Tuesday, January 02, 2007

January Reds(10): Chile Carmen, Australia Blend, USA Blend, USA Cab Sauv, Portugal Blend, Australia Cab Sauv, Australia Shiraz(2), France Blend(2)

ROSEMOUNT 'DIAMOND LABEL' SHIRAZ 2004, South Australia, 14.0% D, #302348 $13.95* (Tasted January 18, 2007)

A General listing (*until Dec 31, 2006, regularly $15.95) described as "Opaque purple colour; blueberry, blackberry aroma with toasty oak nuances; dry, full-bodied with rich, fleshy fruit character. Pepper steak; game dishes." My notes: Deep ruby with a garnet tint, aromas of spicy light blackberry and an oaky velvet tone. Flavours of the same blackberry nicely balanced with tannin and acid. The finish continues to have a lingering but now artificial blackberry against a background of earthy smoothness. This fades slowly as a sweetness creeps to the foreground. A sipper for social get togethers.... or an economical 'house' red. OK for red meat dishes, pepperoni pizzas, burgers, or at a restaurant where the overhead may limit choices - however, the flavours wash out quickly with seasoned or spicy foods. Not cellarable. A 'commercial' drink-now. Had a second bottle February 27, 2007 - The flavours were quite artificial... also the balance of fruit to body to texture was unnatural imho. Could not finish a second glass.

SANTA CAROLINA BARRICA SELECTION CARMENÈRE 2004, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #640888 $14.95 (Tasted January 17, 2007)

A Vintages release on December 09, 2006 described as "This dry, full-bodied Carmenère offers terrific value. It's packed with blackberry and black cherry fruit as well as notes of tobacco and milk chocolate. Savour this hearty wine with meat loaf." My notes: A Mildara Blass venture with Santa Carolina. Let warm to room temperature... or it loses its fruit and has a full-bodied tannic dryness. Has a pepper and faint cherry nose and is a deep ruby colour. The flavour is predominately blackberry with some cherry in the background framed by tar, tight tannins and firm acid - no chocolate here, especially milk. The finish is mostly dry tannin with some blackberry but the fruit freshness fades into a earthy (tobacco) mouthfeel with a sharp edge - not a sipper. Have with red meats, rare to medium and it could stand a reasonable spice. Cellar for at least two years perhaps longer to iron out tannins... or skip this vintage.

WOLF BLASS RED LABEL SHIRAZ/CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005, Australia, 14.0% D, #311795 $13.95 (Tasted January 14, 2007)

On the General shelves and described as "Deep ruby purple colour; dry and full-bodied with medium tannins, ripe blackberry and oaky vanilla aromas and flavours; long finish. Serve with red meats grilled or roasted; strong cheeses." My notes: Deep ruby for sure with a purple hue and aromas of blackberries and smoke with not much else discernible unless you have a canine's sniffer. The flavours are blackberry, vanilla, white pepper and very well balanced with tannin and a soft nip. The finish has a bright fruitiness, very smooth and warm on the palate, fading slowly. A pleasant sipper or with a full flavoured cheese tray and italian shaved meats/sausage. Pair with any red meat dish: prime rib, T-bone, BBQ's back ribs - beef or pork, spicy meat pasta or pizza, hamburger with the works. A commercial drink-now cellarable for a year. Good value for a crowd or for dinner at the Keg.

KESTREL VINTNERS 'THE LADY IN RED' FIRST HOLIDAY EDITION (NV), Yakima Valley, USA, 13.8% XD, BC, $??.?? (Tasted January 13, 2007)

The website says "This is our first release of Lady In Red Holiday Edition. It is 41.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26.5% Syrah, 23.7% Merlot, and 8.3% Cabernet Franc thoughtfully combined. The resulting product is stunning.... This wine possesses a deep black color which fades to a red-purple hue at the edges. In the aroma you will find luscious ripe blueberry, cherry, blackberry, vanilla, toasted oak, crème brulée and spice. This wine boasts structure and balance. The lingering finish holds many layers of blueberry, cherry and dark berries." My notes: A deep ruby colour with a nose of warm oak, a touch of spice, vanilla and ripe blackberries. The flavours are a well developed berry-cherry blend, smooth with fine tannins and balanced acid. The finish as well carries a smidge of tannin to the roof of the mouth, a polite acid around the sides while soft fruit coats the tongue - moderately long. A reasonable sipper for a mixed crowd - its overall character matches the label - a cheery quaff-now. Pair with light meat dishes, game birds or turkey with sage stuffing.

IRONSTONE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Lodi, USA, 13.5% XD, #571380 $8.95 375mL, (Tasted January 11, 2007)

A Vintages release on December 09, 2006 described as "Some Cabs promise a lot: this half-bottle size from Ironstone overdelivers both quality and value. Aged for 12 months in French and American oak, this medium-bodied, easy-drinking wine offers appealing blackcurrant and cherry flavours with hints of herbs, cedar and vanilla. Perfect with a rich, hot stew on a cold December night." The website says "... packed with black currant and spicy cherry with hints of herbs and vanilla. Subtle notes of eucalyptus, cassis, and cedar with just a touch of tobacco can be found in this rich yet approachable wine. Serve with rich stews, red meat and game. But our softer, fruit forward style also pairs well with grilled chicken marinated in herbs, flavorful pastas, mushroom and eggplant dishes. [a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (78%), Cabernet Franc (19%) and Merlot (3%)... twelve months in French and American oak]" My notes: There's some black currant aromas in the nose along with smooth French oak and spicy American oak. The colour is a light ruby with a lightness on the rim. Medium-bodied and smooth, without being full, sipper with a nice tart edge, flavours of very subdued black currant but bright. The finish is fairly short ending without much flavour. Not interesting as a sipper - have with light red meats: prime rib, lamb roasted or kebob'd, ham studded with cloves - was too light for a grilled ribeye. Not for cellaring - a commercial red and not recommended. The 750mL bottle is to be released as #537597@$17.95 on January 20, 2007.

ALENTEX PREMIUM 2003, Alentejo, Portugal, 14.0% XD, #021527 $14.95 (Tasted January 11, 2007)

A Vintages release on January 6, 2007 described as "Made with the indigenous Portuguese grapes of Trincadeira, Aragonez and Castelão, Alentex Premium is a great introduction to the fruit-forward nature of Portuguese wines. The warm climate creates wines with complex aromas of ripe berry fruit and vanilla tones from the judicious use of oak. A robust wine for flavourful meat dishes." RP of Winecurrent gives it four of 5 saying "You can't go wrong with this red if you're looking for something to accompany grilled red meats. This is a hearty, full-fruit number that delivers a range of dark fruit flavours, spiciness, and a nice degree of rusticity. It's dry with quite firm tannins and is well priced." The labels states "...shows a deep garnet fading lightly on the edges. ... complex red fruit and toasted vanilla characters... on the palate rich in ripe fruit, full-bodied and with a good tannin structure..." My notes: Let this air for twenty minutes... not because its nose is 'off' but it develops so delicately in the glass: equal parts red cherry and roses. An initial tartness on the lips but a dry berry flavour with light tannin and a vanilla note. The colour of deep ruby with a grenache rim, the finish fades quickly, is smooth on the lips and has a slight mineral edge. A medium-bodied red coming across as too light-bodied for its colour. A drink-now... not a sipper but better paired with red meats lightly seasoned, braised ribs, grilled tomato, cheese and sausage pieces with pita pockets.

