Saturday, June 24, 2006

More June Whites (5): Italy Blend, Canada Blend, Canada Chard(2), Australia Sauv Blanc,

ANSELMI SAN VINCENZO VENETO IGT 2005, Veneto, Italy, 12.8% XD, #948158 $15.95 (Tasted June 30, 2006)

A Vintages release June 24, 2006 and described as ".. light, fresh wine .. a unique blend of Garganega, Chardonnay and a little Trebbiano that will capture your imagination. It's packed with ripe citrus and tropical fruit flavours balanced by a seam of acidity with a crisp medium finish. Enjoy with pasta in a pesto sauce, or cannelloni stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach." My notes: The last vintage tasted (December, 2005) was 2004 with the comment " retains the zesty fruit flavours of the previous vintages. Full aromas of lemon and floral honey build anticipation for the freshly tart flavours of soft lemon, a touch of passionfruit and pineapple. etc." If anything the 2005 has a stronger floral and honey lemon drop nose, a brilliant blond colour and distinct flavours of passionfruit, grapefruit and distant banana. The long finish carries full flavoured fruit including the banana edge along with a smooth mouthfeel. A great patio sipper when served by itself well chilled. A full-bodied white with enough to hold its own with cold ham, cold turkey or chicken on greens, sushi, asian dishes, fresh oysters, etc. A real value imho. Should cellar well up to five years - but check yearly.

TAWSE 'ROBYN'S BLOCK' CHARDONNAY 2003 VQA, Vineland, Canada, 14.1% D, #Winery $48.00 (Tasted June 27, 2006)

My notes: Tasted then purchased from the winery, one of several gravity flow wineries in the Niagara area. Robyn's Block is part of the lower slope of the 'Vineland Double Bench'. This chardonnay is unfiltered. Full flavoured grapefruit, mango and butterscotch with soft oak, balanced acid and tannins. Colour is a strong golden straw and the finish is long and round. Yes, overpriced but comparable to other old vines chards from the Niagara area. Cellaring for few more years is possible. Sipping well now and would be great with oysters, cold or hot mussels, a bouillibaise, seafood paella, etc.

FLAT ROCK CELLARS '2005 TWISTED' VQA, Jordan, Canada, 12.0% D, #001578 $18.95 (Tasted June 27, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 10, 2006 and described as "A fruit-driven, aromatic blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Chardonnay that would match freshwater fish or a chicken biriani. Aromas suggest lime, grapefruit, peach, ripe apple and a hint of spice. Slightly off-dry, it comes across as fairly dry on the finish due to nice acid core. Medium-bodied with a lingering finish. (VINTAGES panel, April 2006)." Gord Stimmell gives it 90 saying "intriguing.... floral jasmine, peach and apple crispness, a blend of gewurztraminer, riesling and chardonnay." My notes: Although available in Vintages this bottle was tasted and purchased from the winery on June 27th. A screwtop for preserving flavours. A pleasant mild sipper giving aromas of pineapple, spice, lemon and honey. An off-dry but the natural sugars and acids are well balanced. The finish is smooth, warm and leaves a slight spiciness. Should be able to cellar for a few years.

FLAT ROCK CELLARS ‘THE RUSTY SHED' CHARDONNAY 2004 VQA, Jordan, Canada, 12.5% D, #001552 $29.95 (Tasted June 27, 2006)

Vintages released on June 10, 2006 and described it as "After months of postponing the painting of a rusty old shed in the middle of their premier Chardonnay vineyard, the folks at Flat Rock decided to name their top-tier Chardonnay after it. Guess they won't bother painting it now. Colour: medium straw. Nose: Burgundian nose, barnyard, oaky, apple. Taste: toasty, orange, tangerine and caramel flavours; lovely spine of acidity; great length Drinkability: now to 2008. Outstanding. (Tony Aspler,, March 2006)." Their website says "is fully barrel fermented, lees aged and stirred, and undergoes 50% to 100% malolactic fermentation depending on the composition of the grapes at harvest. .... complex mix of melon and fleshy fruit, spicy oak notes, creamy mouthfeel and balanced acidity." Gord Stimmell rates it 92 saying "lemon oil, creamed corn, buttery, spicy apple flavours, and lingering lemon finish. My notes: Although available in Vintages this tasting was at the winery (great 270 views on a clear day) on June 27th. Comes with a screwcap. A pleasant creaminess on the first sip followed by a crisp melon/citrus and apple. A long citrus and melon finish. Cellaring for a few years should integrate structure but at the loss of some fruit. Try a year at a time.

WOLF BLASS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, South Australia, 12.5% XD, #611475 $14.95 (Tasted June 24, 2006)

A General release described as "Medium straw colour; aromas of pear, melon and hay aromas; dry, light to medium bodied, well balanced, with fresh cut grass, lime and herb flavours. Serve with jambalaya, steamed asparagus, grilled veggies or herbed fish dishes." My notes: A perfumed, somewhat artificial lime and passionfruit aroma from a light straw, light-bodied liquid. Flavours of light lime and faint passionfruit with prominent acids. A tart, uninteresting sipper better with seafood or chicken wraps. A dry citrus finish with an artificial fruit edge. A drink-now, not cellarable, not a value.

Monday, June 19, 2006

More June Reds (8): Canada Pinot Noir(2), France Tavel, Australia Merlot, France Blend, USA Cab Sauv, Italy Valpol, Chile Cab Sauv

FLAT ROCK CELLARS ‘GRAVITY' PINOT NOIR 2004 VQA, Jordan, Canada, 13.5% D, #001560 $29.95 (Tasted June 27, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 10, 2006 and described as "Colour: bright ruby Nose: rust, raspberry, minerally Taste: elegant, floral, black raspberry flavours; well extracted sweet fruit, concentrated; firm structure, soft tannins. Oregon style. Drinkability: now – 2008. Very Good. (Tony Aspler,, March 2006)." The website says "The blend will lean towards dark cherries and plums, spice and earth with a rounded, firm tannin structure." Gord Stimmell gives it a 90 saying "Pinot Noir purists will exult ... smoky blackberry, beet and sweet cedar-laced black raspberry character." My notes: Tasted at the winery on June 27th. Three pinot noir clones blended for a balanced combination of earth and fruit characters. Colour is a light see-through ruby with no perceptible nose unless an earthy violet. Flavours of soft red cherry with a raspberry hint... very soft tannins and acids. This is a subtle pinot difficult for me to meal match but an OK social sipper. Should cellar for a few years allowing it to develop more character. Not a value imho.

TAWSE PINOT NOIR 2003 VQA, Vineland, Canada, 13.5% D, #Winery $28.00 (Tasted June 27, 2006)

My notes: Tasted at the winery, one of several gravity flow wineries in the Niagara area. A mid ruby colour with a cherry tinge. A faint cherry and licorice nose, has a pleasing roundness on the palate with flavours of licorice, tar, cherry and light tannins. Finishes with some cherries although the earthiness is predominant. Cellaring for several years may bring out roundness but also lower appealing cherry notes. Take your chances.... an uninteresting sipper better with light fowl meats, scallop or shrimp rice dishess - not a value.

DOMAINE MABY ‘LA FORCADIÈRE' TAVEL 2005, Tavel, France, 14.0% XD, #701318 $15.95 (Tasted June 25, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 24, 2006 and described as "According to Robert Parker Jr., Domaine Maby is a winery that ‘never disappoints'. Their rosés are always anticipated because of their depth of flavour and beautiful balance of fruit and acid. Just say ‘Maby Baby' and enjoy it as an aperitif or with trout or bass fresh from the lake." Natalie gives it 89/100 saying "Completely dry and elegant with lovely aromas of raspberries. Drink slightly chilled under a shady tree." gives it four stars (of 5) saying "An elegant rosé that is rich in fruit and structure. Look for flavours of ripe red fruit and berries and excellent balance, and serve this to any snob who says he/she doesn't drink rosé. Pair it with poached salmon or any dish with baked ham. (RP)." My notes: A brilliant red cherry red with aromas of cotton candy and cherries albeit extremely faint. Medium-bodied flavours of light cranberry and red cherry with drying tannins and tartness. The moderate finish reflects bright flavours, a dryness and a distinct tartness. Not a sipper to me and not as I remember the body of a Tavel which should be round and full of red cherries and fresh raspberry flavours. Better off-chill but was disappointing with rotisseried chicken basted in a Hoisin /lemon/ ketchup sauce - I preferred a Jindalee chard. Cellaring may soften the tannins and acid slightly producing some smoothness, perhaps two years, but I don't think so.

LINDEMANS ‘RESERVE' MERLOT 2004, South Australia, 13.5% XD, #588715 $15.95 (Tasted June 25, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 24, 2006 noting "Throw the steaks on the barbecue for this ready-to-drink Merlot. The nose suggests cherries jubilee, plum, green pepper and a hint of spice. It's dry, medium-bodied with jammy fresh fruit flavours, hints of vanilla and mocha, soft tannins and a medium long finish. (VINTAGES panel, April 2006)." The label says: "Cherry colour and aromatic bouquet complement the vibrant cherry and plum flavours, with subtle use of American and French oak and a lingering finish. ...enjoy young..." gives it four stars (of 5) saying "This gorgeous Merlot, from a super premium Aussie producer, offers a lifted nose of spiced plum and cherry then hits its stride with a wondrous explosion of fruit flavours that include ripe black berries infused with coffee and spice. There are noticeable, but acceptable tannins and a sweet core of ripe juicy fruit that carries on to the medium length finish. Serve proudly beside smoked and grilled back ribs, now to 2012. (VH)." My notes: Comes with an artificial cork with wine the colour of a black cherry skin. The nose is soft oak, black cherry and white pepper. Medium-bodied with flavours of black cherry, a hint of blackberry evenly balanced with pepper, acid and a lick of tannin - not smooth. The long finish starts out as a tannic berry /cherry and fades into an earthy note. An OK dry red sipper better paired with prime rib, grilled back ribs or game meats. Cellaring for several years shouldn't be a problem although it may improve only marginally. Appropriately priced.

DOMAINE MAGELLAN SYRAH/GRENACHE VIEILLES VIGNES 2003, Magales, France, 14.5% D, #683722 $15.95 (Tasted June 24, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 24, 2006 noting "Only 500 cases of this wine were made; we were able to acquire 350 of those. Powerful, pure-tasting and well-crafted red, with an aroma of spiced meats and loads red plum, mincemeat and spice flavors. Red berry and cinnamon notes linger on the long, firm finish. Best from 2006 through 2008. Score - 90. (Kim Marcus,, Aug. 31, 2005)" gives it four stars (of 5) saying "This expresses 2003s long hot summer. From the grapey nose to the ripe, juicy and kirsch-like flavours, it is fruit-forward. Expect some spice and savoury notes, as well. However, there is structure and balance fashioned from the supple tannins and dollop of acidity. Idiosyncratic in profile, it nevertheless delivers a crowd pleasing value red. (VH)." My notes: Half and half of Syrah and Grenache - an artificial cork and a deep violet ruby colour. If 'powerful' means heavy tannins and high acid hitting the palate with a hint of iodine, masking any fruit that might be present... and not going away... then this is powerful. What it's not is 'pleasant'! Letting breathe for thirty minutes helped but not enough. Don't sip, don't match with meals, don't waste your dollars, imho. 'Memories of decaying forest floor' jump into mind.

J. LOHR ‘SEVEN OAKS' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Paso Robles, USA, 13.5% XD, #656561 $19.95 (Tasted June 23, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 24, 2006 with the note: "Though mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (76%), winemaker Jeff Meier blends in small amounts of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Carignan, Merlot, and more. The final wine overdelivers with ripe black fruit, tobacco, dark chocolate, vanilla and spice characteristics. It's dry and medium full-bodied, soft and deeply flavoured with a long supple finish. Enjoy with barbecued spare ribs or steak. (VINTAGES panel, Nov. 2005)" The label says: "vineyards in the Estrella Hills area.. one of three appellations in California that produce world class cabernet sauvignon. ... aromas ... of cherries, blueberries, violets and vanilla. Flavours are lusciously full balanced by firm tannins." gives it four and one-half star (of 5) saying "Paso (as those in the know call it) is becoming famous for its Rhône-style wines, and this Cab has a little Rhône in it, in the form of small percentages of Syrah and Carignan. The result is a gorgeous blend that delivers a whole raft of dark fruit flavours along with notes of tobacco, spice and coffee. Full-bodied and smooth-textured, it's excellent with full-flavoured red meats. (RP)" My notes: A dense ruby/violet colour with warm berry and oak aromas. Full-bodied, not as mellow as 2002 (tasted August 21, 2005) but still mellow, firm tannins for sure, spicy for sure, bright and ripe blackberry. The berry finish is long somewhat tart with the tannins coating the teeth throughout. Cellar for two years for best sipping. Great for prime ribs, grilled lamb chops, beef stew, burgers or lamb shanks.

CORTE ZOVO 'SA SOLIN' RIPASSO 2003, Veneto, Italy, D 13.5%, #650713 $15.95 (Tasted June 21, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 24, 2006 and described as "This fabulous Ripasso has been a major hit since its first release a year ago. It has structure to match with flavourful dishes, yet is so pleasingly fruit-forward that it would also make a pleasant sipping wine." gives this five stars (of five) saying "This is a ripper. Sour cherry and spicy black plum aromatics drift off the glass from this medium weight crowd pleaser. It is well structured with balancing acidity and supple tannin while delivering copious amounts of fresh, juicy ripe red fruit on the palate and finish. There is a delightful seam of tar and black licorice that adds interest to the fruit flavours. Worthy of a case purchase to be consumed over the next 2 years. (VH)" Natalie gives it 87/100 saying "Terrific value. Great balance and juicy red fruit flavors." My notes: Everything says. The 'seam of tar and licorice' mellows with a few minutes airing adding much interest to plum and cherry flavours. Very smooth. Long finish, full, balanced - very nice sipper and great with anything meaty, grilled or roasted. Drinking well now and cellaring could allow keeping several on hand for special occasions. 'Worthy of a case purchase' - I thought so!

VINA TARAPACA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2004, Maipo, Chile, XD 13.5%, #249599 $9.45 (Tasted June 19, 2006)

A General listing and described as "Deep ruby red; cassis, black cherry, cedar and touch of spice and plum on the nose; dry, medium- to full-bodied, with ripe tannins, cassis, berry and oak flavours, soft finish. Serve with lamb souvlaki; BBQ meats; hearty beef stews." TheTarapaca website doesn't describe the 2004 vintage but the 2003 is described as "Fine wood aromas. Intense, complex, with aromas of fruit like currant, cherry and cassis. Mint and tobacco notes, as of spices as black pepper and vanilla. Full bodied, balanced, great structure and large and complex aftertaste. Ripe and strong tannin." My notes: A Beringer Blass estate and the label says it's one of Southern Sun wineries. One of eight varietals bottled for the Export market. A medium ruby colour with an earthy nose and faint cherry aromas. Has a distinctly sharp approach to the palate, dry with a distinct tannin, a strong mint edge to a plummy-raspberry fruit. The finish is short, sharp and jammy. A drink-now, not a sipper, better served with hamburgers, grilled sirloin or pizza. Tasted the open bottle the next day and finish is now mellowed, some chocolate notes with the plum jam which lasts long after the first sip.... quite nice. Perhaps airing for an hour may do the same?

Friday, June 02, 2006

June Reds (10): Italy Montepulciano, France Blend, Canada Berry, Australia Shiraz, Spain Blend, Italy Blend, France Syrah, Australia Blend(2), NZ PN

CITRA MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2005, Abruzzo, Italy, 13.0% D, #446633 $6.95 (Tasted June 19, 2006)

A General listing with a non-vintage description of "Medium ruby purple colour; cherry, blackberry fruit, pepper on the nose and palate with hints of leather, chocolate, plum and spice; medium-bodied with a firm, dry finish. Chicken cacciatore, tomato-based pasta or pizza." The label says: "Ruby red with notes of violets and black cherry, full-bodied with smooth tannins and pleasant to the palate." My notes: A rich ruby colour with a faint cherry and pepper nose, a sharp edge balanced by fresh cranberry and cherry flavours finishing quickly with a bright berry touch on the palate. A suitable dry red sipper and a match for red pasta or pizza dishes. The structure is light without richness but so is the price. A drink-now although could 'cellar' a year's purchase to have on hand for spontaneous bbqs or sports finals get-togethers.

JUNIPER CROSSING CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT 2003, Margaret River, Australia, 13.5% XD, #684019 $15.95 (Tasted June 14, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 10, 2006 and described as "This scrumptious ‘second label' from Juniper Estate is comprised of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. A well-priced Margaret River Cabernet with a surprising touch of class. The herb, blackcurrant and smoky scents are savoury and attractive. In the mouth there is clean, intense Cabernet fruit with a well-controlled touch of oak, a long finish and dry savoury tannins. A bargain. Score - 4(out of 5). (Ralph Kyte-Powell, ‘Epicure Uncorked', The Age, Sept. 13, 2005). gives it four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "The nose brims over with black currant and smoky aromas while the glass explodes with bramble berry and cassis. This is one gutsy (supple tannin) and zesty (deftly handled acidity) well balanced red. The finish is lengthy and luxurious. Roast beef , especially that pink slice, would be the go here, from now to 2010. The price to quality ratio is tipped heavily in your favour. (VH)" The Juniper website describes it as "Crimson with a touch of purple in colour, the wine shows lifted blackcurrant, red cherry and mulberry fruit characters with a touch of mint and smoky vanillin oak on the nose. The palate has good flesh, juicy berry fruit and spice with a fine tannin backbone. Contains 30% old vine estate fruit." Natalie rates this 89.5/100 saying "Gorgeous aromas of black plums and dried herbs. Dry with some tannins so decant for an hour first. Drink with hearty meat dishes." My notes: A full nose of berries and smoke, a dense ruby red colour, full-bodied, smooth with plums and currants, an earthiness, dark chocolate and a rough edge that wash over the palate. The finish is long, smooth almost oily and savoury, oak blended harmoniously with the fruit and tannins that become more apparent after a few sips. Soft enough for dark fowl but robust enough for prime rib, lamb rack or shank, flavoured cheeses, a cheesy caramellized onion soup(?). A drink-now. Cellaring for several years may not improve but shouldn't spoil this red. Priced right for sure.

