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

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