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

No comments: