Thursday, November 15, 2007

More November Reds(7): Argentina Merlot; Australia Shiraz(2); Chile Cab Sauv, Syrah; France Blend, Shiraz;

PASCUAL TOSO MERLOT 2004, Maipu, Argentina, 13.9% D, #035188 $12.95 (Tasted November 28, 2007)

A General listing described as "This soft and silky red displays seductive aromas of dark chocolate, plums, pipe tobacco and licorice. The palate delivers rich black fruit flavours enhanced by earthy and coffee notes. Serve with roast of lamb." My notes: Merlot doesn't appear on their website. Claimed to have won several medals at various wine shows often in the 'below $15 category'. The nose is light and berryish with minimal oak influence. The colour is a dense ruby and the first sip is medium-bodied, a mix of blackberry, mint, cedar shavings and somewhat stemmy and dry on the palate. The finish has some tar carrying the remnants of berries. A straightforward commercial merlot, OK but not interesting. Have with burgers, pizzas, sliced turkey breast, cold ham and greens. Compared with their Malbec (October 8th tasting) this is a disappointment. A drink-now... personally not a value at the price. Ww80

Chile, 14.0% D, #177451 $14.95 (Tasted November 27, 2007)

A Vintages release on October 13, 2007 described as "The Torres family has revolutionized the production of fine wine in Chile. This Cab has plum, black currant and toasty oak aromas. Fruit dominates on the well- balanced palate with ripe tannins showing on the long finish. A perfect match for piping hot beef or lamb stew." The label says "Bottled without filtering. Excellent potential 5 to 7 years. Ruby colour with fiery reflections. Exquisite varietal aromas over rich hints of leather and liquorice. Silky tannins on the palate and an elegant finish." RP of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "... and the 2005 maintains the quality and value [of the 2004 vintage]. It's a big, fruit-forward, well-structured Cabernet with flavours of black fruit and berries and notes of black pepper and mint. There's a little warmth from the 14% alcohol, but it's well-balanced and an obvious choice for red meat and game." My notes: A deep, violet tinged ruby and aromas of soft oak, black cherries and ripe plums - airing in the glass allows the nose to develop. The first sip is smooth as velvet with just a slight nip, fine tannins and a steely flavour of purple plum and toasty oak. Finishes long with balanced flavours switching to more smoky plum, smooth on the lips leaving a minty touch to the palate. A mellow sipper, full-bodied and warm with well managed oak. Would pair well with anything moo or baa (beef and lamb gets so repetitious), well seasoned stews, seasoned bbq'd oink back ribs. A good value for anyone preferring old to new world although there's lots to admire from both sides. Cellar up to five years. Ww90

Geographe, Australia, 14.0% D, #686865 $19.95 (Tasted November 26, 2007)

This vintage of 'The Ripper' was released by Vintages on November 24, 2007 and described as "... Aged in 50% French and 50% American oak, this red exhibits classic Aussie Shiraz blackberry, plum and spice characters, but also an impressive elegance and structure owing to the region's cooler climate." The website describes their process "The 'Ripper' Shiraz is grown at Hope Estate's 28 hectare vineyard at Donnybrook in the Geographe region of Western Australia. The shiraz grapes are crushed... then transported by truck... to the Hunter Valley on the east coast where they are fermented and bottle. The must is chilled for this three day roadtrip and arrives with amazing colour and tannin extraction." VH of Winecurrent gives it four (of 5) saying "Opaque and inky in the glass... Look for teeth-staining, palate-drenching flavours of black currant, black raspberry and mulberry. There's plenty of moderating acidity and supple ripe tannins to keep it in balance while the finish is quite lengthy... it's drinking now to 2012... " My notes: 2003, 2004 (see Nov 16th notes) and now the 2005 vintage 'Ripper'. The blackberry and currant nose pours from the bottle but dissipates quickly in the glass leaving only the flavour to tell us much. Medium-bodied and thinner than previous vintages, smooth textured, the flavour shows full and fresh black currant with a slight mint and fine tannins and very little oak influence. A nicely balanced red for sipping, rewarding each sip with white pepper edged currant juices, naturally sweet and having the tartness of ripe fruit. This is a polite shiraz that lends flavours to any beef or lamb meal. Based on previous vintages cellaring will be short term, two years at most. The price of Aussie reds have been inflated, likely locally, to $20 and up... overpriced but what can you do if you can't find a Chilean or Argentinian to give equivalent fruit and spice. Get in for special company. Ww88

ARROGANT FROG RIBET RED (SHIRAZ) 2006, Languedoc, France, 13.5% D, #619296 $13.20 (Tasted November 25, 2007)

A General listing described as "Deep ruby purple colour; aromas of black currant and plum, with hints of oregano and vanilla; dry, medium bodied, quite fruit forward, with balanced structure; oak notes on finish. Serve with roasts, bbqs and most big bold meat dishes." The website says "At first spicy and balsamic the second nose develops blackcurrant, humidor and violet flower aromas finishing with toasted oak notes. Full bodied but mellow with velvety tannins. Ripe and floral flavours on the middle palate, liquorice and spicy flavours on the finish. ... will age for the next six years. " VH of Winecurrent gives it three and one half (of 5) saying "... Look for a smooth and silky drinking red that offers ripe juicy flavours of cherry, black berry and spice. It's drinking beautifully now—well balanced and offering a fruit forward finish." My notes: A new look for the south of France from Les Domaine Paul Mas. Anthony Gismondi's article gives credit to Robert Mondavi for encouraging three dedicated vintners, producers of value wines: Miguel Torres Jr. (Spain/Chile), Paul Mas and Pascal Jolivet (France). This shiraz has lots of appeal: a light but warm nose of currant, berries and slight smoke, a deep ruby colour with long legs, an attractive first sip with lots of tannin, berries, mild currant and pepper edge. Finishes with tasty fruit, light oak and pepper, silky smooth. A moderate wine that keeps giving with each sip. Should be great with pizzas, burgers, T-bones, prime rib, ie. anything beefy - a flavourful addition to the meal. Should cellar well for a few years - primarily a drink-now and a good price. Ww87

Pays d'Oc, France, 13.5% XD, #SO39-2636 $18.67 (Tasted November 18, 2007)

Opimian wrote of this vintage: "... vineyard regime almost to an organic level. showing a deep, glowing colour, full and concentrated with grape extract that opens into a delightful bouquet with vivid black currant and cassis aromas balanced by subtle nuances of oak. Spicy notes and firm levels of tannin promise a decent period of maturity.... " My notes: Originally purchase from the Opimian Wine Society in January 2004 and cellared 'til now. This has a lovely but delicate blackcurrant and soft smoke nose and a colour of deep ruby, perhaps a blend of merlot and cab franc. Flavours are a light blackcurrant, well balanced with fine tannins and acid, smooth, medium-bodied, finishing long on the palate with natural blackcurrant juice, a slight spice and silky and soft. This is a rewarding sipper giving a pleasurable mix of fruit and spice without challenging a variety of appetizers from light turkey snacks to mild sausage or stuffed mushroom caps. Pair with beef tenderloin, T-bones, prime rib, seared back ribs, etc. This has cellared well and should for another three to six years. Ww88

HOPE ESTATE ‘THE RIPPER’ SHIRAZ 2003, Geographe,Western Australia, 14.0% XD, #686865 $ 17.95 (Retasted November 16, 2007)

My notes: This was the Wine of the Month when released on August 19, 2006 described as "... 'ripper' is Oz speak for fantastic wine .... etc." and was last tasted the same month. The 2004 vintage was released by Vintages in March, 2007 ($2 more) and the 2005 is to be available on November 24th of this year. A deep ruby red still with a warm aroma of plum, ripe black cherries and cedar, faint but there. Long legs on the glass and the first sip has a nice nip, not as strong as it was in 2006. The flavours are subdued, some black currant, red cherries and some mint amongst a texture of silk and fine tannins. Scored 90/100 by the Wine Enthusiast, Feb. 1, 2006 and described as 'powerful but restrained' this is now not a bold sipper, nice all the same with a dry finish, fairly short, of black currant, cherries and soft remnants of pepper. Pair with savoury entrees: stews, T-bones, prime rib or beef tenderloin in flaky filo. Still is bright from ageing in American oak while the French oak has given it some smoothness and herbal nuances. Tannic and peppery when first tasted this is now a polite shiraz. Has enough pepper and tannins to cellar another few years but has lost quite a bit of the original fruit. Ww88

Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #046276 $15.95 (Tasted November 15, 2007)

A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 described as "Viña Casablanca was founded as a sister company to Viña Santa Carolina in 1992. The boutique-sized winery quickly built a solid reputation, particularly for its iconic Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley. Now it's the reds that are turning heads. Sourced from the Rapel Valley, the El Bosque Syrah gained recognition by winning Gold at the prestigious Catad`Or Grand Hyatt Wine Awards 2006 in Chile." Gord Stimmell, Nov 10, 2007 gives it 90/100 saying "Best value of the Release, with tantalizing aromas and flavours of smoky cedar, violets, black cherry and plums... rich, big and fleshy, ...silky... "
My notes: A warm nose of faint plums and a ruby colour, deep not dense. Sharp and dry on the first sip with flavours of red cherries including the dry, crushed pits and light pepper which characterize most of the long dry finish. Not a sipper. A reserved european style syrah, perhaps from young vines, rather than a bold, fruity new world shiraz. This may be too early to have peaked and further cellaring may smooth and allow time for more textures and complexities to develop.... but I don't think so. I think, what it is now is what it will be for a few years then it's downhill. A commercial red to be paired with red meats, savoury rather than spicy. Have with hamburgers, pizzas, beef stews, T-bones, etc. Ww80

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