Friday, March 16, 2007

More March Reds(6): Italy Blend, France Bordeaux, Chile Cab Sauv, Chile Shiraz, Chile Merlot, Italy Merlot

RUFFINO FONTE AL SOLE TOSCANA 2003, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% D, #018994 $13.15 (Tasted March 28, 2007)

A General listed wine described as "Medium ruby red; aromas of red & black cherries, subtle oak & ripe plum; medium-bodied, black cherry, currant & plum with light oak shavings. Serve with roast beef and veggies or leg of lamb or moussaka." Gord Stimmell gives it 89/100 saying "... tastes way beyond the pricetag... very seductive. Fonte al sole means “sourced from the sun,” which shows in the aromas of chocolate, earthy vanilla bean and black cherry. On the palate and in the mellow finish, plum, violets, and black cherry dominate. The 15 per cent merlot nicely softens the natural acidity of the 85 per cent sangiovese. My notes: A warm nose of cherry, light raspberry and just a hint of oak - sets an impression not to be fulfilled. A light ruby, medium-bodied, flavours of not fully ripened red cherries, crushed cherry pits and slight tar. The tar and cherry pits carry through to a finish of green stems and a tart dryness. Not a sipper - a red to pair with spicy tomato pasta or pepperoni pizza. Well past its best-before date, not cellarable, not a value.

CHATEAU GLAUDET BORDEAUX 2000, Bordeaux, France, 12.0% XD, CP148-2490 $12.92 (Retasted March 26, 2007)

My notes: Purchased in June, 2003 based on Opimian's description ".... by Australian winemaker Mandy Jones (of Chateau Carsin)... rich, full-bodied, deep in flavour... firm structure and black currant fruit for which she is famous. Cellar for two or three years." Last tasted March 28, 2005 with the comment: 'A sipper if you like dryyy.' Still has a backcurrant and raspberry nose that pours from the bottle along with the deep ruby coloured liquid... a scrumptious first impression! Very bright on the palate with a steely tang edging past the black fruit, a blend of ripe black berries and currants, and medium-bodied. Airing for twenty minutes or decanting mellows out the metallics nicely. The finish is long, dry, carrying with it a fresh, tart berry seam including some cherry pits. A meal wine for sure.... unless 'you like dryyy'. Have with prime rib, bbq'd ribs, steaks of all spices, or gamy meats. Has cellared well and will likely cellar for several years. Has turned out to be a reasonable value.
ERRAZURIZ MAX RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #335174 $18.20 (Tasted March 21, 2007)

A General listing described as "Dark ruby-red colour; earthy, black olive, cassis, candied fruit, mocha, vanilla and mint nose; dry, full-bodied, well structured, with complex ripe berry fruit flavours and a long finish. Serve with a grilled rare steak, rack of lamb or old cheddar." The winemaker summarizes this vintage as "Ruby red with violet highlights, .. initially sweet on the nose with ripe black and red fruit such as blackberries, cherries and plum, that intermesh with notes of cedar, tobacco, toasted coffee and cocoa powder. It is lively on the palate with a marked attack, becoming rich and sweet in the middle with good structure but without heaviness. It is a complex wine with an impressive fruit concentration... The wine has a sweet, medium to long finish." My notes: Mislabelled on the Vintages website as 'Don Maximiano', the name of the winery's main estate north of Santiago. The three Errazuriz 'Max Reserva' reds are part of this month's tastings, this being a blend of cab sauv (93%), cab franc (6%) and petit verdot (1%). Deep ruby with a violet tone and warm aromas of plums, blackberries and peat merging subtly in the glass. A complex set of flavours from blackberry and plum to mint, tar and portabello with a light nip and fine tannins - no obvious sweetness. The long finish is smooth with noticeable vanilla, tar and ripe brambleberry. A full-bodied sipper rich in dark fruit and oak influences. Have with herbed or mushroom pates, liver and onions, steaks, and rack of lamb. Cellaring for several years should reward with even more exotic spices. A value as a drink-now and for cellaring.

