CAVE SPRING SELECT LATE HARVEST CABERNET 2005, Niagara, Canada, 12.0% MS, #630244 $21.95 375mL (Retasted June 29, 2007)
My notes: Last December 2006 Gord Stimmell rated it 90/100... "a knockout red dessert wine..." and I cellared a half dozen for special occasions. The website said the semi-frozen grapes were collected in the late fall and pressing yielded a 'sweet, rose-tinged wine with luscious berry fruit and delicate acidity.' It's only been a short while but I believe it to be showing an ability to cellar well - up to five years (winery says 'best first three years). A brilliant peachy rosé and aromas of luscious strawberry, honey, and red pepper jelly show well in the glass. I use a sauvignon blanc glass for the larger bowl of colour and concentration of aromas. It is super smooth, more than off-dry but not 'icewine' sweet and quaffing is quite permissible. The finish starts fruity then mellows into a tart and spicy afterglow. Rather than a before dinner drink I enjoy it when dinner is over, the dessert is finished and coffee is well past. A couple of ounces and one ice cube crushed in a cocktail glass is great as well. The berry coolness combined with slight honey blends nicely with recollections of a well prepared dinner and good conversation. A blend of cab sauv and cab franc so something different and a value to be enjoyed.
CAVES DES PAPES HERITAGE COTES-DU-RHONE 2004, Rhone, France, 14.0% D, #535849 $15.15 (Tasted June 29, 2007)
A General listing described as "Medium ruby garnet colour; raspberry, tobacco leaf, plum and vanillin aromas and flavours. Light- to medium-bodied; soft and dry. Serve with stuffed peppers or eggplant; burgers; rack of lamb." The label says "Made from grenache and syrah, ... deep purple color, ... full and generous bouquet and its distinctive flavor .. lasts on the palate." My notes: A black cherry with a hint of pink in the colour and a cherry aroma with added white pepper. If it weren't for the distinct sharp pepper that greets the palate this red would be quite bland although it does have some faint cherry and dry mushroom flavours. There's a touch of mint in the finish along with dry forest floor tones. Not meant to be a sipper it's definitely a meal wine. Pair with prime rib, steak and kidney pie or a meat stew - but not too savoury. Nothing to cellar and not a value.
WOLF BLASS RED LABEL SHIRAZ GRENACHE 2006, South East Australia, 13.5% D, #494336 $14.15 (Tasted June 27, 2007)
A General listing described as "Bright, pale-yellow* colour; light nose with fresh, grapey notes; smooth, medium-bodied, with limited varietal character. Serve with grilled red meat; natchos; fajitas." My notes: This blend is not described on the Wolf Blass website... perhaps the blend was customized for the LCBO? or is to use up some grapes. A rich ruby (* LCBO colour is obviously incorrect but the 'limited varietal character' is dead on) with a slight pinkish edge, leaves long legs on the glass and has a full aroma of cherry bubble gum, berries and a slight black pepper. Medium-bodied, a pepper seam and flavours of cherry and blackberry with an underlying sweetness and leaving an oily touch to a long dry cherry stone finish. To me, the texture and finish are on the edge of being unpleasant, a past ripe jamminess, as a sipper... definitely needs finger food: bacon and feta on garlic toast, chicken wings hot or sweet, pepperoni pizza slice, chorizo sausage tomato pasta - anything that masks the somewhat cloying edge in the flavour and finish. A reminder of the wide spectrum of Wolf Blass wines - something for everyone and sometimes not for me. Not a value.
HARDYS NOTTAGE HILL SHIRAZ 2004, South Australia, 13.5% D, #375964 $13.00 (Tasted June 24, 2007)
A General listing described as "Deep purple colour; ripe blackberry & spice bouquet; full flavour and a soft finish. Serve with grilled meats and vegetables; game." The website has a generic tasting note for each of its 'Nottage Hill' label wines. For the Shiraz it's "... is deep plum in colour and exhibits spicy blueberry, plum and black pepper aromas. These characteristics are carried through on the palate where the wine is rich and generous displaying plum, chocolate and pepper with soft tannins well balanced and with persistent length." My notes: Colour is a rich ruby and the nose has aromas of black cherry and a light white pepper. The texture is medium-bodied, smooth with a tart lining for a slight blackcurrant but mostly blackberry flavour. The finish has warmth laced with berry juices, a natural tartness and background of fruit sweetness. A pleasing sipper, somewhat commercial but nevertheless smooth and unassumingly rich. Have by itself or with grilled beef entrees. Went great with rack of lamb and baked potato smothered in butter and sour cream. I don't think it'll improve with cellaring... more of a drink-now It's drinking well and, for a take home red or a guest's offering to a late meal, it's a value.
