Saturday, May 27, 2006

More May Whites (4): NZ Sauv Blanc, Australia Blend, Italy Brut(2)

BABICH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #560144 $16.95 (Tasted May 31, 2006)

A Vintages release May 27, 2006 and described as "The 2005 vintage reflects the rising input of grapes from the company's Cowslip Valley vineyard in the Waihopai Valley, described by Babich as giving ‘riper, less herbaceous' fruit characters than its Awatere Valley and Wairau Valley vineyards. It's a fleshy, full-bodied wine ... with tropical-fruit flavours to the fore, moderate acidity, good freshness, dryness and depth, and great drinkability. Score - 4 (out of 5). (Michael Cooper, Buyer's Guide to New Zealand Wines 2006)." The Babich website describes this as "a lifted and pungent bouquet, with passion fruit and pineapple fighting for dominance among a fruit salad of contenders. The palate is powerful and rich. Flavours of gooseberry and pear join the tropical fruit following on from the nose. The wine is weighty and has a lingering and crisp finish." rates it four 1/2 stars (of five) saying "The quintessential nose of passion fruit and minerality sets up this medium-bodied SB nicely. The flavour profile is all about ripe fruit flavours (guava, melon and pineapple) that are balanced off with zingy (lemon) acidity. This has excellent structure and balance right through to the clean, laser-like finish. Sip on its own or try with smoked salmon with cream cheese and caper berries.... Quality to price ratio tipped heavily in your favour. (VH)." My notes: A very light blond with a pronounced gooseberry nose. The flavour is pleasantly tart balancing gooseberry, melon and kiwi fruit. The finish starts as bright fruit and fades as lemon pucker and grass. Lost it with cold lobster pieces and baked potato. Perhaps a mild whitefish, broiled or baked with rissoto would be more appropriate. A drink-now.

ALICE WHITE SEMILLON CHARDONNAY 2005 TETRA, South Eastern Australia, 13.5% D, 500ml, #665497 $7.95 (Tasted May 30, 2006)

A General release with no description on the LCBO website but states that it's a 'Hardy Wine Company' product. Hardy is a Constellation Brands Inc. winery, however the Hardy website doesn't list the 'Alice White' brand. The Roo's Rack website, a U.S. marketing outlet for Alice White wines, describes this as "A refreshing, lighter-bodied wine with aromas of pear, melon and green apple. This delicate blend is 60% semillon and 40% chardonnay." My notes: The first 'tetra pak' I've tried although with premonitions of 'wines of mass production' leaping through my head. Grapes for this white can be collected from anywhere in South Eastern Australia under Australian wine production regulations. A light blond, a slightly perceptible grassy nose and flavours to match; some melon and pear but predominantly grassy with a mouthfeel that's full, not sweet perhaps glycerine-like. The finish is soft and grassy. No interest as a sipper - flat and 'off' ... would go with chicken entrees or seafood if you're stuck with a tetra or two.... not recommended imho.

SANTA MARGHERITA PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE BRUT, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% D, #687582 $17.95 (Tasted May 28, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006 and described as "From the producers of the most popular wine in our Essentials Collection, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (#106450), comes this fresh, flavourful, crowd-pleasing sparkling wine. Enjoy it as a reception wine or with light pasta or fish dishes." The website says of this Prosecco "The Charmat method is used for this wine, this being the most suitable procedure if sparkling wines are to be made from very highly-flavoured grapes. Sparkling wine with a clean nose, pleasantly fruity, with whiffs of rennet apples and peach blossoms. Delicate, balanced taste. Excellent as an aperitif, ideal with small fish or cheese snacks or all-meal with delicate dishes. Serve at 8°-10°C (46°-50°F)" My notes: A light yeasty birthday cake nose and tiny bubbles that bring pear and apple flavours to the palate. Dry enough to be tart but there's creamy, sweet fruit in the body. The finish is long fading into mellow melon and light lemon. Have with any seafood: cold appetizers or hot pasta dishes or festive occasion. A drink-now but could cellar up to two years - longer if a drier bubbly is preferred.

FOSS MARAI PROSECCO EXTRA DRY 'BLUE BOTTLE', Italy, 11.5% XD, #729392 $17.95 (Tasted May 27, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 13, 2006 and described as "A well made prosecco with fruit depth and lively acidity that would work nicely as an aperitif. Fresh and enticing nose of lemon, grapefruit and a touch of spice. Sufficient fruit concentration for the money. Crisp, clean and dry with good balance and length. Score - 87 (Jeff Davis, Wine Access, 'First In Line E-Report', Sept. 2005)." The website says " presented with a variety of aromas, with a distinctive harmonious mingle of acacia and apple. The taste continues with a sensation of bitter fruit, where the acidity and residual sugar are splendidly harmonised, leaving a velvety sensation to the palate, stimulated by the co2, never too pungente, but stimulating to the right point." My notes: An attractive thin-necked blue bottle.... and I can't add too much to the website's review... it's a soft, pleasant bubbly with enough flavours for interest and a continuous stream of fine bubbles for liveliness. 'Extra Dry'? I don't think so. The residual sugar is well balanced and consequently hidden by the acidity producing a smooth, creamy finish with light grapefruit, almond and a toastiness. From chilled to almost room temperature it's a great drink-now on any occasion or with any seafood, mild cheese or Italian shaved meat appetizer.

Monday, May 22, 2006

More May Reds (7): Australia Blend, Australia Cab Sauv(2), Australia Shiraz(3), Argentina Blend

ELDERTON ‘FRIENDS' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% XD, #595389 $17.95 (Tasted May 31, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006 and described as "The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon 'Friends' reveals superb fruit along with an up-front, exuberant character displaying licorice, high quality cigar smoke, and cassis. While not complex, low acidity, an opulent, fleshy mouthfeel, and a long finish suggest this savory Cabernet will drink well for 4-6 years. Score - 89. (Robert Parker Jr.,, Oct. 2005)." rates it four 1/2 stars (of five) saying "Elderton, better known for Shiraz - "Best Shiraz in the World - 1996", also knows how to make Cab. They won the Jimmy Watson for their 1992. The plum and vanilla notes off the nose quickly dissolve into rich, racy, complex flavours of sweet (14.5% alc.) ripe cherries, savoury and tobacco. The luxurious finish has mocha and berry fruit. Drink now to 2010 with grilled medium-rare beef steak. After I get mine, you can stock up. (VH)." My notes: The Elderton winery describes this as a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec and 5% Merlot. Half the grapes came from the Barossa Valley, the remaining from the Eden Valley. A rich ruby red with a purple hue, the nose is soft plum and licorice easily filling a large bowl with smooth but penetrating aromas. Medium- to full-bodied, silky, faint plum and rich mature black cherry flavours with fine, drying tannins and a light acid. The finish peaks quickly then slowly fades so it's easy to dismiss as moderate. Pair with grilled or roasted red meats: prime rib, ribs, chili con carne, lamb, etc. Cellaring will build body - I'd try after two years and see where it's going.

SANDALFORD ‘ELEMENT' SHIRAZ/CABERNET 2004, Western Australia, 14.0% D, #683904 $15.95 (Tasted May 30, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006 and described as "The 2004 growing season in Western Australia was unusually hot and dry, creating wines that are more fruit forward than usual. Enjoy this blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Shiraz with grilled lamb chops, gourmet sausages or barbecue backribs." Winecurrent rates it four 1/2 stars (of five) saying "From a respected and premium WA winery, this is a "well" wine - well made, well priced and well worth a purchase. It is one delicious mouthful of juicy, ripe black fruit with a sprig of mint blended in. It is smooth and approachable, but also has a bit of oomph from deftly handled oak, ripe tannins and nice dash of tang. The lengthy finish suggests rack of lamb with mint sauce on the side. At this price you can stock up. (VH)." The Sandalford website doesn't have a description of the 2004 vintage. My notes: A clear, mid ruby, a penetrating red currant and blueberry nose and a velvet flavour of red berries with a hint of mint. The finish fades quickly with a spicy bite and some drying tannins leftover. Was good with red sauced ground beef pasta... should as well with grilled ribs, steaks, lamb, etc. OK as a drink-now but better if cellared for two years (minimum) to mellow it more.

ALICE WHITE SHIRAZ South Australia, Australia, 13.5% D, #550517 $12.80 (Tasted May 28, 2006)

A General release with no description on the LCBO website although stating that this is a product of the Canandaigua Wine Company which is a Constellation Brands Inc. Company. I'd guess it's produced by the Hardy Wine Company but the brand isn't listed on their website. The Roo's Rack website (a marketing website for Alice White wines) describes this shiraz as "...has a deep, rich ruby red color with notes of plum and berry on the nose. The wine is robust and full-bodied on the palate with nice fresh fruit." My notes: The grapes can be gathered from anywhere in South Australia and converted to this brand. Ordered with a grilled rib eye steak at a local steak house (marked up to $38 - ouch!). Memories of '2$Chuck' with shallow viniferal flavours and general lack of structure. It went OK with the grilled steak. A soft berry nose, flavours of light pepper, some berries and soft tannins with balanced acid. Drinkable? Yes. Would I order again? No, too many better alternatives.

LINDEMANS RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, South Australia, Australia, 13.5% D, #621607 $14.95 (Tasted May 25, 2006)

Gord Stimmell rates it 90/100 saying "Fairly new to most shelves, this is a real winner. Full, minty, black cherry and black plum aromas lead into smoky, cedar-accented black cherry flavours. The finish is full of lingering finesse, with chocolate, plum and minty cassis. With a velvet texture, this is a real power trip, and fab value. Serve with marinated lamb chops." The label says "This vibrant purple and crimson wine is brimming with blackberry, violet, mint and vanilla oak flavours. etc." My notes: Lindemans is a Southcorp brand. A deep ruby with mint, cassis and plum aromas albeit very light - develops in the glass. Medium-bodied and has a delicate approach to the palate, well balanced with soft tannins blending with plum, black cherry and smoke. The finish is long and has a different accent, perhaps of very ripe(not overripe) plum and minty oak. Should go nicely with prime rib, filet mignon, ham steak, rack of lamb. A drink-now... there's likely a year left to cellar. More like an 88/100 to me although worth the price.

LINDEMANS RESERVE PADTHAWAY SHIRAZ 2004, Padthaway, Australia, 13.5% D, #482299 $14.95 (Tasted May 25, 2006)

A General listing described as "Opaque ruby colour; intense cassis, raspberry, chocolate and spicy vanilla aromas; dry, full bodied, with dark berries, black pepper, spice and coffee flavours on the palate. Serve with barbequed lamb, spicy sausage or ribs." The label says "This vibrant purple and crimson wine is brimming with plum, raspberry, black pepper and vanilla oak flavours. etc." My notes: Lindemans is a Southcorp brand. Colour is a deep ruby with a red raspberry tint to match a nose of light berries. Medium-bodied and a softness in the first swallow followed by warm flavours of plum, raspberry with a pepper edge. The finish is long, blue and red berryish with some light spice. An OK sipper better with grilled red meats: beef, lamb, back ribs or the spicy sausages above. A drink-now - not outstanding but pleasant enough and worth the price.

TYRRELL'S 'THE LONG FLAT VINEYARD' SHIRAZ 2000, New South Wales, Australia, 13.5% D, #536763 $11.75 (Retasted May 23, 2006)

My notes: A General listing. The 2000 was cellared January, 2002 and last tasted June, 2005. The 'Long Flat' label was sold by Tyrrell in May, 2003 and later vintages of the brand is now offered by the Cheviot Bridge winery (products inset) although not clearly stated on the label. The LCBO website continues to refer to 'Tyrrell's Vineyards' as producer. The 2000 is a rich ruby, medium-bodied, well balanced and now has a full black cherry and raspberry flavour with a nose that's just perceptible as soft plum with a pepper edge. The finish is long with silky tannins, sweet cherry and light vanilla. Likely at peak - and this is the last bottle in the cellar 8-( .

MASI TUPUNGATO PASSO DOBLE ROSSO 2003, Argentina, 13.5% D, #620880 $14.95 (Retasted May 22, 2006)

My notes: Was a General listing when purchased. Previously tasted June, 2005 with the comment '... lots of tannin for cellaring and plum, cherries and a light vanilla. The finish is long with drying notes along with lip-licking value.' The colour is a rich ruby with warm plum, ripe black cherry nose and a background of soft cedar. After a year in the cellar the flavours are essentially the same however the fruits are not so forward and the structure is smoother with well integrated fine tannin and light acid that carry through to a long warm finish - still a lip-licking value.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Reds (13): NZ PN,France Blend, Canada Foch(2), Canada PN, Australia Shir, Australia Blend(3), Italy Blend(3), Australia PN

GOVERNOR'S BAY PINOT NOIR 2003, South Island, New Zealand, 12.5%, #656405 $18.95 (Retasted May 20, 2006)

My notes: A Vintages release August 20, 2005 and last tasted August, 2005 with the comment '... airing awhile helps considerably.' No need to air as it pours a beautiful light strawberry-ruby with aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cranberry in the glass. Lots of the same berry flavours mingle on a silky thread of mild acid and tannins, and a roundness on the palate. The finish is long, smooth and carries with it a medley of flavour changes to enjoy. An interesting light-bodied sipper or with a range of entrees - tasty seafood dishes, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork or ham. I'll cellar for another while to see what happens but likely is drinking at peak now.

RIDDOCH COONAWARRA CABERNET MERLOT 2002, South Australia, 13.5%, #713255 $15.95 (Retasted May 19, 2006)

Vintages released August 20, 2005 quoting a rating of 88 by the Wine Enthusiast, May 2005." My notes: Last tasted in August, 2005 with the comment 'a soft berry nose with a light oak and some warm mint from a deep ruby colour. Light tannins support a medley of soft berries and spice. A great sipper alone or with a range of cheeses, chicken wings, or grilled short ribs. etc. ...cellar two to three years.' Let breathe a tad .. the same nose, flavours and finish altho' seems to be a tad smoother after nine months. I don't believe cellaring will have any substantial benefit.

WOLF BLASS CABERNET MERLOT 1999, South Australia, 13.0% #611483 $16.95 (Retasted May 16, 2006)

My notes: Cellared July, 2002.... with three to six years suggested. Last tasted June 2005. Now a clear mid ruby with a warm, soft nose of plums and cherries. The first swallow warms the palate and has ripe cherry flavours with faint tannins, light acid and a licorice note. Light- to medium-bodied and has a long finish with a ripe red cherry fading to a cool cedar edge... a rewarding sipper by itself or with aged cheddar nibbles or cheddar/caramelized onions and wheat thins. Should be great with any meat: pork, beef, light game, chicken or red pastas. Likely won't improve with further cellaring.

CUVEE DES ARDOISES DES ERLES FITOU 2003, Fitou, France, 13.5% XD, #949222 $16.95 (Tasted May 14, 2006)

Part of Vintages May 13, 2006 release and described as "seductive, aromatic red, with pretty red cherry and spiced apple flavor and some decadent meaty notes in the mix. Fresh, fruity finish. Drink now. Score - 87. (Kim Marcus,, July 31, 2005)." The label describes this as a blend of carignan, syrah and grenache calling it "unctuous and rich, with a great complexity of aromas..... can be kept for ageing...but... ready to drink." Beppi says it's "one of the best values in today's release. ... rich and chewy, with luscious flavours of ripe plum, black cherry, licorice and herbs." Natalie says "Cedar, pine needles and cherries. Simple and delicious. Drink with barbecue fare. Score: 87/100." Winecurrent gives this four stars (of five) saying "The tannins here are still pretty big, but if you decant the wine or pair it up with a juicy, medium-rare (at most) steak, you'll do fine. It's .. blend... delivers flavours of sweet fruit and berries with spicy and gamey notes. (RP)" My notes: A Lurton wine. A mid ruby red with a 'cotton candy' nose of soft berries, rasp- and straw-. A swallow covers the palate with berries, a hint of licorice and a tannic mouthfeel which fades quickly into a long, dry, plum, cherry and spice finish. It's drinking well now as a dry sipper and was great with pork chops. Pair with grilled steak, prime rib, lamb shank, and stew. Cellaring a year or two could produce a value mellow sipper and dinner red.

MALIVOIRE OLD VINES FOCH 2002 (Canadian Oak), Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5%, Winery $25.00 (Retasted May 11, 2006)

My notes: Cellared November, 2003 and last tasted October 2005. A dark see-through ruby with a pinkish, grenache-like edge, a cherry, blackberry nose with a soft cedar and vanilla note. Medium-bodied, a sharp acid on a well structure flavour of ripe red cherries - nice tannins. A smooth, european style, dry sipper with some brightness and pucker. The finish is long and tart red cherry. Pair with any red meat prepared in any way, savoury or spicy. The 1999 is fuller with more complex flavours. Will cellar a few more years.

MALIVOIRE OLD VINES FOCH 1999, Beamsville, Canada, 13.5% XD, Winery $18.95 (Tasted May 10, 2006)

My notes: Cellared July 2001. Now an approachable foch tasted a year ago (May, 2005) when it had a distinct 'fochiness' - no need to let breathe now (but it's still a Foch). Has two years remaining in the predicted cellaring of 2008. A deep garnet with a nose of light cedar and soft plums. Medium- to full-bodied, smooth on the palate with soft tannins, well balanced acid and integrated flavours of plums, earthy mushrooms and soft vanilla. Drinking well now as a dry european style sipper or paired with game meats, stews, steaks, lamb, duck - nothing too spicy but full flavoured. The finish is velvety, long with pleasing vanilla notes.

MALIVOIRE MOIRA VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2000, Beamsville, Canada, 13.5% XD, Winery $35.95 (Retasted May 9, 2006)

My notes: Cellared in December, 2001 and tasted in March and November, 2005. Airing for twenty minutes no longer needed... has a light smoke, cherry and vanilla nose. Medium-bodied, well balanced acid and tannin with an interesting savoury 'cherry coke' flavour but without the sweetness - a european red. A dry sipper and went well with warmed up meatroll and mashed potatoes. Should be OK with any grilled red beef, rack of lamb, pork chops, sweet italian sausage, mild pizzas, and dark bird meats. Compared with recent Pinot Noirs interesting but not a value.

JEANNERET CLAIRE VALLEY SHIRAZ 2002, Clare Valley, Australia, 14.5% XD, #732891* $15.95 (Retasted May 7, 2006)

My notes: A Vintages release in October, 2004. Purchased at a bargain price and cellared October 2004 - originally rated a 92/100 (* could be #994962 @ $24.95). Last tasted October 5, 2004 with a comment "lots of black currant, plum/raspberry, little bit of pepper with enough tannins to last for years." Still has the light ruby colour with a warm cedar and black currant nose - not as strong as originally but natural and very pleasant. Medium-bodied, palate puckering with flavours of tart black currant not as full in the mouth. A long finish, dry with bright fruit. Very sippable. Pair with any red meat... went well with meat loaf roll with cheese breads. Cellarable for a few more years yet. The Jeanneret website doesn't list recent vintages (!?)

