A Vintages release on December 9, 2006 and described as "While the Barossa Valley area is often noted for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon vines have also thrived there for over a century. St Hallett's winemakers Stuart Blackwell and Matt Grant employ a combination of traditional techniques with the latest technologies to craft this quintessentially Barrosan Cab. Stuffed with cassis and berry fruit flavours with notes of mint and chocolate this medium full-bodied wine is ready to drink with hearty venison stew or old-fashioned pot roast." My notes: Worth every penny and more for the deep ruby, warm plummy nose and rich minty, black currant softened by a luscious berry edge flavour. Long legs on the glass and a texture that smacks the palate with subtle tartness, a fine tannin and smoothness suggesting a natural fruit sugar, but of course it's DRY. A super sipper - seems a shame to have anything with this unless it's a well, not meaning 'well-done' but to your liking, grilled T-bone or prime rib roasted crusty with herbs. To match this red's fullness the entree should be rich or full flavoured. Could be cellared for five or so years but is drinking nicely now. A real value and there appears to be tons around as of this tasting.
ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2003, Vendemmia, Italy, 13.5% XD, #930966 $23.95 (Tasted January 30, 2007)
The Vintages release date wasn't given - the description is "This wine offers a superb starting point to explore rarified corner of Chianti without having to stretch your budget or fight firm tannins. Rocca delle Macìe aims to create wines that are enjoyable now. Though there is a silky tannin grip here for balance, the aromas and flavours of plum, raspberry and violet dominate." The website says "... Sangiovese (90%), Cabernet (5%), Merlot (5%).... vinified according to traditional Chianti Classico methods. The wine ages in French oak barrels of 35hl capacity for two years and is then refined further in the bottle, for a minimum of three months. ... ruby red, becoming garnet with age. Flavours are intense and persistent... etc." My notes: A lightish mid-ruby colour with a slight rose edge. Let air twenty minutes or decant. The nose has some remnants of red berries, perhaps plum - 'violets' is stretching the imagination. The initial swallow has a spirited brightness complementing red cherry flavours and a dry tannin. The finish continues to be bright with the fruit fading quickly leaving a dry, although much softer, fine tannin feel. A classic Classico... european in style and flavour, light- to medium-bodied emphasizing the winemaker's use of blending and oak ageing rather than featuring luscious fruit. Have with a red pasta dish or with hamburgers, pizzas, cloved ham steak or rack of lamb. No benefit in cellaring - a commercial drink-now and not a value imho.
A new General listing described on the label as "..enticing rich purple, deliciously soft and fruity. It is packed full of exquisite ripe plum and black cherry flavours... completed with a touch of spice." My notes: One of four La Puerta's, the one with the blue label. Has a fresh cherry nose with some light oaky sidelights. The colour is a clear mid ruby with, in the right light, a fine violet hue and flavours hit the palate with firm, drying tannins and a plum/cherry blend, a vanilla note and a lightish body. The finish is somewhat overridden by the tannin but it still has an underlying seam of red cherry and some toasty notes. Somewhat thinner than an Aussie (my preferred shriaz sipper) - but for the money a good value. Would be OK with red meats: steaks, grilled ribs, T-bones, lamb shishkebabs for example. It would be interesting to cellar for two years to see where the tannin takes this very economical red. At the price - why not?
A Vintages release on January 20, 2007 described as "Our Quality Assurance laboratory has determined that this organic wine contains 9 mg/l of free sulphur. An elegant and approachable blend of Grenache and Syrah, with an environmental conscience. The Perrin brothers of Château de Beaucastel fame have been practicing organic methods for decades, and this is one of their finest examples. In fact, the 2003 vintage was named by The Independent in London as one of the top 10 organic wines. Expect similar excellence from this ‘04." RP of Winecurrent gives it four and a half (of 5) saying "This is a very well-priced Côtes-du-Rhône that shows what the region can do at a very affordable price. It has big texture, intense dark fruit (plum, cherry) flavours with accents of black pepper and spice, and a fine seam of sweet fruit at the centre. The tannins are pretty firm and this will show best in a couple of years. But if you must drink it soon, pair it with red meat grilled medium-rare." My notes: Also available in 375mL released as #10363@$9.95. A mid ruby colour with a pinkish rim and showing thin 'legs'. Nice light plum and cherry nose, a slight pepper edge, flavours of an even blend of red cherry, trace of vanilla, fine tannin and spice - the initial oakiness goes quickly. The finish carries a cherry stone flavour along with tannin and nip fading slowly without sparkle or interest. Have with prime rib, rack of lamb, ham steak or braised chicken pieces. Cellaring wouldn't help, more of a drink-now. A quiet Cotes du Rhone red - not a value to me.