Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Mixed Bag: 10 Tasted of 10

Arctic Light
What do you do when nothing fits a category? You throw them in together - a mixed bag. Some bottles will be from April Vintages releases, others will be from the General shelves - some red, some white and some bubbly. Rather than follow local wine critics, a.k.a. wine merchants, all will be selected on a whim: the label or bottle looks elegant, 'Reserve' or 'Reserva' is in the title, a previous vintage was tasty - but no gimmicky names, ie. no animals, no play on words, nothing provocative. I'll target around ten wines or when the budget runs out, whichever comes first. Each will be between $12 and $20. If you have a suggested wine let me know. Completed tastings are in bold.
Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites and sparkles:
  • Torres Gran Coronas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2004,  91-2 -- V, Spain, #036483 $18.80
  • Stoneleigh 'Marlborough' Pinot Noir 2007, 90-2 -- G, Marlborough, NZ, #054353 $19.95
  • Casa Nueva Carmenère 2003, 86-1 -- O, Molina, Chile, CP152-2746 $13.08
  • Viña Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère Reserva 2005, 82 -- G, Maipo Valley, Chile, #439166 $16.85
  • McWilliams 'Hanwood Estate' Shiraz 2006, 81 -- G, South Eastern Australia, #610683 $14.20
  • Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2005, 81 -- G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #057133 $12.95
  • Viña William Fèvre Mision Carmenère Reserva 2006, 77 -- V, Chile, #059337 $12.95

  •  Mount Riley 'Nelson/Marlborough' Riesling 2005, 82 -- G, Marlborough, NZ, #024869 $14.65
  • Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc VQA Niagara Peninsula 2006, 81 - V, Canada, #686972 $15.95

  • Antech Limoux Crémant de Limoux Brut, Cuvée Expression 2005, 78 -- V, France, #068239 $17.95

(G - General, V - Vintage, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


MCWILLIAMS 'HANWOOD ESTATE' SHIRAZ 2006, South Eastern Australia, 13.5% D, #610683 $14.20 (Tasted April 20, 2008)

A General listing described as "Purple red colour; aromas of tobacco, plum and red currants; dry, medium bodied, with good balance and warm, spicy berry flavours. Serve with red meats and bbq fare." My notes: For a 'Canada only' wine this appears on the 'USA' part of the website. Needs a few hours to air then has a solid ruby colour with a violet hue and aromas or ripe plums and black cherries. The first sip comes with a firm mix of blackberries and currants framed with a tart nip and a black pepper tang. The finish is rounded with blackberries, a full smooth texture and touch of iodine. Too bold a sipper for me - the fruit and process together produces a full-bodied wallop of heavy flavours that should be reserved for an equally full flavoured steak or back ribs. Cellaring should be OK for several years - it would be interesting to track a few to see if there's any improvement. If you like bold and aggressive this is reasonably priced. (PS. The open bottle was smoother with some interesting flavourings by the 23rd April) 81

MIKE WEIR ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Canada, 11.8% XD, #686972 $15.95 (Retasted April 19, 2008)

My notes: This is a re-Release by Vintages the original being a year ago, April 14, 2007. Having sat for a year hasn't improved this delicate white. 100% sauvignon blanc from the Niagara Peninsula and suggested cellaring up to two years... this being the last and I'd say it's slightly overdue. Up a bit in price, this has a soft nose of gooseberries, pineapple and grass and a light golden colour. The flavours are of melon, slight lemon and grass starting a finish of mostly tangy fading melon and grass changing to straw. Medium-bodied, some roundness lacking the cream of a year ago, drier on the lips and, although nicely tangy, somewhat hollow sipping. Perhaps it's a comparison with the full style of NZ SBs. Have with pan-fried fish filets, scallops on skewers, tunafish wraps. A drink-now... but hurry. 81

Central Valley, Chile, 1
3.8% XD, #059337 $12.95 (Tasted April 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on April 12, 2008 described as "... [from] Chablis' own, William Fèvre is another wine icon who recognized Chile's potential to become a world player. In 1992, he established Viña William Fèvre with both French and Chilean partners. The Carmenère grape, originally from Bordeaux, is thriving in Chile. The country's warm, sunny valleys allow the grape to realize its full potential, making generous and complex wines like this one." My notes: The website gives the blend incorrectly - I'd guess there is some merlot with mostly young carmenère. The ruby colour is purple tinged and the aroma is a soft black cherry and blackberry mix not as prominent as expected of a chilean, perhaps softened by the blend component. Initially, has a nice balance of tannins and acid with some mild berries in the foreground. Several sips shows this to be unappealing - mildly spicy, with the fruit fading quickly leaving a damp sock finish. Not enough there to cellar. Have with light pork, a ham steak or turkey legs - surprisingly it didn't pair well with grilled lamb chops. 77

SANTA CAROLINA CARMENÈRE RESERVA 2005, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #057133 $12.95 (Tasted April 18, 2008)

A General listing. My notes: The supplier's website, Charton-Hobbs, website doesn't list this varietal as being available in Canada. A blend of 85% carmenère and 15% cabernet sauvignon gives both brightness and fullness: the texture of cabernet supporting the bright carmenère fruit. The colour is a deep ruby with a violet hue and the warm aromas of red cherry are restrained by a muted currant, herbs and smoky licorice. To the palate this is not elegant having some rough edges and an almost jammy sidelight suggestive of a hot vintage. The finish is moderate starting with a prominence of fruit and fading to an earthy licorice. This is a meal red to be paired with grilled meats, chili con carne, spicy to hot tapas or paella. Cellaring a short time may soften some of its rudeness hopefully without encouraging more licorice nor developing a sharpness. Priced right imho. 81

CASA NUEVA CARMENÈRE 2003, Molina, Chile, 13.5% XD, CP152-2746 $13.08 (Retasted April 18, 2008)

My notes: Cellared since March 2004 and last tasted in December, 2006 so thought this may give an idea of where carmenère could head after four years dormant. A comment last time was 'has turned out to be a super value.'. Opimian recommended this be drank within the first year... at that stage it was a fruit forward 'new world' red. Now I'd describe it as 'new' has met 'old', a more mature blending of process and fruit. The colour has some murkiness yet the colour is a true deep ruby. The nose is delicate taking time to develop in the glass and airing is recommended, then it gives a sombre black cherry and ripe blackberry blend. A softness lines the palate then black fruit fills the crannies leading to a velvet finish of mostly ripe black fruit with a long, silky, dry, light tar ending. Comes across as a full-bodied OK sipper and, for dyed-in-the-wool cabernet sauvignon drinkers, it would provide another serious flavour. Have with bbq'd ribs, roast rack of lamb, bacon wrapped filet mignon and portabello mushrooms. Cellaring longer isn't needed now but another year or two is still there. 86

