Saturday, November 01, 2008

'The 500 Best Value Wines, 2009': 11 Tasted of 11

This is Part 2 of a review of Rod Phillips recent book The 500 Best Value Wines in the LCBO, 2009.

To select wines for purchase locally I’ve opted to focus on the 5 star (94-100) rated wines of which there are eighteen in the book. Of the eighteen, eleven are within my budget of ~$25, one white and ten reds - six are a different vintage. The eleven are listed below and will appear in bold when tasted.

Another sixty-six wines are rated 4 ½ stars (90-93) and could be the basis for future values.

Cheers, Ww 

LISTING:   (* - Different vintage, Price - up<, down>)

  • Errazuriz ‘Max Reserva’ Shiraz 2006, 95-3 -- G, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, #614750 $17.75
  • Pérez Cruz Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 94-3 -- G, Maipo Valley, Chile, #694208 $14.95
  • Antonin Rodet Côtes du Rhône 2007*, 94-3 -- G, Rhône, France, #008979 $12.95
  • Angus the Bull Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 93-3 -- G, Australia, #602615 $18.95
  • Marqués de Riscal Reserva Rioja 2004*, 93-2 -- G, Rioja, Spain, #032656 $23.95>
  • Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 92-3 -- V, California, USA, #738823 $16.95
  • Cousiño-Macul ‘Doña Isidora’ Riesling 2006*, 92-3 -- G, Maipo Valley, Chile, #057182 $10.95>
  • Cousiño-Macul ‘Antiguas Reservas’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 91-2 -- G, Maipo Valley, Chile, #212993 $15.45
  • Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône 2007*, 91-2 -- G, Rhone, France, #363457 $14.95
  • Cline Syrah 2007*, 90-2 -- V, Sonoma Valley, USA, #733758 $13.95<
  • Katnook Estate ‘Founder’s Block’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006*, 88-1 -- G, Coonawara, Australia, #620070 $17.95

ANGUS THE BULL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, South Australia, 14.5% D,#602615 $18.95 (Tasted November 3, 2008)

A General listing described as “Medium to deep red violet colour; black currant, spice, oak and herbal aromas; dry, medium bodied, ripe, bold fruit driven style; well balanced acid and tannins, good length on finish. Serve with black angus steak or other grilled meats.” My notes: Winemaker Hamish MacGowan had an objective of blending a cabernet sauvignon specifically for prime beef the sole wine from his Aberdeen Wine Company. The grapes for the 2006 vintage are from King Valley 34%, Strathbogie Ranges 15%, Padthaway 13%, Barossa Valley 11%, Goulburn Valley 11%, McLaren Vale 11% and 5 % other. This red is perfumed by crushed blackberries brightened with mint and softened with a light vanilla. The first sip is full-bodied, soft in texture but bright in berry flavours. The finish is long giving a silky mouthfeel lined with fine tannins and complementing acids. I’d say Hamish met his target - excellent with prime rib and other beef entrées. This may have a short cellaring potential - worth trying for up to four years tasting every second year. 93

KATNOOK FOUNDER'S BLOCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006*, Victoria, Australia, 13.5% D, #620070 $17.95 (Tasted November 15, 2008)

A General listing described as “Semi-opaque dark plum colour; aroma of baking spices, mocha and stewed plums; medium-full bodied with ripe core of dark berries. Serve with grilled lamb chops with a red wine reduction.” My notes: A Wingara Group wine and a year later in vintage than the book. The 2005 vintage was tasted in January resulting in a Ww90 rating. This vintage has a rich ruby colour with smoky berry and currant aromas needing to be coaxed from the glass. The first sip is drying on the lips and throughout the mouth. There’s a brambly aspect to the berry that seems to say ’crushed with stems’ but there is also a smooth fullness to make slow sipping worthwhile - 2005 is still the preferred vintage. Rather than drinking now cellar up to five years - or skip this vintage. Lamb, savoury stews, sticky back ribs would be ideal mates. 88

