Friday, January 02, 2009

January 2009 Wines: 25 Tasted of 25

Half of these wines were Christmas gifts from family members who know of my predilection (and hobby). The rest were bought on spec throughout the month. As before, when tasted the wine will appear in bold.

Cheers, Ww
  • Mission Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, 92-2 -- V, BC, Canada, #553321  $22.95
  • Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles 2006, 92-1 -- V, Barossa Valley, Australia, #723940  $29.95
  • Clarence Hill Shiraz 2005, 90-1 -- V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #599811 $20.95
  • Julián Chivite Gran Feudo Viñas Viejas Reserva 2003, 90-2 -- V, Navarra, Spain, #948067 $19.95
  • No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 89-2 -- G, Vineland, Canada, #063966 $15.95
  • Baglio Caruso Ruggiero Syrah 2006, 89-x -- O, Sicily, Italy, #Other $xx
  • Marquee Classic Artisan Wines GSM 2006, 89-1 -- V, South Eastern Australia, #075010 $18.95
  • Julián Chivite Gran Feudo Reserva 2003, 84 -- V, Navarra, Spain, #479014 $15.95
  • Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, 84 -- V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #081190 $19.95
  • No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates Meritage 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 80 -- G, Vineland, Canada, #075689 $15.95
  • Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 80 -- G, Sicily, Italy, #621151 $9.95

  • Parri Estate Viognier Chardonnay 2007, 92-3 -- V, Southern Fleurieu, Australia, #017319 $17.95
  • Fairhall Downs Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 91-2 -- V, Marlborough, NZ, #990580 $19.95
  • William Fèvre Chile Gran Cuvée Chardonnay 2007, 90-2 -- V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #045146 $18.95
  • Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2006, 90-1 -- V, Leyda Valley, Chile, #077693 $20.95
  • Granite Hills ‘Macedon Ranges’ Riesling 2006, 88 -- V, Victoria, Australia, #072876 $22.95
  • Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery ‘Census Count’ Chardonnay 2006 VQA, 86 -- G, Okanagan Valley, Canada, #092296 $14.95
  • X&Y Chardonnay 2006, 85 -- V, Margaret River, Australia, #048561 $17.95
  • No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates Unoaked Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 85 -- G, Vineland, Canada, #063826 $13.95
  • Amayna Chardonnay 2006, 84 -- V, San Antonio - Leyda Valley, Chile, #076265 $23.95
  • Fifth Leg Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon/Chardonnay 2007, 83 -- V, Margaret River, Australia, #489062 $17.10
  • Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery ‘Fats Johnson’ Pinot Noir 2006 VQA, 82 -- G, Okanagan Valley, Canada, #092304 $15.95
  • Sileni Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2008, 80 -- V, Hawke's Bay, NZ, #032292 $15.75
  • Pascual Toso Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 67 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #093674 $12.95
  • Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2007, 66 -- G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #304022 $11.85
(G - General listing, V – Vintages, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


GRANITE HILLS ‘MACEDON RANGES’ RIESLING 2006, Victoria, Australia, 13.0% XD, #072876 $22.95 (Tasted January 26, 2009)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “Massively concentrated and powerful by riesling standards, with remarkable length, balance and longevity. Its musky, floral perfume of lime juice and lemon overlies hints of candy and a light spiciness. Searingly intense, its long, austere palate of pristine lime juice and lemon sherbet-like fruit is underpinned by a taut and assertive spine of tingling acidity. It finishes very dry indeed. (94/100, Jeremy Oliver, Oct. 18, 2007)” My notes: A delicate green-gold colour in the glass with aromas of citrus and slight nettles. Warm briefly in the palms to take slightly off chill. Extra dry for sure with some lemon accented Clementine fruit, a tart seam and light-bodied. Finishes long, dry and ‘lemon sherbert-like’ without any sweet aspect. If you like sucking a lemon you’ll like this as a sipper - have with sweet and sour chicken or curried Thai entrées. I don’t see this improving with cellaring. 88

CLARENCE HILL SHIRAZ 2005, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5% XD, #599811 $20.95 (Tasted January 20, 2009)

Released by Vintages on November 22, 2008 described as “Dry and medium full-bodied, this ripe, round and crowd-pleasing Shiraz displays intense flavours of blackberry, dark chocolate, spice, earth and subtle oak. It's fruit-driven with fairly firm tannins and a balancing seam of acidity. Serve with pepper steaks.” My notes: This has the opaque colour of red plum skins and tears that form and flow slowly. There is an extra bright flavour of crushed cherries and a medium tang followed by a lengthy even flavour of plums and berries. An XD that seems to leave a fruity sweetness lingering on the palate and ending with a smooth fullness and slight spice. Have with rack of minted lamb, pork chops and apricots or dark fowl with a cranberry sauce. 90

