Thursday, March 01, 2007

March Reds (10): USA PNoir, France Merl, Australia CSauv, Australia PNoir, Argentina Blend, Chile Merl(2), Italy Blend, Australia Shir, Canada Blend

TRINCHERO FAMILY PINOT NOIR 2005, Napa Valley, USA, 14.0% D, #025155 $20.95 (Tasted March 16, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 17, 2007 described as "The fruit for this Pinot is sourced from the family's estate vineyard in the San Pablo Bay area. Similar to the nearby Carneros region, the vineyards benefit from the cooling breezes and fog coming in off of the Pacific Ocean. The wine is matured for nine months in French oak, with only 5% new. Fresh and lively, this crisp wine is bursting with tangy cherry and berry flavours. Enjoy with salmon steaks." Their website notes "... winemaker Joe Shirley incorporates extensive seed removal into the cap management process as well as oxidative rackings during the barrel aging period (nine months in mostly used French oak). This allows the tannins to polymerize more fully, creating larger, softer tannins out of smaller, more aggressive and angular ones. It also helps release the aromatic berry character inherent in the grapes... Expect ripe, open flavours on the palate with strawberries, sandalwood, cola and earth. The nose is focused and bright, the texture is soft and generous and the finish is long and complete." My notes: A mid ruby with a rich balance of strawberry, cherry and a light cola in the background, wonderful just to sniff. A velvety introduction on the palate with delicate cherry and strawberry flavours leading to a finish that is supple fruit, a medium length with a slight mineral note. Have with light cheeses, rolled italian meats, dark chocolate coated cherries, cold shrimp or shaved turkey, a grilled salmon filet, crab or lobster. I very much enjoyed sipping this pinot slightly chilled.

ERRAZURIZ MAX RESERVA MERLOT 2004, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #016170 $18.15 (Tasted March 15, 2007)

A General listing described as "Deep ruby in colour; big jammy nose of blackcurrant and hint of oak; medium-body, dry with gripping acidity. Serve with pork tenderloin." Gordon Stimmell gives it a 90/100 saying "A lavish red for special weekend occasions with friends. Big blackberry, jam, cedar, sandalwood and plum aromas stir the senses. The flavours and finish come through full bore, too, with rich, smoky, black cherry, layers of vanilla and cedar, and hints of mocha and chocolate. A very plump, suffuse style." The website says ".... a deep and beautiful ruby red colour. The nose seduces with an intense and ample range of aromas. Ripe red fruits such as cherry and raspberry come forward and are joined by tobacco notes and sweet spicy hues of cinnamon and clove. The bouquet is complemented by warm aromas like vanilla and sweet caramel from the long barrel ageing. This is a mouth-filling wine with round tannins shaping a beautiful sweet structure.... " My notes: A violet hued ruby with aromas of black berry and slight almond, a medium-bodied lip smacking blend of cherry and black berries with an interesting brightness and dry chalkiness in a medium finish. An assertive merlot sipper, lots of fruit with a firm oak influence carried by lots of spice and tannins. Well worth the price as a sip-now or for cellaring up to five years. Paired with pork chops it added a complementary fruit compote - or have with moderately flavoured beef.

CHATEAU PERRIN MERLOT 1998 CUVEE BARRIQUES, Cotes de Castillon, France, 12.0% XD, CP143-2207 $15.58 (Retasted March 12, 2007)

My notes: Cellared in October 2002 having been purchased from Opimian based on their description "... showing refined and soft vanilla flavours, the oak has added tannic characters marrying sympathetically with the hearty fruit that wells up like a wave of succulent blackcurrant. .... made to last and mature." Last tasted in October, 2005, the colour is a mid ruby with delicate aromas of cherry, berry, and vanilla with some warmth pulling it together. A smooth cherry flavour with a brightness and fine tannin which reflects in the finish of soft brambleberry complete with a dry stalkiness. Will get lighter as it ages and the flavours should develop more herbal edges - but it's not close to 'wells up like a wave of succulent blackcurrant'. A meal red for prime rib, lamb or pork tenderloin with savoury gravy. A few more years will kill or cure it.

