Sunday, October 10, 2010

Birthday 2010 Picks: 13 Tasted of 13

Another year has flown by and once again it’s my Birth Weekend. Balloons, wines, and a special get together of friends from a past career - people that know how to laugh and yet be professional on the job - , invitations to Birthday turkey dinners, all were part of this milestone year, my 75th.

Again everyone has generously supported my hobby. Since the current October blog was much longer than planned (what Me Plan!?) I’ve reorganized the wines blogged earlier this month. I apologize if this is somewhat confusing. I’ll have to get serious someday.   Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, sparkles and other:
  • Zenato Cormi 2006,  94-3  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #108282 $17.95
  • Mitolo Jester ‘McLaren Vale’ Shiraz 2007,  91-2  --  V, Virginia, South Australia, #659607 $21.95
  • Domaine de Sérame Réserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008,  87-1  --  G, Languedoc, France, #035006 $11.95*
  • Pascual Toso Malbec 2008,  86-1  --  G, Maipu, Argentina, #035170 $12.95
  • Skuttlebutt Shiraz - Cabernet 2007,  83  --  V, Margaret River, Australia, #058131 $15.95  
  • Stonehedge Merlot 2008,  80  --  V, California, #657577 $13.95
  • Rosemount ‘Diamond’ Merlot 2008,  80  --  G,  Nuriootpa, Australia, #542431 $15.95
  • Cuvée du Comte Côtes du Rhône 2007, 77*  --  V,  Drôme, France, #178822 $15.95 

  • Stella Bella Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 89-1  --  V, Margaret River, Australia, #048546 $17.40
  • Thornbury Sauvignon Blanc 2009,  89-1  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #734798 $17.95
  • Amayna 'Leyda Valley' Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 87 -- V, Leyda Valley, Chile, #077693 $17.95 
  • Sileni ‘Cellar Selection’ Sauvignon Blanc 2009,  87-1  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #662882 $15.95 
  • Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009,  83  --  V,  Marlborough, NZ, #304469 $29.95  
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, v-r - Value levels)

CUVÉE DU COMTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2007, Suze-la-Rousse, France (Map it!), 13.5% D, #178822  $15.95  (Tasted November 2, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 described by the Vintages Panel (January, 2010) as "... from the critically acclaimed vintage. Nose is filled with garrigue (the scent of fresh herbs that fills the air in Southern France), smoke, black cherry and spice. Dry with lifted ripe fruit flavours. Drinking beautifully now."  My notes: From Les Vignerons de la Suzienne. A plum hued ruby colour with a nose of tobacco, raspberry and smoke all combined, close to Brett, for an interesting but unusual aroma. The film is thin leaving long tears and, medium-bodied, the first sip has a drying texture and herbal flavours without fruit, berry or otherwise. The flavours without change are carried through a long dry, herby finish. Pair with a meat stew or braised veal shanks. Unless you’re into the flavour (garrigue?) this is not for cellaring, not a sipper and not for me.  77* PS. The secret is to let this air overnight - improved to 81

ZENATO CORMI 2006, Veneto, Italy (Map it!), 13.5% XD, #108282  $17.95  (Tasted October 17, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 rated 89/100 by Antonio Galloni (Who?) (August 2009) and described as "... is equal parts Corvina and Merlot aged in neutral, medium-size oak barrels. Made in a full-throttle style, the Cormi reveals incredible concentration and density in a rewarding style. Sweet balsamic notes linger on the gorgeous finish... " My notes: A deep ruby colour with that touch of granite and purple for a regal tone. There’s a sharp edge to a blackberry scent and a swirl leaves a firm film with slow tears. Soft, bright, tangy and dry blackberry flavours are a full-bodied, fruitful start to sipping. The finish has a slight bramble dryness creeping in as the fruit slowly fades - but before then, another sip. Overall a very interesting sipper with enough body and flavour to complement any roast or grilled beef, lamb or game entrée. Cellaring for a few more years should bring out a soft leather or chocolate character. Great by itself and for touching up that ‘cool climate’ pinot noir. 94

DOMAINE DE SÉRAME RÉSERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Languedoc, France (Map it!), 13.0% D, #035006  $11.95*  (Tasted October 23, 2010)  CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "Medium ruby red colour; aromas of spice, blackberry and blackcurrant with a hint of toast; dry, medium to full bodied, rounded tannins with smoky dark fruit and spice flavours; good length."  My notes: Regularly priced $12.95 and a Gold Medal winner at the Paris 2009 Concours Général Agricole. There’s a soft cherry-berry, nicely spicy scent and, with a swirl, an evenly spreading film slowly receding shedding slow tears. The colour is a deep purple ruby. Very smooth, velvety given a layer of fine tannin, with bright flavours of woody black currant, cherry and some blackberry - moderately full of fruit (Mourvèdre content?).  Black fruit bursts then fades leaving a blotter dry finish. Cellaring is unlikely - a drink now. Have with grilled meats.  87