CLINE SYRAH 2007*, California, USA, 13.5% D, #733758 $13.95 (Tasted November 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 described as “Made with grapes sourced primarily from Cline's Sonoma County vineyards, this well-priced, fleshy and full-bodied Syrah will have you singing its praises! Look for aromas and flavours of blackberry, cracked pepper, plum and leather with a hint of oak, and a medium-long, peppery finish. A natural partner for pepper steak or gourmet hamburgers.” My notes: I tasted the 2006 in May this year with a Ww83 rating. Now a dollar more the 2007 isn’t much different although is more delectable. It’s still a deep scarlet colour and has a thick film with long tears. The nose is a collection of fresh plums and blackberries with some anise on the side. The brightness starts deep on the roof of the mouth and spreads in both directions then flavourings of dry red currants take over. The finish is bright full of red currants somewhat brambly and fades fairly quickly. This is a fresh sipper coming across as ‘thin‘ - I didn’t get ’pepper’ but just short of acidic and ‘fleshy’ isn‘t a word I’d use. Have with chorizo sausage with slices of buttered Panini or with a pepperoni pizza. An OK drink now and would keep for a few years. 90

LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, California, USA, 13.5% XD, #738823 $16.95 (Tasted November 7, 2008)

A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 described as “This delicious Cabernet teaches the meaning of value. Its nose is intense with concentrated dark fruit, particularly cherry and plum, complemented by spicy and savoury notes. It's dry, dense and richly textured with great balance and ripe tannins. For continuing education, enjoy anytime over the next 2-3 years with braised or roasted beef dishes.” My notes: A clear ruby with fast tears and delicate berry aromas. Soft yet crisp, delicate dark fruit without a clear flavouring along with a refreshing mint. The finish is defined by fine tannins and a modest acidity. A light style of cabernet sauvignon - a sipper to offer anyone not looking for ‘bold‘ but would go for ‘elegance‘. Has the potential to develop over a few years cellaring. Have with bacon wrapped shrimp or scallops, turkey wings in a light sauce or proscuitto on Italian breads. 92

COUSINO-MACUL ‘DONA ISIDORA’ RIESLING 2006*, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #057182 $10.95 (Tasted November 11, 2008)
A General listing described as “Delicious as an aperitif, with salads, seafood, white meat and spicy foods.” My notes: A year earlier vintage than in the book and a dollar less. I suggest airing for awhile for the nose to lose some grassiness and push forward a lanolin touch and tinge of lavender - quite aromatic. A crisp, pale golden colour with a round texture but almost pucker dry and a grassy overtone to flavours of crushed grapefruit seeds. Not appealing to me as a sole sipper but likely would go well with fresh oysters. Went nicely with roast chicken and veggies - definitely a seafood white having enough astringency to handle light oils or spice. I’d lay this down for two years rather than serving now - I gave it marks for cellaring potential. A value as a dry riesling. 92

COUSINO-MACUL ‘ANTIGUAS’ RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #212993 $15.45 (Tasted tbd)

A General listing described as “Deep ruby red colour; cassis fruit on the nose with mocha, black currant, vanilla, green pepper and leather tone; dry, full bodied, with ripe berry fruit flavours, ripe though firm tannins; medium long finish. Serve with grilled meats; rack of lamb; medium cheeses.” My notes: The 2005 vintage was tasted last May with disappointing results (Ww70) as the process attempted to overpower jammy fruit. For the 2006 vintage the colour is a deep ruby and aromas are a combination of oak and dark plums. Airing for a few minutes is still preferred although the oak doesn’t jump out of the glass and combines nicely with fragrance of dark fruit. The texture is medium-bodied, bright and extra dry from the first sip. Red cherries with a breath of mint and light tar on every sip that follows - refreshing - followed by a finish that is bright without being tart with fine tannins filling in between layers of fruit. A great tapas red… or have with stuffed mushrooms, lamb or flavourful paellas. Cellaring may not be in the cards for this given the performance of the last vintage. 91

ERRAZURIZ MAX RESERVA SHIRAZ 2006, Aconcagua, Chile, 14.5% D, #614750 $17.75 (Tasted November 3, 2008)
A General listing described as “Dark purple in colour; aromas of spice, wood & cigar; full-bodied with flavours of black cherry & spice; tannic finish. Serve with roasted red meats or hard cheeses.” My notes: The last time I tasted the Errazuriz Shiraz was vintage 2004 in March last year. This vintage has a dense purple colour and aromas of smoked tinged raspberries, very appealing. The film on the glass is solid with slow legs and the first sip is a dense raspberry and blackcurrant flavouring with strong mint and pepper. The pepper becomes more pronounced but not objectionably so as now the blackcurrant carries into a licorice edged ending. A fruity sipper, full-bodied, silky smooth, warm and tasty, no need to hurry as the finish is so long. Have with grilled lamb, T-bone, bbq’d ribs or savoury stews. Cellaring for up to six years is likely. This vintage would make an excellent cellar staple. 95