VINA CARMEN CARMENERE CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #439166 $16.85 (Tasted April 21, 2008)

A General listing described as "Deep purple ruby colour with violet hue; intense nose of cassis, licorice, violets, smoky oak, green pepper and herbs with toasty notes; dry, full-bodied, with big, solid flavours as in nose, medium tannins and good length. Serve with leg of lamb, roast or grilled beef, burgers, or a firm, hearty cheese." My notes: A blend of 60% carmenere 40% cabernet sauvignon having a deep ruby with a violet tint and a mixed aroma of cherries, blackberries and licorice. Medium-bodied with a smoothness surrounded by pepper spice and fine tannins then finishing with woody red currants, dry and tangy. The fruit could be young as there is some stalkiness - perhaps crushing on the stems. An almost equal blending that could disappoint both sides since it's neither 'this nor that' but may reward the curious. I don't see this having cellaring potential - a drink-now. Have with grilled beef or a 'poor boy sandwich' - was OK with grilled pork roast redone as a vegetable stirfry with soya sauce. 82

ANTECH LIMOUX CUVÉE EXPRESSION CRÉMANT DE LIMOUX BRUT 2005, Western Languedoc, France, 12.0% XD, #068239 $17.95 (Tasted April 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on April 12, 2008 described as "This refreshing sparkling wine is made according to traditional methods using a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Mauzac (the traditional principal variety of Limoux in Languedoc). Limoux stakes its claim to being the 'original' sparkling wine region, even before Champagne! A particularly juicy fizz, which features apple, citrus, tropical fruit and a touch of toastiness, this rich Crémant de Limoux is made for freshly shucked oysters." My notes: A light golden colour with leesy aromas, a burst of large bubbles followed by a few streams and a full spritzy feel from the first sip. Finishes very tart, dry, slight creaminess, and flavours of delicate apple and minerals or clay. The 'Expression' label was not listed on the Antech Limoux website... perhaps only for export or new for 2005? The finish remains sharp, dry and full of minerals. I'm not into extra dry bubblies and, preferring something with at least a bit of fruit, this proportion (whatever it is) of chenin blanc and chardonnay doesn't do it for me. Should be good with fresh oysters or a cheesy omelet but I wouldn't choose it as a toasting bubbly. 78

024869 $14.65 (Tasted April 17, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale straw; aromas of lemon and peaches; light to medium-bodied with flavours of melon, pear and citrus. Serve with a summer salad." The website notes the colour as "pale lemon, the bouquet fragrant with floral, green apple, apricot and grapefruit notes and the palate full flavoured with rich fruit characters and refreshing citrus/mineral characters. An off-dry style with great balance and a full, long finish. Can be cellared to 2010." My notes: A light petrol, slight lees and lemon nose and a pale yellow colour, smooth on the first sip with a lemon zest flavour leading to a long, citrus zest finish, sweet but not overly - SC2 at most. The petrol doesn't stay for the finish which is a fresh, pale lemon, slight peach with a polite and dry nip. Good for a social crowd with mild canapes. Was good with cauliflower casserole and grilled telapia and should be with any seafood entree, asian or Thai. Cellaring for a few years may bring out more petrol. 82

STONELEIGH 'MARLBOROUGH' PINOT NOIR 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D, #054353 $19.95 (Tasted April 20, 2008)

A General listing.The website notes the aroma and palate as "a deep, ruby red hue. The bouquet is fragrant, with black cherry, raspberry and red plums overlaid with savoury toasty spice. The palate is ripe with dark, red berry fruit flavours. This wine is soft and supple with lingering fruit sweetness balanced by fine integrated tannins... for immediate enjoyment but will reward patient cellaring for up to five years." My notes: A dusty ruby with a strawberry hue and a fragrant aroma of dark plums and wild strawberries. A touch of silk and light natural acid blends with delicate strawberry and cranberry flavour with fine light tannin then finishing long, smooth, flavourful and bright. A medium-bodied sipper quite enjoyable as young as it is and having some longevity. Cellaring up to two years, initially, should bring out complexities from the grape and the winemaker's skill to retain freshness. Priced for potential although not a disappointing purchase as a drink-now. Have with rack of lamb, sliced turkey with lingonberries, prime rib au jus, or a mild cheese tray - was great with a bbq'd pork roast. 90

TORRES GRAN CORONAS CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2004, Penedès, Spain, 14.0% D, #036483 $18.80 (Tasted April 16, 2008)

From the Vintages Essentials Collection and a Vintages release on April 12, 2008 described as "This Latin lover has rich, alluring aromas of blackberry, currants, coffee, vanilla and bell pepper. It is medium-bodied with gentle fruit flavours and silky tannins. Try it with a meaty paella or roast pork tenderloin." My notes: A blend of 85% cabernet sauvignon and 15% tempranillo gives this a deep ruby colour with a violet tint, fairly light legs with no staining. The nose is of red- and blackcurrants with a slight earthiness, no prominant oak. Medium-bodied and a fresh brightness on the first sip, red currant fruit with a tangy edge - a silky mouthfeel on a long finish with fine tannins accumulating. A good balance between process and vineyard showing off the tempranillo brightness against a cabernet background. Could cellar this for a few years but drinking well now. Have with herby or spicy pasta or rice combinations, pepperoni pizzas or red and green pepper casseroles. 91

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April 2008 Reds: 16 Tasted of 16

Day of Rest
I thought the theme was to be 'Malbec' including blends but somewhere along the way I lost my focus. It has changed to 'Anything from the Cellar +'. This will be an opportunity to give previously cellared wines a 'number' as most were last tasted before ratings began (September, 07). As usual tastings are my own. Most of the wines are no longer available or not of the same vintage... prices shown are at time of purchase. Completed tastings are in bold. Cheers, Ww

  • Malivoire 'Moira Vineyard' Pinot Noir 2000 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 94-2 -- O, Canada, #730754* $35.95*
  • Clos de Los Siete par Michel Rolland 2005, 91-1 -- V, Argentina, #622571 $24.75
  • Sterling Vintner's Collection Merlot 2004, 90-2 -- +G, USA, #622837 $16.15
  • Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, 89-1 -- V, USA, #226944 $19.95
  • Sterling Vintner's Collection Merlot 2003, 89-2 -- G, USA, #622837 $15.40
  • De Bortoli 'dB' Shiraz 2004, 87-1 -- V, Australia, #595314 $12.95
  • Malivoire Old Vines Foch 2002 (Canadian Oak) VQA Ontario, 87 -- O, Canada, #Winery $25.00
  • Pasqua Sagramoso Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2005, 86 -- +G, Italy, #602342 $17.15
  • Calama Merlot Central Valley 2005,  85 -- G, Chile, #612440 $9.70
  • Kilikanoon 'Killerman's Run' Shiraz 2002, 84 -- V, Australia, #925453 $18.95
  • Trapiche Reserve Malbec 2006, 83 -- +G, Argentina, #614651 $12.05
  • Hacienda Araucano (J&F Lurton) Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, 82 -- V, Chile, #687681 $13.95
  • Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Rosso 2004, 81 -- G, Argentina, #620880 $14.95
  • Baron Philippe de Rothschild Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, 80 -- V, Chile, #032151 $14.95
  • Calama Merlot Central Valley 2006, 79 -- +G, Chile, #612440 $9.65
  • Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Rosso 2006, 76 -- +G, Argentina, #620880 $14.90
(V - Vintage, G - General, O - Other,  r-v - Rating-Value, + Recent purchase)


TRAPICHE RESERVE MALBEC 2006, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #614651 $12.05 (Tasted April 1, 2008)

A General listing described as "Deep ruby red colour; aromas of rich black cherry, spice and plum; dry, medium bodied, with ripe cherry fruit centre; good length. Serve with chili con carne, stews and grilled meats." My notes: The website doesn't show this label... perhaps an export product. A deep ruby with light legs on the glass but no staining, aromas of smoky black cherry, delicate but there. A silky sipper with bright flavours of cherry and faint mint, fine tannin and slight tartness - reasonably bold but not overly so. The long finish carries the brightness and cherry flavour to the end. Doesn't have the texture and depth of a higher priced malbec... but it's only $12. Pair with anything beefy, grilled, bbq'd, smoked or stewed. Have with french onion or a tomato and black bean soup. An economical house red... 83

MASI TUPUNGATO PASSO DOBLE ROSSO 2004, Argentina, 13.5% D, #620880 $14.95 (Retasted April 3, 2008)

My notes: Originally purchased in September, 2005 this has kept its price lately - numbers of the latest vintage are limited, locally at least, on the General shelves. Previously tasted was the 2003 vintage, a "lip-licking value", and before that the 2000 released by Vintages (Feb 7, 2004). Masi double ferments the Argentean malbec with a touch of merlot and Veneto's corvina grape which has been mat dried (20 days), in Spanish the process is 'semiappassita'. The label on the bottle refers to this blending as "Argentinean Soul, Venetian Style" Noted in the last tasting (August 29, 2006) cellaring had "mellowed the nose and subdued the earthy tones... there was no bite, no pepper, just an invitation to sip" and is true in this tasting. This has a deep ruby colour with almost no nose, perhaps a faint cherry, flavours of a mild black cherry with a mild licorice or tar - medium-bodied and an appealing texture. The finish is long, bright, lightly cherried and has a fine chalky tannin not at all demanding. A cordial sipper. This vintage is still pleasant even as a meal red with light tomato pastas, pork chops, grilled pork ribs or veal. Use up if you have some. 81

MASI TUPUNGATO PASSO DOBLE ROSSO 2006, Argentina, 13.5% D, #620880 $14.90 (Tasted April 4, 2008)

A General listing which the website notes as "Deep red colour with dark violet edges. Fragrant and complex on the nose with ripe red fruit aromas. Up-front and powerful on the palate with hints of spice and mown grass opening out into flavours of ripe plums and cooked cherries. Long finish with tinges of sweet liquorice." My notes: The colour is a deep ruby as in previous vintages and the aroma is a soft red cherry with sundried raisins and dry hay. Medium-bodied, the flavours are of tart cherries with equal parts mint, light pepper and dry chalk leading to a moderate finish with the fruit fading quickly leaving a stemmy dryness. Doesn't have the body or texture of previous vintages. Not a sipper and nothing to cellar - have with beef patties or pepperoni pizzas. 76

CLOS DE LOS SIETE par MICHEL ROLLAND 2005, Mendoza, Argentina, 15.0% XD, #622571 $24.75 (Retasted April 26, 2008)

My notes: The 2004, released August 2006 at the same price, was a huge red well worth cellaring. This vintage was released on December 8th of last year. Toronto Life gave it 89/100 saying "... a full, black, youthful red based on malbec with some cabernet. A deep, brooding wine with ripe blackberry-plum, licorice and charred wood notes. Full bodied, dense, with some elegance, before heat and tannin grip the finish. Very good length. Best to drink from 2010 through 2015." A blend of malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah with a nose that is now soft, deep, full and reserved - it doesn't smatter you with fresh fruit but a lot of warmth. The colour is a purple tinged ruby, full-bodied and flavours full of earthy ripe black fruit that leave an interesting velvet mushroom and licorice tang on the palate. A serious sipper meant to spend time with and one you either enjoy or don't, no in between. Pair with anything savoury and saucy: prime rib au jus, beef bourguignon, lamb shanks and leaks. Still quite a few years cellaring left in this vintage. 91

KILIKANOON 'KILLERMAN'S RUN' SHIRAZ 2002, South Australia, 14.5% XD, #925453(D) $18.95 (Retasted April 24, 2008)

In October, 2004 Robert Parker Jr. gave it 90/100 saying "It is a dense, full-throttle, big, chewy, peppery, black fruit-dominated Shiraz offering sweet tannin, an attractive plushness, and an up-front style designed for consumption over the next 2-4 years. My notes: A Vintages release April 15, 2006 and I last tasted April 18, 2006. Now six years from vintage this has a soft aroma of black cherries and spice and a violet tinged ruby colour. The acids have mellowed somewhat but still give a good tang on the first sip, full of blackberries, sweet tannin and with a peppery blackberry follow through. A strong fruitiness takes over the palate which may interfere with its pairing with anything but full flavoured steaks, bbq'd ribs, chili con carne or a pepperoni and four cheese pizza. A bold, warm sipper if you like berry cordials but not if you prefer an elegant syrah. 84

DE BORTOLI 'dB' SHIRAZ 2004, SouthEastern, Australia, 13.5% XD, #595314 $12.95 (Retasted April 24, 2008)

My notes: This was released by Vintages January 7, 2006 and tasted the same day with the comment 'missed the mark for me'. The recommended cellaring time was two years - now going into the fourth. The colour is ruby with a violet hue and long legs. A blackcurrant, plum and cedar note blends with aromas of chocolate and slight licorice. Flavours of blueberry and chocolate glide on velvet with a natural tartness balancing very fine tannins. Finishes smooth, long, blueberryish with a tinge of bright mint. The fruit has won out over process making this a delightful shiraz sipper, the pepper being a polite part rather than taking over. There has definitely been a benefit in cellaring but it's now time to drink up. A unique nuttiness to partner lamb chunks in a flavourful sauce with mashed potatoes and lentils. 87

MALIVOIRE OLD VINES FOCH 2002 (Canadian Oak) VQA ONTARIO, Beamsville, Canada, 12.5%, XD #Winery $25.00 (Retasted April 2, 2008)

