Monday, July 02, 2007

July Reds(10): Argentina Cab Sauv; Italy Spumante; Australia Shiraz, Blend; Portugal Blend; USA Syrah: Spain Blend; Canada Blend; France Blends(2)

BODEGA NORTON CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Luyan de Cuyo, Argentina, 13.5% D, #589556 $10.70 (Tasted July 17, 2007)

A General listing described as "Medium to deep violet-red colour; fresh black currant, black cherry and anise aromas; medium-full bodied with plump, youthful flavours, fresh acidity and a long finish. Serve with grilled t-bone steak, stuffed veal tenderloin." The winemaker says "Lively ruby red colour. Aromas of ripe fruit, plums, blackberries and strawberries. Very good structure, balanced and round tannins, long lasting finish." My notes: A pretty ruby red colour with light aromas of cherries, blackberries and a slight black pepper. There is a tannic dryness and nice nip on the first sip and throughout the tasting... 60/40 flavours of cherry and blackberry with a long finish that ends with cherry pits leaving a dryness in the mouth. A lightish medium-body sufficient for homeburgers, a spicy T-bone or rack of lamb, polish or italian sausage on a bun. An OK sipper if you're having a crowd in... but otherwise a common table red - nothing great nor objectionable, ie. fits the price. As a 2006 it could be cellared awhile to smooth the tannin.

Veneto, Italy, 12.0% XD, #031567 $21.95 (Tasted July 17, 2007)

A Vintages release on June 9, 2007 described as "Light salmon pink colour with an attractive nose of rose petals, light strawberry, pear and a hint of toast. Dry to slightly off-dry, it is fruity with a good mousse and a refreshing acidity. It has enough weight to work with a veal tenderloin or a variety of pork dishes. (Vintages panel, April 2007)." My notes: Vintages description is right on per my tastes... a light salmon pink, rose petals and strawberry, pear and toast. As it effervesces in the glass the flavours quickly go from a brusk tartness to a smooth cream with a soft strawberry caressing the palate. A long finish with substantial acidity to carry through any seafoods, a chicken palenta, pork or lamb souvlaki buried in a bed of lightly oiled rice. Drinking very well now - for any festive occasion... an anniversary toast (1st or 46th), graduation, or a reunion of friends. Great stuff!

Australia, 13.5% D, #642751 $15.95 (Tasted July 14, 2007)

A General listed wine not described on the LCBO website. Gord Stimmell gives it 90/100 saying "It's becoming a challenge to find a red brimming with complexity under $16. This shiraz dishes up aromas of cola, blackberry, smoky cedar, vanilla and just a hint of bacon bits. The flavours echo this, with deep black cherry and vanilla bean notes lingering long on the palate. There's finesse, plus a hint of power, in this red." The website says "Bright crimson. The nose shows youthful fresh, red-berried fruit aromas, mixed spice and floral notes (lavender). There is a suggestion of vanillin, cedar oak. The palate is invitingly accessible, immediately offering approachable fruit, structure, weight & drinkability. Spices (nutmeg) and florals (violet and lavender) integrate with small, redberried fruits, background oak and rounded tannins. A noticeable vintage quality jump on the 2003 Koonunga hill Shiraz." My notes: A deep crimson colour with a smoky cedar, blackberry aroma and sniffing hard catches a fine spicy drift. A brightness on the first sip, 'minty cola' is a good description, a charred cedar that finishes with polite spices and a faint earthiness. More of a meal wine altho' not objectionable as a sipper, medium-bodied, dry and a good balance of fruit and oak influences. Have with anything steaky, with dark fowl, with bbq'd sweet or hot italian sausage pieces, homeburgers with the works. A drink-now. The 'minty cola' aspect is not my taste preference - given a choice I'd stay with Penfold's Shiraz/Cabernet (#285544 @ $16.15).

PENFOLDS KOONUNGA HILL SHIRAZ/CABERNET 2004, Australia, 13.5% D, #285544 $16.15 (Tasted July 12, 2007)

A General listing described as "Purple/red colour; cassis, eucalyptus, mint and herb aromas; dry, full bodied with smooth, rich, plummy flavours and a long, spicy finish. Serve with grilled lamb, pepper steak or roasted meats." The website tasting notes say "a complex nose with elements of assorted spices, chocolate and cedary oak - with glimpses of red capsicum, tobacco and pepper... A balanced wine with a continuum of flavour throughout. The Cabernet Sauvignon influence is more profound on the palate than the nose with chocolate and mocha flavours clasping raspberry and blackberry fruits. A rich sweet mid-palate and finish are firmed by ripe, prominent tannins." My notes: A deep ruby with a violet hue and a nose of rich black cherries, plums and warm cedar humidor. Has flavours of more plums and black cherry but a lingering oak is added and a balanced nip to a velvet texture. Finishes long and smooth, tar and white pepper influence on remnants of a dark chocolate roundness. I enjoyed this as a sipper and it should pair with many meat dishes complementing rather than competing - with rack of lamb, pepper steak, bbq'd ribs, long ribs, even steak and kidney... whatever your favourite may be. Drinking well now and since it's on the General list should be available rather than cellaring a few. A commercial red that comes across as authentic varietal... a value.

Portugal, 14.0% D, #613919 $13.20* (Tasted July 05, 2007)

A General listing described as "Deep garnet colour; aromas and flavours of blueberry, cedar, herb and plum; dry, medium to full bodied with generous tannins on finish. Serve with lamb chops and grilled meats." Gordon Stimmell gives it an 89/100 (June 5, 2007) saying "... inky red... aromas show black plum, vanilla, black pepper and a hint of oregano. The flavours keep up the intensity, with black cherry, cedar and mellow plum stylings. The finish is long and rich, with sustained minty cherry notes. Very mouth-filling." My notes: A beauty of a deep garnet with aromas of rich plum, berry and some white pepper. Smooth from the first sip, velvety with elegant blueberry, plum, fine tannins and well balanced spice. A long velvety finish showing its twelve months in French oak. A medium-bodied sipper that doesn't intrude into flavours... or conversation - no need to say 'isn't this great!'... just sip and your expression will show it. Should be okay with veal, lamb, ham steak, pork chop, ie. light meats. Or if the beef isn't too spicy should be OK too, ie. beef stews or mushroom pastas. Already three years old and I expect it would cellar two to three more years. A bargain at the price.... buy a case for casual sipping over the next while.. (*discounted to $10.60).

California, USA, 14.1% XD, SO39-2646 $22.17 (Retasted July 04, 2007)

My notes: Cellared in April 2004 and tasted in November 2005 with the comment 'perhaps going through a dumb period... still an uninteresting sipper with a sharp edge... etc.' Then in November 2006, '... now has a full pepper nose with interesting highlights of leather and mint... bright flavours of dry red cherry-berry... will likely peak in another year... etc.' Now seven months later... a vanilla edge is showing to the berry and pepper nose, still very light. A shade of black cherry almost opaque in depth. Medium-bodied, flavours are blackberry-ish and cherry-ish with a hint of vanilla showing, fine tannins and a white pepper brightness. Still slightly harsh as a sipper but went very well with texas chili, and likely would with favourful steaks, bbq'd ribs, or even lighter beef pot pies. Needs another two years to see where it goes... a red that needs patience.

SEGURA VIUDAS LAVIT ROSADO BRUT CAVA, Penedes, Spain, 12.0% XD, #673533 $14.95 (Tasted July 04, 2007)

A Vintages release on June 9, 2007 described as "The blend for this rosé fizz is 80% Trepat, 10% Monastrell and 10% Garnacha. Trepat is a crisp red grape that is indigenous to the north-east of Spain and is often found in rosé wines. The Monastrell and Garnacha bring their fruit-forward focus to this fine Spanish bubbly. Enjoy on the patio with veal tenderloin or other roasted red meats." The website gives the blend as 60% Trepat, 20% Garnacha and 20% Monastrell saying "Cava of elegant pale pink colour, with abundant bubbles. Fresh and intense aromas of red fruits (gooseberry, raspberry, blackberry) and exotic ones (pomegranate). Light and fresh on the mouth, with an elegant finish." My notes: A Freixenet Group producer. This has a mid raspberry/cranberry colour with lots of bubbles, large and fine tho' too dry to be mousseux - effervesces than subsides quickly. Has a bright nose with a light yeast, a slight cranberry aroma and a carbonated steeliness on the first sip with a mixed flavour of red cherry, gooseberry (without the aroma), tart berry, all very light. Sip with sausage rolls, crab cakes, tempura shrimp and zuchini strips or possibly spicy mussels. If you enjoy the standard Freixenet bubbly you would this as well - but visually it's different. A drink-now.

Kingsville, Canada, 13.0% XD, Winery $10.45 (Tasted July 03, 2007)

The back label describes it briefly as "... combines the characteristics of dried berry fruit and light cherry notes with fine tannins and vanilla aromas and is a wine to be enjoyed with friends around the dinner table." My notes: The website claims this to be a blend of chambourcin (84%) and cabernet franc (16%) whereas the label says chambourcin and cabernet sauvignon. After tasting I believe the website. Whichever it is tastes of E.D.Smith jams... very nice in a jam. Air for at least twenty minutes for a pronounced, sweet cherry, leather and bubble gum nose and a medium-bodied, sweet cherry and raspberry jam flavour. Well balanced tannins and acids. Finishes long carrying the sweet jamminess on the palate. Difficult to pair with a meal... perhaps a dessert sipper, in lieu of raspberry pie. Could be an acquired taste or for a campfire sing-a-long on the Eco Trail.

Cote de Bergerac. France, 12.5% XD, CP138-1941 $19.17 (Retasted July 02, 2007)

My notes: Cellared in December 2001 and tasted later in December 2005 with the comment '... Medium-bodied and smoothe, the fruit is subdued being integrated with soft tannins and acid. The finish is long and shows a pleasing plum with some light oak remnants... Drinking well now but cellaring isnt likely to spoil this as a dry red sipper.' This bottle was aired for several hours before tasting. Now has very mellow fruit with lots of fine tannins on each sip... a deep plum colour and deep plum, black cherry and blackberry flavours, bright and welcoming. Rich blackberry predominates a long velvety warm finish. This has improved considerably ageing and is a sophisticated sipper. Pairing with rare beef, dark fowl or rack of lamb would be appropriate. Continued cellaring is possible but drinking very well now. A wine such as this could quickly shift my preferences to include 'old world' reds.

CHATEAU THEBOT 1998, Bordeaux, France, 12.5% XD, CP143-2208 $16.42 (Retasted July 02, 2007)

My notes: Purchased in 2002 from the Opimian Wine Society with their recommendation to cellar at least two years.... Last tasted February 2006 with the comment 'A clear ruby red colour with a nose of cherries and soft vanilla, flavours are bright cherry with a tannic edge and evolve in the glass. A cheerful sipper with no 'toughness' - even a little subdued with flavours developing further in the mouth... After several years cellaring this is a drink-now.' Now all of the same with perhaps a fuller vanilla in the nose - still a luscious light cherry and tannin on the palate with a smooth delicate oak finish. An 'old world' sipper but begs an hors d'oeuvre or two. For me, more suitably paired with prime rib, ribeye steaks, or flavourful stews with a rich sauce and vegetables. Appears to have levelled off into a value red.

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