ERRAZURIZ MAX RESERVA SHIRAZ 2004, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #614750 $18.15 (Tasted March 19, 2007)

A General listing described as "Dark purple in colour; aromas of spice, wood & cigar; full-bodied with flavours of black cherry & spice; tannic finish. Serve with roasted red meats or hard cheeses." The winemakers comments summarize this vintage as "... deep ruby colour... nose [of] red and black ripe fruit interwoven with floral notes like lavender.. along with the subtle spicy Shiraz characteristic notes. The combination of this bouquet with the vanilla and smoky notes rendered by the oak, make this a beautiful wine with great complexity. In the mouth it is elegant, with a firm and balanced structure. Chalky and ripe tannins round out in a juicy long finish. The long aftertaste brings out all the fruit expression of this exceptional Shiraz." My notes: This vintage is a blend of 85% shiraz and 15% cab sauv giving it a deep ruby colour and nose a warm blend of black cherry and black berry albeit faint. Flavours are subdued black fruit and light pepper velvety in texture and full-bodied. A very soft finish leaving a tar touch to a subdued fruit, too mellow to demonstrate a 'tannic finish' although ends with a touch of pepper and a vanilla note. Not aggressive and quite sippable balanced between fruit and process driven complexity. Have with lamb shank, savoury stews, mildly seasoned grilled steaks, or mushroom pastas. Cellar for two years at most. Nice but perhaps 2005 will be closer to the varietal - I'll wait and see.

CONCHA y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA MERLOT 2004, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #939827 $19.95 (Tasted March 18, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 17, 2007 described as "... a potent brew of dark fruit, molasses, peppery spice and Chilean terroir. The plush palate is extremely ripe and forward, as it offers mounds of berries and chocolate. New World at every turn, and what’s wrong with that? 90/100 (Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast, Oct. 1 2006)". Their website says: "The grapes are manually harvested during April. The wine is aged for 15 months in new and used French oak barriques, then aged a further 2 months after bottling. The colour is dark and deep red. Bouquet as black as night: dark cherries, dark berries and a lasting smoky, yet rich, black tar. Taste complexity develops out of its firm, quiet, supple core.... On the palate, the wine is velvety and firm with ripe tannins imparting smoothness and balance." Natalie MacLean gives it 90/100 saying "Powerful wine with bold black fruit aromas and chocolate. Big on every count: fruit, alcohol and taste." RP of Winecurrent gives it four and one half stars (of 5) saying "Plush in texture and rich in fruit, this is a big Merlot that shouts its Chilean roots. It delivers real depth of flavour (dark spicy fruit) with layers of complexity, good structure, and nice harmony among the components. There's little point trying to pair this with anything less than a hunk of well-seasoned red meat, grilled medium-rare." My notes: An opaque violet ruby shade with smoky ripe plum, blackberry and soft spice aromas which start full and expand further in the glass. Smooth, blackberry, dark chocolate, slight fig, white pepper and fine tannins makes for slow and thoughtful sipping. The velvet finish is cause to linger over the lasting fruit. A super sipper not unlike the 2003 retasted earlier this month, but with less dryness or tartness. Have with any full flavoured grilled beef. If you like full-bodied 'mellow' buy by the case.... a value for the cellar or to drink now.

VILLA SANDI MERLOT 2004, Veneto, Italy, 12.5% D, #023390 $14.95 (Tasted March 16, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 17, 2007 described as "A distinctively fruity Merlot with aromas that suggest wild berries. It is also pleasantly floral with delicate rose and pepper undertones. This medium-bodied wine is an excellent choice for veal tenderloin." Their website says: "Distinctly fruity recalling wild blackberries. Pleasant flowery note with a delicate nuance of rose and pepper. Dry and zesty. Round and velvety tannins with a warm and pleasant bitter finish. Best with stewed veal with wild mushrooms..etc." My notes: Mid-way between an old and new world merlot with mid ruby colour and nose of light floral berry and white pepper. Light- to medium-bodied with a bright flavour of a mild mix of red cherry and blackberry balanced with fine tannin. The finish starts faintly but lasts awhile with red cherry pits and a dry afterglow. The texture is not deep enough to be velvety. An appropriately priced meal red to pair with tomato pastas, cheesy pizzas or veal scallopini dishes. A commercial drink-now not for cellaring.

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