My notes: This is the fourth tasting since purchased from the winery in November, 2003. Ann Sperling, since moved on, was the winemaker at the time. The last tasting was April 18, 2007 before a rating system was used and with the comment "Cellaring has been worth the wait (but you gotta tolerate Foch)... " Foch is no longer listed on the Malivoire website and is an 'acquired taste' one that I don't have - but I'll try to be objective. This has a deep purple tint with a nose of crushed hazelnuts and ripe smoky berries. The first sip carries with it ripe berries with a soft nip and dry tannins... there seems to be a carry over of hazelnuts that airs out after two hours leaving a medium-bodied red, somewhat hollow in texture that is Foch. Once 'acquired' this can be a pleasing sipper... better paired with bbq'd sausage pieces or with back ribs or wings coated with a honey, soy and garlic sauce (also see Carrie™'s comment). A well made Foch imho. 87

MALIVOIRE 'MOIRA VINEYARD' PINOT NOIR 2000 VQA NIAGARA PENINSULA, Beamsville, Canada, 13.5% XD, #730754* $35.95* (Retasted April 2, 2008)

My notes: Cellared in December, 2001 and last tasted on November 6, 2006 with the comment "... an interesting savoury 'cherry coke' flavour but without the sweetness - a european red... " The *2005 Moira is priced at $43.00 (incl. deposit). This is the last bottle cellared so here goes... ! This has a rich deep mahogany colour with long legs and no staining, aromas of byng cherries wrapped in luxuriant leather, with a vanilla tinge and slightly smoky. Medium-bodied, satin smooth tasting of ripe fruit with fine tannins and a subtle nip. The finish is fairly light at first building into a crescendo of flavours, enormously tasty. The 'cherry coke' has evolved into an integrated blend of fruit and french oak influences - the type of red to savour before, during and after a prime rib or beef bourguignon. Still cellarable. 94

BARON PHILLIPPE DE ROTHSCHILD RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #032151 $14.95 (Retasted April 14, 2008)

My notes: Released by Vintages and last tasted in August, 2007 this is a very deep purple ruby almost opaque and aromas are smoky blackberry, ripe and rich but subtle. The 'Maipo Valley' label was not found on the Baron Philippe de Rothschild website. I'd suggest decanting or letting air a few hours before serving... although the fruit is more subdued it's no longer a 'mellow cab'. I now found it full-bodied with licorice, sour cherry and almost-ripe blackberry on the first sip suggesting the year cellared gave this a steroid shot. The first impression settles down marginally with each sip although staying very aggressive with high alcohol and a strong process influence. Finishes long, dry, sharp, silky, full blackberry with a currant or two present. Nothing would be lost in cellaring a few more years to see some of the original 'mellowness' will return - don't think so. Now it's definitely a red for spicy and full flavoured entrees: grilled backribs, charcoal broiled T-bone, Texas chili, etc. 80

CALAMA MERLOT CENTRAL VALLEY 2005, Central Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #612440 $9.70 (Retasted April 5, 2008)

My notes: Last tasted on May 18, 2007 when it was 'a super sipper' with 'lots of chocolate, some coffee, some brightness as if more than a red cherry or two were in the blend'. For a $10 wine and altho' it's only been a year this has kept well, the colour being a rich ruby with a violet tone. The blending of 15% carmenere with merlot adds a bright pepper appeal on a nose of mostly berries. Medium-bodied, some coffee and chocolate remain with full flavours like an earthy, berry compote. The finish is long, smooth and flavourful ending on a berry tone. Uncorking for an hour, as recommended, gives the bottle time to breathe relieving some oakiness. For a sipper this is a bold dry merlot and a reasonable sociable house red for rich and flavourful recipes: braised ribs, beef stews, grilled T-bones for instance. Cellaring for another year could prove interesting unless a preference is for fresh fruit. The Calama website doesn't appear to be active yet it is featured on other Chile promotional sites. 85

CALAMA MERLOT CENTRAL VALLEY 2006, Chile, 14.0% D, #612440 $9.65 (Tasted April 7, 2008)

A General listing described as "Dark medium ruby/purple red; aromas of black plum, bell pepper, earth, licorice and sweet cherry; dry, medium to full bodied, with mocha, ripe blackcherry, raspberry fruit flavours, fine tannins and good length. Serve with braised flank steak, tacos or on its own as a backyard wine." My notes: A thinner version of the previous vintage with a pinkish hue to the deep ruby colour and aromas more of a smoky cherry. Medium-bodied with flavours of red cherry and raspberry with milk chocolate in the background, fine tannin and nicely balanced acids. The finish has a cherry stone dryness. A drink-now... I don't think there's enough there for cellaring. My 'backyard' would have the bbq going for this red - a nibbles or meal red and OK if no one is expected. 79

HACIENDA ARAUCANO (J&F LURTON) RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005, Central Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #687681 $13.95 (Retasted April 14, 2008)

My notes: Vintages released this last year, August 18th. Has retained the same deep ruby colour with aromas that take time to develop in the glass: blackberry, ripe black cherry, a whiff of warm chocolate and vanilla. Shows long legs with no staining and the 'pepper and mint' of the previous tasting has changed to a natural berry edge. Bright on the first sip, medium-bodied with smooth flavours of blackberry and red cherry balanced with fine tannins - slight tartness. The finish is fairly short with interesting inferences of red cherries and a mild spice. The flavour has lightened since cellaring and likely wouldn't improve if left another year - drink up!. The soft texture and flavours make this a social sipper - appealing, not bold. Have with prime rib or mild meat dishes. 82

PASQUA SAGRAMOSO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSO 2005, Verona, Italy, 13.5% D, #602342 $17.15 (Tasted April 5, 2008)

A General listing described as "Bright medium-deep ruby red; aromas of sweet dried fruits, oregano, ripe black cherry, damson plum and date; dry, med-full bodied, rich and ripe, balanced acidity, smooth velvety texture, with flavours of fig, cherry fruit, plum and chocolate notes. Serve with Italian sausage; hard cheeses such as Asiago; grilled veal or beef." My notes: I previously tasted and enjoyed the 2002 (June, 2005) and 2001 (May, 2005) vintages. Corvina (60%), rondinella (20%), corvinone (10%) and negrara (10%) are blended for this Valpolicella and double fermentation with dried skins adds body, flavour and texture that compliments spicy italian recipes. This is a deep ruby colour with a charcoal cast, aromas of red cherries, white pepper and sweet licorice. The first sip brings a brightness to the palate with red cherries and mint then finishes long, fruity, dry, herby and tobacco in that order. A lighter medium-bodied red that is easily quaffed and a perfect companion for chorizo sausage in a herby tomato sauce, deluxe pizza slices or rich cheesy lasagnas. Not for cellaring, a drink-now. 86

