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

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