GOVERNOR'S BAY PINOT NOIR 2003, South Island, New Zealand, 12.5%, #656405 $18.95 (Retasted May 20, 2006)
My notes: A Vintages release August 20, 2005 and last tasted August, 2005 with the comment '... airing awhile helps considerably.' No need to air as it pours a beautiful light strawberry-ruby with aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cranberry in the glass. Lots of the same berry flavours mingle on a silky thread of mild acid and tannins, and a roundness on the palate. The finish is long, smooth and carries with it a medley of flavour changes to enjoy. An interesting light-bodied sipper or with a range of entrees - tasty seafood dishes, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork or ham. I'll cellar for another while to see what happens but likely is drinking at peak now.
RIDDOCH COONAWARRA CABERNET MERLOT 2002, South Australia, 13.5%, #713255 $15.95 (Retasted May 19, 2006)
Vintages released August 20, 2005 quoting a rating of 88 by the Wine Enthusiast, May 2005." My notes: Last tasted in August, 2005 with the comment 'a soft berry nose with a light oak and some warm mint from a deep ruby colour. Light tannins support a medley of soft berries and spice. A great sipper alone or with a range of cheeses, chicken wings, or grilled short ribs. etc. ...cellar two to three years.' Let breathe a tad .. the same nose, flavours and finish altho' seems to be a tad smoother after nine months. I don't believe cellaring will have any substantial benefit.
WOLF BLASS CABERNET MERLOT 1999, South Australia, 13.0% #611483 $16.95 (Retasted May 16, 2006)
My notes: Cellared July, 2002.... with three to six years suggested. Last tasted June 2005. Now a clear mid ruby with a warm, soft nose of plums and cherries. The first swallow warms the palate and has ripe cherry flavours with faint tannins, light acid and a licorice note. Light- to medium-bodied and has a long finish with a ripe red cherry fading to a cool cedar edge... a rewarding sipper by itself or with aged cheddar nibbles or cheddar/caramelized onions and wheat thins. Should be great with any meat: pork, beef, light game, chicken or red pastas. Likely won't improve with further cellaring.
CUVEE DES ARDOISES DES ERLES FITOU 2003, Fitou, France, 13.5% XD, #949222 $16.95 (Tasted May 14, 2006)
Part of Vintages May 13, 2006 release and described as "seductive, aromatic red, with pretty red cherry and spiced apple flavor and some decadent meaty notes in the mix. Fresh, fruity finish. Drink now. Score - 87. (Kim Marcus, www.winespectator.com, July 31, 2005)." The label describes this as a blend of carignan, syrah and grenache calling it "unctuous and rich, with a great complexity of aromas..... can be kept for ageing...but... ready to drink." Beppi says it's "one of the best values in today's release. ... rich and chewy, with luscious flavours of ripe plum, black cherry, licorice and herbs." Natalie says "Cedar, pine needles and cherries. Simple and delicious. Drink with barbecue fare. Score: 87/100." Winecurrent gives this four stars (of five) saying "The tannins here are still pretty big, but if you decant the wine or pair it up with a juicy, medium-rare (at most) steak, you'll do fine. It's .. blend... delivers flavours of sweet fruit and berries with spicy and gamey notes. (RP)" My notes: A Lurton wine. A mid ruby red with a 'cotton candy' nose of soft berries, rasp- and straw-. A swallow covers the palate with berries, a hint of licorice and a tannic mouthfeel which fades quickly into a long, dry, plum, cherry and spice finish. It's drinking well now as a dry sipper and was great with pork chops. Pair with grilled steak, prime rib, lamb shank, and stew. Cellaring a year or two could produce a value mellow sipper and dinner red.
MALIVOIRE OLD VINES FOCH 2002 (Canadian Oak), Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5%, Winery $25.00 (Retasted May 11, 2006)
My notes: Cellared November, 2003 and last tasted October 2005. A dark see-through ruby with a pinkish, grenache-like edge, a cherry, blackberry nose with a soft cedar and vanilla note. Medium-bodied, a sharp acid on a well structure flavour of ripe red cherries - nice tannins. A smooth, european style, dry sipper with some brightness and pucker. The finish is long and tart red cherry. Pair with any red meat prepared in any way, savoury or spicy. The 1999 is fuller with more complex flavours. Will cellar a few more years.
MALIVOIRE OLD VINES FOCH 1999, Beamsville, Canada, 13.5% XD, Winery $18.95 (Tasted May 10, 2006)
My notes: Cellared July 2001. Now an approachable foch tasted a year ago (May, 2005) when it had a distinct 'fochiness' - no need to let breathe now (but it's still a Foch). Has two years remaining in the predicted cellaring of 2008. A deep garnet with a nose of light cedar and soft plums. Medium- to full-bodied, smooth on the palate with soft tannins, well balanced acid and integrated flavours of plums, earthy mushrooms and soft vanilla. Drinking well now as a dry european style sipper or paired with game meats, stews, steaks, lamb, duck - nothing too spicy but full flavoured. The finish is velvety, long with pleasing vanilla notes.
MALIVOIRE MOIRA VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2000, Beamsville, Canada, 13.5% XD, Winery $35.95 (Retasted May 9, 2006)
My notes: Cellared in December, 2001 and tasted in March and November, 2005. Airing for twenty minutes no longer needed... has a light smoke, cherry and vanilla nose. Medium-bodied, well balanced acid and tannin with an interesting savoury 'cherry coke' flavour but without the sweetness - a european red. A dry sipper and went well with warmed up meatroll and mashed potatoes. Should be OK with any grilled red beef, rack of lamb, pork chops, sweet italian sausage, mild pizzas, and dark bird meats. Compared with recent Pinot Noirs interesting but not a value.
JEANNERET CLAIRE VALLEY SHIRAZ 2002, Clare Valley, Australia, 14.5% XD, #732891* $15.95 (Retasted May 7, 2006)
My notes: A Vintages release in October, 2004. Purchased at a bargain price and cellared October 2004 - originally rated a 92/100 (* could be #994962 @ $24.95). Last tasted October 5, 2004 with a comment "lots of black currant, plum/raspberry, little bit of pepper with enough tannins to last for years." Still has the light ruby colour with a warm cedar and black currant nose - not as strong as originally but natural and very pleasant. Medium-bodied, palate puckering with flavours of tart black currant not as full in the mouth. A long finish, dry with bright fruit. Very sippable. Pair with any red meat... went well with meat loaf roll with cheese breads. Cellarable for a few more years yet. The Jeanneret website doesn't list recent vintages (!?)
CONCHA Y TORO 'TRIO' CABERNET SAUVIGNON/SHIRAZ/CABERNET FRANC 2003, Chile, 14.0% XD, #433912 $14.95 (Retasted May 7, 2006)
Vintages supposedly released the 2004 on April 29, 2006 - bought without looking then found out there's nothing but 2003's on the shelf in three local LCBO's. The description on the Vintages website is "Concha Y Toro consistently overachieves with every line they produce. For the popular 'Trio' range, the winery sources the three grapes varieties in each blend from the best regions: this power-packed, ripe and spicy red is from the Maipo Valley. The winery's website features recipes tailor-made for each wine in the series. They recommend beef fillets with crunchy mashed potatoes and grilled spring onions for this one." - ie. nothing about the 2004 wine. My notes: Last tasted January 3, 2006 with the comment "... A medium-bodied blend of cabernet sauvignon (70%), shiraz (15%) and cabernet franc (15%). A smooth, light plum nose leading to a smooth, pepper edged plum and black cherry fruit with a long plummy finish. A house red that is light- and smooth enough for most guests but neither fruity nor full- enough for most red drinkers...etc. " I take that back.... most red drinkers would find this a very sippable dry red...... Great with a rolled meatroll with snow peas and cheese draped mashed potatoes. Now is a long cherry and black currant dry finish. A good drink-now and cellarable for a few years yet.
FALASCO VALPOLICELLA VALPANTENA RIPASSO 2003, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #642421 $16.95 (Tasted May 6, 2006)
A Vintages release on April 29, 2006 and described as "An old favourite here at Vintages, this Valpolicella Ripasso always delivers the goods. This vintage displays aromas of plum, cherry, chocolate, leather and tobacco. It is dry and supple with a sweet centre, medium-body and substantial finish. Enjoy with grilled lamb chops. (VINTAGES panel, Nov. 2005)" My notes: A blend of Corvina and Rondinella grapes. Some but not much 'ripasso'. ie. fermenting on dried grape skins used to make Amarone, in the nose with more red than black cherries with some soft oak. Medium-bodied with a dark red cherry colour and flavours of red cherries and plums, fruit driven sweetness, soft tannins and a light acid edge. The long finish has a balance of tannins, cherry fruit and pencil shavings. Cellaring a few years may increase smoothness but it's drinking well now.