GRANT BURGE 'CAMERON VALE' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2002, South Australia, 14.5% XD, #937276* $19.95 (Retasted March 7, 2007)

The website describes the 2002 as "Deep crimson in colour, with purple hues, and a complex nose of eucalypt, boiled aniseed lollies, mint dark chocolate and vanillin oak. The palate is a fleshy, juicy mixture of dark berry fruits, savoury soy characters, and full fruit tannins integrated with fine grained French oak, and excellent weight and persistence." My notes: A Vintages release in September, 2005 when it was last tasted with the comment "... Nose is a round plum and soft cedar, some spice and faint licorice. Flavours are delayed but burst on the tongue into a sharp edged blackberry, dark chocolate and plum blend with well integrated tannins - lots of fruit and well balanced. Finish is long and drying...". The LCBO *number is no longer listed although there are many other Grant Burge wines. The nose is unchanged with perhaps some berry added to the blend.. the flavours appear promptly with a balanced blend as before with the tannin and acid combining as a somewhat steely edge - tho' there's too much process in the blend imho. This leads to a long finish that is bright on the tongue adding earthy highlights to the fruit carried over. A supercharged aussie cab sauv that needs full flavoured beef or a simmered lamb shank with onions. Cellaring well.

YERING STATION PINOT NOIR 2004, Yarra Valley, Australia, 13.5% D, #020255 $18.95 (Tasted March 6, 2007)

A Vintages release February 17, 2007 described as "Good hue; firm, fresh bright plum and black cherry fruit; still to unfurl its wings; simply needs time. Drink to 2013. Rated 92/100 (James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion 2007)" The Wine Spectator (October, 2006) rates it 85/100 saying "Light and appealing for its pretty currant and dusky spice aromas and flavors. A pleasant drink, though the chalky texture on the finish isn't ideal. Drink now through 2009." My notes: Not too much from the Yering Station website but lots from the wine. A soft strawberry and cherry slowly develops in the glass. The colour is a mid ruby with a medium-bodied flavour of cherry, licorice, light pepper and black tea... appealing for its delicacy. The finish is a light strawberry, somewhat dry and short although builds with each sip into a earthy cherry. Have with light meats: lamb, pork, ham or turkey. Full flavoured grilled ribs was a stretch but still OK. I don't think long term cellaring is right for this Pinot - not enough tannin, acid or fruit... more of a drink-now or try two years cellaring to see where it's going.

FINCA FLICHMAN PAISAJE DE BARRANCAS 2002, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% XD, #17129 $16.95 (Tasted March 4, 2007)

A Vintages release March 3, 2007 described as "From Flichman Barrancas vineyards, some 700 meters above sea-level comes Paisaje de Barrancas a 75/20/5 blend of syrah/merlot/cabernet sauvignon ... Look for a massive white pepper, licorice/garrigue nose with minty, black berry jam and mocha notes. The entry is fat ripe, rich and dry with good concentration and some tight tannin but balanced. Loads of black olive, black pepper, menthol, chocolate, black berry jam mixes with smoky, meaty flavours. A touch warm and rustic on the finish but has great fruit intensity. Needs 2-4 years of ageing in bottle to reach its potential. 91/100 (Anthony Gismondi/Stuart Tobe, Nov. 13, 2006)" RP of Winecurrent gives it five stars (of 5) saying "This is a super wine at a remarkable price. .... it delivers concentrated and focused flavours of black berries and plums with loads of complexity. Look for pepper and spices, mint and coffee, but you'll track even more as the wine evolves in your glass. It's one of those wines that's kaleidoscopic in its complexity. The tannins are still firm, so it's better held for a year or two... " My notes: A deep magenta ruby with aromas of tobacco, plum, ripe berry and a touch of pepper. The flavours track the nose adding a slight almond and with a fullness that envelops the taste buds. A firm tannin and acid add to the flavours without imposing any one sensation... carries through to a long sombre finish. Very smooth and elegant as a sipper. A good partner for full flavoured roasted ribs, steaks, stews, gorgonzola pastas. Cellaring for several years isn't out of the way with potential for much more. A real bargain short or long term. Buy by the case....

CONCHA y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA MERLOT 2003, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #939827 $18.95 (Retasted March 3, 2007)

My notes: A Vintages release in November 2005 and last tasted in December the same year with the comment "... a background flavour of overripe fruit that spoils this as a sipper for me..." A deep ruby with a violet tinge and aromas of rich, dark berries, chocolate, a touch of pepper and an edge of vanilla. The flavours are smooth with a luscious berry fullness, acid balanced with natural tannins leaving a satin feel of rich berries and currants that envelope the taste buds and fill the throat. There's no 'overripe fruit' in this bottle.... a super sipper full of character and a complex fruit, spice and earthiness mixture that a few years cellaring can only improve. An excellent accompaniment to rare-to-well done beef, a full flavoured lamb shank, even game meats. Now a rare value for many occasions.

