Monday, October 13, 2008

October 2008 Wines: 12 Tasted of 12

These are some wines picked up on the way home or while shopping, found in the cellar or brought to the house by generous guests. The ones marked V11 are from Vintages release of October 11th. There's a few 'pumpkins' in the lot. As before, when tasted the wine will appear in bold. Cheers, Ww 

THE LINEUP: Listed by Reds, Whites, Rosés, Sparkling then Other
  • Thorn-Clarke Terra Barossa 2005, RP90-93, 93-3 -- V11, Barossa, Australia, #684357 $15.95
  • Fontanafredda Barbera Briccotondo 2007, RP90-93, 92-3 -- V11, Piedmont, Italy, #072348 $15.95
  • Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, 91-2 -- V, California, USA, #226944 $19.95*
  • Wolf Blass Yellow Label Merlot 2006, 68 -- G, South Australia, #538637 $17.95
  • Cousiño-Macul Antiguas Reservas Chardonnay 2007, RP90-93, 93-3 -- V11, Maipo Valley, Chile, #730044 $14.95
  • Cave Spring Chardonnay Musqué 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-2 -- O, Niagara, Canada, #Winery $15.28
  • The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2007, 90-2 -- V11, South Australia, #066738 $17.95
  • Flat Rock Cellars Nadja`s Vineyard Riesling 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 84 -- O, Niagara, Canada, #Winery $20.25
  • Flat Rock Cellars Twisted 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84 -- O, Niagara, Canada, #Winery $17.25
  • Bürgerspital Würzburg Silvaner Kabinett Trocken 2007, 76 -- V11, Pfaffenberg, Germany, #944504 $21.95

  •  Katnook ‘Founders Block’ Sparkling Shiraz 2004, 89-1 -- V, South Australia, #053330 $19.95
  • Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz NV, RP87-89, 87 -- V11, South Eastern Australia, #065391 $18.95
(G - General listing, V – Vintages, O - Other, RP - Rod Phillips, r-v - Rating-Value)


RODNEY STRONG SONOMA COUNTY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003, California, USA, 13.8% XD, #226944 $19.95* (Retasted October 13, 2008)

My notes: Originally from Vintages December 9th, 2006 release, re-released in June 2007 and last tasted April 11th this year. It has maintained a Ww rating in the high 80’s since purchase. *Listed now at $22.95... but none on Ontario shelves. This has a deep ruby with a faint violet tint and soft aromas of black current and blackberries. There’s a definite dryness on the first sip and a combination of blackberries and bramble with a fine tannin and moderate spice base. The dryness follows a long bright finish as the fruit slowly tapers off. The roundness and herbal edge builds nicely with each sip and the original tanginess has levelled off making this an interesting, bold but not aggressive, sipper. Should be great with grilled ribs, pepper steak, rack of lamb or chili con carne. This has extra years cellaring potential, I’d say up to four. 91

WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL MERLOT 2006, South Australia, 13.5% D, #538637 $17.95 (Tasted October 17, 2008)

A General listing described as “Deep ruby colour; smoky, red plum, spring cherry and blackberry aromas; dry, medium bodied, very fruit driven, with cherry/berry fruit flavours, soft tannins, oaky finish. Serve with veal or lamb.” My notes: A moderate ruby liquid that leaves a thin viscous film on the glass and gives off odours of musty cherries. The first sip attacks sharply asserting an acid seam that overlays a light flavour of the same musty cherries. The finish carries the flavour with the acid tapering off slowly to a chemical ending. An appalling simulation of a merlot. Either new vines or the indiscriminate crushing or collection of fruit went into this red. Have with spicy foods. Not for cellaring nor is it a drink now imho. 68

WYNDHAM ESTATE BIN 555 SPARKLING SHIRAZ NV, South Eastern Australia, 13.5% D, #065391 $18.95 (Tasted October 16, 2008)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “… Expect a dark red mousse, with aromas of spicy black pepper, black cherry and floral notes. It has a full body with a round and creamy texture, sweet black-fruit flavours balanced by medium acidity. A unique wine to pair with your traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner.” My notes: A dense ruby colour with a continuous stream of fine then larger bubbles. The nose is somewhat subdued with a yeasty edge followed by a hint of blackberries. A definite spritz on the tongue and light flavours of blackberries and a touch of pepper. A sociable sipper for any crowd and somewhat of a novelty. Finishes dry with a lasting veneer of scrumptious blackberries. The Katnook ‘Founders Black’ 2004 Sparkling Shiraz (#053330, $19.95) available last December was very similar although with a sweeter fruit edge and more tartness. An unusual sparkler worth stocking a few for special occasions. The Wyndham would go well with roast turkey, meatballs en crockpot or with grilled ham and pineapple rings. A drink now. 87

KATNOOK 'FOUNDERS BLOCK' SPARKLING SHIRAZ 2004, South Australia, 13.0% D, #053330 $19.95 (Retasted October 21, 2008)

A Vintages release on December 8, 2007. The Katnook website had this to say "This is the first Sparkling Shiraz produced in the Katnook Founder’s Block range. It is an inviting wine, equally at home at a barbecue, a celebration or the dining table, with generous palate structure, rich fruit and spicy length of flavours. A soft and fresh mouthfeel, mellow rich fruit, lively burst of fine bubbles and a lingering finish. Serve lightly chilled and enjoy now for its vivacious fruit. A perfect match for duck, turkey and pork dishes and a natural for a barbecue." My notes: Now ten months older the colour remains the same deep ruby and the first pour produces lots of varying size bubbles subsiding quickly to a continuous fine froth at the rim. The nose is lighter losing most of its blackberry fruit and leasiness. Sipping wakens the blackberry flavours and layers the palate with a smooth, dry, spritzy coating of blackberries. The natural berry sweetness is there along with a light touch of pepper, fine tannin - all to a lesser degree -lasting to a smooth mineral finish. Pair with meaty nibbles, eg. meatballs en crockpot, liver pate on toasts or with turkey pieces or portobello burgers. It’s somewhat fuller and slightly tarter than the Wyndham Sparkling Shiraz (#065391, $18.95). LSL - Lip smacking luscious. 89

THORN-CLARKE TERRA BAROSSA 2005, Barossa, Australia, 14.0% D, #684357 $15.95 (Tasted October 25, 2008)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “Supple, round and distinctive for its violet-tinged currant and dusky spice flavors, lingering effectively against refined tannins. Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2013. Smart Buy. (90/100, Harvey Steiman, Aug. 31, 2007) .” My notes: A deep violet tinged ruby with slow to form legs on the bowl and aromas of strawberries and raspberries lightly smoked. An appealing smoothness combined with a soft nip makes this an interesting sipper - perhaps too much fruit if a Rhone red is preferred. Full-bodied, black currants mix with raspberries and a light tar shows nearing the end of the taste. Bright on the palate and would pair well with seasoned ribs, a rare T-bone or sirloin well seared or even a bacon-on-a-bun. Cellaring for several years should be OK and may evolve a texture smoother than it already is. An excellent value. 93

THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2007, South Australia, 15.0% XD, #066738 $17.95 (Tasted October 22, 2008)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “Bright ruby. Highly perfumed nose offers an energetic bouquet of peppery dark berries, fresh violet and smoked meat. On the palate, this displays a real northern Rhone-like personality, with an array of dark berry and candied floral flavours. Picks up vanilla and cola on the seductively sweet and very persistent finish. Leaves tangy minerality behind, along with a lively note of cracked pepper. (90/100, Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, July/Aug. 2008).” My notes: A beautiful deep violet ruby colour and long legs that stream down the bowl. Use a large bowl for this red… to spread the blackberry aromas and enhance the cracked pepper. Full-bodied 95% shiraz, full of citrus at the fore with black fruit coming up behind. Having an expectation of shiraz, and although at just 5%, there is a forceful representation of Viognier in the nose, the flavour and finish balancing black fruit toward bright acid, displacing smoothness with crispness, bursting with flavour then tapering to a mineral finish. An innovative use of grapes at hand - see what you think - that should have a few years ageing with excellent potential. Have with hot Italian sausage and spicy tomato pastas. 90

COUSIÑO-MACUL ANTIGUAS RESERVAS CHARDONNAY 2007, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #730044 $14.95 (Tasted October 20, 2008)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “Cousiño-Macul's first Antiguas Reservas Chardonnay was made in 1969. This trademarked designation is reserved for the finest Chardonnay from a vintage. Only a small portion of this wine was aged for 7 months in small French oak barrels and a smaller percentage underwent acid-softening malolactic fermentation both of which contributed additional layers of complexity to the wine. Medium-bodied with flavours of apple, lemon drop, grapefruit, anise and hazelnut, this white is simply wonderful with crab cakes, prawns or baked salmon.” My notes: A delicate golden colour with, after a minute or two airing, a light aroma of wild honey conveying some spice and some sweetness. A pleasing roundness and nut-infused flavours of melon, apple and a citrus zest. A very interesting sipper with flavours that build one on another then change to a long, smooth, dry, nutty, tangy finish. Should be able to cellar this for several years adding to its already considerable depth of textures and flavours. Have with roast chicken - perfect for fresh oysters, cold lobster pieces or crabcakes. A super value. 93

