Sunday, November 01, 2009

November 2009 Wines: 30 Tasted of 30

Some of the grapes taking part in this month‘s wines are shown (photos from Wikipedia). When tasted, wines are listed red then white each sequenced by rating. Cheers, Ww

  • Fess Parker ‘Santa Barbera County’ Syrah 2006, 93-2 -- O, California, USA, #Other, $24.95US (g)
  • Apaltagua Envero Gran Reserva ‘Apalta Vineyard Selection’ 2007, 92-3 -- V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #129973 $15.95 
  • Casa Tamaya ‘Estate Bottled’ Syrah Reserva 2008, 90-2 -- V, Limari Valley, Chile, #135418 $13.95
  • Familia Zuccardi Fuzion Alta Reserve Malbec 2008, 90-2 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #135475 $9.95
  • Monte Antico Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2006, 90-2 -- V, Tuscany, Italy, #069377 $14.95
  • Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2006, 89-1 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #079293 $16.95
  • Familia Zuccardi Fuzion Organic Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon, 88-2 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #127456 $12.95
  • La Chamiza ‘Polo Professional’ Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007, 86-1 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #128595 $12.95
  • Alta Vista Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 85 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #129957 $14.95
  • Familia Zuccardi Shiraz Malbec 2009, 84 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #083188 $7.45
  • Sogrape Grão Vasco Dão 2006, 82 -- G, Dão, Portugal, #014977 $8.95
  • Vina Maipo Reserva Merlot 2008, 80 -- V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #135236 $13.95
  • Ravazzi Chianti Riserva 2006, 80 -- V, Tuscany, Italy, #135657 $16.95
  • Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône - Villages 2007, 79* -- G, Rhône, France, #391458 $12.95
  • Malenchini Chianti 2008, 79 -- V, Tuscany, Italy, #134783 $13.95
  • Wolf Blass Yellow Label Merlot 2006, 70 -- G, South Australia, #538637 $16.45
  • Tekiah Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 69 -- V, Mendoza, Australia, #130286 $14.95

  • Crown Bench Estates Livia’s Gold 2000 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 95-2 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery (375mL) $34.95
  • McManis Family Vineyards Viognier 2007, 89-1 -- O, San Joaquin Valley, California, #658112, $21.95
  • Thorn-Clarke Barossa Eden Valley Chardonnay 2008, 88-1 -- V, Eden Valley, Australia, #651349 $14.95
  • Woolshed Chardonnay 2007, 88-1 -- O, Victoria, Australia, #Agent $15.95
  • Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Riesling 2008, 87-1 -- V, South Australia, #625129 $15.95
  • Sogrape Gazela Vinho Verde NV, 86-1 -- G, Portugal, #141432 $8.95
  • Jekel Vineyards ‘Gravelstone’ Chardonnay 2007, 86 -- V, Monterey, USA, #421016 $15.95
  • Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008, 86 -- V, Margaret River, Australia, #047621 $15.95
  • Familia Zuccardi Argentina Brut NV, 85 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #n/a $12.50
  • Aveleda Vinho Verde Fonte 2008, 85 -- G, Portugal, #005322 $8.95
  • Giovello Prosecco NV, 82 -- G, Veneto, Italy, #085316 $14.95
  • Errazuriz Estate Chardonnay 2008, 81 -- G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #318741 $10.95
  • Gabbiano Pinot Grigio 2008, 61 -- G, Venezie, Italy, #077990 $12.95
 (G - General, V - Vintages, O - Other, * - see Tasting notes, g - gift, r-v - Rating-Value)


FESS PARKER ‘SANTA BARBERA COUNTY’ SYRAH 2006, California, USA, 16.4% D, #Other, $24.95US, (Tasted November 28, 2009)

A gift from a generous guest and muchly appreciated by this host. The website references a number of critic ratings: 88/100 by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and 90/100 by The Wine Spectator. Just under 2000 cases made from grapes grown in the Santa Ynez valley and described as “On the nose you will find aromas of blackberries, smoke, pressed meats with BBQ spices, blueberries and vanilla. Deep, full flavours of blackberries, chocolate, boysenberries and black liquorice will lead to a long lingering finish.” My notes: A marvellous colour in the bowl, rich ruby magenta and deep scents of delicate blackberries, possibly vanilla and cinnamon. A swirl shows a firm film with very gradual tears. Lusciously velvety, well established fine tannins and spiced edged ripe, juicy fruit leaving a long delicious, dry finish - some leather at the end. Sit and sip, have with chocolates or pair with a rare filet mignon, lamb chops or beef Wellington - nothing too savoury just juicy and flavourful to let the wine show. Cellaring for several years shouldn’t be a problem.  93

CASA TAMAYA ‘ESTATE BOTTLED’ SYRAH RESERVA 2008, Limari Valley, Chile, 14.0% C, #135418 $13.95 (Tasted November 1, 2009) CS
A Vintages release on October 10, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (April 2009) as “… Filled with aromas of blackberry, pepper, game and mocha, this well-typed Syrah is dry and fruity, with fine acidity and a good core of tannin to supply balance. Enjoy this wine now with grilled lamb chops, or cellar it 2-3 years.” My notes: This has a firm film with slow tears showing through deep purple ruby. Full-bodied but smooth with a good bite and noticeable tannins gives the first sip interest. Flavours of black berries, coffee and faint cedar are balanced with earth tones. This has some depth yet to increase with a short time in the cellar. Flavours carry through to a long finish that ends with a chalky dryness. Have with prime rib, T-bone or ribs. A good value. 90

FAMILIA ZUCCARDI FUZION ORGANIC MALBEC CABERNET SAUVIGNON, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #127456 $12.95 (Tasted November 1, 2009) CS

A General listing described on the label as “… produced by handpicked grapes. It’s a deep lively red with complex notes of ripe red fruit and long pleasant finish… “ My notes: The Familia Zuccardi website doesn’t list the ‘Fuzion’ label. The vintage year isn’t on this label, although SAQ (Quebec) lists it as a 2009. There’s a purple hue to the ruby and aromas of mild plum just tease the senses. My bottle had a short cork leaving small pieces floating. The first sip starts with velvet mouthfeel and flavours of ripe blackberry touched with a red currant brightness lasts into a long dry finish. Appealing for its softness - medium-bodied, bright for sipping but not enough for spicy foods: pair with prime rib, a ham slice or a tuna or swordfish steak. Likely could cellar short term. 88

FAMILIA ZUCCARDI FUZION ALTA RESERVE MALBEC 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #135475 $9.95 (Tasted October 26, 2009) CS

A General listing described on the label as “A medium-bodied red wine with powerful aromas of plum, cocoa and black currants leading into a long finish, dominated by soft sweet tannins.” My notes: A scant aroma of black fruit, plums and blackberries mainly. Long slow legs with a firm film and a colour of rich opaque ruby. The first sip is velvety smooth with fresh black fruit, a light acid and backbone of fine sweet tannins. Not bold, not demonstrative but a pleasing sipper, medium-bodied in texture and mild in approach, well balanced. Have with grilled meats not overly spiced. 90

ALTA VISTA PREMIUM CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #129957 $14.95 (Tasted November 25, 2009) CS

Release by Vintages on October 24, 2009 and described anonymously (undated) as “… This Cabernet was aged in 50% American and 50% French oak for one year, imparting toasty coconut and vanilla notes to the ripe blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Enjoy with rare roast beef seasoned with garden-fresh herbs.” My notes: A surprisingly light nose given the oak treatment… some red currant and some cherry - aerate or let breathe twenty minutes. A lightish medium-body with thin film and fast tears. The colour is bright ruby and the first sip comes with some berry and bramble, a firm fine tannin and solid tartness but not enough to be bold. Finishes dry, mellow with a nutty edge. Have with prime rib, T-bone, rack of lamb or rolled veal with sage stuffing. Cellaring for several years may introduce more textures but a drink now.  85

