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

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