Sunday, June 01, 2008

Winepointer #7 Rated Wines: 10 Tasted of 10

Winepointer #7 covers Vintages’ Release of May 24, 2008. Following Winepointer's recommendations in the last Release was certainly better than ‘whimming’ it and the ratings given were more in line with my tastes than any of the ‘mags’ ‘Best Buys’ previously blogged here. This isn’t to criticise the ‘mags’ as there are several factors that weigh against their selection of wines: time to publish being the biggest detractor. Then there’s - are they available locally? are they the same vintage? and depending on a broad spectrum of multiple taster preferences likely contrary to my own. 'Mags' may be the best bet for narrowing down choices – although I believe ‘whimming it’ can be just as good if you stick to Vintages wines. 

Perhaps Winepointer #6 just coincidentally aligned more often with my ratings. This blog entry attempts to put this comparison to the test - not that Winepointer needs my certification, more that my tastes or preferences need qualifying. Rather than following only the ‘best values’ list I’ve gone into the release items still sticking to ~$20 or less.

A side note: I tried to purchase the AJ Lepp and Wismer Vineyards sauvignon blancs from Peninsula Ridge only to find both ‘sold out’. You really have to be fast in some cases, ie. the 'time to publish' factor. As before, tasted wines are in bold
Cheers, Ww

  • Mas des Bressades Cuvee Tradition 2007, RP87-89, 88-1 -- Costières de Nîmes, France, #701094 $12.95
  • Finca el Retiro Malbec 2004, RP85-86, 86-1 -- Mendoza, Argentina, #993824 $12.95
  • Sacred Hill Basket Press Merlot 2006, RP87-89, 83 -- Hawkes Bay, NZ, #060087 $20.95
  • *Mas des Bressades Cuvee Excellence 2006, RP87-89, 74 -- Costières de Nîmes, France, #708750 $17.95

  • Sacred Hill Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2006, RP90-93, 93-2 – Hawkes Bay , NZ, #060095 $20.95
  • *Lammershoek 'Barrique' Chenin Blanc 2007, RP90-93, 92-2 -- Swartland, South Africa, #058206 $18.95
  • Sileni Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2007, RP87-89, 90-1 -- Marlborough, NZ, #662882 $15.95
  • Sileni Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2007, RP87-89, 89-2 -- Hawkes Bay, NZ, #032292 $14.95
  • Salomon Groovey Gruner Veltliner 2007, RP85-86, 88-2 -- Krems, Austria, #669606 $12.95
  • LaCheteau Les Loges Vouvray 2006, RP87-89, 80 -- Loire, France, #525106 $14.95
 (G - General, V - Vintages, RP - Rod Phillips, r-v - Rating-Value)


FINCA EL RETIRO MALBEC 2004, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% XD, #993824 $12.95 (Tasted June 9, 2008)

Vintages says, “Vivid purple colour. Aromatic spicy nose leads to a high-acid palate with good structure. Vivid and full. Long lived. 90/100 (Jamie Goode,, Sept. 2006).” My notes: A soft plum and red cherry fragrance with the colour of a black cherry. The first sip has an interesting tart edge, slight pepper spice and fine tannins giving way to a red cherry flavouring. Finishes moderately dry on the palate with a smooth residual red cherry ending. I enjoyed this as a sipper… medium-bodied and fresh by itself. Would likely cellar well for up to four more years, ‘til 2012. Have with hamburgers, T-bone, poor boys or pizzas. An OK value for a bright house red with an appealing nose. 86

Hawkes Bay, NZ, 13.5% D, #060087 $20.95 (Tasted June 8, 2008)

Vintages says “Sacred Hill strikes the perfect balance between winemaking tradition and innovation. Over the last two decades, they have used time-honoured techniques to handcraft exceptional wines all the while leading the industry with many environmental initiatives. Winemaker Tony Bish employed the traditional, hand-operated basket press to gently coax from the grapes the full flavours of this supple Merlot. A rich, plummy nose leads to a deep yet softly textured wine layered with ripe black fruit flavours and supported by gentle tannins.” My notes: This has a deep ruby colour with a pink twist and aromas of a pie crust on a warm blueberry pie. Medium-bodied, long legs without staining on the glass and initial flavours low on berry fruit and high on tannin. Finishes long, dry and drying with an unusal oaky presence somewhat woody. A simple meal wine – save for a lamb chop or ham slice but better cellared for four years to improve complexity of textures. At this point not a value. 83

Rhone, France, 14.5% D, #708750 $17.95 (Tasted June 4, 2008)

Vintages says “This is one of my favourite value-priced producers. (Robert Parker Jr., June 2004). This delicious, barrel-aged Syrah, made by a modern producer in one of the southern Rhône's best undiscovered regions, offers exceptional quality and value vintage after vintage. The ripe berry and brambly fruit flavours are balanced by earth, meat and spice notes as well as ample tannin and acidity. Enjoy with grilled leg of lamb or rich meat-pasta dishes.” My notes: From the southern Rhone and Costières de Nîmes it’s one hundred percent syrah with a deep garnet ruby colour. After airing for an hour the aromas settled to a faint roasted horse chestnut and black cherry compote blend. The flavour settled to a concentrated smoky earth floor, oak and blackberry finishing long with texture and concentrated flavour as from the bottom of a well used oak barrel - a wine which process vanquished grape. Has a very warm follow through with firm fine tannins and a balanced tartness - if Buckley’s made wine this would be it. Not a sipper but could be paired with a rich and savoury meal. 74

