Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Reds(12): S Africa Blend; Australia Cab Sauv(2), Merlot, Shiraz(4); Chile Carmen; France Syrah; USA Cab Sauv; Argentina Pin Noir

DEAKIN ESTATE SHIRAZ 2004, Victoria, Australia, 14.0% D, #560821 $12.15 (Tasted April 16, 2007)

A General listing described as "glums, cassis, sweet preserves, bell pepper and spice on the nose with a hint of licorice; dry, medium to full bodied, nicely balanced acidity, with lush, ripe cassis, wood spice, bell pepper and spice on the palate; warm, supple finish. Serve with rack of lamb; Spanish paella; spicy Italian sausage with grilled zucchini." The winemaker (Phil Spillman) says "Medium-deep red with nose of spicy fruitcake and raisin aromas are at the forefront and there are also plum, cinnamon and chocolate notes. A rich palate with dark berry fruits and fine tannins. Well balanced." My notes: Made from 100% Shiraz grapes the nose takes time to come and is a sweet plum with some white pepper and smoke. The colour is deep ruby with a violet tone and bright flavours of raspberry, cassis, mint all remaining as a well balanced blend and a dry, soft spicy finish. A natural shiraz with fermentation adding some complexities and complementary flavourings. Not as luscious and not a full berry flavour as pricier shirazes but for an entry level this offers a lot of value. Have with any red meat, mild, savoury or spicy. Cellaring a year may be a pleasant surprise but primarily a drink-now. Very nice!

R.L. BULLER & SON LIMITED RELEASE RUTHERGLEN SHIRAZ 2004, Victoria, Australia, 16.5% XD, #014506 $24.95 (Tasted April 15, 2007)

A Vintages release February 17, 2007 described as "This family winery has been in operation for more than 80 years in northeast Victoria. This Shiraz is packed with ripe blackberry and strawberry fruit flavours, as well as notes of licorice and a savoury edge. Dry with a medium full-body and supple tannins, enjoy it over the next three years with lamb or pork roast." Andrew Buller, winemaker, says "Deep crimson. Aromas of ripe plums and toasted oak. Rich and smooth mouthfeel with flavours of black cherry and hints of dark chocolate. Drying tannins overtake the fruit flavours briefly and fade to a finish redolent of the plummy aroma." My notes: A deep warm tone of spicy plums and soft oak aromas and a full deep ruby colour in the glass. Dry tannins, tasty black fruit and sharp edged black pepper fill the taste buds then finish with lengthy dry, white pepper and soft plums. This is a suitable companion to any beef entree. A sipper for those liking a medium- to full-bodied spicy red - the alcohol level can be factor altho' it's not apparent in a tasting. Should age for several years, two to four to start. A reasonable value and cellaring should bring out deep complexities returning a great red.

GOATS DO ROAM ROSE 2006, South Africa, 13.5% D, #655225 $13.15 (Tasted April 13, 2007)

A Vintages release on September 16, 2006 described as "All hail the new vintage! If you're looking for a fresh rosé, this newly-arrived 2006 is about as fresh as you can get! A blend of Shiraz, Pinotage, Cinsaut, Grenache, Gamay and Merlot grapes, ready yourself for a full-flavoured dry rosé bursting with summer berries, ripe red fruit, and spice." Comments from the Fairview Wines website "A deep vibrant pink with an aroma of ripe summer berries, and red fruits. Lovely character. The Palate is zesty ripe fruit, with a clean, crisp dry finish. The wine is super now. Enjoy over the next year or two." My notes: A deep rose colour with a candy cane nose, mostly red cherry and a bit of mint. A blended rather than fermented rose, likely for a North American market with a hardly noticeable sweetness. Flavours of red cherry, raspberry and light cranberry, a tinge of pepper and a long finish that's stays fresh and fruity fading to a clean pepper tinge. Held its own with Swiss Chalet chicken, should do well with a salmon steak spread with tartar sauce and broiled, Thai or Chinese. Not for long term cellaring but for reasonable sipping edging to finger foods that are slightly tangy or sweet/sour. A 'pop' wine and an OK value for a sociable sipper.

DEAKIN ESTATE MERLOT 2004, Victoria, Australia, 13.5% D, #577395 $12.15 (Tasted April 13, 2007)

A General listing described as "Deep ruby red; sweet vanilla, plum and black cherry aromas; dry, medium-full bodied, soft fruit driven style, lush finish. Serve with roast turkey or duck." The winemaker (Phil Spillman) says "Medium red, coffee and wet forest floor aromas with blackcurrant and cinnamon. These are wild and complex aromas and a precise description is elusive. Mature berry-fruit flavours with coffee and sweet pastry nuances." My notes: An entry level brand from the Wingara Wine Group and comparable with 'Yellow Tail' although Deakin specifies they use 100% merlot grapes. Slightly spicier with a black currant, blackberry tone and a mid ruby colour. Flavours develop nicely on the palate finishing smoothly with some depth and a subtle fruit sugar edge. A sociable sipper and suitable for a range of beef dishes: prime rib, flavoured stews, a ham steak or pork tenderloin - started showing some sweet fruit with a Steak and Cheese Sub with jalepenos. Not for cellaring, a value drink-now for an open house or family get together. I even enjoyed it as an evening sipper...

KATNOOK “FOUNDER'S BLOCK” COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2004, Coonawara, Australia, 14.0% D, #620070 $18.15 (Tasted April 9, 2007)

The winemaker says of the 2004 "Dark plum with purple tinges. A nose of appealing.. dark berries and classic regional blackcurrant and mint notes. Seductive vanillin and chocolatey oak tones. The palate is a medium bodied wine with juicy fruit flavours of ripe dark berries. Hints of plum, ripe cherries and mint are harmoniously integrated with subtle sweet oak... and has an extended savoury finish with fine soft tannins." My notes: Now on the General shelves, the 2002 vintage was release by Vintages as #660332 in 2005 at the same price (before deposit). 'Founder's Block' is from the Wingara Wine Group, part of Freixenet, which also offers brands: Katnook Estates, Riddoch, Deakin and their newest, 'CrackerJack'. The winemaker's description of the 2004 vintage is close... I'd add there's some noticeable tannic dryness in the taste and finish - otherwise the dark berry and currant fruit, mint and full-bodied texture holds true. Not as unctious as the 2002 but a few years cellaring will iron out the tannins and it'll have close to the depth and smoothness of the 2002. Sip now or have with rare beef or full flavoured stews, burgers, pepperoni pizzas. Cellaring for five to eight years would be suitable. A value Cab Sauv.

KATNOOK “FOUNDER'S BLOCK” COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2002, Coonawara, Australia, 13.5% XD, #660332 $17.95 (Retasted April 9, 2007)

My notes: Last tasted on the day of the Vintages release (October 29, 2005) and noted as "... A deep purple-red, dense with rich aromas of berries, vanilla, and light peppery spices. Flavour is full, smooth, with ripe berries, plums and dark chocolate. The finish is equally stunning; soft, round on the tongue and full of blackberries. Should pair with any braised ribs, grilled steaks, full-flavoured stews, etc. A value Cabernet Sauvignon, now or for cellaring." An aroma of ripe blackberries and plums softened with smooth oak tones is still prominent. The flavour is full, smooth, with ripe berries, a touch of black currant and deep dark chocolate brightened with a bit of mint and natural berry tartness. The finish carries long with a good balance of fine tannin and bright acid. This has cellared well and should continue for another four to six years. With Riddoch, seldom available, being another of our favourites, Wingara wines have been a dependable value.

CASA SILVA CARMENÈRE RESERVA 2005, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #024679 $14.95 (Tasted April 6, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 31, 2007 described as "... With every vintage [Casa Silva] seem to raise the bar. This ultra-ripe Carmenère is a blockbuster with loads of blackberry, prune, graphite, leather, and spice aromas. It is dry with rich fruit tones surrounded by intriguing herbal notes and fine tannins which add complexity and intrigue." Natalie MacLean gives it 89/100 and calls the 'Best Value Red Wine' saying "Stunning value/taste for the money. Full-bodied with dark plum and mint aromas. Lovely long finish. Pair with: meat dishes." RP of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "Carmenère is a late-ripener, and the search is on for the best sites in Chile. Casa Silva has obviously located one, as this Carmenère shows all the ripeness you want. It's fairly fat and plump, with intense flavours of dark fruit and berries with rich spiciness. This is really good value for a wine that will pair well with well-seasoned grilled red meat dishes." My notes: A deep ruby colour and distinct nose of white cherries and distant blueberries. The flavours are a cross between sour cherry and peppery blueberry - somewhat odd and certainly different. The finish is dry, long carrying the touch of flavours with a seam of light acid and graphite dryness. Cellaring for a few years should bring out a smoothness to complement the fruit increasing its depth but not complexity. An OK drink-now, not a sipper* unless you like dry and unusual. Pair with rack of lamb, pork chops with mushrooms simmered in basalmic, crockpot stews, and steak and kidney pies. *Letting air or decanting makes this a smoother sipper.... it's OK!

LURTON DOMAINE DES SALICES SYRAH 2004, Midi, France, 13.0% D, #926287 $14.95 (Tasted April 6, 2007)

A Vintages release March 31, 2007 described as "..., this Syrah is rich, ripe and very fruity. Aged for 11 months in oak barrels, the wine shows superb a balance between the oak and fruit. Enjoy this delicious quaffer with grilled steaks, hamburgers, pasta with meat sauce or gourmet sausages." My notes: Recommended by the vintages staff. A soft cedar and cherry nose: a deep ruby colour. Almost medium-bodied, flavours of bright red cherry with well balanced acid that wakes the taste buds and a firm tannin. The finish is clean, cherry and faint white pepper with some crush cherry pits leaving a dry mouthfeel. Not a sipper - a meal wine for anything light, beefy, wild mushroomy: prime rib to portabello burgers. A commercial drink-now, not for cellaring, ie. a 'table wine'.

