Sunday, July 30, 2006

More July Whites(1): Canada Chard,

'NCT' WINERY WARREN CLASSIC 'PIEKAN VINEYARD' CHARDONNAY 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 14.2% XD, Winery $27.95 (Retasted July 30, 2006)

My notes: Purchased at the College and last tasted April, 2006 (see Archives) this white has changed a little since and it's all good. An oaky wild clover nose modestly representing the buttery, caramel, pear and melon flavours balanced with a soft acid to follow. Wonderful to sip and then to appreciate the lingering honeyed melon finish. Great with any seafood, pork, ham, crab or, better yet, lobster entrees. Be aware of dregs when pouring the last sips. Should cellar for several years increasing its buttery texture. At first I thought this overpriced but this is an outstanding oaked chardonnay worth every penny.

Friday, July 28, 2006

More July Reds (4): USA Zin, France Pinot Noir, NZ Pinot Noir, Australia Shiraz

ROSENBLUM CELLARS ZINFANDEL 2004, Alameda, USA, Alameda, USA, 15.7% D, #284653 $19.80 (Retasted July 31, 2006)

My notes: Last tasted November 2005 (see Archives) with the comment "Not as unctious as some vintages.... " It's unctious enough to be a pleasing sipper: a rich raspberry, blackberry and a little black cherry. There is a mineral or spicy sidenote for an interesting brightness that lasts into the long, warm berry finish. There's still some light tannins left - should be able to cellar this for several years to produce a smooth, full-bodied red for almost any special red meat occasion. Great stuff! Vintages may have re-released this vintage April 15, 2006 describing it as "Rosenblum is THE Zinfandel specialist serving up aromas of blackberry, raspberry, and mocha. Ripe berry fruit flavours, balanced by cedar tones. Very nice berry spice finish. We prescribe it with roasted duck, venison, or spareribs." Some bottles have a slightly different label: the vintage date is relocated... didn't check the alc level on the bottle but Vintages now lists it as 14.1%.

CHAMPY ‘SIGNATURE' BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR 2004, Bourgogne, France, 13.0% D, #001149 $19.95 (Tasted July 28, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Maison Champy is one of a group of small, quality conscious négociants who are currently releasing a wonderful collection of wines, including this raspberry, cherry drop and beetroot-scented example. Enjoy this supple, charming, flattering, almost New World-style wine with barbecued salmon." Winecurrent gives this four and one/half stars (of 5) saying "And who said you can't get decent Burgundy under $20? Well, I've said it quite often, but here's the rebuttal in a bottle. This is very attractive in aromas and flavours, and you can fruitfully look for cherry, raspberry and strawberry notes with a hint of earthy beet. It's quite elegant in style and will partner well with planked salmon. (RP)". My notes: Letting breathe for twenty minutes the 'beetroot' scents are there but the other aromas need more time to develop - perhaps aerating while decanting would help but that's getting desparate. The flavours as well reflect the nose.. some brightness in balance with soft tannins. The finish is light fading quickly with a slight red currant lingering. Beetroots don't make pleasant sippers.... have with turkey, BLTs, or salmon (not tuna) wrap. I can't see cellaring would gain much - if I had it to do over I'd skip it.

SILENI ‘CELLAR SELECTION' PINOT NOIR 2005, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, 13.0% D, #694901 $17.95 (Tasted July 26, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Pinot Noir from Hawkes Bay is relatively rare in our market, so an opportunity like this, especially from such a quality producer, is a rare treat indeed. Sileni Estates' ‘Cellar Selection' is designed for early enjoyment. Expect to find bright cherry, raspberry and plum aromas and flavours. On the palate you will find all the fruit is nicely balanced by a streak of acidity. Enjoy with grilled rack of lamb." Winecurrent gives this four and one/half stars (of 5) saying "The lifted nose of spice and crushed, dried black currants forms a lovely segue to the ripe, sweet (13.5% alcohol) flavours of black cherry and garrigue in this medium-bodied gem from a premium NZ producer. There is a warm and well balanced finish that echoes these flavours and showcases balancing raciness. A natural match to roast or grilled pork tenderloin stuffed with dried fruits. At an outstanding price point. (VH)" Natalie gives it 90/100 saying "Round and smooth with deep, seductive aromas of ripe cherries. Great price. I've recommended this wine for several vintages; consistently good producer." My notes: A blend of red cherry and ripe strawberry aromas go well with the mid ruby hue. Medium- bodied, a light licorice, a soft raspberry and silky plum flavours slide over the palate - the delicate textures finish with a mix of berries, a touch of tar, light tannin and acids. An attractive pinot sipper, great with soft cheeses and shaved meats, super with rack of rosemary seasoned lamb, a garlic budded roast ham or sauteed veal dishes. A drink-now.