STERLING VINTNER'S COLLECTION MERLOT 2003, Central Coast, California, 13.5% D, #622837 $15.40 (Retasted April 9, 2008)

My notes: Last tasted July 5, 2005. The colour is a deep ruby with a violet tone and soft aromas of ripe blackberry and whiff of bright black currant. Medium-bodied with long legs and no staining on glass, flavours of blackberry and licorice are framed by a fine tannin and delicate pepper spices. Finishes nicely flavoured on the palate with a dry metallic ending. An interesting merlot sipper, not quite bold but smoothly assertive... would be a good accompaniment with liver pate and crackers, a cheddar and jalapenos taco tray or with a full flavoured stew, T-bone or back ribs. No reason not to continue cellaring - could develop more complexity. 89

STERLING VINTNER'S COLLECTION MERLOT 2004, Central Coast, California, 13.5% D, #622837 $16.15 (Tasted April 10, 2008)

A General listing. The back label describes this as "fresh, bright fruit forward... soft yet full-bodied merlot offers distinct berry aromas with smooth, rich flavours." My notes: A slightly softer version of the 2003 with a pleasant violet tone in the glass and warm aromas of blackberry and currant. Velvety on the first sip followed by lots of fruit, a berry tartness, fine tannins and slight oil on the lips. The finish is long with warm ripe, blackcurrant - no metal. Not as assertive as 2003 although the combination of textures and flavours when sipping carry a lot of interest. Have with flavourful hors d'oeuvres or with black bean, french onion soup or a rich vegetable stew, and grilled meat entrees - or just sip. A reasonable value and one that could return a mellower, well integrated merlot in two to five years. 90

RODNEY STRONG SONOMA COUNTY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, California, USA, 13.8% XD, #226944* $19.95 (Retasted April 11, 2008)

My notes: Vintages released this vintage on December 9, 2006 and I last tasted in November of 2007 rating it Ww88. The nose is still a warm cedar and has a noticeable dry herb and ripe dark berry blending with a distant oak. The colour is a deep ruby and the first sip brings a sharpness and depth of texture making this a bold sipper. Some mint and dryness gives the long fruity finish a distinct freshness. It's tangier than when first tasted in 2006 but not as much as a year ago and could benefit more if cellared a few more years. An excellent meal red - have with rack of lamb or anything grilled and beefy. *Listed but not available. 89

April Whites 2008: 15 Tasted of 15

A lazy stream, Fall '65
The theme is 'Pinot Gris/Grigio' priced between $12 and $18, with the exception of Citra ($7.60) and Botter ($8.85/750mL). Tastings are my own and are just opinions, after all 'tastes' vary person to person, region to region and country to country. The following wines have been set aside for this month. We'll see if Italian PGs are 'light and dry' versus the New World 'fuller and fruitier' and there's a few 'Alsatians' in the mix. Taste along if you wish.... I'd be interested in your comments. Completed tastings are in bold. Cheers, Ww (V - Vintage, G - General, O - Other)
  • Grove Mill Pinot Gris 2007, 92-3 - V, NZ, #001693 $16.95
  • Maculan Pinot Grigio 2007, 88-2 - V, Italy, #734921 $13.95
  • Domaine Allimant-Laugner Pinot Gris 2006, 86 - V, France, #061317 $16.85
  • Francis Ford Coppola Presents Bianco Pinot Grigio 2006, 86 - G, USA, #056424 $14.95
  • Albino Armani Pinot Grigio 2006, 85 - V, Italy, #063032 $16.95
  • Collavini Villa Canlungo Pinot Grigio 2006, 85 - G, Italy, #033340 $14.05
  • Santi Sortelese Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio 2006, Ww85 - G, Italy, #637603 $12.95
  • Santa Margherita Valdadige Pinot Grigio 2006, Ww85 - V, Italy, #106450 $16.95
  • Flat Roof Manor Pinot Grigio 2007, Ww84 - G, S. Africa, #027128 $11.80
  • Tommasi Viticoltori 'Vigneto Le Rosse' Pinot Grigio 2007, Ww83 - V, Italy, #910497 $17.95
  • Leon Beyer Pinot Gris 2005, 82 - G, France, #165241 $16.25
  • Eastdell Estates Pinot Grigio 2006 VQA Ontario, 77 - G, Ontario, #065367 $12.95
  • Colio Estates Pinot Grigio 2006 VQA Ontario, 77 - G, Ontario, #503391 $14.85
  • Citra Pinot Grigio Osco 2007, 76 - G, Italy, #017483 $7.60
  • Botter Anna Pinot Grigio Chardonnay 2006, 74 - G, Italy, 1000mL #613620 $11.85


Venezie, Italy, 12.0% XD, #910497 $17.95 (Tasted April 16, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 29, 2008 described as "Tommasi is one of Veneto's finest producers. They put their stamp on Pinot Grigio by creating an impactful, flavourful version that is excellent for sipping or serving with dishes such as pan-seared sea scallops." My notes: A $3 increase since tasting the 2005 vintage on October 12, 2006 with the comment "A pleasant pinot grigio sipper, not as spicy as some... Good value." I swear I see a peachy glint in the colour which is unusual for an Italian PG. The nose is mostly of citrus and honeysuckle, nothing aromatic though. The flavours are a light citrus and apricot with a tang and body is on the light side of medium. Somewhere between quaffing and sipping is likely although the finish warms up after a few tastes and leaves a rounded blend of flavours behind. Have with creamy linguine dishes, a seafood pasta in a light mushroom sauce, broiled chicken breasts or pork chops again in a mushroom sauce. Although nice I'd settle for a different pinot grigio at the price. 83

ALBINO ARMANI PINOT GRIGIO 2006, Valdadige, Italy, 12.5% XD, #063032 $16.95 (Tasted April 21, 20

A Vintages release on March 15, 2008 described as "In order to retain the bright, crisp fruitiness of this wine, Albino Armani matures this Pinot Grigio strictly in stainless steel tanks. The aromas suggest spring flowers and ripe peas. The palate sees a replay of these aromas coupled with a lovely racy acidity." My notes: A pale yellow with aromas of floral, spice and faint wild honey - let go offchill, say to 12C, for the full nose and followon flavours, a definite cream balanced with a tangy delicate pear. Has a savoury mineral finish needing a finger food or entree and is crisp enough for seafood appetizers or italian shaved meats on crusty buns.. Creamy pastas could pair nicely with the traditional dry textures. Drink-now up to a year. 85