MISSION HILL CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada, 13.0% XD, #553321 $22.95 (Tasted January 27, 2009)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “The favourable Okanagan Valley's dry and hot climate nurtures some outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon. This example is no exception as the nose displays dense and ripe blackberry and cassis aromas mingling with notes of cedar, mocha, mint and smoke. This focused, medium full-bodied wine shows excellent balance and a long, firm and spicy finish. Enjoy now with T-bone steak, aged Cheddar or cellar for up to 3 years.” My notes: This is a deep purple colour with aromas of smoky plum and blackberry and leaves a reasonably firm viscous film on the bowl. Smooth and full, dry tannins carry cedar flavours that combine with mint and blackberry then finish with a long accent of humidor and spice. Well balanced making this a polite sipper… some boldness but not a distraction. Have with stuffed mushroom caps, party sausages or meatballs. Prime rib, rack of lamb or game meats would be good partners. 92

TORBRECK CUVÉE 'JUVENILES' 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia, 14.5% D, #723940 $29.95 (Tasted January 26, 2009)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “The 2006 Cuvee Juveniles is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mataro, and 20% Shiraz. The final assemblage was pieced together from over 100 individual components yielding a dark ruby-coloured wine with an expressive bouquet of damp earth, leather, spicy cranberry, raspberry, and black cherry. This unoaked wine has excellent depth, light tannin, ripe, spicy red and black fruit flavours and a long finish. Drink this great value over the next 6 years. (91/100, Jay Miller, October 2007)” My notes: A blend named for the Parisian ‘Juveniles’ wine bar and consisting of old-vine Rhone valley varietals fermented entirely in stainless steel. The colour is a deep ruby and leaves a firm film with long slow tears on the bowl. The nose has a subtle aroma of soft plums and earthy herbs. The first sip shows liquorice, cherries, pepper and a light mint full on the palate and lasting as a long smooth layer shifting at the end to bright fruit. Bold as a sipper but also elegant showing more process than a traditional fruit-forward Barossa red. Prime rib or rack of lamb, hearty stews or a cheesy French onion soup would go well. Should be able to cellar this four to eight years. 92
FIFTH LEG SAUVIGNON BLANC/SEMILLON/CHARDONNAY 2007, Margaret River, Australia, 13.5% XD, #489062 $17.10 (Tasted January 3, 2009)

Released by Vintages on August 16, 2008 described as “... remarkable blend of Sauvignon Blanc (51%), Semillon (37%) and Chardonnay (12%). Crisp and refreshing with good weight provided by the Chardonnay, this is an excellent choice for lobster or planked salmon.” My notes: The nose is well balanced so no grape is dominant; sauvignon blanc, semillon or chardonnay although each adds something - overall, a diluted lime and granny smith apple. The balance is also in the flavours with some stone fruit, some lychee and some herbaceous straw with a slight acid. This held its own with grilled catfish topped with a tomato, broccoli and baby spinach mix but barely - would be better with grilled salmon or trout. The creamy texture and stone fruit flavour combo is interesting as a sipper and leaves a smooth tangerine and lychee taste and mild lime tang. Perhaps unusual rather than interesting - not for everyone. 83

JULIÁN CHIVITE GRAN FEUDO VIÑAS VIEJAS RESERVA 2003, Navarra, Spain, 12.5% D, #948067 $19.95 (Tasted January 19, 2009)

Released by Vintages on December 6, 2008 described as “Julian Chivite, who died in 1997, came from a Navarra-based winemaking family. His Viñas Viejas, a Tempranillo blend, is made from his 45- to 65-year-old vines. Chivite was a bit of a traditionalist: 'Great wines,' he said, 'are made from vineyards that have been properly cultivated, and fine wines from such vineyards have finesse and complexity'. This wine is proof in a bottle of his philosophy.” My notes: A deep ruby with a mahogany hue and aromas of earth, herbs and lightly stewed figs. A steady stream of long legs on the bowl leads to full satiny textures and a ripe cherry medley. The process integrates flavours and textures nicely to make this a well balanced European sipper and also an appropriate companion with braised meat dishes. Cellaring for a few more years should be OK but likely at peak now. 90

