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

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