AMAYNA 'LEYDA VALLEY' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008,  San Antonio, Chile, 15.7%  XD, #077693  $17.95  (Tasted October 18, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on June 26, 2010 rated 90/100 and described by James Molesworth (Who?) (June 30, 2009) as "Very fresh, with bracing lemon peel, white asparagus and herb notes backed by a clean, salt-tinged finish. Deliciously pure. Drink now."  My notes:  The 2006 vintage ($20.95) was last tasted in June 2009. It had a 'soft floral nose, a creaminess and flavours of melon, lime and gooseberry' and was rated 90. This, as well, has a mild floral nose however, with a touch of citrus. Aromas dissipate quickly then return as the glass goes off chill.  The film is firm with lots of moderately fast tears and the colour is a soft lemon matching the first sip. XD? Don’t think so. Some sweet and sour, some lemon and butter go with an  apple and pear combination causing a puzzled interest - what is this grape? There’s a sauvignon blanc pungency but added flavours of a lightly oaked chardonnay. Full flavoured and medium-bodied with a finish that declines following the flavours. An interesting finger food sipper… more of a shellfish white. A drink now.  87

PASCUAL TOSO MALBEC 2008, Maipu, Argentina, 13.4% D, #035170 $12.95 (Tasted October 26, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Colour; purple, ruby. Aromas; complex, earthy, hints of mushroom, barnyard, red berry. Palate; Old world in style, light to medium-bodied with soft tannins and a good mouthfeel.” My notes: The 2005 vintage, the same price, tasted in October 2007 was exceptional value, 90-2. The 2008 has the same violet tinged colour and an aroma, though lighter, of black cherries. The film establishes itself quickly flowing lots of fast tears and the first sip has a woody blackberry-red cherry blend, mildly spicy and coating the palate with dry tannins. The dryness continues into a long earthy finish - overall enjoyable as an old world sipper but less popular with a ’pop’ culture. Have with grilled finger foods or with spaghetti & meatballs, pepperoni pizzas, or hamburgers. The roughness won’t cellar out - a drink now. 86

STONEHEDGE MERLOT 2008, California, 13.0% D, #657577  $13.95  (Tasted October 21, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as "... Expect ripe fruit aromas of cherries and blueberries, as well as some plum and spice notes. Dry and medium-bodied... "  My notes: The colour is an ebony hued ruby, fairly sombre in the glass. A thin film recedes evenly leaving a few fast legs. An aroma of earthy raspberry and damp cedar provides some appeal and the first sip is soft, drying to the palate building steadily with a mild acid fronting a hollow, brambly, berry flavour. The fruit fades quickly ending dry and woody. Medium-bodied and soft enough for quaffing. Better with finger foods or buffet or have with grilled meats, a hamburger or vegetarian pizza. A simple drink now. 80

ROSEMOUNT 'DIAMOND' MERLOT 2008,  Nuriootpa, Australia, 13.5% D, #542431  $15.95  (Tasted October 12, 2010) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "Medium to deep ruby red colour; plum, sweet oak, black cherry and cocoa aromas with plum and berry fruit flavours; dry and medium to full-bodied with medium tannins; long finish."  My notes: A viscous film takes time to develop slow tears then very gradually recedes. The scent of mild berries and faint spice builds to a just noticeable level and the first sip spreads warmth to the back of the throat with flavours starting with tangy berry jam and ending with a smooth mineral coating. A deep ruby, flavourful with some merlot fruit characteristics, a mild tang and soft tannin makes this a plausible buffet sipper. Have with a cheese tray, stuffed mushrooms or with veal, pork chops or ham slices. A drinkable ‘pop’ merlot.  80

