Sunday, March 02, 2008

March Reds, 2008: 8 Tasted of 8

The following reds have been set aside for tasting this month. 'Taste along' if you want.... or wait for my biased view. Completed tastings are in bold. Cheers, Ww 

  • Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Carmenere 2005, (92-3) - V, Chile, #057513 $15.95
  • Tommasi Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2005, (88-1) - V, Italy, #910430 $19.95
  • Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2005, (87-1) - V, Italy, #479766 $21.80
  • Vina La Rosa 'La Capitana' Barrel Reserve Merlot 2006, (86-1) - V, Chile, #058297 $12.95
  • Anakena Single Vineyard Carmenere 2005, (84) - V, Chile, #059519 $12.95
  • Gray Monk Pinot Noir VQA Okanagan Valley 2006, (83) - V, Canada, #060491 $17.95
  • Wine By Joe Really Good Pinot Noir 2006, (81) - V, USA, #060467 $22.95
  • Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 70% Carmenere 30% 2006, (79) - V, Chile, #016071 $14.95
 (V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other)


CABERNET SAUVIGNON 70% CARMENÈRE 30% 2006, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #016071 $14.95 (Tasted March 16, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 15, 2008 described as "Montes was honoured by the Chilean Wineries Association as the inaugural recipient of their Winery of the Year Award in 2006 and it was also one of the International Winery of the Year winners selected by Wine & Spirits magazine in 2007. This blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Carmenère is sourced from the winery's 'La Finca' estate in the Apalta Valley, a sub-appellation of the Colchagua Valley. A fabulous value, this wine shows the best of both varieties with its blueberry, plum, blackberry and spice flavours. It's dry and mouthfilling with plush fruit flavour and a lengthy finish. Apalta Vineyard," My notes: For 'Winery of the Year' and a 'fabulous value' I expected more. A garnet ruby in colour with no perceptible nose and a flavour that almost matches: some oak and black cherry. Finishes warm with a fine tannin - tars as well as a light acid make an appearance. I did not get the Cab Sauv nor the Carmenere flavour contributions - maybe a 'For Export' label. An uninteresting sipper although no 'defects' of note. Have with any meaty or spicy entree or nibbles. Not enough there to cellar but you could try. 79

SINGLE VINEYARD CARMENÈRE 2005, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #059519 $12.95 (Tasted March 16, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 15, 2008 described as "This wine earned Gold Medals at both the Vinalies Internationales Paris and the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in 2007. It's dry, medium full-bodied with zesty, red-berry fruit, mint, earth and chocolate notes leading to a lingering finish. Smooth and ripe, enjoy it with grilled Italian sausages or pasta in tomato sauce." My notes: A rich blackberry colour and soft blackberry nose. Let air for thirty minutes for flavours to develop: blackberry toned with black cherries, fine tannin and slight tang - subdued in style. The finish starts with the flavour profile quite long and dry, some earth tones and tobacco along the way. A sociable sipper that would satisfy a house warming or pre-dinner conversation. Have with grilled chicken pieces marinated in soy and ginger or mushroom hors d'oeuvres. Medium-bodied and quite appropriate to pair with herby eggplant casserole, crock pot chili or porterhouse. Cellaring for up to four years could provide some interesting highlights. The price makes this an attractive house red and a reasonable investment but don't expect much. 84

REALLY GOOD PINOT NOIR 2006, Oregon, USA, 13.5% XD, #060467 $22.95 (Tasted March 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 1, 2008 described as "... Joe Dobbes, born in the Willamette Valley, has worked in the wine industry for over twenty years, training in Germany's Nahe region as well as Burgundy. He is a passionate advocate for Oregon wines and is obsessed with Pinot in all its hues: Gris, Blanc, and Noir. This is a stunning example... ". Toronto Life gives it 80/100 saying "It’s not “really good” at all—in fact, it’s just passable. This pinot noir is over-oaked, confected, hot and abrasive, with stemmy and synthetic character. Has some cherry-rhubarb fruit mindful of pinot and, yes, it has seen wood, but it is overpriced by about $10. Who is Joe and why is Vintages buying his wine?" My notes: A brilliant black cherry colour in a large bowl with delicate aroma of cherry skins. The first sip leaves a tang from the lips to the throat cleansing and leaving a light red cherry flavour. On the acidic side, bright carrying through the light flavouring now with a light oil on the lips. Interesting but not that appealing as a sipper - needs nibbles from pate to shaved italian meats or chicken wings. Should be OK with dark fowl, cloved ham slices, tuna steaks or cheddar melts. Fairly thin for cellaring so I wouldn't expect much return for a few years altho' if you have few to lay down it may help. It goes to show that calling a wine 'Really Good' - and marking it up in price - doesn't make it really good. 81

