Friday, June 06, 2008

Others in June, 2008: 15 Tasted of 15

Some things picked up on the way home...or given as a gift to an appreciative wino. As before, the tasted wines appear in bold. Cheers, Ww 
  • Jeanneret Grenache Shiraz 2004, 94-3 – O, Clare Valley, Australia, #B&W Wines $22.46
  • Ninquén Antu Syrah 2006, 94-3 -- V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #675371 $15.95
  • Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa 2006, 92-2 -- V, Italy, #479766 $24.95
  • Wyndham Estate Shiraz Bin 555 2005, 91-2 -- G, South Eastern Australia, #189415 $16.15
  • Erath Pinot Noir Oregon 2006, 88 -- V, Oregon, USA, #932541 $24.95
  • Waimea Estates Spinyback Pinot Noir 2006, 82 -- V, Nelson, NZ, #060079 $18.95
  • Torlesse Canterbury Pinot Noir 2004, 80 -- V, Canterbury, NZ, #699330 $20.95
  • Cono Sur Vision Block 78 Pinot Noir 2007, RP87-89, 80 -- V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #689992 $15.95

  • Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2005, 94-2 -- V, Marlborough, New Zealand, #359513 $39.95
  • Forrest Estate Riesling 2007, RP87-89, 90-2 -- V, Marlborough, NZ, #060103 $18.95
  • Anakena ONA Sauvignon Blanc 2006, 90-2 -- V, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #059501 $16.95
  • Cave Spring Estate Gewurztraminer 2006 VQA, 88 -- V, Ontario Canada, #302059 $19.95
  • LaPlaya Block No. 23 Selection Reserve Chardonnay 2007, RP90-93, 84 -- V, Limari Valley, Chile, #059352 $13.95
  • Chateau des Charmes Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 80 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #453423 $15.95
  • Stoney Ridge Chardonnay 2004 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 78 -- G, Ontario, Canada, # 292839 $13.05

(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, VC - Vintages Collection, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


JEANNERET GRENACHE/SHIRAZ 2004, Clare Valley, Australia, 15.0% XD, #B&W Wines $22.46 (Retasted June 26, 2008)

My notes: Vintages hasn't stocked Jeanneret since the 2002 Shiraz (#732891 released October, 2004). This blend was purchased from the distributor, B&W Wines, in September 2006 and was last tasted in May 2007. It has a rich blackberry colour and aromas of blackberry with a smoky oak touch, subtly spicy unless aired for a few minutes to become more prominent. It is now showing a tad less blackberry and a layering of soft spices with the fruit with long legs on the glass and a mellow tartness fully blended with smooth, bright blackberry juices and mild vanilla flavouring. A full-bodied sipper that envelops the taste buds freshening for a long while then leaving a dry clay or mineral edge to a lip smacking finish. Savour by itself or have with side bacon on a bun, Montreal smoked meat on a kaiser, turkey wings in a savoury, not spicy, sauce as well as the usual beef entrees. Cellaring well now and should continue for a few more years. 94

Colchagua Valley, Chile, 15.0% XD, #675371 $15.95 (Tasted June 24, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “Viña Ninquén is amongst a number of Chilean producers that are now realizing the potential of planting at higher elevations. Ninquén's mountain vineyards have produced a Syrah that is rich with layers of plush blackberry, plum and black cherry fruit flavours and aromas along with notes of mocha, earth and smoke. Enjoy with smoky barbecue ribs or grilled lamb chops.” My notes: A dense ruby colour with a smoky oak and spicy blackberry fragrance. Firm legs and almost a woody texture to chew your way through along with warm blackberry concentrate nicely tart and full-bodied. The flavours even out with distinct fruit edged in tar and earthy woods – quite a mouthful to satisfy anyone looking for a bold but palatable red. Have with full flavoured entrees, e.g. rack of lamb, back ribs or long ribs seasoned well and grilled, a beef pot roast - was great with chili con carne. Ageing for several years could produce a remarkable value. 94

Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D, #060103 $18.95 (Tasted June 23, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 24, 2008 described as “John Forrest believes Riesling will one day be Marlborough's greatest wine, and his own wine is helping the cause. The 2007 vintage is full-bodied, with a splash of sweetness ... amid its generous, lemony, slightly appley flavours, finely blanced for easy, early drinking. (3 ½ of 5, Michael Cooper, Buyer's Guide to New Zealand Wines, 2008).” My notes: A light blond with the faintest of green tint and aromas of meadow flowers, honey and lime. The roundness is well balanced with a tart edge and flavours of kiwi, apple and lime saturate the taste buds. The finish is off dry and long ending on a tart, pithy note. An interesting sipper serving dual purpose, quenching and cleansing. Serve to anyone on any occasion or have with grilled sausage pieces and bacon bits on bagel chips – or with freshly shucked oysters. Pair with baby greens and shredded sardine or salted herring followed by a grilled seafood entrée. Cellaring for several years may introduce a smoother texture but it’s a great drink now. 90

Oregon, USA, 13.5% XD, #932541 $24.95 (Tasted June 22, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “… This solid wine, with its cherry, tobacco leaf and earthy aromas and flavours, would be a great house red to keep around all summer long. Dry, medium-bodied and supple, it has the versatility to match everything from planked salmon to roasted chicken to gourmet burgers off the grill. It’s a born entertainer.” My notes: Priced at $32.95 in BC so Ontario customers have a distinct advantage. This has a deep strawberry colour brightening up a wide bowl. The aromas are full, ripe and evenly balanced between strawberry and cherry with a tinge of forest floor. Long legs lead to a silky, full textured mouthfeel making this a great sipper. Finishes long and soft with the roundness lasting throughout. It’s over my ~$20 range but comes highly recommended by a fellow customer that almost cleared the shelf while I was trying to make up my mind. Sip casually over cheddar filled ham curls or have with any seafood, cold or hot. A flavourful but mild pinot on the borderline of being a rich rosé. Drinking well now and could cellar up to four years. 88

Canterbury, NZ, 13.5% XD, #699330 $20.95 (Tasted June 20, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “The burgeoning Canterbury region near Christchurch frequently turns out pale looking [but] otherwise charming pinots that deliver surprising length, which earns the rating here. Aromatics are all about fragrance - with cinnamon spice, strawberry and cherry pie and dried herbs. It's light to midweight, supple, sweetish and warm - very easy drinking. Excellent persistence way beyond its appearance. Now to 2009. 89/100 (David Lawrason, Wine Access, March 3, 2007).” My notes: A deep, crushed strawberry colour and a fragrance to match although with a smoky wood edge. The flavours include a compote of strawberry, blueberry and rhubarb somewhat interesting to sip, but not for everyone, and a smooth satin texture. The ‘right’ balance of tart, tannin and fruit gives this a long but ‘just OK’ finish. Imho, not at peak as a drink-now. Cellar for two years to let the flavours and textures integrate. Should be OK with planked salmon or roast chicken tho’. 80

Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #689992 $15.95 (Tasted June 19, 2008)

Released by Vintages on June 7, 2008 described as “Made from grapes grown in the renowned Colchagua Valley, this elegant Pinot Noir displays lovely cherry, strawberry and raspberry notes. Silky with fine, soft tannins, this is rounder than some Pinots and will nicely complement smoked salmon or avocado salad.” My notes: The 2006 vintage was tasted in September 2007 with a rating of 86. In March 2006 I tasted their 2005 vintage ‘Varietal Range’ (#341602, $9.95) rating it 79 so I was hesitant but curious enough to go back to Cono Sur again. The Vision price hasn’t changed since the 2006 and the colour is a beautiful mid ruby befitting a large bowl – but let this air for an hour or decant beforehand. A light aroma of humidor and ripe plum with a dash of spicy cherry wafts the nostrils pleasantly. Light legs and a firm nip followed by red cherries flavouring the taste buds ending with the cherries, a tinge of pepper, fine tannin and a bright tang. I didn’t get the ‘strawberry and raspberry notes’. This would benefit from a few years cellar time to cool the tang and possibly introduced some smoothness. OK for the price but not recommended as a hostess gift for a special dinner - lacks elegance. Have at home with planked salmon, prime rib or a roast turkey leg. 80

South Eastern Australia, 14.5% D, #189415 $16.15 (Retasted June 18, 2008)

My notes: This is a General listing last tasted in December 2007 and rated 91. (The 2004 vintage was tasted at the same time with a 90 rating). This has a deep red plum hue with aromas of rich blackberry tinged with smoky cherry. Medium-bodied to full-, a velvety texture with a burst of blackberry then a mintiness that brightens the palate with layers of flavour. The finish is extended by a firm tartness until the flavours and brightness slowly fade making this an interesting sipper - a new world fruitiness and edge of spice. Sip or pair with beef bourguignon, a well seasoned rack of lamb, burger patties with grilled portabello mushrooms. Cellaring for several years is possible… tho’ not likely to improve over today’s tasting. 91

Limari Valey, Chile, 13.9% D, #059352 $13.95 (Tasted June 17, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7, 2008 described as “Hand-picked from a single block in the Limari Valley, this Chard is consistently a superb value. Its bouquet offers pineapple, peach and citrus notes, with ripe tropical fruit flavours on the palate and a smooth, pleasing finish. Perfect for sipping while lounging on the deck with a good book and a bowl of fresh fruit.” My notes: A bland blond colour with viscous layering on the glass when swirled and delicate aromas of ripe melon and dry grass. Full in the mouth with mildly tangy kiwi, melon and grass flavours and finishing a warm, dry straw. A sipper unless more fruit is expected then ‘a bowl of fresh fruit’ could complement or even overwhelm it. I'd suggest sipping with nibbles of mild cheese on crackers, cold sweet and sour chicken wings or egg rolls and plum sauce. Pair with grilled white fishes or sliced chicken breast and plain rice. An OK drink-now for the price. 84

Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #479766 $24.95 (Tasted June 16, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 10, 2008 described as “… This Ripassa consistently delivers on that philoposphy with its aromas of blackberry, raisins, and rich chocolate. The palate is dry with plenty of fruit flavours, hints of licorice, ripe tannins and even more chocolate. A great match for pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce, roast beef or pecorino cheese.” My notes: Released by Vintages in October, 2007 the 2005 vintage was tasted in March, 2008 with a rating of 87. The 2006 vintage has a deeper colour of black cherries and an aroma of blackberry compote, strong, soft and smoke tinged. Shows long legs in the glass and has a fuller medium-bodied texture with a strong nip followed by bright blackberry and licorice flavours. The finish is strongly flavoured, smooth as milk chocolate and bright. Considering 2005 was thought overpriced at $21.80 this is ~three dollars higher but, as a plus, has much fuller fruit and overlaying complexities making it a better value. A bold sipper or have with anything Italian and meaty. 92

Marlborough, NZ, 14.5% XD, #359513 $39.95 (Tasted June 15, 2008)

A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 described as "With creamy vanillin oak, musk and a savoury complexity to the aroma, even a hint of mushroom, this is a deeply coloured and richly flavoured classy chardonnay with a citrussy backbone to the rich barrel-ferment flavours with toastiness balanced by zest that adds a lovely freshness. A mouth enveloping wine with a touch of caramel and excellent length. Very smart. (Sue Courtney, May 13, 2007)." The winemaker says "Savoury aromas of sesame biscuits and white mushrooms meld with the fragrance of ripe oranges and yellow plums, depicting the combination of wild yeast fermentation and vibrant Marlborough fruit. The palate is textural and generous with zesty citrus and nougat flavours, subtle toasty oak, and a long mineral finish." My notes: The aroma is the first inkling of at least the possibility of an exceptional wine. This is the case with this chard… having a pronounced clean aroma of butterscotch and tangy gooseberries. A buttery smoothness carries with it flavours of fine caramel and the juice of fresh gooseberries. The finish starts with a burst of cream then fades to a definite herbaceous edge leaving the palate washed in warmth. A delectable sipper or have with any seafood. Father’s Day brings a family tradition of steamed lobster with pots of clarified butter. Drinking well now but could cellar several years. 94

Ontario Canada, 13.0% D, #302059 $19.95 (Tasted June 14, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 24, 2008 described as “… One of Niagara Peninsula's leading vintners of premium wine, Cave Spring struck gold this year at Cuvee winning a top medal for this gewurztraminer. It has an intense rosewater bouquet and spiced lychee character typical of the grape. Full, flavourful with nice depth, it's a classic example of the varietal. (Margaret Swaine, The National Post, March 15, 2008).” My notes: A light golden colour with fragrant aromas of lychee and kiwi melon. Smooth, somewhat soft textured on the first swallow with blended flavours of lime and sweet melon ending with a grassy spice. A sociable sipper that would have general appeal. Serve well chilled by itself or with mild hors d’oeuvres or a fruit and cheese tray. Pair with a course of linguine with a light pesto sauce or cold salmon shredded on baby spinach with an orange dressing. 88

Casablanca Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #059501 $16.95 (Tasted June 10, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7, 2008 described as “Pale straw. Intensely perfumed, suave bouquet of tangerine, pear, quince, quinine and mint. Juicy citrus fruit and herbal flavours are firmed by dusty minerals, picking up an anise quality with air. Finishes dry and firm, with excellent clarity and persistence. 90/100 (Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, March/April 2008).” My notes: A light blond colour with grassy edged aromas of gooseberries. Long legs on the glass gives a hint of cream that comes in a medium-bodied tangy textured tasting. Ripe gooseberries finish long and bright on the palate cleansing without cleaning and leaving lots of cream behind. Served chilled it’s an interesting summer sipper not too heavy for the patio crowd and pairs very well with seafood of all kinds from oysters to planked salmon, perhaps cold chicken with a lightly creamed bow-tie pasta or Thai dishes. Cellaring for several years should be OK but I’d go two years at a time. 90

Ontario, Canada, 13.0% D, #292839 $13.05 (Tasted June 10, 2008)

The winery describes this as “… an excellent example of the classic Beamsville Bench terrior producing a rich yet fruity Chardonnay. The nose has a wash of tropical fruit flavours including banana, pineapple, citrus and apple mingled with sweeter aromas of vanilla and butterscotch. The palate is light bodied and very smooth with subtle flavours of melon and pear concluding with a soft oak finish. Excellent balance of oak and fruit. Drink now or hold for up to 7 years.” My notes: A clean blond colour with a burst of orange blossom that subsides quickly. Flavours are transient leaving a bosc pear/apple remnant behind in a moderate creamy finish. A passive sipper with a slight acid seam - I’d say better to quaff well chilled or to accompany lightly seasoned fare: asparagus spears and chicken pieces with fruit salad, a ham spread on toasts. A drink-now for an open house where it can be a choice of anyone preferring a lighter, almost unoaked chardonnay. 78

Ontario, Canada, 12.5% XD, #453423 $15.95 (Tasted June 3, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 24, 2008 described as “Château des Charmes won an astounding 8 medals at the 2007 Canadian Wine Awards, including a Silver for this bright and fruity Sauvignon Blanc. This dry, medium-bodied Savvy displays an array of grapefruit, gooseberry and mineral aromas and offers tantalizing citrus flavours balanced by lovely acidity and a crisp, lingering finish. A great match for smoked trout or a tomato and basil pasta.” My notes: A golden colour with long legs and aromas of dry straw and sweaty gooseberries. Balanced toward tart with white grapefruit leanings finishing crisp and dry, tapering from firm citrus to mildly herbaceous and a slight mineral oil. A different sauvignon blanc - perhaps the vintner’s style – and a marginal sipper better with nibbles: lobster spread on dry breads or bruschetta. Pair with grilled fish dishes. A drink-now. 80

Nelson, NZ, 13.5% D, #060079 $18.95 (Tasted June 1, 2008)

A Vintages Release on May 24, 2008 described as “The lizard-like Tautara (a.k.a. Spinyback) is native to New Zealand. Apparently, it's the last living dinosaur! Waimea Estates donates 5 cents of every bottle sold to help protect this unique species. Showing sour cherry, toasty oak and spicy characteristics, this lighter-style Pinot Noir from Nelson is ready to drink and would be perfect served lightly chilled along with some light summer fare.” My notes: This has a sweaty (in a good sense) strawberry compote aroma with long legs and a strawberry skin colour, midway to deep. The initial sip has a bright flavour of cherries and strawberries balanced with a very fine tannin and mild acid, on the light side of medium-bodied. Finishes with equal parts strawberries and earthy tar, dry and fading slowly. Certainly an interesting sipper although I found the ‘earthy tar’ aspect excessive. My net is it’s not a sipper… serve with hors d’oeuvres: cocktail sandwiches, olives and mild cheeses, ham and relish with dry crackers. Should be great with grilled arctic char or grilled ham steaks but not a value. 82

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