Friday, May 30, 2008

'Wine Access' Rated Wines: 14 Tasted of 14

For me, the faintness of the typeface used in Wine Access makes it a difficult read but nevertheless it's a good source of many wine critic opinions and informative articles so I continue to subscribe. The April/May issue included a Buyer's Guide for New Releases, pp.59-80, across Canada. Of the 139 wines listed, twenty-four were $20 or below. Fourteen were available locally, six being a different vintage than that rated by the Wine Access tasting panel. When completed tastings appear in bold. The 100 point system used by Wine Access puts anything below 80 in the 'flawed' category. This has the effect of pushing wines rated in the 70's using the Wine Advocate system into the 80's. Tasted wines are resequenced by rating and value. Cheers, Ww

  • Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2006, STh88 -- 88-1, V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #694208 $14.95
  • Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2005, AG87 --  86, G, Australia, #572875  $19.80
  • Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2006, ST87(2005) -- 85, V, Rhone, France, #363457 $14.95
  • Montecillo Reserva Rioja 2002, AG87(2001) -- 85, G, Rioja, Spain, #621003 $19.00
  • Cline Syrah 2006, STh88(2005) -- 83, V, Sonoma County, USA, #733758 $12.85
  • Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2003, AG87 -- 83, G, Rhone, France, #259721 $16.80
  • Ruffino II Ducale Toscana 2004, AG87 -- 81, G, Tuscany, Italy, #027797 $19.80
  • Montalto Nero d'Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, AG87(2005) -- 80, G, Sicily, Italy, #621151 $9.70
  • Peter Lehmann Clancy's Red 2004, ST86 -- 80, G, Australia, #611467 $17.80*
  • Toscolo Chianti Classico 2004, AG87(2005) -- 78, V, Tuscany, Italy, #019521 $18.95

  • Cave Spring Chardonnay Musque 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, DL89 -- 92-3, V, Niagara, Canada, #246579 $15.95
  • Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2007, AG-ST88(2005) -- 92-2, V, Marlborough, NZ, #009142 $19.95
  • Beringer Founder's Estate Chardonnay 2006, AG87 -- 89-1, G, Napa, USA, #534230 $17.30*
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2007, AG88 -- 89-1, Marlborough, NZ, #426601 $16.30
Tasters: DL - David Lawrason, STh - Steve Thurlow, ST - Stuart Tobe, AG - Anthony Gismondi, JS - John Szabo
(G - General, V - Vintages, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


PÉREZ CRUZ CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2006, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #694208 $14.95 (Tasted June 3, 2008)

A Vintages release on January 5, 2008 described as "A favourite of Vintages customers, this ripe and rich Cabernet is an overachiever that offers exceptional value. Rich and ripe, it features complex aromas and flavours of cherry, pomegranate, toasty oak, chocolate and some spicy notes. It's smooth and well-balanced with a medium-long finish. Savour it with a pork roast." The Chilean Wine website says "Deep burgundy red with aromas of ripe red berries and spices highlighted by touches of dried fruit and vanilla. A very well-structured wine with mature tannins and a smooth finish. 91.7% Cabernet Sauvignon completed with Carmenère and Syrah." My notes: A deep ruby colour and fragrances of soft leather and ripe blackcurrants, a bold first sip of cedar, bright blackcurrants and tangy spice, full-bodied with a very firm nip. You have to like ‘bold’ for this to be a sipper… not for me. Have with well seasoned rare steak, a roast lamb rack, spicy chili con carne or most game meats. Cellaring for several years should integrate and develop complexities in textures and flavours. I’d say lay it down for five years then give it a taste. 88

Rhone, France, 14.0% D, #363457 $14.95 (Tasted May 30, 2008)

