Sunday, November 19, 2006

More November Reds(9): Italy Dolcetto, Chile Blend, Chile Cab Sauv, USA Zin, Italy Blend(2), Chile Carmenere, USA Syrah(2)

MANZONE DOLCETTO D'ALBA 'LA SERRA' 2001, Piedmont, Italy, 13.0% XD, #715680* (Retasted November 28, 2006)

My notes: Purchased from Vintages Release on July 26, 2003 and summarized as "James Suckling (WineSpectator) gives it a 90/100 saying 'Fantastic, intense complex nose, .... fresh and fruity with velvety tannins and a chocolate tinged finish. Drink now'." Beppi Crosariol described it as "quite tannic and firm... showing cherry flavour and a hint of dried herbs." My tasting in January 2005 found it 'medium-bodied, light tannin and acid balanced with cherry flavours with a herb edge...good with burgers..'. No longer listed* by the LCBO although two other Manzone wines are. A mid ruby colour and aromas of black cherry, distant berry and an almond note. Has a brightness that initially masks light cherry flavours and then finishes with a herby, light metallic edge - tannin and acid are well balanced. The herby nuances are interesting but not as a sipper ... have with nachos, bruscetta, grilled lamb kebobs or pair with burgers, meaty/full flavoured cheesy pizzas, flavourful chile con carne, pork chops, or stews. Further cellaring won't improve this red.

FATTORIA LA LOGGIA TERRA DEI CAVALIERI CHIANTI CLASSICO 1997, Italy, 12.5% XD, #738146* $14.90 (Retasted November 27, 2006)
My notes: Last tasted October, 2005. *The LCBO number is still not listed. This was originally recommended by Beppi Crosariol and cellared February 2002. The website still lists the 1997 as the only 'Chianti Classico' - a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon - and appears to emphasize tours and lodgings. A see-through ruby with possibly a pinkish or salmon edge, aromas of plums, cherries and soft vanilla spice. Light- to medium-bodied, a bright cherry with red currant alongside. The finish is long with bright brambleberry or a cherry/currant blend and fading to a cherry pit and mineral taste on the palate. It has a pleasing soft nose but it's more metallic than I prefer in a sipper. Pair with a mixed cheese and shaved italian meat tray, vegetable pizza or mushroom pasta, a ham steak (without pineapple) or pork chop or tenderloin pieces in a creamy sauce. Quaff liberally or use as a marinade.

CLINE ‘LOS CARNEROS' SYRAH 2003, California, USA, 15.0% D, #955435 $19.95 (Tasted November 26, 2006)

Released November 11, 2006 by Vintages and described as "Very high in ripeness for a cool area Syrah, this one nonetheless captures the bright blackberry fruit that its provenance suggests and combines that fruit with smoky and white pepper nuances of the variety. It is full on the palate and balanced by both ample acids and by a firming streak of youthfully grippy tannins that add muscle in support of the wine's sweet fruit. Attractive now with a broiled steak or hearty stew, this one will round out and soften with time in bottle. " Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine, Nov. 2005 gave it 89/100. VH of Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "Wild black berry and cedar aromas form the racy nose in this lovely red. You will discover a solid core of black plum fruit along with generous helpings of zesty tang and grippy tannins. Lots going on here and in the tangy finish. Good to go now to 2011 alongside grilled rare to medium-rare lamb tenderloin." My notes: An almost opaque ruby with aromas of red berries and a light pepper. Smooth texture comes with flavours of red berries, a slight almond and cherry skins. A moderate finish still smooth with firm white pepper and a slight cherry skin residual. A pleasant sipper... pair with lamb, veal, ham steak, pork tenderloin (was great!), turkey with sage dressing, meaty pesto and cheesy pizzas. Should be able to cellar this for several years.

CREMASCHI FURLOTTI FAMILY LIMITED EDITION CAB SAUVIGNON /SYRAH /CARMENÈRE 2003, Maule Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD, #014183 $17.95 (Tasted November 26, 2006)

Released November 25, 2006 by Vintages and described as "It's Europe meets New World in this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Syrah (20%) and Carmenère (20%). .... This big, complex, full-bodied wine offers up gorgeous red fruit aromas with subtle hints of leather, earth and spice. Delicious with veal tenderloin. It won a Silver Medal at the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2006." Natalie MacLean calls it the Best Value Red Wine of the Release giving it 90/100 saying "Spectacularly well priced! Lovely rich aromas and depth of flavor. Dive into the depth of black plums." My notes: A deep ruby with a purple hue, faint aroma of ripe plums with a warm earthy tone and a light pepper spice. Full flavoured, nicely balanced acid for a bright accent to a soft plum and light tannin. The finish goes on forever leaving earthy textures on the palate. Pair with stews, rack of lamb, crockpot chile, steaks, ribs - almost anything full flavoured. Veal? maybe. A sipper for cab sauv sippers. Cellaring for several years is recommended although a great meal wine now.