CORTE ZOVO 'SA SOLIN' RIPASSO 2003, Veneto, Italy, D 13.5%, #650713 $15.95 (Retasted March 2, 2007)

My notes: Released by Vintages on June 24, 2006 and to be re-released on March 3, 2007. I tasted the 2003 in June, 2006 and commented "The 'seam of tar and licorice' mellows with a few minutes airing adding much interest to plum and cherry flavours. Very smooth. Long finish, full, balanced - very nice sipper and great with anything meaty, grilled or roasted. etc. " The dozen bottles cellared are turning out to be a great bargain... a soft cherry-plum on the nose and a rich, but not full-bodied, bright sweet cherry flavour. The finish is long with the ripasso method giving it good body and mellowness. A polite accompaniment to a meaty meal and went very well with beef tenderloin - smooth, round with the tartness balancing the slight fat of a medium-rare serving. Has cellared well in the short term losing a touch of the 'tar and licorice' seam still leaving textures that make it interesting. A super sipper and better paired with any red meat: beef, lamb, or a red meat pasta, pizza or even roast turkey. Will continue to cellar for another year or two. A good value for sure.

BANROCK STATION SPARKLING SHIRAZ NV, South Australia, 14.0% D, #971507* $14.15 (Tasted March 1, 2007)

A Vintages release on November 11, 2006 (*delisted). RP of the Winecurrent (October 15, 2005) gives it four (of 5) saying "Sparkling Shiraz, so cruelly denigrated by some wine-lovers who ought to know better, is an Australian heritage wine. It might look like a novelty seeking a niche, but it's been around for more than a hundred years. This well-priced version is chock full of dark berry and tree fruit, with spicy and peppery notes. The bubbles cut the fruit sweetness and it makes a fine sipping wine or a partner to blackberry pie or tart, as long as you hold back on the sugar." My notes: A Hardy Company winery - delisting is a real shame since the only alternative, and preferred, was Riddoch which hasn't been around for awhile. A very light blackberry nose with a medium fine froth that subsides quickly to a steady stream only to be seen at the rim as the colour is such a rich deep ruby. Flavours of red cherry, cranberry, blackberry and soft cedar leave a fruity finish with an acid to balance the fruit nicely and tannin to dry the palate. Sweetness is there but you have to wait for it to barely reveal itself through the dense berries. This would likely cellar well, say two years, but should be tasted regularly 8-) to see where it's going. Somewhat commercial but with a natural balance. A definite change from a blanc brut. Sip anytime or pair with shaved italian meats, herbed pate, stuffed mushroom caps or a platter of mixed cheeses. Good value.

CHATEAU DES CHARMES 'EQUULEUS' PAUL BOSC VINEYARD 2002, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, 13.5% XD, Winery $35.00 (Tasted March 1, 2007)

The website describes this as "a classically styled blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot. Equuleus is only produced in exceptional vintages and is notable for its age worthiness and concentration. Aged for one year in French Tronçais and Allier oak barrels, Equuleus is rich and full bodied with flavours of cassis and dark chocolate. ... Ready to drink now, but will continue to develop in the bottle for 5-10 years. 1,002 cases produced... This wine is an excellent match for any red meat or pasta dish." David Lawrason (November, 2005) says "...It's dense and solid old world style red, a wine meant for long cellaring. Aromatically reserved for now but has complete, complex ripe plummy-berry fruit, even-handed oak, herbs, spices on the nose.... " My notes: A deep red plum colour with a violet tinge and a nose of ripe black cherry and plums, a light fig, soft and rich. Very smooth with a firm seam of acid and tannin accompanied by distinct blend of ripe black cherries and plums. The finish amply coats the palate still smooth with increasing dryness and a waning acid feel. A very pleasing sipper, quietly with some soft cheeses and a book rather than a busy social occasion or have with rare to well-done beef tenderloin, T-bones, full flavoured stews... anything with rich gravy and/or seasoned sauces. Cellaring five to ten years is possible and will further integrate and introduce more mystery. Good value.

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