Thursday, May 01, 2008

'Wine Spectator' Rated Wines: 7 Tasted of 7

The Wine Spectator website has a few things that are free one being a .pdf file for their Top 100 At A Glance list for 2007 - which is the basis of this blog entry. Of the one hundred wines, forty-two were less than $US25. Of these seven were less than $C25 and available 'locally' although three are a later vintage. Some wines are not imported to Canada, for instance, Yellow Tail Shiraz 'The Reserve' ($US11 rated 90) a product from the same vintner as the budget priced Yellow Tail ($C12.20) widely available here. Some of the 42 are priced higher in Ontario exceeding my limit. When completed tastings appear in bold. Cheers, Ww

  • Montus Chateau Bouscasse 2003, KM91 -- 90-2, V, South West France, #743385 $18.55
  • Fontanafredda Barbera Briccotondo 2006, JS90 -- 87-1, V, Piedmont, Italy, #072348 $15.95
  • Marchesi de Frescobaldi Chianti Nipozzano 2004, WS91 -- 84, G, Tuscany, Italy, #107276 $21.75
  • Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2005, HS90(2004) -- 82, V, Washington State, USA, #263418 $19.85

  • William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux 2006, WS90(2004) -- 90-1, G, Burgundy, France, #276436 $21.80 
  • Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007, WS90(2006) -- 86, G, Marlborough, NZ, #620054 $17.30
  • D'Arenberg 'The Hermit Crab' Viognier/Marsanne 2006, HS90 -- 84, V, Australia, #662775 $16.95
Wine Spectator Tasters: KM - Kim Marcus, HS - Harvey Steinman, JS - James Suckling, WS - not given
(G - General, V - Vintages, O - Other, n/r - Not Rated, r-v - Rating-Value)


MONTUS CHÂTEAU BOUSCASSÉ 2003, South West France, 14.0% D, #743385 $18.55 (Tasted May 26, 2008)

A Vintages release on February 16, 2008 described as "… Big, rich and powerful, with an intense core of dark plum and dark chocolate flavors that are joined up by plenty of espresso and mincemeat notes, followed by cocoa powder on the finish… 90/100 (Kim Marcus, Sept. 30, 2007)." Vintage and Vine says "The main red wine grape variety in the appellation is Tannat. It can produce aggressive hard and tannic wines but in skilled hands [of Alain Brumont] it reveals wines of amazing complexity and concentration of flavour with supple, round textures and fine tannins." My notes: The deep red plum colour along with an interesting blend of cherry, berry and dark chocolate aromas deserves a wide bowl. Lots of fine tannins and a polite nip meet the palate then soft flavours of berries and mild chocolate – air thirty minutes to allow full development. Finishes velvety without fruit but ‘cocoa powder’ dry on the tongue and, characteristic of the varietal, a tad flat. Very interesting except possibly for the sipper expecting a traditional red. Save as a ‘ringer’ in a blind tasting or offer with salted crackers and liver pate. I didn’t get ‘big, rich and powerful’ nor a ‘concentration of flavours’ – complex and more like ‘delicate’ worth the taste – maybe on the decline? Pair with prime rib or a veal dish. 90

Piedmont, Italy, 13.0% D, #072348 $15.95 (Tasted May 23, 2008)

A Vintages release on April 26, 2008 described as "Very plummy and grapey on the nose, with hints of chocolate. Full-bodied, soft and succulent, with lots of flavor and a long, long finish. Delicious. Drink now. 90/100. (James Suckling, Nov. 30, 2007)." My notes: One hundred percent barbera grape shows a brilliant ruby in the glass and aromas of ripe plum and berry. The flavour has a bright cherry berry lasting on the palate, lively and fruity. Medium-bodied, dry and an easy sipper, for a house warming or a reunion of family or friends on the patio. Serve with a tray of mild cheeses, cheese sticks or cheese filled panzone pizzas, a veal dish or something with a fruit-based sauce. Likely could cellar for a few years but I wouldn’t expect much change. 87

Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD, #107276 $21.75 (Tasted May 23, 2008)