COLLAVINI VILLA CANLUNGO PINOT GRIGIO 2006, Corno Rosazzo, Italy, 12.5% D, #033340 $14.05 (Tasted April 1, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; citrus, light mineral and melon aromas with herbal notes; light-bodied with citrus, green apple flavours with good acidity. Serve with pasta in cream sauce; risotto; or as an aperitif." My notes: Corno Rosazzo is in Italy's most northeastern edge in Fruili where the vineyards enjoy the cool breezes of the Adriatic. Has a delicate floral peach nose, a pleasing light gold with a faint peach tone and crisp flavours balanced between ripe melon and green apple including a tart seam. The long finish has a citrus zest refreshing to the palate, drying with a just perceptible sweetness. An economical meal white to have with any seafood - went well with chicken thighs in a tomato sauce... try as an aperitif with fresh shellfish or crab cakes. I don't see this as cellarable - drink now up to a year while it's fresh. 85

MACULAN PINOT GRIGIO 2007, Breganze (Veneto), Italy, 12.0% XD, #734921 $13.95 (Tasted April 5, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 29, 2008 described as "... This Pinot Grigio works perfectly with flavourful fish dishes or pasta with a simple sauce and a few slivers of black truffle or a drizzle of truffle oil. A reliable and fresh pinot grigio that grabs your attention with some fruity freshness and a hint of mineral complexity. Combination of apple, pear and flinty/mineral lift. Dry with citrusy fruit streaked with mineral and just a hint of dried herbs. Clean and fresh with good acidity and some fruit depth for the money... " My notes: Fausto Maculan was the driving force behind Breganze being its own DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) located northwest of Venezia on the Adriatic and halfway to Trentino. A golden colour with nose of honey and lemon, refreshing but not sharp, and flavours of a honeyed citrus zest, a combination of creamy and tart that becomes luscious in a long fresh finish. A medium-bodied, daring sipper better with fresh oysters or rich hors d'oeuvres. Pair with any seafood dish, creamy shellfish pasta or japanese bento box of tempura shrimp and zucchini pieces. An extra dry drink-now and preferable to the 2006 vintage. 88

SANTI SORTESELE DELLE VENEZIE PINOT GRIGIO 2006, Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy, 13.0% D, #637603 $12.95 (Tasted April 13, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; apple, pear and lemon aromas and flavours; dry palate with a creamy texture, light to medium bodied with a spicy finish. Serve with shellfish, creamy pasta dishes or as a patio sipper." KDWines notes " With a pale straw color and delicate green tints, the wine has full and complex aromas of pears, exotic fruits and wild flowers. On the palate, the wine has generous, soft but lively fruit with firm flavors, good acidity and a long finish. The wine has fine structure, captivating to the nose and very satisfying on the palate. Match with sushi, shellfish, fish, chicken, BBQ, Asian cuisine, Antipasto." My notes: A mid golden colour and fragrant wild floral, pear and slight honey aromas. A lightish medium-body with flavours of tart apple and mild lemon, dry with the mild lemon finishing fresh on the palate with a light spice - didn't get the 'creamy texture'. A meal white to have with raw oysters or mussels in a cream sauce, pair with other seafood dishes, creamy chicken pastas or halibut and chips (hold the catsup). Drink while young and fresh. 85

BOTTER ANNA PINOT GRIGIO CHARDONNAY 2006, Veneto, Italy, 12.0% D, 1000mL #613620 $11.85 (Tasted April 19, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; slightly floral nose with notes of citrus, melon and almond paste; dry, light to medium bodied, soft and flavourful. Serve with seared fish, bbq shrimp and veggie dishes." Beppi Crosariol (July 2006) includes the Botter Tetras in his column 'At Last, Tetra Pak wines worth drinking' describing the PG/C as "fruity and fresh, light-medium bodied, hinting at honeydew and citrus flavours, with brilliantly crisp acidity. It's a terrific, summer-styled white and better than many pinot grigios costing several dollars more." and was still flogging it in his column April 19, 2008. On the other hand, Billy Munnelly calls it "Kressman in disguise." My notes: A green gold Tetra package for light toting and from grapes that are organically grown. Has a light golden colour with light floral scents and a dull herb. Drink chilled as the fruit disappears quickly leaving a pithy lemon flavour with a lasting pithy tang. The highlight of the finish is the tang - I found it an increasingly uninteresting sipper (Kressman actually looks favourable). Add to a fruity sangria for the alcohol content. I'm surprised any 'critic' would give this column space. 74

SANTA MARGHERITA VALDADIGE PINOT GRIGIO 2006, Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy, 12.0% D, #106450 $16.95 (Tasted April 29, 2008)

A Vintages release described as "Santa Margherita was the first to make Pinot Grigio as a purely white wine by ensuring that no pigment from the grape's light pink skin coloured the juice. Pale straw colour with aromas of fresh green apple, and peach that replay on the crisp, dry palate. Our number one selling white wine makes an excellent aperitif, or serve it with antipasto or gnocchi." My notes: A pale blond colour, crystal clean with aromas the delicate spice of wild flowers. The taste has a crisp nip and lightly sweetened pear and apple flavours finishing round, dry and grassy on the tongue. Have with fresh oysters, shaved italian meats on crusty breads or with creamy or tomato pastas. A drink-now. 85

CITRA PINOT GRIGIO OSCO 2007, Abruzzi, Italy, 13.0% D, #017483 $7.60 (Tasted April 8, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale yellow with green hue; aromas of lemon & lime; crisp & clean with lemon tones. Serve with brie cheese or lemon zest shrimp." My notes: Almost a clear white in colour and soft citrus and honey aromas, a nice nip on the first swallow, a little flat on the finish although leaving a bright citrus tang and faint lemon flavour similar to a vinho verde. A light-bodied dry white refreshing enough for most fish entrees or creamy mushroom pasta dishes. Worth the $8 as a spontaneous white not for guests but a quaffer for a quick meal or with nibbles. 76

FLAT ROOF MANOR PINOT GRIGIO 2007, South Africa, 12.5% D, #027128 $11.80 (Tasted April 5, 2008)

A General listing and made by Estelle Lourens from Stellenbosch grapes. Their website notes "A pale yellow with a hint of green. A bouquet of dried peach and apricot as well as a hint of litchi. On the palate an emphasis on peaches." My notes: Serve chilled or off chill for green apple and floral aromas.. a light pinot grigio in colour - didn't get the 'green' - and in flavour which leaves a fruity tart apple as a start to a not quite flat, quince and straw finish. An everyday economical aperitif or meal white for anything from delicate seafood to spicy Thai. A drink-now. 84

EASTDELL ESTATES PINOT GRIGIO 2006 VQA ONTARIO, Niagara Peninsula, Canada, 10.5% D, #065367 $12.95 (Tasted April 13, 2008)

