Monday, February 01, 2010

February 2010 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

These were picked by chance or were gifts. When tasted wines will be highlighted and sequenced by rating.  Cheers, Ww

  • Sogrape Vila Regia Reserva 2006 Douro DOC, 91-3 -- G, Douro, Portugal, #613950 $12.50
  • Vigne & Vini Zinfandel Primitivo Del Salento 2006 IGT, 90-2 -- V, Puglia, Italy, #136002 $14.95
  • Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz 2008, 90-1 -- V, Leasingham, Australia, #072652 $25.95 
  • Antinori Pèppoli Chianti Classico 2007, 85 -- V, Italy, #606541 $19.95  
  • Alamos Malbec 2008, 84 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #467951 $13.95  
  • Mezzomondo Negroamaro Salento Daunia 2008 IGT, 84  --  G, Puglia, Italy, #588962  $8.95   
  • Kim Crawford Pinot Noir 2008, 82 -- V, Marlborough, NZ, #626390 $19.95 
  • Borgo Scopeta Chianti Classico 2006 DOCG, 80 -- V, Tuscany, Italy, #023325 $19.80
  • Mezzomondo Sangiovese Merlot 2008 IGT, 68  --  G, Puglia, Italy, #079327 $9.95
  •  Pierre Sparr Brut Rosé Crémant d’Alsace NV, 84 -- V, Alsace, France, #039016 $18.95

  • Lillet Blanc (NV), 94-3 -- V, Podensac, Bordeaux, France, #322297 $13.95 
  • Fog Head Reserve Chardonnay Monterey 2008, 93-3 -- V, Manteca, California, #158568 $19.95
  • Concilio Pinot Grigio Trentino 2008,  90-2  --  G, Volano, Italy, #637595 $12.40
  • Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 90 -- V, Marlborough, NZ, #304469 $29.95
  • Cave Spring Vineyard Chardonnay Musqué 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 89-2 -- V, Niagara, Ontario, #246579 $15.95   
  • Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier 2009, 89-2 -- V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #045138 $12.95 
  • La Chablisienne Sauvignon Blanc Saint-Bris 2008, 88-1  -- V, Burgundy, France, #641753 $14.95 
  • Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio Classico 2008 DOC, 81 -- G, Marches, Italy, #024422 $10.95
  • Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 80 -- V, Marlborough, NZ, #316570 $18.95 
  • Jackson-Triggs Pinot Grigio Proprietors Selection CIC NV, 65 -- G, Niagara*, Canada, #621110 $9.95*  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, * - see notes, r-v - Rating-Value)


CLOUDY BAY ( Map It! ) SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #304469 $29.95 (Tasted February 14, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on November 21, 2009 rated 91/100 and described (April 30, 2009) by Harvey Steiman as “Light and tart, with a zip to the acidity that carries the vivid, celery-tinged gooseberry and lime flavours, lingering impressively on the sharply focused finish. Drink now.” My notes: Crystal clear in the glass with aromas of tangy gooseberries edged with tea. The film is a fine lace with no tears gradually receding to the rim. Racy on the palate and puckering to the finish, flavours following the nose with sour lime added to the fruit. Too much pucker as a sipper - was super with boiled butter dipped lobster pieces and should be with most seafood. Not for cellaring.  90

ANAKENA ( Map It! ) SINGLE VINEYARD VIOGNIER 2009, Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #045138 $12.95 (Tasted February 8, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on January 9, 2010 rated 89/100 and described (Sept 14, 2009) by Tony Aspler as “Very pale with a green tint; peach and honeysuckle nose; sweet peachy fruit, lively acidity. Full-bodied. “ My notes:  I enjoyed as value wines the 2007 Anakena (90, Sept 2008) and 2006 (92, July 2009). The 2006 improved cellaring two years balancing the original flavourings. The price now has come down from $15.95 so this vintage will be interesting. There is a soft wild floral nose inviting as a sipper. Crystal clear and a  swirl brings a scalloped film then many tears. There’s a touch of tangerine and pear leading to a nicely rounded and long grassy finish. Went well with leek and mushroom soup, arctic char on julienne carrots and sliced celery.  This should cellar well.  89