DE BORTOLI GULF STATION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Yarra Valley, Australia, 13.5% D, #015529 $19.95 (Tasted January 9, 2007)

A Vintages release on January 6, 2007 described as "Nice rich, complex, fertile, forest floor aromas loaded with blackcurrants. Some cigar box development coming through. Intense savoury palate with tight acid and firm tannins. (4 of 5, Winestate, Sept./Oct. 2005)." RP of Winecurrent also gives it four of 5 saying "A lovely drop of Cabernet that goes very well with grilled lamb. The flavours are focused and concentrated. Look for blueberry, cassis and spice with great balance and firm tannins. It's drinking well now and will develop nicely over the next three years." My notes: The label claims a Gold medal at the Perth Wine Show in 2004. This has a soft nose of black- and blue-berries, earthy with a peppery edge. The colour is a dense ruby tinged with violet. Each sip has a sharpness that mutes the fullness of fresh dark berries which is the main flavour theme. This sharpness carries through and almost overwhelms the smooth fruit and fine tannin finish. Were it not for the firm nip this would be a super sipper... although if you are into aggressive reds its very interesting. Better paired with red meats, well seasoned and grilled or roasted, a savoury lamb shank or beef tenderloin marinated in herbs and garlic. Cellaring for several years should soften the acids and produce a wonderfully smooth, full-bodied cab sauv.

CHÂTEAU DE GOURGAZAUD CUVÉE MATHILDE 2004, Minervois, France, 13.0% XD, #958629 $12.95 (Tasted January 7, 2007)

A Vintages release on January 6, 2007 described as "This blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre exhibits fine aromas of blueberry, plum, pomegranate and clove. Dry and mellow, it has supple fruit surrounding a pleasant cedary intensity. Medium-bodied with a lingering finish, it is a fine choice for roast beef and stews. (VINTAGES panel, April 2006)" RP of Winecurrent gives it four of 5 saying "This is very good value for a red that delivers quite weighty and concentrated fruit flavours that are complex and layered. .. it's almost astringently dry with firm tannins. Pair it with red meat grilled medium-rare." Natalie gives it 86/100 saying "Peppery notes and black fruit. This wine would be perfect with a pepper steak." My notes: A see through ruby and a nose of delicate berries and cedar. Not a sipper as the flavours, although nicely balanced with acids and tannins, are ho-hum and the finish fades quickly to a brief chalkyness. Better with light to full flavoured red meats such as rack of lamb where a pleasing cherry-berry integrates nicely with the savoury flavours. It could cellar a year but it doesn't have much to develop and it's OK now so why not imbibe? A value 'house' red.

WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE SHIRAZ 2005, Coonawarra, Australia, 14.0% D, #433060 $19.95 (Tasted January 5, 2007)

Winestar comments: "Coonawarra. Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz has developed a reputation for producing this consistently top-quality shiraz. It has aromas reminiscent of ground black pepper, mulberry and raspberry through to blackberry on the riper end of the spectrum. Oak is used to mature and increase the wine's complexity but not to dominate its distinctive cool-climate Coonawarra shiraz characters." My notes: A Vintages release (no date given) of a Fosters company wine. A dark garnet ruby with equal shares of soft cedar, berry and pepper in the nose. Ripe black- and raspberries compose the full-bodied red with a balanced acid and tannin all giving a warm sensation to the palate with the flavours washing the senses. The finish is bright with a drying tarry edge following the fruit making this a sipper for anyone looking for a fresh, full red. Have with hamburgers, grilled red meats, marinated pork or lamb kebobs or a full flavoured cheese assortment. Should be able to cellar this several years. I enjoyed it now and think it's a good value.

CALVET CHATEAU SAINT-GERMAIN 1999, Bordeaux, France, 12.5% D #152587 $13.95 (Tasted January 02, 2007)

A General listing described as "Deep ruby red colour; black cherry, cranberry, mineral and dried herb aromas; dry, medium bodied with a flavourful finish. Serve with herbed crusted lamb, grilled veal or poultry." My notes: Let breathe for thirty minutes or decant and aerate for a light cherry nose and a lingering but light mustiness. A see-through ruby with a slight pink edge and flavours of light cherry/cranberry leading to a finish of bright cherry with a dry edge and fine tannins and leaving a pleasing roundness on the palate. A light- to medium-bodied meal red to be paired with prime rib, pork or lamb with a mild gravy over mashed potatoes and garden veggies. No longer cellarable. A non-intrusive european style red that's fully appreciated if drank leisurely.

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