BIDGEEBONG ‘TRIANGLE' SHIRAZ 2003, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0% XD, #684134 $17.95 (Tasted July 26, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Gently spicy wood and velvety prune and mulberry fruit give a bouquet full of character; the palate's bone dry and the winemakers have not filtered or fined all its chunky tannins away, so it has a structure more like a funky nebbiolo. It's hearty, wholesome and stacked with flavour. [Lamb] Shanks with olives. Score - 88. (Philip White, The Advertiser (Adelaide), July 6, 2005)." Winecurrent gives this four and one/half stars (of 5) saying "This is a terrific Shiraz, full of ripe, dark fruit flavour but this side of jammy, and well structured. It's full bodied with a slightly rustic (in the best sense) texture, has ripe tannins, and a long, complex fruit finish. Pair it with well-seasoned roast or grilled lamb. (RP)". My notes: Medium- to full-bodied with a light, spicy blackberry nose and a dark ruby colour. The acid strikes the senses washing the palate with flavours of dark juices and rough tannins. The finish is long, drying, full of tars and smooth dark berry juices - a blend of blackberry, prune and cherry. Too serious to be a sipper. Have with grilled sausage pieces, beef kebobs, or with savoury grilled meats. Cellaring up to four years could settle acids and improve the texture - should end up being much finer. Try after two... ie. not now.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July Reds(11): USA Pinot Noir, USA Merlot, Spain Pinot Noir, Australia Shiraz(3), France Blend, S Africa Merlot, Chile Merlot, Italy Chianti, USA Zin

TRINCHERO ‘FAMILY' PINOT NOIR 2004, Napa Valley, USA, 13.5% XD, #727248 $17.95 (Tasted July 24, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Trinchero sources the grapes for this Pinot Noir from the cooler regions of southern Napa. Expect balanced plum, spice and mineral aromas and flavours. It has a nice acid tang for balance. Match with grilled portobello mushrooms." Winecurrent gives it four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "A top shelf 'value' wine amongst the Pinots in this release. Wine maker, Joe Shirley, fashions his wines in a round and ready style and this fits the bill. Definitely new world, it offers juicy berry flavours, very fine, almost imperceptible, ripe tannin coupled with a nice spine of acidity to provide balance within the mouth and on the lovely finish. All in all, a nicely structured, delicious Pinot. (VH)" The label summarizes their 2004 Pinot Noir as "... spicy, exotic and scrumptious." My notes: A cheery mid cherry with soft aromas of mint and cherry. Medium-bodied with subtle flavours of faint raspberry, black cherry, licorice and a 'nice tang'. The finish is short, tart with remnants of red cherry. Doesn't quite have the silkiness nor strawberry notes of a pinot but is a pleasing sipper and gets mellower with an hour's airing. Better with mild cheeses or paired with roast turkey, grilled ham steaks, nothing too rich. Should be able to cellar this for a few years.... but not likely a good return for the time - a drink-now.