BORGO ( Map It! ) SCOPETO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2006 DOCG, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD, #023325 $19.80 (Tasted January 29, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on June 20, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “A fresh and fruity Sangiovese-centric wine with cherry/berry dominating. It is light-bodied with a rather lengthy, fruity finish. A perfect wine for a simple pasta dish with fresh tomato and basil.” My notes: As Italian as bocce, this needs sloshing around in a decanter or airing for a half hour or more. A cheery cherry red with faint nose of same. It takes on a smoothness but keeps a sharp seam to freshen the palate, a blend of cranberry and sour cherry. The finish is long with bright fruit persisting, again, on the tangy side. Not a sipper but for swishing down spicy pastas, grilled ribs or hamburgers deluxe. Not for cellaring this is a niche wine. 80

LILLET ( Map It! ) BLANC (NV), Podensac, Bordeaux, France, 17.0% MS, #322297 $13.95 (Tasted February 22, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on December 5, 2009 rated 90-95/100 by Wine Enthusiast (Aug. 2009) and described as “The rounded bouquet features tropical fruit notes of banana and guava, smells of ripe grapes and kiwi and a subtle spiciness. The palate entry is luscious, gently fruity and keenly acidic; mid-palate flavours include kiwi, white grapes, raisins, and a vegetal quality. Finish is ripe, delicately spiced, and delicious. An old favourite.” My notes: Golden in the glass and waiting for the chill to subside there’s a delicate aroma of honey and a light banana. A swirl gives a firm film, scalloped edges and lots of slow legs. The first sip is a mix of sweet honey and a light melon, well balanced so the sugar is carried for a smooth texture nicely integrating with subtle spices. A super sipper, something that could match Japanese to a slightly nippy Thai. Have for a crowd of white drinkers and a buffet - it will be a hit - until an entrée then pair the food appropriately. Cellaring for four to eight years is quite possible.  94

ANTINORI ( Map It! ) PÈPPOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2007, Italy, 13.0% XD, #606541 $19.95 (Tasted February 20, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on November 21, 2009 rated 90/100 and described by James Suckling (Sept. 30, 2008) as “Delivers ripe blackberry and raspberry, with pronounced floral and mineral notes. Almost meaty in character. Medium- to full-bodied, with a silky texture and lots of flavor. Finishes long, with an almost exotic twist in the end. Lots to enjoy. Drink now.” My notes: Tasted the 2005 Vintage in October 2007 and rated it 86. This has a deep black cherry colour and a less pronounced nose of floral and blackberry - benefits slightly from aeration or decanting a short while - improves more by next day.  A swirl produces a thin film with fast tears and a sip has flavours of raspy berries, more black- than rasp-, a touch of hazelnut, fine tannins for texture, a mild nip then carries the flavours through into a long, dry finish. Would be OK with spaghetti and meatballs, thin crust pepperoni and ham pizza or veal parmigiana. Has more of the winemakers process if that’s a preference altho' much fruit shows in this vintage with less coarseness than previously but overall simpler. A drink now.  85 

ALAMOS ( Map It! ) MALBEC 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #467951 $13.95 (Tasted February 13, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on January 23, 2010 rated 4 of 5 and described by Tony Aspler (July 20, 2009) as “Deep ruby-purple. Nose: floral, black fruit, spice, pepper, incense. Taste: juicy acidity, soft tannins, blackberry, raspberry, spices; sweet fruit, fresh, charming.” My notes: A double Gold winner at the 2009 San Francisco Wine Competition, if one believes in Awards. A ruby-purple for sure with aromas just barely revealing the sweetness and spiciness of the fruit. Smooth, bright, medium-bodied describe the first sip until purple plum and brambly berry flavours introduce themselves. A long finish that stays bright and flavourful then a light spice staying ‘til the end. A good red for grilled meats, red pastas, pizzas or quaffing with burgers. The textures may develop with a few years cellaring but not significantly - primarily to be consumed now. The 2007 was rated 87 (3/2009) and the 2006 a 90 (10/2007) - the difference is 'character'. 84