CLOUDY BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #304469  $29.95  (Tasted October 23, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on May 19, 2010 rated 95 and described by James Halliday (Feb 14, 2010) as "... like Greywacke, has outstanding structure, balance, line and length; the variety is almost irrelevant, for this is terroir speaking through the long-practised mouthpiece of the Cloudy Bay winemaking team."  My notes: The 2004 vintage tasted February 2006 was ‘Good stuff!!’ (before Ww ratings). The 2008 tasted this February was rated Ww90 - still ‘good stuff!‘.  The 2009 has an appropriate level of pond scum (my expression, not the winemaker’s) aroma that airs leaving a delicate kiwi. The thin film recedes quickly with few or no tears and the colour is a clear new gold, pale in the bowl. Smooth, a slight tang flows to the throat, and flavours of lemon and gooseberry are light to the senses. The finish is bright but fades quickly leaving the palate refreshed but not alive with fruit and texture. Have with crab cakes, grilled halibut not battered or pan fried tilapia - ie. most seafoods. A simple drink now. Not for cellaring and disappointing for a Cloudy Bay.  83

MITOLO JESTER 'McLAREN VALE' SHIRAZ 2007,  Virginia, South Australia, 14.5% D, #659607  $21.95  (Tasted October 19, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on May 19, 2010 rated 91 and described by Jay Miller (August 2008) as "... dark ruby/purple-colored with an alluring perfume of mineral, earth notes, blueberry, black cherry, and blackberry. Smooth-textured, ripe, and intensely flavored, the wine conceals enough structure to evolve for 4-6 years. The finish is lengthy and pure... "  My notes:A deep purple ruby with a spicy blackberry and black currant aroma. Full-bodied as seen by the firm film and long slow legs. The first sip is full of spice warming the throat and filling the senses with black fruit fumes. A sipper with bold acids and firm tannins in sync with the fruit through a long dry tooth cleaning finish. Have with grilled beef or rack of lamb, tomato sauced pepperoni pizza of polish sausage on a bun. Three years cellared and still a few more left. 91

SILENI 'CELLAR SELECTION' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Marlborough, NZ, 12.5% XD, #662882  $15.95  (Tasted October 20, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 rated 90 and described by Harvey Steiman (Feb 2010) as "Light and tangy, on the tart side, but polished and refined, offering Asian pear, grapefruit and lime peel flavors that don't quit on the finish. Drink now."  My notes: A fresh but delicate floral, kiwi melon scent wafts from a crystal clean, pale blond colour with a slowly receding firm film, no tears. Flavours of melon and apple show then a mild acid layer combines the whole into an interesting first sip of tangy fruit. The finish fades slowly leaving a slight lime tartness to invite the next sip, a quaff at this point, for a full flavour attack. Interest declines quickly as a sipper - pair with grilled shellfish or trout. A drink now. 87

THORNBURY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% XD, #734798  $17.95  (Tasted October 17, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on October 2, 2010 rated 4 1/2 or 5 and described by Michael Cooper (2010) as "The 2009 vintage from Villa Maria, grown in the Awatere and Wairau valleys, is full-bodied, with deep, dry gooseberry and lime flavours. Aromatic and punchy, it shows excellent intensity, with a rounded, lingering finish."  My notes: The Vintages flag said 93 by the Wine Spectator so I bought. A pale straw colour and full aromas of young gooseberries blended with lime… and some grass as well. The first sip has a luscious citrus feel combined with tangy gooseberry flavours and, served chilled, would be a perfect sipper for a warm day. The finish fades each component evenly leaving the palate dry, fruit lined and refreshed. Medium-bodied, several swallows could be better accompanied with finger foods, fresh oysters, with a seafood entrée or bearded mussels in a curried shallot sauce. Cellar up to a year.  Drinking well now. 89

SKUTTLEBUTT SHIRAZ - CABERNET 2007, Margaret River, Australia (Map it!), 14.0% D, #058131  $15.95  (Tasted October 25, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 21, 2010 rated 88 and described by Tom Cannavan (2009) as "Rich, pepper and spice-marked black fruit. Black cherry and a smoky tobacco note, with lots of grip and a savoury character. Dry and savoury and a very serious wine at its price."  My notes: For the price this winery has given good value. Their blended whites, a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, tasted April 2008 rated 88-1 and the 2008 in October 2009 was 86-1. This blend is a deep granite toned ruby with delicate aromas of leather and some spicy red currants or cherries.  The film is thin with fast tears and the first sip has a balanced spice, a touch of pepper and flavours on the swallow that include mineral, stone, and black cherry. As a sipper the interest wanes quickly. The finish fades leaving some earthy black fruit behind, soft and warm. Acceptable as a house red, along with grilled Italian/Polish sausage, for a social crowd. Have with grilled T-bone, prime rib or roast turkey. Not for cellaring - a drink now. 83

STELLA BELLA SEMILLON & SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, Margaret River, Australia (Map it!), 13.0% D, #048546  $17.40  (Tasted October 27, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on April 17, 2010 rated 91 and described by James Halliday (Feb 2009) as "A rich wine, the sauvignon blanc speaking louder than the semillon, even though it is the junior partner; an assemblage of tropical fruits drive the palate; best served fully chilled."  My notes: The 2008 Stella Bella Sauvignon Blanc tasted last August 2009 was stupendous (94-2).  It was full of passionfruit and gooseberries, evenly mixed - everything a SB should be imho. This blend has gooseberries along with spice and honey, evenly blended and pleasingly aromatic. The colour is a yellow blond and shows a firm film with tears slowly gathering. A strong tang wakes the buds to flavours of grapefruit and apple with predominant gooseberries starting a long tart finish. Interesting as a sipper for its dryness and breadth of flavours - more of a white to serve with Swiss Chalet chicken along side sausage stuffed potato. Cellaring up to two possibly more years should be OK.  89

Friday, October 01, 2010

October 2010 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

I went to my local LCBO for a bottle of J P Chenet Cabernet-Syrah 2009 and came out with the following lineup for October... making several trips of course. Whether rational or not these are some thoughts that went through my selection process.
  • A visit to Rosewood Estates last year proved exceptional. Some of their wines are now on Outlet shelves.
  • An instore Vintages label saying RAVE and a score of 3½ of 5, equivalent to 85-86 (enjoyable to interesting), highly exaggerates
  • Pinot Noir can be a surprise... often a good one! 
  • My choice of VQA wines (last count was 11) - most to support the goLOCAL  promotion.
The skyline from our vantage point has changed slightly not quite showing Fall colours but now more often having cotton candy clouds and less haze.  Cheers, Ww

Initial Conclusions
Some Pinot Noirs need help…. They may very well represent the best of the vineyard, the vintage and the intent of the winemaker… but they just don’t do it for YOU! 

What I have done this time around is to blend 5 to 10% of a heavier bodied red with a lighter style, weaker fruit, and often, rancid Pinot Noir. Adding a supportive variety: Malbec, Bonarda or Syrah/Shiraz can improve a mid70 Pinot to a mid 80 giving a more enjoyable wine… reaching a flavour, a body and acid balance that is a more suitable sipper and meal red.

Similarly with whites... help that insipid Riesling with some lime juice. Boost that Pinot Gris with some lemon or papaya juice. It doesn't take much. Your spouse will congratulate your ingenuity... mine did! This is your time to blend… regardless of the vineyard or the winemaker. DON’T DISCARD IT!    BLEND IT!   

Further Comment: 
The odd tweet from the Niagara wine trade refers to the 2010 vintage having the potential to produce Bordeaux style reds.  My view is if Niagara produced handbags in the style of Gucci they be called knockoffs.  Let's call Niagara wines by vineyard origins or by imaginative marketing, eye catching labels… please, don’t compare them with regions that produce a preponderance of mediocre or average rather than exceptional value wines (Refer to previous blog).

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, sparkles and other:
  • Familia Schroeder ‘Saurus Select’ Pinot Noir 2008,  91-2  --  V, Patagonia, Argentina, #055442 $17.95
  • Trapiche Broquel Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 91-2 --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #017202 $15.95
  • Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 90-2  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #112177 $20.00
  • Amity Vineyards 'Willamette Valley' Pinot Noir 2007,  90-1  --  G, Amity, Oregon, #124594 $23.95
  • Chakana ‘Yaguereté Collection’ Bonarda 2009,  86  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #003525 $13.95 
  • Coyote`s Run `Red Paw Vineyard` Pinot Noir 2008 VQA Four Mile Creek, 84  --  V, St. David's, Ontario, #079228 $22.95
  • Mirassou California Pinot Noir 2008,  83  --  G, San Jose, California, #185249 $12.95
  • Cave Spring Pinot Noir 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  83  --  G, Jordan, Ontario, #417642 $16.95 
  • Patriarche Pére et Fils Pinot Noir 2008,  80 Cellar  --  G, Provence, France, #522649  $10.50 
  • Konzelmann Pinot Noir Spaetburgunder Pinot Noir 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 78  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #200584 $11.80*
  • Inniskillin Okanagan Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 VQA Okanagan, 75  --  V, Oliver, BC, #183541 $18.95 
  • Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  74  --  G, St Catherines, Ontario, #013904 $16.95

