Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 2009 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

I’ve purchased the following wines based on: a previous tasting, they're from a preferred winery, from a new-to-me winery or of a varietal or blend not previously tasted. Wines are sequenced by rating when tasted. Cheers, Ww

  • Concha Y Toro ‘Winemaker’s Lot 148’ Carmenère 2007, 94-3 -- V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #030957 $16.95
  • Finca Flichman Expresiones Reserve Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon March 2007, 93-3 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #017111 $15.95
  • Final Cut Montage Shiraz 2008, 92-2 -- V, South Australia, #108084 $19.95 (g)
  • Sandhill Merlot 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, 89-1 -- V, Okanagan, BC, #131896 $19.95
  • MontGras Reserva Carmenère 2008, 88-2 -- V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #960542 $12.95
  • Corte Zovo Sa’ Solin Ripasso Della Valpolicella 2007, 87 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #650713 $17.95
  • Duvergey-Taboureau Pinot Noir 2007, 87 -- V, Burgundy, France, #127415 $17.95
  • De Martino Legado Reserva Syrah 2006, 86 -- V, Choapa Valley, Chile, #032136 $16.95
  • Spellbound Old Vine Zinfandel 2005, 86 -- V, Lodi, California, #104216 $20.95
  • Finca Urquiza Reserve Malbec 2005, 85 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #055467 $13.95

  • Stella Bella Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 94-3 -- V, Margaret River, Australia, #108159 $19.95
  • Château de Maligny Le Carré de César Chablis 2007, 91-2 -- V, Burgundy, France, #708339 $22.95
  • Coyote’s Run ‘Red Paw Vineyard’ Pinot Gris 2007 VQA Four Mile Creek, 90-2 -- V, St. David’s, Niagara on the Lake, #116582 $17.95
  • Henry of Pelham Pinot Blanc 2008 VQA Short Hills Bench, 89-2 -- V, Niagara, Canada, #618827 $14.95
  • Carmen Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2007, 88-1 -- V, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #031096 $14.95
  • La Chablisienne Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2005, 87 -- V, Burgundy, France, #942243 $24.95 (g)
  • Michele Da Lisca Pinot Grigio 2007, 84 -- V, Venezie, Italy, #117267 $14.95
  • Loios White 2008, 77 -- G, Alentejano, Portugal, #092114 $9.95
  • Manoir Grignon Viognier 2008, 73 -- V, Pays d’Oc, France, #127126 $14.95
  • Sticks Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 72 -- V, Victoria, Australia, #109363 $17.95

    (G - General listing, V – Vintages, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


    FINCA URQUIZA RESERVE MALBEC 2005, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #055467 $13.95 (Tasted August 7, 2009) CS

    A Vintages release on July 18, 2009 described by their panel (Nov. 2007) as “Perfectly structured Malbec from Argentina's best region for the grape, Mendoza. Deep purple in colour with aromas of ripe blackberry and blueberries as well as hints of cocoa and leather. It's dry, medium full-bodied with fine fruit flavours. Warm and well-structured with firm tannins and balanced acidity. Enjoy with grilled lamb with rosemary and garlic seasoning now to 2011.” My notes: To me this is Argentina’s Merlot, Malbec having a softness and yet strong fruitiness that is so appealing as a sipper and with mild meat dishes: prime rib, pork chop, beef tenderloin or rack of lamb. This has a soft nose not noticeably fruity but with a tangy mild earthy edge. The colour is dark ruby and the first sip brings with it chalky tannins, mild acid and then a finish that develops a stronger black fruit flavour. The tannins and acid carry a medium-bodied smooth texture to complement mild grilled meats. Cellaring for a few years should be OK but may not develop further. A good value. 85

    CARMEN RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.0% XD, #031096 $14.95 (Tasted August 6, 2009) CS