BÜRGERSPITAL WÜRZBURG SILVANER KABINETT TROCKEN 2007, Pfaffenberg, Germany, 11.5% D, #944504 $21.95 (Tasted October 18, 2008)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described, without a change from the previous vintage, as “ … The aromas are full of floral, pear, apple and mineral notes. This medium- to full-bodied wine's racy acidity gives it tremendous verve. Pair with freshwater fish..” My notes: The 2006 vintage tasted in October last year was rated Ww88. Now priced two dollars higher will it be two dollars better? A light gold with a delicate aroma of clover honey, changing to being somewhat grassy. The first sip is light-bodied letting the flavours slip by then shifting gradually to slight bosc pear and white grapefruit with a mild tang and finishing dry, crushed stalks being the most prominent accent. Uninspiring as a sipper and with Presidents Choice Seafood Trio it was as equal a washout. Doesn’t have the raciness it takes to pair with more flavoured seafoods. Not for cellaring and not a value. 76

FONTANAFREDDA BARBERA BRICCOTONDO 2007, Piedmont, Italy, 13.0% XD, #072348 $15.95 (Tasted October 18, 2008)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “This Barbera may be the best value to come out of Piedmont. The 2006 was on the Wine Spectator's Top 100 in 2007. We feel this 2007 might be even better with more flesh and depth of flavour. It's medium full-bodied with a plush texture leading to a lengthy finish. Enjoy it with pasta in tomato sauce, veal chops, roasted chicken or pork.” My notes: A purplish carmen shade with slow forming tears and an aroma of cherries, sweet rhubarb and a light smoky oak. A fresh flavour of ripe cherries with enough sweetness to mellow the crispness, medium-bodied, finishing dry with a lasting flavour of fruit. An interesting sipper for it’s bright fruit and suede texture. Would go great with spaghetti and meatballs, cheese and beef cannelloni, or veal parmigiana. A good drink now or up to four years cellaring. 92

CAVE SPRING CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada, 13.0% D, #Winery $15.95 (Tasted October 23, 2008)

My notes: The 2006 (Vintages release on October 13, 2007, #246579, $15.95) was tasted in May this year and rated Ww92. Wine Access claimed it as “The best vintage yet of this unusual clone”. The 2007 was purchased from the winery on a weekend visit. The 2007 is a light golden colour in the glass and the fragrance is lighter but of the same wild flowers and honey, more aromatic as the chill comes off. A touch of straw and a citrus sharpness on the first sip with lemon butter, melon and stone fruit flavourings on the first swallow then finishing dry with silky textures and bright lemon grass. An interesting sipper and one to have for a buffet crowd. Pair with fresh water fish: pickerel, lake trout, or with chicken breast in a creamy mushroom pasta. Should be OK to cellar for two years, maybe longer. 91

FLAT ROCK CELLARS NADJA'S VINEYARD RIESLING 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada, 10.5% XD, #Winery $20.25 (Tasted October 26, 2008)

My notes: Purchased from the winery on a weekend visit. The 2006 vintage was tasted in August last year before Ww ratings - Gord Stimmell had rated it 90/100 at the time. Similarly the 2007 was purchased from the winery, same price. The colour is a crisp pale gold and aromas are mostly of delicate lanolin tinged stone fruit. The first sip is dry with flavours of peach and grapefruit somewhat flat in texture although there is a soft lime nip that adds interest. The finish carries the stone fruit accent and a moderate tartness ending on a clay note. A sipper suitable for a social crowd as a starter with appetizers. Have with crab cakes, shrimp with seafood sauce or asparagus spears and a cheese dip. Could go with freshwater fish either pickerel or lake trout but may not have sufficient bite to hold its own with fuller flavoured finny options. Cellar up to two years. 84

FLAT ROCK CELLARS TWISTED 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% MD, #Winery $16.95 (Tasted October 25, 2008)

My notes: The 2006 was a Vintages release (#001578, $16.95) in June 2007 and tasted the same month. Rod Phillips gave the 2006 a 90-93 rating at the time. This vintage, 2007, was purchased from the winery during a recent weekend visit. A light blond colour with an aromatic mix of apple, melon and tangy lime that comes as the glass goes off chill. There is a soft nip and flavours of fresh tart apple with more subdued acid than the 2006 - no teeth cleaning acidity this vintage. The sweetness is balanced so as not to be predominant. The finish has evenly spread flavours and mild acid. An OK social sipper - pairing could be limited given the lower acid level - grilled sole, telapia or crab - likely not butter dipped lobster nor spicy mussels. A drink now. 84

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