KIM CRAWFORD ( Map It! ) PINOT NOIR 2008, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% D, #626390 $19.95 (Tasted February 10, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on January 9, 2010 rated 89/100 by David Lawrason (July 2009) and described as “This is an amiable, all-purpose pinot to serve as a sipper or with lighter meals. Lovely focused if simple red cherry fruit, with well integrated spices and herbs. A bit like gamay with peppery notes. Very well balanced, dry with some drying tannin. Very good length with tomato, cranberry and herbs on the finish. Very good to excellent length. My notes: Kim Crawford is now a Constellation Wines winery. Previously tasted 2004, 2006, 2007(77) without appeal. The 2008 is ruby somewhat grey cast with an earthy nose. A Brett-like touch unless aired for twenty minutes and flavours of berry, strawberry in the distance, balanced with fine tannin and acid. The tannin continues through the finish ending with red cherry, dry warmth and a sweet note. Lacks charm but has interesting highlights. A red for grilled salmon - went well with arctic char covered with a dill lemon sauce. Not for cellaring. 82

LA CHABLISIENNE ( Map It! ) SAUVIGNON BLANC SAINT-BRIS 2008, Burgundy, France, 12.5% XD, #641753 $14.95 (Tasted February 4, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on January 23, 2010 without tasting notes. My notes: Let go off chill for a nose that’s an interesting delicate green gooseberry. A thin film and a few tiny tears gives the correct impression of lightness and perhaps tartness. A slight roundness tries in vain to reduce a dry sharpness from the first sip. It persists carrying the green fruit into a finish that is long and puckering. An aperitif to have with fresh oysters, other shellfish or pair with grilled, sautéed or broiled filets of halibut or black cod, proscuitto wrapped asparagus spears. This could cellar for a few years and possibly add more depth and less astringency. 88

FOG HEAD ( Map It! ) RESERVE CHARDONNAY MONTEREY 2008, Manteca, California, 14.5% XD, #158568 $19.95 (Tasted February 2, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on January 23, 2010 described (Aug. 2009) as “From the brilliant straw colour through all the flavours and aromas, this is a top-notch Monterey Chardonnay. Loads of tropical fruit, green apple, pear, smoke/toast aromas lead to a dry, flavourful, impactful palate. A terrific wine for a variety of fish, poultry, vegetarian or pork dishes. My notes: From Delicato Vineyards. A clean and crisp gold in the glass with a fragrance of caramel coated Granny smith, Bosc pear - light on the pear. Forms a firm film with tiny tears that run down quickly. Full-bodied and tangy bright on the first sip, pineapple, lemon with some butter in the texture makes this a delightful sipper. The acid seam maintained its presence during a meal of vegetarian pizzas; one of asparagus and goat cheese and one of anchovies and mozarella. Bright fruit dominates a long warm finish. An interesting sipper as well as dinner white - should keep well for several years. 93

JACKSON-TRIGGS PINOT GRIGIO PROPRIETORS SELECTION CIC NV, Niagara*, Canada, 12.0% D, #621110 $9.95* (Tasted February 5, 2010) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale yellow colour; aroma of green herbs and florals; crisp, tropical fruit flavours. Serve with light appetizers.” My notes: Sale priced a loonie below list and altho’ from a Vincor winery registered in Niagara, the wine is made from imported juices and with limited *local grape content. A light blond with a just perceptible floral aroma. A swirl causes a light film with fast tears and a sip has a first impression of being a light bodied white with a touch of apple and diluted lemon. The semblance of fruit fades to finish on an unpleasant mineral note. Not a sipper for friends or family. Did not pair well with vegetarian pizzas. Not for cellaring and was discarded.  65

OYSTER BAY ( Map It! ) SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% XD, #316570 $18.95 (Tasted February 4, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on Zoctober 10, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “This classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc shows exuberant aromas of gooseberry, grass, cream of asparagus, jalapeño peppers, and melon. It's intense and lively with crisp acidity and a lingering, slightly minerally finish. Try with shellfish such as steamed clams, pan-fried scallops or mussel.” My notes: This is crystal clear with a light blond tint and a light grass and touch of gooseberry. A thin film with slow tears and the first sip is medium-bodied with a mineral and green gooseberry flavour finishing with slight fruit declining quickly leaving a mineral aftertaste. A gulper rather than a sipper and did not pair well with a chicken pad Thai stir fry with linquine. Perhaps better with white fish or shellfish lightly flavoured. Not for cellaring. 80

CLAYMORE ( Map It! ) DARK SIDE OF THE MOON SHIRAZ 2008, Leasingham, Australia, 15.5% D, #072652 $25.95 (Tasted February 24, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on January 23, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “… Full-bodied with layers of concentrated black fruit flavours, sweet oak and peppery spice notes, it's a brooding Shiraz to pair with rack of lamb or rare roast beef, or, if you must, pour the wine, dim the lights, plug in the lava lamp and put on your headphones.” My notes: The 2005 vintage was tasted in October 2008 with a rating of 94. Now $4 dollars lower, the nose is a subdued blackberry and colour is a deep crushed violet blackberry. A thin film recedes slowly yielding slow tears. The first sip coats the palate with fine tannins, a soft white pepper and a blackberry - blueberry blend that carries well into a long dry finish. A full-bodied red to sip before and after dinner, well into the night or to have with roast prime rib or a rare NY cut. Cellaring a year or two should be OK but drinking well now. Not quite the 2005 but thoroughly enjoyable if you like fruit with a mild spice.  90 
VIGNE & VINI ( Map It! ) ZINFANDEL PRIMITIVO DEL SALENTO 2006 IGT, Puglia, Italy, 14.0% XD, #136002 $14.95 (Tasted February 23, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on January 23, 2010 described by the Vintages Panel (April 2009) as “… This delicious example features fresh floral, sweet cherry, cassis, blackberry, blueberry and grapey aromas and flavours. It's dry, medium-bodied with moderate tannins balancing the sweet fruit flavours. Quite refined and well-balanced with a medium-long finish.” My notes: Aeration benefits this European style Zinfandel - then a red cherry and mushroom nose leaves most mustiness behind. The film is thin and legs are fast: the colour is a deep ruby on the ripe raspberry side: the first sip has a delicate red cherry and raspberry flavouring, nippy but not tart, extra dry on the palate and with the fruit lasting a long while, a bit jammy at the end.  A pleasant sipper, light and refreshing, ideal to have with an Italian buffet, a meaty pizza or lasagna. Cellaring for a few years is OK, and if you prefer more process, up to four.  90

SOGRAPE VILA REGIA RESERVA 2006 DOURO DOC, Douro, Portugal, ( Map It! ) 14.0% XD, #613950 $12.50 (Tasted February 2, 2010) CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Deep crimson with purple tints; aromas & flavours of tobacco, earth, with hints of raisin; soft, easy-drinking with nice balance. Serve with cheese, stews or braised dishes.” My notes: An enticing sipper being a regal crimson with soft berry and earth fragrances, having a reasonable film with lots of tears that are quick to form. On the full side of medium-bodied and a very interesting first sip: a combination of crushed blackberries, tobacco and raisins leaving the palate with much to ponder. Smooth with a noticeable viscosity carrying through to a long, fresh finish, more earth and coating the lips. Should be great with grilled meats adding much to pork tenderloin or chops, a lamb shank, honey smoked bacon slabs. Cellaring for a couple of years should be interesting.  91

CAVE SPRING VINEYARD ( Map It! ) CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Ontario, 13.0% D, #246579 $15.95 (Retasted February 2, 2010) CS

The 2007 was released by Vintages on July 18, 2009 with the note by Billy Munnelly: ‘Cave's 07 Musque is their best ever and one of the most delightful local whites I've ever tasted. It would rock anyone's world - novice drinkers and snobs alike. Expect some Chard richness, some Muscat spiciness and a ton of jazzy liveliness… “ My notes: A soft floral aroma with a taint of lime, a firm film with long legs and a soft lemon colour sets this up as a pleasing sipper. Seems to be half way to a NZ sauv blanc with a grassy melon lemon freshness - no gooseberries tho`. Nicely full in the mouth, tangy with well blended flavours lasting through a long finish. Last tasted in May 2009 and has kept well and should for another year. 89

Two MEZZOMONDOs from Puglia, Italy ( Map It! )

My notes: Perhaps a bottling plant somewhere in the south of Italy, in Puglia or Sicily, depending on the grape source. There’s not much information on the Mezzomondo website. The back label says this wine is imported by Vincor Canada, a legitimate way to import content imho.

