Sunday, August 08, 2010

August 2010 Wines: 22 Tasted of 22

I needed a change from the ‘below $10’ of my previous blog... and my red wine collection had been depleted as a result of our June move so reds are where this blog starts altho' two of the wines, a white and the botrytis riesling, were carried over from July. I first went to reviews by John Szabo (JS)  and David Lawrason (DL) of Vintages’ August 7th release as reported in WineAlign. I've shown their ratings with each of these particular wines.
Grüner Veltliner, the most planted grape in Austria and recently touted as the grape to rebound the NZ wine market, is represented this time. JR(1) comments " The wine is typically dry, full, peppery, or spicy. Most examples are best drunk young."  The remainder of the month's selection will be made on the fly...

You may notice variances between the ratings of each reviewer - and with the Vintages notes which have been included below. Tasting certainly isn't a science and there's considerable latitude for personal preference or influences. But there could be a pattern emerging as a range of wines are recorded: oldworld, newworld, high/lo alcohol, light/heavy on process, country/region styles or particular grapes. A limited list of wines doesn't lead to conclusions although over time there could be. 

Evidently younger people are depending more on recommendations from friends rather than wine writers. Just perhaps... as wine writers train their palates to recognize wine nuances, do they show preferences for 'classical' wines? On the other hand, a younger generation of wine consumers brought up on power drinks and sweetened beverages, have they tuned their tastes to 'pop' wines - ergo, the 'below $10' beverages?  Taking advantage of this direction recent articles do more than suggest that wines produced by large commercial corporations are homogenized blendings for the 'pop' market, mainly in North America. A previous blog ('Pop' vs 'Classical') also touched on this subject. Are you a 'pop' or 'classical' wine-ooh?  or perhaps 'Ontario* bound'?  (* PEC, Niagara and/or Erie)

Personally I fall back on my history having followed many writers over several years. Having accumulated a mental 'batting average' for each I let it influence any dependency on their recommendations. Most writers I read for the considerable 'colour' they add.  
When tasted, wines will be sequenced by Ww rating, reds then whites, rosés then sparklers followed by Ice Wines and Late Harvests.
Cheers, Ww 

(1) Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes 
  • Pirramimma Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (DL92)(JS87),  93-2  --  V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #730374  $23.95
  • Grant Burge ‘Barossa’ Shiraz 2008 (DL87),  91-2  --  V, Barossa, Australia, #738567 $16.95 
  • Richard Hamilton Gumprs’ Shiraz 2008 (DL89),  88-1  --  V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #600122 $18.95
  • Domaine de Poujo Madiran 2007 (DL87)(JS85),  86  --  V,  Southwest France, #719674 $14.95
  • Señorio de Uñuela Edicion Limitada Reserva 2001 (DL89),  84  --  V, Rioja Alta, Spain,  #172536  $16.95 
  • Fuzion Alta Reserve Malbec 2008,  83  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #135475 $10.00  
  • Featherstone Red Tail Merlot 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench (JS86), 82  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #131540 $19.95
  • Claymore ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ Shiraz/Viognier 2007 (DL84),  76  --  V, Clare Valley, Australia, #166983 $19.95 
  • Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir 2009 (DL89)(JS86),  76  --  V, Casablanca Valley, Chile,  #037937 $14.95
  • Weingut Stadt Krems Lossterrassen Grüner Veltliner 2009 (DL85)(JS88),  90-2  --  V, Krems, Austria, #180778 $14.95
  • Mike Weir Wine Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  89-2  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #000026 $15.95
  • Ceravolo Unwooded Chardonnay 2009 (DL84)(JS85), 88-1  --  V, Adelaide Plains, Australia, #166975 $13.95
  • Sauvion `les Bosquets`Vouvray 2008(DL84)(JS87),  88-1  -- V, Vallet, France, #169698 $13.95
  • Château de l’Ecochère ‘Côteaux de la Loire’ Muscadet sur Lie 2008 (DL84)(JS85),  87-1  --  V, Loire, France, #169649 $13.95 
  • Laurenz und Sophie 'Singing' Grüner Veltliner 2008 (DL87)(JS88),  86  --  V, Österreich, Austria, #087627 $14.95
  • Round Hill Chardonnay 2008 (DL86)(JS85),  86  --  V, St. Helena, California, #311415 $14.95 
  • McManis Family Vineyards Viognier 2008 (DL85)(JS85),  82  --  V, Ripon, California, #658112 $19.95
  • Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner 2008 (DL88),  77  --  G, Krems, Austria, #589002 $11.00

  • Château la Tour de L’Évêque Rosé 2009 (DL88)(JS86),  86  --  V, Provence, France, #319392 $18.95 
  • Côtes de Provence Carte Noire Rosé 2009 (DL85)(JS86),  83  --  V, Presqu’ile de Saint-Tropez, France, #319384 $13.95

  • Mike Weir Sparkling Brut 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula (DL87)(JS87),  89-1  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #187294 $24.95

  • Mountain Road Wine Co. Botrytis Affected Riesling 2005 VQA Beamsville Bench, 89-1  --  O,  Niagara, Canada, #Winery, $9.95 (375mL)
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, O - Other, v-r - Value levels)


MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS VIOGNIER 2008, Ripon, California, 13.5% D, #658112  $19.95  (Tasted August 9, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on June 26, 2010 and one of the San Francisco Chronicle's Top 100 Wines of 2009 described by Jon Bonné (undated) as “The McManis family and their winemakers deserve credit for something so fresh and affordable, made mostly from their own vineyards in Manteca. Substantial peach nectar and wildflower, with a citrus kick, round out a bright, no-fat Viognier.”  My notes: When the 2007 was tasted in November last year (Ww89) a delicate nose came forward slowly followed by elegant textures and flavours of the first sip. I was curious to see if this vintage had the same sophistication. The 2008 is a pale golden and, at 10C has a faint nutty aroma - not a floral Viognier. Letting go off chill (12C+) the aroma introduces some lime, the texture becomes rounder and flavours are less grassy with peach and tart grapefruit coming forward. There’s a clean tang balanced with an overall softness that continues into a long finish - no sweetness. Has a lot going on so is an interesting sipper. Pairing  with seafood pastas, mussels in a curried sauce or creamed chicken would be suitable. Cellaring would not improve this vintage. 82

MOUNTAIN ROAD WINE COMPANY BOTRYTIS AFFECTED RIESLING 2005 VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada, (Map It!) 11.0% MS, #Winery (View It!), 375ml $9.95* (Tasted August 12, 2010)

My notes: Regularly priced $19.95 and last tasted in November 2008 with a Ww82 rating. This has retained a light golden colour and now has a light aroma of fine lemon honey. The film recedes quickly leaving no tears and the first sip is greeted with an astringent pucker and clean flavours of peach, tangerine and lemon. The full sweetness (2-4) is balanced with a definite tartness making this a slow sipper, very interesting but not for everyone. Finishes with subtle sugar and clean lemon. An OK sipper but more suited to stuff mushroom caps, oysters Rockefeller or Thai dishes. Has cellared well and, if the tart doesn’t increase, will continue to develop - but no caramel and not likely at this point. 89

DOMAINE DE POUJO MADIRAN 2007, Southwest France, 13.5% XD, #719674  $14.95  (Tasted August 19, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “… a Gold Medal winner too (2009 Concours Générale Agricole in Paris). Sourced from 20-year-old vines, this Tannat-dominated wine is blended with some Cabernet Sauvignon for added complexity. The nose is expressive with rich black fruits, spices and a hint of game meat. It's very dry, with a medium body, fine tannins, a core of black fruit and a hint of pepper. A charming wine to enjoy with grilled sausages, roast lamb or cassoulet.”  My notes: A deep garnet hued scarlet with an interesting aroma of beet, raspberry and red liquorice. A tangy spice on the tongue with drying tannins and flavours of red currant and cranberry come with the first full-bodied sip. The finish is long and intense leaving flavours to fade to a mineral edge. Have with seasoned steak, crockpot beef stews or lamb shank. A meal red. Drinking well now and should cellar nicely for a few years.  86

GRANT BURGE ‘BAROSSA’ SHIRAZ 2008, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% D, #738567  $16.95  (Tasted August 10, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “… Packed with ripe raspberry and cherry aromas and flavours, this smooth and supple wine also shows hints of licorice and a dose of black pepper on the rich finish. Barbecued short ribs or lamb chops would both match up nicely to this ripe and round wine.”   My notes: A deep ruby with rich berry and stewed prune aroma, delectable on first sniff. A thick film with slow tears, a full velvet texture, exceedingly warm coating of the throat and flavours of black berries and spicy currants. A pleasurable full-bodied sipper with the finish building consistent with the flavours and adding a sharp spiciness. This was a polite but insistent companion to a stir fry of T-bone slices, red pepper, mushroom, spinach and celery and should complement any grilled red meat entrée. Cellaring for two years should be OK.  91

FEATHERSTONE RED TAIL MERLOT 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, (Map It!) Vineland, Ontario, 12.5% D, #131540 $19.95  (Tasted August 17, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 rated 3½ (85-86/100) and described by Vic Harradine (April 29, 2010) “Lightly coloured, the aromas are a lovely amalgam of spice and earthy tones. The initial attack on the palate is tangy - red currant and cranberry - blossoming on the palate and lengthy finish with ripe red cherry, juicy strawberry and zesty spice. It's mid weight, lightly textured with supple tannin and a crisp clean finish… ”  My notes: Only 570 cases produced by Featherstone Estates. A thin ruby red attractively revealing a light-bodied style (cool climate red?). The nose has a muted raspberry and blueberry scent with the first sip confirming the body backing a nicely balanced acid, tannins and light fruit leaning to the bramble of berry rather than fully ripened. Leaves a long mineral and bramble finish. OK as a party sipper with nibbles - was too light with grilled lamb chops and would be for most red meats - perhaps an after dinner quencher. A drink now.  82

RICHARD HAMILTON GUMPRS’ SHIRAZ 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia, (Map It!) 14.5% D, #600122  $18.95  (Tasted August 22, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 rated 94/100 and described by Campbell Mattinson (Dec 1, 2009) as “… Rich, serious, smooth-textured shiraz with structure and length. Blackberries and chocolate, plums and vanilla. Touch of warmth on the finish but nothing to worry about. A ripper. Drink: 2010-2015.”  My notes:  A deep ruby in the glass, a firm film with long, slow legs and a mild fragrance of a warm bowl of plums and cherries makes this red appealing to the initial senses. A silky textured tang comes first and a peppery spice then dry flavours of ripe cherries, blackberries and finishing with steely, unsweetened chocolate. A full-bodied flavourful mouthful as a sipper. Have with grilled red meats or a cheesy panzerotti pizza. Cellaring for a year would be OK, longer is iffy.  88

MONTES LIMITED SELECTION PINOT NOIR 2009, Casablanca Valley, Chile,  14.0% D, #037937   $14.95  (Tasted August 13, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “The cool Casablanca Valley climate is one of the factors that allows Montes to create a wine that preserves the lively acidity that makes Pinot Noir a fabulous food wine. This is the perfect match for dark-fleshed fish such as salmon or tuna.”  My notes: A lightish medium-bodied pinot with aromas of ripened strawberries and an equal share of rhubarb. The silky mouthfeel is the most appealing aspect. A touch of barn aroma and flavour makes this an unappealing sipper… certainly not for everyone. The finish is long, warm, spicy, tart and dry with no sweetness but carries the flavours. Have with veal dishes, a ham steak with pineapple slices, with asparagus soup or ham and pea. Not for cellaring, a drink now but not recommended.  76
.SEÑORIO DE UÑUELA EDICIÓN LIMITADA RESERVA 2001, Rioja Alta, Spain, (Map It!) 13.5% XD, #172536  $16.95  (Tasted August 23, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described by the Vintages panel (Nov. 2009) as “… a superb Tempranillo blend. Loaded with delectable notes of dried flowers, it also exhibits complex and mature aromas and flavours of leather, plum and black olive, plus a tantalizing hint of mocha. Dry, with mature fruit still surrounded by good acidity and a gentle hint of oak. The finish is long and smooth. Try it with rosemary-braised lamb shanks.”  My notes: From Bodegas Patrocinio this Rioja is a ruby red colour with an evenly receding film with tears that are slow to show. Aromas of meadow flowers, cherries and leather infused with lacquer tones, penetrating but appealing. Cleanses the palate leaving an acid layer with a long reminder of fermented cherries. This was great with honey mustard and rosemary veal chops. No longer cellarable, a meal red and an interesting medium-bodied sipper.  84

CLAYMORE 'WALK ON THE WILD SIDE' SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2007, Clare Valley, Australia, (Map It!) 14.0% D, #166983  $19.95  (Tasted August 13, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on July 24, 2010 rated 4 ½ of 5 by Winestate (undated) and described as “Aromas slightly on the floral side, with a hint of apricots from the viognier. Rich fruit flavours and velvety tannins fill the mouth. Great palate length with an apricot finale!”  My notes: The Dark Side of the Moon started me on a positive note with Claymore wines. This blend is new to me but will it meet my expectations? A firm film with long legs and an opaque colour of garnet tinted ruby. The nose is spicy edged blackberry with a soft floral side. Metallic, almost teeth cleaning acid and distant blueberry form interesting flavours not what I expected from a description of ‘velvety tannins'. Cellared too long or overheated in transit accenting the sharpness - decant or let air an hour. The finish is rough with light flavours of blackberries, firm tannins and a touch of Brett. Have with grilled red meats. Drinkable but not enjoyable. 76

PIRRAMIMMA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, McLaren Vale, Australia, (Map It!) 14.5% D, #730374  $23.95  (Tasted August 18, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on July 24, 2010 rated 95/100 and described by James Halliday (Dec 2008) as “A totally convincing mix of elegance and intensity to a medium-bodied wine with great length and perfect balance; gently savoury overtones to the black fruits add to both flavour and texture ... Drink [until] 2016.”  My notes: According to the back label 2006 had 'exceptional vintage conditions ensur[ing] optimum ripening and distinctive varietal character'. An opaque granite hued scarlett colour leaving a thick film with many long legs and deep aromas of plums, currants and mushroom. A super sociable sipper with velvety textures, a delayed intro to acids and a long warm finish ending with tangy currants. This went very well with beefy hamburgers with the works and should with any grilled red meats. Sip at any time and cellaring for a few years should do well. ‘Elegance and intense‘… yes, but on the way to being full-bodied.  93

CHÂTEAU LA TOUR DE L'ÉVÊQUE ROSÉ 2009,  Provence, France, (Map It!) 13.5% D, #319392 $18.95  (Tasted August 19, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 described by the Vintages panel (March 2010) as “… Look for aromas of strawberry, light cherry, fresh herbs and mineral. Fairly dry with a hint of residual sugar coming on in mid-palate to give the wine a touch more intensity. Its crisp and fruity finish is quite refreshing. Serve it with pan-fried freshwater fish and a summer salad.”  My notes:A light salmon pink with delicate aromas of strawberry, cherries and bramble (nondescript herbs & minerals). A thin film recedes evenly followed by a first sip, modestly rounded, dry, tart, a faint fruit to match the nose and a lengthy finish ending on a mineral note.  Appealing in the glass and on the first sip, staying distantly elegant thru’ the finish, almost chalk dry. Have with buffet nibbles and was OK with chicken thighs with a creamy orange zest and ginger sauce. This should cellar well for a few years.  86

CERAVOLO UNWOODED CHARDONNAY 2009, Adelaide Plains, Australia, (Map It!) 13.0%  D, #166975  $13.95 (Tasted August 31, 2010)   CS

Release by Vintages on August 7, 2010 and described their panel (Sept. 2009) as “… an impressive example of the incredible balance that can be achieved in Australia's cooler regions. Apple, pear and citrus notes on the nose. These notions are supported on the palate by racy acidity, plus some minerality. This medium-full-bodied wine is a perfect match for shrimp in a cream sauce.”  My notes: Blond with a green tint and honeysuckle and grapefruit zest aromas start off this chardonnay - the nose needing time to express itself. There’s a fairly firm film with slow legs, a touch of melon in the flavours showing some cream from a light oak treatment and with a solid tang to the first sip. An unusual, some would say ’complex’, finish with a soft pear middle, an acidic surround and a smooth mineral at the end.  A meal white to pair with any seafood, creamed chicken or lobster bisque. Cellar two years.  88
ROUND HILL CHARDONNAY 2008,  St. Helena, California, (Map It!) 13.0% D, #311415  $14.95 (Tasted August 17, 2010)   CS

A Vintages release on August 7 , 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “This round and ripe, barbecue-friendly Chardonnay (fish, chicken breast, roasted red pepper or egglant) won a Gold Medal at the 2009 California State Fair. Look for lots of pineapple, butterscotch and yellow plum aromas and flavours.”  My notes: Made by the Rutherford Wine Company. Bright golden and highly reflective, a fragrance of tangy lemon drops and a firm film with slow tears all make this appealing in the glass. A buttery textured soft lemon drop flavour followed by a long finish of tart plum threaded with light butterscotch adds appeal making this overall an interesting sipper. A sociable sipper for a large crowd or to pair with a seafood menu. Cellaring for a few years may bring some caramel up front. 86
MIKE WEIR SPARKLING BRUT 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, (Map It!) 12.0% XD, #187294  $24.95 (Tasted August 15, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described by their panel (June 2010) as “… a remarkable value. Light gold colour. Plentiful baked goods on the nose (including bread dough and apple-cinnamon crumble), plus orchard fruits and floral notes. Dry, very crisp and clean, with a fine, persistent mousse. This is a terrific palate-cleansing bubbly with an impressive, crisp and fruity finish.”  My notes: A pale blond, a scant aroma of lemon muffin mix but a profuse amount of bubbles, all shapes and sizes, that continue well after pouring. Grapefruit/lemon zest with pithy - or hint of cream - texture, dry with a chalky overtone on the first sip then lasting to refresh the palate. Suitable for a 70th birthday toast or for a summer wedding… or mix with cranberry juice for a morning after wakeup call.  Should cellar well - perhaps not long enough for a teen to graduate. 89
CHÂTEAU DE L'ECOCHÈRE ‘COTEAUX DE LA LOIRE’ MUSCADET SUR LIE 2008, Loire, France, 12.0% D, #169649  $13.95  (Tasted August 21, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 rated 4 of 5 and described by Rod Phillips (April 29, 2010) as “… Muscadet, France's fish wine par excellence, can be bland and thin, but this one delivers well-defined and complex flavours in addition to the classic crisp and fresh texture. Dry and medium bodied, it's a natural for seafood, white fish and shellfish. Try it with mussels steamed in white wine and garlic.”  My notes: February 2005 was my last tasting of a Muscadet sur lie - lean, dry and ideal for fish. Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, which is now almost universally known as ‘Muscadet’. Left on lies to increase body and flavour, this has a tint of green against a light blond, just a hint of ‘fishy’, not objectionable, and delicate field floral nose. Lightish medium-bodied, dry and puckering, with a hint of sweet before a full lemon/lime flavouring that carries through a long finish. Not a sipper. Suitable as an oyster shucking white… or to have with Thai, a Chinese buffet or Bento box full of tempura veggies, prawns and octopus.  87
SAUVION ‘LES BOSQUETS’ VOUVRAY 2008,  Vallet, France, 12.5% MD, #169698  $13.95 (Tasted August 26, 2010)   CS

A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described by their panel (Nov. 2009) as “… Offers wonderful notes of honeyed fruit, cumin, spicy pear and peach. Medium-dry at first, but then the crisp acidity comes to the fore to bring it into refreshing balance. A fine aperitif, or match it to barbecued prawns stuffed with a mixture of lemon zest, herbes de Provence, sea salt and olive oil.” My notes: 100% Chenin Blanc and a pale blond colour in the glass. The nose is a light gooseberry citrus, almost indiscernible and a polite gooseberry flavouring carries into the first soft textured sip filling the mouth with a mild honeyed layer, almost tart, and a refreshing, balanced touch of sweetness. An even tang along with the fruit fades through a long finish. Serve as an aperitif or quaff with a Chinese buffet or a Japanese menu. Keep a dozen on hand for enjoyable  summer sipping - drinking well now.  88
MIKE WEIR WINE CHARDONNAY 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, (Map It!) 13.0% D, #000026  $15.95 (Tasted August 16, 2010)   CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “… With its layers of pineapple, green apple, tropical fruit and toasty vanilla notes, this full-bodied, harmonious and long-finishing white will perfectly match a grilled chicken breast or salmon steaks.”  My note: All net profits from the sale of Mike Weir's wines go to his foundation.  This has a crystal clean golden blond colour and shows a thin film with fast legs. The aromas are delicately floral and the flavours are of pear and green apple adding, and building with each sip, a light creaminess followed by a long, vanilla tinged finish. An elegant, youthful chardonnay expressive of a mild Niagara terroir. An interesting sipper and was excellent with a ham steak grilled with brown sugar and sliced Ontario peaches. Drink now or cellar a few years.  89

WEINGUT STADT KREMS LÖSSTERRASSEN GRÜNER VELTLINER 2009, Krems, Austria, 12.0% XD, #180778  $14.95  (Tasted August 30, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described by their panel (March 2010) as “This white has a ripe apple nose, with further fresh aromas of pastry, citrus and coconut. Flavours of cinnamon spice and green apple intermingle with notes of pear and grapefruit on the palate, culminating in a finish lifted by crisp, mouth-watering acidity… an elegant, savoury white with good length. Enjoy… with an asparagus salad, or chicken satay.”  My notes: A pale straw with honeyed layered floral and citrus aromas initially taming to a delicate lemon floral. An even film and a penetrating but appealing tang to the palate says this is a refresher, perhaps an amuse bouche. Dry in the finish, with a mineral, pear and grapefruit. Served chilled, a very interesting a sipper but begs a mixed buffet: stuffed mushrooms, bacon wrapped scallops, proscuitto wrapped asparagus for starters. Move on to lobster or crab pieces with a creamed risotto dish. This should keep well for a year but is meant to be consumed soon.  90
WINZER KREMS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2008, Krems, Austria, (Map It!) 12.0% D, #589002  $11.00  (Tasted August 28, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Yellow straw colour; aromas of flowers, peach with white pepper notes; dry, light to medium bodied, well balanced crisp acidity, with flavours of spice, light herbs and mineral.”  My notes: A golden blond with a tint of green and tiny bubbles from a light spritz greets the eye. The nose initially has a light odour of pond scum needing a brief time to breathe then shifts to a light melon and citrus. Tart, silky on the lips and awkward flavours of lime, lemon drop and ginger - medium-bodied. The fruit is left behind in a long dry finish that ends with a tart glycerol layer.  Serve chilled and keep an ice bucket handy… not a sipper but could be acceptable with grilled telapia, halibut or tuna. Drinkable? Yes. Enjoyable? No. Perhaps an acquired taste which I haven't. 77
LAURENZ UND SOPHIE 'SINGING' GRÜNER VELTLINER 2008, Österreich, Austria, (Map It!) 12.0% D, #087627  $14.95  (Tasted August 27, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on April 3, 2010 desribed by Jancis Robinson (Feb 25, 2006) as “Lorenz V …  a new outfit run by a member of the Lenz Moser family ... has just launched three screwcapped variants on the Grüner Veltliner theme called, respectively, 'Charming', 'Friendly' and 'Singing'… all of which… taste… ready to gulp this minute.“  My notes:  How valid is a four year old tasting note, especially for a white? altho’ this particular note is somewhat timeless - or, not saying much. This has a pale golden colour with a light citrus pulp aroma, not much. A swirl leaves a thin film with fast tears and an attractive tang followed by lip smacking lemon lime that comes with the first sip. Appropriately medium-bodied for seafood dishes and flavours lasting long enough to leave the taste buds tingling. An interesting sipper and was great with mussels in a basil and tomato broth altho’ the mild touch of jalapeno was too much for it. A drink now. 86 

FUZION ALTA RESERVE MALBEC 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #135475  $10.00  (Tasted August 21, 2010)  CS

A Familia Zuccardi Malbec and a General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Bright, deep ruby with pale ruby rim; ripe black fruit aromas with notes of spice, chocolate, toast and vanilla; dry with medium/full body, balanced medium acidity and fine velvety tannins; ripe cherry, raspberry and spicy flavours lead to a long finish; serve with barbecued flank steak or lamb with a cherry reduction.”  My notes: This vintage was last tasted in October last year with the comment ‘first sip is velvety smooth with fresh black fruit…’ and rated Ww90. A spicy blend of blackberry and plum aromas greet the nose and a rich ruby greets the eyes. A thin film and a few long legs indicates a medium-bodied red with a smooth mouthfeel with penetrating acids. The finish is drying and faded flavours build lasting a long while - quite warm. Have with grilled red meat or chorizo sausage and tomato pastas or meaty pizzas.  Not for cellaring. Similar but bolder and having a roughness not previously tasted.  83
CÔTES DE PROVENCE CARTE NOIRE ROSÉ 2009, Presqu’ile de Saint-Tropez, France, (Map It!) 13.5% XD, #319384  $13.95  (Tasted August 25, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 21, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “… fresh, crisp, and flavourful Provence rosé. …  aromas of rosehip, cherry, raspberry and red pepper, this is a great year-round meal-starter and an excellent match for ratatouille, tomato-and-herb-based fish or chicken dishes, or baked ham.”  My notes: A blend of Cinsault and Grenache. A pale salmon pink with negligible aroma, a faint ‘rosehip’ if any. A swirl brings an evenly receding film with fast legs and the first flavours are of strawberry cherry, a slight bramble and smoothness then a long, tangy, dry finish. A persistent flavour combined with dryness gives this sip appeal - improved offchill, by itself, better with a cheese tray or quaffed with planked salmon and herbed risotto. Cellaring two years may bring more smoothness and worth a try. As a drink now there are alternatives.  83

Sunday, August 01, 2010

August 2010 Below $10: 12 Tasted of 12

Whenever I scan shelves at the LCBO I try to avoid cute, sexist, extravagant and sometimes alarmist labels. But it seems most of the wines below $10 are exactly that. It’s as if consumers buying in this bracket are assumed to be more susceptible to crass impulses. Personally, I would be embarrassed to take a bottle of ‘Girls Night Out’ to a dinner invitation no matter what I thought of the liquid inside altho’ I might literally ‘brown-bag’ if it's enjoyable. Does that mean I’m a snob? Well, that‘s a different issue.

Compared with those above $10, these wines often are not Appellation specific, are sometimes non vintage, use more widely sourced grapes and nondescript grape blends and are volume produced for immediate consumption. And if made from 100% Ontario grapes they may very well demonstrate Canada’s ability to compete at the lower price point.
 It would also appear CIC wines have turned the corner with the LCBO and some commercial interests recognizing consumer disgust with the deception. The CIC shelves are now called ‘International - Canadian Blends’ and when foreign bulk juices/wines are used to produce a wine it’s more accurately described as ‘From Domestic and Imported Wines’ on the back label.
My original intention for this blog entry was to sample low priced Ontario wines. Somehow I was distracted and expanded the selection to any wine below $10. I call them 'the mongrels'. When tasted, wines will be sequenced by rating, reds, whites then rosés. Cheers, Ww 

Never again will I purchase 'below $10' wines without at least a recommendation from a friend, maybe three. The probability of finding a 'drinkable' let alone 'enjoyable' bottle is just too low. Admittedly the conclusion is based on only twelve bottles but I have to ask myself, 'is it worth it?' For another few dollars I can get into the 'interesting to excellent' category... as long as I use some guidance from past purchases...  One other thing... a wine review without a number rating to provide a perspective is just a string of words - ie. more 'colour'.  Cheers, Ww
  • Sundance Cabernet Sauvignon 2007,  87-2  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #177832 $8.95
  • Sundance Merlot 2007, 80  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #158675   $8.95 
  • Copper Moon ‘Moonlight Harvest’ Merlot, 80  --  G, Canada, #173526 $9.45 
  • XOXO Shiraz Cabernet, 74  --  G, Canada, #016568  $9.95
  • Copper Moon ‘Moonlight Harvest’ Shiraz, 71  --  G, Canada, #158311 $9.45 

  • Copper Moon ‘Moonlight Harvest’ Pinot Grigio, 86-1  --  G, Canada, #158303 $9.45
  • OGIO Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2009, 85-1 --  G, Abruzzo, Italy, #086199 $8.85
  • Sundance Riesling 2008,  82  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #158667 $8.95
  • Copper Moon ‘Moonlight Harvest’ Sauvignon Blanc, 80  --  G, Canada, #173518$9.50
  • Naked Grape Sauvignon Blanc, 78  --  G, Niagara Falls, Canada, #665224 $9.95 
  • Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2009,  75 --  G, Australia, #668947 $10.95  
  • Naked Grape Unoaked Pinot Grigio, 75  --  G,  Niagara Falls, Canada, #099184 $9.95 
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, O - Other, v-r - Value levels)


SUNDANCE WINES, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (Map It!)

The Sundance label is one of eight - others being Dan Aykroyd, 20 Bees, De Sousa, Dois Amigos, Eastdell, Fresh, Lakeview Cellars - marketed by Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd.  The Sundance label is described as made from 100% Ontario grapes. 

Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd. was formed in early 2000 by combining Boka Wines & Spirits Ltd. of Toronto with the acquisitions of Birchwood Estate Wines and Lakeview Cellars, each in the Niagara wine region. Founders Andrew Green and Murray Marshall had known each other for years through amateur baseball from which the name "Diamond" came.

SUNDANCE MERLOT 2007, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.0% D, #158675  $8.95  (Tasted August 1, 2010)  CS

Described on their website as “Inviting ruby in colour showing brilliant aromas of black cherry, dark berries and intense vanilla and smoke. This is a fruit-forward wine that was primarily aged in stainless steel tanks in order to preserve the natural fruit characteristics. The palate provides sweet dark berry flavours along with soft nuances of blueberry, plum, anise, bell pepper and subtle cedar notes. Soft tannins and a great balance make this a very approachable, food friendly wine.”  My notes:The colour is a black cherry and a swirl leaves an evenly receding film slowly breaking into tears. There’s a slight berry scent to the first sniff prompting me to decant and slosh in case there’s more - there’s no more to give. Flavours of tart raspberry jam, but not jammy, with a smidge of liquorice and soft spice layer the mouth then continue into a long flavourful,  balanced finish. A clean, dry sipper for a crowd. A clove spiked ham slice or a tuna or swordfish steak may be partnered with this Merlot. A drink now.  80

SUNDANCE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007,  Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.0% D, #177832  $8.95  (Tasted August 4, 2010)  CS

Described on their website as “Garnet in colour, this medium bodied Cabernet has great aromas of blackberries, tobacco and leather. This wine has great structure. The palate provides rich black cherry and undertones of black plums and cedar notes. Firm tannins are present with an excellent balance of fruit, earth and spice. This wine is very approachable, and pairs well with a variety of different foods.”  My notes:The film is well established and forms tears easily, the colour is ruby with a tinge of scarlet. Let air or decant twenty minutes then the nose is a plum with a touch of spice and earthy - delicate. The first sip has a thin mouthfeel somewhat metallic with ’cold climate’ black cherry and blackberry flavours - these develop nicely with further sips each building presence and leading to a warm dark fruit layer which lasts a long while. A medium-bodied, lean, clean style for sipping or pairing with a bbq’d T-bone or rib steak. A year cellaring would be OK but drinking well now.  87

SUNDANCE RIESLING 2008, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.0% D, #158667  $8.95  (Tasted August 2, 2010)  CS

Described on their website as “Clear pale yellow colour; lime with ripe melon and hints of mineral aromas; light to medium body, slightly off dry fruit and citrus flavours. Serve with Thai or light seafood dishes.”  My notes:A crystal clean light blond colour with negligible nose - if any, a ‘hint of minerals’ - then a slight puckering with a faint grapefruit lime going into a long dry, flavour sustaining finish.  From 12 to 18oC is where the flavour and texture peak this is a light-bodied sipper ending with a light chalk on the lips. A reasonable value for an open bar or with grilled whitefish, not too seasoned. A straightforward drink now.  82

ROUNDPETAL WINES, Kelowna/Truro/Grimsby, Canada

Andres Wines Ltd., under Roundpetal Wines, produces the Copper Moon wines from juices sourced internationally.  Each back label proclaims the grapes were 'harvested under the light of the moon…'. Well… the moon is in the sky during the day as well as at night so this claim could be true at any time. These wines do not show a vintage year.

COPPER MOON ‘MOONLIGHT HARVEST’ MERLOT, Canada, 12.5% D, #173526  $9.45  (Tasted August 1, 2010)  CS

The back label says “…a cool fresh taste that captures the mystery of the night itself. Its classic charisma sparkles with notes of cherries and plums, making it the ideal complement for roasted and grill red meats, pizza and assorted cheeses.”  My notes:The moonlight may have stolen the aromas from this cherry red merlot - something has. A swirl gives a thin film leading to fast tears and light brambly berry flavours have a drying touch and a subtle sharpness. There’s a smooth kiss on the lips and soft cherry flavours to provide a short finish - a second sip hides a mineral edge. A softer sipper for a mixed crowd, quite suitable for an open bar.  On the light side for seasoned grilled red meat. Have with vegetable pizzas, chicken burgers or a soft cheese tray. 80

COPPER MOON ‘MOONLIGHT HARVEST’ SHIRAZ, Canada, 13.0% D, #158311  $9.45  (Tasted August 3, 2010)  CS

The back label says “… a cool fresh taste that captures the mystery of the night itelf. Its bold nature shimmers with notes of black cherry and a hint of spice, making it a superb match for hearty BBQ ribs, burgers and pasta dishes with fiery red sauce.”   My notes:A clear deep ruby colour and a nose that’s not. A swirl leaves a thin film that recedes evenly and the first sip is a balanced, thin red having mixed flavours of thin cherry and thin cranberry that fade very quickly into a bland bramble. The finish has a crushed cherry stone and metallic edge when combined with the shallow flavour mix it’s not a sipper. First impression is ‘just drinkable’ then, into the third sip, ‘not enjoyable‘. Pairing with grilled red meats may be passable but our bottle was discarded.  71

COPPER MOON ‘MOONLIGHT HARVEST’ PINOT GRIGIO, Canada, 12.5%, #158303  $9.45  (Tasted August 3, 2010)  CS

The back label says “… a cool fresh taste that captures the mystery of the night itself. Its spirited individuality exudes citrus, green apple, melon and a hint of floral notes, pairing perfectly with fresh shellfish, halibut and grilled chicken.”   My notes: Blond, clean and crisp, in the glass and a light orange blossom fragrance fronts a blend of orange zest and tart lime flavours. Medium-bodied, dry with a slight roundness and a finish that carries the zest awhile until a slight mineral ending. A second sip builds flavours and a drying tang giving this interesting sip-appeal. Have as an aperitif, with buffet fare or fresh oysters or pair with grilled seafood. A drink now. Fruit did not last ’til next day.  86

COPPER MOON ‘MOONLIGHT HARVEST’ SAUVIGNON BLANC,  Canada, 12.5% D, #173518  $9.50  (Tasted August 8, 2010)  CS

The back label claims “… Harvested under the light of the moon, this unique wine devliers the unexpected - a cool fresh taste that captures the mystery of the night itself.  Its vivacious personality shines though notes of citrus, passion fruit and gooseberry and beautifully accompanies grilled pork, chicken with fresh herbs and mixed salads with light vinaigrette.“  My notes: A blond crystal clear in the glass and a clean fragrance of lemon blossoms, delicate. A light-bodied sipper with a tinge of tangerine and leaving a dry echo for a short finish. The dryness stays on the lips along with a hollow orange flavour. No gooseberry nor passion fruit discernible so I’d say this is atypical of a sauvignon blanc. A good sipper, light, dry with an interesting though simple profile. Have with grilled shrimp or tiger prawns, seared black cod with herbed brown rice. A drink now. Did not keep 'til next day. 80

XOXO SHIRAZ CABERNET, Canada, 13.0% D, #016568  $9.95  (Tasted August 5, 2010)  CS

The back label says “… a rich embrace of luscious berry flaovurs and a hint of spice, aromas of plum and currant, and a touch of oak… “ The LCBO anonymously (undated) describes this as “Medium ruby red colour; aromas of plum, blueberry jam with a hint of spice; It is soft and supple with a fruity finish.”  My notes: A Roundpetal wine from Andres Wines with Heidi Montgomery named as the winemaker - not in the usual sense, perhaps more of a manager contracting and then blending huge volumes of wines. This is a see-thru ruby and a swirl leaves a light film on the glass. The nose has a light bubblegum aroma with a just discernible sharpness. The first sip has the bubblegum blended with a hint of raspberry jam, noticeable spice but not pepper, and dry. A shallow shiraz blended with possibly cabernet franc, light-bodied, and a touch of sweetness starting a finish that ends somewhat woody. This could be a simple party quaffer altho’ it was passable with a grilled steak. A drink now.  74
OGIO PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2009, Abruzzo, Italy,  (Map It!)  12.0% D, #086199  $8.85  (Tasted August 4, 2010)  CS

A General listing described on the back label as “a crisp dry white with fresh lemon and lime flavours together with a delicious hint of orange blossom. Grapes were grown and selected … from the IGT delle Venezie region…“   My notes: Bottled by Casa Vinicola Botter. A blond hue with aromas that fail to appear.  The thin film recedes evenly showing a few fast tears and the first sip finds shallow flavours of lime and green grapefruit that show more in the long finish and ending on a slight mineral note. Extra dry and well integrated so not one aspect is featured in this dry sipper. Have as an aperitif or with fresh oysters, Bahian mussels or Shrimp and Chicken stew. If served chilled allow to warm to 14oC for best sipping. Should keep a year but primarily a drink now.  85

LINDEMANS BIN 85 PINOT GRIGIO 2009, Australia, 11.0% D, #668947  $10.95  (Tasted August 1, 2010)
A General listing and a Southcorp Wines product anonymously (undated) described as “Pale straw colour; soft, fresh pear fruit aromas; dry, medium bodied, fresh and flavourful, rounded palate, balanced acidity on finish. Serve with shrimp in garlic butter, pasta con alio e olio and light apetizers.”  My notes: I’ve put this in the ‘below $10’ category since it is so close and fits in other respects. This has a slight floral fragrance and shows a thin film that recedes quickly. The flavour has a grassy edge and semblances of almond and tart apple. Sippable but contributes little interest - more of a meal wine. Expectations of ’The Bin wines are true to Dr. Lindeman’s philosophy of selecting the best grapes from premium wine regions’ were not met with this bottle. Have off chill for an improved texture. A drink now.  75

NAKED GRAPE UNOAKED PINOT GRIGIO, Niagara Falls, Canada, 12.0% D, #099184  $9.95  (Tasted August 10, 2010)  CS

By Vincor International Inc., a Constellation Company, and described on the back label as “Cellared in Canada from Imported and Domestic Wines  … is a crisp, fruit driven wine with refreshing tropical fruit and citrus flavours.” The LCBO describes it anonymously (undated) as “Brilliant pale straw colour; delicate aromas of citrus, pineapple and baked apples with mineral nuances; dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity; flavours of apples, pears, citrus and melon.”  My notes: A light blond and a full spicy floral similar to a Sunday cologne - dissipates slowly. The thin film recedes quickly and at 10oC there’s a grassy, sweet edge to citrus and dried melon flavours. Well integrated with a bright fruit mix continuing into a long finish ending on a dry edge. Served chilled as a social sipper it has just enough naturalness to hold interest. Better to have as an aperitif or with fresh oysters and buffet snacks or pair with light seafoods. A ‘pop’ beverage.  75
NAKED GRAPE SAUVIGNON BLANC,  Niagara Falls, Canada, 11.5% D, #665224  $9.95  (Tasted August 6, 2010)  CS

By Vincor International Inc., a Constellation Company, and described on the back label as “Cellared in Canada from Imported and Domestic Wines  … is a crisp, fruit driven wine with refreshing tropical fruit and citrus flavours.” The LCBO describes it anonymously (undated) as “Pale straw with aromas of lemon lime and apple. Like flavours with fruity apple pear flavours.  Serve with cold chicken sandwiches, spicy Asian cuisine.“  My notes: A pale blond colour, a taint of lemon and gooseberry in the nose and a light weight body are first impressions. The gooseberry vaporizes quickly leaving a lemon and lime nose. The first sip has lemon and some apple, dry and nicely tart with mainly a flat lemon in a short finish. A simple sipper for a casual crowd and should be OK as a complement to grilled whitefish, shrimp dishes or a variety of tapas. A drink now. 78