JULIÁN CHIVITE GRAN FEUDO RESERVA 2003, Navarra, Spain, 13.0% D, #479014 $15.95 (Tasted January 3, 2009)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2008 described as “... This dry, full-bodied wine is bursting with ripe cherry, sandalwood, incense, cocoa and floral aromas and flavours, and delivers a lengthy, structured finish. This Reserva's easygoing, soft tannins make it very approachable now. A great match for roasted chicken stuffed with olives, almonds and paprika.” My notes: This has a deep ruby with purple hue and a thick film but just a few slow tears. A well balanced combination of cherries, and ‘sandalwood, incense, cocoa and floral’ (as if anyone could tell) - it’s medium-bodied, light on fruit and herbs with a woody accent. The first sip has a smooth texture and brightness to carry along slight cherry and earthiness. The finish is also bright but not acidic with slight fruit and herb tinge. Overall, interesting at first then the interest wanes. Would be good with tapas or a ham steak, something light. Not for cellaring, more of a drink now. 84

VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA BLACK LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #081190 $19.95 (Tasted January 2, 2009)

A Vintages release on December 6, 2008 described as “This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Tarapacá's Ex-Zavala vineyards and vinified in stainless steel. Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months, the wine then spends an additional year maturing in bottle before release. This intense wine displays cassis and ripe blackberry fruit aromas and flavours as well as notes of black pepper, chocolate and spices. Enjoy it with grilled lamb.” My notes: A deep ruby with a purple cast shows elegantly in a wide bowl with long legs and aromas of blackberry and cassis, subtle but there. The texture is smooth, fine tannins, bright berry and finishing with a tinge of spice and menthol. An interesting medium-bodied sipper and an unusually bright cabernet sauvignon - not for everyone. Have with prime rib or grilled back ribs or rack of lamb. 84

Leyda Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #077693 $20.95 (Tasted January 1, 2009)

A Vintages release on November 22, 2008 described as “Light yellow. Hugely aromatic bouquet of lime, tangerine, nectarine, talc and white flowers. A smoky element arrives with aeration and carries onto the palate, which displays fresh citrus fruit and melon flavours. The energetic finish features bitter lime zest and salty minerals. (90/100, Josh Raynolds, March/April 2008)” My notes: This has a soft floral nose with a touch of nettles in the background and a swirl leaves a firm film on the bowl. A full mouthfeel, silky smooth and a soft nip followed by gooseberry, passion fruit highlights and a hint of crème caramel. As a sipper this politely satisfies all of the senses. As a companion to a lobster or crabfest it adds to the flavour dimensions finishing creamy with a lime tang and grassy edge. Scrumptious, well worth the price and should cellar up to two years. 90

GANTON & LARSEN PROSPECT WINERY ‘CENSUS COUNT’ CHARDONNAY 2006 VQA, Okanagan Valley, Canada, 13.0% D, #092296 $14.95 (Tasted January 2, 2009)

A General listing described by the winery as “Our 2006 Chardonnay has luscious ripe pears and fresh apple notes providing a harmonious and long finish. Well-balanced and elegant, achieving impeccable balance between fruit and oak.
BEST IN CLASS – 2008 International Wine & Spirits Awards
GOLD MEDAL WINNER – 2007 Okanagan Fall Festival
SILVER MEDAL WINNER – 2008 Northwest Wine Summit.”

My notes: A label from Mission Hill Vineyards Inc. A pleasing yellow gold and long slow legs on a wide bowl set off a fragrance of light stone fruit and soft nettles. Let air for a few minutes for moderate aromas and a lower chill for fuller cream and flavours of apple and grapefruit. The finish is long ending in a light grassiness perhaps with some bitterness. An appealing sipper that would go well with bacon bits and tomato on toasted French stick slices or with broiled nachos. Pair with grilled fowl or lightly seasoned seafoods. An OK value as a house chardonnay. 86

GANTON & LARSEN PROSPECT WINERY ‘FATS JOHNSON’ PINOT NOIR 2006 VQA, Okanagan Valley, Canada, 13.0% D,#092304 $15.95 (Tasted January 4, 2009)

A General listing described by the winery as “Our 2006 Pinot Noir is of a lighter style crafted with fresh cherry and berry notes. The bright red and black fruit character mingles nicely with delicate touches of cinnamon spice.” My notes: A label from Mission Hill Vineyards Inc. This has the cast of ripe cherries midway to see-through and an aroma of crushed strawberries with a few stems included. Silky soft with a delayed tang then subtle and supple flavour of half ripe cherries with a mineral highlight that comes forward in the finish. It would be difficult to recommend this as a sipper by itself or as a match for a meal. Perhaps have with prosciutto wrapped asparagus or bacon wrapped scallops or try with smoked salmon or herring on greens. A drink now. 82