TRINCHERO 'FAMILY SELECTION' MERLOT 2003, California, USA, 13.5% D, #550566 $14.95 (Tasted July 23, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 11, 2006 and described as "Lovely plum and cedar aromas and flavours. Dry, ripe, with nice tannin tones. Good balance and attractively priced. (David Churchill, Vintages, April 2005)." My notes: A mid ruby with faint aromas of spice and cherries. Medium-bodied, very bright with the initial sip warming the palate and following through with a light cherry on the lips. The finish is also short and light leaving a slightly tannic drying on the lips. A mediocre sipper or with a variety of tasty appetizers - not one you'd anticipate the next sip. Was passable with grilled filet mignon. Not worth cellaring, perhaps even past peak now or never was. Cannot recommend.

PENFOLDS SHIRAZ MAGILL ESTATE 2001, Adelaide, Australia, 14.0%, #944736 $72.00 (Tasted July 14, 2006)

A Vintages release on October 6, 2004 and described as "Smooth, vanillin oak characters but succulent, rich and concentrated. Powerful and lush. Very, very fine tannins. It has all the depth, succulence and elegance that you would want. (Peter Forrestal,, Sydney International Wine Competition 2004)" The Penfolds website says, "Nose is both savoury and spicy.. nutmeg, plummy/dark cherried fruitcake aromas with notes of rum and raisin dark chocolate... A medium palate with mullberry and wild raspberry fruits, ... satiny tannins, etc. Peak drinking 2005 - 2015." My notes: A pinkish edge to a deep ruby colour and faint aromas of blackberry, oak and vanilla. Medium- to full-bodied, lots of legs, well structured, tannin balanced with acids, rich blackberry, earthy mushrooms, dark chocolate flavours and a long, smooth and bright finish also full of berries. An excellent dry sipper and would be excellent with prime rib, grilled red meats, bbq'd sausage with melted gorgonzola. Worth $72? For me, more like $20 but perhaps I don't recognize nuances that add value.

YELLOW TAIL - THE RESERVE - 2005 SHIRAZ, South Eastern Australia, 14.0% D, #366187 $19.81* (Tasted July 17, 2006)

My notes: *Purchased in Vancouver - not available in Ontario as yet. A deep ruby with a purplish hue, full-bodied with a faint aroma and flavours of rich blackberries and black cherries, smooth with well set tannins and balanced acids. Has a long finish full of berries and plums leaving a pleasant tannic and tart edge on the palate. Can leave an impression of being 'musty' - perhaps decanting is needed? I enjoyed it as a sipper - good with lamb, pork, thai prepared meats - tho' still not a value imho.

CODORNIU BRUT CAVA PINOT NOIR ROSÉ, Penedes, Spain, 12.0% D, #665372 $16.95 (Tasted July 22, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "From this delicious rosé Cava (Spanish fizz), expect to find cherry and strawberry aromas and flavours. It is easy to like, and ready to drink with pan-seared scallops or even lamb chops." My notes: A cherry bubble gum nose, a pink apricot colour with lots of fine effervescence, not frothy but continuous in the glass. The flavours combine some spice with strawberry notes and the finish is moderate with a slight tannic dryness. Crisp but not tart - has a 'sur lies' aspect in the finish that detracts, or adds dependent on your liking for a white Codorniu, from a clean pinot noir fruit although not overly creamy. Should be good with asian dishes, oysters, shaved meats and chilled sliced cantelope and berries. An OK but different bubbly sipper. Cellaring for up to two years could be interesting.

PENFOLDS 'THOMAS HYLAND' SHIRAZ 2003, South Australia, 14.0% D, #611210 $19.95 (Tasted July 10, 2006)

A Vintages release and described as "The Thomas Hyland Shiraz .... has robust aromas of ripe berries, raspberry, red currant, chocolate and spicy oak. Ripe plum and berry on the tongue mingle with silky tannins. Subtle oak and a long, ripe, fruity finish. Enjoy pairing it with venison or eggplant lasagna. The Penfolds website says "richly aromatic and strongly varietal, the wine boasts lashings of pepper and spice with fragrant dark fruits and fruitcake...hints of coffee and mocha aromas, balanced by well handled oak tones. The palate is full flavoured, medium bodied wine with rich flavours of juicy red plum, dark berry and generous chocolate across the palate. A vanilla bean character combines with underlying savoury oak flavours. A vibrant and fruit driven style with soft well rounded tannins, excellent depth and length." My notes: A rich ruby colour with warm plum, cherry and peppery aromas. Medium-bodied, spicy light flavours of black plum and cherries. An uninteresting sipper, low fruit and lack of distinct compensating flavours (licorice, vanilla, or whatever). Strong tannins on a long plummy finish. Lacked enough character to complement rare tenderloin, baked potato and cauliflower or other savoury meats. A short cellaring hasn't improved this red - maybe longer would.

