Friday, June 01, 2007

June Reds(10): Chile Shiraz(2), Blend; S Africa Merlot; France Merlot; Spain Blend; Argentina Cab Sauv, Merlot; S Africa Shiraz; Italy Blend

SEPPELT CHALAMBAR SHIRAZ 2004, Victoria, Australia, 13.0% XD, #029488 $25.95 (Tasted June 18, 2007)

A Vintages release on June 9, 2007 described as "A powerful, deeply fruited shiraz of weight, density, length and structure. Its deeply aromatic and peppery scents of black fruits, violets, dried herbs, dark chocolate, cedar/vanilla oak, musk and mint precede a substantial palate of poise and restrained power. There's massive depth of fruit sweetness, a deep core of dark, spicy flavour and a long, fine-grained and savoury finish. Framed by silky-fine but astringent and drying tannins, it exudes strength and style. 96/100 (Jeremy Oliver, April 14, 2006)." The website says "The nose shows aromas of mulberry and dark fruits with complexing savoury spice. A medium bodied wine, with an elegant palate that shows intense regional mulberry and blueberry fruit flavours. As the wine develops, lovely spice and pepper notes show, leading to a finish supported by long, fine-grained tannins." My notes: 'Chalambar' is one of Seppelt's 'Regional' wines. The colour is an opaque deep ruby with a definite violet hue. Smoky plum and spice aromas fill the glass nibbling the nostrils with each sniff. Definitely full-bodied, a minty pepper sting on the first sip with rich berry, dark chocolate, and oak edged flavourings on each that follow. Spice, brightness and some sweet fruit layered on fine tannins make up a long velvet finish. An excellent sipping shiraz if you're into 'big and bold', otherwise an excellent red for grilled or roasted beef of any variety. Cellaring should bring out some mellowing tones and more exotic sidelights - say, four to six years.

DORNIER MERLOT 2003, Stellenbosch, S.Africa, 14.0% XD, #694224 $18.95 (Retasted June 15, 2007)

My notes: Tasted July 8, 2006 the day of its Vintages release and after RP of Winecurrent had rated it four and one half (of 5) I also found it 'unctious... a bright merlot - a wonderful balance of fresh fruit and barrel fermentation.' My Better Half wouldn't drink it. I tasted again in September, 2006 without change. So today I opened another not mentioning the label. Without missing a step the BH said 'I can't drink this'. Whatever it has my BH woudn't thank you for this merlot. Aromas are now on the cranberry side of sweet berries modified by smoky oak and mint. The colour is a mid ruby and could be viewed as unfiltered at a lower light but it's clear. Flavours are muted, no longer 'luscious' as in my last tasting, with more of a red currant than red cherry and more spice comes through, the same fruit tartness and fine tannin ('slightly dusty') in the mix. Finishes dry and soft with a distinct mintiness at the tail end. Nearing the end of cellaring or perhaps as some oenologists might say 'it's going into a dumb period', a drink-now and for me a sipper but better paired with grilled meats, rack of lamb, homeburgers, beef and barley soups, stews or pizzas.

Bordeaux, France, 13.0% XD, SO38-2293 $21.95 (Retasted June 14, 2007)

My notes: Ordered in December 2002 and cellared August the following year, then tasted in June and November 2005 leading to the last bottle tasted today. Still has an attractive but faint nose of fresh berries and sweet fruit, and a red cherry colour. Surprisingly, for a drink-now, this has kept much of its original fruity freshness. As a sipper the berries are ripe without being full giving some latitude to accompanying appetizers, seafood or cold cuts. The flavours go well with grilled salmon steaks, crab cakes, lobster pieces, cold sliced chicken on salad, asparagus salad: anything having a touch of oil and is on the delicate side. The finish slowly ebbs to a smooth dry warm berry. Not the robust rose it once was so no longer appropriate with roasted chicken or richer pasta dishes and cellaring is well past due.

PO DE BORJA ARAGONIA CRIANZA 2001, Fuendejaron, Spain, 13.5% XD, CP151-2664 (Opimian) $13.42 (Retasted June 13, 2007)

My notes: Purchased in February 2004 and first tasted May, 2005 with the comment '... has developed a wonderful plummy nose and a very smooth velvet texture... ' Then in September 2005 '... Flavour is rich, full fruit integrated with soft tannins and a mild spice.... A beautiful sipper... ' This is a winning blend of mostly garnacha and tempranilla although Opimian added syrah and cabernet sauvignon as well in their description. The nose is of ripe blackberries and plums with a smoky edge and slight pepper and a rich deep ruby colour with the same long legs on the glass. A velvety texture full of ripe berries, sweet fruit, natural tartness and very fine tannins leaving a long, warm, savoury finish. The approach and finish on this makes it a rewarding sipper, one to ponder thoughts in a social setting - with or without a cheese tray close at hand - or view the meandering progress of a PGA tournament on TV. Or it's a versatile companion to beef bourguignon, a rich braised lamb shank, duck or mild prime rib. An 'old world' red that I enjoy... where the winemaker has achieved a balance of selected fruit and crafted process.

Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% XD, #723288 $13.95 (Tasted June 10, 2007)

A Vintages release June 9. 2007 described as "Throw a thick, juicy steak on the barbecue and serve up this fruit-packed Cab packed with loads of blackberry and cassis as well as sweet notes of chocolate and vanilla. It's a solid wine to enjoy throughout the summer." RP of Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "This is a quite big and dense Cabernet with full-on fruit and plenty of complexity. Expect dark fruit and blackberry flavours with nice hints of white chocolate and vanilla. The texture is plump and mouth-filling and, at this price, it's a natural for barbecues on the deck and at the cottage."Gord Stimmell (June 13) gives it 89/100 saying "... The nose shows blackberry with hints of cola and cedar. On the palate, lush chocolate, blackberry and refined oak stylings dish up sex appeal. The finish is slightly sweet-toned." My notes: Rutini Wines produces the Trumpeter in an 'old world' style, lots of oak influence giving unfruity aromas to what should complement natural fruit. A very deep scarlet ruby colour with cigar humidor odors that waft from the glass. Full-bodied, firm tannins, a curt tartness among flavours of ripe plum and black cherry - there's some remnants of sweet fruit giving it a round mouthfeel. Finishes with licorice, dark chocolate and tars lingering on the palate much longer than the fruit. Big and dense, yes, but not with flavours that encourage my sipping. Should be great for a highly seasoned steak or back ribs, long ribs, a triple cheese and pepperoni pizza, a homemade hamburger, ie. not Macs, with mustard plastered bacon, roquefort and onion toppings - but I'd sip with the bites rather than after. A reasonable price just not a palatable red imho - perhaps letting air for a day would help?.

JOFFRÉ E HIJAS GRAND MERLOT 2003, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.9% XD, #025098 $15.95 (Tasted June 08, 2007)

A Vintages release on April 28, 2007 described as "A similar vinification for this Merlot as Joffré e Hijas Malbec, but a very different wine on the nose, with ripe, bloody, quite jammy plum fruit that is bold and creamy, backed by a toasty oak support. On the palate there's a broad, generous, mouthfilling fruit presence with lots of damson and black cherry ripeness. It is fairly jammy, with plenty of sweetness, and a suave, dark, chocolate and coffee bean depth. Acidity is good, and although the fruit doesn't quite push through to the finish, this is a fine merlot. Very good indeed. (Tom Cannavan, Aug. 2006)." VH of Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "A crowd-pleaser that offers up coffee and cherry aromas then a gigantic mouthful of jammy, sweet bramble berry and cherry compote flavours right through to the lengthy, sweet finish. This is a warm and friendly wine that will be widely-accepted at your backyard barbie with the neighbourhood crowd. Pour alongside burgers or steak." My notes: A deep ruby colour initially with a strong odor reminiscent of iodine blanking out any fruit. Decant or air for an hour for an unusual vanilla and leather aroma changing eventually to musty socks. The flavour has a tannic oakiness that equals the fruitcake medley which is more predominant in the finish as black cherries, prunes and equal levels of dry tannin and unsweetened dark chocolate. Could be described as 'bold and creamy' if your taste goes to an 'old world' style overcome by process. Pair with rich roasted meats, wild game, Texas chili or charred burgers. If you have to pay penance, go for it. I haven't been that bad yet.

, S Africa, 13.5% D, #022269 $13.15 (Tasted June 06, 2007)

A General listing not described on the LCBO website. The Durbanville Hills website says "Aromas of white pepper, violets and plum with a veil of smoky oak. A soft-textured but mouth-filling wine with spicy and smoky oak flavours that linger on the aftertaste.100% Shiraz." My notes: Complete with a screwcap and a Peel-to-remember-me label. A deep ruby, medium-bodied and a mixture of cherries and cranberries in the soft woody nose. Allow to air a short while or decant for the little fruit to come forward. Black cherries with a few crushed cherry stones or perhaps stems are in the taste along with a balance of acids and tannin. The finish retains mostly stalkiness along with some mild cherry-cranberry remnants and mild tannin. A table red marginal for tomato pastas, burgers, steaks, grilled back ribs or a rack of lamb, etc. Except for the dominance of the crushed pits/stems it would be a reasonably priced dry sipper although, overall for me, it's not cellarable and not a drink-now.

Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #029850 $18.95 (Tasted June 03, 2007)

A Vintages release on May 26, 2007 described as "This wine is made using the popular Ripasso method, where grape skins used for the production of Amarone are added back into the Valpolicella, starting a refermentation that increases the weight and body of the wine. This complex wine has forceful raspberry, cherry and toasty oak aromas. It is soft and round with a hint of tannin for balance. A highly pleasant wine that will match grilled barbecue fare or richer pasta sauces." Natalie MacLean rates it 90/100 and says "A vibrant, full-bodied wine with notes of chocolate and cherries. Pair with: barbeque and tomato pasta sauces." The website notes " ...made from a mixture of Corvina and Corvinone (70%), Rondinella (20%) Croatina, Oseleta (10%) grapes form the Monti Garbi vineyards that surround the cellar... Ruby red in color, it has red fruit and cherry aromas well blended with the oak flavor in a harmonic balance. It is soft and engulfing on the palate, with fruity nuances and proportioned tannins. A complex, long lasting wine which offers an intriguing match between taste and aroma, and highly pleasant with a spicy aftertaste... " My notes: A mid ruby colour and a warm cherry nose that dissipates quickly in the glass, then nothing. A smooth texture, fine tannins and a light bite before flavours of delicate (euphemism for almost nothing) red cherry with persistent smoky oak start showing. The ripasso process improved this from being a light-bodied table wine. A sipper that won't offend but likely provoking the expression 'Isn't it pleasant!' then onto a different subject. Pair with pizza, mushroom pasta, pork cutlet, or an asparagus salad. Not a value - as always, just my opinion!

RESERVE SYRAH 2004, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.4% XD, #590737 $19.95 (Tasted June 02, 2007)

A Vintages release on May 12, 2007 described as "Plush and inviting, with black cherry, mocha, vanilla, bittersweet cocoa and tar notes that glide through the finish. Drink now through 2007. 88/100 (James Molesworth, 2006)" RP of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "A terrific, rich Syrah that delivers concentrated and complex fruit with a plush but edgy texture. Look for flavours of dark/black cherry, with accents of spice, smoke and tar. This is a great partner for rich red meat and game." Natalie MacLean rates it 89/100 saying "Richly layered, full-bodied goodness. Aromas of black fruit, plush and round. Pair with: hearty meat dishes." The website describes the taste as "Dark and pruny, chestnut and chocolate aromas that opens to violets, jammy cherry fruit, raspberries and strawberries framed by mocha, mineral and spicy aromas. Lovely flavour of marron glace that fill the palate with sweetness. Live acidity and nice tannins." My notes: I was impressed with the Vina Carmen Syrah/Cab Sauv blend so had to try this previous Carmen release. This has ten percent cabernet sauvignon in the mix and shows an inky ruby. After airing thirty minutes, the aromas are a dense mild plum and cherry with a light smoke and white pepper. A very smooth full-bodied sipper with firm tannins letting it slip onto the palate. Flavours of ripe black cherries... lots of warmth and the softness of stewed prunes, milk chocolate with a smidge of tar in the long finish. As a sipper, the 'plush' of being unfiltered may not appeal to some but loved by others. A red to go with a variety of rich meat dishes, stews, steak and kidney, calves liver with onions. Cellaring a few years could bring other spices forward. A value but not for everyone - I enjoyed the difference in a shiraz.

Maipo Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD, #983106 $19.95 (Tasted June 01, 2007)

A Vintages release on May 26, 2007 described as "The grapes for this 50/50 blend were hand picked and sorted to ensure only the best quality fruit was used. Fermented in stainless steel and then aged for 10 months in both French and American oak barrels, this big, rich wine is packed with black fruit, spice, leather, floral and meaty characteristics. Ripe and concentrated with ample tannins, it’s built for steaks grilled rare or roasted game." RP of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying " ...totally delicious. It's packed with flavour from dark fruit (cherry, blackberries) with quite luscious herbal and spicy notes. It's full bodied with a rich, tangy texture, and simply begs for grilled red meat." My notes: A lovely mid ruby with a violet hue and the nose is a combination of black cherries, blackcurrants and a whiff of pepper true to the blend. Starts with a bright intro to the palate, medium- bodied, and flavours of blackcurrants and cherries. Dry tannins coat the mouth producing a soft texture. Fruit acids leave a clean edge for a long silky finish. Luscious as a sipper - very palatable - with some smoky oak tones. Airing for thirty minutes improves it even more. A good companion with anything beefy: rack of lamb, T-bone, ribs, an Angus burger with the works, grilled portabellos etc. Drinking well now but cellaring a few years should benefit as well. A good value from what is turning out to be, in my books, a reliable producer.

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