minimum .... then it's a mellow sipper with a long, warm, smooth finish. Have with full flavoured stews or roasts. Can be cellared for several years yet.

VINA TARAPACA MERLOT 2004, Maipo, Chile, 13.5% D, #558668 $9.40 (Tasted April 5, 2006)

Tony Aspler describes this as "If you're looking for a tasty Merlot under $10... The wine is dense purple in colour with a smoky, blackcurrant and minerally nose; it's medium to full-bodied, dry and chunky in the mouth with a blackcurrant flavour and an earthy note. It finishes with soft tannins. You won't find a better Merlot at the price. Try it with shoulder of lamb or beef stew." The website says of their export merlot: "Intense varietal aroma, with notes of red fresh fruits, light spicy notes of black pepper and cinnamon, touches of caramel and tobacco. Medium body, well balanced, fresh, with a pleasant finish. Smooth flavorful. With sweet and ripe tannins." My notes: A General listing with a ruby red colour and an unusual jam, mineral and leather nose. Flavours include raspberry jam and milk chocolate mint. A medium-bodied meal wine, with balanced tannin and acid. Can't see it aging well. Have with hot dogs or burgers - not by itself. I'll save $10 and skip it.

MIKE WEIR ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 13.0% XD, #000075 $21.95 (Tasted April 4, 2006)

A Vintages release April 1, 2006 noting "An impressive debut, the aromas suggest cherry and cocoa powder. Dry and medium-bodied, it has a nice combo of fruit flavour and tannic structure with a medium-long finish. Although enjoyable now, it would benefit with 2-3 years in the cellar. (Vintages panel, Feb. 2006)." The newsletter says: "... even though this Pinot plays down the middle of the fairway right through the palate. From tee-off to finish, the complex fruit hits the sweet spot, and winemaker Craig McDonald has balanced it off well with the wood. Par it with grilled lamb (RP)." And Beppi says: "Like most good pinots [this] is medium-bodied and delicate. If you're new to the subtleties of wine or simply prefer the big, fat style of, say, a Greg Norman cabernet from Australia, this wine may not be for you. But it's expertly made, showing classic pinot flavours of red berries and beetroot and a hint of earth, carried on a silky frame with a subtle, slightly tannic backbone. Close your eyes and you can almost imagine you're drinking a decent red Burgundy (the benchmark for good pinot noir). It's an ideal red for fish or veal." Gord Stimmell rates it 90 and says "..impressive strawberry, cherry and exotic spice." My notes: Produced by Creekside Estate Winery under the Mike Weir Estates label, a bright ruby, medium-bodied to light- with aromas of berry, cardamon and light oak. Flavours of faint cherry, earth and light spice with noticeable tannins and a bright edge which carry through to a long finish. Not a sipper unless with a creamy brie or tasty edam, better paired with lightly flavoured meats: prime rib, ham steak, veal schnitzel or rack of lamb. Should integrate and mellow textures with a few years cellaring but unlikely worth it imho.

BODEGAS H.P. PASCUAS ‘VIÑA PEDROSA' 2003, Duero, Spain, 13.0% XD, #673517 $17.95 (Tasted April 3, 2006)

A Vintages release April 1, 2006 saying: "For value, it is hard to beat the 2003 Vina Pedrosa, an exuberant, deep ruby/purple-tinged wine displaying loads of cedar wood, creme de cassis, licorice, and spice box characteristics. Fleshy and opulent, with crisp, zesty acidity, this young vine cuvee is a terrific effort to drink over the next 5-6 years. Score - 90. (Robert Parker Jr.,, June 2005)." The newsletter rates four and 1/2 stars saying: "A really delicious and bargain-priced red with a generous texture, full dark fruit with accents of wood and spice, and excellent balance. Here's a rich red with texture that's made for food. The tannins are firm but manageable, and I would love a bottle of this with a rack of lamb, grilled medium-rare (RP)." My notes: Pours a rich ruby with a purple tinge and a nose of raspberry and anise. The flavour is a light raspberry and cherry with a distinct acerb edge, sharp for spicy or savoury meat dishes. An unusual wild berry and cedar finish with the sharpness easing off reasonably. Went well with grilled backribs sprinkled liberally with Barberian steak spices. A sharp sipper like eating wild berries. At peak now... cellaring may mellow still retaining the bright fruit - try two years and see.

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