A Vintages release on October 13, 2007 described as "This wine will transport you to the South of France. Five generations of Perrin winemaking culminate here as you breathe in aromas of candied cherries, plum, spice, and earthy tones. There's volumes of juicy cherry flavours surrounded by good ripe tannins on the medium-bodied palate. Gourmets can savour it with gourmet pizza or hamburgers." My notes: A deep cherry ruby colour with average legs and aromas of cherry/berry, faint vanilla and soft oak. The flavours, mostly of sweet cherry with some licorice, have a well-balanced tartness, fine tannins and a just noticeable spicy edge. Finishes dry on the palate a bright earthy cherry. Personally I wouldn’t look forward to this as a sipper – it’s a prime rib, rack of lamb, or roasted back rib red. Likely could cellar four years or so but not much to gain. 85

Niagara, Canada, 13.0% D, #246579 $15.95 (Tasted May 20,2008)

A Vintages release on October 13, 2007 described as "This aromatic clone of the Chardonnay grape is a refreshing alternative to conventional Chardonnay. Gorgeous aromas of flowers, musk, grapes, spice and citrus burst from the glass. Medium-bodied, richly flavoured but balanced with a gentle crispness and a lengthy finish. Serve it with pan-roasted grouper or pork and mushroom stew." WA says "The best vintage yet of this unusual clone... " My notes: The fragrance is full of clover honey and wildflowers and a delicate blond colour. The initial sip brings an equal blend of dry straw, almost ripe melon, apple and very slight natural sugars to round the texture. Finishes dry on the palate, moderately long with apple peel and clay flavourings. A good sipper for an open house, a deck party or aperitif before lunch or dinner. Have with a tray of mild cheeses, salmon pieces on greens or crab cakes. Could this be an example of ‘Beamsville Bench’ terroir, deep soils and numerous nourishing streams? Cellaring a few years should be OK but drinking well now. 92

Rioja, Spain, 13.5% XD, #621003 $19.00 (Tasted May 19, 2008)

A General listing described as "Ruby-red, rustic appearance; cherry and cigar smoke aroma; medium intensity red cherry flavours; moderate tannins and balanced acidity, velvety texture. Serve with pasta with meat sauce, grilled lamb or beef, goat dishes." My notes: A deep violet ruby colour with rich aromas of smoky red cherry and delicate french oak ageing. Light legs and mixed flavours of red cherry, red currant and earthy oak balanced by mild acid and fine tannin. Quite quaffable, smooth, a thinnish medium-bodied needing a companion nibble. The body may be light but the flavour lasts with red cherry cleansing the palate. For mildly spicy entrees and would be great with pasta dishes, mushroom sauce on prime rib, a ham steak, paella or tapas. Past cellaring, ie. a drink-now. 85


GUIGAL COTES DU RHONE 2003, Rhône, France, 13.0% D, #259721 $16.75 (Tasted February 6, 2008)

A General listing described as "Deep ruby purple colour; complex aromas of mixed spice, plums, dark berry and pepper with floral notes; dry, medium to full-bodied, well balance with supple tannins, and flavours of white pepper, cassis,black cherry and mineral; good length on the finish. Serve with pepper steak, lamb, grilled portabello mushrooms or seared duck in a cherry reduction sauce." My notes: A deep sombre ruby colour with good legs and, after airing ten minutes, light aromas of floral, tobacco humidor and pepper as the overriding scents. The initial sip is smooth but quickly followed by a tangy pepper and red cherry finishing with an even mix of red cherry, mushroom, slight pepper and woodiness. A touch of mint makes the ending bright with some dryness. A meal red for T-bone, bbq'd pork ribs, rack of lamb, italian sausage in a red tangy pasta, went well with a beef stew. Medium-bodied, old world character with a lot of process and for those preferring this style it may be priced right (and rated higher). A well made conventional red but not a value - cellaring hasn't helped. 83

MONTALTO NERO D'AVOLA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Sicily, Italy, 14.0% XD, #621151 $9.70 (Tasted May 1, 2008)