CHÂTEAU L'HOSPITALET ‘LA RÉSERVE' ROUGE 2003, Languedoc, France, 13.5% D, #682492 $18.95 (Tasted June 13, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 10, 2006 and described as "The wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 30% Mourvèdre. A savory spice aroma leads into a full palate of luscious dark cherry, mocha and cardamom flavors that are finely crafted and balanced. This wine has a thick and rich texture and a finish that builds in intensity with espresso and dark chocolate notes. Drink now through 2009. Score - 92. (Kim Marcus,, Aug. 31, 2005)." gives it four stars (of 5) saying "The spiced plum and cherry nose opens up into a mélange of flavours including currant, black plum and medicinal notes. The texture is silky smooth and mellow with all elements well integrated. It is delicately balanced with a medium finish of tar and bramble berry. Well priced, this would set up nicely alongside rich stews, like a lamb daube. (VH)" The website has no description under the 'Proprieties' La Clape wines. " My notes: A deep ruby colour with a minty plum and cherry nose. Let breathe for twenty minutes. Medium-bodied with smooth flavours of rich black cherry, blackberry, some dark chocolate and soft spice. The flavours finish with a long smooth cherry/berry and light cigar box edge. An interesting sipper for red wine drinkers.... and great for grilled or roasted red meat entrees, there's lots of depth for full flavoured stews. Likely at peak now but cellaring for a few years wouldn't be out of the way.... not likely longer.

COX CREEK CELLARS BLACKBERRY LEGEND, Guelph, Canada, 14.0% D, 375ml #Winery $20.70* (Tasted June 12, 2006)

My notes: A ten percent discount lowered price to $18.63. Won gold medal at the Indiana State Fair 2003. A combination of blackberry (70%) and raspberry (30%) and the beautiful clear red hue shows it. A distinct raspberry nose softened by the bramble aroma of blackberry, medium- to light-bodied with natural, full berry flavours combined with their soft complementing acids and round density. A true slightly off-dry wine rather than a cordial or fruit liqueur... a great sipper with the difference of natural berries. The finish is long with lots of berry and an appropriate dry tartness. Should go with any fowl: turkey, cornish hen, pheasant or bacon on a bun - I just sipped my bottle. A versatile red as a change from 'grapes'.

RICHARD HAMILTON ‘GUMPRS' SHIRAZ 2002, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.0% XD, #600122 $19.95 (Tasted June 10, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 10, 2006 and described as "The 2002 Shiraz 'Gumprs' Block is a good value. Vanilla, plum, cherry, and currant aromas jump from the glass of this medium-bodied, straightforward, pleasant, attractive Shiraz. Consume it over the next 1-2 years. Score - 87. (Robert Parker Jr.,, Oct. 2004)." gives it four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "Ripe berry fruit and spicy black plum aromas drift from this medium-bodied offering of a perennial favourite. Blackberry and raspberry flavours abound on the palate while all else (tannin, oak, acidity) play a supportive role. The long finish delivers more ripe fruit and a dollop of racy acidity. Rack of lamb seasoned with garlic and rosemary would match well. (VH)" Their website says "Ripe up-front flavours of crushed raspberry and plums with hints of vanilla and chocolate lead to a creamy, textured mid-palate and lovely, long finish." Natalie rates this 87/100 saying "Juicy and plummy, lip-smacking delicious." My notes: A deep ruby with a purple tint and faint aromas of black cherry and berries. Medium- to full-bodied, quiet and smooth on the palate with ripe plum, black cherry and dark chocolate with subtle acids. The finish is long, bright, and builds to a fruity crescendo - has the impression of being sweet, 'lip-smacking' for sure. Open bottle was very sharp next day.... Should be a polite complement to grilled red meats, ham steak, chili sauce, full flavoured stews, roast turkey and game meats - nothing spicy. Drinking well now but if cellaring check regularly - any excuse to imbibe. A '90' to me.

JULIAN CHIVITE ‘GRAN FEUDO' RESERVA 1998, Navarra, Spain, 12.5% XD, #479014 $14.95 (Tasted June 8, 2006)

A Vintages release May 27, 2006 and described as "First released fourteen months ago, this is a good repurchase as the wine has held up nicely. Still characterized by cherry and plum fruit with good acidity and creamy oak. Tannin is a touch softer now and there is a hint of dried fruit. Good length. Drink through 2007. Score: 87 (Jefferson Davis, Wine Access, ‘First In Line E-Report', Jan. 21, 2006)." My notes: After a half hour breathing there's a clearer aroma of oaky plum. Deep ruby, medium-bodied with a dry approach of 'dull' black cherry with a hint of mint. The finish is short, dry and somewhat earthy. A meal wine... for grilled red meat, red sauced pasta or meat pizzas, burgers. I'd guess it's just past peak and won't get better with cellaring. A heavily process driven old world red.

