Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Blending Game, Part 2: Tastings

This is the second part of a two part blog entry. All of the wines tasted here are itemized in the preceding blog, The Blending Game, Reds: dated September 13th, 2008. Cheers, Ww


D'ARENBERG ‘THE TWENTYEIGHT ROAD’ MOURVÈDRE 2005, Australia, 14.5% D, #677617 $29.95 (Tasted October 4, 2008)

Released by Vintages on March 1, 2008 and described as “International Wine Cellar awarded this wine 91 points, loving its 'explosively perfumed scents of red and dark cherry accompanied by mocha, licorice, black cardamom and lavender ... A superb example of New World mourvèdre.' (July/August 2007).” My notes: A deep crimson with fresh aromas of herbs, cherries and a hint of vanilla, legs running quickly down the broad bowl. Vanilla flavouring as well giving a different dimension and brightness to the red cherries. A super sipper, assertive almost bold in character causing a pause to smack the lips and savour the long herbal licorice finish. Pairing with anything beefy would work or with lamb stews, crock pot meals or slow cooked ribs with savoury sauces. Cellaring up to ten years could be interesting but trying a couple of years at a time would be my approach.  96

D'ARENBERG ‘THE FOOTBOLT’ SHIRAZ 2005, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5% XD, #984021 $21.95 (Tasted September 14, 2008)

Released by Vintages on April 12, 2008 and described as “The 2005 The Footbolt Shiraz was aged for 12-18 months in a mix of new and used French and American oak. Purple-colored, it exhibits an aromatic array of fresh herbs, plum, cranberry, and black cherry. Medium-to full-bodied, on the palate spicy blueberry and licorice notes emerge. The wine has very good depth and concentration, ripe tannin, and a medium-long finish. It will evolve for 2-3 years and drink well through 2015. (89/100, Jay Miller, Oct. 2007)” My notes: Previously called ‘The Old Vines’ this has a deep garnet ruby colour with a hue of purple but solemn. The nose is of black cherries with a sniff of pepper. Medium-bodied, the legs run quickly and flavours of woody cranberries and black cherries brighten up the palate then finish quite long with a slight metallic ring. A polite sipper still a reminder for the taste buds to wake up. Have with roast ham, anything beefy and possibly French onion soup. Cellaring for up to four years should be OK.  88
 D'ARENBERG ‘d'ARRY'S ORIGINAL’ SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2005, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5% D, #942904 $19.95 (Tasted September 24, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 5, 2008 described as “Equal parts Shiraz and Grenache, this bold blend displays aromas and flavours of blackberry, black cherry, and licorice with background notes of coffee and caramel. This mouth-filling wine lands softly on the palate, and finishes long and smooth. Delicious with beef stir-fry or grilled lamb burgers. My notes: This has a garnet hued black cherry-skin colour and a peppery cherry and plum fragrance. Slow moving tears on the glass bowl indicative of a medium-bodied and velvety texture with a distinct sharpness and a spicy edge of black berries, tar and mint. An assertive sipper with enough bite to keep the taste buds alert for a long warm finish of berries and tar. Should be great with prime rib or a lamb shank with Yorkshire pudding, savoury gravy and mixed vegetables.  92

D'ARENBERG ‘THE LAUGHING MAGPIE’ SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2006, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5% XD, #936971 $27.95 (Tasted September 14, 2008)

A Vintages release on April 12, 2008 described as “The 2006 The Laughing Magpie is composed of 94% Shiraz and 6% Viognier. Deep crimson/violet in color, it offers up notes of cherry, ginger, black tea, tar, and blueberry. Medium to full-bodied, layered flavors of cherry, blueberry, and dark chocolate make an appearance accompanied by ripe tannin and excellent concentration leading to a long, refined finish. It will benefit from 3-4 years of cellaring and drink well through 2020. (92/100, Jay Miller, Oct. 2007)” My notes: The winery’s spec sheet says 2006 was “regarded as one of the greatest vintages ever” for both shiraz and Viognier with this blend winning two gold medals in 2006/7 and gives a 90/10% split for the grapes. This has an opaque ruby with a purple hue and spicy aromas of prunes and cherries. This leaves long legs on the glass, is full-bodied, rich in velvety flavours and has a tangy pepper touch. The finish is long and plush. A very nice sipper for early afternoon or late night guests or pair with rack of lamb, bbq’d back ribs or richly flavoured stews. Cellaring for many years shouldn’t be a concern but it’s drinking well now so why wait. An excellent investment.  94

GUARDIAN PEAK ‘THE KALAHARI LION’ SMG 2005, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14.% D, #083972 $22.95 (Tasted September 22, 2008)

Vintages describes this as “After a slight dip in 04, 05 back on form: shiraz-led (63%) blend with 29% mourvèdre, peppery grenache builds character. Already smooth, but plenty to give. French/American oak, all new. (4 out of 5, Angela Lloyd, John Platter South African Wines, 2008).” My notes: Produced by Engelbrecht Els Vineyards. Shows a deep ruby colour and a fragrance of black cherries, blackberries and white pepper. Fine tears form on the large bowl when swirled, flavours of black cherries and red currants provide interest until the finish gives more of the red currants having a brightness overshadowing a slight pepper in the long finish. An interesting sipper both flavourful and tangy, medium-bodied with light tannins and approaching silk. Should be great with strong pates, prime rib (hold the horse radish), veal or lamb. Still has some youthfulness to develop if cellared a few years. 90

ANAKENA SINGLE VINEYARD VIOGNIER 2007, Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #045138 $13.95 (Tasted September 15, 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: I last tasted this just two months ago and thought it would be an excellent partner with d’Arenberg’s Shiraz. The aroma is of grassy papaya and field flowers on a hot summer day. The texture is moderately full with flavours of tangy grapefruit, lemon and a light melon finishing dry with a strong hint of tart gooseberries. A pleasant sipper with or without bacon wrapped scallops, shrimp from the bbq or stuffed mushroom caps. Super stuff for chinese or thai dishes.  90

JEANNERET ‘GRACE & FAVOUR’ GRENACHE/SHIRAZ 2005, Clare Valley, Australia, 15.5% XD, #B&W Wines $23.70 (Tasted September 29, 2008)

My notes: The large component of Grenache gives a light glow to the ruby in a wide bowl. The nose has a herbal edge, I’d say thyme with some white pepper, to mostly a blackberry aroma. A thin layer of tears with no staining shows a lightish medium-bodied, crisp red. Thyme tinged berries make up the bright flavours of the first sip. The finish is long, soft and an interesting mix of herbs and fruit, dry with a slight mineral note make this an interesting sipper, distinct in style, light and balanced. Have alone or with hors d’oeuvres of stuffed mushroom caps or pate on breads or crisps. Pair with roast turkey, bacon burgers, medallions of beef in a rich gravy. Cellaring for a few more years should develop some silkiness.  91

KILIKANOON THE LACKEY SHIRAZ 2005, Penwortham, Australia, 15.0% XD, #005199 $17.95 (Tasted October 3, 2008)

A Vintages release in November, 2007 described as "The 2005 The Lackey ... emphasizes the ripe, classic, South Australian Shiraz grape aged in old oak and bottled with no fining or filtration. Deep, rich, full-bodied, and elegant, it reveals plenty of berry fruit, pepper, chocolate, and new saddle leather characteristics. Drink this spicy, earthy effort over the next 2-3 years. (90/100, Robert Parker Jr., Oct. 2006)." My notes: I last tasted this vintage in November 2007 and rated it Ww92 - it was also rated highly by two local wine writers. This has a solemn ruby colour leaving a thin film and slow tears on the glass. The nose has a pepper edge with herb and black currant fragrances. The first sip has a strong nip and subdued black currant flavours with a firm mint follow through. The finish consists of the mint and black currant and persists ending slightly brambly. An aggressive sipper that needs some tidbits to lessen the nip - still interesting. Better paired with chili con carne or bbq’d back ribs. Cellaring further may shift the balance to its sharp side - a drink now for those preferring an assertive red.   88

CHÂTEAU DE TREVIAC CORBIÈRES 2006, Languedoc, France, 14.0% D, #670505 $14.95 (Tasted September 28, 2008)

A Vintages release on April 12, 2008 described as “An excellent choice for roast leg of lamb with an herb rub. This blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache has classic Midi aromas of blackberry, pepper and particularly garrigue, that unique-to-Midi scent of thyme, rosemary, basil, sage and lemon verbena. There's a very good balance here of fruit, acids and tannins.” My notes: Grenache has put a rosy edge to the ruby in the bowl and shiraz has put the pepper in the nose that folds with the black fruit fragrances giving a lift to the first sip. Firm tannins add a chalky touch covering the inside of the mouth and delaying flavours of black berries with a cranberry highlight. The finish shows a good balance of terroir and process - I guess that’s the ’unique-to-Midi scent’. Lamb shank or rack would go nicely or a veal roast with rosemary scented wine gravy. Cellaring for up to four years could prove worthwhile.  89

ROSENVALE ESTATE GRENACHE 2005, Barossa Valley, Australia, 15.5% D, #059881 $21.95 (Tasted October 3, 2008)

A Vintages release on April 26, 2008 described as “Perfect for a spring barbecue, this soft and juicy Grenache is packed with raspberry, strawberry and cherry flavours with a note of peppery spice. Dry, ripe and round, it would match well with gourmet burgers and sausages.” My notes: The colour is a deep ruby leaving long legs slowly accumulating on the bowl. The aromas are warm and full of chocolate, stewed plums and blackberries - and the legs keep forming. Round, full-bodied, slight pepper, steely bright and dark fruit flavours burst simultaneously in the mouth. The finish is velvety without the pepper but lots of juicy soft blackberries. A sipper that rewards with each warm sip - almost a shame to contaminate with food. Pair with filet mignon, prime rib or rack of lamb or choose a comfortable read and just sip. Cellaring for several years would be interesting but drinking well now.  96

NINQUÉN ANTU SYRAH 2006, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 15.0% XD, #675371 $15.95 (Tasted October 5, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 21, 2008 described as “Viña Ninquén is amongst a number of Chilean producers that are now realizing the potential of planting at higher elevations. Ninquén's mountain vineyards have produced a Syrah that is rich with layers of plush blackberry, plum and black cherry fruit flavours and aromas along with notes of mocha, earth and smoke. Enjoy with smoky barbecue ribs or grilled lamb chops.” My notes: I must have liked this as a result of tasting in June this year since I now have a mitt full in the cellar. This has a solid deep ruby colour and very faint aromas of blackberries tainted by a smoky oak and a slight pepper both not excessive. The first sip is bright and silky with pronounced fine tannins followed by the tart taste of wild blackberries with just a few currants. The finish has a balance of ripe off-the-bush black berries, a light earth tone, drying tannins and a smidge of white pepper. An excellent sipper by itself or pair with rack of lamb, dark fowl, game or anything bbq’d. Cellaring for up to four years perhaps longer would prove rewarding.  94

WYNDHAM ESTATE BIN 444 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005, South Eastern Australia, 14.0% D, #110486 $15.45 (Tasted September 19, 2008)

The LCBO describes this as “Deep garnet colour; dry and medium-bodied with aromas and flavours of cocoa, cassis and eucalyptus; medium tannins. Long finish. Serve with roast duck; lamb.” My notes: A smoky black currant light in aroma and with oak and dark chocolate balancing the fruit flavour. Dry tannins and firmer oak (and flavour)differentiate this from the merlot (#336347) but with the same slow legs and body, on the lightish side of medium- and a faint violet hue. The finish has a mild black currant touch with some cigar box or earthiness and a moderate white pepper. A polite sipper - not assertive. Serve to a crowd with canapés or as a house red with hamburgers or red pasta dishes. Not for cellaring.  82

WYNDHAM ESTATE BIN 888 CABERNET/MERLOT 2004, South Eastern Australia, 14.0% D, #324574 $15.45 (Tasted September 19, 2008)

The LCBO describes this as “Red garnet colour; aromas of plum with strawberry, raspberry and cedar; dry, soft tannin structure, cherry fruit flavours. Serve with steak with dry rub spices, medium flavoured cheese.” My notes: Winner of two Silver Medals in 2007. Other than ‘a classic blend’ neither the bottle nor the website details the percentages of each grape. The colour is a ruby with a garnet cast and aromas, after a brief airing, are a blend of plum, black cherry and a touch of spice. The first sip is very tangy masking red cranberry and sharp berry flavours. Not a sipper or perhaps it’s past due. The finish has a metallic touch and dry tannins offsetting a delicate red cherry fruit. Not my idea of a ’Medal winner’. Air or decant to soften acids then have with spicy back ribs or chili con carne - or avoid.  79

WYNDHAM ESTATE BIN 999 MERLOT 2005, South Eastern Australia, 14.5% D, #336347 $15.45 (Tasted September 19, 2008)

The LCBO describes this as “Garnet colour; blackberry, cherry and plum aromas with light oak; ripe fruit flavours, soft tannin, oaky finish. Serve with veal tenderloin, poultry.” My notes: The label shows this to be a Gold Medal and four Silver Medals winner over 2006 and 2007. A deep ruby with slow legs and aromas of crushed stems and dark berries with a soft spicy edge. The first sip is bright full of blackberries ending with mostly mint then a slight herb shows up. A reasonable sipper coming across the palate as a lightish medium-bodied - suitable with stuffed mushroom caps or assorted pates or pair with roast chicken or meaty pizza. Could use a few more years cellaring for a mellower texture - but flavours likely will not improve from here.  84

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