Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beaujolais Nouveau etc. 2010 Picks: 6 Tasted of 6

Beaujolais Nouveau   … or Vino Novello if you prefer. This started from a read of Wineoftheweeknd wine site.  I didn’t plan to taste nouveau wines this year. Curiosity got the best of me and when dropping by the local Outlet for a Mezzacorona Vino Novello, kind of rolls off the lips in Italian, I picked up the second. Then after reading Gord Stimmell's notes and ratings in his Toronto Star  column I’ve added a few more of the eight released by the LCBO.….  I find it an interesting but, perhaps, a fading tradition.

Gord Stimmell presents LCBO's lineup of this year's Nouveaux in his video below:(video no longer available)


  • Mezzacorona Novio 2010 Vino Novello di Teroldego,  89-2  --  G, Trentino, Italy,  #669275  $9.95
  • Joseph Drouhin 2010 Beaujolais Villages Nouveau, 88-1  --  V, Beaune, France, #113266 $14.95
  • Georges DuBoeuf 2010 Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, 88-1  --  V,  Romanèche-Thorins, France, #932780 $14.95   
  • Georges DuBoeuf 2010 Gamay Nouveau, 87-2  --  G, Ardèche, France, #891846 $8.95 
  • Cantina 2010 Novello del Veneto IGT,  86-1  --  G, Negrar, Italy, 12.0% D, #899955 $9.95
  • The Fool Reif Estate Gamay Nouveau VQA Niagara River, 83*  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #220483 $10.95
Not Planned:
  • Mommessin 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau, G, France, #897934 $ 13.95
  • Catalans 2010 Primeur Syrah Merlot IGP Pays d’Oc, G, Rousillon, France, #220533 $9.95
(G - General Listing, v-r - Value levels, * - see notes)
Today's the Day, 23rd November 2010, for a blind tasting of Nouveau wines. The Kit shown in the photo was a gift some years ago and has come in handy at certain times when a Blind Tasting happens. I say 'happens' since I seldom plan anything. The last event was #Cabernet Day sponsored by Rick Bakas , at the time of St. Supery Winery in California, now an independent Marketing guru. After his event prompts are seldom needed for my BH and I to cover a few bottles, crack them open and sniff & sip our way through a tasting. 'But' you say, 'where's the sixth?' There's only five letters in 'WINES' so the Joseph Drouhin will come later.  Cheers, Ww

A point made at times is that ratings are meaningless. How can wines of different grapes be compared one with another? My answer is: comparisons are made by individuals and some discrimination must be used in their application. 

If a comparison is badly applied then the individual making the comparison is at fault not the rating system. However, if one can bridge ratings given for different grape types, different wine styles, terroirs, perhaps with qualifications, then a rating comparison makes sense to that individual. Some comparisons however have to be questioned, for instance, standard wines versus Nouveau wines. Nouveau wines are a once a year phenomenon with unusual taste profiles and a 'best before date' of January 2011. The ratings shown in this blog are only relative to other Nouveau wines.

