Sunday, July 02, 2006

July Reds(11): USA Pinot Noir, USA Merlot, Spain Pinot Noir, Australia Shiraz(3), France Blend, S Africa Merlot, Chile Merlot, Italy Chianti, USA Zin

TRINCHERO ‘FAMILY' PINOT NOIR 2004, Napa Valley, USA, 13.5% XD, #727248 $17.95 (Tasted July 24, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Trinchero sources the grapes for this Pinot Noir from the cooler regions of southern Napa. Expect balanced plum, spice and mineral aromas and flavours. It has a nice acid tang for balance. Match with grilled portobello mushrooms." Winecurrent gives it four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "A top shelf 'value' wine amongst the Pinots in this release. Wine maker, Joe Shirley, fashions his wines in a round and ready style and this fits the bill. Definitely new world, it offers juicy berry flavours, very fine, almost imperceptible, ripe tannin coupled with a nice spine of acidity to provide balance within the mouth and on the lovely finish. All in all, a nicely structured, delicious Pinot. (VH)" The label summarizes their 2004 Pinot Noir as "... spicy, exotic and scrumptious." My notes: A cheery mid cherry with soft aromas of mint and cherry. Medium-bodied with subtle flavours of faint raspberry, black cherry, licorice and a 'nice tang'. The finish is short, tart with remnants of red cherry. Doesn't quite have the silkiness nor strawberry notes of a pinot but is a pleasing sipper and gets mellower with an hour's airing. Better with mild cheeses or paired with roast turkey, grilled ham steaks, nothing too rich. Should be able to cellar this for a few years.... but not likely a good return for the time - a drink-now.

TRINCHERO 'FAMILY SELECTION' MERLOT 2003, California, USA, 13.5% D, #550566 $14.95 (Tasted July 23, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 11, 2006 and described as "Lovely plum and cedar aromas and flavours. Dry, ripe, with nice tannin tones. Good balance and attractively priced. (David Churchill, Vintages, April 2005)." My notes: A mid ruby with faint aromas of spice and cherries. Medium-bodied, very bright with the initial sip warming the palate and following through with a light cherry on the lips. The finish is also short and light leaving a slightly tannic drying on the lips. A mediocre sipper or with a variety of tasty appetizers - not one you'd anticipate the next sip. Was passable with grilled filet mignon. Not worth cellaring, perhaps even past peak now or never was. Cannot recommend.

PENFOLDS SHIRAZ MAGILL ESTATE 2001, Adelaide, Australia, 14.0%, #944736 $72.00 (Tasted July 14, 2006)

A Vintages release on October 6, 2004 and described as "Smooth, vanillin oak characters but succulent, rich and concentrated. Powerful and lush. Very, very fine tannins. It has all the depth, succulence and elegance that you would want. (Peter Forrestal,, Sydney International Wine Competition 2004)" The Penfolds website says, "Nose is both savoury and spicy.. nutmeg, plummy/dark cherried fruitcake aromas with notes of rum and raisin dark chocolate... A medium palate with mullberry and wild raspberry fruits, ... satiny tannins, etc. Peak drinking 2005 - 2015." My notes: A pinkish edge to a deep ruby colour and faint aromas of blackberry, oak and vanilla. Medium- to full-bodied, lots of legs, well structured, tannin balanced with acids, rich blackberry, earthy mushrooms, dark chocolate flavours and a long, smooth and bright finish also full of berries. An excellent dry sipper and would be excellent with prime rib, grilled red meats, bbq'd sausage with melted gorgonzola. Worth $72? For me, more like $20 but perhaps I don't recognize nuances that add value.

YELLOW TAIL - THE RESERVE - 2005 SHIRAZ, South Eastern Australia, 14.0% D, #366187 $19.81* (Tasted July 17, 2006)

My notes: *Purchased in Vancouver - not available in Ontario as yet. A deep ruby with a purplish hue, full-bodied with a faint aroma and flavours of rich blackberries and black cherries, smooth with well set tannins and balanced acids. Has a long finish full of berries and plums leaving a pleasant tannic and tart edge on the palate. Can leave an impression of being 'musty' - perhaps decanting is needed? I enjoyed it as a sipper - good with lamb, pork, thai prepared meats - tho' still not a value imho.

CODORNIU BRUT CAVA PINOT NOIR ROSÉ, Penedes, Spain, 12.0% D, #665372 $16.95 (Tasted July 22, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "From this delicious rosé Cava (Spanish fizz), expect to find cherry and strawberry aromas and flavours. It is easy to like, and ready to drink with pan-seared scallops or even lamb chops." My notes: A cherry bubble gum nose, a pink apricot colour with lots of fine effervescence, not frothy but continuous in the glass. The flavours combine some spice with strawberry notes and the finish is moderate with a slight tannic dryness. Crisp but not tart - has a 'sur lies' aspect in the finish that detracts, or adds dependent on your liking for a white Codorniu, from a clean pinot noir fruit although not overly creamy. Should be good with asian dishes, oysters, shaved meats and chilled sliced cantelope and berries. An OK but different bubbly sipper. Cellaring for up to two years could be interesting.

PENFOLDS 'THOMAS HYLAND' SHIRAZ 2003, South Australia, 14.0% D, #611210 $19.95 (Tasted July 10, 2006)

A Vintages release and described as "The Thomas Hyland Shiraz .... has robust aromas of ripe berries, raspberry, red currant, chocolate and spicy oak. Ripe plum and berry on the tongue mingle with silky tannins. Subtle oak and a long, ripe, fruity finish. Enjoy pairing it with venison or eggplant lasagna. The Penfolds website says "richly aromatic and strongly varietal, the wine boasts lashings of pepper and spice with fragrant dark fruits and fruitcake...hints of coffee and mocha aromas, balanced by well handled oak tones. The palate is full flavoured, medium bodied wine with rich flavours of juicy red plum, dark berry and generous chocolate across the palate. A vanilla bean character combines with underlying savoury oak flavours. A vibrant and fruit driven style with soft well rounded tannins, excellent depth and length." My notes: A rich ruby colour with warm plum, cherry and peppery aromas. Medium-bodied, spicy light flavours of black plum and cherries. An uninteresting sipper, low fruit and lack of distinct compensating flavours (licorice, vanilla, or whatever). Strong tannins on a long plummy finish. Lacked enough character to complement rare tenderloin, baked potato and cauliflower or other savoury meats. A short cellaring hasn't improved this red - maybe longer would.

‘CUVÉE MYTHIQUE' RÉSERVE 2003, Midi, France, 13.5% D, #352468 $17.95 (Tasted July 9, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 and described as "This very popular, top-drawer wine from the large Val d'Orbieu co-op(1) is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and old vine Carignan. The grapes are sourced from 42 of their best growers. Youthful, fresh and attractive, this wine would complement fillet of beef with fresh thyme, grilled duck breast, roast chicken, lamb chops or even chili con carne." rates it four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "Always a favourite, it turns into a knockout wine partially due to the blistering '03 vintage. It is ripe, rich and concentrated with ladles full of sweet berry fruit flavours. Displaying good balance and structure, the juicy fruit and ripe tannins play off a lovely streak of verve. Couple that with the warm, long and mellow finish and this will be drinking well from purchase to 2012. (VH)" My notes: Needs some time (sixty minutes) in the glass to open - a nose of warm oak with black cherry, ripe plum nuances and a bit of mint. A light ruby with a grenache (pinkish) tinge, medium-bodied, dry, cherry and berry flavours that lie softly on the palate, and balanced acids. The finish is moderate, smooth, bright with strong tannins. European style red meant for grilled/roasted beef or rack-of-lamb entrees that are more savoury than spicy. Cellaring for a few years may improve the structure but the flavours may be at peak now. (1)The Wineanorak describes Val d'Orbieu more completely.