  • Rosewood Estates 'Renaceau Vineyards' Sémillon 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-2  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #177758 $18.00
  • Thirty Bench Riesling 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench,  86  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #024133 $18.70 
  • Gray Monk Pinot Gris 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley, 85  --  V, Okanagan, BC, #118638 $19.95
  • J.P. Chenet Côtes de Gascogne Sauvignon Blanc 2009,  82  --  G, Bordeaux, France, #161224 $9.95
  • Coyote's Run Unoaked Chardonnay 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82  --  V, St. David's, Ontario, #026740 $14.95
  • McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2009,  80  --  V, Ripon, California, #181453 $17.95 
  • 13th Street Winery 'June’s Vineyard' Riesling 2008 VQA Creek Shores,  79  --  V, Jordan Station, Ontario, #147512 $16.95
  • The Bend in the River Riesling 2008,  73  --  G, Falz, Germany, #501080 $10.95 
FAMILIA SCHROEDER 'SAURUS SELECT' PINOT NOIR 2008, Patagonia, Argentina (Map it!), 14.5% D,  #055442  $17.95  (Tasted October 14, 2010) CS
A Vintages release on July 10, 2010 described by the Vintages Panel (November 2009) as "The fruit really comes forward...  Earthy, gravelly aromas combine with notes of red berries. A light, crisp Pinor Noir with a medium body."  My notes:  Lightly scented with an elegant plushness and a royal ruby colour. The first sip’s sharpness contrasts nicely with rich berry flavours and a silky smoothness. Appealing as a sipper for a long warm finish that slowly fades to supple ripe berry, quite extraordinary as a sipper, reserved but rich - may not be for everyone.  Flexible meal red to pair with anything from pizza to grilled beef, rack of lamb or pork ribs. Cellar up to four years or drink now.  91
CHAKANA 'YAGUERETÉ COLLECTION' BONARDA 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.9% D, #003525 $13.95  (Tasted October 6, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on April 17, 2010 described anonymously (Undated ) as "...Some believe that Argentinian Bonarda is actually Charbono, another variety brought here by Italian immigrants. These wines are light, ripe and fruity, making them an ideal partner for gourmet hamburgers, pizza or sausages."  My notes: A deep purple toned red with a delicate aroma of plums and blackberries. The film is light with fast running legs and the first sip is pleasingly full of light blackberry flavours, a thin layer of tannin and well balanced acids. Suitable for quaffing leaving a full flavoured finish and a crisp, dry, mineral touch. A suitable social red that could use a small component of cabernet sauvignon or shiraz. Have with hamburgers, grilled portabello mushrooms or Polish sausage on a bun. A drink now.  86
13TH STREET WINERY 'JUNE'S VINEYARD' RIESLING 2008 VQA Creek Shores, Jordan Station, Ontario (Map it!), 11.2% D, #147512  $16.95  (Tasted October 25, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on July 10, 2010 described by the Vintages Panel (May 2010) as "... Tempting aromas of lime, white flowers, minerality and accents of orchard fruits abound. There's plenty of fruit on the dry, medium-bodied palate and a mouth-watering acidity that creates perfect balance. This great Riesling then closes out the experience with a medium-long, racy/fruity finish."  My notes: Microbubbles show on the bowl against a straw coloured light gold making an interesting intro - but no nose. A shallow texture carries light grapefruit flavours, minor acid and a delicate honey roundness. Light citrus flavours build over a sustained finish. A quaffer for a hot afternoon - add a slice of lime and cubes for more flavour interest.  A simple drink now - not for cellaring. 79
THIRTY BENCH RIESLING 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario (Map it!), 11.0% D, #024133  $18.70  (Tasted October 1, 2010) CS
An Andrew Peller wine released by Vintages on October 10, 2009 rated 3 1/2 of 5 and described as "... a blend from the vineyards, in a house style. An attractive nose of lime-citrus and subtle mineral notes. It has zippy acidity on the palate to go with refreshing citrus fruits in a dry style."  My notes: A delicate petrol scent from a lime hued clear white, the first sip leaves the mouth dry and slightly puckering. The finish continues with lime, pear and dry mineral flavours cleansing the palate for the next mouthful. A pleasant, simple sipper or to go with fresh oysters, cocktail shrimp or bacon wrapped scallops, grilled or pan seared whitefish - did not go with roast chicken & baked potato. A drink now.  86
MIRASSOU CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIR 2008, San Jose, California (Map it!), 13.5% D, #185249  $12.95  (Tasted October 14, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "... displays fresh fruit flavours of pomegranates, cherries and currants with complementing aromas of strawberries, pomegranates and cherries. This wine is at its best if enjoyed within a year of release, but can age in the bottle for up to three years if carefully cellared..."  My notes: Visited the winery in the mid 60's when their wines were favoured by Richard Nixon. Now an E J Gallo winery. A deep black cherry skin colour, an aroma of smoke, cherries and tart berries leaving a thin film with long legs on the bowl. The first sip has a silky feel with a mild sting and soft tannins - the flavour has a faint mint touch to red cherries fading to a cherry pit ending. Interesting as a sipper altho’ lacking prominent fruit to be popular. Have with roast guinea hen, planked salmon or Polish sausage on a bun.  A drink now.  83
AMITY VINEYARDS 'WILLAMETTE VALLEY' PINOT NOIR 2007, Amity, Oregon (Map it!), 12.5% D, #124594  $23.95  (Tasted October 9, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "Pale ruby/garnet; light cranberry, stawberry aromas and flavour with a hint of cinamon and an earthy note in the finish; dry and light-medium to bodied with good acidity, soft tannins, moderate length."  My notes:  A firm film with slow legs and an enticing aroma of leather and strawberries along with a slight pungency introduces this red. The colour is a strawberry hued deep ruby and there‘s a healthy tang with the first sip of earthy strawberry. The long finish has a prominent fruit flavour, a thin tannin layer and refreshing acids muted partially by a soft texture. If you like a slap in the palate along with fresh fruit this is an interesting sipper. Likely most would enjoy this paired with planked salmon or a turkey leg, cranberry sauce and a side of mushroom/bacon risotto. Have a few for Thanksgiving dinner and cellar the rest for two years.  90
HENRY OF PELHAM PINOT NOIR 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, St Catherines, Ontario (Map it!), 12.5% D, #013904  $16.95  (Tasted October 20, 2010)  CS


