Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April Promos, 2009: A Rant

I felt like all of the proverbial monkeys rolled into one: Hear no plonk, See no Plonk and Speak no plonk. In retrospect, after selecting blindly from LCBO’s April Promos, I should have left all my senses engaged. Of the fourteen wines tasted from Viva Vino and Spring at last!, my BH and I endured 11 bottles of what I would call marginally drinkable to downright plonk. This left 3 enjoyable wines. Not a good showing and an approach I won’t repeat nor do I recommend.

I was going to say there was a positive side to April’s events since most of the Promo wines were below $15. But plonk is plonk. In fact if you have a tasting panel, as the LCBO has, this much plonk should never be foisted on the Ontario public. You have to ask yourself ‘As a conscientious retailer, with an uncontested market, would you put plonk on your shelves?’ I wouldn’t!

Btw: Have you ever noticed wine columnists seldom if ever write up wines in the 70’s. I can think of a few reasons for a label not making it to print. The number one fact is there are just too many wines to be bothered with poor wines… Then the obvious, reporting in the 70’s doesn't sell wine, the primary role of most ‘critics‘. Also reporting poor wines is a death wish, if you’re the only one, in a business where invitations to events depend on expectations of positive reporting. They must have listened to my grandmother, ‘if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything!’ and most don‘t say anything about plonk. On this, I didn’t listen.
I think there’s a few points I've learned along the way:
  • A tasting note that’s not dated and/or without a source isn't worth reading.
  • A tasting note that’s older than a year for whites or two years for reds is no longer valid.
  • A tasting note included within an LCBO Promo (or other Ad) is just 'marketing'.
  • A tasting note by a critic local to a wine’s region is suspect.
I‘m going back to trusting my own instincts then crosschecking against my Favoured Critics tasting notes. At other times I’ll carry around my Favoured Wineries list and select from them. I’m betting I’ll do better than 3 in 14.

Just my opinion, Ww

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Spring at last!: LCBO Promo 2009, 6 Tasted of 6

A new Promo two weeks in a row and another ten wines - six reds and four whites from the General shelves - complete with appetizing recipes. Nobody can say the LCBO doesn’t do a great presentation of their products.

I recognized some of the wines in this promo as ones previously tasted so have summarized the results below. I have to do my taxes soon and that usually means I have a balance to pay to the wonderful group of accountants in the Tax department. Mr. McGuinty, not him personally but his Party, adds more taxes and surcharges to my return every year to balance what they do for Ontario businesses. Give 1% here, take 8% there… and the LCBO doesn't pass on the advantage of a strong loonie offshore. The net? I've purchased just a few from this Promo.

The vintages shown are as illustrated in the Promo and prices asterisked are ‘sale’ prices. Five wines, indicated with an RP, made it to Rod Phillips book, 500 Best Value Wines in the LCBO 2009, although most were an earlier vintage.

I hope this is useful in some way. Cheers, Ww

  • Philippe de Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, RP, Not tasted -- #407551 $10.95
  • Hillebrand Artist Series Meritage 2007 VQA, RP, Not tasted -- #056390 $12.95
  • Fetzer Valley Oaks Zinfandel 2007, RP, 74(2005) -- #234617 $13.95*
  • Santa Rita Chardonnay Reserva 2007, RP, 82(2006) -- #348359 $12.95*
  • Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay 2007, 82 -- #606806 $12.95*
  • J.P. Chenet Founder’s Reserve Merlot - Cabernet 2007, 89-2 -- #621995 $11.95
  • J.P. Chenet Cabernet - Syrah 2007, 82 -- #090472 $9.95
  • Wyndham Estate Bin 444 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, 82 -- #110486 $14.45*
  • Inniskillin Reserve Series Riesling 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Not tasted -- #034025 $13.25*
  • Trius Riesling Dry 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, RP, Not tasted -- #303792 $13.95
(r-v - Rating-Value)


PHILIPPE DE ROTHSCHILD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Languedoc, France, #407551 $10.95
A General wine described as “Deep purple; intense cassis aroma & flavour with herbal note;. Medium bodied with firm tannins and raspberry notes in the finish.” My notes: Not tasted. The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (#407536, $10.95) was tasted last Dec and rated Ww80 saying ’A commercial drink now.’ This appears to follow the same oenological philosophy so I wouldn’t buy into this label. If you try it let me know.

HILLEBRAND ARTIST SERIES MERITAGE VQA 2007, Niagara, Canada, #056390 $12.95
From Andres Wines Ltd. and a General listing described as “Colour; ruby red. Aromas; cassis, blackberry, plum and chocolate. Palate; full-bodied, rich, well-structured and harmonious.” My notes: Not tasted. The 2007 Gewurztraminer (#554378, $10.95) was tasted last September and rated Ww77 with the comment ‘I’d put this in the category of a ‘recipe’ wine… etc. ‘ This could follow the same oenological philosophy so I wouldn’t buy into this label. If you try it let me know

FETZER VALLEY OAKS ZINFANDEL 2007, California, USA, #234617 $13.95* ($14.95)
A General listing described as “Ruby red colour; aromas and flavours of ripe brambleberry with pepper, spice and vanilla notes; dry, well-balanced balanced with zesty acidity, lively fruit and spicy oak nuances; long finish.” My notes: The 2005 vintage was tasted in Dec 2007 with a rating of Ww74 and a comment ‘a dry texture on the first swallow with flavours resembling cherries and bramble not well established and finishing blandly etc. ‘ It was priced at $15.25. At the price I could be tempted to try it again.

SANTA RITA CHARDONNAY RESERVA 2007, Chile, #348359 $12.95* ($13.95)
A General listing described as “Bright yellow colour; tropical fruit, pineapple and toasty oak aromas with earthy notes; dry, medium-bodied, rich tropical fruit flavours with vanilla notes on the a long finish.” My notes: The 2006 vintage was tasted in Feb 2008 with a rating of 82 and the comment ‘… The flavours include apple, pear and distant honey with a nice tang and very slight roundness…etc. ‘ The price was $13.40. I’ll give this a try sometime.

