Thursday, November 01, 2007

November Reds(10): Argentina Cab Sauv; Australia Shiraz(2), Merlot; Canada PN; Chile Petit Verd; France PN; Portugal Blend; Spain Blend; USA Cab Sauv;

QUINTA DAS SETENCOSTAS ALENQUER 2005, Alenquer, Portugal, 13.0% XD, #050930 $13.95 (Tasted November 14, 2007)
A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 described as "Made with indigenous grape varieties, this is a unique offering from Casas Santos Lima in Portugal. It displays delicious dark berry fruit aromas with distinct notes of cinnamon and chocolate which all echo beautifully on the palate. Excellent with vegetable and chicken paella." Natalie MacLean calls it the Best Value Red Wine of the Release rating it 90/100 saying "Fantastic value! So good it deserves another exclamation mark! Lovely notes of dark fruit and cocoa. Full-bodied and smooth. Pair with: chicken paella." My notes: A ruby red with a dull cast and an aroma too faint to discern - perhaps cherry and some plum. Medium-bodied with a balanced tannin and acid base for a light plum fruit. As a sipper there is a soft cherry highlight that builds then leaves as a smooth leather edge still with a soft tannin and well balanced acid... but overall I found it uninteresting. Pairing with a ham steak, pork chops or cold chicken could have merit. A soft quaffer that cellaring won't improve... not recommended. Ww80

Margaret River, Australia, 14.2% XD, #025270 $17.95 (Tasted November 13, 2007)

A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 described as "The Olsen family planted their first vines in 1986 when Margaret River was not even a blip on the radar of most wine lovers. Today, winemaker Jared Olsen crafts complex and interesting wines like this splendid Merlot to reflect the unique qualities of this now-celebrated viticultural area. The family mantra is 'excellence by choice' and it shows in the ripe plum, blackberry and dusty oak flavours of this full-bodied beauty." Gord Stimmell, Nov 10, 2007 gives it 90/100 saying "... shows a minty accented style, with aromas and flavours of black cherry, blueberry, cedar and chocolate. ... Simply delicious." VH of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "Delivering what one would hope for from this premium cooler climate Aussie wine region, this is well balanced and sporting a touch of class. There are focused aromas and flavours of black plum and black currant. There are enough tannins to carry this for awhile and enough tanginess to provide good balance now and on to 2012... " My notes: A deep ruby and faint aromas of cherries, berries and warm earth. The first sip has a bright minty nippiness followed by a black cherry and raspberry flavour blend, fine tannins for a smooth texture and the start of a long, light finish of berries and cherries. A sociable sipper for any 'red' crowd... and suitable for red meats, roast turkey, pizzas or burgers. Cellaring for a few years would likely give more of the same so not worth the investment. A standard house red - at the price, not a value. Ww84

Penwortham, Australia, 15.0% XD, #005199 $17.95 (Tasted November 12, 2007)
A Vintages release on November xx, 2007 described as "The 2005 The Lackey ... emphasizes the ripe, classic, South Australian Shiraz grape aged in old oak and bottled with no fining or filtration. Deep, rich, full-bodied, and elegant, it reveals plenty of berry fruit, pepper, chocolate, and new saddle leather characteristics. Drink this spicy, earthy effort over the next 2-3 years. Score - 90. (Robert Parker Jr., Oct. 2006)." VH of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "This is a full-bore and fully-flavoured red with crowd-pleaser written all over it. It provides a huge mouthful of rich and concentrated fruit flavours—spiced black plum compote, sweet mulberry and oodles of ripe black cherry. The finish is warm (15% alcohol) and lingering, adding on some notes of pepper and chocolate. There's nothing shy about this, so give it a go with a bold and hearty stew." Natalie MacLean calls it "A simple and delicious, full-bodied wine." and gives it 90/100. My notes: A deep violet ruby shade, opaque to the eye with peppery black currant aromas - airing not necessary. Rich black currant flavours hit the senses, full in the mouth and velvety smooth like streaming juice from a grape bunch through a filter of dark chocolate. A long finish has a peppery edge adding brightness and some sweet fruit leftovers. A wonderful new world sipper... The oak influences complement the fruit wonderfully, not altering its varietal naturalness but adding textures to increase sipping enjoyment. Do you get the idea I enjoyed this shiraz?? Buy a mittful... for a long Ontario winter. Ww92

Saturna Island, Canada, 10.6% D, #010991 $18.95 (Tasted November 11, 2007)

