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

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