Friday, October 10, 2008

Birthday Picks, 2008: 6 Tasted of 6

My birthday regularly coincides with the Thanksgiving weekend which means I get an extra celebration with the family. But on the exact day of the year, today, my BH generously bestows on me several choices from Vintages. My kids would say, “I‘m a lucky pup!” . When tasted the wine will appear in bold. Cheers, Ww (V – Vintages)
  • Claymore Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz 2005, 94 -- V, Clare Valley, Australia, #072652 $29.95
  • Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes 2007, 92 -- V, Chavignol, France, #542548 $24.95
  • Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007, 88 -- V, Marlborough, NZ, #304469 $33.95
  • Raw Cabernet Merlot 2005, 86 -- V, Margaret River, Australia, #075507 $18.95
  • Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2007, 84 -- V, Marlborough, NZ, #919514 $19.95
  • Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel 2006, 81 -- V, Sonoma County, USA, #363358 $22.95

CLAYMORE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON SHIRAZ 2005, Clare Valley, Australia, 15.0% D, #072652 $29.95 (Tasted October 20, 2008)

A Vintages release on September 27, 2008 described as “The 2005 Shiraz 'Dark Side of the Moon' is deep crimson-colored with aromas of toasty oak, smoke, tar, blueberry, and blackberry. Ripe and full-flavored, it has enough structure to evolve for 3-5 years. Drink this lengthy wine through 2015. (90/100, Jay Miller, Oct. 2007)” My notes: A deep violet hued ruby and aromas of smoky blueberry, blackberry and white pepper. Beautiful long legs and an initial citrus tang giving the velvet textured blackberry and lime flavourings a definite lift. The finish quickly changes from tangy fruit to tangy mint developing a fine furriness and lasting forever. Different is too mild, unique for sure, perhaps even exotic to a degree - I obviously enjoyed this 100% shiraz. Cellarable for several years but drinking well now. 94

RAW CABERNET/MERLOT 2005, Margaret River, Australia, 13.5% XD, #075507 $18.95 (Tasted October 15, 2008)

A Vintages release on August 30, 2008 described as “RAW is Kingston Estate's acronym for Regional Australian Wine. In this case, the region being explored is Margaret River, known for its tremendous success with classic Bordeaux varietals. This blend is comprised of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot and features ripe berry, plum, herbaceous and smoky oak characteristics. Dry and full-bodied, it has impressive depth while maintaining elegance. Serve it with rosemary lamb chops with grilled roast potatoes.” My notes: A deep ruby with a garnet cast and spicy aromas of ripe cherries and black berries. A light film with tears slow to develop on the bowl, a bright first sip with a metallic layer carrying cherry-berry flavours then staying bright through a long dry finish. An unusually crisp sipper that should compete well with savoury or spicy entrees: T-bone or rib eye steaks or seasoned rack of lamb. Cellaring potential depends on the fruit being sustained along side prominent acids and moderate tannins - don't think so. 86

WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% XD, #919514 $19.95 (Tasted October 15, 2008)

A Vintages release on August 02, 2008 described as “The 2007 is excellent, especially for a wine now produced in huge 'commercial' volumes. Fresh and vibrant, it has strong gooseberry/lime flavours, crisp, dry, and finely balanced. (4 of 5, Michael Cooper, Buyer's Guide to New Zealand Wines, 2008)” My notes: A light fragrance of gooseberries and, but not enough to complain about, stagnant pond. A light blond colour, full in the mouth and sharp on the tongue with a good level of fruit: gooseberries and grapefruit. The finish is long and bright suitable for creamy pastas - was OK with bbq’d garlic shrimp and lemon linguine but I found it a touch acidic for general sipping. Drinking well now and could cellar for a few years although not likely to improve. There’s tough competition in this price range for NZ savvies and I prefer other 'commercial' whites. 84

HENRI BOURGEOIS SANCERRE LES BARONNES 2007, Chavignol, France, 12.5% XD, #542548 $24.95 (Tasted October 14, 2008)

A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 described as “One of the top domaines in the Loire, Henri Bourgeois has been perfecting Sauvignon Blanc for ten generations. Fresh thyme and sage, kiwi, green apple, gooseberry and grapefruit aromas are quite evident. Suggesting the New Zealand style yet with European refinement, it is dry, fruit driven and well structured with an excellent finish. Enjoy with goat cheese and crackers, cucumber salad or ceviche.” My notes: A grassy gooseberry and almond nose a delicate balance of herbs and fruit. The colour is a delicate gold and a swirl shows a film of tears on the bowl. A nice nip, a soft texture and loads of green apple and grapefruit wake up the buds. A European sauvignon blanc with more herbaceousness and gooseberries that are more moderate in flavour but full in body. Have with white fowl, planked salmon or creamy shrimp and/or lobster pastas. The finish is long with bright flavours making this a super sipper. 92

RODNEY STRONG KNOTTY VINES ZINFANDEL 2006, Sonoma County, USA, 14.8% XD, #363358 $22.95 (Tasted October 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on September 13, 2008 described as “To make this wine, Rodney Strong partially sources the Zinfandel grapes from a small plot of 104-year-old Russian River vines, and completes the blend with fruit grown in the Dry Creek and Anderson Valleys; the former provides bright berry fruit in the final cuvée, while the latter adds ripe peppery jamminess. This blockbuster red will be delicious alongside beef with mole (Mexican chocolate sauce).” My notes: A see-through ruby colour and a berry fragrance with a mineral accent - not very expressive of fruit. The first sip is medium-bodied also of berries and a light mineral and an indistinct fruit flavour, just there with a silky texture. Some carryover to the finish then tapering to more of the same earthy minerals. A mediocre sipper with some rawness, young and thinner than expected for a ‘knotty vines zin’. The Wine Specs claim 17% from Russian River which I would have thought would add more density. A ‘blockbuster? I don’t think so. Have with prime rib, turkey or light game birds. Not a value. 81

CLOUDY BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #304469 $33.95 (Tasted December 27, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “Zingy and vibrant with a ton of crisp, fresh, grassy flavours and razor sharp acidity balancing the ripe, sweet tropical fruit with melon, capsicum and hints of pineapple playing around in the background. It slips down nicely and the finish is pungent and long. A somewhat 'retro' style’ for Cloudy Bay - but that's a good thing because lots more people liked it this year. (Sue Courtney, Jan. 23, 2008)” My notes: A nose that’s 50-50 nettles and gooseberries and a smooth texture to the first taste followed by strong acid balanced with a natural passionfruit tang, gooseberry fruit flavours and herbaceous straw makes this an interesting sipper. Long tears drain on the glass showing a fullish medium-bodied white excellent for seafood, not too spicy, with oiled pastas, not too creamy, and with grilled chicken breasts or dark meat. A finish that's grassy rather than fruity and shorter than remembered of past vintages - nice but forget the 'retro' and bring back the previous style for me. Cellaring won’t bring out more textures nor subtleties. 88

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