CARPINETO ‘DOGAJOLO' TOSCANO 2004, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD, #461897 $19.95 (Tasted June 6, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006, May Wine of the Month and described as "This critically acclaimed 2004 vintage (“Best Budget Red Wine”, Score: 4 (of 5), The Sydney Morning Herald, October 2005; Score: 4 (of 5), Decanter, ‘Italy Edition 2005') is a blend of Sangiovese (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%). Year after year, it's one of our favourites. It goes beautifully with roasts, grilled meats and cold cuts. We also recommend it for everything from a quiet dinner for two, to a wedding reception. You will not be disappointed." The website says: "Dogajolo is bottled between the last week of March and the first week of April of the year after harvest. It is excellent when young, but as with any red wine of good mettle, it ages well. The colour is deep garnet with violet reflections. Very fruity bouquet, intense, with hints of cherry, coffee, vanilla and spice. Has a full flavour, soft on the palate, complex, well developed." My notes: A mid-ruby with a just-perceptible nose, perhaps a soft leather and mint - let breathe a half hour. Medium-bodied to light-, a touch of oak with drying tannins and a light acid mixed in with red cherry and faint plum. The process has added as much as the fruit in this meal time red. Have with tasty cheeses, grilled red meat dishes, pepperoni pizza with tomato, green pepper and mushroom, hot italian sausage and savoury stews. The long, dry finish begs for food following. An overpriced drink-now - perhaps cellaring but I don't think there's anywhere to go.

RED BICYCLETTE SYRAH 2004, Midi, France, 13.0% D, #586776 $16.95 (Tasted June 5, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 23, 2005 and produced by Le Caves de Sieur d'Arques. Described as "The cartoon man riding a bicycle with baguettes in his basket and a dog trailing behind is only half the story of 'Red Bicyclette', the other half is in the bottle. This supple, easy-drinking Syrah is an excellent choice for your summer barbecue." Their website says "deep purple to almost black in hue, this wine entices with subtle aromas of cassis and spice..... generous blackberry flavour - rich and jammy - enlivened by hints of red cherry, black currant and ripe plum. Savour with grilled lamb, spicy sauces or .. pork chops with Dijon mustard." My notes: A deep ruby red with earthy aromas of red cherries, plum and spice. A tartness comes before flavours of cassis and jammy, dry blackberries. A red without finesse leaving the palate tart and dry.... no fruit nor mellowness. Not a sipper. Not cellarable. If you're stuck with a bottle have with spicy chili, bbq'd ribs, hamburger with melted cheddar and a slice of back bacon.

KIM CRAWFORD PINOT NOIR 2004, Marlborough, NZ, 14.0% XD, #626390 $19.95 (Tasted June 3, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006 and described as "Light ruby colour leads to aromas that suggest cranberry, strawberry, earth and mineral tones. Dry and crisp with a good fruit/mineral aroma replays in the mouth. This medium-bodied wine will definitely reward 1-3 years in a cellar. (VINTAGES panel, March 2006)." rates it four stars (of five) saying: "Light-bodied and lightly-coloured, this is not light on aromas or flavour. It offers up spicy plum and hints of oak on the nose with flavours in the cherry and black plum spectrum. Well balanced, it delivers a lengthy finish and a touch of elegance. Not many Pinots of this calibre for under $20. Try with planked salmon and dilled potatoes. (VH)." Gordon Stimmell says "The best value.... with black cherry, violets and earthy strawberry notes, very approachable, quite delicious...89/100" My notes: A light ruby with full aroma of strawberry, red cherries and slight cranberry. The flavour follows the aroma: light-bodied, strawberry, somewhat dry on the palate and a trace of cream. Finishes with a soft strawberry, the cream note and ending with a slight grass. A good light pinot, by itself or with mild cheeses, bacon-on-a-bun, asparagus or brocoli based soups, cold or hot ham slices, pork, turkey, chicken.... and flavoured seafood dishes. Cellaring should increase roundness and mellow the slight grassy edge - try a year at a time

ALICE WHITE CABERNET SAUVIGNON SHIRAZ 2005 TETRA, New South Wales, Australia, 13.5% D, 500ml, #665489 $7.95 (Tasted June 2, 2006)

A General release with no description on the LCBO website but states this is a 'Hardy Wine Company' product. Hardy is a Constellation Brands Inc. winery, however the Hardy website doesn't list 'Alice White' as one of their brands. The Roo's Rack website (a marketing website for Alice White wines) describes this as " artful blend of the vibrant fruit of Australian Shiraz with the classic elegance of cabernet sauvignon. A bold and full-bodied wine – great for everyday enjoyment." My notes: The label says South Eastern Australia and a blend of 65% cabernet sauvignon and 35% shiraz. Under Australian wine regulations this wine can be made from grapes gathered anywhere in this extensive Australian state/province. A clear ruby with light plum and red cherry nose. Light-bodied with thin flavours of red cherry, a drying tannin and light acid... the finish falls off quickly without spice, fruit, acid, ...... a dry nothing. Not a drink-now, not cellarable, not recommended.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

June Whites (9): Chile Sauv Blanc, Australia Chard, Australia Bubbles, France Muscadet, France Pinot Gris(2), Canada Vidal, NZ Viognier, Canada Chard

SANTA RITA SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE 2005, Casablanca/Leyda, Chile, XD 13.5%, #275677 $12.55 (Tasted June 21, 2006)