GEYSER PEAK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Sonoma, USA, 13.5% XD, #343467 $21.95 (Tasted April 6, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 31, 2007 described as "This pioneering winery situated on 220 acres of estate vineyards in Sonoma's Alexander Valley celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2005. Expect this oaked, ready-to-drink, full-bodied Cab to be brimming with ripe cherry and sweet oak flavours with a generous mouthfeel... " RP of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "... concentrated dark, sweet fruit flavours that have plenty of complexity. The texture is generous, it's full bodied, and it goes well with burgers featuring meat or Portobello mushrooms, or with grilled red meats." My notes: Comes in half bottles, #675850 @ $12.95. The website doesn't list the 2003 vintage. An aged leather aroma with some plum and dark chocolate. A sultry ruby colour, medium-bodied, sweet cherry, mint, touch of blackberry with a long dry finish that carries an equal blend of blackberry and mint. A dry sipper for cab sauv drinkers, otherwise a very suitable companion with prime rib, T-bones, seared and roasted back ribs, beefy sideribs or all-beef burgers - could be a quaffer. It's a rewarding drink-now and has great potential if cellared at least two years to bring out even more complexity.

ALFREDO ROCA PINOT NOIR 2005, San Rafael, Argentina, 13.0% D, #032979 $13.95 (Tasted April 4, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 31, 2007 described as "... this is an unbelievable value. This dry, light-bodied Pinot has lovely cherry, cola and earth notes. It is a delicious every-day red to enjoy with chicken or fish dishes." The label says "100% Pinot Noir shows deep crimson colour, rich black cherry aroma with a hint of rose and a slight touch of oak. .. full-bodied... fresh with a ripe plum note." Natalie MacLean gives it 88/100 saying "Aromas of jammy-ripe fruit. Medium-bodied and easy-drinking. Terrific price! Pair with: chicken, salmon." RP of Winecurrent gives it four (of 5) saying "Serve this to me blind, and I wouldn't have thought it was a Pinot Noir... But forget the variety and you have a really attractive big red, with dense fruit flavours and notes of tar, smoke, and chocolate.... go for a hearty dish like coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon." My notes: Pinot Noir is a varietal listed only for the Alfredo Roca Reserva label and, since the tastings show some controversy, perhaps the grapes used are those not qualifying for the Reserva label? A deep ruby with a 'grenache' hue and equal parts aromatic raspberry, strawberry and smoke easily noticed once the cork is pulled. Let breathe for at least twenty minutes in the glass. Medium-bodied with long legs on the glass and a bright sumptious texture with mild tobacco and earth flavourings hiding the dark berry. The finish is a firm smoky berry with a dry texture and slight acid. Not a sipper, have with roast turkey, rack of lamb, or veal osso buco... but not chicken or fish. A 'process' driven Pinot.... I didn't care for it.

DEEN DE BORTOLI VAT 8 SHIRAZ 2004, New South Wales, Australia, 13.5% D, #621649 $15.20 (Retasted April 2, 2007)

A General listing and LCBO Staff pick this week. The label says "This generously flavoured Shiraz displays concentrated ripe berry and black fruit characters with firm tannins softened and balanced for twelve months in oak." My notes: Last tasted March 2006 with the comment '... a soft spicy nose with bright black fruit flavours carrying into a smooth lip-smacking finish with some spice left over... a house staple..'. A new label for the same vintage at about the same price and similar flavours but not as smooth and with more peppery spice in the flavour. The finish has a dry, distinct tar finish. A vivid ruby colour, full-bodied and gutsier overall from the previous tasting. An LCBO staff pick but not mine. This followon inventory doesn't match the earlier product in sippability - should be okay with pizzas or burgers. For my taste, not a value.

SCHOLZ VINTNERS 'THE WILLOWS' SHIRAZ 2002, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% XD, #015826 $32.95 (Tasted April 1, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 17, 2007 described as "The 2002 Shiraz (from 70-year-old vines) is a big, explosively rich effort offering an inky/ruby/purple color, loads of charcoal-infused cassis flavors, lush, concentrated opulence, abundant fruit, and surprisingly moderate alcohol for such a flavorful, rich Barossa Shiraz. It should drink well for a decade. 93/100 (Robert Parker Jr. , October 2005)" The label says "Peter and Michael Scholz selected premium fruit from best Shiraz blocks... using American oak .. to enhance ..spicy cinnamon hints. .... full of flavour... definitely not shy. .." My notes: Quickly sold out in my area but I was able to pick one up in Clarkson for tasting. An inky ruby with a purple hue and has a soft nose of black cherry and smoky rosewood, bright without bite. A wonderful lush texture on the first sip and loads of fully ripened black fruit with a polite edge so that it flows over and around the taste buds. Finishes smooth, dry with slight licorice, a touch of pepper. Very sippable with a forward richness yet not aggressive - there's a need to pause with each sip, easily quaffable but that would be a shame. Plan for a special meal: lamb shanks in a savoury sauce, a pepper steak, ribs simmered until the meat falls freely, rare beef tenderloin, beef bourguignon, a starter of french onion soup. Cellaring isn't needed unless you had a chance to stock up... then I envy you.

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