Monday, May 22, 2006

More May Reds (7): Australia Blend, Australia Cab Sauv(2), Australia Shiraz(3), Argentina Blend

ELDERTON ‘FRIENDS' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% XD, #595389 $17.95 (Tasted May 31, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006 and described as "The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon 'Friends' reveals superb fruit along with an up-front, exuberant character displaying licorice, high quality cigar smoke, and cassis. While not complex, low acidity, an opulent, fleshy mouthfeel, and a long finish suggest this savory Cabernet will drink well for 4-6 years. Score - 89. (Robert Parker Jr.,, Oct. 2005)." rates it four 1/2 stars (of five) saying "Elderton, better known for Shiraz - "Best Shiraz in the World - 1996", also knows how to make Cab. They won the Jimmy Watson for their 1992. The plum and vanilla notes off the nose quickly dissolve into rich, racy, complex flavours of sweet (14.5% alc.) ripe cherries, savoury and tobacco. The luxurious finish has mocha and berry fruit. Drink now to 2010 with grilled medium-rare beef steak. After I get mine, you can stock up. (VH)." My notes: The Elderton winery describes this as a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec and 5% Merlot. Half the grapes came from the Barossa Valley, the remaining from the Eden Valley. A rich ruby red with a purple hue, the nose is soft plum and licorice easily filling a large bowl with smooth but penetrating aromas. Medium- to full-bodied, silky, faint plum and rich mature black cherry flavours with fine, drying tannins and a light acid. The finish peaks quickly then slowly fades so it's easy to dismiss as moderate. Pair with grilled or roasted red meats: prime rib, ribs, chili con carne, lamb, etc. Cellaring will build body - I'd try after two years and see where it's going.

SANDALFORD ‘ELEMENT' SHIRAZ/CABERNET 2004, Western Australia, 14.0% D, #683904 $15.95 (Tasted May 30, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006 and described as "The 2004 growing season in Western Australia was unusually hot and dry, creating wines that are more fruit forward than usual. Enjoy this blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Shiraz with grilled lamb chops, gourmet sausages or barbecue backribs." Winecurrent rates it four 1/2 stars (of five) saying "From a respected and premium WA winery, this is a "well" wine - well made, well priced and well worth a purchase. It is one delicious mouthful of juicy, ripe black fruit with a sprig of mint blended in. It is smooth and approachable, but also has a bit of oomph from deftly handled oak, ripe tannins and nice dash of tang. The lengthy finish suggests rack of lamb with mint sauce on the side. At this price you can stock up. (VH)." The Sandalford website doesn't have a description of the 2004 vintage. My notes: A clear, mid ruby, a penetrating red currant and blueberry nose and a velvet flavour of red berries with a hint of mint. The finish fades quickly with a spicy bite and some drying tannins leftover. Was good with red sauced ground beef pasta... should as well with grilled ribs, steaks, lamb, etc. OK as a drink-now but better if cellared for two years (minimum) to mellow it more.

ALICE WHITE SHIRAZ South Australia, Australia, 13.5% D, #550517 $12.80 (Tasted May 28, 2006)

A General release with no description on the LCBO website although stating that this is a product of the Canandaigua Wine Company which is a Constellation Brands Inc. Company. I'd guess it's produced by the Hardy Wine Company but the brand isn't listed on their website. The Roo's Rack website (a marketing website for Alice White wines) describes this shiraz as "...has a deep, rich ruby red color with notes of plum and berry on the nose. The wine is robust and full-bodied on the palate with nice fresh fruit." My notes: The grapes can be gathered from anywhere in South Australia and converted to this brand. Ordered with a grilled rib eye steak at a local steak house (marked up to $38 - ouch!). Memories of '2$Chuck' with shallow viniferal flavours and general lack of structure. It went OK with the grilled steak. A soft berry nose, flavours of light pepper, some berries and soft tannins with balanced acid. Drinkable? Yes. Would I order again? No, too many better alternatives.

LINDEMANS RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, South Australia, Australia, 13.5% D, #621607 $14.95 (Tasted May 25, 2006)

Gord Stimmell rates it 90/100 saying "Fairly new to most shelves, this is a real winner. Full, minty, black cherry and black plum aromas lead into smoky, cedar-accented black cherry flavours. The finish is full of lingering finesse, with chocolate, plum and minty cassis. With a velvet texture, this is a real power trip, and fab value. Serve with marinated lamb chops." The label says "This vibrant purple and crimson wine is brimming with blackberry, violet, mint and vanilla oak flavours. etc." My notes: Lindemans is a Southcorp brand. A deep ruby with mint, cassis and plum aromas albeit very light - develops in the glass. Medium-bodied and has a delicate approach to the palate, well balanced with soft tannins blending with plum, black cherry and smoke. The finish is long and has a different accent, perhaps of very ripe(not overripe) plum and minty oak. Should go nicely with prime rib, filet mignon, ham steak, rack of lamb. A drink-now... there's likely a year left to cellar. More like an 88/100 to me although worth the price.

LINDEMANS RESERVE PADTHAWAY SHIRAZ 2004, Padthaway, Australia, 13.5% D, #482299 $14.95 (Tasted May 25, 2006)

A General listing described as "Opaque ruby colour; intense cassis, raspberry, chocolate and spicy vanilla aromas; dry, full bodied, with dark berries, black pepper, spice and coffee flavours on the palate. Serve with barbequed lamb, spicy sausage or ribs." The label says "This vibrant purple and crimson wine is brimming with plum, raspberry, black pepper and vanilla oak flavours. etc." My notes: Lindemans is a Southcorp brand. Colour is a deep ruby with a red raspberry tint to match a nose of light berries. Medium-bodied and a softness in the first swallow followed by warm flavours of plum, raspberry with a pepper edge. The finish is long, blue and red berryish with some light spice. An OK sipper better with grilled red meats: beef, lamb, back ribs or the spicy sausages above. A drink-now - not outstanding but pleasant enough and worth the price.

TYRRELL'S 'THE LONG FLAT VINEYARD' SHIRAZ 2000, New South Wales, Australia, 13.5% D, #536763 $11.75 (Retasted May 23, 2006)

My notes: A General listing. The 2000 was cellared January, 2002 and last tasted June, 2005. The 'Long Flat' label was sold by Tyrrell in May, 2003 and later vintages of the brand is now offered by the Cheviot Bridge winery (products inset) although not clearly stated on the label. The LCBO website continues to refer to 'Tyrrell's Vineyards' as producer. The 2000 is a rich ruby, medium-bodied, well balanced and now has a full black cherry and raspberry flavour with a nose that's just perceptible as soft plum with a pepper edge. The finish is long with silky tannins, sweet cherry and light vanilla. Likely at peak - and this is the last bottle in the cellar 8-( .

MASI TUPUNGATO PASSO DOBLE ROSSO 2003, Argentina, 13.5% D, #620880 $14.95 (Retasted May 22, 2006)

My notes: Was a General listing when purchased. Previously tasted June, 2005 with the comment '... lots of tannin for cellaring and plum, cherries and a light vanilla. The finish is long with drying notes along with lip-licking value.' The colour is a rich ruby with warm plum, ripe black cherry nose and a background of soft cedar. After a year in the cellar the flavours are essentially the same however the fruits are not so forward and the structure is smoother with well integrated fine tannin and light acid that carry through to a long warm finish - still a lip-licking value.

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