WATER WHEEL ‘MEMSIE' SHIRAZ/ CABERNET SAUVIGNON/ MALBEC 2004, Victoria, Australia, 14.8% XD, #656637 $15.95 (Tasted September 29, 2006)
A Vintages release on September 30, 2006 described as "Smooth and generous, a lively style with juicy plum and blackberry aromas and flavors, lingering on the refined finish. ... Drink now through 2010. Score - 90. (Harvey Steiman, Dec. 15, 2005) " Winecurrent gives it five stars (of 5) saying "This red blend is an Aussie fruit bomb with structure and balance. The aromas include the usual suspects of black cherry and spiced plum then it steps into overdrive with ladles of ripe, sweet (14.8% alcohol), juicy, bramble berry fruit and cassis. This richly concentrated behemoth is held in balance with enough zesty tang and generous tannin structure to avoid jammy. Its finish is monumental adding cloves, tar and licorice tones. The price to quality balance weighs heavily in your favour. Pick up a cartful. (VH)" The Wine Advocate (10/31/2005) gives it 90/100 saying "...a blend of 71% Shiraz, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Malbec aged in a combination of new and used American oak. Its dense ruby/purple color is followed by pure, ripe, black raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry aromas interwoven with hints of wood as well as licorice. Medium to full-bodied, with great fruit and soft tannin, it can be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years." My notes: Let air for thirty minutes or decant. A deep ruby colour with aromas of smoky plum and a berry spice. Full-bodied with flavours of a black licorice, black cherry and blackberry blend leaving a smooth finish of plums, tar, a firm tartness and substantial fine tannins. It warms you as you sip - a hearty red for serious sippers. Have with a rare steak, spicy back ribs, a lean beefburger, bear, moose or deer meat - anything rich and full flavoured. Cellaring for four years would give a cleaner structure.
HENRY OF PELHAM PINOT NOIR 2004, Niagara, Canada, 13.0% XD, #013904 $16.95 (Tasted September 28, 2006)
A General listing and described as "Medium ruby red colour; aromas of raspberry, cherry and spice with light tobacco notes; dry, medium bodied, quite fruity with oak tones on finish. Serve slightly chilled with grilled tuna or salmon, roasted chicken, turkey or pork." The website says "Made from several vineyard sites: our own estate, another neighbouring site and a vineyard located on the shore of Lake Ontario. Fermented in stainless and aged in European oak (15% new). Will age three to six years from vintage." Gord Stimmell gives it 89/100 saying "Finding an elegant sub-$20 pinot noir can be frustrating, but this consistently solid Ontario producer fills the bill. The nose shows smoky beetroot, tar, strawberry and cedar, and the flavours have delicate beet, wild strawberry and cedar character — mellow and verging on silky in texture." My notes: The LCBO website (as of writing) lists the HofP Pinot Noir (nonReserve*) as a case of 12x62mL - it was shelved correctly. A medium ruby colour with faint aromas of spice and tobacco evenly balancing a light berry fruit. Flavours as well are balanced finely producing a light- to medium-bodied hint of raspberry and tobacco with a nondescript juice, perhaps the beetroot. The finish 'verges on silky' with a soft tannin and a spice note. A clean pinot but an uninteresting sipper, more of a food wine - with mushroom risotto, cold or open face chicken sandwiches - a hard wine to pair with meals.... I'd skip this vintage.