A General listing the label describes as "A light-flavoured, crisp white, ... excellent with a variety of hors d'oeuvres... ". My notes: The 'VQA' indicates grapes could be from anywhere in Ontario. A deep gold with a peachy hue and soft floral violet nose with melon sidelights. Medium-bodied, a slight chalkiness carrying mild apple flavours then finishing soft almost flat and dry on the palate. Without sufficient nipping power - perhaps the low alcohol - or flavours this is limited as an accompaniment to low fat dishes: mild hors d'oeuvres , a mild bouillabaisse, cold chicken breast on greens, a mushroom soup perhaps. More of a quaffer with a lime or lemon wedge in the summer - not for cellaring. 77

COLIO ESTATES PINOT GRIGIO 2006 VQA ONTARIO, Harrow, Ontario, 12.3% D, #503391 $14.85 (Tasted April 9, 2008)

A General listing described as "Bright, pale yellow colour; delicate mineral and fresh fruit aromas with pear, melon and apple fruit notes; dry, med. bodied, with flavours of juicy pear, apple, red grapefruit and mineral. Enjoy with white meats, such as baked chicken with apple/pear glaze, apricot stuffed pork loin, Asian cuisine, fish kebabs, or simply on its own." The label notes "Subtle pear and citrus fruit bouquet followe by pear, melon and mineral undertones in the taste..." My notes: The winery is in Harrow on the north shore of Lake Erie however the 'VQA' indicates grapes could be from anywhere in Ontario. Contains 11% riesling and 89% pinot grigio which alters the flavours and aroma somewhat... a tad leesy in the nose overwhelming the faint honey citrus and the flavour as well which tends to be a faint melon and citrus including a light tang and leesy hangover. Somewhat uninteresting and more of a meal white than a social sipper. The finish falls away with not enough texture, acid or flavour to hold attention. Have with light cheese snacks or creamy pasta dishes. Didn't survive a mild ground beef cheesy macaroni casserole. A drink-now. 77

DOMAINE ALLIMANT-LAUGNER PINOT GRIS 2006, Alsace, France, 12.5% SC3, #061317 $16.85 (Tasted April 12, 2008)

A Vintages release on February 2, 2008 described as "The small Domaine Allimant-Laugner property produces world-beater wines with a variety of grapes, including this fine Pinot Gris. Recognized for their intensity of flavour and superb balance, Allimant-Laugner has a reputation as a winemaker's winemaker. Enjoy this Pinot Gris with rich fish or seafood dishes." My notes: A brief outline of the 2006 Pinot Gris is found on their eboutique website. The colour is a light golden with fragrances of honey and pear. Full, smooth with both sweet and tart fruit evenly matched along with a light mineral flavour on the first sip. The flavours fade quickly leaving the smoothness of sugar and a slightly tart mineral edge. A sociable sipper on the sweet side... have with appetizers such as avocado and chicken or tuna salad cocktail sandwiches, ham salad dip and celery sticks, a mixed nut and cheese tray - or pair with cold chicken, sushi or chinese. Could cellar two to five years - try after the second year, should have a honeyed texture by then. 86

LEON BEYER PINOT GRIS 2005, Alsace, France, 13.5% D, #165241 $16.25 (Tasted April 2, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale straw yellow colour; ripe pear and melon fruit with light peach and smoky tones; medium-to full-bodied with intense spicy flavours; citrus and mineral on the finish. Serve with wild mushroom quiche, shellfish, cream sauced lighter meat dishes." Toronto Life gives it an 86/100 saying "Formerly called Tokay Pinot Gris; the word “tokay” has been banned from Alsace labels over confusion with the Hungarian wine region. A traditional dry, brisk, yet quite rich, maturing white, with musk, apricot, honey and almond. Some creamy opulence with a dry salt and pepper and grapefruit finish." My notes: A pale straw colour with a soft aroma of apricots and almonds. At 12C the flavour is a blend of Bosc pear and white pith of grapefruit, medium-bodied with some roundness in the texture. Finishes with a moderate duration of the white grapefruit pith. This bottle may have sat too long in warehouse as the fresh fruitiness and tang anticipated has 'left the building'. Although this bottle won't go to waste I'd skip any additional - not cellarable. 82

FRANCIS COPPOLA PRESENTS BIANCO PINOT GRIGIO 2006, California, USA, 13.0% D, #056424 $14.95 (Tasted April 3, 2008)

A General listing and a wine by Niebaum-Coppola. The WineBuyer gives the blend as 89% pinot grigio, 6% sauvignon blanc and 5% chardonnay. Vibrant and full of verve, Bianco Pinot Grigio is perfect for any occasion. It has intense floral aromas that mingle with cool melon and tropical fruit, and a light crisp mouthfeel, which is complemented by fresh peach, ripe pear, and pink grapefruit flavors." My notes: Serve well chilled. Has a blond colour and aromas of melon, lemon and wild clover - a tad fuller, from the chardonnay perhaps, with off-dry flavours of 'tropical' melon finishing long and dry with a moderate tang on the tongue. An interesting sipper - possibly from the sauvignon blanc adding to taste and fragrance - with a tangy grigio finish that begs an hors d'oeuvre: mushroom spread on crisps, bacon and scallop pieces, anchovies broiled on pita pieces or everyday broccoli and sour cream dip. Would go nicely with most seafoods or white fowl and would have 'universal' appeal as a social white. Cellaring a year OK - might go grassy if longer. 86

GROVE MILL PINOT GRIS 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% SC3, #001693 $16.95 (Tasted April 8, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 29, 2008 described as "Grove Mill is a key pioneer of Pinot Gris in Marlborough ... The 2005 vintage, partly French oak-fermented, is outstanding. Light straw, it is a distinctly Alsace-like wine, mouthfilling..., with peachy, citrusy, slightly spicy and honeyed flavours, beautifully ripe, rich and rounded." Labels on the bottle indicate this is a 'Carb Zero' and 'Sustainable' product. My notes: The price has come down $3 since tasting the 2005 vintage on October 16, 2006 with the comment "... it is 'beautifully ripe, rich and rounded'... A wonderful off-dry sipper...". The 2007 vintage is decidely peachy gold in the glass not too deep to be crass just delicate. A honey melon and apricot aroma with a luscious texture and fruity sweetness framing hay, apricot, pear and a slight raisin. The finish is lengthy with honey coated pear. An excellent off-dry sipper for that special social as the tart seam balances the sugar nicely. Have with sushi, Thai, Chinese or with seafood appetizers. Cellaring should turn colour and texture into a firmer profile of the grape without spoiling the fruit - I'd guess two years. 92

