Tuesday, January 01, 2008

January 2008 Reds(8): Argentina Malbec; Canada Blend; France Blend; Italy Blend, Prim; Spain Blend; USA Cab Sauv, Zin

CHATEAU PIQUE-SEGUE DAUZAN LA VERGNE 1998, Cote de Bergerac, France, 12.5% XD, CP138-1941 $19.17 (Tasted January 23, 2008)

The website describes this as a blend of 70% merlot and 30% cabernet sauvignon and was a Silver Medal winner at Mâcon - Guide Hachette 2001. Described as rich, fruity and full-bodied, comparable to its famous neighbours of St. Emilion. My notes: This is the third tasting since cellaring in December 2001. The last (July, 2007) had the comments '... has improved considerably... is a sophisticated sipper... drinking very well now. A wine such as this could quickly shift my preferences to include 'old world' reds.' A lovely aroma of ripe berries and colour of ruby tinged with garnet, faint terracotta and with long legs.Medium-bodied, very smooth on the first sip with some fine tannins still but not much else - mostly of berries and some cinna-mint and subdued flavours finishing quite long, slightly drying, ending on a faint blackberry note. Has some minty brightness and is an OK sipper - a grown-up with no abrasive traits but not that interesting either. Have with grilled veal or a bacon and cheddar melt. There's no cellar-ability left and it's on the decline now - I dropped it from this month's Bordeaux tastings. 80

Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0% D, #055525 $14.85* (Tasted January 19, 2008)  CS

A Vintages release on January 2008 described as "It's not often that we see a bubbly coming out of Argentina, let alone one made with Malbec, but this refreshing fizz is a delight. It's lovely floral and fruity aromas lead to juicy and effervescent red fruit flavours. Terrific as an aperitif or Sunday brunch companion." The back label says "... is a vibrant, deep purple, lightly sparkling red wine. .... perfect as an aperitif. It's full of ripe, wild raspberries and dark plum fruit aromas. ... sweet on the palate yet full of refreshing acidity... " My notes: *This cashed out at $13.85 at the local LCBO - listed as $10 in the US. The website on the back label was not available at the time of tasting. This has a huge outpouring of bubbles against a deep crimson ruby colour, very dense. Aromas of ripe plum and black currant combined with a few raspberries are highlighted by a slight metallic tone. The flavour fights with the dryness showing black currant and fresh berries, very bright on the palate. The freshness of the fruit in the finish drops quickly ending somewhat flat. Very different as a bubbly from the density of colour to the continuous stream of bubbles and fruity flavours. Have as an aperitif with lots of thin italian meats, liver pate on seasoned bagel chips or bacon with maple syrup on hot pancakes. Not for cellaring, a drink-now - and given it's not for everyone, a bargain bubbly. 87-1

CONDADO DE HAZA CRIANZA RIBERO DEL DUERO 2004, Burgos, Spain, 14.0% D, #963348 $24.95 (Tasted January 9, 2008)  CS

A Vintages release on October 27, 2007 described as "The brilliant 2004 Condado de Haza received malolactic fermentation in barrel followed by 15 months in American oak. Purple-colored, it offers up fragrant aromas of cedar, tobacco, black currants and blackberry. There is a supple mouth-feel and generous cherry and black fruit flavors and enough ripe tannins to ensure good longevity. Drink this hedonistic effort now and over the next 10-12 years. 91/100. (Jay Miller, Feb. 2007)." My notes: A deep magenta colour with soft aromas of berries and smoky oak. Let air for an hour to give the fruit more of a chance to show. The flavours hit the palate with smoke, ripe tart berries, forest floor and firm, fine tannins. The tannins carry the day on a long, dry finish of berry fruit and slight tar. For me, not a sipper... a meal red to have with grilled beef, pork back ribs, beef shashlik or lamb souvlaki, egyptian style entrees or hamburgers. Cellaring for another four years could soften the tannins and add some herbal notes. Not a value, maybe someday but not now. 84

Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD, #328997 $12.45 (Tasted January 7, 2008)  CS

A Vintages release on January 5, 2008 described as "A crowd-pleasing wine that will electrify any dinner with its spicy and fruity aromas and flavours. Enjoy with flavourful risotto dishes or with backribs and your best homemade sauce." VH of Winecurrent gives it three and one half (of 5) saying "Uncomplicated, straightforward and honest, this fruity red delivers aromas and flavours of currants, raisins and black plum that intermingle with notes of aromatic bitters. There's good balance with just the right amount of acidity and the tannins are imperceptible. The medium-bodied frame and fruity finish make this a suitable wine to be paired with a lighter-styled red meat aperitif." My notes: Fig aromas quickly change to pleasing plum and berry with long legs draining on the glass. There's a fullness from the first sip with a fine tannin presence edged with soft acid, both adding textures to flavours of woody cherry and fig. An interesting sipper and a good balance between process and fruit which tilts to the riparosso style in a long, dry finish - not objectionably so. Meaty pastas or pizzas are the most likely pairing but this would match any lightish red for grilled beef or pork rib entrees. A drink-now although I think this could develop interesting herbal highlights if cellared for two to four years. A good value for a dry house red. 86-1