CONCHA Y TORO 'TRIO' CABERNET SAUVIGNON/SHIRAZ/CABERNET FRANC 2003, Chile, 14.0% XD, #433912 $14.95 (Retasted May 7, 2006)

Vintages supposedly released the 2004 on April 29, 2006 - bought without looking then found out there's nothing but 2003's on the shelf in three local LCBO's. The description on the Vintages website is "Concha Y Toro consistently overachieves with every line they produce. For the popular 'Trio' range, the winery sources the three grapes varieties in each blend from the best regions: this power-packed, ripe and spicy red is from the Maipo Valley. The winery's website features recipes tailor-made for each wine in the series. They recommend beef fillets with crunchy mashed potatoes and grilled spring onions for this one." - ie. nothing about the 2004 wine. My notes: Last tasted January 3, 2006 with the comment "... A medium-bodied blend of cabernet sauvignon (70%), shiraz (15%) and cabernet franc (15%). A smooth, light plum nose leading to a smooth, pepper edged plum and black cherry fruit with a long plummy finish. A house red that is light- and smooth enough for most guests but neither fruity nor full- enough for most red drinkers...etc. " I take that back.... most red drinkers would find this a very sippable dry red...... Great with a rolled meatroll with snow peas and cheese draped mashed potatoes. Now is a long cherry and black currant dry finish. A good drink-now and cellarable for a few years yet.

FALASCO VALPOLICELLA VALPANTENA RIPASSO 2003, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #642421 $16.95 (Tasted May 6, 2006)

A Vintages release on April 29, 2006 and described as "An old favourite here at Vintages, this Valpolicella Ripasso always delivers the goods. This vintage displays aromas of plum, cherry, chocolate, leather and tobacco. It is dry and supple with a sweet centre, medium-body and substantial finish. Enjoy with grilled lamb chops. (VINTAGES panel, Nov. 2005)" My notes: A blend of Corvina and Rondinella grapes. Some but not much 'ripasso'. ie. fermenting on dried grape skins used to make Amarone, in the nose with more red than black cherries with some soft oak. Medium-bodied with a dark red cherry colour and flavours of red cherries and plums, fruit driven sweetness, soft tannins and a light acid edge. The long finish has a balance of tannins, cherry fruit and pencil shavings. Cellaring a few years may increase smoothness but it's drinking well now.

CARDINHAM CABERNET/MERLOT 2003, Clare Valley, Australia, 13.8% XD, #694570 $18.95 (Tasted May 4, 2006)

A Vintages release on February 4, 2006 and described as "This family vineyard operation supplied prized Clare Valley fruit to some high profile wineries for twenty years before releasing their first estate grown product in 2001. Expect vibrant currant fruit, eucalyptus and bell pepper notes in this fresh medium-bodied blend." The Cardinham website did not list the 2003 Cab/Merlot but described the 2003 vintage year as "... subject to some of nature’s biggest challenges, drought and frost having significant impact on the early development of vines at bud burst. Late rains provided a refreshing relief from the dry conditions and more importantly, moisture to fill out and develop the fruit on the vine." My notes: Has a murky ruby colour and after airing briefly, a nose of overripe plums. Medium- to full-bodied with a velvet-smooth mouthfeel, fine tannins, white pepper and a flavour of bruised black cherries leaving a long, smooth finish reminiscent of a musty book. Decanting may help.... but I'll avoid the vintage. This bottle will be saved for a full-flavoured stew - it has a screwtop.

FARNESE ‘DON CAMILLO' SANGIOVESE 2002 (and 2004), Ortona, Italy, 13.0% D, #643189 $14.95 ($14.95) (Tasted May 1, 2006)

The 2002 vintage was available from Vintages on September 18, 2004 and the 2004 on April 29, 2006. Vintages describes the 2004 as "... very New World in style; expect a lot of blackberry and oak aromas and flavours. It is intense and flavourful with a long plush finish. Enjoy with spaghetti and meatballs." The Farnese website says "A blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Ortona district. An intense garnet red colour, fruity fragrance with jam aroma and cherry preserved in alcohol, a scent of spicy notes of liquorice, vanilla and faded flowers. Full-bodied, soft, tannic, of a fine quality, with a pleasant bitter aftertaste, ready for immediate use. Serve between 16 and 18° C. Best served with salami, savoury first courses, excellent with meat and cheese or as a sipper. " My notes: The 2002 was cellared in September 2004. Both have a rich ruby colour with the 2002 retaining a soft plum and cherry nose whereas the 2004 isn't perceptible. Both are medium-bodied, the 2002 has a clean, smooth, berry flavour with balanced acid and noticeable tannins - the 2004, almost the same but slightly brighter - hard to detect a difference unless they're side by side in which case my preference is the 2002 especially as a dry sipper. The finish has more fruit on top of the tannic edge. Pair either with roasted or grilled red meats, spicy pastas, pepperoni pizza, bbq'd ribs, or stews. Both are drinking well now - I'd still cellar the 2004 for two years yet.

NEPENTHE CHARLESTON PINOT NOIR 2003, Adelaide, Australia, 14.0% XD, #682054 $17.95 (Tasted May 1, 2006)

Vintages release on April 29, 2006 and described as ".... is one of the finest Australian Pinots I have tasted. It exhibits a medium ruby color in addition to soft, sweet notes of cola, black cherries, dried herbs, and loamy soil. Soft, round, medium-bodied, and charming, it should be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years. Score - 88 (Robert Parker Jr.,, Oct. 2005)." The label says "The cool and beautiful Adelaide Hills produce pinot noir that is fragrant, intense and generous with abundant fresh fruit characters. .... made with minimalist winemaking techniques... best consumed in its youth, etc." The website says, "The Nepenthe 'Charleston' Pinot noir is a vineyard and barrel selection, blended with an emphasis on approachability and vibrance of fruit, especially in the wine's youth. ... picking each vineyard block when at its best, then keeping each batch of wine separate until maturation is complete, allowing us to ruthlessly cull those barrels which do not meet the required standard and style. .... deep red in colour with aromas of cherries, rhubarb and spice, and the gentle yet dry tannins of genuinely ripe grapes.... will mature gracefully and gain complexity for 2-4 years. Cellaring 3-5 Years." The winecurrent newsletter rates this four stars saying "...delicate balance of mellow fruit (plum and rich cherry) flavours, deft handling of oak, and an extremely well balanced and lengthy finish. The price point ... is superb. Smoked duck breasts or roasted Cornish game hens would pair well. (VH)." My notes: This, as well as 'The Rogue' (Archives, Dec 2005), belongs to the middle of three Nepenthe 'Ranges': 'Pinnacle', 'Altitude' and 'Tryst'. After airing briefly the nose is full of fresh strawberries and black cherries. Colour is a strawberry tinged see-through ruby. Has a round mouthfeel with flavours of smooth strawberry, cherry and at 16 and 18° C it shows a brightness with a light tannin. The finish is long, bright with a touch of cinnamon. A great sipper and can be paired with roasted game birds, Swiss Chalet, spareribs or rack of lamb, pork/lamb/chicken souvlaki, etc. A sip-now altho' cellaring for two to five years seems possible. A bargain Pinot...

May Whites (10): Spain Brut, NZ SB(2), Australia Ries, Germany Ries(2), NZ Ries, Australia Sauv Blanc, Australia Pinot Grigio, Chile Sauv Blanc

NINTH ISLAND SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Tasmania, Australia, 13.7% XD, #606897 $19.95 (Tasted May 27, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006 noting that "Ninth Island is the second label of Pipers Brook (Kregliner Wine Estates). Tasmania's cool climate is ideal for crafting fresh and racy Sauvignon Blanc like this one. Expect complex aromas of tropical fruit, gooseberry, and sweet herbs in this medium-bodied delight. Enjoy with spring vegetables and seafood stir-fry or fresh oysters." The website says of the 2005 SB: "The colour is a pale yellow straw with a tinge of green. Bouquet is lifted, floral aromatic with bright fresh fruits such as gooseberry, pineapple, rock melon, and kiwifruit evident. Medium bodied with ripe lush tropical fruits balanced by savoury notes and a fresh crisp acid spine providing a tight, structured palate. The finish is delicate and lingering. Likely life span to 2007 with optimal year 2005/6." rates it four stars (of five) saying: "Aromas of passion fruit, mineral and grassy notes mark this a cool climate offering. On the beautifully textured palate there is a full fruit-forward attack of sweet melon, Bosc pear and mint. The finish is clean and well balanced. Pair this to lightly buttered and sautéed asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto. (VH)." My notes: A light blond colour with a green hue, the nose is soft melon and kiwi - some passionfruit and light gooseberry came out in the flavours along with melon and banana. Texture is full and creamy with a long finish ending in a light oiliness on the palate. A superb drink-now - don't see it improving with cellaring and why would anyone delay sip, sip, sipping. A slightly different SB and equal with the best.

FREIXENET CARTA NEVADA BRUT, Penedes, Spain, 11.5% D, #074757 $11.25 (Tasted May 19, 2006)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; aroma of yellow apples with mineral and citrus notes; on the palate, citrusy/lime fruit with a crisp, clean finish. Serve with finger foods; light cheeses; aperitif; tapas. My notes: A pleasing light golden blond with medium to small bubbles and a clean effervescent 'chard-like' nose. The bubbles keep coming through flavours of melon, grapefruit and apple... tart but with a background of sweet fruit. The finish is long, some creaminess, some grassiness with a lasting green apple and melon. An impressive festive package with frosted glass, gold foil and clean graphics. The website offers 'dress-ups' for bottles for wedding receptions. Have with anything salted: crackers and hummous, mild cheeses, any shaved italian meat, sushi, fresh oysters, or just sip your way thru' dry speeches.

KIM CRAWFORD MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.5% D, #975672 $19.95 (Tasted May 17, 2006)

Vintages released in December, 2005 saying "Light straw in colour, it shows quite intense aromas of passion fruit, lime leaf, guava, asparagus and grapefruit. Medium bodied, dry and crisp with the forceful fruit that fills in beautifully in the centre. Clean, long finish. A classic New Zealand-style Sauvignon that novices and connoisseurs will both love. Score - 91 (Harvey Steiman,, Oct. 15, 2004)." The Kim Crawford website describes this bottle, one of four SBs produced by KC, as 'Pale straw with touches of green, aromas that are 'classic Sauvignon characters of gooseberry, passionfruit, figs and a touch of herbaceousness, a palate that unfolds with flavours of passionfruit, gooseberry and subtle herbaceousness.... mouthfilling with good texture and finishes well with crisp acidity and great length. A wine to drink now and, with careful cellaring, will last up to five years.' My notes: The 2004 was tasted in February this year with the comment "KC has been consistent so [the 2005] should be equivalent or better" and it is. The KC website accurately describes this vintage so no need to elaborate except that five years cellaring seems long based on previous vintages which lost much of its fruit after the second year. But if the benefit is an integrated structure and smoother body it could be worthwhile. A super value for a well balanced, fruit forward sauvignon blanc.

D'ARENBERG 'THE DRY DAM' RIESLING 2005, McLaren Valley, Australia, 13.0% XD, #942953 $15.95 (Tasted May 16, 2006)

Part of Vintages release on May 13, 2006 - online description not available. The label claims that in good vintages the water source for d'Arenberg's riesling vines, Neil's Dam, goes dry causing concentrated riesling fruit with lots of flavour and acids. The website adds "As a young wine, the Dry Dam shows lime, citrus blossom and almost perfumed rose petal smells, and as an older wine, develops with tremendous structure and classic honey-toast bottle aged fruit flavours and lemon-lime acidity. Serve at 8C now or cellar for 2 – 15 years. Serve when young as an aperitif, or to accompany all sorts of seafood, including prawns and squid, as well as salads and Asian food. The older Riesling can be drunk with a wider range of foods including freshwater crayfish, chicken and lighter meat dishes." Winecurrent gives it four and one-half stars (of five) saying "From a winery noted for their outstanding reds, this is equally well made. Lemon and apricot aromatics waft from the glass and then the fun starts. Rich, complex and almost creamy on the palate, it bursts forth with layers of ripe fruit and tangy citrus flavours before the lengthy and luxurious finish kicks in. This deserves a place at your table alongside a scallop and shrimp ceviche. (VH)" My notes: A light blond colour with a citrus, apricot and nutty (pistacchio?) nose. Its tartness refreshes while light green apple and mineral flavours add interest for sipping or when paired with light seafood dishes. Has a long, dry, tart finish. Was OK with dilled and grilled rainbow trout. Right now it's young and light -perhaps cellaring a few years will bring about some body and complexity.

GEIL RIESLING SPATLESE 2004, Rheinhessen, Germany, 10.5% SC6, #994780 $15.95 (Tasted May 14, 2006)

Part of Vintages release on May 13, 2006 - online description not available. Beppi describes it as ".... on the medium-sweet side... brimming with canned peach and mandarin flavours, finishing with brisk acidity." Winecurrent rates it four and one-half stars (of five) saying "A really delicious, sweet, rich Riesling that would make a fine partner to seared foie gras. The dominant fruit is stewed pear, and it's accented with notes of peach, apricot and tropical fruit. It's smooth and luxurious with beautiful weight and balance and shows just how fabulous German sweet wines can be. (RP)" My notes: Everything RP says... a wonderful sipper as the sweetness is nicely balanced with fruit and acid similar to a good late harvest white. A fragrant soft apricot nose with mellow fullness and flavours of sweet pear, honeyed apricots and a long finish of succulent nectarines. Should be able to cellar for a few years but is drinking very well now, from chilled to not, either as an aperitif or an accompaniment to creme brule. Good value if looking for a sweetish sipper.

KENDERMANNS KALKSTEIN DRY RIESLING 2004, Pfalz, Germany, 13.0% XD, #678060 $15.95 (Tasted May 13, 2006)

Part of Vintages release on May 13, 2006 - English online description not available. Beppi describes this as "favourite of the three wines.. from Kendermanns [in Release]... medium-bodied and honey-like, lifted by fresh melon and zesty lime notes." Winecurrent gives it four stars (of five) saying "Off-dry with a good dose of sweet citrus acidity that complements the primary flavours of peach, apricot and tart and sweet apples. This is medium bodied and well balanced, and the crisp texture and bright flavours should lead you toward spicy (but not too hot) Asian cuisine. (RP)". My notes: One of Kendermann's (of Black Tower genre) 'Terroir Series' rieslings, light straw with a light wildflower nose, medium-bodied. Flavours are a medley of peach, pear, honey, lemongrass and balanced acid. The finish is moderate, bright with some roundness, and possibly a petrol hint. Was good with roasted chicken and chips... likely better with seafood pastas, light hors d'oeuvres and light meats: pork, ham. A drink-now but could cellar up to two years -more petrol may show

SEIFRIED NELSON RIESLING 2005, Nelson, New Zealand, 13.0% D, #989541 $16.95 (Tasted May 13, 2006)