A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "Medium ruby red colour; aromas of raspberry, cherry and spice with light tobacco notes; dry, medium bodied, quite fruity with oak tones on finish."  My notes:  A thin film that easily recedes and a see through ruby colour, mid density in the glass. An aroma of strawberry and burnt matches, not interesting, not overly appealing. The balance of acid and thin strawberries is even with soft tannins and a smooth texture, easily quaffed when slightly chilled. The finish has a vegetable taint as the strawberry fades - the smoothness remains ’til the end with a slight oil on the lips. Blending was not beneficial. Not recommended. 74

CAVE SPRING PINOT NOIR 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Ontario (Map it!), 12.5% D, #417642  $16.95  (Tasted October 16, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "Light ruby colour; red berries, earth and spice aromas; very dry, light to medium bodied palate with fresh cherry flavours."  My notes:  A red cherry colour with a slight berry cherry scent are previews to a light-bodied red - perhaps a ‘cool climate’ red?. A fast swirl leaves a thin film with rapidly flowing tears. The first sip shows an acid, soft tannin and fruit balance, mostly muted red cherry with a few berries in the mix. Finishes smooth with bright and light fruit. This could be a social intro to an afternoon bridge party - or, chilled or with a few cubes, a patio freshener.  Sliced ham, grilled trout, a pork pie or schnitzel and spätzle - something light - would be appropriate pairing. A simple drink now.  83

COYOTE'S RUN UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, St. David's, Ontario, 13.0% D, #026740 $14.95  (Tasted Octobr 16, 2010) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "...clear straw colour, peach, citrus and floral notes; very lightly sweet, medium body; peach and citrus in flavour, balanced acidity and medium finish."  My notes:A green tinted new gold colour and grassy edged scent of lemon and grapefruit, somewhat delicate. There’s a hint of eucalyptus and bright lemon to flavours of white peach and pie crust, and the texture is nicely round without being full. Interesting as a sipper but interest wanes with a second glass - nibbles needed here. Marginally adds to grilled white fishes or roast chicken. A well made drink now.  82

COYOTE'S RUN 'RED PAW VINEYARD' PINOT NOIR 2008 VQA Four Mile Creek, St. David's, Ontario, 12.0% XD, #079228  $22.95  (Retasted October 7, 2010)  CS  
A Vintages release on September 18, 2010 given 3 1/2 Stars of 5 and described as "... The Red Paw Vineyard delivers Pinots in a softer, more restrained style. This is delicate and pretty with cherry fruit and vanilla notes."  My notes: This has a red cherry and rusty peach tone in a wide bowl. The nose has a melon and red liquorice aroma, distinctive and perhaps terroir related, then on airing adds a slight earthy scent, overall interesting and delectable. The film is thin with fast tears and the first sip is silky with a penetrating tang that lingers through the finish. Flavours of red cherries and beetroot line the mouth and although not high in alcohol a swallow is filled with warmth. A dry light-bodied pinot noir in a unique style with flavours that could be appealing to some but not a sipper for most. Have with finger foods, cheeses, a ham steak or planked salmon/arctic char. Not for cellaring.  84