GOVERNORS BAY* PINOT NOIR 2003, South Island, New Zealand, 12.5%, #656405 $18.95 (Retasted September 24, 2006)
Vintages release August 20, 2005. My notes: Last tasted August, 2005 with the comment "Pours as a beautiful clear, light ruby with an aroma of Foch and cranberry - airing for awhile helps considerably. Light-bodied.... " Now a light strawberry and cherry nose with spice - no Foch. The colour is light strawberry as well, light-bodied with flavours of smooth strawberry and cherry with a soft nip. As a sipper, the finish is delicate, warm with a slight spice. Went well with pork tenderloin and parsnips and should be great with turkey, shrimp or lamb kebobs. Cellaring mellowed this pinot and it may be too light for some but could be an interesting substitute or a companion at the table for a pinot gris or chardonnay. Cellaring won't improve at this point but can be held another year in the cellar otherwise a drink-now. *Governors Bay is a label developed by Cottesbrook Wine Company Limited (principle wineries are St. Helena Wine Estate and Rossendale Wines of NZ) specifically for the Canadian market.
CASTILLO DE MOLINA SHIRAZ 'VALLE DE LONTUE' RESERVA 2004, Chile, 14.0% D, #237800 $13.05 (Tasted September 23, 2006)
A General listing described as "Dark red violet colour; intense smoky aromas, with cassis, blackberry, vanilla and oak; dry, full bodied, rich and mouthfilling with bold berry fruit flavours on the long finish. Serve with steaks, prime rib or lamb." Gord Stimmell gives it 90/100 saying "Top pick (of Chilean syrahs) .... is smoky mocha, violets and black cherry power." My notes: Let air a minimum forty minutes for a spicy nose with a warm cedar sm'oak'iness that overrides most fruit aromas. A rich ruby red, medium- to full-bodied, flavours of blackberries and cherries masked by a layer of smoke, tobacco box and tannin resulting in a spicy expression on the palate - nice body but too much process or not enough fruit. Not a sipper.... have with meaty appetizers or strong cheeses. Pair with grilled red meats or stews. Perhaps cellaring will produce some amenable integration but it's hard to see this going anywhere. The body is great but, for flavour and appeal, I'd give it an 82/100.
CASTILLO DE MOLINA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 'VALLE DE LONTUE' RESERVA 2004, Chile, 14.0% D, #339176 $13.00 (Tasted September 23, 2006)
A General listing described as "Full ruby red colour; aromas and flavours of cedar, blackberry, raspberry and cherry fruit with a hint of tobacco leaf, vanilla and dark chocolate; dry, full bodied, lush and well-balanced with ripe berry fruit centre, spice and a long, firm finish. Serve with grilled red meats; medium cheeses; burgers. Gord Stimmell gives this 89/100 saying "In the fab category... with rich blackberry and cedar depth..." My notes: A mid ruby colour and an oaky berry with a soft pepper nose. The first sip has a reasonable sharpness with blended soft plum and red cherry flavours with more tobacco leaf than fruit. The finish carries with it a somewhat chalky tannin, a pronounced pepper and distant soft plum. A wine that begs a full flavoured cheese, cheese draped spicy tomato bruschetta or rich Italian pastas, spicy ribs, Texas chili with crushed chilies. Everything there is okay but either there's insufficient fruit or too much process which cellaring may softened.... two years at least. Personally I'd skip.
DORNIER MERLOT 2003, Stellenbosch, S.Africa, 14.0% XD, #694224 $18.95 (Retasted September 21, 2006)
A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 and tasted same day. Winecurrent.com rated it four and one-half stars (of 5). The label says "Drink up to ten years." The website describes their process as "Our red wines are fermented in vineyard specific batches for between 14 and 21 days being punched down or pumped over twice a day, the wines then spent a further 18 months in first fill French Oak barrels before being carefully selected and blended." My notes: In July I commented "There's no... need to decant this unctious merlot etc. " It's still unctious with slightly less tannin although still lots to cellar, and flavours of blended blackcurrant and blackberries. A bright merlot - a wonderful balance of fresh fruit and barrel fermentation .... and (as of writing) there's still some at Ontario outlets .... gotta get some more (I did!).