MONTE ANTICO SANGIOVESE / MERLOT / CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Tuscany, Italy, 12.5% XD, #069377 $14.95 (Tasted October 28, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on October 24, 2009 rated 90/100 and described by The Wine Spectator (Oct 2009) as “Bright plum, dried cherries and flowers on the nose. Full-bodied, with fine tannins and refined berry and cherry flavours. Drink now. Best Value.” My notes: A blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and a very appealing deep ruby in the glass with soft aromas of truffle, black cherry and plum. A firm film with very slow tears gives some indication of the silky texture of bright red currants and white cherries. A medium-bodied red, light in character and fresh in approach. Have with anything Italian in a full flavoured tomato sauce. Also with roast beef tenderloin, ribs or rack of lamb. There’s enough fruit but no excess tannins for some cellaring, say two years. A good value. 90

RAVAZZI CHIANTI RISERVA 2006, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD, #135657 $16.95 (Tasted Novmber 24, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on October 24, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “The Ravazzi family has being making wine at their estate in Siena for 50 years. Their new wine cellar, built in 2005, is decidedly modern yet home to classically fashioned wines, such as this pretty Chianti Riserva. Bursting with red fruit and accented by nuances of smoked meat, this food-friendly wonder is just the thing for your next gourmet pizza night; or try it with a cheese lasagna.” My notes: A sombre red full of dark hues and a swirl that brings lots of quick tears. Let breathe for at least thirty minutes for a scent of walnuts and delicate cherries, evenly divided. Classically fashioned must mean ‘old world‘ which this is. Although the approach is fresh the fruit is masked by process, ‘smoked meat’ for sure. A meal red to have with tomato pastas, veal scallopine, flavourful stews. Limited appeal as a sipper and personally not a preferred style. Cellaring for a few more years should be OK - it won’t change though. 80

CROWN BENCH ESTATES LIVIA’S GOLD 2000 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 9.0% S, #Winery (375mL) $34.95* (Tasted November 5, 2009)

From their website “A Crown Bench innovation in the style of Sauterne, an early harvest Botrytis Affected Chardonnay. This wine captures the ultimate richness of a berry-by-berry selected harvest. Clean and floral, with a hint of dry honey. Lots of flavours at work, from orange to kumquat, peach and citrus marmalade. The natural acidity carries the weight of this wine… pairs perfectly with Chinese cuisine, cream soups, any rich pastry, it is especially delectable with foie gras, or alone as an ultimate dessert wine.” My notes: Originally purchase from the winery several years ago and the price is approximate. Liquid gold in colour with a Sultana raisin aroma, silky on the first sip and flavours of honey, ripe peach pear, a light citrus for tang and a dollop of sweetness all carrying through a long scrumptious finish. Full-bodied and a Sauterne style, it would be a shame to accompany with anything that would take away the flavours but foie gras sounds right. 95

'SKUTTLEBUTT' SAUVIGNON BLANC SEMILLON 2008, Margaret River, Australia, 12.5% D, #047621 $15.95 (Tasted October 27, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on October 24, 2009 rated 92/100 by Australian critic James Halliday (Feb 2009) and described as “ Fresh and breezy, but there is a lot of flavour to be had, redcurrant and passionfruit at opposite ends of the spectrum, bound by appealing citrussy acidity. Drink [until] 2012. My notes: A blend of 57% Sauvignon, 35% Semillon and 8% Chardonnay. The 2006 vintage, released by Vintages in December 2007 and priced $17.95, was tasted in April last year and rated Ww88. This has a pale straw colour and nose of peas and nettles, some gooseberry and scant passionfruit. The film is firm with slow tears and the texture is smooth, more peas and citrus, a cloudberry presence this time with a nice bite and leaving a strong and long mineral finish. An OK sipper and with a shellfish or a whitefish entrée. Did not go well with chicken skewers lightly lemon’d. I found it to have an unusual flavour - perhaps the chard - difficult to pair.  86

GABBIANO PINOT GRIGIO 2008, Venezie, Italy, 12.5% D, #077990 $12.95 (Tasted October 25, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale yellow colour; aromas of ripe pear, citrus with tropical notes; dry, light bodied, with citrus, mineral and apple flavours; medium long finish. Serve with light fish dishes, seafood salads, appetizers and bacon wrapped scallops.” My notes: A Foster’S Wine Estates company and a Beringer Blass Italia label. This has a normal light blond colour and to this adds a scant pond scum aroma giving some indication of the first sip. The flavour is lacking the bright character and the balance of a pinot grigio. The finish is almost bland with a slight tartness and minimal natural fruit to make this a non starter as a sipper or as a meal white. Did not pair with a vegetarian quiche. Not recommended. 61

