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

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