Thursday, August 24, 2006

More August Reds(9): Canada Sang, Argentina Blend, Italy Blend, Argentina Merlot, Canada Pin Noir, Chile Merlot, Australia Blend(2), USA PetSir

INNISKILLIN INTERNATIONAL SERIES SANGIOVESE 2005 (nonVQA), Canada, 12.5% D, Boutique $Gift (Tasted August 30, 2006)

The label says "sourced from the world's great wine regions, represent Inniskillin's commitment to quality and excellence. Delicate violet in colour our sangiovese displays strawberry and plum aromas. On the palate, blueberry, vanilla and toasted cinnamon notes lead to supple tannins and an extended finish." My notes: Vincor owns several wineries in Ontario, BC, the US, Australia and New Zealand: Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs, Ancient Creek, Sawmill Creek, Sumac Ridge, Hawthorne Mountain, Unity Wines, Hogue Cellars, R.H.Phillips, Goundry, Amberley Estate, Kim Crawford, and now Vincor is part of the Constellation Group. Sangiovese is not a listed grape at The Wine Rack, where International Series wines are sold, or the Inniskillin websites. For nonVQA wines up to ninety percent of the juice may be imported. The colour is rich ruby red with a slight magenta twist. Light aromas of black cherry and black pepper precede well balanced, medium-bodied flavours of oak and dark plum. The finish finishes quickly leaving a slight oil on the lips, some light tannins and perhaps some black cherry notes. A commercial red.... as a 'non-offending' sipper or as a 'non-offending' grilled red meat red. Not for cellaring.

MASI TUPUNGATO PASSO DOBLE ROSSO 2004, Argentina, 13.5% D, #620880 $14.95* (Retasted August 29, 2006)

The LCBO says: "Medium deep red cherry colour; aromas of dried herb and fruit, with black cherry and spice notes; dry, medium to full bodied, rich, with sweet dried fruit flavours, good balanced acidity and supporting tannins, long finnish. Serve with rich meat dishes, including stews, caseroles and grilled steak. *now $15.00" Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "...Rich black currant and red berry aromas and flavours run wild through this medium-bodied gem. The finish is lengthy and redolent of raisined berries. (VH)" My notes: A blend of Argentina Malbec and Veneto Corvina grapes that are slightly dried. The 2003, last tasted May 2006, had a 'higher black cherry accent' and this vintage, tasted in September 2005, was described as 'Medium- to full-bodied with full flavours of dark plum and dried black cherries along with chalky tannins. Cellaring for a year or even two would hopefully meld the tannins and flavours softening some of the earthy notes.' Cellaring has mellowed the nose and any earthy notes are now subdued... no bite, no pepper, just an invitation to sip. The flavours of dark plum and dried black cherries are fully blended with fine tannins and well balanced acids. A tame red sipper or can be paired with not-too-spicy red meat grilled, stewed or sliced, ie. Italian sausage on pizza. Cellaring for another year wouldn't be out of the way but it's drinking well now.

MASI TOAR 2001, Veneto, Italy, 13.0% D, #342444 $21.95 (Tasted August 29, 2006)

A General release with the description "Medium deep ruby red colour; aromas and flavours of cedar, red cherries, currant, plum and exotic spice with light smoke tones; dry, medium to full bodied, well balanced acidity and tannin; great length on finish. Try with grilled veal chops, risotto or lamb shank." Winecurrent gives it four and one half stars (of 5) saying "Two indigenous grapes, Corvina (75%) and the rare and ancient Oseleta (25%) were blended to produce this rich and concentrated red. Licorice, tar and leather blow from the lifted nose while the flavour profile includes bramble berry and sour cherry that is layered and complex. The finish is memorable with tar, cherry and black licorice notes." My notes: A deep ruby colour with a mild berry and soft spice nose. Very smooth, full-bodied, well blended flavours of black cherry, blackberry, plum and a faint tar edge. A long soft berry finish leaving a pleasant roundness on the palate - more supple than Masi Tupungato (#620880) with a sharper, although still moderate, edge. A soft dry sipper and pair-able with veal, pork chops, lamb shank, ham steak, mushroom risotto.... it's a sociable red meal wine. At peak now.... not cellarable to advantage imho.

San Rafael, Argentina, 13.0% XD, #CP146-2393 $13.58 (Tasted August 29, 2006)

Opimian writes "The increasing use of free-run quality juice has created a new style with a growing following. Cold fermented, filtered prior to a short resting period in steel tanks, it shows pure fruit flavours and hints of the spice that gives it Merlot appeal...." My notes: Ordered in March and cellared in September of 2003. A vibrant pink with distinct aromas of strawberries and berries and a touch of spice. Light- to medium-bodied, well balanced tartness with a fresh strawberry and cherry roundness. The finish fades quickly but leaves a warm palate. It's easy to gulp this rose.... a satisfying sipper on a hot summer day, possibly with an ice cube or two. Was great with blueberry pancakes, maple syrup and back bacon slices but may be lost with a regular meal; ie. roast chicken or cold ham slices. Has cellared well but is uninteresting after a few glasses.

PILLAR BOX RED CABERNET/SHIRAZ/MERLOT 2004, South Australia, 15.0% XD, #685941 $14.95 (Tasted August 28, 2006)

A Vintages release August 19, 2006 and described as "... decant before serving. … boasts luscious black currant fruit intermixed with smoke, herbs, and cedar. Richly fruity, opulent, and medium to full-bodied, it is one of the great wine bargains of the world. Consume it over the next 2-3 years. Score - 90. (Robert Parker Jr.,, Oct. 2005). Winecurrent gives it four and one half stars (of 5) saying "This 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Shiraz, 11% Merlot red blend from the cooler Padthaway wine region was fashioned by renowned Barossa wine maker, Chris Ringland. Opaque and brooding, there are quiet aromas of gamey smoked meat and black plum that waft from the glass. The sweet (15% alcohol) fruit (spicy plum, black currant and juicy red berry) explodes in layers and washes over the palate right through the lengthy finish. .... one of the 'must buys' of this release. Unfined and unfiltered, it will drink well through 2008. (VH)" My notes: So I didn't decant.... the colour is a deep ruby with magenta edge and aromas of 'luscious black currant ... with smoke, herbs, and cedar.' Full-bodied with a pepper bite that masks the flavours, not as strong as the Wakefield Cabernet/Shiraz (#625343), but airing for sixty minutes is a must. After which the same aromas are lighter, flavours are of a plum and black cherry blend with fine tannins and a light peppery spice. A cherry and plum edge with a silky background forms a long finish. The wine was clear to the last drop when decanting. Should be able to cellar this for several years. A slow sipper, and a bargain, for dry red advocates that like an alcohol high. Otherwise have with any grilled meats: turkey to wild game.

GRAY MONK PINOT NOIR 2004, Okanagan, Canada, 12.1% D, #251835 $17.95 (Tasted August 27, 2006)

A Vintages release August 19, 2006 and described as "Gray Monk is B.C.'s most northerly commercial winery, but they source their Pinot Noir grapes from growers throughout the Okanagan Valley. This is a delicate, medium-bodied, dry wine with red berry and floral aromas. Go west completely and serve lightly chilled with planked Pacific salmon." The label says "...fresh, fruity, light style red ...emphasizing raspberry flavours... a light hint of oak." Winecurrent gives it three and one half stars (of 5) saying "...light-medium bodied with attractive aromas and flavours of strawberry and sweet plum. Well balanced and lightly tannic, it's perfect for grilled salmon with a maple glaze. (RP)" Natalie rates it 88/100 saying "This pinot has pleasing notes of tart cherries, beetroot and red berries." My notes: A bright cherry red with berry aromas; straw-, rasp- and blue- , evenly blended with just a perceptible oaky softness. The flavours, delivered on a silky thread, are a blend of the same berries with a smidge of their natural tartness. The finish is natural as well, long but ending in warm smoothness rather than a distinct flavour. I enjoyed this medium-bodied pinot sipper. It has a moderate body and flavour and is consistently pleasant sip to sip. Was great with roasted rack of lamb and mint jelly. A planked salmon? YES!. A bargain and cellarable for a few years.

VIÑA LA ROSA ‘LA CAPITANA' MERLOT 2004, Cachapoal Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #655209 $14.95 (Tasted August 26, 2006)