ROSEWOOD ESTATES 'RENACEAU VINEYARDS' SÉMILLON 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0% D, #177758  $18.00  (Tasted October 14, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on June 12, 2010 rated 3½ of 5 and described (2010) as "... a nose of white peach and soft, ripe melon. The peach is amplified on the palate with nice acidity and a lasting finish." My notes:  The Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2007 vintage tasted in June 2009 rated an 86 and the initial reaction to the 100% Semillon 2008 is ‘wonderful!!’.  Now for why!  The colour is clean and clear with a greenish hue, bright and forming micro bubbles on the glass. A light sweetness and balanced acid freshens the palate while grapefruit, citrus and granny smith apple rewards the senses with their flavourful combination. Succulent, full on the palate and a long finish makes this a sipper anyone would enjoy. Paired with fresh oysters, sushi or Thai, or Chinese buffet the combination would complement and enhance a variety of dishes. Cellaring a year or two wouldn’t be out of the way but I understand the 2009 may be available at the winery.  A super value.  91

ROSEWOOD ESTATES PINOT NOIR 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% XD, #112177 $20.00  (Tasted October 1, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 rated 3½ of 5 and described (undated) as "... cherry, earth, spice and cedar aromas. The palate reveals nice cherry, raspberry and vanilla to go with charred oak and spice." My notes:  A shiny cherry colour in the glass leaving a thin film that recedes quickly.  Decant or air twenty minutes for aromas that include wood smoke and ripe strawberry becoming more intense and filling a large bowl.  Silky flavours of beetroot, wild strawberry and earth - similar to the 2007 tasted in June 2009 - with a finish sharp on the palate, very dry with a touch of tannins and cola. If guests are looking for pronounced fruit this isn’t it… serve to lovers of Burgundy reds or pair with prime rib, beef kebobs, rack of lamb or (perhaps) planked Atlantic salmon. Cellar for two years to see where it goes… could develop interesting complexities.  90

INNISKILLIN OKANAGAN RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2008 VQA Okanagan, Oliver, BC (Map it!), 14.0% D, #183541  $18.95  (Tasted October 4, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as "Smooth and supple Pinot Noir featuring aromas of raspberry, cherry, beetroot, game and coffee. It is made in a bright, easy-drinking style that means it's great on its own, or a great choice if you prefer red wine with fish."  My notes: A Vincor product having a thin receding film with fast legs, a smoky scent of cherry jam and a colour of ripened cherry skins. Firm tannins and a penetrating tang overpower flavours of brambly red cherries for the first sip. The flavours continue for a long warm finish ending with a bramble and mineral aftertaste. I’d call this an arrogant sipper… rough or bold on the palate. Have with seasoned grilled beef or a mixed cheese tray: cheddar, gorgonzola/blue, brie - to balance or mask the brashness. Not for cellaring. 75

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS PINOT GRIGIO 2009, Ripon, California, 12.0% D, #181453  $17.95  (Tasted October 5, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 21, 2010 described by Julia Hollister (Who?) (May 2010)  as "... shows lively fruit and lovely aromas of gooseberry, melon and lime. Rich and mouth-coating yet crisp and refreshing, it's a delicious match for shrimp or for crab-stuffed flounder."  My notes: The table white at Michael’s Back Door was the McManis Viognier. The next day I travelled 50km for a bottle - the total inventory of nine were set aside for a customer… I should have called ahead.  This 2009 Pinot Grigio was found at a nearby Outlet and has a pale straw colour with a negligible nose. A swirl leaves a thin film with fast tears. A first sip meets a well balanced dry white with flavours of lemon and kiwi covered by a prominent grassiness that dominates a long dry finish. Fresh without the fruit with little to no appeal as a sipper but not objectionable. Have with grilled seafood. Not for cellaring.  80 

KONZELMANN PINOT NOIR SPAETBURGUNDER 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario (Map It!), 12.5% D, #200584 $11.80* (Tasted October 13, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "Ruby red colour; aromas of light berry, black cherry, red liquorice, a touch of spice/oak & earth; dry, med-bodied with good acidity, light earthy/mineral notes, ripe strawberry & raspberry fruit flavours; quite smooth with soft tannins & a fruity finish."  My notes:  Priced down from $12.80.  There’s a scent of strawberry fuzz, ie. nothing distinct, and the colour has a touch of terracotta. The 2006 tasted in January suggested pairing with ham steak and, also planned for the evening meal, the 2008  contributed in a minor way. A swirl leaves a firm film with long legs and a sip is silky smooth, on the light side of medium-bodied, with a slight tang, soft tannin and cherry-strawberry flavour tho' delicate. Aerating then cooling focussed more on the jamminess in the nose and taste. The coolness was refreshing adding more interest unrelated to the grape or terroir. Perhaps this bottle was left on the shelf too long.  78

GRAY MONK PINOT GRIS 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley (View It!), Okanagan, BC, 12.7% D, #118638 $19.95 (Tasted October 8, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on August 7, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as "... Lots of peach, citrus, baked apple and a touch of honey. They also let the juice rest on the skins for a few hours, giving the wine a very light pink hue. Enjoy with a variety of savoury Asian dishes."  My notes: A honey toned gold in the glass with raisin hints to aromas of peach, apple and honey - intriguing invitations to sip. The film is firm and legs are slow to form and flow. Tangy, steely with peach and apple carrying much of their fruit then leaving the skins as a reminder in a long clean finish. Definitely different flavours making this an interesting sipper for the curious (me) tho‘ perhaps not for a social crowd. Have with the unusual: octopus, mussels, fresh oysters or Italian cheeses. Cellaring may bring more depth - up to two years - primarily a drink now. 85

PATRIARCHE PÉRE ET FILS PINOT NOIR 2008, Provence, France (Map it!), 13.5% D, #522649  $10.50  (Tasted October 1, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "Pale ruby colour; light cherry and spice aromas; sweet fresh cherry flavour, soft finish."  My notes:  A clear black cherry colour and a scent of dried cherry skins missed unless sniffed conscientiously. Decant and air for an hour. There are scant slow legs from a film that recedes evenly and the first sip is silky smooth with a penetrating tang and flavours that develop more with each sip - a bland raspberry strawberry jam with some anise. Young and needing at least two years in the cellar to mellow  - for the price it may be a worthwhile as a thin eventually milder table wine. Pair with a T-bone, prime rib or rack of lamb if consuming immediately - a marginal drink now.  80
THE BEND IN THE RIVER RIESLING 2008, Falz, Germany, 11.0% MD, #501080  $10.95 (Tasted October 8, 2010)  CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale straw hue; soft apple nose; medium body with crisp acidity; subtle apple flavour; slight mineral notes on finish.  Serve as an aperitif or with creamy pasta, smoked salmon.”  My notes: A light yellow gold, a slight clean mineral scent and a thin film gives a first impression of ‘bland’.  The first sip has a seam of dry, citrus-like tang and flavours of grapefruit pulp. A dollop of sweetness attempts to balance the acid seam while simulated flavours gradually fade ending on a bright citrus note. Difficult to imagine this to be ‘Riesling‘. I suggest adding an ounce of fruit juice: papaya, mango, grapefruit, orange or lime for a refreshing thirst quencher on a warm summer day.  73

TRAPICHE BROQUEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #017202  $15.95  (Tasted October 5, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on October 2, 2010 described by the Vintages panel (Nov 2009) as "From 25-year-old+ vines... Classic barrique-aged Cab aromas of cassis, vanilla, plum, cedar and smoky oak. Dry with a wonderful balance between the fruit, tannins and acidity. This medium-full-bodied wine is an ideal match for rare steaks or lamb chops... "  My notes: A garnet cast ruby, dense in the bowl with an earthy scent of spicy currants and blackberries. A firm film with long legs forming quickly then falling slowly. Velvety smooth with an awakening sustained nip, firm tannins and steely flavours of currants and berries each fading slowly until a dry brambly edge sets in. An interesting sipper still with some roughness. Cellaring may reduce the acids and tannins to reveal a deeper character - two to six years. If drinking now have with a T-bone, seasoned backribs, liver & onions or flavourful stews.  91
J.P. CHENET CÔTES DE GASCOGNE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Bordeaux, France, 12.0% D, #161224  $9.95  (Tasted October 5, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "pale straw colour; soft melon aroma; dry, light body; light melon flavour."  My notes: Decant and let air for twenty minutes then serve well chilled. A clean pale golden colour with pronounced aromas of passion fruit edged with pear and slowly forming a few tears from a quickly receding film. A sip has an appealing taste of tangy gooseberry but also an unripe lime flavour that lessens with airing… the latter is less prominent through a long finish then ends on a distinct lime pulp note. An OK sipper but better paired with a buffet of finger foods and cheeses, also with most grilled fish dishes, barbecued scallops on skewers or creamy chicken pasta.  Not for cellaring.  82