BERINGER STONE CELLARS CHARDONNAY 2007, California, 13.0% D, #606806 $12.95* ($13.95) (Tasted April 23, 2009)
A General listing described as “Medium straw colour; toasty oak, vanilla, citrus and tropical fruit notes on the nose; dry, creamy palate with medium body and length.” My notes: The Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Grigio 2006 (#045641, $18.05) and Chardonnay 2006 (#534230, $17.30) were rated 88 and 89 when tasted in Nov and May resp. last year so I thought their entry label was worth a try. There is a light but overly floral tinge to a delicate, slightly oaked chardonnay nose. A swirl brings a film that recedes slowly with few tears leading to a full mouthfeel and crisp green apple flavour. A moderate tang persists leaving the palate warm and refreshed. As a commercial sipper it’s an interesting but unusual sipper. Better with sliced chicken breast or a mushroom risotto. A drink now. 82

JP CHENET FOUNDERS RESERVE MERLOT CABERNET 2007, Languedoc, France, #621995 $11.95
A General listing described as “Medium dark red ruby colour; aromas of black berry and spice; dry, medium bodied, with rich fruit centre and good structure.” My notes: This vintage ws tasted in Dec 2008 with a rating of 89 with the comment ‘… The first sip is velvet smooth, full-bodied with flavours of blackberries muted by blueberries. etc.’ imho, this is suitable to have as a house red. The price at that time was the same.

J.P. CHENET CABERNET SYRAH 2007, Languedoc, France, #090472 $9.95
A General listing described as “A deep, flavourful blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon that’s perfect with beef strips or rosemary-rubbed filet mignon.” My notes: I tasted this vintage in Dec 2008 with a rating of 82 and the comment ‘… Silky and medium-bodied, soft tannins and a bright acid - seems more like a Grenache blend than Syrah - a cherry flavouring and a moderate finish that is smooth, lightly flavoured and a touch of spice… a value house red for a crowd.’ The price was the same.

WYNDHAM ESTATE BIN 444 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005, Australia, #110486 $14.45* ($15.45)
A General listing described as “Deep garnet colour; dry and medium-bodied with aromas and flavours of cocoa, cassis and eucalyptus; medium tannins. Long finish.” My notes: This vintage was tasted in Sep 2008 with a rating of 82 and the comment ‘… Dry tannins and firmer oak (and flavour) differentiate this from the merlot (#336347) but the same slow legs and body, on the lightish side of medium, and a faint violet hue… etc.’ Purchased at the same price.

Tallying the Pluses

In a recent wine column the columnist listed wineries he considers as ‘old standbys’. They were selected from his own years of experience as well as that of a panel of sommeliers. Entering an LCBO outlet can be daunting if one doesn’t have any idea of where to begin. You can’t believe the labels. It’s reckless to believe that ’the higher the price, the better the wine’. And everyone at the outlet can have his own preferences and tastes let alone motivators.

Using a ‘video store’ analogy the columnist referred to his ‘Woody Allen list’, ie. pick any movie directed by Woody Allen and you’re assured to take home an interesting movie. This caught my attention since this is one Producer I consider on a par with Nicholas Cage as an actor. But then everyone has their favourites…. or NOT! …. and it’s always a good idea to keep a record of what wineries work for you. Of the critics picks, the purple ones do it for me (below $20).

This blog entry doesn’t intend to criticize anyone’s view of selecting reliable movies nor of wineries. Any help in narrowing the selection of a bottle of wine on a visit to the LCBO is admirable. My intent is to see how the wineries mentioned in the column fared during the four years I've recorded tastings.

I started the Ww ratings in September 2007 consequently some of the wines in the archives will have only verbal assessments. Listed below for each wine previously tasted is the name, vintage, price at the time, SKU, and either a Ww rating or an abbreviated qualitative comment (NR for plonk, OK for average, Good, Excellent).

Over the last few years I've purposely tried series of wines from wineries that I thought had above average products. I concluded that there are just a few wineries I would definitely say matched my tastes consistently and several I would avoid. Some wineries having a lower risk of plonk could have styles, blends or varietals I would definitely use caution in buying. All wineries have one thing to contend with - the weather. They each have good and bad years and, depending on how they managed their vineyards, some can produce consistently good if not great wines each and every year. I definitely would have included a few Argentina and Chile wineries on my list.