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. 92

Hawkes Bay, NZ, 14.0% XD, #060095 $20.95 (Tasted June 2, 2008)

Vintages says “This rich and elegant Chardonnay was aged on its lees for 12 months in French oak before bottling. Dry, full-bodied and creamy, it has layers of peach, citrus and tropical-fruit flavours as well as a hint of toast and vanilla. A delicious and classy wine that's an outstanding value. Pair with steamed lobster or butter chicken.” My notes: A bright golden colour, crisp and clear, with long legs and firm aroma of gooseberries. The nose continues to develop as the glass breathes. Full-bodied and a very smooth texture with lots of butter and gooseberry flavours including a slight oak tang on the way down then growing into a velvet, buttery, warm finish. For barrel fermented chardonnay lovers this is close to the ultimate having layers of flavour, depth of texture and a long sumptuous ending. Sip or have with a shrimp ring, crab cakes, duck l'orange, chicken and cashew noodle dish and other chinese treats. Cellaring for several years should deepen the creamy experience. 93

Krems, Austria, 12.5% XD, #669606 $12.95 (Tasted June 1, 2008)

Vintages says “You know a wine is really starting to catch on when it acquires a 'cool' nickname. Grüner Veltliner is now called GrüVe by the in-crowd. Grüner Veltliner may be difficult for people to say (GROON-er VELT-lea-ner), but it is becoming one of the hippest and hottest wines on the market. Dry and flavourful with a peppery or spicy overtone, it is a great match for many fish (especially salmon) and seafood dishes.” My notes: A crisp light lemon colour and a pleasant combination of pear, apple, floral and citrus aromas. Medium-bodied with flavours that carry through a apple citrus theme with a herbaceous sidelight. Vintages says XD but I found a slight residual sweetness - just enough to add roundness but not enough to take away a pleasing tartness. Leaves a smooth apple/citrus lining as a long finish. An interesting sipper for a congenial crowd… serve well chilled with hors d’oeuvres of stuffed mushroom caps, bacon wrapped scallops, bratwurst pieces or cocktail sausages. A good companion for finny dishes of all kinds, lobster meat on greens, planked salmon, etc. An excellent value and cellaring up to two years should be OK. 88

Marlborough, NZ, 12.5% XD, #662882 $15.95 (Tasted May 25, 2008)

Vintages says “Pale colour. Bright aromas of lime, grapefruit pith and licorice. Juicy and supple, with lovely spice character to the flavours of underripe melon and pear. Nothing hard about this sauvignon. 88/100 (Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept./Oct. 2007).” My notes: A wonderful nose of passionfruit - nothing bitter, nothing sweet. A light golden blond and a slight natural roundness followed by mild passionfruit flavourings and subdued crushed seeds for tartness. The finish is surprisingly consistent not imposing itself as a ‘fruit bomb’. Serve well chilled as a sipper or with fresh oysters, crab cakes, frozen mango yogurt, shrimp salad, or with a cold or hot lobsterfest. An excellent balance between tart fruit, body and textures. If you don’t buy a case it’s because you don’t drink enough! In other words – it's a value. 90

SILENI CELLAR SELECTION PINOT GRIS 2007, Hawkes Bay, NZ, 13.0% D, #032292 $14.95 (Tasted May 27, 2008)

Vintages says “A pretty pink colour dominates this spicy, pear-scented wine. Its medium body and fresh style make it very appealing as a sipper or match it to mussels steamed in this wine and newly picked tarragon.” My notes: A just noticeable peach blush to a crisp white and aromas of delicate melon, pear and slight spice. Fairly long legs with bubbles forming on a swirl previews a nicely rounded texture with delicate melon and pear highlights and a soft white pepper edge. An interesting sipper that would please anyone looking for a suspicion of sweetness and finishing dry, spicy yet retaining some fruit. A versatile meal white, a dozen green lip mussels in a mild curry sauce, garlic shrimp from the grill would be a good match or have Thai, chinese or bento box fare. Cellaring for up to two years should be OK although drinking well now - and a bargain. 89

MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION BLANC 2007, Rhone, France, 13.5% D, #701094 $12.95 (Tasted May 28, 2008)

Vintages says “The Marès family began making wine in Algeria during the early 20th century and would later acquire properties in Bordeaux (Château Puy Castéra) and in Costières de Nîmes where they founded the renowned winery that produces this wine. Their Cuvée Tradition is a floral, Muscat-like wonder that matches beautifully with the cheeses of the Rhône, such as Sérac and Saint-Marcellin.” My notes: : 40% roussanne and 60% grenache blanc gives this a soft golden colour and a mild bouquet of kiwi, slight pineapple and ripe melon, seems to me. Layers of fruit and a nicely rounded fullness makes this partner to any shellfish, finny variety or broccoli and cheese soup. It has a long and smooth finish with fruit and a mild acid lasting ‘til the end. Serve chilled for a dry mineral sip and let go off chill for a fruity version – both have their appeal. Cellaring up to four years should be OK but for a fresh european white it’s a drink now. 88

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. 80

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