A Vintages release September 1, 2007 described as "Saturna, located off the coast of Vancouver Island in the Georgia Straits, has really stepped things up over the last couple of vintages. Its micro-climate has proven ideal for growing the ever-demanding Pinot Noir grape. This Burgundian-styled Pinot conjures up fresh, delicate fruit flavours and will make an ideal dinner companion for salmon or is lovely all on its own." Jurgen Gothe in his column Uncorked says "... The 2004 announces its subtle presence with a very light colour, and the flavours are fresh and lean. This is one of those wines that hit the palate immediately as good dinner companions for just about anything. The 2005 is perhaps just a shade darker (but still light) and shows a slight smoky edge to the fruit, which is principally cherries and a hint of something spicy. It's fresh and bracing, especially if you give it a touch of chill... I think the 2004 has the edge, if only by a grape skin... " My notes: This vintage is not listed on their website. This has a red cherry colour somewhat deeper still bright in the glass. The aroma is predominantly crushed strawberry with a few stems in the mix. It sips very smoothly with a light strawberry - cherry blend with a mild tartness to add interest. The natural fruit ebbs slowly pacing the balanced tartness. Personally I'd say this is a 'Saturna' style pinot - and the lightest I've tasted with the lowest alcohol level. At a social gathering this would be a good introductory sipper - serve slightly chilled... but not for entrenched red sippers... with some mild cheeses or a fruit tray with milk chocolate wafers or pair with a sushi tray, perhaps ricotta waffles smothered with maple syrup. Ww86

RODNEY STRONG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, Sonoma, USA, 13.8% XD, #226944 $19.95 (Retasted November 09, 2007)

My notes: Originally purchased in December of 2006. 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 2003 growing season was described as 'classic' by the winery and this wine was awarded several top awards. In last April's tasting I noted "If anything this now has a lighter nose with much softer fruit, no longer being 'warm cedar and blackcurrant'... this should cellar for many years." After the additional seven months the nose is still aromatic full of rich herbal scents and berries blending with soft oak. The body is lighter with a crisp blackcurrant, a fuller mint with fine tannins and a mild tartness. The long finish is dry with an earthy appeal, some berries and a sweet woody touch. The youthful fruit freshness has gone and mature flavours and textures are setting in. A pleasant enough sipper and should be excellent paired with beef entrees, grilled or roasted, BBQ'd ribs or pepperoni pizza. I preferred it younger when it had some robustness but additional ageing should prove interesting. It'll either wake up or wane slowly to mediocrity. Ww88
BODEGAS FAUSTINO I TINTO GRAN RESERVA 1995, Rioja, Spain, 13.0% D, #976662 $32.95 (Tasted November 08, 2007)
The 1996 vintage was released by Vintages on September 1, 2007 with a description "Plum, dried cherry, dusty spice and leather notes mingle in this mature red, which is still quite fresh. A balanced wine, it will make a fine accompaniment to delicate dishes. Drink now. 87/100. (Thomas Matthews, Nov. 30, 2006)." My notes: The winery projects this wine can be aged six to fifteen years. Now in its twelfth year the colour is a red plum shade with a nose of warmed plums, cherries and a whiff of cardomon filling the glass. Exotic flavours of tea and prunes with a lime edge to give it brightness. A lightish medium-bodied red with fine tannins and a long finish of delicate cherries, plums, distant tobacco and leaving a distinct brightness but no tartness on the palate. Sipping slowly to savour the finesse of this red is a must. Pair with crockpot stews, veal, pork tenderloin, dark fowl or not too highly seasoned eastern dishes: chicken shashlik, lamb souvlaki. Ww89
JEAN GEILER CRÉMANT D'ALSACE PINOT NOIR BRUT NV, Alsace, France, 12.0% D, #047191 $19.95 (Tasted November 02, 2007)
A Vintages release on October 27, 2007 described as "Crémant d'Alsace is a sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Not well-known outside of Alsace (where it is served in lieu of Champagne), Crémant d'Alsace is a wonderful alternative bubbly for your next celebration." Beppi Crosariol, (October 27, 2007) has this as his wine of the week and says "... a fruit-forward flavour hinting at cherries and citrus." VH of Winecurrent gives it three and one half (of 5) saying "... the nose; it's redolent of baked apple pie including the spicy aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg. On the racy and light- to medium-bodied palate, it's all about green apple, mineral and citrus flavours that provide a clean and refreshing attack and a fairly-lengthy finish. You'll discover a hint of white peach there, as well." My notes: A bubbly from Cave Vinicole Ingersheim. A nose of light yeast, tart apple, apple blossoms and a soft pink colour with a touch of salmon. From large to tiny bubbles foam then slowly subside leaving a frothy rim and lots of fine streams. Nicely creamy yet with a sharp tang of crabapple and citrus makes this a great aperitif or a companion with fresh oysters, grilled scallops in filo or as a celebratory toaster, a thirst quencher on a hot day or a picker upper for breakfast waffles with strawberries. Has a long dry, tangy, somewhat creamy and flavourful finish. This could serve as an economical replacement for champagne anywhere. A few in the cellar would cover any surprise announcements - just pop one in the freezer for thirty minutes before serving. For those wanting a fruit tinged champagne alternative. Ww88

Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #007484 $14.95 (Tasted November 02, 2007)

A Vintages release on October 27, 2007. RP of Winecurrent gives this four and one half (of 5) saying "Petit Verdot... is too-seldom produced as a varietal wine. This one (which is 85% Petit Verdot, 9% Syrah and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon) delivers richly complex flavours of dark plum, cherry and blackberries, with notes of dried fruit, spice and smoke. It's medium bodied with a fairly full and plush texture, has good tannic structure, and it goes well with well-seasoned red meats". Gord Stimmell gives it 90/100 saying "A smoky, plummy aroma, mixed with violets and blueberry jam, signals a dense red. The flavours are rich, with kirsch, vanilla, cedar and blueberry leading into a finish of violets-accented, rich black plums. A serious red for the bucks." The website says "This wine features an intense red scarlet colour. Exuberant and complex, it offers a myriad of aromas such as blackberries, ripe apricots and violets. Sweet tones of vanilla, toffee and cocoa taken from ageing in small french oak barrels for 18 months, are perfectly integrated to the fruit. This outstanding Petit Verdot is concentrated, with great structure and very flavourful. Strongly expressive, persistent and with a great bottle ageing potential." My notes: Decant or air for an hour. A deep crimson colour with delicate aromas of cedar and warmed black cherries. Dry on the first sip with a soft red cherry and prune blend followed by a cranberry tone that continues into a long dry earthy cherry finish. An 'old world' red - not a social sipper. Lighter than a cab or syrah. Pair with rack of lamb or chops, pork in a rich gravy, or prime rib au jus. Cellaring for four to eight years could produce a smoother, more integrated red and at this price would be a big value. Ww88

JIM JIM [THE DOWN-UNDERDOG] SHIRAZ 2006, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5% D, #682005 $14.95 (Tasted November 01, 2007)
A Vintages release on October 27, 2007 described as "... a real-crowd pleaser at a fantastic price. Jim Jim Shiraz is a simple, luscious wine that fills your mouth with rich, dark berry fruit awash in silky tannins. (Kim Pierce, The Dallas Morning News, Oct. 4, 2006)" My notes: The colour is a smudged ruby with sweet cherries and moist woods coming to mind when sniffed. Medium-bodied with a sweet edge, not 'too' though, to a spicy cherry with fine tannins then finishing long and warm ending on a dry earthy note. An OK sipper but better with nibbles or with red meat dishes. Cellaring a few years should be OK and may take the rough edge off. But wait a few weeks and this will likely be priced down to clear - this would make it a value table wine, imho. Ww83
BODEGAS CATENA ZAPATA ALAMOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% XD, #467944 $13.95 (Tasted November 01, 2007)
A Vintages release on October 27, 2007 described as "A homegrown success story, Catena Zapata is one of Argentina's leading producers and its Alamos range consistently offers outstanding value. Expect blackberry flavours aplenty with notes of toasty oak and café mocha on a long, lingering finish. Enjoy with gourmet sausages or grilled steak." VH of Winecurrent gives it three and one half (of 5) saying "This good-value, second label red from Bodegas Catena Zapata offers a lot for its modest price tag. Smoke, oak and red berry scents form the aromatic profile while the flavours—red cherry and cranberry—are delivered on a medium-bodied frame. The tannins are ripe, but perceptible, and the finish is medium in length with a hint of gamey-ness. This pairs well with grilled meats or burgers, hot off the grill." My notes: Decant or let air for at least thirty minutes for aromas of smoky, spicy currant somewhat subdued yet there. A deep ruby with garnet and violet tones and bright flavours of currant and black cherries blended with a touch of tobacco, pepper and forest floor. The finish carries smoky flavours as the main blend fades. A sipper for lovers of old world reds... assertive and almost aggressive. More of a meal wine for meat entrees or red pastas. Cellaring is likely not in the cards for this vintage. A drink-now and priced right. Ww82

No comments: