Friday, May 09, 2008

Winepointer #6 Rated Wines: 8 Tasted of 8

A number of wine critics offer regular Newsletters delivered by e.mail. Since these Newsletters often appeal to a wide readership they can contain more information about LCBO releases and new wines from Ontario wineries and distributors than one can handle. Sifting through for gems isn’t too difficult but you have to have a quest. My quest is highly rated picks under $20.

Ottawa historian, writer, journalist, educator and wine critic, Rod Phillips, has created Winepointer, a Newsletter of tasting notes for each Vintages Release as well as other wines coming to market. Rod’s autobiography can be viewed at his website along with an explanation of the five star rating system used and a handy conversion table to go to the 100 point system. You can also subscribe to receive Winepointer there. Of those I’ve reviewed Winepointer is an excellent example of a taster’s ability to effectively and concisely describe wines - and it's free. The No. 6 issue covers Vintages Release of May 10, 2008.

As a convenience Rod lists upfront his ‘best buys’, shown asterisked below, and all but one have been set aside for this blog entry... and I've added a Chilean pinot noir, a NZ chardonnay and an Italian sangiovese syrah blend. As each is tasted the wine will appear in bold
Cheers, Ww

  • *Tuatara Bay Pinot Noir 2006, RP90-93, 90-2, Marlborough, NZ, #057760 $18.95
  • *Brokenwood Pinot Noir 2006, RP90-93, 89-1, Victoria, Australia, #020560 $20.95
  • Paso Hondo Alta Seleccion Pinot Noir 2007, RP87-89, 89, Bío Bío Valley, Chile, #685925 $14.95
  • *Chilensis Reserva Syrah 2005, RP87-89, 89-2, Maule Valley, Chile, #590745 $11.95
  • *Pasion 4 Merlot 2006, RP87-89, 89-2, Uco Valley, Argentina, #059287 $11.95
  • *Del Fin del Mundo Reserva Malbec 2005, RP87-89, 87-1, Patagonia, Argentina, #681197 $12.95
  • Sasyr Sangiovese Syrah 2005, RP85-86, 87, Tuscany, Italy, #068510 $17.95
  • Goldwater Chardonnay 2006, RP90-93, 92-2, Marlborough, NZ, #991463 $19.95
    (r-v - Rating-Value)


    SASYR SANGIOVESE/SYRAH 2005, Tuscany, Italy, 13.5% XD, #068510 $17.95 (Tasted May 30, 2008)

    Vintages says “Match this unique Tuscan blend with grilled bison burgers or lamb chops. Has very pretty plum, blackberry and floral aromas. Medium- to full-bodied, with fine tannins and a fresh, clean, silky finish. A tiny bit short. Best after 2008. Smart Buy. 88/100 (James Suckling, April 30, 2008).” My notes: A Rocca della Macie creation claiming on the label to be “Velvety smooth, supple and vibrant, it will introduce you to an array of flavours beyond your wildest dreams.” The colour is a deep purple ruby and aromas include berries blue- and rasp- and soft leather. Drying on the first sip with bright red cherry, cedar and finishing with berries and pomegranate including some seeds. This comes across as a light-bodied tannic sipper and with the red fruit blending it has interest. Have with red pasta dishes, pepperoni pizzas or veal parmigiana. Put down for up to four years to soften some of the tannins making it even more interesting and a value. 87

    PASIÓN 4 MERLOT 2006,
    Uco Valley, Argentina, xx.x% XD, #059287 $11.95 (Tasted May 27, 2008)

    Vintages says “This Merlot is made from hand-harvested grapes sourced from the lofty heights of the Uco Valley where the vineyards are planted at over 1000 metres above sea level. Ripe and round, this medium full-bodied wine shows attractive cassis, chocolate and smoky oak aromas and flavours. Serve with pasta in a spicy beef and tomato sauce or grilled lamb chops.” My notes: A deep violet ruby with warm aromas of earthy berries, flavours of ripe black cherries with a berry tartness are carried on velvet tannins. Finishes full, smooth with a soft spice, ripe berries then a bright cassis ending. This is a full-bodied soft merlot and a welcomed sipper for any occasion. Have with a rare T-bone, barbecued back ribs, lamb kebobs or shashlik. Cellaring for a few years should be OK but drinking well now and priced to have several in for company. 89

    Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D, #057760 $18.95 (Tasted May 19, 2008)

    Vintages says “Saint Clair Estate Wines produces this high-calibre mid-range Pinot Noir that offers a terrific middle ground between New World exuberance and ripeness and Burgundian elegance. The result is a wine displaying terrific aromas of black cherry, strawberry and a hint of spice. Match this flavourful meeting of two worlds with filet mignon.” My notes: A smoky strawberry fragrance and a deep see-through ripe strawberry colour. A lightish medium-bodied, delightful flavour of strawberry with a faint red cherry leaning, clean acid refreshes while fine tannin smoothes the way. Has a moderate length finish smooth on the lips and ending with smoke and pepper strawberry. A super sipper now or cellar for two or more years for more subtlety. A fruit forward pinot noir to pair with salmon steaks, chicken wings, ham slices, or rare beef. A bargain if you prefer new world. 90

    Victoria, Australia, 14.0% XD, #020560 $20.95 (Tasted May 17, 2008)

    Vintages says “In the Australian Wine Companion 2008, author James Halliday again gave Brokenwood an overall rating of (5 out of 5) describing it as a "deservedly fashionable winery producing consistently excellent wine". This deep-coloured, bold Pinot boasts lifted floral, and fragrant cherry aromas. It's dry, medium-bodied and smooth with cherry fruit flavours and some savoury notes leading to a lingering finish. Enjoy it with roast duck or quail.” My notes: A rich nose of smoky cherry with a spice edge and a garnet ruby colour. Medium-bodied, yes, ‘bold’ having a definite tang to a cherry flavouring complete with crushed pits finishing very dry but smooth on the lips and ending with a steely mintiness. No strawberry here and not as fruit forward as expected, still more fruit than ‘old world’. Have with hors d’oeuvres: stuffed mushroom caps, bacon on crisps, bruschetta, or with prime rib, dark fowl or lamb. Cellaring for a few years should take care of some rawness. 89

    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. Serve with prime rib, ribs, grilled turkey, lamb. 89

    DEL FIN DEL MUNDO RESERVA MALBEC 2005, Patagonia, Argentina, 14.5% XD, #681197 $12.95 (Tasted May 18, 2008)

    Vintages says “This release gives you the opportunity to compare Malbec from three distinct regions of Argentina without breaking the budget. This little wonder is from the cool climate region of Patagonia in the south. Del Fin Del Mundo literally means the end of the world which is basically where this wine hails from. Compare this vibrant, ripe and intensely concentrated malbec with its cousins from the more central Mendoza region (#057943) and the Cafayate Valley in the far north (#064998). Judge for yourself what part the region plays in the final character of malbec.” My notes: A dense black cherry colour with soft aromas of rich cherries, blackberries and touch of cinnamon. A very smooth sipper with fine tannins and slight nip leading the way for blackberry and cranberry flavours. The finish is bright blackberry perhaps a tad unripe and ending a tad stemmy, not objectionably so with nibbles. A full-bodied sipper more suitable with finger foods or mixed grill. Have with mild italian sausage, meat and cheese pastas, portabello burgers or game meats. A drink-now house red. 87

    CHILENSIS RESERVA SYRAH 2005, Maule Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #590745 $11.95 (Tasted May 22, 2008)

    Vintages says “This impressive and bold Syrah is a steal! It's full-bodied with layers of cherry and plum fruit, forest floor and smoky oak notes all wrapped in medium tannins. A ripe and rustic red to pair with smoked wild boar sausages or gourmet burgers.” My notes: A deep purple ruby deserving a wide bowl glass and aromas of black cherry berry with a bright edge. The first sip is very bright and carries flavours of cedar, red cherry and a blackcurrant. The finish is long, satin smooth with fine tannins and a balanced spice to go with the black fruit – a tangy, earth floor ending. Serve this to friends or family knowing it’ll be enjoyed. I’d say it’s a bright syrah closer to a fruit forward Oz shiraz and a real value. Have with any beef, lamb, stews, hamburgers, chili or pizzas - or if there's a wild boar handy... This should do well cellared up to two years, then see where it’s going. 89

    GOLDWATER CHARDONNAY 2006, Marlborough, NZ, 14.0% D, #991463 $19.95 (Tasted May 13, 2008)

    Vintages says “This wine won a Gold Medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show 2007. Straw gold in colour, this smooth, creamy and very stylish chardonnay is immediately appealing with its soft, ripe, rounded flavours. Barrel-ferment aromas and spicy oak flavours with a mealy nutty backbone, juicy white peach and citrus fruit, hints of butterscotch and a lovely mouth coating texture. The style we like to drink. (Sue Courtney, Nov. 7, 2007).” My notes: A firm gooseberry aroma and a light golden colour. Served chilled layers of interesting flavours wash the palate: butter, honey and litchee nut, gooseberries, finishing as dry as straw with a grapefruit pith, a mineral edge and a definite luscious, nutty ending. It’s medium-bodied having a good balance of oak with the fruit being well managed. For this to be a sipper you have to like chardonnay. Have with chicken breast on greens, asparagus soup, bacon and cheese melts. Cellaring for several years is recommended but it’s an appealing drink-now. 92

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