CONCHA y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #337238 $17.95 (Retasted November 22, 2006)

My notes: Last tasted December of 2005 noting that Wine Spectator gave it a 91 and Gord Stimmell a 92 adding "lavish blackberry, smoky black cherry and chocolate notes, it's a real power tripper red from Chile" A deep black cherry colour with a soft spicy ripe cherry, a slight blackberry nose and a touch of smoke - a tad too much for my liking. Flavours of licorice, dark chocolate and ripe black cherries develop and do a changing balancing act in the glass. Full- and soft in the mouth with soothing tannins and a touch of black pepper. The finish is long, smooooth with dark chocolate, fine tannin and a light tar edge. A satisfying soft cab sauv sipper.... a velvety partner with mild to medium cheeses, tomato, cheese and oregano bruscetta or meaty pizza squares. Should be great with lamb shanks, beef stews, prime rib or lightly spiced red pasta dishes. Seems to have mellowed more with the additional cellaring with the vanilla no longer perceptible. A super soft drinker now and likely at peak.

RANCHO ZABACO ZINFANDEL 2001, SONOMA HERITAGE VINES, Sonoma, USA, 13.3% XD, #434605* $19.95 (Retasted November 21, 2006)

My notes: Purchased March, 2004 and last tasted in July this year with the comment "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 General listing Rancho Zabaco 'Dancing Bull' Zinfandel." The 2001 SHV Zin has a warm, full blackberry nose with a slight spice and matching its rich ruby colour. Medium-bodied, dense blackberry flavours well integrated and round in the mouth with fine tannins and acid - a very pleasing dry zin. The finish is warm and long coating the mouth with bright and full blackberry, a light tannin and a satin texture. Open just to sniff and sip or pair with a short rib stew with a rich gravy and mash potatoes, bbq'd back ribs or any roasted or grilled beef. It would be great to see this back in Vintages although it may have gone 'commercial' by now.

TEDESCHI VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE ‘CAPITEL DEI NICALO' 2003, Veneto, Italy, 13.0% XD, #984997 $16.95 (Tasted November 19, 2006)
Released by Vintages on November 11, 2006 with a recommendation to cellar and described as "The appassimento process, where the ripe grapes are allowed to dry for one month, results in wines that are more flavourful and have a higher alcohol content than standard Valpolicella. Enjoy with duck, goose or braised lamb dishes. My notes: A blend of 30% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 10% of Molinara, Rossignola, Oseleta, Negrara, Dindarella, and Sangiovese. The juice is aged in large (5000 litres) Slovania oak barrels for a year and a half before release. A mid ruby with a rosy tinge, a nose of crushed red cherries, spicy with an earthy edge. Its sharpness attacks the lips and palate leaving little room for fruit flavours - like sucking an unripe pomegranite... with a slight pomegranite grip fading to a seedy end. Not a sipper ... and limited pairing potential.... perhaps a spicy pizza or meaty pasta with tabasco or red peppers. It's difficult to imagine that so much acid could be squeezed from a blend of Italian grapes. Marginally better if decanted and vigorously aerated. This bottle will be used as a baste for duck or goose or as a marinade for beef or lamb or ditched. Terrible stuff imho.

SEGÚ CARMENERE RESERVE 2003, Maule Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #663013 $14.95 (Tasted November 19, 2006)

Released by Vintages on November 11, 2006 as a drink-now and described as "The Segú family has been making quality wines in Chile for more than 80 years. Here you will find aromas of smoke, chocolate and ripe red fruits in this savoury and supple Carmenere. A fantastic value!" The website notes "Delicious, well balanced and highly concentrated, tones of vanilla reappear with mature red fruit, earthiness, spices, and a pleasant finish with touches of chocolate. Complex offering toast, earthiness, chocolate and vanilla at the same time, intertwined with exquisite mature red fruit and mild bouquet of spices, intense, elegant, and generous." My notes: A blend of 85 % Carmenere and 15 % Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in new American oak for five months. The colour is a dark ruby with a violet touch and the nose is a combination of black currants, berries, ripe cherries, almond and wood smoke. Medium-bodied, bright flavours of red currants and some red plums: finishes with dry fruit, a light tannin and a nip on the tongue. The nose makes this an interesting dry sipper... but it's more of a meal wine: tasty tapas, tomato sauced meaty pizzas, grilled beef entrees, and possibly full flavoured paellas. Cellaring for several years would improve complexity smoothing some of the rough edges - I'd start with at least two years and see where it's going.

HARVEST NAPA VALLEY SYRAH 1998, California, USA, 14.1% XD, SO39-2646 $22.17 (Retasted November 17, 2006)

My notes: Opimian described this as .. 'unfiltered... a lovely colour and a bouquet of soft.. vanilla with hints of coffee, leather and mint. .... acidity underpins the well structured fruit with highlighted berries and a slightly tarry finish..... Cellar one to two years.' Last tasted in November 2005 with the comment: 'Cellared April, 2004... perhaps going through a dumb period.... still an uninteresting sipper with a sharp edge...' Now has a full pepper nose with interesting highlights of leather and mint. Still deep ruby with a purple tinge and medium-bodied with bright flavours of dry red cherry-berry. Finishes with a minty tartness and fine tannins - no tar, a touch more mellow than a year ago and will likely soften some more. Has opened up over the year and now is an OK sipper. Will likely peak in another year. Pairs well with any grilled beef: steaks, ribs, full flavoured stews, even meaty pizzas.

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