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?

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