Sunday, June 01, 2008

'The Star' Rated Wines: 10 Tasted of 10

My first task in the morning is to check for e.mails. My second task on Wednesdays is to flip to Gord Stimmell’s column at thestaronline for his wine picks. Having started this theme of buying wines based on ‘Best Buys’ I thought it’s time to compare ‘picks’ in his column, GORD ON GRAPES. I’ve somewhat concluded after reading several columnists for many years, mostly online, they appear to be driven by 1) space, 2) editorial guidance, 3) politics, 4) personal bias (perceived) and not the least 5) need to make a living.

When a combination of these influences their recommendations unreasonably I get off the boat. In my opinion Gord Stimmell states his tasting results succinctly, doesn’t hedge his critiques and, although remaining politically correct, in some instances ‘calls a spade, or plonk in this case, a spade’. As well he hasn’t succumbed to tasting wines in the stratosphere, ie. beyond my (a typical reader?) budget.

That’s an intro to say this blog entry includes wines from three successive columns under the GORD ON GRAPES byline: May 17th, 24th and 28th. When tasted wines are in bold.

Cheers, W

  • Ninquén Antu Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère 2006, GS89, 93-3 -- V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #059329 $15.95
  • Ortas Tradition Rasteau 2006, GS90, 90-2 -- V, Rhone, France, #998716 $15.95
  • Paso Hondo Alta Seleccion Pinot Noir 2007, GS89, 89-2 -- V, Bío Bío Valley, Chile, #685925 $14.95
  • Terra D’Aligi Monte D’Abruzzo 2005, GS89, 84 -- G, Abruzzo, Italy, #028530 $11.85
  • Vincent Sauvestre Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005, GS89, 80 -- V, Burgundy, France, #066456 $15.95

  • Lammershoek 'Barrique' Chenin Blanc 2007, GS90, 92-2 -- V, Swartland, South Africa, #058206 $18.95
  • Schloss Schoenborn Riesling Kabinett 2005, GS91, 90-2 -- V, Germany, #928184 $18.95
  • Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Birch Canoe Pinot Blanc 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, GS90, 87 -- V, BC, Canada, #070706 $17.95
  • Angels Gate Sussreserve Riesling 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, GS90, 86 -- G, Ontario, Canada, #620104 $14.15
  • LaCheteau Les Loges Vouvray 2006, GS89, 80 -- V, Loire, France, #525106 $14.95
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, r-v - Rating-Value)


Germany, 10.0% M, #928184 $18.95 (Tasted June 25, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 24, 2008 described as “Pale lemon yellow colour leads to a nose rife with cloved peach, beeswax, buckwheat honey and lemon curd. Medium in sweetness with a rich, creamy mouthfilling texture. It is quite full-bodied with a long, perfectly balanced finish. Perfect for that just-caught mess of freshwater fish. (VINTAGES panel, March 2008).” My notes: A clear, leaning to light blond colour with a faint honey spice fragrance in a tall glass. Honey textured with flavours of spicy, sweet apple leaving a tangy tinge on the tongue and finishing with a sweet apple. I’d guess a SC of three or four. A sociable sipper for a summer patio crowd with aged cheddar and gherkins… or have with spicy thai or sechuan dishes. The alcohol level lets this cool quickly for easy quaffing and leaves a pleasant sweetness behind – have extras on hand. Ageing for several years should promote interesting sidelights altho’ drinking well now. Ww90

Rhone, France, 14.0% XD, #998716 $15.95 (Tasted June 14, 2008)

Vintages released this on May 24, 2008 saying “Beginning with the 2006 vintage, Cave de Rasteau uses the Ortas brand name for all their wines. Chewy but fresh, with dark fig, tobacco, tar and mineral notes that are pushed by briary tannins on the finish. Drink now through 2009. 89/100 (James Molesworth, April 28, 2008).” My notes: A rich ruby somewhat elegant in a wide bowl and delicate aromas that need time to develop: a warm plum and soft leather. The flavours are subtle: black cherry, blackberry, red currant and mild clay needing a few sips to blossom. The textures present themselves quickly: satin soft and full-bodied taking the flavours into a long rich finish. I’d call this a polite red; not a spicy challenge just to enjoy. Pair with prime rib and sautéed wild mushroom in a red wine gravy or dark fowl in the same sauce. Cellaring for several years could provide some intriguing flavour layers. A value rhone. Ww90

Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #059329 $15.95 (Tasted June 14, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 24, 2008 described as “Going strong for the past decade, Viña MontGras' Ninquén Project was born of an appreciation for the terroir of Ninquén Mountain in the Colchagua Valley… this full-bodied blend of Cab and Carmenère is quite muscular with aromas and flavours of ripe black cherries and cassis with elegant smoke and mineral notes.” Their spec sheet gives barrel use as “French (73%) and American Oak (27%), 45% new, 55% used.” My notes: ‘Ooo! that’s nice.’ was my comment on first sniff. This was a bronze medal winner at The International Wine Challenge 2008 in the UK. A blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% carmenère with a nose full of blackberry with a spicy edge, wood smoke and slight vanilla. The colour is garnet cast deep ruby and flavours come with a penetrating seam of tart and rich blackberries. Fine tannins lace velvet textures and the finish is a dry, smooth chocolate. An interesting sipper… has enough to satisfy both the ‘bold cab’ and the ‘new world’ red imbiber. Have with rare roasts, T-bones, rich stews or lamb shanks in a savoury gravy with mixed vegetables. Cellaring this for several years would be rewarding, comes integrated now but could go some more. A real value. Ww93

Abruzzo, Italy, 13.0% D, #028530 $11.85 (Tasted June 9, 2008)

A General listing described as “Dark garnet in colour, it shows intense aromas of stewed black cherry, violet and sour cherry. Medium to full-bodied, fruit-forward, somewhat earthy and ripe, it ends with sour cherry and leather tones. Serve with veal stew, grilled red meat.” My notes: Terra D'Aligi, owned by the Spinelli family, produces this red which is 100% Montepulciano d'Abruzzo aged 12 months in Slavonia barrels. A black cherry skin colour with aromas of delicate blackberries, a soft bramble and a whiff of earth. There’s a brightness in the first sip followed by a well balanced combination of fine tannin, mild acidity and red berries leaving predominantly a dry red berry then a light woody ending. Very acceptable as a house red leaving most refreshed but waiting for hors d’oeuvres of sausage pieces, shaved meats or bruscetta. Quaff with red sauced pasta dishes or triple cheese pizzas. A drink-now. Ww84

Ontario, Canada, 11.0% M, #620104 $14.15 (Tasted June 6, 2008)

A General listing described as “Clear, bright pale straw colour; aromas of pear, lime, mineral with peach pit notes; off dry, medium bodied, fresh and crisp, with ripe peach, lime and pear flavours; good length. Serve as an aperitif, with light seafood dishes, or pan fried trout.” My notes: A clear light blond colour with lemon floral and honey, overall a light nose. The first sip brings lemonade flavours and a finish of bright lemonade including some crushed seeds giving the ending a slight pithy spiciness. Serve well chilled then let go offchill for subtle changes to flavour, more tree fruit, and a smooth finish. If you’re looking for petrol there’s none. Some fruit sweetness perhaps a SC of 2 is balanced nicely with a mild acid. Have with nibbles: a tray of cheeses, black olives and cocktail shrimp or minced ham and relish. Pair with grilled fresh water fish. It would be good sipper for patio guests or as a before or after dinner refresher. Ww86

BC, Canada, 12.5% D, #070706 $17.95 (Tasted June 5, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 10, 2008 described as “2006 marks the debut vintage for this new venture from Mission Hill. Ganton and Larsen are the two growers who supplied Mission Hill with its grapes in the winery's early years. These well-respected properties are now the source for terrific wines like this ripe and fresh tasting Pinot Blanc. Showing honey, floral, pear and grapefruit characteristics, this wine would pair beautifully with freshwater fish.” My notes: This starts as a winner from the aroma of sweet apple and ripe pear. A clear light gold with a crisp first swallow and flavours of lemon and pear, no sweetness or it’s masked completely by acids. The finish continues the tart theme with some roundness creeping through at the end. An awakener as a sipper. Serve chilled with hors d’oeuvres of garlic shrimp, fresh shucked oysters, bacon wrapped scallops… and definitely a companion for seafood. If tart fruit is needed then this is a super offering…if not, cellaring two years may mellow somewhat. Ww87

