Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More April Reds(10): USA Cab Sauv; France Grenache; Chile Blend; Canada Foch, Blend; Australia Blend(2), Pinot Noir, Shiraz(2)

THOMSON WOOLPUNDA RED BLOCK SHIRAZ 2004, South Australia, 14.0% D, #627216 $10.25 (Tasted April 26, 2007)

A General listing described as "Deep ruby colour; spicy, pepper, licorice, ripe and lush, with generous aromas of black currant, coffee and toasted oak; dry, full-bodied, with plummy fruit and earth flavours; soft tannins in a rich style. Serve with grilled foods with some spice; chicken; steak." The website claims "... a rich and full-bodied wine displaying plum and blackberry fruit with subtle soft tannins and gentle acidity support the rich fruit. It has an intense colour and has obvious fresh berry fruit aromas with underlying tone of cinnamon spice. The palate is firm and tight ... pleasant drinking [and] will improve over the next 2-3 years with careful cellaring." My notes: A soft berry and cedar aroma with a clear, deep ruby colour. The flavours are well balanced: sweet berry, red cherry and mint or perhaps, cinnamon spice but not prominent. The finish is mild with some earth tones, drying tannin and a polite peppery edge. Medium-bodied and pleasant enough to be a house sipper for general get togethers, not a special occasion. Suitable with a cheese tray of edam to aged cheddars and would be a quaffer with mild meat entrees: pepperoni pizzas, burgers, BLTs - loses its zip with spicier foods. Cellaring is possible but likely isn't worthwhile. Not memorable and the price reflects this - not a value.

MILDARA BLASS BLACK OPAL CABERNET MERLOT 2005, Australia, 13.5% D, #351890 $15.15 (Tasted April 26, 2007)

A General listing described as "Deep ruby colour; dark fruit, ripe plum and cherry with toasty oak aromas; dry, medium bodied, with ripe fruit flavours and chocolate notes; soft round tannins in finish. Serve with grilled red meats; cheese dishes; roast beef." The winemaker describes this as "... a deep crimson to purple. The aromas display excellent regional and varietal characters of berry and spice. These scents follow through with rich cherry and plum flavors, a hint of chocolate and a subtle touch of oak. The flavors develop well and finish with a long finely textured mouth feel. The cabernet sauvignon (56%) provides depth and cellaring potential [and] the merlot (44%)... softens the palate... enjoyable to drink immediately." My notes: A mid ruby colour with a light nose of soft oak and red cherries. A brightness on the first sip with nondescript flavours finishing with mostly red cherry pits and leaving a clean mouthfeel and fine tannins. Not a lot to be recommended as a sipper - better as a meal red but very shallow. Not cellarable and not recommended. Skip this brand of varietal blend. Over priced.

RODNEY STRONG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Sonoma, USA, 13.8% XD, #226944* $19.95 (Retasted April 25, 2007)

My notes: A Vintages release on December 9, 2006 and last tasted on the 10th. RP of Winecurrent gave it a four and one half (of 5) saying 'has a lot of depth and finesse... hold it two or three years.. ' The website describes the 2003 growing season as 'a classic year for juicy, ripe fruit flavors thanks to an especially nice, warm growing season' and lists the points awarded:
- 90, Editor's Choice, Wine Enthusiast, December 2006
- 90, GOLD - Top 10 under $20, Chicago Value Wine Challenge, World Wine Championships 2006
- Critics GOLD - Critics Challenge International Wine Competition 2006
- 90, SILVER - California State Fair Wine Competition 2006
Still has a deep 'warm cedar and blackcurrant nose'... and, if anything, tangier, mintier flavours and a blackcurrant potpourri that goes on forever. A rewarding sipper and was great wtih rack of lamb with mashed turnip and carrot, roast potatoes and brocoli. The tannins are still well pronounced and with the firm, but palatable, acid this should cellar for many years. *No longer listed - hope this returns to the Vintages shelves some day soon - only a few bottles left now.

JACKSON-TRIGGS PROPRIETORS GRAND RESERVE MERITAGE 2001 VQA, Jordan, Canada, 13.1% XD, #594002 $23.95 (Retasted April 24, 2007)

My notes: Bought February 2004 and last tasted January 2006 with the comment 'Cellaring well and likely can carry a few more years.' This is tasting nicely but may have turned the corner - although it could last two more years (talk about Mr. Dithers!). Full-bodied, having a deep purple ruby colour and the same complex nose of a cedar humidor, purple plums, black cherries and a minty spice. The flavours flow smoothly with a firm acid edge and lots of ripe blackberries, currants, and faint vanilla extract. A long finish coats the mouth with fine tannins, a lively brightness and smooth currant remnants. A very dry, luscious red sipper containing elements of cab sauv (40%), merlot (40%) and cab franc (20%) along with sweet flavourings from French and American oak. Pair with anything meaty: sausage pieces to barbequed long ribs, T-bones to rack of lamb.. or mellowed fruit cake, chocolates... or just sip slowly. Super stuff!

DOMAINE PEIRIERE GRENACHE ROSE 2002, Pays d'Oc, France, 13.0% XD, CP149-2524 $11.67 (Retasted April 23, 2007)

My notes: Last tasted June , 2005 after cellaring December 2003 and based on Opimian's description "This is a stunner, fragrant with perfume of strawberry jam, light in flavour with just the right amount of fruit etc. A 'drink-now'." My comment at the time: 'Colour is bordering on peach and a nose is not now apparent. Light flavours of spice, orange and strawberry, nice light acid balance, light-bodied... Still an OK sipper with a warm moderate finish. Better with salty crackers and cream cheese dip, or pan-fried telapia.' I thought it was long gone and this bottle just retrieved from the cellar is well past its Due Date. No nose, a light texture with minimal flavours of watermelon, and a drying tannin with scarce tartness. Not a sipper and not really a meal wine at this point. Removing the chill marginally improved the texture and the finish. Can't blame anyone but myself on this one. It was a pleasant, but not a 'stunner', drink-now rose in 2003.

BROKENWOOD PINOT NOIR 2005, Beechworth, Australia, 14.0% XD, #020560 $21.95 (Tasted April 22, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 31, 2007 described as "In the Australian Wine Companion 2007, James Halliday gives Brokenwood an overall rating of five of 5 describing it as a 'deservedly fashionable winery producing consistently excellent wine'. This deep-coloured Pinot boasts lifted floral, and fragrant cherry aromas. It’s dry, medium-bodied and smooth with cherry fruit flavours and a lingering finish. Enjoy it with roast duck or quail." My notes: A deep strawberry colour with a violet cast; a faint nose of stewed strawberry, a satin texture that introduces flavours of fleeting strawberry to the palate shifting to a finish of crushed stems and now, more of a blueberry and cherry blend with a fine dryness and soft acid. Not an expected flavour for a Pinot Noir sipper and, I'd imagine, not preferred or enjoyable to most. Pairing with pork tenderloin turned out to be a disappointment, too nondescript. I can't see this cellaring well... making it a drink-now but I'd skip it all together to avoid any conundrum. May be meaningless but no local critic reported a tasting for this wine. Definitely not a value.

PEPPERJACK SHIRAZ 2004, Barossa, Australia, 14.0% XD, #020198 $22.95 (Tasted April 22, 2007)

A Vintages release on April 14, 2007 described as "Good colour; attractive medium-bodied wine; blackberry, plum and a touch of chocolate; good oak and tannins. Rated 93/100 by James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2007. Winemaker Nigel Dolan describes this as "... rich red in colour with soft purple hues. Aromas of blackberry and plum are supported by pepper and spice characters on the nose. The rich, round, soft palate shows concentrated berry fruit, complex oak and star anise notes. This wine is intricate and elegant with velvety tannins and great length of flavour." My notes: Released by Saltram Wine Estate, of the Foster's Group, although not included on the Saltram website as their brand. The colours are rich red with a purple hue and there are soft aromas of sweet oak, cherries, chocolate and a smidge of pepper that take time to develop in the glass. Full-bodied, a velvet roundness carrying flavours of rich black fruit, a touch of spice and fine tannins. The flavours carry through to the finish which is long with ripe berries. A dark red sipper... should appeal to anyone not looking for an initial aggressiveness but one that builds. Pair with any mild beef dish, mild cheese tray, pepper pate and garlic toasts, grilled ribs or flavourful stews. Was a polite accompaniment with grilled pork tenderloin. Drinking well now... cellaring for up to two years should be OK but taste regularly to ensure the fruit doesn't disappear.

VINA CARMEN CARMENERE CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2004, Valle del Maipo, Chile, 13.5% D, #439166 $17.15 (Retasted April 19, 2007)

The winery describes the 2004 blend - 60% carmenere, 40% cabernet sauvignon - as "Dark ruby red in colour. A rich and refined wine, with plenty of ripe fruits character and spices. Intense wild black cherry fruit aroma, followed by notes of laurel, clove, mint, pepper, dark chocolate and black olives. Well structured, concentrated and a big length; lovely balanced of jammy and dark ripe fruit along peppery flavours and sweet oak. Fine grained,smooth and velvety tannins. A complex wine with a long finish." My notes: A General listing last tasted September, 2006. Has the same intense purple-ruby colour with a nose of mint changing to pepper combined with black cherries, brambleberry and blackberry. Now has an appealing sharpness on the first swallow followed by flavours of black cherries, dark plum, mint and a tannic touch. Previous tarry notes are subdued allowing red cherries with a few tart cranberries to dominate - finishes firm, dry and long. I didn't get 'jammy', 'clove', 'sweet oak', or 'velvety'. Cellaring for two years may be optimistic as the texture and flavours are thinning, much drier on the palate and without finesse. This bottle was purchased new and shelf storage rather than cellaring may be a factor. An OK sipper with a dry mouthfeel... pairing with broiled red meat or stews would be more appropriate... was great with Texas chili. There are alternatives in the price range so this vintage is not recommended as a new purchase.

MALIVOIRE OLD VINES FOCH 2002 (Canadian Oak), Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5%, #Winery $25.00 (Retasted April 18, 2007)

My notes: First tasted October 2005. The winemaker, Ann Sperling, was at Malivoire when a dozen were purchased from the winery and cellared November, 2003. The colour is still a deep ruby with almost a garnet edge and the nose retains aromas of subdued soft cedar, slight vanilla and a background of blackberries. Medium- to full-bodied with flavours of stewed black cherries, a touch of licorice and well integrated soft tannins and acid. A velvety sipper now with less of an acetic zip, soft and mellow and tame compared to an Oz cab or shiraz. The finish is long ladened with soft subdued black fruit. There's still a foch edge but you have too look for it. Have with mild meat dishes: prime rib, calves liver and onions, veal scallopini, or even chicken livers on rice. Cellaring has been worth the wait (but you gotta tolerate Foch).... will likely cellar a few more years.

DEAKIN ESTATE ROSE 2005, Victoria, Australia, 14.0% D, #613992 $11.25* (Tasted April 17, 2007)

A General listing described as "Candy apple red; nose of raspberry, cranberry & underlying almond; medium-bodied with lots of strawberry on the palate. Serve with grilled sausage or Nicoise salad." The winemaker, Phil Spillman, says "... juice was limited to only one half-day of skin contact and then it was drained, clarified and fermented as a white wine. Different batches of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were produced to allow for the best blend... A radiant light red; fragrant with fresh raspberries, blueberries and ripe watermelon. Soft and round, a mouth-full of strawberries and cream, and there is just a dusting of residual sweetness... Enjoy while young, over a year or two. [serve with] paella or risotto. My notes: On sale for $9* and to complete my tasting of Deakin wines available locally. Not a lot of raspberry but some 'underlying almond' that comes across as a slight pond scum, which airing tends to alleviate, mixed with a light red cherry. A brilliant reddish colour with flavours of cherry, tart cranberry and watermelon. Finishes with watermelon and cherry fading quickly with some sugar showing then ending with a dry mouthfeel, no roundness. To me, an unusual blend for sipping and difficult to pair with many entrees - was too mild for roasted Atlantic salmon filet. A possible 'party' drink (but not my party), not for cellaring, not recommended. PS. Still 'unusual' but quite sippable on the second day open.

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