LA CHAMIZA ‘POLO PROFESIONAL’ CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #128595 $12.95 (Tasted November 3, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on September 12, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “… Polo Professional is the winery's reserve line and this Cabernet was aged for 6 months in French oak before bottling. It's dry, full-bodied with ripe blackcurrant, pepper, clove and coffee flavours. Serve it with grilled pepper steaks.” My notes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley. This wine may be ‘closed‘. The nose is subdued with underlying black currant essence. Berry and currant flavours reluctantly show
themselves although the tannin is well developed and builds on the palate. A tame acid seam follows through with a currant ending on a predominant woody note. This is a well made cabernet sauvignon, medium-bodied, dry, some spice and slight liquorice to pair with grilled meats and stews. Cellaring for two years may improve this further and at the price it’s worth the try. 86

ERRAZURIZ ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2008, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #318741 $10.95 (Tasted November 1, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated), unchanged from last vintage, as “Bright yellow colour; rich pineapple and banana with vanilla aromas; full-bodied, creamy and lush with pineapple fruit, baked applet and buttery, vanilla/nut flavours. Try with lobster, grilled chicken, duck a l'orange, herb crusted pork chops.” My notes: I rated the 2007 vintage at Ww94 saying ‘each sip brings interest’. The 2008 has a pale straw colour with light grassy and mild perfume aromas leading to a first sip that is dry, has a nice nip level and flavours of honey and citrus that slowly fade to an off-dry stemmy warmth. I’d say this is interesting and somewhat a puzzle, a white looking for a grape. Not an unpleasant sipper for a large gathering and a lightish medium-bodied white to match with light seafood entrées. As a pairing with crab cakes or cold party shrimp it’s economical large crowd beverage. A drink now. 81

APALTAGUA ENVERO GRAN RESERVA ‘APALTA VINEYARD SELECTION’ 2007, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #129973 $15.95 (Tasted November 19, 2009) CS

A Vintage release on August 29, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “This wine earned Gold Medals this year at both the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and Monde Selection International Wine Contest. Made with Carmenère and a dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon, this expressive wine features lovely aromas and flavours of cherry, blackberry, mint and cigar tobacco. Dry, rich and ripe, this wine is an exceptional value and an excellent partner for grilled rare leg of lamb.” My notes: A blend of 93% Carmenère and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon from sixty year old vines gives this a rich, deep ruby colour and a nose with a scent of faint mint and tobacco on black berries. Bright, almost zesty, fruit that kicks off a long finish of succulent berries, dry and refreshing. If possible, almost too flavourful as a sipper but would be an interesting partner to rack of lamb, a clove’d ham steak or beef tenderloin. Cellar several years to increase depth, soften texture and some youthfulness. 92

SOGRAPE GAZELA VINHO VERDE NV, Portugal, 9.0% D, #141432 $8.95 (Retasted October 31, 2009) CS

My notes: This is now a house regular as a spritzy cooler in the summer, as a refesher before a meal or as a casual sipper given the notion for a light sipper. Served chilled there’s tiny and soft bubbles throughout each sip. A delicate fruit blossom nose and a dry tangy ending to lime and green apple flavours. An accompaniment to an informal cold buffet but not a replacement for a meal white… unless it’s a variety of tapas you know will fit. A drink now to a year. 86

AVELEDA VINHO VERDE FONTE 2008, Portugal, 10.0% MD, #005322 $8.95 (Tasted November 2, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale lemon yellow colour; pear, apple and citrus aromas and flavours; light, clean, and refreshing with a spritzy finish. Serve with oysters, grilled shrimp or deep fried calamari.” My notes: This has a light straw colour and a delicate scent of beeswax. The thin film on the glass gives an indication of the light-bodied crispness, almost spritzy, found in the first sip. Mineral tinged and bright, refreshing and delicately flavoured of lime and apple increasing with each sip and carrying into a long finish. A sipper before supper or during afternoon snacks, or just about anytime, the summer especially. A value drink now. 85