A General listing described as "Red with garnet colour; black cherry/blackberry fruit with cedar, smoke and leather notes; extra dry, medium bodied, with balanced fruit flavours, notes of smoke and tar, good acidity with a touch of spice, licorice and leather; long finish. Serve with beef stews, roasted red meats, veal in tomato sauce, roasted root vegetables or grilled portobello mushrooms." My notes: A deep black cherry colour and fragrances of black cherry, cinnamon and faint humidor. The flavours ride on a nice nip and fine tannins: pomegranate, red cherry finishing with a tart red cherry and some faint tar. Good as a dry, medium-bodied sipper being quite quaffable with interesting textures and process influences, however, after a few sips an appetizer is needed to extend quaffability - or a sit-down meal of a rich vegetable beef soup, italian meats and/or meatballs with tomato pasta. At peak or on the down slope of cellaring. 84

BIA CREST GRAND ESTATES MERLOT 2005, Washington State, USA, 13.5% D, #263418 $19.85 (Tasted May 3, 2008)

A Vintages release on February 2, 2008 described as "Bursting with blueberry and currant fruit, this zips across the palate with a racy texture and refined tannins. Lingers enticingly with a hint of mocha on the finish. Drink now through 2009. (Harvey Steiman, May 31, 2007)." My notes: A blend or 94% merlot, 5% cabernet sauvignon and 1% cabernet. TV Ads sale price this merlot at $US8.99 regularly $US11.99. This has a spicy plum fragrance and a ruby red colour. A well crafted blend giving merlot a body lift and a touch of sweetness. A commercial medium-bodied drink-now with fine tannins and slight nip adding to flavours of red currant, a touch of mint through to a moderate dry red currant finish. Nothing extra ordinary as a sipper nor as a meal red. Have with beef shawarma, rice and fatoush salad or fully loaded burgers. Priced right in the US. Not for cellaring. 82

D'ARENBERG 'THE HERMIT CRAB' VIOGNIER/MARSANNE 2006, Australia, 13.5% D, #662775 $16.95 (Retasted May 21, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 15, 2008 described as "… Soft and charming. A beguiling mouthful of spicy pear and grapefruit flavors that linger with focus on the open-textured finish. … 90/100 (Harvey Steiman, Nov. 30 2007)." Robert Parker gave it 88/100 saying "The 2006 The Hermit Crab is a blend of 70% viognier and 30% marsanne. ... delivers floral aromas along with honeysuckle, peach, and apricot. Smooth-textured, ripe, and balanced, this userfriendly wine can be enjoyed over the next 1-2 years." My notes: A blend of 70% viognier and 30% marsanne I last tasted this on March 17, 2008 with an 82 rating. Still has a nose of mostly nettles and green peas, not unappealing at all just different than 'fruit'. The flavours are dry citrus, melon and white grapefruit…nicely balanced and quite a mouthful. The finish starts as citrus and changes to dry melon and peach peel, subtle and long. A drink-now. 84

Burgundy, France, 12.5% D, #276436 $21.80 (Tasted May 16, 2008)

A General listing described as "Brilliant straw colour; intense aromas of apples and pears with mineral and citrus zest notes; medium-bodied, dry, with zesty citrus flavour with a crisp finish. Serve with fresh water fish, oysters or other seafood; wild mushroom risotto." The website says "Very refined bouquet, developing citrus, white-fleshed fruit and floral notes. Fresh and supple, the wine is marked by mineral notes that are typical of the appellation." My notes: A delicate fragrance of nettles, soft gooseberry and hint of citrus, a light golden colour with scant legs. The first sip is very interesting, steely edged with a tactful nip followed by a light citrus, straw, pear and faint gooseberry finishing round, with well balanced acids and a clay mineral feel. Could do for a sipper until the entrée: vinaigrette on greens with feta then a grilled whitefish with herbed risotto… or have with planked salmon, shrimp kebob, bacon wrapped scallops or a creamy mushroom pasta. Likely could be cellared several years but drinking very nicely now. 90

BABICH MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% D, #620054 $17.30 (Tasted May 11, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale yellow; fresh herbal & grassy notes; crisp biting acidity with tart gooseberry flavour. Serve on its own or with grilled vegetables.." My notes: Much more flavourful and tangier, some would say ‘in your face’, than the Babich Black Label (#009142) with less cream but still creamy – a more traditional kiwi. The nose is an even blend of gooseberry and nettles leading to the first sip which has a raw straw, lychee nut flavouring with gooseberry as a partner. Has a firm passionfruit tang and a natural sweetness to fill in a fruity finish. Serve as a sipping alternative to a dry chardonnay for a sociable crowd or pair with anything fishy. The price doesn’t encourage buying ahead nor will cellaring likely improve it. 86

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