A General listing described as "Straw yellow colour; Intense herbal, grassy, cooked asparagus and gooseberry aromas; Dry, medium bodied with gooseberry/citrus and mint flavours; pronounced acidity on finish. Serve with seafood, goat cheese, vegetarian dishes, herbed dishes." The website says (2004 vintage) "Grapes are from Casablanca Valley 95%, Leyda 5%. The colour is a pale straw green colored wine; intense varietal aroma with dominant characters of grapefruit, citrus blooms, apricots and a black currant background of cassis tones. Good potency and concentration, a balanced wine with good acidity and a long lingering aftertaste." My notes: A floral nose full of gooseberries and sweet honey. Colour is light golden, crystal clear in the glass and crisp flavours of gooseberries and citrus. Finishes long, dry, clean and fruity. A good sipper or have with seafood: cold or hot. Should be able to cellar for a few years but drinking well now.

LINDEMANS BIN 65 CHARDONNAY 2005, South Eastern Australia, D 13.5%, #142117 $9.95* (Tasted June 19, 2006)

A General release described as "Light yellow gold colour; floral with citrus and vanilla aromas; ripe fruit flavours; soft clean finish. Serve with grilled shrimps; lemon chicken; tuna steak." and reduced one dollar until mid July. My notes: A Southcorp Wines winery. A faint blond colour with a light tropical citrus, gooseberry and honey nose. The acid is well balanced with light flavours of soft citrus - no butter nor butterscotch but a touch of 'sur lies' creaminess - no oak apparent. Medium- to light-bodied finishing with a touch of oil on the lips, clean without being crisp. Should be able to cellar for a year or two but essentially a drink-now with white fish dishes, baked salmon and dill, creamy pastas as long as not spicy. If you expect an unoaked chard its OK at the reduced price imho.

YELLOWGLEN 'YELLOW', Australia, 11.2% D, #592980 $11.95 (Retasted June 15, 2006)

My notes: Cellared and then tasted June 2005 (see Archives) with the following comment "One of 'Yellow, Pink and Red' from Yellowglen (a Beringer Blass company), the colour is very pale blond with a soft yeasty citrus nose. Lots of fine but not moussy bubbles that sparkle on the palate. Flavour is a light lemony honeydew, extra dry without the bite of a brut. The finish accumulates pleasantly on the tongue and is still spritzy after several minutes etc." This tasting I had with some 'President Choice' shortbread cookies and everything mellowed well. Just goes to show what it could do with oysters, mussels, etc. A relaxing bubbly with enough tartness to surprise the palate and enough yeastiness to be smooth. A value at the price..... I've heard the next Vintages release will be in August along with Yellowglen's 'Pink' - can't wait!!! Hopefully it won't be 'tiered lower' or priced higher. A drink-now value but has cellared well for the last year.

CAVE VINICOLE A HUNAWIHR HAUT-RHIN TOKAY PINOT GRIS 1999, Alsace, France, 13.5% D, #CP135-1763 $20.67 (Tasted June 14, 2006)

Ordered from Opimian and cellared in 2001 their writeup describes this white as having "the exquisitely pure Tokay characters which pile the flavours of one exotic fruit upon another. It already has an enviable balance but the underlying richness of the vintage needs more time to develop the rounded, low acid appeal which will combine a delicate log smoke impression with hints of rich spice and freshly roasted almonds." My notes: Now is a rich golden straw with aromas of wildflowers, honey, and spicy tropical fruit perhaps a combination of light papaya and melon. A full-bodied medley of tropical fruit with well balanced acids and a round mouthfeel. The finish is moderate leaving a light pear-almond flavouring. Is a pleasant aperitif (OK even when the chill goes) but better with cold chicken on greens, smoked salmon, pork-rice wraps or Thai. Has survived an extended cellaring nicely but won't improve from here.

DOMAINE DE GRAND MAISON MUSCADET DE SÈVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE 2003, Ste Fiacre, France, 12.0% D, #525279 $13.95 (Tasted June 13, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 10, 2006 and described as "Muscadet is made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape and this example is very expressive of the variety, with aromas and flavours of apple, melon, citrus, mineral and pine resin. It is dry, fresh, bright and vibrant. Enjoy with steamed clams or mussels. (VINTAGES panel, Nov. 2005)." rates it four stars (of 5) saying "Toasty, yeasty notes form the aromatic profile of the expressive nose while the palate is treated to spicy apple and lemon zest flavours. This is medium-bodied and extremely well balanced. The medium finish is very clean with citrus and mineral tones complementing the green apple flavour. The price to quality ratio suggests a multiple purchase for summer and fall sipping. (VH)" Their website says "The wine comes from entirely handpicked grapes, fermented for 20 days at low temperature. It will then rest on lees ... which will enrich its flavour and smoothness. It has a pale yellow colour and delicate flavours (white flowers, almonds) and a fruity taste, dry but ample." My notes: A very light straw colour with faint wildflower and honey tones - the rest is beyond my sense and imagination. The flavours are dry citrus, light crab apple, pine resin - a light creaminess, fresh and bright although I found the acids to be too light to be 'vibrant'. Serve well chilled. The finish is short and somewhat like an unripe honeydew melon. Should go with anything fishy: mussels, scallops, shrimp, white fish dishes although not likely to cleanse the palate if too rich. A drink-now, a good Muscadet de S et M and priced right.