    A Vintages release on July 18, 2009 described by Jay Miller (Oct. 2008) and rated 89/100 as “The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva is a light straw-coloured wine with an aromatic array of citrus, lemon-lime, and fresh herbs. Racy and crisp on the palate, this well-balanced effort has a vibrant, tangy finish. Drink it over the next 12-18 months.” My notes: This has a crisp blond colour in the glass with a pungent aroma of nettles and passion fruit. A grassy or herbaceous first sip, dry on the palate and full of crushed gooseberries somewhat green, very refreshing. The tartness cleanses the mouth and has a light touch of fruit thru' to the long end. An OK sipper if you prefer an astringent (XD) sauvignon blanc, better with fresh oysters, seafood appetizers or shaved cold fowl. Was good with a portabella and broccoli quiche tho’ would be better with spicy mussels or bbq’d shrimp. Cellar for a year or two but a drink now. 88
    STELLA BELLA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, Margaret River, Australia, 13.0% XD, #108159 $19.95 (Tasted August 1, 2009) CS
    A Vintages release on July 18, 2009 rated 95/100 by James Halliday, Australian wine reviewer, and described as “The winemaking team, led by Janice McDonald, know exactly how to extract the best from high-quality sauvignon grapes. It has a fragrant and flowery bouquet, a lissom palate offering passionfruit, kiwi fruit and redcurrant flavours; has vibrancy and thrust, with a long, clean finish. Drink now with poached scallops.” My notes: Aromatic is an understatement, full of passionfruit and gooseberries, an even mix. The colour is blond and a swirl gives a thin film with fast legs. The first sip is extra dry with a probing tang. The flavours are first lemon then green gooseberries finishing long with a drying texture and citrus prominence. Served chilled it’s a refreshing appetizer or with crab cakes, oysters or grilled shrimp. Let go slightly off chill it would be great as an intro to seafood dishes or pork tenderloin baked with an apricot glaze. Cellaring a year should be OK but really a drink now. 94

    CHÂTEAU DE MALIGNY LE CARRÉ DE CÉSAR CHABLIS 2007, Burgundy, France, 12.5% XD, #708339 $22.95 (Tasted August 19, 2009) CS

    Vintages released this vintage on March 28 this year with their panel describing it on July 2008 as “… vineyards are concentrated in the commune of Maligny itself, with the balance spread over Chablis... made with fruit from a particular plot of vines that has consistently produced outstanding wines. Pale straw with typical layers of citrus zest, apple, chalk and a noticeable minerality on the nose and palate. Dry, crisp and very refreshing, with light-to-medium body, medium length and a finely balanced finish.” My notes: A brilliant golden in the glass and savoury grasses on the nose makes this interesting from the first pour. A viscous film slowly recedes evenly without forming significant tears. Medium-bodied, chalky at the back of the throat with lemon flavours in front, round and bright to the taste then finishing long, lemon tangy, refreshingly extra dry with each sip. This would go well with a variety of hors d’oeuvres, bacon wrapped scallops, party sausages, proscuitto and asparagus… etc. Have with white fowl or lobster bisque to grilled tails. Cellaring should be OK for four years or so. 91

    LA CHABLISIENNE VIEILLES VIGNES CHABLIS 2005, Burgundy, France, 12.5% XD, #942243 $24.95 (Tasted August 17, 2009) CS

    A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described anonymously as “Vieilles Vignes… yield less fruit, but these precious grapes are endowed with a greater concentration of flavours. This intense, consistently excellent Chardonnay presents aromas of sweet apple, chalk and citrus. This is classic Chablis: dry and steely, with a long, crisp finish. It would pair equally well with oysters on the half shell or double-cream brie.” My notes: A well polished light gold liquid that leaves a thin film with slow tears. The soft aroma of sweet wild flower dissipates quickly altho’ remnants remain to blend with a scent of lemon grass. This is a smooth perhaps even 'oily', dry sipper with a faint apple and a bright citrus zest that grows for a very long dry finish. Have with fresh oysters, tempura shrimp, a shrimp ring or pair with grilled swordfish and mixed veggies - a meal white that wouldn't be intrusive. Drinking well now and could likely cellar for several years. It's the wrong style for me to be a value. 87
    FINAL CUT MONTAGE SHIRAZ 2008, South Australia, 14.5% XD, #108084 $19.95 (Tasted August 25, 2009) CS

    A Vintages release on June 20, 2009 described anonymously as “Australian film producers David Roe and Les Lithgow turned their attention away from the movie industry to focus on producing distinctive wines. They recruited award-winning winemaker Geoff Weaver and charged him with the task of crafting full-bodied, intensely flavoured, mouth-filling wines like this impressive McLaren Vale Shiraz. Supple and ripe, it displays blackberry, blueberry, toast, and cedar notes culminating in a lengthy finish.” My notes: There’s a subtle purple glow to this red and aromas of black currant and earthy wood, soft to the senses. A firm film with fast legs, silky smooth with a lasting pepper lining followed by ripe currant and berries. The finish is spice and berries, blue- and black-, dry, warm and long. A tasty bold sipper or even better with rack of lamb or grilled tenderloin. This will likely cellar well for up to six years. 92

    MANOIR GRIGNON VIOGNIER 2008, Pays d’Oc, France, 12.5% D, #127126 $14.95 (Tasted August 14, 2009) CS
    Release by Vintages on August 1, 2009 and described by their panel, Jan 2009, as “… In this example, delicate ripe apple and wildflower scents lead to a creamy, medium-bodied mix of melon, apple, and honey on the taste buds. Finishing slightly spicy, this would be a wonderful complement to golden curry chicken.” My notes: A light golden colour and a film of a medium-bodied wine. The nose has some grassiness, some floral and a touch of honey then a first sip shows flavours of mainly make believe melon with simulated apple. There is an underlying smoothness carrying the finish and quickly shifts to a brambly grassiness. Not Viognier flavours I could recognize or perhaps from immature vines. Not a sipper and difficult to match to a meal. My opinion is to skip this vintner. 73
    STICKS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, Victoria, Australia, 11.5% D, #109363 $17.95 (Tasted August 10, 2009) CS

    Released by Vintages on March 28, 2009 and described anonymously as “This just-released wine is already a multi-award winner, including a Silver Medal at the 2008 Yarra Valley Wine Show. The winery recommends serving this gooseberry- and asparagus-scented wine with Salt and Pepper Squid with Chilli Jam... ” My notes: The light golden colour combines with a nose notable for having negligible aroma, perhaps undeveloped citrus fruit - asparagus would do - with a stagnant pool edge. The flavour has the start of pineapple and gooseberry then rapidly switches to an acerbic and grassy lemon without compensating tropical fruit nor balancing sweetness. Finishes dry and ‘off’ flavour. Not a sipper and difficult to imagine accompanying the usual seafood or light fowl fare. If a menu has to be invented or is so limited then it’s a wine I’d skip. Not for cellaring. 72
    DUVERGEY TABOUREAU PINOT NOIR BOURGOGNE 2007, Burgundy, France, 12.5% XD, #127415 $17.95 (Tasted August 3, 2009) CS

    Released by Vintages on August 1, 2009 and described by their panel, Feb. 2009, as “This handsome Pinot features pungent cherry and floral aromas, and flavours of cherry, floral, and woodspice with beguiling earth notes. It's light- to medium-bodied and sports an attractive, medium-plus finish.” My notes: I’ll call this a deep strawberry rather than a crisp ruby since I’m expecting some strawberry somewhere along the way. The nose is an earthy red cherry including a slight tar edge. A lightish medium-body, some bramble, but not objectionable, and the finish is long, smooth well balanced with an appealing freshness. Didn’t note any strawberry but there’s a finesse and delicacy with which this presents itself. I didn't find it 'pungent'. A pleasant light pinot sipper and enough body for a filet mignon or straight sirloin, both medium rare. Likely will cellar up to four years with some return. 87

    FINCA FLICHMAN EXPRESIONES RESERVE SHIRAZ/CABERNET SAUVIGNON March 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.5% XD, #017111 $15.95 (Tasted August 21, 2009) CS