A General listing described as "Deep red violet colour; dark fruit and spice aromas and flavours; dry, medium to full bodied, long, smooth finish. Serve with roast lamb or beef, meat pastas and grilled meats." My notes: A black cherry skin colour and a nose of smoky plum and red currants tapering quickly from pronounced to light. Either air for four hours or aerate before serving even then the first sip has very firm tannins chalking the palate. Medium-bodied, the flavour is of stemmy red currants finishing long and woody. An extra tart, extra dry sipper even after airing - I wouldn't serve it to guests. If a bottle is opened save for a spicy tomato pasta, pepperoni and red pepper pizza or chorizo sausage. Cellaring two to four years may soften the roughness. 80

BABICH BLACK LABEL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.5% D, #009142 $19.95 (Tasted May 8, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 1, 2008 described as "This exuberant Sauvignon Blanc bursts with intense floral and passion fruit aromas that lead to flavours of gooseberry, pear and melon on the refreshing palate... etc." The website says "… The bouquet is a pleasing assault of musk and passionfruit that leads into an intense fruit salad of flavours in the mouth. The sweet fruit combines perfectly with the zesty yet rich and textured palate. Notes of melon and gooseberry join the mid palate and linger on the finish." My notes: The winemaker’s objective was to create a wine with enough weight, acid and fruit to complement a meal. This has lots of gooseberries but not so much to take over the buds. Full-bodied, with the fruit there’s a nutty butter and musk touch giving it an elegance setting it apart from other sauvignon blancs. The finish is long, creamy and slightly herbaceous. The website describes it well. Sip to start and then pair with any seafood appetizer or meal: my favourite is spicy bearded mussels with spongy breads. Cellaring up to three years should be OK but it's drinking well now. 92

PETER LEHMANN CLANCY'S RED 2004, Australia, 14.5% D, #611467 $17.80* (Tasted May 1, 2008)

A General listing (*sale price) described as "Deep ruby red colour; vanilla oak and earthy, blackberry, mint and plum aromas; dry, medium to full bodied, very fruity, with flavours of cassis, black cherry and vanilla; soft tannins, and a long oaky finish. Serve with BBQ delight, grilled sausages, pork chops, ribs, lamb or beef kabobs." My notes: A blend of 35% shiraz, 34% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot and 5% cabernet franc. A lot of woodiness in both nose and flavours until it warms and breathes a few hours. The colour is a deep ruby and, after airing, aromas of red currant and smoky cherry persist. Nicely balanced acids and fruit with enough natural sweetness for body and a smooth texture, flavours continue to be on the woody side with dried fig, currants and a jammy taste I haven't acquired - as if this bottle sat in the sun for a time. Not a sipper... have with anything beefy: hamburgers, bacon on a bun, spaghetti and meatballs. I don't see any cellaring potential. 80

BERINGER FOUNDERS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2006, Napa, USA, 13.9% D, #534230 $17.30* (Tasted May 9, 2008)

A General listing (*sale price) described as "Bright gold colour; spicy, toasty vanilla and tropical notes on the nose; full-bodied on the palate with forward apple citrus fruit and vanilla notes; well-balanced with a long finish. Serve with roast pork loin, grilled salmon, roasted poultry, or cornish hen stuffed with wild rice." My notes: A light blond colour crystal clear in the glass with delicate aromas of fresh grapefruit and slight mown hay. Medium-bodied with flavours are bright citrus and toasty pear with a smoothness approaching cream then finishing with remnants of warm, bright fruit. A welcomed sipper serve chilled with hors d’oeuvres or with bruschetta. Flexible enough to be paired with planked salmon, cold chicken or a ham steak. Has room to cellar for several years or drink now. 89

VILLA MARIA PRIVATE BIN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% D, #426601 $16.30 (Tasted May 6, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; intense aromas of gooseberry, lime, grass and asparagus; dry, medium bodied, crisp acidity, and flavours of bell pepper, gooseberry citrus; clean, crisp finish. Serve with goat cheese dishes, fish, vegetarian fare or herb roasted poultry." My notes: definitely a NZ sauvignon blanc from the aromas of gooseberries with a promise of natural sweetness ahead. The flavours continue on the gooseberry theme, a tad creamier than most, and a touch of tangy lime then finishing long, a full mouthfeel ending somewhat, as a sipper, grassy. Have with crabcakes, a halibut or tuna steak, or sushi. A drink-now although cellaring for a year would take advantage of the reasonable price for this calibre of sb. 89