Hamilton Food&DrinkFest 2008

The Hamilton Food&DrinkFest was a good opportunity to sample cuisine and cocktails from Hamilton environs and wines and beers from southern Ontario. I showed up on Sunday, the last day (Mar30th), at 2pm and Happy Hour was well underway when I was leaving at 4pm. Music seemed non-stop as well as aromas of herb and spice combined with seared meats and syruped pancakes. Yes, it was crowded but with everyone convivially meandering with no rush to an appointment. Almost like a 'block party'. For a late lunch I had fired telapia from The Saucy Diner and a slice of pecan pie from Dyments Farm Market. Between nibbles visits to several winery booths kept my sample glass flowing:
  • Coyote Run Black Paw Pinot Noir 2006 VQA, (85) - St. David's, #Winery $36.00
  • Reif Estate Pinot Noir 2006 VQA Ontario, (81) - Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, #TBA $14.95
  • Strewn 'Terroir' Chardonnay 2006 VQA North Lakeshore, (85) - Canada, #012773 $20.15
  • Concho y Toro Trio Sauvignon Blanc 2007, (82) - Casablanca, Chile, #433920 $14.85
  • Beringer Founder's Estate Pinot Gris 2006, (82) - California, USA, #045641 $17.95 
  • Silver Leaf Chardonnay PET, (73) - South Australia, #064873 1000mL, $14.95
  • Colio Chardonnay 2007, (79) - Harrow, #Boutique $8.25 
(r-v - Rating-Value)


    REIF ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2006 VQA Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, xx.x% D, # $14.95 (Tasted March 30, 2008)

    The winery describes the Pinot Noir as "A fruit forward wine with fresh cherry fruit with a hint of pepper. The tannins are moderate with a firm acidity. Pair with lamb, small game and veal or serve slightly chilled with salmon steaks." Rick VanSickle, March 12, 2008, of the St. Catherine paper says "Lots of cherry-rhubarb aromas with raspberry-cherry flavours that follow on the palate. A pinch of earth on the finish. An easy going and flavourful wine." My notes: This could be an interesting Pinot Noir if it weren't so thin. A light strawberry/rasp colour with red cherry and faint spice aromas. Light-bodied, dry with fine tannin and a mild cherry stone flavour finishing dry on the palate. Suitable for a hot summer on the deck well chilled or with tapas, sliced cold chicken breast and salad. A drink-now - to be available shortly at the LCBO. 81

    SILVER LEAF CHARDONNAY PET, South Australia, 13.5% D, 1000mL #064873 $14.95 (Tasted March 30, 2008)

    Described as 'Fragrant, soft and supple, Silver Leaf wines are the perfect companions for any occasion. Bottled in Canada, so only the wine is shipped from Australia... 33% more wine in recyclable PET bottles. The chardonnay has "lively, fresh citrus and melon flavours." My notes: Shown at the Inniskillin booth this appears to be a Vincor product now listed in Ontario. Having tasted the chardonnay I opted not to taste the shiraz (image shown) and cabernet-merlot labels. A commercial beverage made for the 'highest volume but slowest price band' according to the promotional literature - competition for XOXO or perhaps Coors Lite. A pale blond colour with a soft eating-grape nose, perfumey. A slight citrus and innocuous melon flavour, light-bodied, a slight bite and slightly sweet drink-now. A quaffer rather than a food wine. 73

    COLIO CHARDONNAY 2007, Harrow, Canada, 12.5% D, #Winery $8.25 (Tasted March 30, 2008)

    The winery describes this as a light straw colour, a bouquet of fresh lemon/lime and peach notes, taste that is zippy citrus essence and green apple with a clean refreshing finish. Serve at 8º - 10º C with turkey, seafood, fish or lightly flavoured, chicken or mild cheeses. My notes: Vineyards are located on the north shore of Lake Erie near Harrow although this is a non VQA wine, grapes or juices could be from elsewhere. Has a light straw colour and a floral spice nose. Non-oaked and I guess a SC of 2, with the freshness of young fruit, a thin bodied quaffer or with scallops or grilled white fish entrees. The finish has a slight mineral edge, dry on the palate. 79

    CONCHO Y TORO TRIO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Casablanca, Chile, 13.2% D, #433920 $14.85 (Tasted March 30, 2008)

    Evidently won a Silver at the 2008 Toronto Wine & Cheese show and rated 4 Stars by David Lawrason (Toronto Life) "lovely proportion and integration among the citrus, the tree fruit and herbal elements. It's mid weight, fresh, bright and rounded for wasy drinking, with very good length.... " The website notes the colour as pale, greenish-yellow, a nose that is very expressive, mineral with green note, passion fruit, citric and pomell and a palate that is fresh, well balanced with a crisp acidity and a juicy limey finish. My notes: Has a sweetness balanced with a grapefruit and mineral essence and a light blond colour, didn't get the 'greenish' (given the lighting conditions at the Convention Centre). A lightish medium-bodied with flavours of soft apple, grapefruit and a light fruit sweetness. Finishes moderate with slight fruit and a light tang. A commercial drink-now. 82

    BERINGER FOUNDERS' ESTATE PINOT GRIS 2006, California, USA, 13.4% D, #045641 $17.95 (Tasted March 30, 2008)

    A General listing described as "showcases layers of citrus and tropical flavours and has a smooth mouth feel and body, as well as a long finish. Without being too austere or flinty, it carries just a hint of minerality and a bite of citrus to balance the core fruit." My notes: A light floral and spice nose and a light straw colour, crisp and clean, sweet, lightish medium-body with an apple pear fruitiness. Finishes fruity with a slight tang. A drink-now for light seafood dishes, veal or mild pork entrees. A drink-now. 82

    STREWN 'TERROIR' CHARDONNAY 2006 VQA NORTH LAKESHORE, Canada, 13.3% D, #012773 $20.15 (Tasted March 30, 2008)

    A Vintages release described as " 'Terroir' is Strewn's super-premium range of wines. This Niagara- on-the-Lake winery is famous for its focus on the marriage of wine and food with an on-site cooking school and gourmet restaurant. This full-bodied, complex and toasty Chardonnay would be a great complement to veal tenderloin or pork loin chops." The winemaker's notes include "sweet coconut and lavender aromas leads to vanilla and citrus on a rich, full palate with a long, ripe, velvety finish... " My notes: A light straw colour and an unusual nose of blossoms and almonds - I could go with 'coconut and lavender'. Medium-bodied, a light butter and apple pear flavours, a long soft finish with floral, nutty and lemon seed leanings, dry on the palate. Cellaring two years may develop textures hidden by its youthfulness. 85

    COYOTE RUN BLACK PAW PINOT NOIR 2006 VQA, St. David's, Canada, #Winery $36.00 (Tasted March 30, 2008)

    The website describes this as "Black cherry, and mulling spices on the nose with ripe, sweet red berry fruit and soft silky tannins on the palate." My notes: A raspberry colour and a faint nose of red cherries. Light-bodied, nicely balanced acid and fine tannins with a black- and rasp-berry flavour blend. Has a long berry finish, silky, dry on the palate. A social sipper for any crowd. Cellar for two years for a light but integrated pinot noir. 85