'LA CAPITANA' BARREL RESERVE MERLOT 2006, Cachapoal Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #058297 $12.95 (Tasted March 5, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 1, 2008 described as "This Merlot is blended with small amounts of Carmenère and Cab Sauv and is bursting with ripe red fruit, damson plum and dark chocolate aromas and flavours. It's dry, full-bodied and very smooth and has a medium finish. Always an exceptional value, serve this supple wine with roasted duck or veal chops." My notes: A floral aroma and a garnet ruby colour. The 10% carmenère noticeably spikes this merlot (85%) and the oak treatment adds a herby smoky edge. Airing for forty minutes softens enough for cautious sipping...should air two or more hours or cellar two years. A long bright finish of dark fruit and earthy spice. Better with hot sausage pieces, salami or knockwurst, or hot garlic breads. Pairing with slices of roast beef with flavourful gravy or bbq'd back ribs would be suitable. Fuller and much spicier than the 'nonReserve' 2004 Merlot tasted (#655209 delisted, $14.95) August, 2006 with the comment 'merlot with spirit'. Stock up only if cellaring. 86-1

GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #057513 $15.95 (Tasted March 3, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 1, 2008 described as "Viña Tarapacá's winemaker, Sergio Correa, has some interesting French connections. He was trained in the Médoc and was recently awarded a knighthood by the French Government's Order of Agricultural Merit. He is respected as a leader and motivator in the Chilean wine industry. This Carmenère offers notes of pepper, coffee, chocolate and vanilla. Warm up the coldest of March days with this well-balanced, spicy bottle of South American sizzle and sunshine." My notes: A purple hue to a deep ruby and aromas of currants, blackberries and warm smoke. Leaves long legs and a ruby hue on the glass, full-bodied with a peppery bite, a minty edge and flavours of blackberries, then a long finish ending on mint, dark fruit and dry tannins. A bold sipper with enough flavour nuances to keep interest with or without nibbles. Have with rack of lamb or T-bone, seared and grilled. Cellaring for four years or more should produce a bigger value. 92-3

Y MONK PINOT NOIR VQA OKANAGAN VALLEY 2006, BC, Canada, 11.7% D, #060491 $17.95 (Tasted March 2, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 1, 2008 described as "Gray Monk is B.C.'s most northerly commercial winery, but they source their Pinot Noir grapes from growers throughout the Okanagan Valley. This is a delicate, medium-bodied, dry wine with red berry and floral aromas... " The website says "Burgundy in colour, this wine has a fine aroma of blackberries and rose petals. There is a hint of raspberry in the flavour. Decanting this wine brings out the characteristic silky texture of Pinot Noir... " My notes: A deep red cherry colour with a nose of crushed red cherries and light spicy smoke. The first sip gives a nip before flavours of tart red cherries take over, light-bodied, finishing with a light flavouring and crushed cherry stones. A dry sipper with a rough edge. Perhaps cellaring would smooth the texture - two years minimum. Planked salmon, yes... something with natural oils or a marinade, spicy mussels or Buffalo wings. If not cellaring I'd take a pass on this vintage. (For the 2004 vintage, #251835 $17.95, see tasting August 27, 2006) 83

VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE RIPASSO 2005, Veneto, Italy 13.0% D, #910430 $19.95 (Tasted March 21, 2008)

A Vintages release on February 16, 2008 described as "... Expect rich plum fruit surrounded by sweet herbs and a hint of dark chocolate. This flavourful wine is an excellent match for braised ox tails, rich stews or pasta with meat sauce." My notes: This may have a tad violet in the hue otherwise a garnet ruby. The nose is light sweet cherry with a bit of raisin. As I have more Ripassos I get the impression the process sometimes makes up for a mediocre vintage or vineyard crop... but then why not if it's an improvement? Firm drying tannins and almond oak blends nicely with cherry and a few wild strawberries adding some tartness, very flavourful with a long cherry mint finish. An interesting sipper, medium-bodied and well balanced. Have with anything italian... as a before dinner dry red or with tomato pasta dishes: lasagna, raviola, pizza - the cheesier the better. A drink-now to be served anytime and with a few years cellaring left. 88-1

ZENATO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSA 2005, Veneto, Italy 13.5% D, #479766 $21.80 (Tasted March 20, 2008)

A Vintages release on October 13, 2007 described as "This flavourful favourite consistently delivers with its aromas of blackberry, raisins, and rich chocolate. The palate is dry with plenty of fruit flavours, hints of licorice, ripe tannins and even more chocolate. This well-crafted, yummy red has a lengthy, dry finish and would be a great match for risotto al gorgonzola, roast beef or pecorino cheese." The website says "... 6 months’ bottle-ageing, the result is a rounded, velvet-textured wine with rich, complex aromas of berries and an impressively lengthy finish that seems to linger forever. My notes: A soft smoky cherry and a cherry rimmed colour to match. Medium-bodied, lacking in a full 'ripasso' result but has a nicely balanced nip with a light cherry flavour, light velvet and tannins that leave a dry layer to a moderate finish - some cinnamon tints. Didn't get 'blackberries', 'raisins' nor 'chocolate'. An interesting sipper to have with shaved meats or mushroom caps, roasted chicken wings or sausage. Perfect with a cheesy meat lasagna or a red pasta dish: meaty ravioli in a spicy sauce. Cellaring for two more years wouldn't be out of the way. Overpriced tho'. 87

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