PÉREZ CRUZ CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2006, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #694208 $14.95 (Tasted November 14, 2008)
A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 described as “A favourite of Vintages customers, this Cabernet is an overachiever that offers exceptional value. Rich and ripe, it features complex aromas and flavours of cherry, pomegranate, toasty oak, chocolate, herbs and spices. It's smooth and well-balanced with a medium-long finish. Savour it with gourmet sausages or roast pork.” My notes: The colour of a black cherry skin with deep smoky cherry aromas and slow legs. Very smooth and spicy from the first sip lasting for a good while fading into a sumptuous layer of fine tannins and ripe cherry/berry flavours - a bit (8%) of carmenere and syrah in the blend. An excellent combination of fruit and spice full-bodied and silky smooth. A delectable sipper giving with each sip. Should go very well with grilled meat: T-bone, seared veal, rosemary'd rack of lamb. Drinking well now but could cellar another few years if you want to buy ahead. Very different from the bottle tasted ten months ago and rated 88. 94

PERRIN RÉSERVE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2007*, Rhône, France, 13.0% D, #363457 $14.95 (Tasted November 26, 2008)
A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 described as “... you breathe in aromas of red plum preserve, ripe strawberry, floral, spice, chicory, and earthy tones. There's loads of juicy cherry and raspberry flavours surrounded by supple tannins on the medium-bodied palate. Enjoy this food-friendly and charming red with casual dishes (pizza or hamburgers) or more sophisticated fare (grilled gourmet sausages, game stew, steak).” My notes: Two vintages later than in the book. The 2006 vintage was previously tasted in May of this year with a Ww85 rating. This red has been consistently priced at $14.95 each vintage but now shows at $13.95. The colour is a deep purple shade with delicate aromas of ripe plum and raspberries. Reasonable flavours of anise and berries with a modest nip and velvety softness from the first sip. Medium-bodied and dry on the palate the process equalling the fruit so neither predominates - light tannins, a fine spice and a long earthy finish. This would be a polite accompaniment with prime rib au jus or with French onion soup and bacon wrapped filet mignon. Cellaring for two years could bring out some more layers but it’s drinking well now. If you like European style this is a value at the lower price. 91

ANTONIN RODET CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2007*, Rhône, France, 13.6% D, #008979 $12.95 (Tasted November 12, 2008)
A General listing described as “Rich ruby colour; attractive spice, anise and cherry fruit on the nose; well-balanced with hints of cherries, nuts and pepper on the palate. Serve with spare ribs; sausages; duck.” My notes: *A year later than in the book. A black cherry colour in the bowl with a thin film followed by slow tears and a fragrance of smoke tinged cherry skins, soft and subtle. Its smoothness carries flavours of cherries brightened by a slight spice everything lasting through a long, delicate finish. This is more of an elegant sipper for a reception or buffet luncheon with flavours that build with each sip - scrumptious. Have with finger sandwiches or save for a prime rib entrée, mild sausages, game bird or beef bourguignon. Drink now or cellar for up to four years. 94
MARQUES DE RISCAL RESERVA RIOJA 2004*, Rioja, Spain, 14.0% D, #032656 $23.95 (Tasted November 18, 2008)
A General listing described as “Garnet red with brick edges; cedar, plum, anise, chocolate, sandalwood and earth on the nose with matching flavours; dry, medium-full-bodied with light tannins, and rounded fruit flavours; a long solid finish. Serve with grilled red meats; prime rib roast; stews; pork roast; lamb chops.” My notes: The last vintage tasted was 2000 in April 2005, well before Ww ratings, so I was interested in trying again. The nose is light but full of aroma: woody, fig and sweet cherry. The flavour shows off warm fig and vanilla, spicy without being peppery and is full-bodied - then a lengthy finish that’s dry with fine tannins, mild acids and anise. Ninety percent tempranillo with ten percent graciano and mazuelo provides a lush fruit base while oak ageing subdues the fruit for a softer approach. Similar but not quite the ’kinder’ Rioja of 2000, this is a bolder red to be paired with prime rib, grilled back ribs, T-bone, rack of lamb or spicy quesadillas. A drink now - some cellaring left, up to four years. 93

No comments: