Tuesday, June 02, 2009

June 2009 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

Some wines are bought on spec. and some are brought to the house by kind guests (g). When tasted wines are sequenced by rating and grouped by red, white then rosé.

Cheers, Ww

  • Chalten Gran Seleccion Malbec 2007, 92-2  -- V, Neuquén, Patagonia, Argentina, #114215 $18.95
  • Neudorf 'Tom’s Block' Pinot Noir 2007, 92-2  -- V, Nelson, NZ, #120790 $26.95
  • Ferngrove Shiraz 2007, 92-2  -- V, Western Australia, #090282 $16.95
  • Pikes ‘The Assemblage’ Shiraz/Mourvedre/Grenache 2006, 91-2 -- V, Clare Valley, Australia, #014332 $18.95
  • Chakana ‘Andean Wines’ Malbec 2007, 90-2  -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #003509 $13.95
  • Truchard Zinfandel Napa Valley 2003, 90-2 -- V, Carneros, USA, #054858 $18.95
  • Brancott Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, 90-1 -- V, Central Otago, NZ, #093708 $29.95
  • Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 89-2 -- G, Australia, #251876 $16.45 
  • Temple Bruer Grenache/Shiraz/Viognier 2005, 88-1 -- V, Longhorne Creek, Australia, #090290 $17.95 
  • Chakana ‘Andean Wines’ Malbec 2008, 77 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #003509 $13.95
  • Quails' Gate Chardonnay 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, 90-2  -- V, BC, #377770 $19.95
  • Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2006, 90-1 -- V, Leyda Valley, Chile, #077693 $20.95
  • Brancott Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007, 89-2  -- G, Marlborough, NZ, #129528 $14.95
  • Ajello MaJus Grillo/Catarratto 2007, 89-1 -- V, Sicily, Italy, #670844 $16.95

  • Sogrape Gazella Rosé NV, 84 -- G, Beiras, Portugal, #125757 $8.95
  • Cave Spring Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82 -- G, Jordan, Canada, #295006 $12.95
  • Anakena Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2008, 81 -- G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #122432 $10.95
  • J.P. Chenet Classic Collection Cinsault Grenache Rosé 2008, 80 -- G, Pays d’Oc, France, #125815 $9.95
  • Cono Sur Merlot Rosé 2008, 80 -- G, Chile, #122481 $9.95
  • Lancers Rosé NV, 75 -- G, Dao, Portugal, #078931 $7.95
(G - General listing, V – Vintages, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)
BRANCOTT MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 12.5% D, #129528 $14.95 (Tasted June 1, 2009)  CS

A General listing described anonymously as “Pale straw yellow colour; intense aromas of grass, pear, gooseberry, fresh herbs, with notes of passion fruit; dry, light and clean palate with a zesty, fresh, pink grapefruit, lime; mouth-watering finish. Serve with hors d'oeuvres, oysters, goat cheese dishes, or poached salmon topped with steamed asparagus and hollandaise sauce.” My notes: A delicate blond in the glass with an equally delicate nose of gooseberry, nettles and lime - quite appealing. The first sip is appealing as well, with a gentle nip, a light roundness and flavours of gentle gooseberry, lime and cream. The nip carries well into the long flavourful finish. An uncomplicated drink now that should cellar up to two years. Also a sociable, light-bodied sipper or have with seafoods or asparagus and cilantro soup with shrimp on greens. 89

BRANCOTT RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2006, Central Otago, NZ, 13.0% D, #093708 $29.95 (Tasted June 4, 2009)  CS

Release by Vintages on April 11, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (Feb 2009) as “… this Pinot Noir is medium ruby in colour: actually quite deeply hued for the variety. A bouquet of sweet raspberry, ripe cherry, and freshly tilled earth floods the senses, leading to aroma replays on the smooth, silky-textured palate. Great length and balance add to the wine's considerable charms.” My notes: There is a slate tone to the mid ruby colour and a dark berry nose, a touch sweat and tang to the nostrils. Fast legs on a swirl and the first sip shows a some silk, a balance of tang, tannin and blended fruit mostly of bright red currants. The long finish starts with the bright red currant start, is smooth, and leads to a continuous light tang with some youthfulness. Cellaring for a few years could develop more silkiness and some interesting spice and fruit medleys. If you like a youthful pinot noir it’s a drink now but I’d recommend waiting for full value. 90

CHALTEN GRAN SELECCIÓN MALBEC 2007, Neuquén, Patagonia, Argentina, 14.5% XD, #114215 $18.95 (Tasted June 15, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described anonymously as “... [Pascal] Marchand works with Chilean winemaker Pablo Herra and Argentinean Ricardo González to craft superb wines like this ripe-and-ready Malbec. Packed with mixed berry, cherry, leather and vanilla aromas and flavours, this red will make a natural partner for roasted game meats or barbecued beef over the next 2-3 years. “ My notes: Purple hued with a firm film and slow tears on the glass laying an impression of full-bodied and silky. A black currant nose with vanilla hints precedes soft tannins, a drying tartness and a ripe black currant and berry flavour, skins and all. The finish balances a fading black fruit against an increasing smooth, dry tartness - perhaps not as ‘hot‘ as the alcohol level would suggest. A bold sipper with lots of flavour appeal and should cellar well up to four years. Have with any grilled or barbecued meats… ribs especially. 92

FERNGROVE SHIRAZ 2007, Western Australia, 14.5% D, #090282 $16.95 (Tasted June 11, 2009)  CS
A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described and rated 94/100 by Australian critic James Halliday (June 2008) as “Deep crimson-purple; highly aromatic and saturated with dark plum, blackberry and an array of spices, all making significant inputs to a medium- to full-bodied wine which will age superbly. Great value.” My notes: Decant or air for thirty minutes. The light earthy, blackberry nose suggests old world and the slow tears says medium- to full-body confirmed by the first sip. There is a velvety texture to dark fruit flavours, fine tannins and not quite teeth cleaning acids. The finish is long, hot and bright. A bold sipper not for everyone and better left for several years to mellow and soften its character. If you persist have with well seasoned beef tenderloin, pepper steak or Texas chili. 92

NEUDORF TOM'S BLOCK PINOT NOIR 2007, Nelson, NZ, 14.0% D, #120790 $26.95 (Tasted June 10, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described by NZ critic Sue Courtney (Feb 4, 2009) as “Dark garnet with a fading edge. Smoky, savoury and spicy on the nose and quite sweet in the palate with the abundant cherry and strawberry fruit. Medium-bodied in style, it has a spicy backbone with a silky smooth texture and a savoury finish.” My notes: One of almost two dozen wineries in Nelson on NZ’s South Island and west of the better known Marlborough region. We last visited in 2003 so I was curious as to how their pinot noir was progressing. The colour is a slate tinged ruby and a swirl leaves slow tears on the bowl. Smoky black cherry, soft and light, precedes a silky first sip of delicate cherry, light liquorice and earth tones flavouring the mouth and finishing with a savoury medley of dark fruit preserves. The silk makes this a delectable sipper or save for a grilled main course. And it should cellar well for a few years perhaps emphasizing the spicy side of its character. 92
QUAILS' GATE CHARDONNAY 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, BC, 14.0% D, #377770 $19.95 (Tasted June 15, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described anonymously as “Considering how warm the Okanagan can be, this crisp, cool and green apple-fresh Chardonnay suggests a much more moderate climate. The refreshing nature is very appealing, especially with the addition of grapefruit, melon and honey aromas and flavours. Enjoy this fine wine with poached wild-caught Pacific salmon with a lemon-dill sauce.” My notes: BC wines seldom cross over the totalitarian restrictions of the Ontario border so this was an unexpected purchase. This has a soft blond colour and a nose full of wild honey, sweet pea and spice. There’s lots of spice and tang in the first sip, balanced with a natural sweet layer making this a refreshing sipper for a summer day. A long and warm finish carries the flavours well ending with the spice. It paired well with grilled Atlantic salmon, brown rice and snap peas and should with seafood pastas or Asian fare. Drink now - up to two years cellaring could add more depth. 90

PIKES 'THE ASSEMBLAGE' SHIRAZ/ MOURVEDRE/GRENACHE 2006, Clare Valley, Australia, 14.5% XD, #014332 $18.95 (Retasted June 1, 2009)  CS

My notes: Last September this was rated 92 with the note “… the finish is forever, dry, full of smoky berries and currants….” Now a half year later the sweetness is gone, perhaps my buds now, firmer acids with the flavour of dark berries and faint currants. The nose has a tang to mostly ripe blackberries. A fuller medium-bodied, bold sipper and a good red meat companion - just OK with burgers but a steak or rack of rosemary’d lamb would be a better match. Still with a long spicy finish full of smoky berries. This is cellaring well and has developed the start of a velvet texture. 91
AJELLO MAJUS GRILLO/CATARRATTO 2007, Sicily, Italy, 14.0% XD, #670844 $16.95 (Tasted June 20, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on February 28, 2009 described anonymously as “A 50/50 blend of the local grapes Grillo and Catarratto. Grillo is known for its full body, while Catarratto, when in the right hands, can produce fine, crisp and characterful wines. Together, it is a near-perfect partnership. The result is a full-bodied, fresh and crisp wine with citrus, yellow plum, pear, peach and sweet herb notes. Enjoy this lively wine with pan-fried fish or Cioppino (the Italian version of bouillabaisse).” My notes: I haven’t tasted these grapes before so thought to give this blend a try. The colour is a light blond and, if there is one, the nose is a faint honey. Flavours are an interesting melon, honey and green apple starting with a distinct fruity seam as it fades slowly on the palate leaving a warm grassy edge. Nicely balanced acid with fruit, a medium-bodied dry sipper or pair with grilled black cod or lightly oiled, cheesed and herbed seafood pastas. I believe most imbibers would go for refills. 89

TRUCHARD ZINFANDEL NAPA VALLEY 2003, Carneros, USA, 14.2% XD, #054858 $18.95 (Retasted June 2, 2009)  CS

My notes: Rated 90 in January 2008 when last tasted. Made from 100% Napa Carneros grapes, I’d say the blackberry has left the nose altho’ the colour is a rich crushed blackberry. There’s a reasonable film on the bowl leaving long and fast legs, medium-bodied with a clean and dry mouthfeel. Silky from the first sip to the long finish, a slight metallic note with a blending of zingy blackberry blueberry and a depth that continues to shift adding warm herbal tones. The relative lightness as a sipper is delectable more so than a fruitier zinfandel. This would be great with rack of lamb, Italian sausage or lamb shank. Cellaring well and should for a few more years. Too bad it’s no longer stocked however the 2006 is $25US on the winery website and could be as high as $35 at Vintages. 90
J.P. CHENET CLASSIC CINSAULT GRENACHE ROSÉ 2008, Pays d’Oc, France, 12.0% MD, #125815 $9.95 (Tasted June 8, 2009)  CS

A General listing without a description. My notes: There is a tinge of peach to the light pink colour in the glass and a delicate perfume of stone fruit and strawberry. Dry to the taste and flavours of slight strawberry, raspberry and clay, just enough to notice, perhaps with a touch of natural sweetness. The finish is a balance of delicate fruit, dry and everso slight roundness. This would be an economical summer garden party sipper. Likely not enough tartness for a main course and not enough for a buffet spread… have with light finger foods or just sip on a hot day. The J P Chenet bottle is distinctive for sure. 80

CONO SUR MERLOT ROSÉ 2008, Chile, 12.5% MD, #122481 $9.95 (Tasted June 9, 2009)  CS
A General listing without a description. My notes: This is a vivid pink, bright and clear in the glass. The nose is slightly grassy, berry-ish and sweaty with the first sip having similar leanings: grass, sweat then slight berry. The flavourings carry forward in a moderate finish, dry, warm and silky. An economical summer day sipper, lesser so than the J.P. Chenet (#125815 $9.95) but with a stronger bite adequate for light buffet fare, sea food dishes and white fowl, warm or cold sliced on greens. A recipe rosé perhaps from young vines, nothing to avoid but nothing to look forward to. 80
AMAYNA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006, Leyda Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #077693 $20.95 (Retasted June 13, 2009)  CS
My notes: Last tasted in January this year with the comment ‘should cellar up to two years’. The soft floral in the nose has lessened leaving a soft grassiness, not objectionable. Has the same mouthfeel with a silky creaminess and some smoke to flavours of melon, lime and green gooseberry. The finish retains much of the fruit adding a noticeable herbaceous edge making this a scrumptious sipper overall. This needs a milder seafood dish to complement its tropical subtleties. Still cellaring well but likely not as long as two years previously suggested. 90
ANAKENA CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile, 12.5% D, #122432 $10.95 (Tasted June 19, 2009)  CS
My notes: According to the website “Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are macerated at 10ºC for 12 hours in stainless steel tanks. The must is separated from the skin before the fermentation process takes place… “ The colour is vivid crushed strawberry and aromas, only if you have a good sniffer, include watermelon and berries. Well balanced with a touch of drying tannins and a slight acid, medium-bodied, and showing some berries with a sweet mineral aspect. The finish continues with this mineral note and a filmy lining. A marginal sipper preferably paired with fish entrées, sushi or an Asian buffet. Not for cellaring and not recommended as a rosé for a social get together. 81
CAVE SPRING ROSÉ 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 11.5% D, #295006 $12.95 (Tasted June 15, 2009)  CS
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A General listing described anonymously as “Brilliant rose colour; fragrant raspberry and fresh picked strawberry aromas and flavours with apple notes; dry, light to medium bodied, finishes with crisp dry finish. Serve with cold cuts; fish soup; salad plate; grilled salmon burgers.” My notes: The saignée method allows primarily cabernet skins to provide the brilliant colour of this rosé. I tasted the 2006 vintage (90) along with 16 other rosés in July last year. The colour is a brilliant rose and aromas of a blend of raspberry and cherry, very slight such that a grassiness glimmers through. An entirely different grape mix tho' still from Beamsville Bench (73%) and Niagara River (27%) than the 2006 made up this vintage: 44% Cabernet Franc; 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; 25% Gamay; 7% Syrah; 4% Riesling. Dry and tangy but showing a touch of natural sweetness giving this some roundness in the first sip and flavours of pomegranate among nearly ripe berries. Have with finger foods or with cold chicken breast on greens. A unique style of drink now for a general crowd. 82
TEMPLE BRUER GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2005, Longhorne Creek, Australia, 13.5% D, #090290 $17.95 (Tasted June 18, 2009)  CS
A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described and rated 88/100 by Harvey Steiman (Oct 15, 2008) as “This is dark, ripe and distinctive for the spicy, fleshy character - probably from the Viognier - around a core of dense currant, blackberry and tar flavours. Grenache(63%), Shiraz(28%) and Viognier(9%). Drink now through 2013.” My notes: This has a black cherry hue, a tad sombre, and aromas of canned byng cherries. A swirl brings a firm film with slow tears. The flavours are quite unique, each grape bringing something to the mix. Long and warm, the finish fills the senses with earthy cherries, silky with a penetrating nip and a touch of natural sweetness but drying to the palate. This likely would satisfy a wide set of drinkers, young/old, new or old world. It held its own with spicy chili con carne and would with most seasoned grilled meats and full flavoured stews. A drink now that could easily cellar a few more years. 88
CHAKANA ‘ANDEAN WINES’ MALBEC 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% XD, #003509 $13.95 (Tasted June 22, 2009)  CS
A Vintages release on June 20, 2009 given 4 out of 5 by Rod Phillips on March 26, 2009 describing it as “… full of fruit flavour, but a cut above the boring, fruity dross that fills so many inexpensive bottles. Here you get structure and balance, and sheer, simple pleasure. It's an excellent choice for grilled red meats.” My notes: The 2008 has an unappealing aspect to the nose offsetting a light blackberry scent - to me a bit Brett-ish but not barnyard, more fish market. Airing helps a tad. The colour is a deep ruby, perhaps a tad lighter altho’ with the same rich hue as the previous year‘s. The flavour as well has a distinct chemical taint with a sharp acid seam, as though the fruit hadn’t developed fully on the vine. This seam flows into a long finish leaving a brambly layer on the palate. Not a sipper - better paired with grilled meats if a bottle comes your way. Best to avoid this vintage. 77
CHAKANA MALBEC 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #003509 $13.95 (Retasted June 22, 2009)  CS

My notes: Last tasted in July 2008 and rated 91. The rich deep ruby colour and aromas of black cherries dipped in chocolate are still inviting. Airing isn’t necessary as in the earlier tasting. The nose remains somewhat more delicate. Still ‘midway to soft with a bright tartness and texture of fine tannin enveloping dark fruit’. Bolder than in July, now with a noticeable sharpness and less fruit, not as ‘polite‘ and the finish has a tinge of bramble at the end. Cellaring may turn this around yet but not within year or even two. Either drink now or leave up to four years is my guess. Have with grilled meats. 90
SOGRAPE GAZELA ROSÉ NV, Beiras, Portugal, 10.0% D, #125757 $8.95 (Tasted June 26, 2009)  CS
My notes: Perhaps more pink than salmon, attractive in a tulip glass with an aroma of slightly spiced strawberries. The spritz makes for a refreshing first sip and light flavours of strawberries with a few berries induces the follow-on sips. Then the finish gives a late burst of spritz on the throat with some spice, some tang but mainly fruit. An economical summer sipper for a congenial crowd when a lively rosé is the preferred accompaniment to conversation. Have with bok choy and shrimp dip or a plate of sliced ham and French bread. A drink now. 84
LANCERS ROSÉ NV, Dao, Portugal, 10.0% D, #078931 $7.95 (Tasted June 23, 2009)  CS
A General listing described anonymously as “Bright pink colour; aromas of sweet strawberry, marachino cherry and fresh raspberry with floral notes and hints of tropical fruit; slightly sweet, medium bodied, soft acidity but well balanced, with flavours of light cherry, raspberry and melon. A great accompaniment to Asian inspired dishes and spicy food. Try also with goat cheese salad or a fruit tray with yoghurt dip. Best served well chilled.” My notes: I was curious to try Lancers after many years of neglect. The colour is a salmon pink and midsize bubbles cover the sides of the tulip glass for a short while. Aromas are notable for their absence and initial flavours of a lightly crushed watermelon and berries hit the taste buds. A slight sweetness and minimal tang add to the initial sip. The finish is lightly flavoured remnants - nothing that could be called interesting. This needs a few crushed strawberries or a lime slice squeezed liberally… or, for the price, I’d recommend a shot of vodka in a glass of Sun-Rype Fruit Strawberry Banana or a freshly made sangria. 75
WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Australia, 14.0% D, #251876 $16.45 (Tasted June 26, 2009)  CS
A General listing anonymously described as “Deep red purple colour; dry and medium bodied; mulberry/cassis fruit aromas with pronounced eucalyptus, spice and oak; balanced with soft tannins and a long, fruity finish. Serve with rack of lamb, grilled or roasted red meats, hard cheese.” My notes: The violet tinged deep ruby colour and peppery black currant aroma are somewhat inviting for a first time taste. This has a firm film with slow legs when swirled and a sip shows a silky texture. The flavours have a firm black currant character with a good portion of earth, spice and tang. Not a tooth cleaner althou’ close - I’d call it dense and overly bright. The finish starts with dark fruit and shifts to bramble, warm and dense - more of a dinner wine than a sipper. Have with grilled ribs, seared sirloin or T-bone, full flavoured stews or shank of lamb. If cellaring mellows it it could be a good value. Try two years at a time. 89

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