TRUCHARD ZINFANDEL NAPA VALLEY 2003, Carneros, USA, 14.2% XD, #054858 $18.95 (Tasted January 5, 2008)  CS

A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 descibed as "This Zin is unique in being the only one produced exclusively from grapes grown in Carneros. The region's cool climate and volcanic, ashy soil combine to create perfect conditions for the cultivation of Zinfandel. Truchard was recognized as one of the 2006 Estate Wineries of the Year by Wine & Spirits magazine." My notes: Aromas of blackberry waft from the glass, warm with an oak edge and inviting. Silky from the first sip with well balanced acid and soft tannins carrying a blackberry and blueberry combination to the palate. The fruit lasts through a long finish ending with a natural sweetness and some mint. I believe this is worth cellaring for several and up to ten years. I'd expect significant introduction of textures and exotic herbal sidelights. An interesting sipper now and would be great paired with prime rib, rack of lamb and mint sauce, a crockpot beef stew or italian hot sausage on a toasted bun. Priced right. 90-2

LA PISARA PRIMITIVO 2004 IGT SALENTO, Puglia, Italy, 14.0% D, #051656 $15.85 (Tasted January 5, 2008)  CS

A Vintages release on January 5, 2008 described as "Primitivo, Zinfandel's Italian alias, has an intriguing nose suggesting plum, hazelnut, fresh fig and blackberry. This version by La Pisara also has a fine tannin core that would suggest potential as a bargain cellar dweller (2-4 years). If you want to enjoy it tonight then pair it with a rare steak and mushrooms." Beppi gives it a thumbs up saying "... should appeal to lovers of Californian Zinfandel... full-bodied and ripe, with rich dark-skinned fruit flavours, chocolate and a hint of raisin...on a velvety frame." My notes: Let air for at least twenty minute for the oak ageing to mellow then lighter plum, blackberry and earthy oak aromas carry the day. A deep opaque ruby in the glass with long legs, an initial breath-taking tartness combined with fig-edged bright black cherry flavours, medium-bodied. The flavours and then a dry finish come across as subdued following such a bright intro and neither stays long. The chocolate isn't worth mentioning. A moderate sipper for lovers of european style reds - the process hides any distinct zinfandel to compare with California zins (see Truchard). Cellaring for up to four years may develop interesting highlights but I wouldn't invest in it. Have with anything beefy... or tomatoey, ie. pastas or cheese stuffed panzarottis. 85

  SEVEN OAKS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005, Paso Robles, USA, 13.5% XD, #656561 $19.95 (Tasted January 3, 2008)  CS

A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 described as "Year after year, this hearty Cab offers excellent value. Rich purple in colour it offers ripe cherry and black currant aromas. Dry, medium full-bodied, with medium tannins and a lengthy finish, this tasty Cab is an excellent match for roast beef or lamb." The website says "... one of the most intensely-colored Estates Cabernets we’ve produced during my [current winemaker] tenure. The wine color has a deep, bright, red-purple hue. An abundance of dark cherry and black currant fruit greets the nose, enhanced by spicy clove and toasty notes. On the palate, the fruit follows through with full weight and a lingering intensity and balance from the tannins. This wine is ready to be enjoyed now, or cellared for 5 years... " My notes: Let air twenty minutes... A deep ruby colour with a violet twist, faint aromas of plums and black cherries. Medium-bodied, with flavours of plums, red cherries and well balanced fine tannin and accomodating tartness - a silky sipper, not bold, not intrusive fruit, a moderate red. The finish is subdued fruit with a moderate dryness which should pair nicely with roasted or grilled beef, rack of lamb, bbq'd pork ribs. Cellaring for a few years should not be a problem just not beneficial, a drink-now. Not as full, bold, spicy or bright as the 2003 (see June 2006 tasting), more like the 2002. 86

SHIRAZ CABERNET NV, Niagara, Canada, 13.0% D, #016568 $9.95 (Tasted January 1, 2008)  CS

A General listing produced by Andres Wine Ltd. under the label Roundpetal Wines and described as "Medium ruby red colour; aromas of plum, blueberry jam with a hint of spice; It is soft and supple with a fruity finish. Serve with pasta, grilled meat." My notes: Sold also with a chocolate fondue set in Gift Pack #049528 @ $24.95. The XOXO website is about attracting a 'young' crowd, seeming to mean 'sensuous' crowd with Passionate Pairings and Grapelove as themes. The wine has a bright colour, a clear mid ruby and aromas that fail to create any impression, perhaps a faint plum. Light-bodied and flavours that are light raspberry/blueberry, balanced with a light acid and finishing with a touch of fruit, a slight licorice and metallic edge. I didn't get any shiraz nor cabernet context: body, side flavourings or spicy/herby notes, nor oak influences. This in spite of the website claim "Each one integrates fine varietals from great Canadian vineyards and around the world to create something truly special." and "A kiss of rich Cabernet complements a hug of bold Shiraz, intensifying the flavours and aromas of blackberry and blackcurrant". I found it an uninteresting sipper and difficult to envision it enhancing any meal - didn't do anything for a Sub Club. A blend of juices from whatever years and wherever vineyards - ie. not a VQA wine. A commercial beverage in a glitzy package. I would not have this in for friends or family. 72

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