Part of Vintages release on May 13, 2006 - an online description was not available. Winecurrent gives it four and one-half stars (of five) saying "...From the very inviting nose of green apple and passion fruit to the zesty citrussy finish, this is gorgeous. The flavours (quince, passion fruit and lemon zest) are racy, but the mouth feel is almost fleshy. It cleans up nicely and would stand proud beside your family's Sunday pork roast. (VH)" The Seifried website says: "... a blend of fruit from our Redwood Valley, and younger Brightwater vineyard. .... The fermentation of the Redwood Valley portion was stopped prematurely leaving a little sweetness... This was then blended with the Brightwater portion (...fermented to dryness), giving the wine a medium residual sugar. Deliciously perfumed and aromatic with deep apricot and citrus flavours. It is gently honeyed, has a touch of sweetness and a lively, long finish." My notes: Let some of the chill go for a nose of green apple and passion fruit, light but there. A light blond colour with a green tinge, medium-bodied. Flavours of passionfruit, lime and kiwi with some succulence that wash the palate leaving the remnants of light passionfruit and melon in a long finish. A great sipper - could be taken for a sauvignon blanc from neighbouring marlborough - great with chilled crab meat, a shrimp ring, asparagus spears, melon pieces or scallops. Should be cellarable several years. A different riesling for the cellar and good value imho.

DEAKIN ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Victoria, Australia, 12.0% XD, #560839 $9.10* (Tasted May 12, 2006)

A General listing, *a dollar off until May 21st and described as "Pale straw yellow; grassy, citrus, grapefruit and gooseberry nose; dry, light bodieid, zesty on the palate with grapefruit nuances; clean finish. Serve with oysters; chevre; herbed chicken; salads." The label has a generic marketing statement and Gord Stimmell rates it 88 saying "A sauvignon blanc with tropical licks thanks to sunny, hot-climate fruit. Aromas of ripe pear, spice, lemon oil and lime seem quite pinot grigio-like, and the flavours of pears and crushed pineapple are very appealing. The finish is almost lush, with lime and kiwi fruit notes." The Wingara website says: "Nose is fresh, pungent and green with feijoa, firm pear and a splash of lime. The palate is delicious, savoury and fruity with lemongrass, coriander, lime and feijoa. Light bodied and zingy." My notes: A light blond with fresh aromas of lime and light gooseberry. Light-bodied with an initial swallow of tropical fruits and citrus followed by a long finish building in grassiness and drying the palate. By itself not a sipper unless acclimated to very dry whites. Better with crab cakes, fish dishes, Thai, szechuan or Bento boxes. A drink now - cellaring a year or two is suggested by the vintner but ?

NINTH ISLAND PINOT GRIGIO 2005, Tasmania, Australia, 13.5% D, #683193 $19.95 (Tasted May 9, 2006)

A Vintages release on April 29, 2006 and described as "... the easy drinking second label for Pipers Brook and is named after a small private island that lies in the Bass Strait across from the Pipers River wine region. Pinot Grigio thrives in the cool climate of northern Tasmania and this fresh and fruity wine is an excellent match for steamed mussels or lemon risotto. Look for aromas of pear, exotic fruits and musk in this richly textured, food-friendly wine." The label says ".... a gently lifted bouquet of fresh pear, musk and apples and a full-bodied palate that is balanced by a refreshing acid spine. .... perfect for... fresh crayfish, oysters or scallops." The website describes the vintage season: "was characterised by almost perfect conditions for flowering and fruit set followed by a mild summer ripening season. As a result our Pinot Grigio achieved full flavour ripeness, soft delicate aromatics balanced by a well-integrated acid spine." Beppi recommended this saying " .... More corpulent than the lighter-styled PG's of northern Italy, .... medium-bodied and luscious, brimming with spicy pear and apple nuances... tight seam of acidity, etc." My notes: One of four brands from Kreglinger Wine Estates of Tasmania. Has a convenient screwtop. A light blond with almost a peach hue and a just-perceptible nose of wildflowers and lemon honey. Full-bodied with a nippy creaminess and flavours of lemon, pineapple, apple and pear. The finish is long, some cream, light spice and a citrus zest. A sipper but better with hors d'oeuvres: fresh oysters, crab on crackers, spicy mussels, scallop kebobs, lobster tails, a variety of seafood pastas. Should cellar well - up to two years and see where it goes. Even at $20 a good value imho.

VINA TARAPACA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 13.0% D, #414185 $8.45 (Tasted May 1, 2006)

A General listing described as "Light straw colour; dry, light- to medium-bodied with softer acidity; aromas and flavours of herbs and green apples with a soft finish", and "Serve with Seafood; shellfish; chicken." My notes: Tarapaca's 'Export Market' range includes six varietals including this Sauvignon Blanc and a Cab/Merlot blend. A pale straw colour, aromatic gooseberry nose and an initial tropical fruitiness, smooth with a dry edge. Medium- to light-bodied and a pleasant gooseberry finish with a grapefruit aftertaste and sharp succulence. Went well with bbq chicken, vegetables including baked potato. An economical drink-now. Cellar up to a year and see where it goes. A value white for an open house, a surprise party, or a summer patio luncheon.