I hope this is useful in some way. Cheers, Ww

  • Errazuriz Wild Ferment Pinot Noir 2007, Ww80 -- #510396 $19.95 (Feb 1, 2009)
  • Errazuriz Wild Ferment Pinot Noir 2005, NR -- #510396 $17.95 (May 13, 2007)
  • Errazuriz Estate Chardonnay 2007, Ww94 -- #318741 $11.80 (Nov 14, 2008)
  • Errazuriz ‘Max Reserva’ Shiraz 2006, Ww95 -- #614750 $17.75 (Nov 3, 2008)
  • Errazuriz ‘Max Reserva’ Shiraz 2004, Good -- #614750 $18.15 (Mar 19, 2007)
  • Errazuriz Estate Carmenère 2007, Ww88 -- #016238 $13.80 (Nov 7, 2008)
  • Errazuriz ‘Max Reserva’ Merlot 2006, Ww87 -- #016170 $14.35 (Apr 27, 2008)
  • Errazuriz ‘Max Reserva’ Merlot 2004, Excellent -- #016170 $18.15 (Mar 15, 2007)
  • Errazuriz ‘Max Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Excellent -- #335174 $18.20 (Mar 21, 2007)
  • Errazuriz ‘Max Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Excellent -- #335174 $17.90 (Aug 4, 2005)
  • Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Shiraz Viognier 2007, Ww84 -- #624494 $15.95 (Nov 24, 2008)
  • Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Shiraz Viognier 2004, Excellent -- #624494 $13.95 (Jan 30, 2006)
  • Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Viognier 2006, Good -- #624502 $15.95 (Jul 08, 2007)
  • Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Viognier 2004, Excellent -- #624502 $13.95 (Jul 28, 2005)
  • Yalumba ‘Bush Vine' Grenache 2004, Good -- #531228 $19.95 (Oct 28, 2006)
  • Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Unwooded Chardonnay 2004, OK -- #625103 $11.95 (Jan 31, 2006)
Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi
  • Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Reserva 2004, Good -- #107276 $21.75 (May 23, 2008)
  • Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Reserva 2003, NR -- #107276 $18.10 (Dec 04, 2006)
  • Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2007, Ww91 -- #363457 $14.95 (Nov 26, 2008)
  • Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2006, Ww85 -- #363457 $14.95 (May 30, 2008)
  • Perrin Nature Côtes du Rhône 2004, NR -- #948059 $16.95 (Jan 23, 2007)
  • Penfolds ‘Koonunga Hill` Shiraz/Cabernet 2006, Ww88 -- #285544 $16.45 (Mar 12, 2009)
  • Penfolds `Koonunga Hill` Shiraz/Cabernet 2004, OK -- #285544 $16.15 (Jul 12, 2007)
  • Penfolds 'Koonunga Hill' Shiraz 2004, OK -- #642751 $15.95 (Jul 14, 2007)
  • Penfolds ‘Magill Estate’ Shiraz 2001, OK -- #944736 $72.00 (Jul 14, 2006)
  • Penfolds ‘Thomas Hyland’ Shiraz 2003, NR -- #611210 $19.95 (Jul 10, 2006)
  • Penfolds ‘Thomas Hyland’ Shiraz 2003, NR -- #611210 $19.95 (Jan 5, 2006)
  • Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvèdre 2003, NR -- #468629 $19.95 (Apr 3, 2005)
Trinchero Family Estates (Sutter)
  • Trinchero Family Pinot Noir 2005, Excellent -- #025155 $20.95 (Mar 16, 2007)
  • Trinchero Family Pinot Noir 2004, OK -- #727248 $17.95 (Jul 24, 2006)
  • Trinchero ‘Family Selection’ Merlot 2003, NR -- #550566 $14.95 (Jul 23, 2006)
  • Trinchero ‘Family Selection’ Merlot 2003, NR -- #550566 $16.95 (Jun 15, 2005)
  • Trinchero ‘Family Selection’ Merlot 2002, NR -- #550566 $13.50 (Feb 7, 2005)
  • Trinchero ‘Family Selection’ Merlot 2001, OK -- #550566 $18.95 (Feb 7, 2005)
Villa Maria
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Ww89 -- #426601 $16.30 (May 6, 2008)
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Ww91 -- #426601 $16.95 (Nov 25, 2007)
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Good -- #426601 $15.10 (Sep 20, 2005)
Mission Hill
  • Mission Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, Ww92 -- #553321 $22.95 (Jan 27, 2009)
  • Mission Hill Chardonnay Reserve 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, Ww89 -- #545004 $19.95 (Nov 15, 2008)
  • Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, Ww87 -- #057430 $21.95 (Mar 11, 2008)
  • Mission Hill Five Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2006 VQA, Good -- #300301 $17.15 (May 06, 2007)
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Chardonnay 2003 VQA, Good -- #545004 $18.95 (Feb 25, 2006)
Chateau des Charmes
  • Château des Charmes Gewürztraminer 2006 VQA St. Davids Bench , Ww82 -- #453472 $19.95 (Jun 12, 2008)
  • Château des Charmes 'Equuleus' Paul Bosc Vineyard 2002 VQA, Excellent -- Winery $35.00 (Mar 1, 2007)
  • Château des Charmes Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ww80 -- #453423 $15.95 (Jun 3, 2008)
  • Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Chardonnay VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ww82 -- #081653 $13.85 (Feb 19, 2008)
  • Château des Charmes White Label Chardonnay 2004 VQA, Ww74 -- #038828 375mL $6.20 (Feb 1, 2008)
  • Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Aligoté 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ww80 -- #284950 $13.35 (Feb 2, 2008)
  • Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Aligoté 2003 VQA Niagara Peninsula, OK -- #284950 $11.95 (Jul 12, 2005)
  • Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Cabernet/Merlot 2004 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ww84 -- #222372 $19.95 (Jan 21, 2008)
  • Château des Charmes St. Davids Bench Viognier 2003 VQA Niagara Peninsula, OK -- #432948 $18.95 (Aug 20, 2005)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Viva Vino: LCBO Promo 2009, 8 Tasted of 8

I’m not a fan of Portuguese or Spanish reds often finding a ‘traditional’ process has masked or taken away much of the natural fruit (imho). However, this is changing as many wineries update their equipment and viticulture practices and perhaps a tasting of current vintages may improve my impression. Whites, on the other hand, are different: seldom does another style of white go so well with shellfish platters and rice or paella accompaniments.

The LCBO glossy I received on Saturday with my G&M features wines from these two countries and, ignoring sherries and ports, includes fourteen wines: 3 whites, 1 rosé and 10 reds. All are below $15 with half below $10. The fourteen are in the list below. Several more Viva Vino products are featured in each of the Outlets. I’ve added some of these to the list and, if I weaken and purchase more from the Promo, I’ll highlight these also in bold then add a rating when tasted.

Except for those purchased the vintages shown are as illustrated in the Promo and prices asterisked are ‘sale’ prices although these can reflect a perceived LCBO practice of ratcheting up a regular price then reducing it for a Promo. Rod Phillips book, 500 Best Value Wines in the LCBO 2009, includes 26 wines from Portugal (11) and Spain (15) 3 of which made the glossy and his ratings are included below. I hope this is useful in some way. Cheers, Ww

  • Osborne Dominio de Malpica Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, RP4, 89-2 -- G, Castilla, Spain, #032011, $14.95
  • Red Guitar Old Vine Tempranillo Garnacha 2007, RP3½, 84 -- G, Navarra, Spain, #054007, $11.95*
  • Montecillo Crianza La Rioja 2005, RP3½, 83 -- G, Rioja, Spain, #144493, $13.75*
  • Sogrape Gazela Vinho Verde NV, 82 -- G, Gaia, Portugal, #141432, $7.95
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut NV, 80 -- G, Penèdes, Spain, #088591, $12.95*
  • Osborne Solaz Merlot Tempranillo 2006, 75 -- G, Castilla, Spain, #074021, $11.05
  • Osborne Solaz Shiraz Tempranillo 2006, 75 -- G, Castilla, Spain, #620922, $10.05
  • Montecillo Blanco 2008, 74 -- G, Rioja, Spain, #072058, $9.95
  • Tapena Garnacha 2007, G, Penèdes, Spain, #072553, $12.95*
  • Castillo Monséran Viura 2007, G, Carinena, Spain, #073387, $9.00
  • Castillo Monséran Garnacha 2007, G, Carinena, Spain, #073395, $9.00
  • El Burro Shiraz 2006, G, Murcia, Spain, #070938, $12.90
  • Aliança Foral Reserva 2007, G, Duoro, Portugal, # 239046, $8.50
  • Loios Red 2007, G, Alentejano, Portugal, #089912, $9.95
  • Sogrape Mateus Rosé NV, G, Douro, Portugal, #000166, $7.95*
(* - Price change, G - General listing, r-v - Rating-Value)
FREIXENET CORDON NEGRO BRUT NV, Penèdes, Spain, 12.0% D, #088591 $12.95* (Tasted April 8, 2009)
A General listing described as “Pale straw colour; dry and medium-bodied with light yeasty and minerally notes; creamy mouthfeel with citrus fruit flavours and a crisp finish. Serve with appetizers, seafood or as an aperitif.” My notes: *Sale price - purchased previously for $12.35. Lots of large to tiny bubbles effervesce in the glass on pouring and continue to stream during sipping. The colour is a bright golden colour and sharp pastry dough aromas greet the nose. Some banana, some lemon lime ride on a seam of steely acid refreshing the palate with each sip. The finish has a stemminess that detracts from the fruit leaving the palate with only mineral and yeast. Have with fresh oysters or mix with an oz. of papaya juice for a morning-after tonic. I would not recommend this as a toasting beverage unless on a limited budget. A drink now. 80
SOGRAPE GAZELA VINHO VERDE NV, Portugal, 9.0% D, #141432 $7.95* (Tasted April 24, 2009)
A General listing described as “Pale yellow straw colour; light fruit aromas with citrus and mineral notes; dry, light bodied, with delicate fresh fruit flavours; tart and refreshing with a spritzy finish. Serve chilled as an aperitif, with shellfish or fried fish.” My notes: I haven’t had this in since January 2006 (Regular $8.05) and I don’t know why. It’s slightly spritzy, not the harsh bubbles but tiny and soft. Served well chilled this is a patio sipper for those wanting a delicate floral nose and light citrus flavours but low alcohol. Finishes quite dry with a touch of clay. Quaff with a slice of lime with or without tapas or stuffed mushroom caps. Not a white wine replacement for a meal. 82
OSBORNE SOLAZ MERLOT TEMPRANILLO 2006, Spain, 13.5% D, #074021 $11.05 (Tasted April 11, 2009)
A General listing described as “Deep ruby colour; aromas of strawberry, plum and oak spice; balanced acidity, and supple tannins along with flavours of cherry, plum and leather. This would pair excellently with a hearty baked stew.” My notes: The aroma is an equal mix of wood and fruit but faint. The colour is ruby with a dull cast. The first sip is medium-bodied with a slate texture to light cherry flavours, smooth and well balanced tannin and acid finishing with dull cherries followed by a drying mineral layer. This is not a solo sipper but more of a must-have-with-edibles red. Pair with grilled meats or with tomato sauced pastas or rice. Not for cellaring… and preferably not for sipping if you can avoid it. 75
OSBORNE SOLAZ SHIRAZ TEMPRANILLO 2006, Rueda, Spain, 13.5% D, #620922 $10.05* (Tasted April 7, 2009)
A General listing having the same description as previous vintages: “Medium red violet colour; aromas of cedar, oak/vanilla and ripe berry; dry, medium bodied, with flavours of cherry, blackberry, cedar and spice. Serve with roasted chicken sandwiches, Spanish jamon or serrano ham, or stew.” My notes: *Sale price - purchased previously for $10.00. The 2004 and 5 vintages were fresh from the start with ‘an earthy mix of cherry, berry and plum’ and a ’full-bodied dash of pepper and gulp of tannin’. The 2006 should be aired for thirty minutes for a flavour blend similar to previous vintages but much less prominent. Its ruby colour is a tad dull and aromas are nonexistent leaving the flavour to define the fruit: a weak mix of sandalwood, cherry and berry finishing somewhat herbal. Overall it’s light-bodied, dry with light but balanced acids, tannins and a mild spice making this a $7 sipper, ie. not a value. Don’t serve alone but have with mild shaved meats or mild cheeses. 75

MONTECILLO CRIANZA LA RIOJA 2005, Rioja, Spain, 12.5% D, #144493 $13.75* (Tasted April 19, 2009)
A General listing described as “Medium ruby red colour; raspberry, sweet cherry, violet, lavander and cassis fruit aromas with hints of vanilla and oak; dry, medium-full bodied, good acidity with ripe plum, cherry, cedar and leather notes on the palate; long, smooth finish. Serve with rabbit stew, rack of lamb, sausage, stews, pork roasts or paella.” My notes: An Osborne label - the 2001 vintage was previously purchased for $14.95 in December 2005 This has a deep ruby and an aroma of stewed cherries tinged with light oak. - not much though. A swirl brings a thin film and slow tears. Then a sip shows some finesse combining soft berries with fine tannins, a mild spice and acid, all nicely balanced, light- to medium-bodied and smooth when aired thirty minutes. The finish is fairly short starting with meagre flavours and declining from there ending cleanly. An ambiguous dry sipper - take it or leave it. Would pair well with tomato side dishes and sliced beef or, better, pork tenderloin with a smooth gravy. Not for cellaring - a drink now. 83
MONTECILLO BLANCO 2008, Rioja, Spain, 12.0% D, #072058 $9.95 (Tasted April 6, 2009)
A General listing to be served chilled with grilled fish, seared scallops or pasta.” My notes:
An Osborne label. Made from Viura grapes this has a very light straw colour with a fresh faint citrus fragrance preluding flavours of mild melon and citrus. The minimal fruit fades leaving a texture and flavour of crushed stems and an acidic reminder - not a sipper. A white looking for a reason. Have with baked octopus or breaded shrimp, mussels in a delicate cream sauce, cold chicken sliced on greens or, perhaps, quaff with tapas. For me, not a drink now and not for cellaring. 74