    A Vintages release on August 1, 2009 rated 4 ½ of 5 by local reviewer Vic Harradine with the description, June 20, 2009, “Rich complex aromas rip from the glass of this well-structured generously textured beauty - black juicy Bing cherry, camphor and ripe boysenberry. It's full bodied, richly textured and chockfull of delicious flavour with deep dark berry fruit and tangy black cherry to the fore. It received meticulous treatment - hand picked and 8 months in American and French oak. The finish lingers, but you shouldn't as the word is out - this is divine. Delightful on its own, it pours well alongside grilled rack of lamb.” My notes: A Sogrape winery, Finca Flichman has introduced the 'Espresiones' label to showcase the terroir of its old vines. Let this breathe for an hour for best sipping. There’s equal characteristics of the blend, 60% shiraz and 40% Cabernet sauvignon, in a tasting and French oak adds body and softness while the American oak adds a brightness. A rich dense ruby colour and the scent of savoury currents equalled by sweet berries and earthy pepper meets the nose. There’s a strong nip with the berries coming first in the sip followed by spicy currant in a long warm chalky finish. This went well with a grilled tenderloin barred on the outside and pink in the middle. Not quite as dense or complex as the 2004 tasted in January 2007 - still full-bodied and full flavoured. Drinking a tad young now and cellaring a few years could be worthwhile. 93
    HENRY OF PELHAM PINOT BLANC 2008 VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara, Canada, 12.0% D, #618827 $14.95 (Tasted August 9, 2009) CS
    Vintages released this on August 1, 2009 describing (June 2009) it as “Apple, stone fruit and light pear are the dominant aromas. Dry, with gentle acids around the pleasing fruit tones. Medium-bodied with a lengthy finish. A Pinot Blanc to chill down and enjoy on its own, or with light veggie appetizers.” My notes: This sub-appellation, the most easterly of Niagara before entering the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, is the first I’ve noticed from Vintages. The colour is light blond and an aroma of granny smith and faint floral is evident on first sniff. The first sip gives a sharp jab to the buds followed by more tangy, full flavoured granny smith. This comes across as extra dry suitable for fresh oysters or shrimp skewers - a slight sweetness shows thru’ adding more interest to the finish. Have with white fish entrées and with sushi or dim sum appetizers. More assertive than most pinot blancs - cellar a year or drink now for its freshness. 89
    DE MARTINO LEGADO RESERVA SYRAH 2006, Choapa Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #032136 $16.95 (Tasted August 12, 2009) CS
    A Vintages release on August 1, 2009 rated 90/100 and described by James Molesworth (Oct 15, 2008) as “This is alluring, with shaved vanilla and cocoa powder notes followed by a ripe beam of focused black cherry and currant fruit. The long, fine-grained finish stretches out nicely. Drink now through 2010. My notes: The colour is a deep and opaque ruby leaving a firm film on the glass with slow tears. After breathing for an hour or decanting the nose is earthy, bright, full of a rich cherries and tart blackberries. The first sip is full-bodied, with drying tannins and probing acid and leaving a layer of black fruit flavours all staying for a long savoury finish. I found the combination of textures and flavours leaning toward process, the difference between shaved ham and prosciutto. Some may enjoy as a sipper or with full flavoured beef bourguignon, pepper steak or rosemary accented lamb shank. Cellaring for up to four years may mellow and integrate process influences making this a bold value. Not a drink now for most. 86
    SANDHILL MERLOT 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, Okanagan, BC, 14.5% D, #131896 $19.95 (Tasted August 12, 2009) CS