GIOVELLO PROSECCO NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.0% D, #085316 $14.95 (Tasted November 4, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale straw colour; aromas of citrus, pears and pineapple; dry, lively bubbles, zesty citrus and pear flavours. Serve with appetizers or brunch.” My notes: Large bubbles followed a stream of fine and a continuing spritz during sips. This has a delicate straw colour, very light, and similarly a delicate aroma of yeast and stone fruit. The tang to refresh and light lime, soft clementine reminders and a mineral dryness blend well into a long finish. Have with fresh oysters, grilled scallops or cold shrimp. A straightforward bubbly with just a light creaminess. 82

SOGRAPE GRÃO VASCO DÃO 2006, Dão, Portugal, 12.5% D, #014977 $8.95 (Tasted November 5, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Ruby/garnet red; plumy, berry fruit aromas and flavours with leather nuances; medium- to full-bodied with a prolonged finish. Serve with grilled sausages; hearty stews; roast beef.” My notes: A deep ruby with a garnet cast and light aroma of an earthy plum, red cherry and ripe berry mix. A swirl shows a thin film with a few slow tears and the first sip starts silky followed quickly by dry tannins coating flavours of red currant and berry then ending with a bright bramble. On the light side of medium-bodied - a dry sipper and a match for tomato sauced dishes, pastas or pizzas, or a lamb pot roast or braised back ribs. A drink now. 82 (Aerating or decanting could add 2 points.)

LOUIS BERNARD CÔTES DU RHÔNE - VILLAGES 2007, Rhône, France, 14.0% D, #391458 $12.95 (Tasted November 6, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Medium ruby colour; spice, plum, red currant and strawberry aromas and flavours with hints of earthiness, cinnamon and candied fruit; light- to medium-bodied with a clean finish. Serve with roast turkey, Mediterranean dishes, pepper steak, stews or cheeses like brie and medium cheddar.” My notes: Decanted and sloshed around, a practice started with young or lower priced wines. The nose is noticeable by its absence and the first sip is tart, woody with faint cinnamon accents of an undefined terroir and lasts into a long, dry, unremarkable finish. Not a sipper. Some will but most will not relate to the subtle flavouring - it's not one I'll repeat. Have with prime rib or beef Wellington. A drink now. 79.  PS. I was surprised to see how much this had improved left two days open - I'd say closer to 84

Two bottles in a gift package, their Shiraz/Malbec 2009 (#083188, $7.45) reviewed October, 2009 and a sparkling Brut (#n/a, $12.50)
FAMILIA ZUCCARDI BRUT ARGENTINA NV, Mendoza, Argentina, 12.5% D, #n/a $n/a (Tasted November 10, 2009)

The back label says “… a harmonious blend of our finest grapes. … elegant bouquet of honey, green apples and pineapple fragrances, combined with fresh creamy and delicate fresh fruit flavours. … as an aperitif or [with] seafood dishes… “ My notes: With the red blend at $7.45 the Brut becomes $12.50. A blond colour and there’s a steady stream of tiny bubbles on pouring , not profuse. There’s a delicate fruit floral in the nose, natural and not extreme… and the first sip confirms a sprightly spritz supporting Clementine and lime flavours, well balanced, interesting as well as pleasing and polite. Meant for the motley (my family) crew rather than the champagne crowd (your family?). Save one for yacht christening, the rest for the deck in the summer or casual sipping before a seafood meal from the galley.  85
FAMILIA ZUCCARDI FUZION SHIRAZ MALBEC 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #083188 $7.45 (Retasted November 12, 2009) CS
My notes: Tasted last month and rated Ww84. On opening the nose is a subdued blend of plums, berries and black cherries and the colour, a purple tinted ruby. Medium-bodied, smooth with a pleasing brightness but flavours of blackberries, cherries and a touch of spice are fairly shallow, not well defined. The finish carries a touch of sweetness and spice with fine tannins. Then I decanted, sloshed and let breathe twenty minutes. No change in nose but a slight mellowness introduced to the texture, a softness to unchanged flavours and a finish with pronounced dryness.  Conclusion: There are slight changes in texture and the notion of sweetness. The same minor changes could be experienced during a casual sipping over the same period of time and would not be perceptible with a meal. An open bottle paired with rack of lamb three days later was delectable.  84

LUIGI BOSCA RESERVA MALBEC 2006, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #079293 $16.95 (Tasted November 9, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on September 26, 2009, rated 90/100 and described by James Molesworth (October 2009) as “Full ruby-red. Musky, vinous aromas of blackberry, mocha, espresso and tobacco. Suave, juicy and palate-coating, with a distinctly saline element adding complexity to the flavours of raspberry, tobacco, smoke and green olive. Finishes with fine-grained tannins and lovely aromatic lift. A distinctly soil-inflected wine with loads of personality-and an excellent value.” (or alternatively by Stephen Tanzer of the International Wine Cellar, Jan./Feb. 2009) My notes: Vintages confused the credits on this one. 100% Malbec grapes from the La Linda vineyard at the 960m level at Lujan de Cuyo went into this red then spending twelve months in French oak barrels to produce a deep ruby colour and aromas of earthy berry and plum taint. The first sip is bright, with drying tannins and a suspicion of Brettanomyces to offer a cheesy edge to flavours of red currants. An old world style sipper that should carry well with grilled sausage or flavourful stews and should cellar well for several years. 89 

JEKEL VINEYARDS ‘GRAVELSTONE’ CHARDONNAY 2007, Monterey, USA, 13.5% D, #421016 $15.95 (Tasted November 11, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on November 7, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “… a big, crowd-pleasing, affordable Chardonnay… Packed with tropical fruit, pear, melon and sweet vanilla notes, this is a full-bodied, generous and rich effort that is sure to impress your guests. Pair it with crab cakes with a spicy aioli dipping sauce.” My notes: A pale gold colour and delicate floral nose. A thin film, no legs but medium-bodied with the flavour of a pineapple, pear and sweet berry blend followed by a warm, mineral finish. Has some interest as a dry, unoaked chardonnay sipper and paired nicely with pan fried lake trout and asparagus. A drink now and cellaring is unlikely - should keep a year but not improve.  86

THORN-CLARKE TERRA BAROSSA EDEN VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2008, Eden Valley, Australia, 14.0% D, #651349 $14.95 (Tasted November 9, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on November 7, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “Abutting the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley has developed a reputation for producing marvellous white wines, such as this fine, smoky, fruity and crisp Chardonnay. An exceptional partner for lobster, crab legs, grilled herbed chicken or poached salmon, this Chard is held together in perfect balance by a ripe acidity.” My notes: This needs a few minutes to show scents of pear and slight apple blossom. The first sip is round with an interesting tart lemon, stone fruit and green apple blend, very delicate and bright. Almost a tooth cleaner for a long crisp finish, appealing for its intensity. This paired well with crab crepes and béchamel sauce sided by asparagus. Cellaring for several years is a possibility.  88

TEKIAH CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Mendoza, Australia, 12.9% D, #130286 $14.95 (Tasted November 24, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on November 7 , 2009 described by (Dec 22, 2008) as “A very deep red color, with violet tints. Tekiah's elegant aromas are balanced and complex. Beautifully expressed flavours of red fruit and black pepper. Kosher for Passover.” My notes: By the nose this has been well oaked giving an acrid whiff to stewed prune changing to fermented cherry aromas. The film is firm with slow tears and the first sip is very dry, astringent as a chokecherry, and lasting long on the palate. Deep ruby colouring sets this off as a cabernet sauvignon but there are no black currants detectable. Not a sipper. Have with roast beef, grilled back ribs or pepper steak. 69
VIÑA MAIPO RESERVA MERLOT 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #135236 $13.95 (Tasted November 12, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on November 7, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (March 2009) as “Aromatic Merlot with tons of red fruit, spice box and blackberry aromas. Dry with lots of fruit and oak but in perfect balance as both elements are strong enough to completely complement each other. Medium-bodied with a substantial fruit/oak finish. Try with grilled steaks or gourmet sausages.” My notes: A ruby colour and no discernible aromas, fruit or otherwise. The first sip has a silkiness, a mild tang, a faint ‘spice box’? yes, and some berry flavouring. Medium-bodied with a soft finish carrying the flavours forward ending with a mild mineral tang. An economical sipper for a general crowd - won’t impress but no objections either. Have with mild grilled meats, cold turkey or ham. A drink now. 80

WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL MERLOT 2006, South Australia, 13.5% D, #538637 $16.45 (Retasted November 16, 2009) CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Deep ruby colour; smoky, red plum, spring cherry and blackberry aromas; dry, medium bodied, very fruit driven, with cherry/berry fruit flavours, soft tannins, oaky finish. Serve with veal or lamb.” My notes: Previously tasted in October 2008 and rated Ww68. Received another so thought it time to retaste. This has a deep ruby colour with a slight purple cast. The nose isn’t and a swirl gives a firm but thin film collecting slowly into a few slow tears. Medium-bodied, cherry/berry flavours with a mineral and wood seam evolving into a long, chokecherry finish. Not a sipper but needing spicy grilled beef, stews or pepperoni and anchovies pizza to quell the taste. Perhaps an acquired taste... not mine. 70

YALUMBA ‘THE Y SERIES’ RIESLING 2008, South Australia, 12.5% XD, #625129 $15.95 (Tasted November 16, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on October 10, 2009 rated 91/100 and described by Australian critic James Halliday (Nov 2008) as “An intense bouquet with crushed citrus leaf/lemon zest aromas; the palate is refined and elegant in a light-bodied mode. Top value. Drink [until] 2013.” My notes: Has a light straw colour with a light lemon scent and a thin film with a few slow tears showing on the bowl. A strong but soft lemon flavour in the first sip leads to a long finish layering the palate with citrus, dry, building to a pucker. A social sipper, for a summer day or with seafood appetizers, salty crackers or shrimp pieces. Flavours didn’t compete with apricot and rosemary glazed chicken breast and roast potatoes. 87

McMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS VIOGNIER 2007, San Joaquin Valley, California, 13.5% D, #658112, $21.95 (Tasted November 21, 2009) CS

My notes: Purchased from The Vine/robert groh agency in Toronto after sharing a bottle with friends at Boo’s Bistro in Hamilton. A firm film with slow tears reflects the viscosity of this golden coloured white. Off chill (14C), the nose is faint at first accumulating in the bowl to be a delicate apple blossom. Flavours and texture are the main attraction of this white. Stone fruit, tart apple, melon flavours tinged with grass is of interest for sipping and the warm buttery aspect was great with PEI mussels and breads dipped in the light creamy broth. Cellaring a few years should be OK but primarily a drink now.  89 

WOOLSHED CHARDONNAY 2007, Victoria, Australia, 13.5% D, #Agent $15.95 (Tasted November 24, 2009)

The back label says “… richly flavoured wine with peach and citrus notes, subtle oak and a fresh, lingering finish. Drink now or cellar two to three years.” My notes: Purchased from Stem Wine Group Inc. after enjoying a glass or two at a local restaurant. Let go off chill (14C+) for a delicate aroma of grass and citrus. A straw blond shows a thin film with a few slow tears. The first sip brings a medium-bodied smooth texture and light citrus flavours that carry through to a long, dry, warm finish and a touch of stone fruit. A very acceptable sipper for a nonABC crowd. Lightly oaked, if at all, with a little cream, just enough to say it‘s there. Went very well with grilled cheddar sandwich with asparagus and cilantro soup. Would go nicely with light fishes or shellfish entrées. Cellaring two years tops. 88

MALENCHINI CHIANTI 2008, Tuscany, Italy, 14.0% XD, #134783 $13.95 (Tasted November 27, 2009) CS
Released by Vintages on October 10, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (April 2009) as “Good viscosity and fine tannins dominate this good-value, well-made wine. Primary aromas suggest Bing cherry, blackberry and underbrush. Dry, brightly fruity, with a fine acidity adding balance. Enjoy it tonight with grilled lamb chops or age it 3+ years.” My notes: A Stem Group wine, this time purchased from Vintages. This has the colour of bright black cherries, a smooth earth and plum aroma that takes time to develop and a moderate film with fast legs. A high tannin level starts from the first sip and lasts through a long finish needing a pasta dish for accompaniment. Flavours reflect young or unripe fruit with a brambly tart edge. Have with tomato pizzas or panserotti filled with cheese. Although better, it brings back memories of our neighbour’s homemade red - a niche wine.  79

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