‘CUVÉE MYTHIQUE' RÉSERVE 2003, Midi, France, 13.5% D, #352468 $17.95 (Tasted July 9, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 and described as "This very popular, top-drawer wine from the large Val d'Orbieu co-op(1) is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and old vine Carignan. The grapes are sourced from 42 of their best growers. Youthful, fresh and attractive, this wine would complement fillet of beef with fresh thyme, grilled duck breast, roast chicken, lamb chops or even chili con carne." rates it four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "Always a favourite, it turns into a knockout wine partially due to the blistering '03 vintage. It is ripe, rich and concentrated with ladles full of sweet berry fruit flavours. Displaying good balance and structure, the juicy fruit and ripe tannins play off a lovely streak of verve. Couple that with the warm, long and mellow finish and this will be drinking well from purchase to 2012. (VH)" My notes: Needs some time (sixty minutes) in the glass to open - a nose of warm oak with black cherry, ripe plum nuances and a bit of mint. A light ruby with a grenache (pinkish) tinge, medium-bodied, dry, cherry and berry flavours that lie softly on the palate, and balanced acids. The finish is moderate, smooth, bright with strong tannins. European style red meant for grilled/roasted beef or rack-of-lamb entrees that are more savoury than spicy. Cellaring for a few years may improve the structure but the flavours may be at peak now. (1)The Wineanorak describes Val d'Orbieu more completely.

DORNIER MERLOT 2003, Stellenbosch, S.Africa, 14.0% XD, #694224 $18.95 (Tasted July 8, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006. rates it four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "... delivers intriguing aromas of dark fruit, spice, smoke and mint. The balance has a food-friendly tilt, the texture is full, round and generous, and the tannins are ripe and slightly dusty with a good but manageable grip. Decant this for drinking now, or tuck it away for up to eight years. Then enjoy it with grilled lamb or game. (RP)" The label says "... Drink up to ten years." My notes: There's no demanding need to decant this unctious merlot.... it does have lots of tannin that is increasingly noticeable in the long finish but it's nicely balanced with acids and flavours of fresh blackberries crushed with some seeds. Ruby coloured, medium-bodied, soft aromas of 'dark fruit, smoke and mint'. Was great with a spicy Subway sandwich and should be with any grilled red meats, meat stews, chili con carne, or meaty/cheesy pizzas. Cellar starting two years then a year at a time... should add some mellowness but I enjoyed sipping as it is now. It's not a timid merlot.

VINA TARAPACA MERLOT 2004, Maipo, Chile, 13.5% D, #558668 $9.40 (Retasted July 6, 2006)

My notes: Originally tasted on April 5, 2006 (see Archives) but thought I'd revisit after a few months. Tony Aspler had described this as "If you're looking for a tasty Merlot under $10.. etc. ... You won't find a better Merlot at the price." and the Tarapaca website says of this their export merlot: "Intense varietal aroma, with notes of red fresh fruits, light spicy notes of black pepper and cinnamon, touches of caramel and tobacco. etc. a pleasant finish." Still with an unusual jam, mineral and leather nose. Letting breathe for thirty minutes didn't help. Better to aerate by decanting and agitating decanter several seconds. If you like jammy raspberry with equal shots of 'black pepper and cinnamon, touches of caramel and tobacco" then go for it. In this respect it is well balanced. Personally I didn't find the combination of aromas nor flavours pleasant and the long finish made my palate crawl.