DORNIER MERLOT 2003, Stellenbosch, S.Africa, 14.0% XD, #694224 $18.95 (Tasted July 8, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006. rates it four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "... delivers intriguing aromas of dark fruit, spice, smoke and mint. The balance has a food-friendly tilt, the texture is full, round and generous, and the tannins are ripe and slightly dusty with a good but manageable grip. Decant this for drinking now, or tuck it away for up to eight years. Then enjoy it with grilled lamb or game. (RP)" The label says "... Drink up to ten years." My notes: There's no demanding need to decant this unctious merlot.... it does have lots of tannin that is increasingly noticeable in the long finish but it's nicely balanced with acids and flavours of fresh blackberries crushed with some seeds. Ruby coloured, medium-bodied, soft aromas of 'dark fruit, smoke and mint'. Was great with a spicy Subway sandwich and should be with any grilled red meats, meat stews, chili con carne, or meaty/cheesy pizzas. Cellar starting two years then a year at a time... should add some mellowness but I enjoyed sipping as it is now. It's not a timid merlot.

VINA TARAPACA MERLOT 2004, Maipo, Chile, 13.5% D, #558668 $9.40 (Retasted July 6, 2006)

My notes: Originally tasted on April 5, 2006 (see Archives) but thought I'd revisit after a few months. Tony Aspler had described this as "If you're looking for a tasty Merlot under $10.. etc. ... You won't find a better Merlot at the price." and the Tarapaca website says of this their export merlot: "Intense varietal aroma, with notes of red fresh fruits, light spicy notes of black pepper and cinnamon, touches of caramel and tobacco. etc. a pleasant finish." Still with an unusual jam, mineral and leather nose. Letting breathe for thirty minutes didn't help. Better to aerate by decanting and agitating decanter several seconds. If you like jammy raspberry with equal shots of 'black pepper and cinnamon, touches of caramel and tobacco" then go for it. In this respect it is well balanced. Personally I didn't find the combination of aromas nor flavours pleasant and the long finish made my palate crawl.

LEONARDO BUGATTI ARMENTANO PRIUS CHIANTI RISERVA 2000, Arezzo, Italy, 12.5% XD, CP153-2795 $18.83 (Tasted July 6, 2006)

Opimian describes this as "A smart chunk of vanilla, laced with dark chocolate makes the first impression on the nose, then ripe, well matured and balanced fruit follows. Before that, an attractive, diffused garnet edge signals maturity in the mellow mahogany colour. Hints of silage, but plenty of blackcurrant adds succulence and generosity in the mouth only reined in by well proportioned tannins that stand guard over the simple and pure ripe fruit. Chianti is unique, it manages to embrace many parts and brings them together with seamless harmony. My notes: Medium-bodied, a deep ruby colour with rich aromas of cherry, soft vanilla, white pepper and oak. Best to let breathe for thirty minutes. The first sip is bright mindful of ripe red cherries followed by a long, dry finish of cherry slowly fading into a tannic, tarry note. A sipper for stalwart dry red sippers. Should be great with prime rib, bbq'd back ribs, grilled steak, meaty pasta dishes and savoury stews. Cellarable for a few more years at least.

RANCHO ZABACO ZINFANDEL 2001, SONOMA HERITAGE VINES, Sonoma, USA, 13.3% XD, #434605* $19.95 (Retasted July 2, 2006)

The website says: "The grapes for this wine were destemmed, but not crushed resulting in 20-30% whole berry fermentation. We find that whole berry fermentation of our Zinfandel grapes produces concentrated, fresh and forward raspberry-like flavors in the finished wine. This fermentation from inside the berry itself “seals” in a true fruit character and minimizes the possibility of extracting more harsh, bitter tannins from the grape skins. etc." My notes: Purchased March, 2004 and last tasted September, 2005 (see Archives) The label says: "balances juicy ripe blackberry with boysenberry fruit flavours with an underlying hint of pepper. etc." An E&J Gallo winery and is one of four labels under 'Rancho Zabaco Wines: Zinfandel'. Sonoma Heritage Vines, is *no longer available in Ontario being replaced by the lower priced Rancho Zabaco 'Dancing Bull' Zinfandel. The 2001 still has a warm, light blackberry nose to match the rich ruby colour. As in September the blackberry flavours have integrated beautifully with fine tannins and acid, perhaps more tart but still a pleasing dry sipper. The finish is warm and long coating the mouth with blackberry, a light tannin and freshness. Went well with bbq'd side ribs, sweet potato and green beans. Likely at peak... just a few bottles left.

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