BAGLIO CARUSO RUGGIERO SYRAH 2006, Sicily, Italy, 14.0% D, #? $? (Tasted January 2, 2009)

The label describes this as “ Deep ruby colour, with primary notes of cherry and pleasant spices. The palate is extraordinarily round and complete, with soft and elegant tannins, well structured and balanced.” My notes: For sure it’s a deep ruby and has aromas of just detectable cherries and smoke. The film on the bowl is light with few tears and the initial sip shows a bright lightness with a flavour of ripe cherries although subdued. Well balanced leaving the palate dry and a mild acid makes this a pleasant sipper. Should be great with rack of lamb or prime rib and meaty pastas or pizzas. For a syrah the spices don’t shine but are balanced along with fine tannins. Cellaring for up to two years should be OK but drinking well now. 89

AMAYNA CHARDONNAY 2006, San Antonio - Leyda Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #076265 $23.95 (Tasted January 4, 2009)

A Vintages release on September 27, 2008 described as “… Amayna Chardonnay features fresh citrus aromas that do an impressive song and dance with obliging mineral and vanilla notes. The palate is concentrated, persistent and harmonious. The producer recommends enjoying their estate bottled Chardonnay with salmon with tomatoes and provençal herbs.” My notes: The Amayna Sauvignon Blanc was delicious so I wanted to try the Amayna chardonnay (altho’ quite a few bottles are still on Vintages shelves). This has a crystal blond look in the glass with thin film and long tears. The aromas need time and a little warmth to develop but still disappoint, negligible character there. Medium-bodied, a mellow cream comes with some straw flavour then soft melon and vanilla forms on the lips. I’d call it an elegant sipper since it doesn’t offend in any way and has much charm in its creamy softness. Have with seafood pastas, mild without too much seasoning. A drink now or cellar for two years. For the price a well made white but not a value. 84

MONTALTO NERO D'AVOLA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Sicily, Italy, 14.0% D, #621151 $9.95 (Tasted January 6, 2009)
A General listing described as “Deep red violet colour; dark fruit and spice aromas and flavours; dry, medium to full bodied, long, smooth finish. Serve with roast lamb or beef, meat pastas and grilled meats.” My notes: The 2006 vintage was tasted last May 2008 with a rating of Ww80. My note at that time was ‘Either air for four hours or aerate before serving even then the first sip has very firm tannins chalking the palate, etc.’ This vintage has a thin film that creeps down the bowl and an aroma of soft burnt cherries. The colour is a deep ruby and the first sip has flavours of earth, cherries and blueberries balanced so overall no one flavour predominates. A bright edge carries through a short smooth finish. An unusual flavour, medium-bodied, balanced tannins and spice, much tamer than the 2006 but I think, an acquired taste. Have with meaty pastas or pizzas. If this is your taste it‘s a value (and your rating would be higher). 80
PASCUAL TOSO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #093674 $12.95 (Tasted January 7, 2009)
A General listing described as “Light straw green colour with delicate citrus and herbs aroma. Balanced in the mouth, clean and sparkling finish. To be enjoyed by itself or can be equally enjoyed with pasta, seafood, salads or vegetarian dishes.” My notes: This has a light straw colour with a thin film and very few legs. A nose of chemical citrus with tinge of sharpness and the first sip bears out a chemical overtone to stem pressings. No gooseberry or passion fruit here but a faint lime and firm stemminess. Texture and balance are OK but not a sipper unless it’s time for visitors to leave. Paired with salty seafoods or grilled balsamic chicken it would hold its own. Not a value. 68
SANTA CAROLINA CHARDONNAY RESERVA 2007, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #304022 $11.85 (Tasted January 5, 2009)
A General listing described as “Pale straw colour; light toasty notes with peach and apple fruit; medium-bodied with toasty, tropical fruit flavours. Serve with grilled chicken, fish, veggies; creamy pasta.” My notes: This leaves an even film on the bowl and has a soft floral note in a nose of mostly faint green apple. The first sip has a light chemical aspect to it or perhaps reflects a harvest of young vines including stems. Attempts at developing ‘butter’ have fallen short leaving a slight oil on the lips and finishing with an insipid ‘tropical fruit‘ simulation. Not interesting as a sipper and would benefit from a creamy pasta dish where the meal masks the wine. 66
MARQUEE CLASSIC ARTISAN WINES GSM 2006, South Eastern Australia, 14.9% D, #075010 $18.95 (Tasted January 21, 2009)
Released by Vintages on January 10, 2009 described as “Rich garnet color with a brick cast. Vibrant aromas of eucalyptus, cranberries, allspice, and cracked pepper follow through to a supple and satiny medium-full body with nicely balanced acidity and a vibrant five spice fade. A must try wine for spicy Szechwan beef, Middle Eastern or curried lamb dishes. (90/100,, Jan. 7, 2008)” My notes: A ruby with a pinkish rim and garnet cast and aromas that are an even blend of herb, berry and white pepper - nothing floral. Let breathe for thirty minutes for the flavours to settle as a homogeneous mix without a predominant varietal but a spicy berry note. Full and smooth, bright and spicy makes this less of a sipper and more of a bold grilled meat red. Finishes long and lines the palate with 'sweet' herbs and a mushroom smoothness. Have with a pepper steak, sticky pork curry or well seasoned lamb shank. This should cellar well for four to eight years and smooth some roughness. 89
WILLIAM FÈVRE CHILE GRAN CUVÉE CHARDONNAY 2007, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.1% D, #045146 $18.95 (Tasted January 29, 2009)

Released by Vintages on January 10, 2009 described as “… The dominant flavours of this beautifully balanced Chardonnay - apple, pear, toast and butterscotch - are concentrated but not overwhelming. An exceptionally priced, versatile Chard that makes a fitting match for pasta in a cream sauce or chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese.” My notes: A light straw colour with firm aromas of browned butter and lemon grass. Tears are slow to form then slowly flow on the bowl. The texture is nicely rounded and flavours of green apple, butter and citrus have a nice nip and bounce one to the other coming to a finish on a citrus note - it‘s worth waiting for the finish. A light and bright sipper for anyone preferring a slightly oaked chardonnay and should be a great companion with creamed seafood or chicken pastas. Cellaring for up to two years could integrate cream and fruit more but it’s drinking well now. 90
SILENI CELLAR SELECTION PINOT GRIS 2008, Hawke's Bay, NZ, 14.0% MD, #032292 $15.75 (Tasted January 28, 2009)
Released by Vintages on January 10, 2009 described as “… The nose features lovely peach, pear and apple aromas. It's just off-dry with a round texture and juicy fruit flavours beautifully balanced by a bright seam of acidity. Try it with Asian noodle dishes.” The website claims “… has classic aromatic peach flavours along with beautifully balanced acidity and a long finish. It is just off-dry and well suited to seafood, white meats and Asian food styles. Drink it young or cellar for 3-4 years. My notes: This is the third vintage released by Vintages: the 2006 in May 2007 and 2007 (NR) in May 2008 (Ww89). The ’peach blush’ is no longer present altho’ the light gold has a burnish to it. The aroma is of sweet apple blossom and mild nettles. The first sip has a lemon edge to a lemon and honey dew flavour blend. Light-bodied and tart leads into a finish that is mainly citrus with a tartness masking any sweetness. Not for cellaring - a drink now and not a sipper. Have with Thai, dim sum or sezhuan entrées. 80
PARRI ESTATE VIOGNIER/CHARDONNAY 2007, Southern Fleurieu, Australia, 13.0% D, #017319 $17.95 (Tasted January 21, 2009)
A Vintages release on January 17, 2009 described as “Viognier… Showcased here in combination with Chardonnay, the aromatic ripe peach, pear and apricot character typical of this grape really shines through. Pair this flavourful, buttery-textured white with spicy Asian dishes, grilled fish, or even sushi.” My notes: I was curious to see how the viognier (55%) influenced the chardonnay (45%) in this blend - and vice versa. The nose is an excellent combination of creamy peach and crisp apple and the colour is a light gold. A firm film with slow tears and first sip that immediately refreshes the palate giving the taste buds a a burst of golden apple and stone fruit. The finish is long, dry, full and lively - a sipper to try by itself then with appetizers if needed - I didn’t need them to enjoy. Would be great with crab cakes, any seafood dish, Asian or sliced chicken breast on buttered pasta. A blend I’ll look for on future LCBO visits. 92
X & Y CHARDONNAY 2006, Margaret River, Australia, 14.0% XD, #048561 $17.95 (Tasted January 22, 2009)
A Vintages release on January 17, 2009 described as “… White Dry Full-bodied. Appearance: straw. Nose: spicy, smoky, vanilla. Taste: full-bodied, tart, citrus and green melon flavours with oak spice. (4 of 5, Tony Aspler, Dec. 15, 2007) “ My notes: This same vintage was released last January 5, 2008, tasted and rated Ww90. The colour after a year is a light blond with a slight green hue and aromas in order are of nettles, lime and stone fruit. It’s medium-bodied, tart and leaves a clean mouthfeel along with a lemon lime edge. Flavours of stone fruit, pear and granny smith apple ride a tart seam to make this an OK sipper. The level of tartness carried well with Alaskan King crab legs beside greens with Rosenberg blue and Asiago dressing. A drink now not for cellaring. 85 
FAIRHALL DOWNS SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% D, #990580 $19.95 (Tasted January 27, 2009)
Released by Vintages on January 17, 2009 described as “Family owned and operated, Fairhall Downs holds a "small is beautiful" philosophy. They specialize in quality single-vineyard wines, such as this enticing Sauvignon Blanc. Ripe and juicy, this wine showcases lovely citrus, guava and field grass aromas and flavours. Try it with rich seafood dishes or even spicy curries.” My notes: Agronomics were introduced into the vineyards after we visited in 2003 and is starting to show nicely in the whites. This vintage has a light straw colour and there’s a thin viscous film leading to fine tears on the glass. Aromas of nettles balanced with gooseberry fruit without any pungency makes sniffing pleasant. Tastes include grapefruit and gooseberry fresh and light enough for quick sipping and tart enough to accompany light finger foods. The balance continues into a long finish. Have with crab cakes or lightly seasoned green lipped mussels, white fowl or grilled shrimp, planked salmon or arctic char. Should be able to cellar this up to two years. 91
No. 99 WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATES MERITAGE 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Canada, 13.0% D, #075689 $15.95 (Tasted January 23, 2009)
A General listing described on the back label as “… an artful blend of … Cabernet Sauvignon 61%), Cabernet Franc (22%) and Merlot (17%). … shows a savoury mélange of damson plum and sweet cherry fruit aromas framed by complexities of cocoa and oak spice. Medium-full bodied and robust in the mouth, with black raspberry and cassis fruit in balance with moderate tannin on a long elegant finish… 4 - 6 years. Best enjoyed with robust meat dishes and strong cheeses.” My notes: The colour is a deep blackberry with light aromas of flint and raspberries while a thin film recedes slowly down the bowl. The first sip brings some bright berry followed by mostly bramble and crushed stems and leaves a short, dry, bright berry cherry flavour on the palate. A lightish medium-bodied, well balanced tannin and acid making this a sipper for an open house. Perhaps this is what is referred to as ’cool climate’ red for the Niagara region. I wouldn’t expect this to change much with cellaring - a drink now. Have with lightly spiced meats: burgers and onion rings. 80
No. 99 WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATES MERLOT 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Canada, 12.7% D, #063966 $15.95 (Tasted January 24, 2009)
A General listing described on the back label as “… a fruit-forward style highlighted by aromas of blackberry and cherry. Rich, rounded palate and moderate tannins frame ripe berry fruit, finishing with mocca and oak spice. … next 2 - 3 Years.“ My notes: A deep raspberry violet colour with a nose of subtle raspberries - letting develop in the bowl brings more fruit. A thin film recedes slowly allowing tiny tears and the first sip has a softness mixed with bright fruit quite pleasing to the palate. The finish is dry, fruity, with soft tannins, a mild acid and a metallic aspect refreshing the taste buds. I enjoyed this as a sipper - it’s a Niagara red not needing the ‘cold climate’ excuse. Have with prime rib, a ham steak with cranberry sauce or a hearty beef stew. The body and structure should cellar well for up to four years. 89
No. 99 WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATES UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Canada, 12.7% D, #063826 $13.95 (Tasted January 24, 2009)
A General listing described on the back label as “… Both nose and palate show a fine balance and delicate interplay between softer notes of white peach and pear, and a lively backbone of zesty lemon citrus and complex minerality. Matches well with paella, fettuccine alfredo or herbed pork tenderloin.“ My notes: A thin film settles quickly with just a few tears and the nose includes butter and lemon grass aromas. A light yellow in the bowl and a firm citrus nip sets up flavours of tart wild apple, pear and lemon to provide some interest as a sipper. The finish has a distinct lemon with a mineral edge and, if allowed to warm slightly, some roundness lasting a considerable time. Have with stuffed mushroom caps, crab cakes, any grilled seafood or flavourful rice dishes. A drink now. 85

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