    A Vintages release on August 1, 2009 described by wine diva Daenna Van Mulligan, a BC reviewer, date Sept 1, 2008 as “Dark floral aromas with cherry and summer berries, cedar and patchouli, licorice and vanilla with plummy hints. Rich and creamy fruit on the palate, chocolate, dark earth and plums with lingering spice and licorice flavours. Full-bodied with integrated tannins. Very good! My notes: An Andrew Peller winery. The colour is adobe edged opaque ruby and a swirl causes a reasonably firm film and moderate tears given a second to develop. The nose is a combination of mushroom and berries, mostly black- with some rasp-, and a mild sharpness. Drying tannins fill the mouth along with lots of nippy fresh berries leading to a long warm finish. This is a bright dry meal red with enough spice to hold its own with a seasoned strip steak, a T-bone or bbq’d back ribs. Cellaring another two years may increase its smoothness just now starting to show - or it could fade. Try one year at a time. 89
    LOIOS WHITE 2008, Alentejano, Portugal, 12.5% D, #092114 $9.95 (Tasted August 9, 2009) CS

    A General listing described anonymously as “Pale lemon with green highlights; aromas of fresh citrus, peaches and pear; dry, crisp and light / medium bodied, with citrusy notes foremost on finish. Serve with roasted halibut.” My notes: Named after the Loios monks and produced by J. Portugal Ramos Vinhos. I found this with the Gazela in the Sparkling section of the local LCBO and thought this was going to have some spritz. It doesn’t. The colour is pale lemon with a tint of green... and the nose has firm elements of citrus. But I missed the ‘peaches and pear’ getting mostly unripe melon. The first sip bears out the unripeness leaving a finish resembling a fino sherry, a touch of thinner and mineral masking any fruit remnants. For me, not enjoyable as a sipper and pairing with a chicken or a turkey breast Sub sandwich didn’t work. Likely would pair with salt fishes: sardines or anchovy based entrées, but definitely not my style of a white. 77
    MICHELE DA LISCA PINOT GRIGIO 2007, Venezie, Italy, 12.0% D, #117267 $14.95 (Tasted August 11, 2009) CS

    A Vintages release on July 4, 2009 and described by their panel (Sep 22, 2008) as “Friuli's take on P.G. is noted for its richness, and this pretty little number is no exception. Packed with melon, floral and pear characteristics, and featuring a pleasingly lengthy finish, this is a great summertime wine, and an extremely solid value. Will suit a wide range of summer salads or antipasto dishes.” My notes: A light golden blond with a nose that includes honeysuckle and pear, faint but there. The first sip shows some pear and stone fruit and a hint of sweetness to a citrus freshness, medium-bodied, finishing fairly long with a mineral dryness on the tongue. A dry sipper with enough ripe fruit mixed equally with the stone fruit to be odd but interesting. Have with seafood or light pasta dishes - did not go with broiled chicken thighs in a mushroom sauce. Likely could cellar a few years but drinking at peak now. 84
    CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER'S LOT 148 CARMENÈRE 2007, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #030957 $16.95 (Tasted August 28, 2009) CS
    Released by Vintages on August 15, 2009 described by their panel (June 2009) as “This single vineyard Carmenère may just be the world's best… awarded the Grand Trophy at Chile's 2nd Annual World Carmenère Competition in 2008. Deep ruby/purple colour leads to a nose of ripe cassis, dark chocolate, sage, cedar, mocha and wood smoke. Dry with loads of fruit perfectly supported by ripe tannins and fine smoky-oak tones. Medium full-bodied with a very long finish. Keep it 2-4+ years or enjoy it tonight with a very rare steak.” My notes: This is a dark purple tinged ruby, opaque to view and there’s a solid film with fast tears on the bowl. A strong sniff brings a nippy scent of aged cherries blended with crushed blackberries and a tasting is more of the same, medium- to full-bodied. The finish is smooth, slightly nippy with some liquorice, fine tannins and lots of warm fruit. A great social sipper having the flavour and texture usually found priced higher making this a reasonable value. Pair with any grilled meats. Cellar up to three years. 94
    MONTGRAS RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #960542 $12.95 (Tasted August 18, 2009)

    A Vintages release on August 15, 2009 described by Jonathan Ray (June 10, 2009) as “… won a Silver Medal at the 6th Annual Wines of Chile Awards in January 2009... an oak-aged 100 per cent Carmenère that positively brims with ripe, spicy fruit, vanilla and dark mocha chocolate… best served with rare steak.” My notes: A deep plum colour showing a firm film with slow tears… an earthy plum, nippy blackberry and faint vanilla scent, medium-bodied, smooth as silk, mostly berry, some liquorice and a good presence of fine tannins and acid. The finish continues long and smooth with bright berry fruit and a sustained warmth. The price makes this is an economical house red - at Burlington restaurant prices a real money maker. An interesting sipper to have with flavourful appetizers or to pair with a pepper steak, a T-bone or back ribs. A drink now or cellar a year at a time, up to three. A good value. 88
    CORTE ZOVO SA' SOLIN RIPASSO DELLA VALPOLICELLA 2007, Veneto, Italy, 14.5% D, #650713 $17.95 (Tasted August 21, 2009) CS
    Released by Vintages on August 15, 2009 described anonymously as “… fruit-forward with layers of cranberry, cherry, herb, peppery spice and meaty notes. Dry with a medium full-body and a lingering finish, it has the structure to match flavourful dishes such as roast leg of lamb or gourmet pizza with the works.” My notes: Past vintages (2001 @ $11.95, 2003 @ $15.95 and 2004 @ $16.95) have proven to be good values with short term cellaring. Now at $17.95 has price outpaced value? A pleasing almond highlight to soft aromas of rich black cherries and a sombre ruby colour. The first sip is both tangy and full of ripe fruit. A polite seam of acid carries through the finish bringing the warmth of a dark fruit compote. This should work with most tomato based pastas or meaty pizzas. Cellaring a year should be OK but likely at peak now. Eighteen dollars is stretching it for a simple ripasso. 87
    COYOTE'S RUN RED PAW VINEYARD PINOT GRIS 2007 VQA Four Mile Creek, St. David’s, Niagara on the Lake, 13.0% D, #116582 $17.95 (Tasted August 20, 2009) CS
    Released by Vintages on August 1, 2009 rated 5/5 by Vic Harradine, a local critic (Oct 11, 2008), and described as “This offers a fuller body, creamier texture and more complexity than most wine made from this varietal; it's more Alsace than Niagara… Aromas of spring blossoms and tree fruit segue a tropical fruit salad bowl of flavours with honeyed melon, ripe pineapple and mango predominant. There's also an element of citrus and spice on the deftly balanced and refreshing finish… ” My notes: A savoury aroma of wildflowers and stone fruit with a touch of honey added and a polished golden colour with perhaps a soft green tint. The film is firm taking two or three seconds for tears to form on a new glass. There’s a honey edge to stone fruit, melon and citrus flavours making this interesting as a sipper. The finish is round with the flavours that build and last a good while. Not a Grigio for sure being fuller and a touch off-dry - I'd say a Coyote's Run PG. Have with Asian fare: a Chinese buffet, spicy Thai or even a bento box of tempura veggies and shrimp. This should cellar well for several years. 90
    SPELLBOUND OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2005, Lodi, California, 13.5% D, #104216 $20.95 (Tasted August 24, 2009) CS

    A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 rated 88/100 and described by Steve Heimoff (Wine Enthusiast, March 2009) as “A great example of Lodi Zin, at a great price. Shows real complexity in the blackberry, cherry, mulberry, molasses, cocoa and cola flavors, accented with exotic dusty spices. For all the richness, it's totally dry, and the alcohol level is refreshingly low… “ My notes: A Clayhouse Vineyards wine priced in the US at $15. This has a dusty ruby colour. The aroma is of canned cherries with a sweet and spicy edge and there's a thin film that recedes quickly leaving few tears. A straightforward blend of berries, cranberry, fine tannin and slight bramble with a finish that carries flavours along a seam of polite acid. Light-bodied, smooth and bright, interesting enough to be a dry sipper, better paired with a strip steak, pork chop or possibly liver and onions. A drink now - I’d say the zinfandel is starting to wane. Not a value in Canada. 86

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