LINDEMANS RESERVE PADTHAWAY SHIRAZ 2005, Victoria, Australia, 14.0% XD, #482299 $15.15 (Tasted June 21, 2007)
A General listing described as "Opaque ruby colour; intense cassis, raspberry, chocolate and spicy vanilla aromas; dry, full bodied, with dark berries, black pepper, spice and coffee flavours on the palate. Serve with barbequed lamb, spicy sausage or ribs." The label claims "This vibrant purple and crimson wine is brimming with plum, raspberry, black pepper and vanilla oak flavours." The website's note for 2005 wasn't available - for the 2004, "Aromas of plum and blackberry fruit are matched with intense varietal black pepper notes and subtle vanillin oak tones. A medium bodied wine showing sweet black fruits, spicy peppery flavours and an underlying chocolate, mocha, oak complexity." My notes: A Southcorp winery. The colour is a deep ruby with a violet hue. Aromas are rich 'plum and blackberry' with a pepper edge. I missed the 'subtle vanilla oak tones' however there was an initial mustiness that aired out quickly. Smooth, medium-bodied with mild pepper and ridges of blackberry jam to fill the flavour senses. The finish is also muted with pepper and berries, with some dryness and that slight musty edge - perhaps the 'chocolate, mocha, oak complexity'. A well balanced shiraz giving the impression of overripe grapes or those that may have been in the Oz sun too long. A flat flavoured sipper but should be OK paired with grilled red meats, bbq'd pork ribs, homeburgers or spicy pepperoni pizza slices. Not for cellaring, a commercial drink-now.
THOMSON WOOLPUNDA RED BLOCK SHIRAZ 2004, Murray River, Australia, 14.0% D, #627216 $10.25 (Retasted June 19, 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 refers to this as their exported Red Block Shiraz. The 2005 vintage is described as (the description doesn't change year to year) "Bright crimson in colour, this Shiraz has an aroma that shows lifted plum and summer berry fruits with a hint of oak and black spices. Medium bodied in style on the palate with intense blackberry and prune flavours backed by hints of mocha and game. A good length of finish with fine-grained tannins. Whilst this wine is pleasant drinking at present, it will improve over the next 2-3 years with careful cellaring. This wine is great with hearty red meat dishes." My notes: Tasted April 26 this year I thought I'd try it again without referring to my previous notes. Initially, an interesting allspice character dominates eventual aromas of plums and pepper. Has a mid ruby colour, clear and bright in the glass with moderately long legs. Fine tannins dry the palate readying it for light flavours of red cherries mixed with a few blackberries. The finish is mostly of slightly tart red cherries without a detectable sweetness. Seems to me to be a varietal looking for an identity - nevertheless, would be passable with most 'family restaurant' beef dishes - doesn't have sufficient character to add to a special meal. A commercial drink-now and a low cost addition to a block party drink table.
FATTORIA LA LOGGIA TERRA DEI CAVALIERI CHIANTI CLASSICO 1997, Italy, 12.5% XD, #738146* $14.90 (Retasted June 19, 2007)
My notes: Originally purchased on Beppi Crosariol's recommendation February 2002 and tasted subsequently in 2005 and 2006 with mediocre findings. The Fattoria La Loggia label is *no longer listed by the LCBO. Perhaps their 'Tours and Lodging' business has outperformed their chiantis - or they're kept locally. This last bottle has retained its mid ruby colour, clear and bright. Aromas of just perceptible cherries with a bit of oak remaining. Light-bodied and still a red cherry flavour, bright with light tannins - any ripe plums and tars have disappeared. A short, light cherry, dry finish makes it a dry sipper but more of a light meal red: ham, cold turkey or chicken, shaved italian meats or a tray of mild cheese. Not a lot of substance to carry it through anything spicy or savoury. In November 2006 I recommended 'quaff liberally or use as a marinade' which still applies to any bottles remaining in the cellar.