LEONARDO BUGATTI ARMENTANO PRIUS CHIANTI RISERVA 2000, Arezzo, Italy, 12.5% XD, CP153-2795 $18.83 (Tasted July 6, 2006)

Opimian describes this as "A smart chunk of vanilla, laced with dark chocolate makes the first impression on the nose, then ripe, well matured and balanced fruit follows. Before that, an attractive, diffused garnet edge signals maturity in the mellow mahogany colour. Hints of silage, but plenty of blackcurrant adds succulence and generosity in the mouth only reined in by well proportioned tannins that stand guard over the simple and pure ripe fruit. Chianti is unique, it manages to embrace many parts and brings them together with seamless harmony. My notes: Medium-bodied, a deep ruby colour with rich aromas of cherry, soft vanilla, white pepper and oak. Best to let breathe for thirty minutes. The first sip is bright mindful of ripe red cherries followed by a long, dry finish of cherry slowly fading into a tannic, tarry note. A sipper for stalwart dry red sippers. Should be great with prime rib, bbq'd back ribs, grilled steak, meaty pasta dishes and savoury stews. Cellarable for a few more years at least.

RANCHO ZABACO ZINFANDEL 2001, SONOMA HERITAGE VINES, Sonoma, USA, 13.3% XD, #434605* $19.95 (Retasted July 2, 2006)

The website says: "The grapes for this wine were destemmed, but not crushed resulting in 20-30% whole berry fermentation. We find that whole berry fermentation of our Zinfandel grapes produces concentrated, fresh and forward raspberry-like flavors in the finished wine. This fermentation from inside the berry itself “seals” in a true fruit character and minimizes the possibility of extracting more harsh, bitter tannins from the grape skins. etc." My notes: Purchased March, 2004 and last tasted September, 2005 (see Archives) The label says: "balances juicy ripe blackberry with boysenberry fruit flavours with an underlying hint of pepper. etc." 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 lower priced Rancho Zabaco 'Dancing Bull' Zinfandel. The 2001 still has a warm, light blackberry nose to match the rich ruby colour. As in September the blackberry flavours have integrated beautifully with fine tannins and acid, perhaps more tart but still a pleasing dry sipper. The finish is warm and long coating the mouth with blackberry, a light tannin and freshness. Went well with bbq'd side ribs, sweet potato and green beans. Likely at peak... just a few bottles left.

July Whites(8): Australia Chard, USA Chard, Australia Pinot Gris, Australia Sauv Blanc, Italy Chard, S. Africa Blend, France Sylvaner, Italy Prosecco

COOKOOTHAMA 'DARLINGTON POINT' CHARDONNAY 2004, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0% D, #619403 $13.85 (Tasted July 29, 2006)

Beppi's Pick of the Week posted July 29, 2006 saying "New to Ontario, this full-bodied white is luscious, buttery and toasty, with flavours reminiscent of pineapple and guava and a crisp, citrusy finish." The label says "Rich and generous bouquet of layered peach and melon. On the palate, these intense flavours are complimented by spicy French oak resulting in a well balanced and elegant wine....". David Lawrason (July 17th) rates it 2 1/2 stars saying "..... rather dull, sawdusty, spicy notes dominating the apple-like fruit. Its saving grace is a bright, lemony acidity and good length on the palate." My notes: A new LCBO release from Nugan Estate (website is just being developed) and winner of a Bronze medal at the 2004 Melbourne Wine Show and Gold at the 2005 Mundus Vini Deutschland. An intense golden colour with a nose of crisp, overripe pineapple. A full, round texture - a blend of straw and light guava flavours without fruity freshness and almost unpleasant. The finish is a well balanced flatness. Not a sipper, a meal wine for a suitably bland pasta dish..... otherwise, skip it is my recommendation.