MAS DES BRESSADES ‘CUVÉE EXCELLENCE' 2004, Nimes, France, 14.5% XD, #708750 $17.95 (Tasted September 19, 2006)
A Vintages release September 16, 2006 and described as “This is one of my favorite value-priced producers. (Robert Parker Jr., June 2004). A consistently delicious, fruit-forward balanced wonder from one of the southern Rhône's best still-to-be-properly-discovered regions and producers. Enjoy with a variety of grilled meats or rich meat pasta dishes. Winecurrent gives it four and one half stars (of 5) saying "Rod and I both loved the Syrah characteristics in this perennially popular and classically made wine. Plum and prune compote aromas drift off the nose while the distinctive flavours are dense, rich and port-like. Spicy plum, peppery mint and rich sweet black berry flavours abound in this medium to full-bodied red. The finish is feisty, fleshy and fruit forward. Drink now to 2010 after buying a cartful. (VH)" Natalie calls it the Best Value Red Wine and gives it 89/100 saying "Full and rich, with dark fruit aromas. Great price. Drink with big meat dishes. The website describes this as "Pleasant to drink right now or can be kept 5 - 10 years." My notes: A pretty ruby red with aromas of blackberries and cherries - air to develop nose. Medium-bodied, full of berries, tannins balanced by fruit acids and a finish of dry, light tannins and berries. A reasonable dry sipper pleasant enough but really an 'old world' meal wine. Was OK with grilled medium rare New York strip steak and green salad. Should be better paired with rack of lamb, prime rib with a smooth gravy over potatoes. Cellar beyond a few years to evolve a smooth sipper. The price is right for a drink-now.
MEZZACORONA TEROLDEGO ROTALIANO RISERVA 2001, Sicily, Italy, 13.0% XD, #732222 $14.95 (Tasted September 18, 2006)
A Vintages release September 16, 2006 and described as "An ageworthy addition to any wine cellar, this wine is supple and fruity with an excellent tannin core. Medium full-bodied with a long finish, it can be enjoyed now with hard cheeses or rare roast beef, or age 3-5 years. (VINTAGES panel, Feb. 2006)." Winecurrent gives it 4 and one half stars (of 5) saying "A step up from Mezzacorona's General List Feudo Syrah.... (Feudo Arancio Syrah 2002, #621730 $11.95 (Tasted November 4, 2005)) Rod and I loved the fruit forward attack then marvelled at its structure and balance. Gobs of black currant and cherry flavours run the entire length of the medium to full-bodied tasting experience. These are underpinned and counterbalanced with firm ripe tannins and a streak of zest right through to the lengthy finish. Enjoy with grilled meats now to 2012. Canny oenophiles will stock up. (VH)" My notes: A deep ruby with a magenta tinge and aromas of ripe plums and oak although barely perceptible. Full-bodied, well developed tannins, acid, and tars mingle with the ripe plums and possibly black currants - letting it air for twenty minutes helps the fruit. The finish has a rich velvet touch with faint plum tones. A mild full-bodied sipper. Have with red pasta dishes, beef or lamb stews with rich portabella sauces, and gorgonzola cheese. At peak - cellaring for a short time would be OK, not to improve but to take advantage of the price.
LUIGI RIGHETTI VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE RIPASSO 2003, Marano, Italy, 13.5% D, #575787 $17.95 (Tasted September 17, 2006)
A Vintages release on September 16, 2006 and described as "A supple, round, charming wine ideal for pot roasts or venison. You will find aromas of cherry, sweet spice, raspberry jam and leather in this dry, long finishing wine. (VINTAGES panel, Feb. 2006)." My notes: The Ripasso Valpolicella isn't listed on the winery's website. Hardly any nose to describe unless it's a light black cherry. Deep ruby colour with smoothness from the first sip to the last. Medium-bodied with flavours of faint plums and figs, dry tannins with some spice on the finish. A light pepper accumulates on the palate as well as a silky leather note. A drink-now and a pleasant dry red sipper although soft not aggressive. Have with red meat pastas and pizzas, sweet or hot, grilled pork ribs, lamb chops, prime rib, T-bones or New York cuts.