MEZZOMONDO NEGROAMARO SALENTO DAUNIA 2008 IGT, 13.5% D, #588962  $8.95  (Tasted February 7, 2010) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “… Dark, rich and sensuous, our Negroamaro combines enticing notes of ripe berries and dry fruit flavours with spicy notes… Try with spicy pasta sauces, rich grilled meats or on its own.”  My notes: I aired this by sloshing in a small decanter finding the fruit fuller. The nose is a delicate floral warm with soft earthy accents. Fairly thin bodied a deep ruby in the bowl and a soft texture with well developed black cherry, berry flavouring leading to a slight anise ending. Brambly unless followed with a few more sips and would be a welcomed value in a crowd of spaghetti or pizza huggers. Went well with a tray of cheeses; edam, cheddar or mozzarella - hold the blue tho’ - and salty crackers or have with lamb kebabs. Would likely cellar for a short time but primarily a quaff now. 84

MEZZOMONDO SANGIOVESE MERLOT 2008 IGT, 13.5% D, #079327 $9.95  (Tasted February 10, 2010) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Medium ruby red colour; candied berry aromas with red fruit notes; dry, with a burst of fruit flavour and notes of herb. Try with vegetarian focaccia sandwiches or veal on a bun.”  My notes: A deep ruby colour with equal earth in a sour cherry nose. An ’off’ flavour finishing with an ’off’ combination of lead pencil, rough tannin and firm acid - no perceptible fruit. Definitely could use decanting so will do that then wait a bit. . . . . Decanting did nothing with the nose and flavour both being unattractive and the finish being dry, balanced tannin and acid with flavours of graphite and wood shavings. Not a sipper and not a meal red. Was discarded. 68 

CONCILIO PINOT GRIGIO TRENTINO 2008, Volano, Italy, ( Map It! ) 13.5% D, #637595, $12.40  (Tasted February 12, 2010) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale straw yellow; zesty aromas of citrus, spice, nectarine and candied fruit; dry, light to medium bodied, with quince and zesty grapefruit flavours; moderate length. Serve as an aperitif, seafood paella, shrimp and appetizers.”  My notes: A pale golden in the glass, crystal clear with a fresh Gold apple aroma, a hint of floral and some mineral. A swirl shows scalloped edging without tears. The first sip is round and bright with melon and citrus finishing fairly puckerish then ending with a touch of mineral oil. Not far off chill, it’s an interesting sipper - better with bacon wrapped scallops or crab pieces in drawn butter.  This should cellar well for a few years drawing together fruit and acids allowing room for more complexity but a great drink now. 90

FAZI BATTAGLIA VERDICCHIO CLASSICO 2008 DOC,  Marches, Italy, ( Map It! ) 12.0% D, #024422  $10.95  (Tasted February 17, 2010) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale lemon yellow with green tint; green apple & mineral aroma & taste; slight spritz, light body clean, slightly tart grapefruit finish. Serve chilled as an aperitif or with fresh oysters.” My notes: The tightest cork to date. A Granny Smith aroma, slightly floral and pale gold in the glass. No spritz in this bottle but there's a blanched almond flavouring to apple and honey with a touch of sweetness. The finish starts with fresh but faint citrus fading to a mineral  flavour. Light on acid makes this a possible white for lightly flavoured seafood or perhaps asparagus wrapped in prosciutto - but it's an unenthusiastic sipper.  A drink now. The 2005 tasted in March 2007 had more character.  81

PIERRE SPARR BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT D'ALSACE NV, Alsace, France, ( Map It! ) 12.0% D, #039016 $18.95 (Tasted February 14, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on February 6, 2010 rated 4 ½ of 5 and described by Tony Aspler (April 2008) as “Colour: Deep salmon pink. Nose: Fresh, wild strawberries. Taste: Medium-bodied, off-dry, strawberry; clean flavours, well made.” My notes:  A peachy rosé with a steady stream of fine bubbles after the large rush has subsided. A birthday cake aroma, vanilla apparent, then a spritzy fullness quickly leading to brisk, nicely blended flavours grapefruit rind and peach stone. I found any sweetness elusive hidden by the ‘brut’ until the finish, long and dry.  Have with oysters or crab cakes, grilled whitefish or lobster, King crab.  84