MARTIN & WEYRICH CHARDONNAY 2002, Edna Valley, USA, 14.5% D, #686097 $18.95 (Tasted July 25, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Martin & Weyrich aim to produce Chardonnay in a Burgundian style. To that end, they mature the wines on their lees (expired yeast cells) for 16 months in a combination of new and seasoned French barriques. The resulting wines are subtly tropical with a well-integrated toastiness. Enjoy with seafood or chicken dishes in a cream sauce." Winecurrent gives this four and one/half stars (five) saying A rich, layered Chardonnay reminiscent of Meursault. It delivers concentrated fruit (peach, tropical fruit) and hints of toasty oak in a smooth, verging-on-creamy texture. It's well balanced and finishes well, and pairs very successfully with rich seafood dishes like scallops or lobster. (RP)" My notes: A lovely light pineapple and lemon-lime aroma, and a light blond colour. Smooth thin legs, a medium-bodied chard with a pleasing bite with notes of lemon and pineapple flavours. Great even for non chard sippers. A soft tropical fruit finish. The 'sur lies' creaminess doesn't come through but there is a nice clean fullness. Was great with grilled chicken breast with melted gouda and couscous - should be better with scallops and lobster/crab. Will cellar well for a few years but drinking well now.

NEPENTHE PINOT GRIS 2004, Adelaide Hills, Australia, 14.0% D, #684266 $17.95 (Tasted July 24, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "A fast-maturing but flavoursome and varietal pinot gris with a dusty, earthy and spicy aroma of citrus and melon, over nutty undertones. There's almost an oily viscosity about its generous, soft and chalky palate, whose nutty, honeyed flavours culminate in a savoury, nougat-like finish. 89/100 (Jeremy Oliver, , Sept. 21, 2005)." Winecurrent gives this four stars (of five) saying A well-made Pinot Gris with the classic aromas and flavours of peach and apricot and, in this case, a finish that carries hints of roasted nuts. The fruit is sweet and ripe, the weight medium and the balance excellent. Pair it up with spicy Asian dishes. (RP)" My notes: An aroma of clover honey and wild flowers, a light yellow with a slight peach hue. Medium-bodied, smooth with flavours of lemon, apple and pear and a finish that is full of zesty lemon drying on the palate. A super subtle sipper with or without cold shrimp, shaved ham, pineapple spears. Great with bbq'd telapia and asparagus on greens. This will cellar for a few years but may lose its zest if longer.

NEPENTHE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Adelaide Hills, Australia, 13.0% XD, #684274 $16.95 (Tasted July 22, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Nepenthe has managed to recreate the Kiwi style of Sauvignon Blanc in previous vintages, so look for more of the same with the 2005 vintage, a generally accepted to be an excellent vintage in Adelaide Hills. Look for gooseberry, citrus and passion fruit aromas and flavours with balanced racy acidity. Match it to crab cakes or grilled prawns." My notes: A Kiwi style SB except for the flavour - I'm still looking for the comparison. There is some gooseberries in the nose and flavours but it's balanced with stalkiness. It's as though the volume of stems could have been as large as the grapes. A nice roundness with pronounced grassiness against a gooseberry background, bright with well balanced acids. The finish has a mineral dominance before the pleasing but light fruit comes through. Not a sipper... goes with full flavoured seafood entrees, something tomato based or spicy. Much of the objectionable stalkiness was gone by the next day leaving a pleasing, round, lightly gooseberried SB - otherwise, not recommended.

MARCHESI ANTINORI ‘CASTELLO DELLA SALA' CHARDONNAY 2004, Umbria Italy, 13.0% D, #677310 $20.95 (Tasted July 9, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 and described as "Antinori's premier vineyard in Umbria, Castello della Sala, is ideally situated for growing Chardonnay. The wines are fermented and matured in French barriques, adding layers of complexity and flavour to the wine. Enjoy with rich fish and seafood dishes." Gord Stimmell gives it 91/100 saying "... a gorgeous white, with elegant lemon, peach and seductive floral notes and toasty lemony flavours." My notes: A light blond colour with a soft floral and pineapple nose - sipping slowly introduces 'seductive' notes promising more of what is there. Its roundness fills the mouth with delicate flavours that surround the palate with warmth and faint, buttery lemon and peach tones. The finish is long and smooth. Should be great with most seafood dishes - a modestly oaked chard.