PIERRE SPARR PINOT GRIS RÉSERVE 2004, Alsace, France, 13.0% MD, #983395 $17.95 (Tasted June 10, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 10, 2006 and described as "An excellent example of the medium dry style of Pinot Gris that Alsace does so well. Try this rich and ripe pear/peach-centric example with grilled salmon, tuna or pork roast. (VINTAGES panel, Dec. 2005)." rates it four one-half stars (of 5) saying "The nose is all about sweet ripe fruit - peaches, yellow plums and pears. The wine is highly textured and fleshy on the palate with more sweet ripe flavours - peach, nectarine and melon. There is a lovely spine of acidity to balance, and it runs through to the tangy zesty finish. This well-structured off-dry beauty would be the perfect foil to spicy Asian dishes. (VH)." The label says: "Terrific nose of apple, pear, peach and quince with spicy mineral elements. Mouthfilling flavour that finishes with fruity notes. Racy and complex, intense yet graceful. etc." My notes: A rich straw colour with ripe fruit aromas as in the winecurrent note and the label.... and the flavour and finish as well. The sweetness isn't 'in your face' offset by a mild acid. Goes well with full flavoured fish dishes, szechuan or spicy Thai. Cellaring for a year or two may 'age' the fruit producing a spicier structure although it is drinking well-rounded and smooth now. I'd set an expectation of 'mid-sweet' rather than 'mid-dry' though.

NCT WINERY LATE HARVEST VIDAL 2002, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, 10.0% ~SC8 375ml, #Winery $21.95 (Tasted June 5, 2006)

My notes: Won bronze at the 2004 Ontario Wine Awards and has full aromas of ripe papaya and sultana raisins. Medium-bodied with a golden colour. Flavours of light peach and pear smooth with bright honey. A zip starts the finish which is a long apricot and pear with a soft oil on the lips. A pleasant aperitif by itself or with pieces of pear, apple, grapes, etc. Did not add anything with tiramisu but should with a mild cheese and pineapple wedges. Cellared a year now and likely will another year or two. A different sweet sipper to have on hand - chill and have with shaved ice as a cooler.

COOPERS CREEK VIOGNIER 2005, Hawkes Bay, NZ, 14.5% D, #694828 $22.95 (Tasted June 3, 2006)

A Vintages release of May 27, 2006 and described as "Pretty perfumed nose at first, then whiffs of lilac, peach, honey and nectarine. Dry, light-bodied with good, gentle fruit replays. An excellent summertime sipper for those lazy afternoons on the patio. (Vintages panel, March 2006)." Beppi Crosariol says: "characteristically floral viognier scent is followed on the palate by notes of tangerine and honey, with a viscous texture and long finish." My notes: A very light wildclover nose, sweet and floral with a light blond colour - I didn't get lilac or peach. Medium- to light-bodied with a noticeable roundness on the tongue, flavours of distant tangerine peel leaving a citrus tang on the palate slowly ebbing to 'chewed lemon seed'. A reasonable alternative to a sauvignon blanc or chard as a cool sipper. Perhaps add some shaved ice and few ounces of lemon Perrier for brightness. There wasn't enough acid for fish and chips... more appropriate with grilled telapia, scallop or shrimp skewers, cold chicken breast and a mild green salad. A drink-now and not a value imho.

EASTDELL BARRELL FERMENTED CHARDONNAY 2003, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #651505 $18.95 (Tasted June 1, 2006)

The label says "fermented in American and Hungarian oak. Notes of tropical fruit and vanilla are followed by a balanced finish. Pair with smoked fish and vegetable dishes." The Eastdell website says "Won Gold at Cuvée 2005 (Niagara wines) and has a long mellow finish with subtle oak." Another website says "This Chardonnay was hand and machine-harvested from our Walnut Grove Vineyard. French and American barrels were used during fermentation and aging with careful monitoring to achieve exactly the right balance of crisp cool-climate Chardonnay and rich, complex depth. The final blending took place in August 2004." My notes: Yes, but what about the wine? A light straw colour with a nose of lemon and pineapple. A light creaminess with flavours of lemon with a hint of pineapple and some dry sharpness. The finish is strong, tart, moderately long, bright with slight creaminess and leaving more than a hint of lemon. Have with seafood appetizers, asparagus spears on cold salad, ie. makes a nice aperitif but can be low on acid for a main course. Was marginally light with grilled salmon, salad and parmesan draped foccacia. A drink-now.