Swartland, South Africa, 14.5% XD, #058206 $18.95 (Tasted June 4, 2008)

Vintages says “South Africa produces some of the best Chenin Blanc wines in the world and this is a great example. With grapes hand-picked from 40-year-old bush vines and hand-sorted to ensure only the very best fruit is used, Lammershoek's Chenin Blanc is the embodiment of a hand-crafted wine. Rich with honey, smoke and baked apple aromas, this dry, full-bodied wine is elegant and complex and will pair well with rich seafood, roast chicken and pastas in a cream sauce.” My notes: A rich golden blond colour and nose of melon, faint apricot and firm straw, with flavours of equal parts slightly green honeydew melon and tangy citrus. The texture is well rounded then finishing long, bright, straw edged ending with lots of cream. An unusual but interesting dry sipper with layers of flavour varying with each sip. Serve well chilled then enjoy the changes as the glass goes offchill. Have by itself or with mild cheeses, chicken nuggets, snow crab claws or lobster bisque. Pair with fresh oysters beforehand then with a whole chicken butterflied seasoned in an oregano, lemon and garlic marinade and grilled. Cellar or drink now. Ww92

Burgundy, France, 12.5% D, #066456 $15.95 (Tasted June 1, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 10, 2008 described as “The 2005 vintage is rightly being praised far and wide as one of the greatest for Burgundy. In a vintage of this high peerage, even the basic Bourgogne wines are great. Ripe fruits, great structure and the bonus of either current enjoyment or potential for cellar ageing (2-4 years) are possible with this fine wine from Vincent Sauvestre. A good partner for grilled ham, broiled stuffed chicken or poached salmon with fresh herbs.” My notes: A black cherry skin colour, light legs and aromas of crushed black cherries although moderate. On the light side of medium-bodied and has a bright intro to light flavours of almost ripened crushed cherries leaving a tinge of flavours for a short dry finish. A meal red… have with roast lamb, prime rib or roast chicken. The textures and flavours aren’t that interesting to recommend as a sipper and there’s not enough there to gain from cellaring. Ww80

Bío Bío Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #685925 $14.95 (Tasted May 13, 2008)

Vintages says “Aware of their impact upon the environment, Viñedos Córpora Canata's Paso Hondo winery is run completely by solar power. Grown in the cool, up-and-coming Bío Bío Valley, this Pinot Noir exhibits many of the pluses of the New World and European Wine techniques. There is, first, upfront fruit, then an exceptional structure provided by crisp acids and ripe tannins. It is cellarable for 2-3 years or a good companion tonight for roast beef.” My notes: A smoky ripe strawberry nose and deep strawberry colour with light legs, the flavours are delicate at first building with warmth and character to become velvety, sumptuous and balanced both tannin and acid, medium-bodied. Has a long smooth finish with ripe fruit, light mineral and soft earthiness. An interesting sipper congenial in both flavour and spirit, a drink-now, a super value and should cellar quite well earning more points. A burgundy without the expense. Ww89

LACHETEAU VOUVRAY LES LOGES 2006, Loire, France, 11.5% MD, #525105 $14.95 (Tasted May 30, 2008)

Vintages says “The vines for this wine are nurtured in the perfect admixture of siliceous/clay soil, limestone and a tuffeau rock sub-layer that supplies superb drainage for Chenin Blanc. Fermented at low temperatures to slowly extract all the flavours possible, this medium-dry, superbly balanced Chenin Blanc displays layers of peach, pear, lemon and apricot aromas and flavours. Age 3-5+ years or match now with mildly spiced seafood dishes.” My notes: A light golden colour and aromas of delicate green pear and slight floral, this light-bodied white is fully integrated, tree fruit with a touch of tartness and a natural sweetness. Finishes moderately long with mostly sweet quince and mineral. Chenin blanc can be acidic with bold fruit and honeyed floral aromas… or bland and neutral. This is more the latter. Pleasant for sipping if not a tad bland then low on acid and warmth. Have with mild cheeses or an M&M shrimp ring… perhaps a creamy mushroom pasta or with a slice of lime or lemon wedge as an aperitif. Not a style I’d serve to guests. Ww80

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