DORNIER ‘DONATUS' WHITE 2004, Stellenbosch, S. Africa, 12.5% D, #597278 $17.95 (Tasted July 8, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 and described as "This was bottled an hour before my visit; a blend of 60% chenin blanc done in wood, 30% semillon in tank and 10% sauvignon blanc. Good pale color. High-pitched nose combines lime, white grapefruit, white flowers, snap pea and spearmint, plus hints of eucalyptus and banana. Fat and silky but zingy, with pungent flavors of gooseberry, eucalyptus and minerals. This offers terrific inner-mouth perfume and shows strong granitic character. Finishes quite long and brisk... the most intriguing bottle I sampled on my visit to Dornier. Rated 90/100 (Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, March/April 2005)" rates this four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "A plush, flavourful blend.... It delivers a layered profile of citrus, gooseberries and green apple with a slight honeyed note. The balancing acidity contributes a bracing texture and the finish is long. Pair this with seared scallops with a squeeze of fresh lemon. (RP)" My notes: Uses a convenient screwtop. The nose has a citrus zest with a slight grassiness and colour is a clear light yellow. Medium-bodied with flavours that includes bright grapefruit, gooseberry and lemon notes against a limestone background. The lengthy finish carries these flavours ending in a crisp citrus dryness. Should be super with mild creamy cheeses, fresh oysters, mussels in white wine or cream sauce or grilled scallops and whitefishes. Cellar up to a year.

RUHLMANN SYLVANER 'BOUQUET PRINTANIER' 2004, Alsace, France, 11.5% D, #686345 $11.95 (Tasted July 3, 2006)

A Vintages release June 24, 2006 and described as "This Sylvaner is appropriately named ‘Bouquet Printanier' or ‘spring bouquet' because floral aromas dominate along with melon, pear and apple. It is dry with good, gentle aroma replays on the palate. It is light-bodied, fresh and quite zippy. Enjoy it as a palate refresher on a hot summer's day. (VINTAGES panel, Dec. 2005)" gives it three and one-half stars (of 5) saying "Sweet honey and floral dominate the aromas while the flavours feature sweet apple and pear. This is dry with good balancing acidity for a clean, refreshing white. Sip it alone or pair it with grilled freshwater fish like trout. (RP)" Gord Stimmell rates it 88 (of 100) noting "with laid back apple, roses and lemon and pear flavours on the finish, a crisp very affordable summer sipper, great with cold cuts or shellfish appetizers." My notes: Labelling says it was a 2005 Gold medal winner at the Concours des Grands Vins de France. Has an artificial cork. Very faint aromas of wildflowers and pear, perhaps some lemon and a light yellow colour. Dry citrus flavours mixed with tart apple. The finish is quite long leaving a bright lemongrass tang. A refreshing sipper although sylvaner has a slightly different set of flavours - different enough to make sipping interesting or with cold shrimp, crabcakes, lobster chunks or grilled pickerel. Should be able to cellar this for a few years likely not longer.

VILLA SANDI 'CUVEE' PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% D, #738542 $17.95 (Tasted July 2, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 24, 2006 and described as "... traditionally enjoyed either as an aperitif or as a palate refresher between courses. The aromatics are fresh with hints of pear and citrus. Chill it down and check it out." My notes: The non 'Cuvee' label (#249722, $13.15) was tasted March, 2006 (see Archives). Villa Sandi describes their 'Cuvee' brand, one of seven sparklers, as 'Fruity and flowery with scents of ripe yellow apple, banana, melon, acacia flowers... lightly mouthfilling with a long fresh and fruity finish. Serve at 6/8 degrees C.' This is another pale yellow sparkler from VS with a rich birthday cake nose - vanilla, lemon and banana sets up flavours of the same with added pineapple hints. Lots of fine bubbles at the rim and in each sip. A full 'sur lies' creaminess rounds out the mouthfeel disguising this 'brut' and lasting through a strong fruity finish. Celibrate nuptials, a reunion of friends, a 'final cup' win or just sip on a warm patio. Should be able to cellar this several years - it definitely suits my taste for a bubbly and is worth the price difference!