CLINE SYRAH 2006, Sonoma County, USA, 14.0% D, #733758 $12.85 (Tasted May 2, 2008)

A Vintages release on February 2, 2008 described as "Made with grapes sourced primarily from Cline's Sonoma County vineyards, this is an excellent value! This Syrah will have you singing its praises with its aromas of blackberry, cracked pepper, spice, and leather, with flavours of black cherry with a hint of oak and a medium long finish. A natural partner for grilled lamb or gourmet sausages." My notes: 100% syrah gives this a deep ruby with long legs and delicate aromas of young blackberries, anise and pepper. Medium-bodied and a beautiully balanced blend of blackberries, soft mint, fine tannins and spice that lead the way to a long finish of not quite ripe berries lightly sprinkled with black pepper, along with a mineral edge that loses some appeal. A meal red for accompanying rack of lamb, crock pot lamb shank or a beef bourguignon. Cellaring for two years should be OK but it's likely near peak now. What a difference a vintage makes! 83

RUFFINO IL DUCALE TOSCANA 2004, Tuscany, Italy, 12.5% XD, #027797 $19.80 (Tasted May 10, 2008)
A General listing described as "Medium ruby; aromas of black cherry, toasted wood and earth; medium-bodied, bone-dry with flavours of cedar and cherry ending with mouth-watering acidity. Serve with pasta with meat sauce, braised veal shank." My notes: Not to be confused with Ruffino Il Ducale Reserva at $25, #045195. Let the Toscana breathe for an hour. It has a deep cherry ruby colour with a fragrance that includes red currants, blueberries and a whiff of toasty cherry. For those liking extra tart and dry, ie. Italian style homebrew, this is it, flavours of red currants abound… and the finish rather than ‘mouth-watering’ leaves the palate parched by acidity and fine tannins. Not meant to be a sipper, this is for spicy foods: tomato pastas, three meat and red pepper pizzas, cheesy panzerotti. Buy in for a specific crowd and meal otherwise this isn't a value. 81

TOSCOLO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2004, Tuscany, Italy, 12.5% D, #019521 $18.95 (Tasted May 7, 2008)

A Vintages release on April 26, 2008 described as "Gorgeous aromas of crushed berry, toasty oak, chocolate and coffee. Full-bodied, with fine tannins and a long, rich finish. Great value. Best after 2006. Score - 90. (James Suckling, Oct 31, 2006)." My notes: This has a deep ruby colour and an aroma of plums and unripe berries. Medium-bodied and after sitting awhile the flavours are of bright red cherry complete with crushed stones and some earthy notes. The finish carries the brightness along with fine tannins and the persistent dullness of crushed cherry pits. Too tart and light on fruit to be a sipper expected for this price level chianti. Have with tomato sauced pasta dishes, vegetable soup with chorizo pieces, three meat cheesy pizzas. Past cellaring and definitely not a value. 78

PETER LEHMANN BAROSSA SHIRAZ 2005, Australia, 14.5% D, #572875 $19.80 (Tasted May 12, 2008)

A General listing described as "Very deep ruby colour; intense aromas of sweet plum, cassis, oak and leather; dry, robust with forward fruit flavours, moderate tannins and great length. Serve with grilled beef, pepper steak or game." My notes: Let breathe an hour… then a deep ruby with a dull violet cast and earthy aromas of jammy black cherries, licorice and faint leather. Full-bodied and flavours that follow the nose with ripe black cherries predominating, a distinct earthiness then a long velvet finish of sombre plums, a balanced mint and soft tannins. For sippers who like a serious red; for me, it’s strictly a meal red. Pair with roasted or grilled beef or lamb, spicy chili or crock pot stews. I’d recommend cellaring for a few years to integrate flavours and textures which seem separate now. More of an oldworld style so if new world is your thing there are better values. 86

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