Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Others in July, 2008: 32 Tasted of 32

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 (G - General Listing, V - Vintages, VC - Vintages Collection, O - Other, RP - Winepointer)
  • Conundrum 2006, Ww95 -- V, Rutherford, USA, #694653 $26.95
  • Jose Maria Da Fonseca Alambre Moscatel 2000, Ww95 -- V, Setúbal, Portugal, #357996 $13.95
  • Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Ww94 -- G, Langhorne Creek, Australia, #470120 $36.00
  • Navarro Correas Gran Reserva Malbec 2005, Ww93 – V, Mendoza, Argentina, #028928 $18.95
  • Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 2002, Ww92 -- G, Tuscany, Italy, #003962 $23.80
  • Jeanneret ‘Grace & Favour’ Grenache Shiraz 2005, Ww91 -- O, Clare Valley, Australia, #B&W Wines $23.70
  • Chakana Malbec 2007, Ww91 – V, Mendoza, Argentina, #003509 $13.95
  • MOMO Sauvignon Blanc 2007, RP87-89, Ww90 – V, Marlborough, NZ, #009167 $19.95
  • Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 2006, Ww90 -- G, Tuscany, Italy, #003962 $23.75
  • Zenato Valpolicella Superiore 2006, Ww90 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #995704 $17.95
  • Harvest Napa Valley Syrah 1998, Ww89 -- O, California, USA, SO39-2646 $22.17
  • Vina La Rosa La Capitana Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, RP87-89, Ww89 – V, Cachapoal Valley, Chile, #068429 $14.95
  • Cremaschi Furlotti ‘Family Limited Edition’ Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Carmenère 2004, Ww 88 -- V, Maule Valley, Chile, #014183 $15.95
  • Wolf Blass Premium Selection Shiraz 2005, Ww88 – V, South Australia, #348540 $25.95
  • Prime Brume Soave Classico 2006, Ww88 – V, Veneto, Italy, #072447 $15.95
  • Corte Zovo ‘Sa Solin’ Ripasso 2003, Ww88 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #650713 $15.95
  • Peninsula Ridge ‘AJ Lepp Vineyards’ Sauvignon Blanc 2007 VQA Niagara Lakeshore, RP90-93, Ww88 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #078543 $19.15
  • Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2007, Ww88 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #707158 $15.95
  • Firesteed Pinot Noir 2006, RP87-89, Ww87 -- V, Oregon, USA, #361782 $17.95
  • Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier 2007, Ww87 -- V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #045138 $13.95
  • Coyote’s Run ‘Black Paw Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2006 VQA Four Mile Creek, Ww86 -- O, Niagara, Canada, #Winery $36.20
  • Sterling Vineyards 'Napa Valley' Chardonnay 2005, Ww86 -- G, California, USA, #669242 $16.05
  • Hacienda Araucano Reserva Carmenère 2005, Ww85 -- V, Central Valley, Chile, #061325 $12.95
  • Flat Rock Cellars Riesling 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, RP87-89, Ww85 – V, Niagara, Canada, #043281 $16.95
  • Viniterra Terra Viognier 2006, Ww84 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #057919 $12.95
  • Vista Touriga Nacional Berias Red 2004, Ww84 -- G, Portugal, #613919 $13.20
  • Navarro Correas Colección Privada Chardonnay 2006, Ww83 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #064477 $13.95
  • Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2006, Ww81 -- VC, Marlborough, NZ, #316570 $18.95
  • Zenato Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2007, Ww80 -- V, Venezie, Italy, #037648 $15.95
  • Pelee Island Merlot 2007, Ww77 -- G, Erie, Canada, #470823 $9.90
  • Pelee Island Blanc de Blanc 2007 VQA Ontario, Ww74 -- G, Erie, Canada, #276170 $8.90*
  • Peller Estates French Cross Vidal NV, Ww68 – G, Ontario, Canada, #289827 $7.75

CONUNDRUM 2006, Rutherford, USA, 13.5% D, #694653 $26.95 (Tasted July 30, 2008)

A Vintages release on May 10, 2008 and described as “This fascinating off-dry wonder brilliantly blends together Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Viognier and Muscat Canelli. The amazing thing about this wine is that on the nose you can get a sense of every grape used. Aromas and flavours of peach, jasmine, melons, pears, vanilla, grass and more intertwine in this multi-layered and well-balanced white… “ My notes: A premium blend from Caymus Vineyards with a delicate medley of melon, pear and wildflower aromas. The fullness brings saturated flavours of tropical fruit hanging heavy, both unctuous and delectable, showing predominantly sauvignon blanc and semillon but others aren’t far behind. Sipping spoils the senses for anything else – perhaps Oysters Rockefeller or a rich olive tapinade on bagel chips. Pairing with a salmon and mushroom penne, grilled swordfish or shellfish bouillabaise would complement the richness of this blend. The finish comes as a surprise being light but warm and long. Cellaring for two to four years could be possible but drinking well now. Ww95

ELEE ISLAND BLANC DE BLANC 2007 VQA Ontario, Erie, Canada, 12.5% MS, #276170 $8.90* (Tasted July 29, 2008)

A General listing described as: Straw yellow colour; fruity and floral aroma with apple & green pepper; matching full fruit flavour long finish, good quality wine. Serve chilled with poultry or veal.” My notes: The regular price is $9.90 and 85% of the grapes could come from anywhere in Ontario in the vintage year. A light greenish blond with aromas of perfume, faint pear and apple, a nice roundness on the tongue and a blended flavour of melon and tart apple, slightly off dry. The finish is short, mostly of bland but green apple and ending on a tart citric mineral note. OK as a commercial sipper. Serve well chilled and have with anything on a buffet table – as long as you eat something. An uninteresting dinner white but would pair OK with grilled freshwater fish. Not for cellaring. Ww74

Maule Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #014183 $15.95 (Tasted July 29, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 5, 2008 described as “This blend combines Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Carmenère (20%), two grapes that have already earned a strong reputation in Chile, with the up-and-coming Syrah (20%). Big, complex and full-bodied, it offers up gorgeous red-fruit aromas with subtle hints of leather, earth and spice. Enjoy this versatile wine with grilled red meats or a selection of fine cheeses.” My notes: A ‘Favourite’ in 2006, the 2003 vintage was tasted November 26, 2006. This, the 2004, is much bolder still having an appealing ruby with purple cast and warm aromas of ripe plum, blackberries and a touch of pepper and walnut. Sipping brings a strong tannin and acid combination with a nuttiness mingled with blackberries. The finish is dry, full of leather and interesting spices ending with a long minty edge. It’s an aggressive sipper better paired with a pepper steak, bbq’d ribs or roast sirloin with garlic and soya marinade. Air for a few hours or preferably cellar for awhile to overcome some rough edges – up to four more years. Ww88

Ontario, Canada, 11.5% D, #289827 $7.75 (Tasted July 29, 2008)

A General listing described as “Pale yellow straw; Cooked pear and yellow apple aroma; Off-dry with soft round fruit flavours and light tropical fruit notes; easy drinking wine. Serve chilled as an Aperitif; with mild cheeses; finger foods; turkey wraps with honey mustard dressing.” An Andres Wines Ltd. nonVQA and non vintage product meaning grapes can come from anywhere at anytime. My notes: A light golden in the glass leaving a thin film and aromas of nettles and slight apple ending with mild sweat. Airing for twenty minutes lessens the nettle effect but loses the apple and accentuates the sweat. The first sip has a nice texture, not sweet but I couldn’t recognize the flavourings as natural fruit, tropical or otherwise – to me, not appealing. The finish is more of the same but with a well balanced acid. A drink now or, if you can, avoid it would be my recommendation. Would not add interest or a complementary flavour to a meal imho. Ww68

Niagara, Canada, 11.5% D, #Winery $36.20 (Tasted July 26, 2008)

Available from the Winery or from Winertohome and described on the Winery website as “Black cherry, and mulling spices on the nose with ripe, sweet red berry fruit and soft silky tannins on the palate.” My notes: This has the colour of crushed strawberries including some pithy dullness. The nose is a mélange of crushed blueberry, strawberry and light clay and a film clings to the glass when swirled. Nicely balanced acid, a silky smoothness and not enough sweetness to notice but shows in the texture. An interesting pinot noir for sipping as it changes from pouring to the taste buds and over time. I suggest airing for a half hour and serve just above room temp. For my liking, the finish has too much clay that takes away from the fruit, or perhaps not enough process influence to avoid a limited dimension. Have with planked salmon, a ham slice grilled or fried, or a crusted fish pie. Cellaring for two to four years may add a velvet touch but not worthwhile in my opinion. Ww86

Langhorne Creek, Australia, 14.5% D, #470120 $36.00 (Tasted July 27, 2008)

A General listing made by Mildara Blass Ltd. and described as “Deep ruby colour; plummy, blackberry, chocolate aromas with a hint of vanilla; dry, full bodied, rich and smooth palate, full-bodied with ripe fruit flavours and big tannins on the finish. Serve with Buffalo steak; angus beef; game; saddle of lamb; chops; grilled lamb chops with olive oil drizzled over feta cheese.” My notes: Air for an hour or decant for the fullest. A deep purple colour with aromas of black currants, raspberries (mostly the former), mocha coffee with light legs. Full-bodied, a fine tannin to dry the palate and the flavour of black currants with a natural tang that would make a great background for prime rib, grilled back ribs or full flavoured stews. The finish starts full then declines quickly but a warm flavouring persists forever. This should cellar well - up to eight years I’d say. Pricey but reliably tasty. Ww94

South Australia, 15.0% XD, #348540 $25.95 (Tasted July 27, 2008)

A Vintages’ Essentials Collecton wine newly released on May 10, 2008 described as “Lovely aromas of blackberry, cassis, mint, and black pepper lead to rich, concentrated fruit flavours, exotic spice and vanilla nuances, culminating in a long, toasty and fruity finish. This refined and well-balanced Shiraz matches well with mixed grill and blackberry compote.” My notes: A deep black cherry with aromas of plums and black cherries. There is a soft nip in the nose that carries forward. A lighter full-bodied red with some bright raspberries, red cherries and a cherry pit or two showing a fine tannin and slight pepper. Good for sipping - a compromise of old world and new finishing dry and somewhat woody. Suitable for a buffet supper or formal dining. Better with hors d’oeuvres: an olive stuffed with garlic or artichoke tray or mixed cheeses or pair with grilled beef or rack of lamb. Keeping a few on hand for a year should work out but it’s more of a drink now. Ww88

Veneto, Italy, 12.5% D, #072447 $15.95 (Tasted July 24, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 19, 2008 described as “The Veneto region has been generous to the wine world, giving it Valpolicella, Amarone, Prosecco and, of course, Soave. Refreshing, fruity and harmonious, Soaveepitomizes a summer white. It makes the perfect sipper for a warm summer evening, a wonderful aperitif and a great match for soups, salads, seafood starters and other light summer fare.” My notes: A blend of garganega 85% and trebbiano veronese 15%. Clean and clear with a slight blond tint and a fragrance to match, of wildflowers and lemon. The first sip shows a nice balance of citrus and cream with enough lively acid for pairing with many appetizers and entrees: creamy pastas, grilled seafood or mushroom risotto. Its liveliness carries right through a long finish of citrus and green apple. This could cellar up to two years but is fresh now and seasonally a summer drink. Gord Stimmell in his column July 19th gives it 89/100. Ww88

California, USA, 14.1% XD, SO39-2646 $22.17 (Retasted July 23, 2008)

My notes: A syrah blended with 11% cabernet sauvignon, cellared April 2004 and last tasted on July 4, 2007. After a ‘dumb period’ lasting through 2005 and into 2006, Harvest woke up with ‘a full pepper nose with interesting highlights of leather and mint’. I’d say this has improved since with the same tasting but more pronounced in all areas. The colour is a deep shade of black cherry with reasonable legs on the glass. The nose is warm with pepper and blackberry with a few black currants. Medium-bodied with a flavour having an initial sharp attack with a blend of black currants, berries, leather, tobacco and pepper then finishing full of lively black fruit, soft tannins and appealing tar. A bold sipper with a sharpness that some may not prefer, but overall I found it delectable. Better paired with beef stroganoff, pepper steak, or chili con carne. Since this is my last bottle it’s mute to talk about cellaring but I believe it could go downhill from here becoming increasingly tart - ten years has been long enough. Ww89

Setúbal, Portugal, 17.5% MS, #357996 $13.95 (Retasted July 23, 2008)

My notes: Vintages released this on January 8 2005 and not since. I first tasted on January 14, 2005 and it was likely my first venture into dessert wines on this blog. Tony Aspler gave it four and one half stars so I purchased a slew. The sugar level is eight and the colour is a delicate salmon pink with distinct aromas of meadow flowers and caramel, spicy sweet. At room temperature the apricot and raisiny butterscotch flavours are inviting to the taste buds and last through a long finish with the addition of a slight walnut tone. An afternoon sipper instead of a honey bun, if you’re so inclined, or have with a tray of pineapple rings, pear slices and grapes. Chill and pour over peaches on a scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt or have with crème caramel to add a different dessert dimension. Cellaring hasn’t hurt and it likely could carry on for several more years – ‘til 2010 at least. Ww95

Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% XD, #028928 $18.95 (Tasted July 22, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 5, 2008 described as “The Correas family’s history in Mendoza dates back to 1798. From the mid 1800s to 1974 the family cultivated grapes for other wine producers, but all that changed in 1975 when Don Edmundo Navarro Correas established the family’s own winery. Today, winemaker Juan Marco crafts this flavourful, well structured Malbec. It’s brimming with blackberry, black cherry, cedar and coffee aromas and flavours. Great with grilled meats or pasta in a zesty tomato sauce.” My notes: A deep ruby with a violet hue and long legs. A lovely scent of currants, blackberries, worn leather all with a touch of spice. Full-bodied, smooth, flavours that are tobacco tinged currant and bright berry leaving black fruit and a tar edge on the palate. A serious sipper and an elegant companion to prime rib, roast lamb, steaks and bbq’d pork ribs. This is drinking well now and could cellar up to eight years adding even more interest. If your preference leans to a full-bodied Rhone or Rioja this is excellent value. Ww93

Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #064477 $13.95 (Tasted July 22, 2008)

Released by Vintages on July 19, 2008 described as “Colección Privada is Navarro Correas' premier tier. The wines are designed to exhibit a classic style, and the bottle labels feature original artwork by celebrated Argentine painters. This Chardonnay is fresh and juicy, offering apple, pear, fig, and a touch of spicy oak. Delicious with grilled chicken, barbecued shrimp or artichoke salad.” My notes: A light blond leaving an even film when swirled. The aromas start as grapefruit and lemon ever so light staying that way throughout the tasting. Medium-bodied with a polite flavour of grapefruit and melon on first sip warming the throat and leaving a refreshing layer of melon and dry apple. Serve chilled and let the flavours and textures develop in the glass and on the palate. A good companion for a cheese and fruit tray or bacon bit loaded caesar salad. Pair with anything fishy… perhaps too light for grilled fowl. A drink now but cellaring up to four years should be marginally rewarding. Ww83

Niagara, Canada, 9.1% D, #043281 $16.95 (Tasted July 21, 2008)

Released by Vintages on July 19, 2008 described as “The cool climate of the Niagara region is ideally suited to the cultivation of Riesling and it comes as no surprise that this varietal is fast-becoming one of Ontario's signature wines. Beamsville Bench, in particular, has been producing exceptional wines from this noble grape. Fresh, well-balanced, and off-dry, Flat Rock's Riesling offers vibrant aromas and flavours of peach, tropical fruit and grapefruit. Terrific with spicy cuisine.” Gord Stimmell in his column July 19th gives this 90/100. My notes: Although next door to Beamsville Bench, Twenty Mile Bench differs in that it has deep clay and till surface soils, with a high proportion of limestone and shale. This riesling reflects this terroir having a slightest tinge of green in a light blond colour and nutty aromas taking forever to accumulate in a long necked glass. Served offchill, but not far, there’s a sweet edge to a lemonade base that refreshes the taste buds then leaves it chalky offdry with lemon succulence. A sociable sipper that could pass for a dry light lemonade except for a stone fruit tone and slight warmth on the palate. Great as an appetizer or quaffer on a hot summer day and for hors d’oeuvres or a light snack. Perhaps with chinese fare, thai, sushi or grilled freshwater fish. Strictly a drink now. Ww85

Cachapoal Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #068429 $14.95 (Tasted July 20, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 19, 2008 described as “Ripe and bountiful, this Cabernet Sauvignon is made for the rich flavours of grilled summer fare. The nose is filled with black cherry, raspberry and oak spice aromas. Dry and fruity, it is nicely balanced by a seam of acidity.” My notes: The colour of a fully ripened black cherry and delicate, warm aromas of the same dark fruit tinged with the scent of forest floor. Air for an hour or decant. Full-body, silky, nicely balanced tannins and acids, black currants, blackberries, some tar and humidor makes this a demanding sipper. I found the process influences matched the fruit so if you lean that way it’s great. Have with a bacon wrapped filet mignon or grilled back ribs liberally sprinkled with Barberian rub or a honey garlic sauce - was wonderful sharing the spotlight with a roast veal chop. Perhaps cellaring up to four years could settle what I’d call in-your-face-ness and introduce some elegant sidelights making it an excellent investment. Ww89

Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #009167 $19.95 (Tasted July 20, 2008)

Released by Vintages on July 19, 2008 described as “From Seresin Estate, the 2007 vintage is a drink-young style with a very punchy, lifted bouquet. Crisp and vivacious, with ripely herbaceous flavours, a slightly minerally streak and good body and length, it's delicious in its youth. (Rated 4 or 5 by Michael Cooper… )” My notes: A light blond colour fills the bowl and a bright gooseberry aroma tweaks the nose making me pause for a few more sniffs. The flavours are just as bold full of almost ripe gooseberries subdued only by a touch of lime then finishing with the fruit slowly declining ending with a touch of clay. Overall the fruit, dry tang and mild roundness makes this a delight for kiwi-style sauvignon blanc sipping and for pairing with shellfish nibbles or entrees. A perfect drink for summer patio time with friends. Use up this year. Ww90

Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #003509 $13.95 (Tasted July 20, 2008)

Released by Vintages on July 19, 2008 described as “This big, fruit-forward Malbec is consistently an exceptional value. The 2006 vintage scored a 90 from Wine Enthusiast, and was designated a Best Buy pick. This new vintage offers intense aromas of black fruit and chocolate, with plenty of toasty oak and vanilla. Bold and flavourful, it will make a fine partner for barbecued burgers, or gourmet pizza with sausage and sundried tomato.” My notes: A deep ruby with a garnet cast and an aroma that needs airing for twenty minutes to fill a full bowl, then of warm chocolate dipped black cherries and one or two raspberries. Midway to soft with a bright tartness and texture of fine tannin enveloping dark fruit for flavour. A woody finish dries the palate along with some dark fruit to add interest. A bold sipper worth investing the taste buds in – lots of spirit that mellows slightly with airing but doesn’t lose a polite bite. Good with anything seared, grilled or roasted and flavourful - was awesome with a roast veal chop (2" thick) sliced, covered with caramelized shallots and garlic buds. This may blossom if aged two to six years. A real value. Ww91

Oregon, USA, 12.5% XD, #361782 $17.95 (Tasted July 19, 2008)

Released by Vintages on July 19, 2008 described as “Near-perfect conditions in September and October made the 2006 vintage one for the record books in Oregon, and this well-priced Pinot is consistently one of the state's best values. Truly representational, the fruit is sourced from the Willamette, Umpqua, Rogue and Walla Walla Valleys. This is a plush and juicy wine brimming with soft black cherry and raspberry fruit balanced by a bright seam of acidity and a hint of oak.” My notes: I retasted after a day in the open bottle. This has a ruby colour with a mid-garnet cast and aromas more mysterious than discernible… very faint. A soft first sip and light flavours of raspberry and silky strawberry, well blended with fine tannin and acid. The finish is smooth and delicate ending with a mellow but subtle flavour of bright berries. Not much to object to nor to savour making this politically correct – a subdued burgundian. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature and no one would refuse a second glass. Have with salmon on greens, tomato and bonconcini and balsamic, bacon strips and feta on iceberg lettuce or with chicken breast on herbed orzo. Cellaring a year or two may add to the current textures increasing its appeal. Ww87

Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% XD, #316570 $18.95 (Tasted July 17, 2008)

A Vintages’ Essentials Collection wine newly released on May 24, 2008 described as “This classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc showcases exuberant aromas of gooseberry, grass, cream of asparagus, jalapeno peppers and melon. It's intense and lively with crisp acidity and a lingering, slightly minerally finish. Try with shellfish like steamed clams, pan-fried scallops, mussels and, oh yeah, oysters.” My notes: A light blond with pronounced aroma of gooseberry but mostly nettles, some say ‘sweat’. The website doesn’t detail varietal, vineyard(s) or blending proportions. A smooth tartness accompanies a lemon tinged light gooseberry not as expressive of fresh fruit as I expected. The finish has a vanilla seam suggesting sweetness but the texture ends with some lime and grass and asserts its dryness. A different sauvignon blanc lighter bodied and more of a commercial blending of unusual flavours. As a sipper the nose turns me off but it would be an OK seafood companion for spicy mussels or grilled rainbow trout. Not for cellaring. Ww81

Venezie, Italy, 12.5% XD, #037648 $15.95 (Tasted July 17, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “By embracing a variety of modern techniques, Alberto and Silvano Zenato have taken Pinot Grigio in exciting new directions, pushing its intensity and body to levels hitherto not achieved in the region. Enjoy this ripe, round and fresh wine with grilled, herbed chicken breast, poached sole or spring salads.” My notes: A light blond colour crisp in the glass and a meadow floral scent almost too light to be noticed. The first sip carries a bland seam with light citrus and a creamy body that provides a smooth texture for a straw and melon finish. A delicate, well-balanced sipper, not intrusive in any way and could be served at any function – but without oohs and aahs. A quaffer for whitefish entrees, mussels in a light oil sauce or a cheesy penne dish. Serve well chilled. A drink now. Ww80

Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #650713 $15.95 (Retasted July 13, 2008)

My notes: Vintages released this vintage on June 24, 2006 and my first tasting was the same month. Winecurrent had given it five (of 5) or “achieving nirvana” and Natalie MacLean, 87/100. I retasted March 2, 2007 noting the short cellaring time had improved the body and mellowness without any loss of bright cherry flavour but then on August 14, 2007 I noted “…the fruit is very much subdued: a light smoky herby aroma with flavours void of cherry but still having a spicy allure and silky texture. A pleasing sipper… “ At today’s tasting, the colour has a gray cast but still with a ruby hue and the aroma is smoky forest floor with some herb and cherry overtones – still quite OK. The texture has a very pleasant silkiness and the fruit is predominant with bright cherry lasting a long while ending smooth and full of mint. Second sips reinforce the fruit and texture making the original investment worthwhile. This would be great with tomato pasta dishes, veal parmagiana, five cheese or meat lasagna, or with roast veal chop with shallots and garlic. Gotta be at peak now. Ww88

Ontario, Canada, 13.0% XD, #078543 $19.15 (Tasted July 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on June21, 2008 described as “Never one to rest on his laurels, Peninsula Ridge's winemaker, Jean-Pierre Colas, has spent many winters working vintages in the southern hemisphere. During one of his stints in New Zealand, he undoubtedly picked up some pointers for crafting expressive Sauvignon Blancs like this single-vineyard version. Bursting with gooseberry, straw and grapefruit aromas, this crisp and vivacious wine has mouth-watering acidity and delectable fruit and mineral flavours.” My notes: This can be served too chilled taking away much of the sipping enjoyment - serve off chill. A light blond, light legs and aromas of gooseberries and grapefruit, also light. The first sip brings a crisp, clean flavour of lime, gooseberries and grapefruit, quite silky, a soft finish with a nice tart edge ending with slight grass and chalk. If sipping, give time for warmth and flavours to build – very sociable and also good with light buffet snacks: a shrimp ring, stuffed mushroom caps, bacon wrapped scallops or with freshwater fish and creamy pastas. Ww88

Tuscany, Italy, 13.5% D, #003962 $23.75 (Tasted July 16, 2008)

My notes: A General listing. Not available locally – but as it turned out I was in the Niagara-on-the-Lake outlet this week and after a search they found the new vintage. The 2006 shows some youth as yet and should be aired for a short while. The colour is a deep ruby with garnet hue, long legs and a bright, judiciously oaked cherry nose. A slight tobacco humidor sets up flavours of black cherry and raspberry finishing peppery with a firm acid, a layer of dark fruit and a silky texture making this a bold sipper. Premature to treat as a drink now unless you don’t mind a lot of character. Pair with savoury or spicy meat dishes to cover most of its youthfulness. For elegance, cellaring for several years is recommended – as with the 2002, try four to six years. Ww90

Tuscany, Italy, 13.5% D, #003962 $23.80 (Retasted July 12, 2008)

My notes: The 2002 vintage was originally cellared June 2004 and was last tasted April 23, 2006. The 2002 remains a dark ruby although so deep it’s no longer a see-through. Long legs last forever on the glass and there is a soft toasty sweet cherry nose that fills a deep bowl. Full-bodied with soft tannins on top of warm leather, plum, ripe cherry flavourings and ending with a bright mint edge. The finish has a mild acid accompanying cherry and vanilla tones, almost mellow and bone dry. A balanced integration of process with fruit for a delectable result and well worth the wait. By itself an interesting sipper or have with gorgonzola on rye crisps, liver paté, tapinade or anchovy paste on soft breads or with grilled meats, savoury stews and tomato pastas. Still cellaring well but unfortunately this is my last 2002. Ww92

Mendoza, Argentina, 14.5% D, #057919 $12.95 (Tasted July 11, 2008)

Released by Vintages on June 21, 2008 described as “… This wine features tropical fruit, apricot, peach and floral aromas and flavours. Dry, medium full-bodied with ripe, juicy flavours and bright, balancing acidity, this white will pair well with grilled tuna or barbecued chicken legs.” My notes: A bright golden colour, long legs and fragrance initially of mown hay then, after airing a few moments, of distant meadow blossoms. Serve at room temperature for a smooth, full mouthfeel and a better balance between hay and fruit. This has a citrus tang, unripe peach or apricot flavour then ends with long wet clay. As a sipper I’m tempted to gulp my way through this for its fullness and avoid focusing on the unusual flavours – but they do grow on you. The net: not a sipper, pair with flavourful seafood, fowl, green salad with pesto dressing, anchovies or creamy pastas. My recommendation… for $13, cellaring for two years may bring extra flavour (not fruit) layering but you have to try it first to be convinced. Ww84

California, USA, 13.5% D, #669242 $16.05 (Tasted July 10, 2008)

A General listing described as “Medium deep yellow straw colour; aromas and flavours of apple, pear and oaky vanilla; dry, medium to full bodied, well balanced with good length. Serve with roast poultry or lobster.” My notes: A light golden colour with faint aromas of peach fuzz and golden delicious apple. Medium-bodied, the flavours are an interesting blending of almond, apple, lime zest and papaya seemingly presenting each separately then coming together for a long silky finish – a tender touch of oak. A very interesting sipper having a good balance of acid and fruit and would also companion well with seafood, shellfish or chicken dishes. Serve chilled and let warm for a wide range of changes. This should cellar well for several years – I’d plan for four. Ww86

Veneto, Italy, 13.0% XD, #707158 $15.95 (Tasted July 9, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 5, 2008 described as “Sourced from Zenato's estate vineyards in San Benedetto just south of Lake Garda, this crisp and refreshing white is perfect for summer enjoyment. Made from the Trebbiano di Lugana grape, its delicious peach, citrus and melon flavours will make this a surefire hit when paired with broiled fish or seafood risotto, or savour on its own as an aperitif.” My notes: Zenato has been a dependable vintner for my tastes so I’m whimming this bottle from Vintages. The colour is a light lemon, almost clear and there are very long legs and aromas of soft melon. The texture is solidly round filling the senses with ripe melon, almost flat but with enough substance to carry an almost ripe melon flavour to a long smooth, slightly tangy finish. I didn’t get ‘citrus’ except for a bit of tartness and ‘peach’ is very subtle if there. As an aperitif serve well chilled so the fragrance and flavours can evolve while sipping. A warm weather sipper for sure, or for grilled whitefish and creamy pastas, risotto, or lemon, garlic, chicken or scallop orzo. A value for a ‘quiet’ white. Ww88

Central Valley, Chile, 13.0% D, #061325 $12.95 (Tasted July 9, 2008)

A Vintages release described as “Deep black red with crimson rims. Earthy, savoury aromas with a myriad of dried herbs and juicy, jammy red fruits with vanillin oak, blackberries, chocolate, earth, tar and herbs. Plenty of flavour and a long savoury finish ... (Sue Courtney, May 2, 2007).” My notes: Jacques & François put the Lurton name behind this Reserva from Chile… but then how is the wine? It’s a deep black cherry colour opaque in the glass with an oaky plum/currant fragrance distant but warm and focused. In spite of its appearance, it has a lightish medium-body with a smooth texture, toasty plum/currant flavourings and nicely balanced tannins and acid. An old world red having just enough fruit to give it varietal character. A pleasant sipper and an alternative meal red finishing dry with more currant than plum and an equal shot of process sobriety. Have with prime rib, T-bone steak, rack of lamb or savoury stews. Could cellar up to four years - likely at peak now though. Ww85

Erie, Canada, 12.5% D, #470823 $9.90 (Tasted July 7, 2008)

A General listing described as “Medium ruby colour; dry and light-bodied with crisp acidity and very little tannin; berry fruit flavour with some plum notes. Serve with picnic fare; cold cuts; burgers.” My notes: This has a true black cherry colour and legs that form very slowly on the glass. A sharp nose with a whiff of toasty cherry/berry and flavours of cherry/berry along with a nip, lightly stinging on the swallow. The finish is dry, fine tannins, no discernible sweetness, fruit has left behind flavours of crushed cherry stone, a smooth texture, an earthy layer and a metallic edge. Not a VQA wine the website says ‘100% merlot’ without indicating the vineyards. Have this red when elegance is not needed or expected - a rough drink-now. Pair with burgers, hot dogs, chili con carne or anything that may occasionally require purging of the taste buds. PS. The last half of the opened bottle was much smoother on the third day. Ww77

Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #995704 $17.95 (Tasted July 6, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “… a blend of Corvina and Rondinella. Medium-bodied with delicious blackcurrant fruit and an undertone of mocha and roasted almond, this is perfect with pasta primavera or mushroom risotto.” My notes: A deep ruby colour, long legs and aromas of ripe plums, pepper and black cherries needing a few minutes to develop in a large bowl, then it’s delectable The first sip shows a dry framework of cherries, currants and toasty oak full in the mouth and smooth. Fine tannins and a very soft tartness lead the way for a bright fruit finish. An excellent alternative as a dry red and ideal with tomato based pastas, pepperoni/ham/bacon pizzas, veal parmigiana – this can stand some heat but not a lot. Cellaring for up to four years should be OK and some ageing is recommended. Ww90

Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #045138 $13.95 (Tasted July 5, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 5, 2008 described as “This crisp, well-balanced Viognier has intense citrus and apricot aromas with subtle hints of tropical fruit. A lovely aperitif or delicious complement to seared duck breast.” My notes: Having enjoyed the 2006 (September 2007, Ww90) I was looking forward to this vintage. A light golden colour with fragrance of tart papaya, field floral, slight lychee nut and showing light legs on a tulip glass. Serve chilled and allow aromas to develop. There is a firm tang and freshness carried along with flavours of gooseberry, herbaceous citrus tailing off with some melon. If I hadn’t seen the label I would have guessed a medium-bodied sauvignon blanc although there’s some melon smoothness in the long tangy finish where ‘viognier’ can’t be questioned. Drinking well now this could also age for several years to let the process work on the tropical flavours. Have with seafood, cheesy pastas, chicken or veal dishes. Two dollars cheaper than the 2006 makes this an excellent value. Ww87

Clare Valley, Australia, 15.5% XD, #B&W Wines $23.70 (Tasted July 2, 2008)

My notes: The last but one of my 2004 vintage was tasted in June. Checking the B&W Wines website I noticed the 2005 was available. It came today and why wait! The 2005 is a blend of 75% grenache and 25% shiraz from the Grace & Favour vineyards in the north part of Clare valley. Served in a deep bowl and allowed to air the colour is of rich crushed blackberries and the aroma is of ripe blackberries, warmed chocolate and bright pepper. The first sip is tart but round and smooth, full of fruit and mint producing a long finish of spicy blackberries. Bolder and a tad thinner than the 2004 perhaps showing the difference in vintages but equally warm and lip smacking. A red for slow sipping with a good book or good conversation. Have with ribs, lamb shank, steaks or a crockpot stew – was great with hamburgers with the works. Cellaring for a few years would be rewarding and it likely could age up to eight. Ww91

Portugal, 14.0% D, #613919 $13.20* (Retasted July 1, 2008)

A General listing described as “Deep dark ruby colour; aromas and flavours of black fruit, blueberry, cedar, herb cocao and plum; dry, medium to full bodied with rich fruit concentration and generous tannins on finish.” My notes: Last tasted in July 2007 and when purchased was discounted to $10.60* - today it’s listed at $13.10. Decanting and airing for an hour shows this as a rich dark plum colour with warm aromas of plum jam and damp forest floor. It’s full-bodied with a blending of plum, licorice, blackberry and a soft spice. Coarse tannins leave a dry mouthfeel covering spicy fruit to the degree I’d say it’s not a sipper. Should be okay with lamb or, if not too spicy, grilled beef but better if allowed to age a few more years. The balance has shifted to ‘process’ leaving predominant tannins not in the original tasting. Ww84

Still Rosés, 2008: 17 Tasted of 17

There’s nothing pleasanter than sipping a smooth rosé on a warm day drifting off with recollections of southern France or the summer cottage long past. I went back to La Gaude just north of Nice after (quite) a few years, ordered the same memorable rosé. This time I swear the bottle served had stayed in the sun too long. I’ve had a few rosés recently: Organized Crime Pinot Noir Rosé 2006 (June, 80), Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah 2007 (May, 86) and Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel 2006 (Feb, 88) and haven’t repeated their tastings here. Rosés are special - not quite like champagne - a wine for a quieter moment. I haven’t found that one special rosé since but will keep looking.

A rosé is hard to get right. They can be highly ‘cherry bubble gum’ flavoured... or too saccharine… or texturally uninteresting. I’ll see what my taste buds think of the following selections.

Almost half are Niagara rosés with the rest European and ‘New World’ for contrast. Rod Phillips has rated the asterisked labels in his Winepointer #8. Wines when tasted appear in bold

Cheers, Ww 
  • Mountain Road Wine Company Gamay Semi-dry Rosé 2004 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 92-3 -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $11.95
  • Cave Spring Rosé 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 90-2 -- G, Ontario, Canada, #295006 $13.05
  • *Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, RP90-93, 90-2 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #039974 $14.95
  • Zenato Bardolino Chiaretto 2007, 89-2 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #045203 $12.95
  • Sileni Cellar Selection Cabernet Franc Rosé 2007, 88-1 -- V, Hawkes Bay, NZ, #599951 $13.95
  • Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosé 2007, 86 -- V, Rhone, France, #739474 $14.95
  • Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2007, 85 – V, Central Valley, Chile, #059147 $10.95
  • St. Hallett Barossa Valley Rosé 2006, 85 -- V, Australia, #034249 $16.85
  • Muga Rosé 2007, 85 -- V, Rioja, Spain, #603795 $12.95
  • Domaine Maby La Forcadière Tavel 2007, 84 -- V, Provence, France, #701318 $17.95
  • Salena Organic GSM Rosé 2007, 83 -- V, Riverland, Australia, #068908 $18.95
  • Megalomaniac Pink Slip Pinot Noir Rosé 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 80 – V, Niagara, Canada, #085126 $14.95
  • *Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, RP87-89, 79 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #559088 $16.00
  • Goats do Roam Rosé 2006, 78 -- V, South Africa, #655225 $13.85
  • Vineland Estates Gamay Noir Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 76 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #078394 $14.95
  • Wildass (Stratus) Rosé 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, RP85-86, 76 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #071712 $19.00
  • *Henry of Pelham Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, RP90-93, 74 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #685610 $14.95
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, VC - Vintages Collection, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value, RP - Winepointer )


AIN ROAD WINE COMPANY GAMAY SEMI-DRY ROSÉ 2004 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Canada, 13.3% SC4, Winery $11.95 (Retasted July 28, 2008)

My notes: This was purchased from the winery in October of 2006 on a trip to the Niagara area and was last tasted December of the same year. The colour is a vivid salmon pink and the aromas are beautifully developed as strawberry, including the mild sweat associated with this fruit, and ripe peach. Served chilled the soft and round texture is the first to be noticed along with a definite sweetness, not overpowering but well balanced with a mild tartness, followed by a medley of flavours: fresh strawberry, peach stone, red cherry. A perfect summer sipper or have with fresh fruit: cantaloupe, grapes, pineapple or a mild cheese tray or shrimp ring. Pair with chinese, thai or even spicy mussels. The time cellared has improved this rosé, more body and blending of textures with flavours. There should be no problem cellaring for another two years. A bargain for an off dry rosé. 92

Central Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD, #059147 $10.95 (Tasted July 22, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 19, 2008 described as “This robust, cherry-pink rosé is packed with ripe blackcurrant and berry aromas and flavours. Dry, medium-bodied and bursting with fruit, it's a bolder-styled rosé that's perfect for around the barbecue this summer.” My notes: A pinkish salmon in a tulip glass with a light aroma of berries, I'd guess blue-, and a bit of sweat. Serve off chill for an extra dry first sip followed by a scant flavour of berry and cranberry, just enough to taste. The palate ends up dry with slight fruit flavourings, declining quickly, refreshing and building roundness and flavour with each sip. This could be a grilled freshwater fish companion or a bbq’d chicken quaffer as well as being priced right for a dry summer ‘cooler’. It would be interesting to cellar for two years to see where it goes but likely a drink now. 85

Niagara, Canada, 10.2% D, #085126 $14.95 (Tasted July 19, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 19, 2008 described as “Even a megalomaniac blushes now and again. John Howard, the man behind the popular Megalomaniac series… The wine is fresh, fragrant, fruity, very dry and very refreshing. A summer porch-sipper. (Rick VanSickle, The Ottawa Sun, May 14, 2008). My notes: From Andrzej Lipinski, the same winemaker used by The Organized Crime Winery. A bright salmon pink in the glass with an aroma that needs to be coaxed by letting go off chill, perhaps a slight cherry. This hits the spot on a hot day… a touch of sweet and tart apple flavour followed by a mild red cherry. The flavour slides into a finish with a slight sugary texture and a mineral tinge. A straight forward rosé, no herbs or spice to complicate sipping either by itself or with a cold buffet: sweet and sour chicken wings, cocktail sausages, shrimp ring or mild cheese tray. A drink now suitable for an afternoon patio crowd. 80

Provence, France, 14.0% XD, #701318 $17.95 (Tasted July 17, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “According to Robert Parker Jr., Domaine Maby is a winery that 'never disappoints'. Their rosés are always anticipated because of their depth of flavour and beautiful balance of fruit and acid. Just say 'Maby Baby' and enjoy it as an aperitif or with freshly-caught trout or bass.” My notes: The LCBO description hasn’t changed since my first purchase of the 2005 vintage after the Vintages release on June 24, 2006 – likely earlier. (Shouldn't there be a 'time out' on any critic's notes?) A pretty cherry red with a pinkish rim in a tulip glass and faint floral aromas of rose petals. Medium-bodied with an appealing smoothness, flavours are a dry combination of red cherries and cranberries and the finish is short leaving cherry stone and clay on the palate. Serve slightly off chill with cocktail sandwiches or olives and mild cheeses. Not easily paired unless with luncheon fare: cold sliced or minced ham on baguette, sliced pork or turkey on a multi-grain bun both with greens or a fruit salad. I found no difference from the 2005 vintage tasted June 2006 except for being $2 more. Not a value. 84

Ontario, Canada, 11.0% D, #078394 $14.95 (Tasted July 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7, 2008 described as “This ebullient rosé is just bursting with ripe red-berry fruit flavours (cherry, raspberry and strawberry) and culminates in a crisp and refreshing finish. Chill this rosé for thirty minutes and serve it as a tasty accompaniment to grilled-chicken satays, tuna steaks or a light vegetarian meal on the patio.” My notes: A vivid light cherry red and aromas of cherries, strawberries and slight sweat. Light-bodied, dry, crisp, strawberry tainted cherry and a moderate dry, cherry stone finish. I found it to be an uninteresting sipper, slightly better off chill. Would be OK with chicken wings or roast chicken breast. I didn’t go for a second glass - a drink now without flaws or distinction. 76

Rhone, France, 14.0% XD, #739474 $14.95 (Tasted July 8, 2008)

Released by Vintages on May 10, 2008 described as “Tavel rosés are more robust and flavourful than those of Provence, making them excellent candidates for food matching. It pairs particularly well with herbed chicken dishes and grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini and red pepper).” My notes: Les Vignerons de Tavel fermented, blended and bottled this cherry red rosé. Fragrances of dry cherries and a whiff of almost ripened strawberry make for the start of a freshening first sip. Tart and dry but round and flavours of watermelon, tea and cherry stone set up the taste buds for nibbling or dining: shaved meats, fresh oysters, fried octopus rings or pair with grilled sea bass, salmon, roast chicken or pork cutlet. I enjoyed letting this go off chill for a better balance of herbaceous elements and fruit in aromas and flavours. The finish is smooth, slightly chalky with a lasting warmth. A drink now. 86

Hawkes Bay, NZ, 13.5% XD, #599951 $13.95 (Tasted July 6, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 5, 2008 described as “Deliciously appealing pink ruby colour, this medium-bodied style tastes deep and earthy and just a little leathery with blueberries seemingly the dominant fruit until summer berries take over the finish. (Sue Courtney, www.wineoftheweek.com, Sept. 4, 2007).” My notes: Serve at or just above room temperature. The colour of crushed raspberries and an aroma that even some airing time could not rouse – perhaps a weak tea. Dry, tart raspberries and cranberries blended for a light fruit flavouring then finishing spicy on the palate with a smooth texture. Cab Franc lovers would find the raspberry/cranberry combination with the savoury edge interesting but it could also turn some sippers off. I’d call it an ‘acquired taste’ and not my preference for a rosé. Have with nibbles, a cheese tray or with shrimp/cream cheese and crackers and a good alternative for light meats: grilled ham slice and raisin sauce, pork chop and applesauce – was great with planked salmon. Cellaring for two years may introduce some herbal layers. 88

CAVE SPRING ROSÉ 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula,
Ontario, Canada, 12.3% D, #295006 $13.05 (Tasted July 6, 2008)

A General listing described as “Brilliant rose colour; fragrant raspberry and fresh picked strawberry aromas and flavours with apple notes; dry, light to medium bodied, finishes with crisp dry finish. Serve with cold cuts; fish soup; salad plate; grilled salmon burgers.” My notes: Grapes are from Beamsville Bench 96% (Cave Spring Vineyard) and Niagara River 4% and 67% cabernet franc is blended with 22% cabernet sauvignon, 7% gamay and 4% syrah. A delicate salmon pink shows brightly in a tulip bowl and aromas of strawberry with a watermelon edge greets the first senses. A sip is definitely dry, lightish medium-body, somewhat silky and full of freshly crushed strawberries. The fruit last for awhile until a dryness creeps in urging the next sip. A wonderful summer quencher served chilled with sweet Italian sausage or shelled shrimp both grilled and with mustard and tartar sauce, resp. This would substitute for a floral white for a flavourful whitefish or mushroom pasta entrée, scallops, or spicy mussels. Cellaring for a year would make sure this vintage is handy for your next summer get together. A value. 90

Riverland, Australia, 13.5% D, #068908 $18.95 (Tasted July 1, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “Our Quality Assurance laboratory has determined that this wine contains 15 mg/L of free sulphur. Salena's family-owned estate winery modified their vineyard practices and launched a range of certified organic wines including this rosé blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre. The 2007 growing season was very warm and dry in Riverland so the bright fruity flavours of strawberry and raspberry are very ripe. It's dry, medium-bodied and soft-textured with a crisp fruity finish you can enjoy all summer long.” My notes: A blend of 68% grenache, 24% shiraz and 8% mataro grapes from Riverland vineyards gives a deep cherry with a bright pink rim and fragrance of soft strawberry and weak tea. Medium-bodied with lots of drying tartness in the first sip with unripe berry flavours having a citrus, almost orange twist quickly followed by a tart, clay finish. The unique layering of flavours and dry texture may not satisfy some (my BH likes it!) – serve with cheese nibbles. A drink now - have with whitefish entrees, shrimp or scallops. 83

Ontario, Canada, 13.5% XD, #039974 $14.95 (Tasted June 30, 2008)

Released by Vintages on June 7, 2008 described as “The 2007 is a blend of Pinot Noir (that spent only 48 hours on its skin) plus a touch of Riesling and Chardonnay for aromatics and body. Very pale salmon-pink colour. Pretty aromas of delicate cherry, rosehip, red pepper jelly and cranberry dominate. Dry with a very nice mouthfeel supported by soft acids. This wine is a fine match for a variety of foods, including lobster salad, smoked salmon with capers, grilled calamari or pulled-pork sandwiches. (VINTAGES panel, April 2008).” My notes: Packaging could be better for this delightful rosé which shows a delicate salmon pink, bright and clear in a tulip glass. Serve slightly off chill to allow aromas of light apricot and faint rose petal to develop. A roundness gives an impression of sweetness in the first sip quickly corrected by a definite dryness and flavours of faint apricot and apple. The flavours are followed by an apple peel edge and smooth texture making this an interesting sipper, definitely dry. Suitable as an aperitif or serve with fresh oysters, a tray of mixed fruit: cantaloupe, red and green grapes, cherries and mild cheeses or pair with shrimp and scallop skewers or grilled telapia, bbq’d chicken or sweet and sour wings on a bed of basmati rice. Cellar for a few years could improve layering but check after a year. An excellent value. 90

South Africa, 14.0% D, #655225 $13.85 (Retasted June 29, 2008)

A Vintages re-release on June 9, 2008 described as “2006 [is] gorgeous top to toe; cerise hued, bright fruited multi blend; dry & food-perfect. Transports you to the Côte d'Azure. Rated 3½ of 5 by Christine Rudman, John Platter South African Wines, 2007).” My notes: Last tasted in April 2007. A blend of shiraz, pinotage, cinsault, grenache, gamay and merlot makes a varietal identity mute for this rosé. An aroma of sweat and cherry pits not one that would entice a sipper but so faint not to be unpleasant. The colour is a mid cherry red and a mild cherry flavour with soft tartness on the first sip. The flavour develops with thin cherry fruit, raspberry and cherry pits leading to a pithy, berry finish with no predominant sweetness. A passable sipper for a large crowd with a name that entertains an idle mind (not meant to be personal). Nibbles of mild cheeses to aged cheddars, shaved meats or broccoli flowers and dip or pair with chicken breast or creamy seafood dishes. A year or two ageing is possible but more of a commercial drink-now. Ww78

A VALLEY ROSÉ 2006, Australia, 13.5% D, #034249 $16.85 (Retasted June 28, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 7, 2007 and described on the back label as “… brimming with summer berry fruits – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries – brought to you with refreshing acidity… “ My notes: A red cherry red with fragrance of crushed strawberries along with a raspberry or two. A lightish, medium-bodied, smooth sipper with a flavour of strawberries with a tart cranberry tinge or perhaps slightly unripe strawberries. A natural sweetness is nicely masked by the flavours and acid and leaves a silky finish on the palate. A sociable sipper suitable for a summertime refreshment. Have by itself or with a cheese and fruit tray, some light seafood nibbles, light paté or hummus on toasts or with a whitefish or roast chicken entrée. Last tasted in September 2007. 85

Veneto, Italy, 12.5% D, #045203 $12.95 (Tasted June 28, 2008)

Released by Vintages on June 21, 2008 described as “The warm and moderating Adige River's course runs from the Austrian border through Alto Adige into Veneto, meanders right through the centre of Bardolino, and finally empties into the Adriatic Sea near Venice. Chiaretto... , an Italian term for rosé, literally means 'neither red nor white'. Made with the local Corvina and Rondinella grapes, the wines are allowed only a few hours on their skins to extract the pleasant pink colour. Serve this light and fruity wine with appetizers, cold cuts or pan-fried freshwater fish.” My notes: A peachy pink in a tulip glass and aromas of sweet cherries and a scent of roses. The first sip has an appealing nip and a dryness that precedes flavours of cherries leaving a long, smooth and dry finish. A sociable sipper slightly less sweet to be enjoyed by anyone in a mood for conversation. Have by itself or with shaved Italian meats, crisps with olive spread, anchovies on bagel chips or pair with planked salmon or bbq’d chicken. Cellaring for two to four years could prove interesting. An excellent value now. Ww89

Rioja, Spain, 13.0% XD, #603795 $12.95 (Tasted June 23, 2008)

A June 7, 2008 Vintages release described as "One of my favourite Rioja estates, Bodegas Muga continues to fashion traditionally made cuvées, but also has a foot in the future." (Robert Parker Jr., June 30, 2005). Made with Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura, this 2007 vintage is dry and flavourful with a bright raspberry and strawberry nose. A great complement to paella or pan-fried freshwater fish.” My notes: A delightful peachy pink but almost no bouquet, fruit or floral, until it goes off chill (12-15C) then a light strawberry and melba apple starts to show. Flavours are a tart pomegranate and rhubarb blend, refreshing, very dry with a not excessive but pleasing smoothness. The finish carries the flavours adding a bit of fruit stone as an ending. If you don’t mind dry then this could be a sipper, however, most would appreciate an assorted fruit and mild cheese tray. Save for tapas or fried squid or pair with assorted Mediterranean fish dishes. Fresh or saltwater: trout, arctic char, pickerel or perch, telapia or cod could be great companions as well. Not for the cellar – drink now. 85

WILDASS (STRATUS) ROSÉ 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula,
Ontario, Canada, 12.5% XD, #071712 $19.00 (Tasted June 21, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7, 2008 described as “This boldly unique blend of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah is aged in oak for 16 months before bottling… Batches that are declassified down to the Wildass tier have been farmed to the same exacting standards that crafted bottles that fetch $45 per bottle [Stratus White and Red]. This is a rosé that drinks like a red wine. The Gamay-dominant blend reveals an interesting spicy and cherry nose that gains more oomph from extended barrel maturation. This seems fresher and [fruitier] than the 2005 Wildass Rosé, but still stands at the extreme edge of the rosé spectrum. (3½ of 5, Christopher Waters, March 31, 2008)” My notes: A bright red cherry red with cherry skin aromas, some clay with the fruit. Light and dry from the first sip with the clay persisting in the finish, cranberry tinged at the end carrying the dryness to the roof of the mouth and lips – a mild tang. Have with freshwater fish: pickerel or perch, trout or sweet sunfish. Served chilled on a hot day it’s an uninteresting cooler - adding a half shot of cherry cordial and crushed ice sets it up nicely – then it’s ‘wild’. Not a value. 76

Ontario, Canada, 11.5% XD, #685610 $14.95 (Tasted June 18, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7, 2008 described as “Henry of Pelham was blessed with an exceptional harvest in 2007, with each of their individual grape varieties meeting or exceeding expectations. Cabernet Sauvignon, the last variety picked, is showcased here in this fresh, crisp rosé. Floral and berry-fruit aromas emerge from the glass while flavours of cherry, rhubarb and lemon zest dance on the palate. This will make a lovely partner to grilled chicken or summer salads.” My notes: There’s a slight peach hue to this strawberry coloured rosé. The nose has a swampy taint even after airing. A soft texture with a drying impact on the palate and faint flavours of mineral tinged raspberry complete with some crushed seeds. The finish lasts a short while giving some fruit flavours that quickly fade. Not a sipper and difficult to suggest nibbles: garlic bagel crisps, shrimp ring or asparagus spears doused with a butter-herb sauce perhaps. Pair with grilled freshwater fish - pickerel or perch. Not for cellaring and not recommended. 74

MALIVOIRE LADYBUG ROSÉ 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula,
Ontario, Canada, 13.0% D, #559088 $16.00 (Tasted June 17, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7 , 2008 described as “Under the Ladybug name, Malivoire consistently crafts one of Ontario's most expressive and classy rosés. The 2007 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Merlot and a dollop of Pinot Noir. This refreshing, brightly fruity wine is delicious with prosciutto rolled in arugula leaves topped with black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a shave of Parmigiano Reggiano, or even deli-style hot dogs with diced onion, Dijon mustard, and coarsely chopped tomato on a sesame-seed bun.” My notes: This has a light grenache hue and faint aromas of crushed red cherries. Quite different from the 2002 vintage based on pinot noir – more of a blend that's lost its identity. The flavours are delicate developing after a few sips as red cherry but less tart. Nicely rounded finish with the same delicate flavour, a light tartness with a stone fruit edge. Served slightly chilled it’s an innocuous sociable sipper for a warm afternoon on the patio. Have with salmon paté on crackers, tomato bruscetta or garlic stuffed olives. A meal pairing would be easier if tarter, something light: creamy pasta with chicken pieces or a chinese ginger dish. A drink-now. 79