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.

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