A Vintages release August 19, 2006 and described as "Full and chunky, with deep color and plenty of heft. Smells as if it might have some Carmenère in the blend, and it does (10%). There's an herbal quality to the wine, but that doesn't overshadow the plum and black cherry flavors nor the light oak touches. Good for Chilean Merlot. 86/100. (Wine Enthusiast, March 1, 2006)." The label says "... classic Merlot ..sweet plums, blackberries, black cherries and chocolate." Natalie gives it 89/100 saying "Looks three times as expensive as its price, and tastes twice as good. Aromas of chocolate and ripe red fruit." Winecurrent gives it four and one half stars (of 5) saying "...this medium to full-bodied stunner is right on the mark. Opening with a perfume that hints of mint and plum, it washes over the palate with layers of deep, rich, grainy dark chocolate and rich, ripe Bing cherry flavours. The lengthy finish is scrumptious with a gorgeous replay of fruit coupled with beautifully balancing acidity. The final half star was gained through the exceptional value it offers - stock up. (VH)" My notes: A very nice deep ruby, aromas of soft white pepper and ripe cherries, medium- to full-bodied with a smooth dry texture and a flavour blend of blackberry and black cherry. The finish is a smooth balance between tart and tannin with the fruit flavours slowly ebbing on the palate. A soft red sipper, not demonstrative, letting you decide to go for another bruschetta, sausage piece or even a mushroom tart. Should be a great partner to grilled red meats or a portabello burger. A drink-now that could be cellared for several years - try two at a time. 'Stock up.' I did!

PEDRONCELLI PETITE SIRAH 2002, Sonoma, USA, 13.7% XD, #686691 $16.95 (Tasted August 25, 2006)

A Vintages release August 19, 2006 with the comments "John Pedroncelli Jr. ... is one of a growing number of Californian winemakers that are gaining a cult following for their Petite Sirah. Expect a deep, dense wine with rich ‘bumbleberry' fruit flavours and hints of briar, black pepper and earth. It's the wine equivalent of meeting a 300-pound biker named ‘Tiny'." The label says "...only handpicked grapes. .... aromas and flavours of spicy black pepper, ripe blackberry and black cherry...full-bodied and firm tannins. " Winecurrent gives it four and one half stars (of 5) saying "Pedroncelli is famous for its Zinfandel, but this lovely Petite Sirah adds to its reputation. It's full of concentrated ripe fruit flavours with spicy, peppery accents. Perfectly pitched and with impressive complexity, it's stylish and yet grounded. Pair it up with any well-seasoned red meat dish or with Portobello mushrooms. (RP)" The website says "Opaque purple. Crushed raspberries and bramble spice aromas. Rich and juicy with boysenberry, cassis and chocolate flavors. Very deep and complex, this wine should be opened and decanted if enjoyed before 2008. Expect this wine to take on complexities for the next 8-12 years. This wine will age well into 2018 and beyond—it has the structure to evolve nicely." My notes: Has 7% zinfandel adding a magenta tint to the dense ruby colour. Decanted then allowed to settle down for thirty minutes the original oakiness dissipates leaving a subtle peppery fragrance of distant blackberries and violets. The flavour is delicate, full of berries, more bumble than rasp, and lightly dusted with fine tannins. Finishes with a light acid and a little chalk on the palate. A medium-bodied dry sipper more suitably paired with prime rib and yorkshire puddings, hold the horseradish. Cellaring for a few years should make it an elegant value.

WAKEFIELD 'PROMISED LAND' SHIRAZ CABERNET 2003, New South Wales, Australia, 14.5% D, #625343 $13.55 (Tasted August 24/25, 2006)

A General listing described as "Deep red with violet colour; aromas of ripe currant, black cherry, plum and spice with toasty oak, tobacco notes; dry, full bodied, well balanced acidity, rounded palate with flavours of jammy berry, vanilla and chocolate. Serve with meat pizza or pasta and grilled beef dishes." Gord Stimmell (August 23rd) rates it 90/100 saying "features big black olive, black cherry, chocolate and minty cherrywood character, a real dance of flavours.... tremendous value." The website describes the 2003 as "The Shiraz brings to the blend characters of chocolate, licorice, spice and black pepper. Whilst the Cabernet Sauvignon brings mint, cedar, tobacco leaf, clove and black cherry characters to the blend....etc. .... The Shiraz fills out the mid palate with a round, soft texture and the Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the finish of the wine with fine long tannins..." My notes: A ruby colour and, when first opened, had predominant aromas of black pepper and mint - no fruit, chocolate or licorice I could discern. The flavours attacked the mouth and left a strong pepper, acid and tannic presence. There was an unripe red currant sharpness with spice and a strong tartness finishing in an unpleasant dry aftertaste. Not a sipper and not a pleasing meal red. But... I tasted the next day and found a very interesting red - much of the pepper had subsided, the flavours were a well integrated blend of black cherries, licorice, and soft spices and the finish was long, soft tannins with chocolate and spice overtones. The clue is to decant or let the bottle air for an undetermined period. For interest, try it.... ?

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