Friday, December 01, 2006

December Reds (10): USA Cab Sauv, Argentina Blend, France Blend, USA Pinot Noir, Italy Blend(2), Australia Shiraz(2), Spain Blend, Canada Gamay

BOLLA 'LE POIANE' VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2001, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% XD, #135293 $19.95 (Retasted December 13, 2006)

My notes: Last tasted April, 2006. A Vintages release on April 15, 2006 and described as "Unlike standard Valpolicella, Bolla's 'Le Poiane' goes through the secondary fermentation of ripassato. The juice is pumped onto the skins of grapes left over from their Amarone wine production and allowed to macerate for 20 days. The wine is then aged for one to two years in small oak barrels prior to bottling..." Now a pleasant cherry nose with less oak and tar presence. A light ruby, tending to being light-bodied now.... flavours of bright cherry with even tannins and acid. The finish is long, flavourful, and silky... a pleasing sipper. Have with any red meat, or pepperoni pizza or red sauced meaty pasta dishes. Still is a 'super valpolicella sipper'.

RODNEY STRONG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Sonoma, USA, 13.8% XD, #226944 $19.95 (Tasted December 10, 2006)

A Vintages release on December 9, 2006. RP of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) describing as " of the winemaking pioneers in Sonoma, the late great Rodney Strong would be proud of this stylish Cabernet. Sourced from hillside vineyards in the warmer Alexander Valley region, this wine has a lot of depth and finesse. You could drink this now in a pinch, but why, when you can hold it two or three years and get more out of it when the tannins are more integrated? Big and dry, with generous dark fruit and spice, it's a great match for a steak, grilled to medium-rare perfection." My notes: A pleasing warm cedar and blackcurrant nose with tangy flavours hitting the taste buds with blackcurrant softened by a few berries and firm tannin. The finish holds on to the currants, tannin and tang for a lasting impression. An unctious medium-bodied sipper for those liking fruit flavours with a touch of mint... and great with roasted rosemary'd lamb rack with brussels and baked potato. Cellaring a dozen for two to three years is a good move although it's great, but premature, to sip now.
CLOS DE LOS SIETE 2004, Argentina, 15.3% XD, #622571 $24.95 (Tasted December 08, 2006)

A Vintages release on August 19, 2006 described as "Good full ruby-red. Laid-back nose features black cherry, minerals, licorice and dark chocolate. Suave, silky and light on its feet, with claret-like black fruit, spice and menthol flavors. Very fine-grained in the middle palate and on the aftertaste. Finishes with ripe, pliant tannins and lingering black cherry and spice notes. 89/100 (Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Nov/Dec 2005)." For an opposite view see Tom Cannavan's writeup. VH of Winecurrent gives it four and 1/2 (of 5) saying "Michel Rolland, of ‘Mondovino’ fame, or infamy.... had a hand in this. It all begins with a subdued perfume of cherry, tar and licorice then bursts on the palate with a layered fruit-forward attack of black cherry and currant that has been infused with cigar box and garrigue. The finish is lengthy, displaying a good dollop of tang and supple tannin..... now to 2012." Victoria Moore picks it to go with a rare venison dish. "a very solid wine with a burly tannic frame densely hung with dark fruit... a blend of malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah that's so velvety you melt into it." My notes: A deep garnet with a violet hue, aromas of rich blackberry and cherry, tobacco humidor, and licorice blend; rich flavours of black cherries and spice, a soft tartness with very fine tannins, delicate tar and a velvet finish that lasts forever - the oak surrounds the textures without being overbearing. A full-bodied mellow sipper ready for full flavoured meat dishes. Should be able to cellar this several years. A good value if you like huge reds.

CHATEAU PLAISANCE PREMIERE COTES DE BORDEAUX 1999, Bordeaux, France, 12.5% XD, CP143-2210 $20.67 (Retasted December 06, 2006)

My notes: Last tasted in November 2005. Opimian wrote, "This one is superb, dark and thickly concentrated with a rich and fragrant plum-style bouquet with touches of warm cedary-oak that surround the sweet ripe fruit with berry-like flavours. .... age at least five years." Mine was cellared in October 2002. When last tasted this Bordeaux was a light ruby and had a a cedar fragrance overriding any plum fragrance... without the fresh fruit or fullness expected... will cellar but don't expect much more..." Now a murky ruby showing its unfiltered heritage, aromas of a light plum with soft oak. Flavours of bright plum and black cherry, a light fine tannin with balanced acids. The finish is a pleasing ripe cherry tone ending on an earthy edge. An interesting light-bodied sipper with soft pepper, was too light for chili con carne with a vinaigrette salad. An unassuming red for lightly flavoured meat entrees: prime rib and vegetables, pork with cooked cabbage, lamb cuts. Mediocre and won't improve with further cellaring - still, much improved over last tasting.

AMITY VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR 2004, Williamette Valley, Oregon, 13.0% D, #124594 $27.90 (Tasted December 04, 2006)

A General release described as "Pale ruby/garnet; light cranberry, stawberry aromas and flavour with a hint of cinamon and an earthy note in the finish; dry and light- to medium-bodied with good acidity, soft tannins, moderate length. Serve with grilled salmon or tuna; game birds; mushroom dishes." The website says "A complex nose with aromas of black cherry, blueberry & raspberry, mixed with notes of earth & spice, leads into a smooth soft wine." The label says "A pleasant nose of red and black cherry leads into a smooth, silky wine....11 months in neutral french oak... no new oak. etc." My notes: After raving about the 2002 vintage paired with a veal dish I was surprised to find Amity on LCBO's General list and available locally. The 2004 is a medium ruby colour with aromas of strawberry cotton candy although spicier. Light-boded, a grassy strawberry flavour with a drying tannin and slight oily texture. The 2002 was 'hedonistic', medium-boded, silky, full of fresh fruit and complex flavours. By comparison, the 2004 is ordinary although an interesting sipper. It was too light for a grilled centre cut steak. Pair with a ham steak, stuffed pork chop, or a chicken breast poached in a mushroom sauce. Cellaring for several years could produce a silky pinot although light-bodied with minimum fruit.... not a value.

MARCHESI FRESCOBALDI 'NIPOZZANO' CHIANTI RISERVA 2003, Tuscany, Italy, 13.5% D, #107276 $18.10 (Tasted December 04, 2006)

A General listing described as "Red with garnet colour; black cherry and blackberry fruit with cedar, smoke and leather notes; extra dry, medium bodied, with balanced fruit flavours, notes of smoke and tar, good acidity with a touch of spice, licorice and leather; long finish. Serve with beef stews, roasted red meats, veal in tomato sauce, roasted root vegetables or grilled portobello mushrooms." My notes: Reduced from $20.10 until yearend there were few bottles on shelves this week. A blend of sangiovese (80%) and several other italian grapes with everything as described above although the fruit is increasingly in the background in each case: nose then flavour and finish. A smooth texture with fine tannins, leather and licorice on the tongue. The finish is initially bright changing quickly to leather. An uninteresting sipper ... pair with full flavoured red meat dishes or portobello burgers. Won't improve with cellaring - not a value.

Clare Valley, Australia, 14.5% XD, #732891* $15.95 (Retasted December 02, 2006)

My notes: Last tasted May, 2006. A Vintages release in October, 2004 and cellared the same month, *no longer listed - originally rated 92/100. Medium-bodied, palate puckering with fruit flavours that have waned a tad but remain prominent balanced with black currant, plum and blackberry - has a bit of pepper with ample fine tannin. A warm ruby colour with a warm cedar and black currant nose - not as strong but still natural and pleasing. A long finish, dry and a bright dark ripe berry blend - very sippable. Pair with any red meat... went well with burgers and salad. Cellarable for a few more years yet although the fruit is becoming more integrated and complex. Jeanneret is distributed in Ontario by B&W Wines.

COOKOOTHAMA 'DARLINGTON POINT' SHIRAZ 2005, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0% D, #619460 $14.00 (Tasted December 02, 2006)

The label says "Aromas of ripe berry are supported by rich toasty oak. Intense spicy berry fruit flavours carry through to the mid-palate and are complimented by well integrated oak and supple tannins laying the foundation for a long and rewarding finish. Three to five years cellaring. My notes: A General listing produced by Nugan Estates whose website is 'under development'. The nose is a combination of varied red berries and soft oak needing a few minutes to develop in the glass. Nicely full in the mouth with well balanced acids, tannin, berries and spice, a tad jammy .... and a finish that closely follows the flavours moderately long and smooth. A sipper with enough tangy spice and tannin to be interesting. Paired with ground beef in a tomato sauce over cheese ravioli it held its own. A house party red, ie. won't offend but not special. If cellaring as suggested by Nugan try a year at a time - it may lead nowhere.

CASTILLO de FUENDEJALON CRIANZA 1996, CAMPO de BORJA, Fuendejalon, Spain, 12.5% XD, CP136-1811 $12.17 (Tasted December 01, 2006)

My notes: Opimian says "....grapes of thirty year old vines of grenache (75%) and tempranillo(25%). Cellar six months to two years." This was cellared July 2001 and last tasted in May, 2005. It's a mid ruby colour with a slight pink edge, aromas of soft cherry - berry and a faint cedar humidor edge. Light-bodied with a bright red cherry and red currant flavour blend. The finish is long with fine tannin, a steely brightness, red currants and some cherry stone. A dry sipper better paired with trays of tapas or lightly flavoured meaty entrees - went well with mushroom and cheese ravioli in a red pepper and tomato sauce including sparingly sprinkled crushed chillies. Likely past peak but still an OK meal red.

MOUNTAIN ROAD WINE COMPANY GAMAY SEMI-DRY ROSE 2004, Beamsville, Canada, 13.3% SC4, Winery $11.95 (Tasted December 01, 2006)

My notes: Purchased from the winery in October on a tasting trip to the Niagara area. A clear rosy peach hue with aromas of strawberry, red currants and a light spice that build as the glass warms. As with most, if not all, Mountain Road wines, this is full of flavours, in this case strawberry and cherry, soft and delectable - the sweetness complementing the flavours. The finish also has the smoothness of a strawberry/cherry coulis retaining its natural fruit sweetness. A perfect summer cooler to have with friends on the patio. Serve with a tray of mild cheeses and fruit wedges: cantelope, watermelon, seedless green and red grapes... or pour tall in a glass with a few crushed cubes as a summer refresher - or pour over a ball of limone creme glacee. Will cellar a year or two, longer if you prefer 'european' style,

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