CARDINHAM CABERNET/MERLOT 2003, Clare Valley, Australia, 13.8% XD, #694570 $18.95 (Tasted May 4, 2006)
A Vintages release on February 4, 2006 and described as "This family vineyard operation supplied prized Clare Valley fruit to some high profile wineries for twenty years before releasing their first estate grown product in 2001. Expect vibrant currant fruit, eucalyptus and bell pepper notes in this fresh medium-bodied blend." The Cardinham website did not list the 2003 Cab/Merlot but described the 2003 vintage year as "... subject to some of nature’s biggest challenges, drought and frost having significant impact on the early development of vines at bud burst. Late rains provided a refreshing relief from the dry conditions and more importantly, moisture to fill out and develop the fruit on the vine." My notes: Has a murky ruby colour and after airing briefly, a nose of overripe plums. Medium- to full-bodied with a velvet-smooth mouthfeel, fine tannins, white pepper and a flavour of bruised black cherries leaving a long, smooth finish reminiscent of a musty book. Decanting may help.... but I'll avoid the vintage. This bottle will be saved for a full-flavoured stew - it has a screwtop.
FARNESE ‘DON CAMILLO' SANGIOVESE 2002 (and 2004), Ortona, Italy, 13.0% D, #643189 $14.95 ($14.95) (Tasted May 1, 2006)
The 2002 vintage was available from Vintages on September 18, 2004 and the 2004 on April 29, 2006. Vintages describes the 2004 as "... very New World in style; expect a lot of blackberry and oak aromas and flavours. It is intense and flavourful with a long plush finish. Enjoy with spaghetti and meatballs." The Farnese website says "A blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Ortona district. An intense garnet red colour, fruity fragrance with jam aroma and cherry preserved in alcohol, a scent of spicy notes of liquorice, vanilla and faded flowers. Full-bodied, soft, tannic, of a fine quality, with a pleasant bitter aftertaste, ready for immediate use. Serve between 16 and 18° C. Best served with salami, savoury first courses, excellent with meat and cheese or as a sipper. " My notes: The 2002 was cellared in September 2004. Both have a rich ruby colour with the 2002 retaining a soft plum and cherry nose whereas the 2004 isn't perceptible. Both are medium-bodied, the 2002 has a clean, smooth, berry flavour with balanced acid and noticeable tannins - the 2004, almost the same but slightly brighter - hard to detect a difference unless they're side by side in which case my preference is the 2002 especially as a dry sipper. The finish has more fruit on top of the tannic edge. Pair either with roasted or grilled red meats, spicy pastas, pepperoni pizza, bbq'd ribs, or stews. Both are drinking well now - I'd still cellar the 2004 for two years yet.
NEPENTHE CHARLESTON PINOT NOIR 2003, Adelaide, Australia, 14.0% XD, #682054 $17.95 (Tasted May 1, 2006)
Vintages release on April 29, 2006 and described as ".... is one of the finest Australian Pinots I have tasted. It exhibits a medium ruby color in addition to soft, sweet notes of cola, black cherries, dried herbs, and loamy soil. Soft, round, medium-bodied, and charming, it should be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years. Score - 88 (Robert Parker Jr., www.erobertparker.com, Oct. 2005)." The label says "The cool and beautiful Adelaide Hills produce pinot noir that is fragrant, intense and generous with abundant fresh fruit characters. .... made with minimalist winemaking techniques... best consumed in its youth, etc." The website says, "The Nepenthe 'Charleston' Pinot noir is a vineyard and barrel selection, blended with an emphasis on approachability and vibrance of fruit, especially in the wine's youth. ... picking each vineyard block when at its best, then keeping each batch of wine separate until maturation is complete, allowing us to ruthlessly cull those barrels which do not meet the required standard and style. .... deep red in colour with aromas of cherries, rhubarb and spice, and the gentle yet dry tannins of genuinely ripe grapes.... will mature gracefully and gain complexity for 2-4 years. Cellaring 3-5 Years." The winecurrent newsletter rates this four stars saying "...delicate balance of mellow fruit (plum and rich cherry) flavours, deft handling of oak, and an extremely well balanced and lengthy finish. The price point ... is superb. Smoked duck breasts or roasted Cornish game hens would pair well. (VH)." My notes: This, as well as 'The Rogue' (Archives, Dec 2005), belongs to the middle of three Nepenthe 'Ranges': 'Pinnacle', 'Altitude' and 'Tryst'. After airing briefly the nose is full of fresh strawberries and black cherries. Colour is a strawberry tinged see-through ruby. Has a round mouthfeel with flavours of smooth strawberry, cherry and at 16 and 18° C it shows a brightness with a light tannin. The finish is long, bright with a touch of cinnamon. A great sipper and can be paired with roasted game birds, Swiss Chalet, spareribs or rack of lamb, pork/lamb/chicken souvlaki, etc. A sip-now altho' cellaring for two to five years seems possible. A bargain Pinot...