RED GUITAR OLD VINE TEMPRANILLO GARNACHA 2007, Navarra, Spain, 14.0% D, #054007 $11.95* (Tasted April 6, 2009)
A General listing described as “Deep ruby colour; complex developing aromas of blackcurrant, rich concentrated raspberry, sweet spice, olive oil, spices and dried fruits; dry, medium to full bodied, with developing, complex flavours of sweet ripe berry fruit, dried fruits, game and spice; drinking well now, with potential to age for several years. Serve with a variety of barbecued meats, including lamb, pork, ribs and sausages.” My notes: A blend of 55% Tempranillo and 45% Garnacha gives this a rich ruby colour and a bouquet, if any, of dull blackberry. This must be decanted or let breathe for an hour before serving to settle an odd Brett-like flavour. There’s just a hint of sweetness to the first sip and a light jammy mix of berry fruit blended with prunes. Nicely tart, medium-bodied, some fine tannins and a long dried berry finish. A well made red to have with spicy rice dishes or crock pot stews. A drink now that may develop a broader structure if cellared for up to four years. Priced right. 84
OSBORNE DOMINIO DE MALPICA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2004, Castilla, Spain, 13.5% D, #032011 $14.95 (Tasted April 6, 2009)
A General listing described as “Dense dark red in colour; ripe black cherry, sandalwood and spicy aromas; full-bodied with flavours of oak spice and lots of acidity followed by a spicy finish. Serve with grilled red meats.” My notes: This has a rich ruby colour with fairly fast legs and lots of them, a miniscule fragrance of spicy black currants and from the first sip a light tannic dryness and mild acid seam. A full-ish medium-body with a velvet texture and flavours of equal black currants and blackberries. Very appealing as a sipper with a long finish and a light mocha tone to the fruit. Sirloin stews, lamb shank, braised ribs, hot Italian sausage or chorizo minestrone soups could accompany this red. Not bold but a very sociable sipper. I believe it could cellar for several years - say six - for benefit. 89

Friday, April 03, 2009

April 2009 Wines: 14 Tasted of 14

These wines are bought on spec. throughout the month. A question: Have you ever selected a wine based on the tasting notes provided by the LCBO/Vintages and the wine failed to match even closely the vivid description provided? This month Tangley Oaks Merlot Lot 10 2005 was a big ($22) disappointment. I can only guess what happened: The wine was past peak when sold to Ontario and the tasting note was added without regard to reality? or, The LCBO took advantage of a low ($14US retail) wholesale price then palmed plonk off on me? I'm ticked off! When a monopoly is the major, some say only, source of International wines they should show 'due diligence'. My opinion,

When a wine has been tasted it will appear in bold and resequenced by rating. Cheers, Ww
  • Wolf Blass Black Label Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2002, 97-2  - V, Australia, #960468 $89.95
  • The Hedonist Shiraz 2005, 92-2 -- V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #090191 $19.95
  • Viu Manent Reserva Carmenère 2006, 90-2 -- V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #045161 $16.95
  • Conti Carello Soave Classico 2006, 89-1 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #085514 $17.95
  • Anselmi ‘San Vincenzo’ 2008, 87 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #948158 $16.95
  • Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2006, 87-- V, Veneto, Italy, #479766 $24.95
  • Beringer Founders Estate Pinot Grigio 2006, 87 -- G, California, USA, #045641 $17.95
  • Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir, 84 -- V, Sonoma County, California, #954834 $24.95
  • A BY Acacia Pinot Noir 2007, 84 -- V, Carneros, USA, #118927 $19.95
  • Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio 2008, 82 -- V, Alto Adige, Italy, #106450 $16.95
  • Mike Weir Estate Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 80 -- V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, #000026 $15.95
  • Gracia de Chile Reserva Chardonnay 2007, 80 -- V, Bio Bio Valley, Chile, #093765 $14.95
  • Tangley Oaks Merlot Lot #10 2005, 76 -- V, Napa Valley, USA, #068155 $21.95
  • Rosemount Diamond Merlot 2008, 72 -- G, Australia, #542431 $15.95
(G - General listing, V – Vintages, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


MIKE WEIR ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, 13.0% D, #000026 $15.95 (Tasted April 5, 2009)

A Vintages release on March 14, 2009 described as “With its layers of pineapple, green apple, tropical fruit and toasty vanilla notes, this full-bodied, harmonious and long-finishing white will perfectly match a roast chicken breast or baked salmon fillet.” My notes: The colour is a pale straw and the aroma is a blend of pastry crust and light citrus. There’s a light creaminess to the texture and a strong nip on the first sip which settles down. Flavours are green apple tinged with a vanilla note blended to be a polite sipper. To me, the fruit hasn’t developed to add much character, more of a recipe white. Serve chilled as an aperitif or with grilled chicken with rice. A drink now - not for cellaring. 80

VIU MANENT RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2006, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #045161 $16.95 (Tasted April 10, 2009)

A Vintages release on February 14, 2009 described as “Winner of Silver Medals at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and Vinalies Internationales in 2008. A nose that includes dusky berry, rich plum, pencil lead, cedar and a hint of root beer. Warm spice, earth, ripe cherry and ripe fruit on the mid-palate; moderately high acidity and savoury minerality; finishes nicely with textural tannins. Produced from vineyard blocks with 16 years average age. (2½ of 4, Lynne Char Bennett, Aug. 1, 2008).” My notes: A rich violet ruby colour and spicy blackberry aromas that push out of the bottle. There’s a firm film and slow tears and the first sip has a full-bodied layer of berries, soft liquorice, ’pencil lead’ and earth tones. The berries mellow out while the liquorice and ‘pencil lead’ come forward in a long earthy finish. This bottle was left for an hour to breathe and is a must. A bold meal red to have with rich stews, rubbed & grilled ribs or steaks. Cellaring for several years could increase the velvet texture but mellow out the fruit component giving a denser red. Drinking well now and I’d take a chance on cellaring. 90

CONTI CARELLO SOAVE CLASSICO 2006, Veneto, Italy, 12.5% XD, #085514 $17.95 (Tasted April 15, 2009)

Released by Vintages on October 25, 2008 described as “Soave is predominantly made from Garganega, with Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Trebbiano di Soave accounting for the rest… This fresh and complex offering classically matches linguine alla vongole or a fish-based risotto.” My notes: This has a rich golden colour and ripe apple pear nose, light but respectable. Off chill the texture is full, extra dry with flavours of lemons and apples then finishing with a touch of long, bright raisins. This would be delightful on a warm spring day munching on cocktail shrimp or tiny sausage. Pair with freshwater fish or creamy shellfish pastas. Cellaring for a few years should be interesting possibly developing some caramel. 89
ANSELMI ‘SAN VINCENZO’ 2008, Veneto, Italy, 13.0% XD, #948158 $16.95 (Tasted April 13, 2009)

A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 and a Vintages Essentials described as “… light and fresh San Vincenzo, which grabs your attention with its ripe citrus, tropical fruit, melon, pear and peach aromas and flavours… A concentrated blend of Garganega, Chardonnay and a little Trebbiano, enjoy it with grilled white fish or pasta with pesto sauce.” My notes: Except for 2006 Anselmi has been a favourite each vintage: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002. The 2008 has a mid golden colour, crisp and clear in the glass with a fragrance of lemon, wildflowers and honey. The first sip is straw edged peach stone and a lightish medium-body with an extra dry tartness more than I recall for previous vintages, except 2006. Cellar for a few years rather than drink now. The finish is long, tart, mineral edged with a clay texture. More of a meal white for creamy pasta dishes, mushroom or tomato sauced clam dishes. 87

WOLF BLASS BLACK LABEL SHIRAZ/CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MALBEC 2002, Barossa, Australia, 15.0% XD, #960468 $89.95 (Tasted August 12, 2009)

A Vintages release on November 24, 2007 described as "A modern classic. Its opulent, heady perfume of wild, briary dark berries, plums and redcurrants reveals layers of deeply scented oak, pepper and spice. Smooth and luscious, its silky-fine palate is steeped in pure, joyous dark fruit handsomely partnered by creamy and slightly caramelised cedar/vanilla oak. It's effortless and refined, beautifully balanced with firm, fine tannins, finishing with length and persistence. 97/100 (Jeremy Oliver, July 2006)." My notes: Received as a gift a few years ago and saved for this Easter as a pre-dinner sipper. The colour is of rich and dense blackberry juices with a fragrance of black currant and slight raspberry. Sipping takes awhile to get past the richness of fresh black currant muted by a few raspberries. Full-bodied with soft tannins and a mild acid seam to carry the flavours awhile as they coat the palate, luscious with a subtle brightness. Sipping is a delight. Pairing with prime rib, rare rib eyes or grilled back ribs would be suitable. Drinking well now but could cellar for another seven years. 97
. RODNEY STRONG ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2007, Sonoma County, California, 14.4% D, #954834 $24.95 (Tasted April 12, 2009)
A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 described as “This silky smooth wine shows why the Russian River Valley is the 'go to' region for quality Pinot Noir in California. Seductive aromas of cherry, plum, cinnamon, and oak spice replay on the medium full-bodied palate. Dry and well-balanced, it's soft and smooth with a peppery finish. If you're not already a Pinot lover, you're about to become one. Try it with grilled salmon or veal tenderloin.” My notes: The 2005 vintage was tasted in Dec 2006 with the comment ‘Not a value - not recommended‘. The 2007 is a rich ruby with a strawberry glint and aroma of California strawberries, somewhat grassy. The film is firm with slow long legs and the first sip is silky smooth, tart with dregs of strawberry, red currant and a touch of rhubarb. Perhaps not a fruit bomb but there’s enough of everything in balance for an adequate sipper. It was light with bbq’d rack of lamb but OK. Should be better with planked salmon or grilled tuna. At peak now. 84
ROSEMOUNT DIAMOND MERLOT 2008, Australia, 13.5% D, #542431 $15.95 (Tasted April 22, 2009)
A General listing described as “Medium to deep ruby red colour; plum, sweet oak, black cherry and cocoa aromas with plum and berry fruit flavours; dry and medium to full-bodied with medium tannins; long finish. Serve with roasted or grilled red meats; lamb; strong cheeses.” My notes: Tasted last December with a Ww76 rating. This is a mid ruby colour and a nose light with the fragrance of spice and raspberry jam. A thin film on the bowl with just a few legs indicate a somewhat light-bodied texture and the flavours have a spicy sweet berry aspect quickly taking on an unnatural chemical tone that continues through a long finish. Overall an unpleasant sipper and difficult to pair unless with full flavoured pizzas, hamburgers or chili con carne. Not recommended. 72
SANTA MARGHERITA PINOT GRIGIO 2008, Alto Adige, Italy, 12.0% D, #106450 $16.95 (Tasted April 24, 2009)
A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 and an Essentials product described as “… This, our #1 selling wine, sports aromas of fresh green apple, lime and peach that replay on the cleansing finish. Excellent as an aperitif, or serve it with antipasto or gnocchi.” My notes: A light golden colour with a soft floral and light spice nose gives this white initial appeal. A one dimensional sipper with a dry texture and lemon apple flavour to match a range of finger foods. Or have with grilled filets of freshwater fishes, a creamy seafood pasta or chowder. Finishes dry with a delicate tang. A commercial drink now for general gatherings. 82 
THE HEDONIST SHIRAZ 2005, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5% D, #090191 $19.95 (Tasted April 24, 2009)
A Vintages release on March 28, 2009 described as “James Halliday awarded this biodynamically grown wine 92 points. … and Jancis Robinson, MW, Jan. 8, 2008 says “… The hedonism comes from the pure pleasure of sipping this delightfully approachable and civilised Shiraz ... Far from a syrup or tough tincture, this wine tingles with life and manages to be beautifully balanced for current drinking while not being sweetened up or vapid. It has that glossy McLaren Vale ripeness with some real finesse.“ My notes: Winemaker Walter Clappis says of his wine “… I have let that age old miracle of fermentation occur with the minimum of interference to produce this big buxom red.” This has a rich mahogany colour and a warm nose of ripe cherries and earthy spice. The first sip has a fuzzy tannin feel and ripe cherry flavour leading to a long finish of white peppery cherries. An interesting sipper and a full-bodied red to go with grilled back ribs rubbed with Barbarian seasoning or with a seared strip loin steak. Cellaring for up to four years should move fuzz to velvet and mellow some of the spices although drinking well now. 92
VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSA 2006, Veneto, Italy 13.5% D, #479766 $24.95 (Tasted April 13, 2009)

A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 described as “… The Ripassa consistently delivers on that philosophy with its aromas of blackberry, plum purée, smoke and cocoa. The palate is dry with plenty of fruit flavours, hints of licorice, ripe tannins and even more cocoa. A great match for pecorino cheese, roast beef, or pasta with meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce.” My notes: The 2005 vintage was tasted in March 20, 2008 rated Ww87 with the comment ‘… Medium-bodied, lacking the full ripasso result but has a nicely balanced nip with a light cherry flavour, light velvet and tannins …etc. … Overpriced tho’.” The 2006 is $3 more. The colour is a rich ruby and aromas are a combination of spicy edged figs and plums. Full-bodied, tart and fine tannins define the texture with a flavour of sweet cherries, leather and a light cocoa. The finish is long with an even mix of leather and fruit… OK as a sipper if you like your reds dry, tart and processed. The ripasso shows altho‘ less velvety than expected. Cellaring for a few years may be possible but likely not worth the wait. To me, not a value. 87
TANGLEY OAKS MERLOT Lot #10 2005, Napa Valley, USA, 13.8% D, #068155 $21.95 (Tasted April 15, 2009)
A Vintages release on April 11, 2009 described as “A Merlot from Napa that bountifully displays the virtues of this misunderstood grape. Filled with cherry, espresso, spice and toast aromas and flavours, this wonderfully balanced wine will cellar 2-4 years or enjoy it now with grilled lamb or gourmet sausages.” My notes: A mid ruby colour with dull cherry fragrance and leaves a thin film on the bowl … fairly thin texture as well. Smooth with a soft tar edge preceding a flavour of crushed cherry stones, a well pronounced tartness and fine tannins. The finish has mainly a brambly flavour and acid. Not a sipper and did not contribute to a meal of steak and kidney pie. Lacks sufficient varietal character for interest or for cellaring. Not a value. 76

A BY ACACIA PINOT NOIR 2007, Carneros, USA, 13.5% D, #118927 $19.95 (Tasted April 16, 2009)
A Vintages release on March 28, 2009 described as “'A By Acacia' is Acacia Vineyard's value-priced line of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay designed for current consumption. This incredibly food-friendly wine (salmon, roast chicken, pork tenderloin, grilled portobello mushrooms) features aromas of black cherry, strawberry and vanilla. Dry, fruity and crowd-pleasing, this wine is also ideal for many early spring gatherings.” My notes: The colour is a mid ruby with a strawberry tinge and light aromas of bramble. Let air for twenty minutes. There is a thin film and fast legs streaming down the bowl suggesting the smooth texture of the first sip. Flavours of California strawberries offset by blueberries and tinged with pepper leaving a long smooth finish and providing some interest as a sipper. The finish is long and soft, some fruit overlaid with a peppery spice, not overdone at all. More of a meal red, have with roast turkey, ham slice or lamb shank. This could cellar up to two years. 84

BERINGER FOUNDERS ESTATE PINOT GRIGIO 2006, California, USA, 12.5% D, #045641 $17.95 (Retasted April 19, 2009)
A General listing described briefly as "Enjoy on its own or with salads or grilled chicken." My notes: Tasted in November 2008 with a rating of Ww88 I wanted to benchmark it with the other whites in this blog entry. This has an almost nonexistent aroma of stone fruit and citrus tending toward lime and is a light blond in the glass. No distinguishable flavours meet the mid palate but there is a crisp mouthfeel and aftertaste of cleansing light apple, lime and melon combined, neither revealing fully the fruit. An appealing sipper finishing full fruit with a refeshing bite. Would be great with scallop kebobs and paired nicely with grilled pork tenderloin and apple jelly. A drink now. 87 
GRACIA DE CHILE RESERVA CHARDONNAY 2007, Bio Bio Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD, #093765 $14.95 (Tasted April 24, 2009)
A Vintages release on April 11, 2009 described as "... Bio Bio is a cool climate region of Chile and this Chardonnay is a good representation of the area. Apple, tropical fruit, citrus, pineapple and grapefruit are the prime aromas. Fairly dry and crisp with good fruit on the mid-palate. Acidity and fruit persist to the finish. Drink now with grilled prawns. (VINTAGES panel, February 2009) My notes: A light straw colour and a thin film with slow tears with a swirl of the glass. Aromas of green melon verging on stagnant pond followed by a first sip that at first confirms the pond, not distressingly just distracting. Full-bodied and a soft cream with a smoothness that carries the flavours through a long fresh finish. Airing for twenty minutes cleared aroma and flavour giving this a clean green melon crispness as a sipper… it should do well with grilled mussels in a spicy sauce. Prosciutto wrapped asparagus or sweet Italian sausage in a tomato pasta. Cellar a year to see where it goes - a commercial drink now. 80

April 2009 Niagara Trip: 8 Tasted of 8

I had the opportunity to visit two wineries this first week of April 2009. Thursday was between rain fronts being sunny and in the low teens, just right for a drive. The traffic on the QEW was busy but moving nicely travelling south of Lake Ontario through several sub-appellations that define the wine region of the Niagara Peninsula to the most easterly end at the Shaw Festival town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Our first stop was Lailey Vineyard located on the Niagara Parkway nearer Queenston. The website describes the start of planting of the twenty acre site in the early 1950’s by the father of the current owners, Donna and David Lailey and continues to describe their horticultural approach and a dedication to winemaking. The twenty acres are planted with French hybrids and viniferous grapes and another three acres, of heavy but well drained clay, by the Niagara River were planted with Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Semillon and Malbec. Staff were super friendly, a tradition of a family owned winery.

From the dozen or so Lailey wines available the following were purchased for more leisurely tasting:
  • Lailey Vineyard Cabernet-Syrah 2006 VQA Niagara River, 91-1 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $30.20
  • Lailey Vineyard Syrah 2007 VQA Niagara River, 80 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $25.20
  • Lailey Vineyard Vidal 2008 VQA Ontario, 92-3 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $12.20*
  • Lailey Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007 VQA Niagara River, 87 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $20.20

I’m partial to small family wineries so our second stop took us to Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery close by on Concession 6 north of the town of Virgil. From 1957 through to current day the winery history is detailed on their website.
Owners Ken, working in coveralls, and Renate Dyck follow on a grandfather’s passion for viticulture… saying ‘good wine can only come from good grapes’. We also met their daughter Roselyn, Rosie, and son Warren both bringing new ideas to existing vineyards. The winery itself was incorporated in 2006. Instead of producing award winning wines for other Ontario wineries their Riesling, Vidal, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes are now being hand picked to produce their first vintage of Cattail Family Estate labels.
This time of year not only catches early releases of vintage whites but allows for casual tastings as the crowds are not yet driving the Niagara Wine Route. And owners, I sense, welcome the chance to dialogue between the unrelenting pruning and grooming of rows of vines.
From the wines available at the winery we purchased the following for tasting at home:
  • Cattail Creek Dry Riesling 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 92-3 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $15.20
  • Cattail Creek Chardonnay Musqué 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 90-2 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $17.20
  • Cattail Creek Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 88-1 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $19.20
  • Cattail Creek Serendipity Rosé 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 82 -- O, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #Winery $14.20
Then on to the Old Winery Restaurant where the best thin crust pizzas, super sliced steak open face sandwiches and steamed mussels with rice and vegetables are freshly served. 
When a wine has been tasted it will appear in bold and resequenced by rating. Cheers, Ww
LAILEY CABERNET-SYRAH 2006 VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.5% D, #Winery $30.20 (Tasted April 21, 2009)
Described as “… quite spicy and peppery, with black and green pepper, currants and smoky oak. … mid-weight, lean but fairly compact and dense and smooth. Huge spicy clove and pepper finish. Excellent length. …( D. Lawrason).” My notes: Airing for thirty minutes changes a Brett-like aroma from barn to earthy complementing a red cherry and black pepper nose - OK, if not delectable. A lightish medium-body red having a metallic black cherry flavour edged with a light pepper all lasting through a long finish. This ends bright and dry while retaining some smoothness and I detected no sweetness. Drinking young now this should cellar well for up to four years. Have with pepper steak or rosemary’d rack of lamb, braised back ribs or fried chorizo sausage with whole wheat linguine. For better value, cellar rather than drink now imho. 91 
LAILEY SYRAH 2007 VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery $25.20 (Tasted April 16, 2009) 
Described as “… characteristic peppery and meaty character …. Alongside appealing blueberry and blackberry notes. …. Rich and polished…. balanced acidity and cool climate definition. …. (4½ of 5, Christopher Waters).” My notes: A purple glint to a dense ruby colour and, after thirty minutes breathing to dissipate a Brett-like aroma, there’s a fragrance of blackberries and equal parts black pepper. On the way to being full-bodied there is a clean metallic edge to initial flavours of blackberries then through a long finish that includes fine tannins and spice. The texture is smooth almost masked by the tart seam. If ‘cool climate’ means a metallic side to unripe fruit with prominent acid this is it. Have with prime rib or full flavoured stews, ribs or steaks. Perhaps several years in the cellar will softened sufficiently to meet the '4½ of 5' but not now. 80
LAILEY VIDAL 2008 VQA Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.5% D, #Winery $12.20* (Tasted April 21, 2009) 
My notes: *The price at early release is $12 down from its regular price of $14. There is a glint of honey in the colour and in the nose. The spice of meadow flowers makes this a pleasing sipper with the first sip carrying the spice, green apple and suspicion of sweetness through to a long crisp finish. Serve this chilled at any family or social gathering and the price, pre-release or regular, allows you to be liberal. Should be OK with fresh oysters or warmed crab cakes then on to freshwater fishes grilled on slow coals. Delectable! 92
LAILEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007 VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.5% D, #Winery $20.20 (Tasted April 20, 2009) 
Described as “Coconut and vanilla notes accent the aromas on this elegant and expressive Sauvignon Blanc. The French treatment also enhances the texture and length of the wine. … a softer, fresher style … that will appeal… (4 of 5, Christopher Waters).” My notes: There’s little about this resembling a kiwi savvy. This should be served slightly off chill for a nose of delicate coconut and vanilla, worth waiting for. The colour is a light blond and a swirl leads to a thin film, fast tears, Iight in body and flavour but long in finish with a tinge of vanilla and a warm sensation on the palate. A pleasing sipper and the acid level is enough to match most finger foods or a lightly seasoned pork tenderloin, cold chicken breast sliced on greens dressing or scallop pieces in a creamy pasta. A drink now. 87
CATTAIL CREEK DRY RIESLING 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.0% D, #Winery $15.20 (Tasted April 12, 2009)
Described on the back label as “Brimming with refreshing flavours of white grapefruit and lemon, … has crisp acidity and a lingering finish. Great as an aperitif or with salads, roasted turkey, glazed ham, shellfish, soft rind cheeses and sushi. Drink now or age up to 3 years.” [and] ‘180 cases made‘. My notes: This has a light gold colour and aromas of lanolin and lemon, very appealing… and I believe it would cellar for three years bringing more complexity. Has a kerosene tinge to flavours of lemon, pear and apple and a long flavourful finish. Medium-bodied with well balanced tartness so the natural sugars aren’t noticeable. An excellent aperitif or with fresh oysters, crab cakes or mussels in a light oil broth. A bargain for a riesling of this character. 92
CATTAIL CREEK BARREL FERMENTED CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery $19.20 (Tasted April 9, 2009) 
Described by the winery as “Caramel, ripe apple and pear intermingled with vanilla and toasted oak. 191 cases made.” My notes: A light gold colour with a touch of tangy butterscotch in the nose. The first sip has a delicate creaminess layered with nippy acid then a flavour of apple/pear takes over leading to a long fresh mineral edged finish. A meal white and definitely an oaked chardonnay with enough tang to pair with planked salmon or grilled chicken breast with herbed rice. Grilled scallops and brown rice did not have the flavour to balance this white. Cellaring for a few years should be OK and may integrate textures bringing out more cream - very young at present. 88
CATTAIL CREEK CHARDONNAY MUSQÉ 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.5% D, #Winery $17.20 (Tasted April 4, 2009) 
Described by the winery as “… a wine with ripe apple, rose, orange blossom and peach with just a hint of spice. 147 cases made.“ My notes: A light golden colour with aromas of apple, citrus and a touch of spice - let go off chill slightly for more blossom fragrance. This is clean and refreshing from the first sip with more apple and a soft citrus flavours that carry through to a long bright finish. Any sweetness is balanced by the crisp acidity possibly showing in a slight roundness - it comes across as extra dry. An excellent aperitif or sipper with fresh oysters, light seafood, fowl or mushroom finger foods, something with a contrasting but not spicy flavour. Have with steamed mussels, freshwater fishes, lobster dishes or Asian. Cellaring may be OK but I’d try a year at a time. 90
CATTAIL CREEK SERENDIPITY ROSÉ 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.5% D, #Winery $14.20 (Tasted April 18, 2009) 
Described by the winery as “… flavours of strawberries, raspberries and just a touch of spice. 236 cases made.” and “ a wine with ripe apple, rose, orange blossom and peach with just a hint of spice. 147 cases made.“ My notes: This has a peach tone making this a mid strawberry colour and has a delicate red cherry and stone fruit aroma that needs time to develop in the bowl - let breathe several minutes for optimum sniffing. Off chill, the first sip comes as a surprise coming with just a touch of sweetness, a watermelon accent then quickly switches to a dry finish of mild cranberry and stone fruit. A pleasing sipper as a hot summer appetizer or have with finger foods, a veggie tray and cream dips, mild cheeses, mild sausage pieces or pair with light sushi fare. A drink now reasonably priced for any patio gathering. 82