CANTINA 2010 NOVELLO DEL VENETO IGT, Negrar (Map it!) , Italy, 12.0% D, #899955  $9.95  (Tasted November 23, 2010)  CS
A General listing not described. The back label says "... a dry red wine with aromas of ripe red fruits. The taste is fresh with flavours of ripe plums, cherries and blackberries."  My notes:  A pink meniscus and a light and clear ruby colour with spicy candy floss aromas, meant for quaffing. A swirl brings a receding film with scalloped edges, reluctant tears. Medium-bodied, smooth with a polite bite and strawberry candy floss flavours including a noticeable sweetness. The finish continues with the flavours adding a dry tannin and minerals reminiscent of ’airplane dope’ but not overly so. A congenial red meant for a convivial time. 86
MEZZACORONA NOVIO 2010 VINO NOVELLO DI TEROLDEGO IGT, Trentino (Map it!) , Italy, 12.0% D, #669275  $9.95  (Tasted November 23, 2010) CS
A General listing not described. The back label says "Produced from Teroldego grapes... cultivated in the foothills of the Dolomites. Ruby red, fruity bouquet with hints of ripe berries. ... Serve at 16 - 18C."  My notes: A woody scent when first poured then a delicate plum. There’s a purple hue to a deep ruby giving an elegant glow in the bowl. Medium-bodied with some tears from the film and the first sip is well balanced fruit, soft tannins and acids leaving some dryness on a long cherry finish. Except for the freshness of the fruit one may assume this to be a standard light-bodied red. A pleasant sipper for a mixed crowd with dry crackers - surprisingly this paired well with Mom's Meatloaf .  89
GEORGES DUBOEUF 2010 BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES NOUVEAU, Romanèche-Thorins (Map it!) , France, #932780  $ 14.95  (Tasted November 23, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release described on the back label as “Tender, fruity, harmonious, elegant, fresh, delicious are the main qualities of primeurs wines” and by G Stimmell as “Nice cherry berry with hints of vanilla and banana. Very fruity, with hints of complexity.”  My notes: A cardinal red adds brightness to the deep ruby and a cherry/raspberry/tobacco spice fills the bowl given time to develop. There’s some depth to the first sip with well balanced acids, tannins and berries. Bright edged fruit continue through a long chalk dry finish and a detectable almond touch as berries fade. A quaffer on a hot day especially with a few cubes. PS. A bit floral but great with grilled rack of lamb.  88  

GEORGES DUBOEUF 2010 GAMAY NOUVEAU,  Ardèche (Map it!) , France, 12.0% D,  #891846   $8.95  (Tasted November 23, 2010)  CS

A General listing described on the back label as “supple, fruity, and generously balanced”  and by G Stimmell as “Violets, candied black cherry with hints of cola in a light but tasty style.”      My notes:  A pink edged ruby colour with just noticeable scent of crushed ripe strawberries, a film that easily sheds tears. Firm tannins dry while fresh berries brighten the palate - an interesting sipper. Medium-bodied with some jam and wood remaining as flavours decline. Add a cube and quaff on a hot day with dry crackers.  87   PS. Paired well, in the sense of adding a different flavour, to Veal Cordon Bleu with sweet potatoe and petit pois.

THE FOOL REIF ESTATE 2010 GAMAY NOUVEAU VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake (Map it!) , Ontario, 13.0% D,  #220483   $ 10.95   (Tasted November 23, 2010)  CS

A General listing described by G Stimmell as “Pale hued, with rose petals, raspberry jam and marishino in a light-weight style.”    My notes:  The colour is a light red cherry and the delicate aroma is of almonds and cherries. A viscous film sheds long tears then recedes evenly. Smooth, red cherry jam with a touch of yeast and leaves a light presence on the palate. In a darkened room could be mistaken for a medium-bodied rosé. Serve chilled with a shrimp ring.  Ww83*  PS. Blending with 50% Casa LaPostolle Carmenère reduced the ’cherry jam’ to a moderate cherry with a taint of red currant. Now fuller and balanced widened its flexibility. When paired with cheddar macaroni and mild Italian sausage was much improved prompting ‘before discarding try blending‘.  86

JOSEPH DROUHIN 2010 BEAUJOLAIS VILLAGES NOUVEAU, Beaune (Map it!) , France, 12.5% D, #113266   $14.95  (Tasted December 1, 2010) CS

A General listing described on the back label as “… reveals the elegance and true expression of the Beaujolais terroir. With its intensity and fresh fruit….”  and described by G Stimmell as “Blueberry, spicy plum and mellow black cherry. Some depth and heft.”  My notes: A slight pungency and a perceptible nose of floral black cherry from a clear, deep raspberry colour with the first sip showing a marzipan tainted red cherry and blueberry flavour, very smooth with a light tannin. The finish is fresh and fruity then fading to a balance of fruit remnants and acid. A welcomed sipper by itself or with a mixed cheese tray, no gorgonzola though. Pair with veal scallopini or crusted chicken legs, was great with Lindt white chocolate balls followed by coffee.  A drink now.  88

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The 500 Best-Value Wines 2011: 6 Tasted of 6

This is a brief review of  Rod Phillips'  fourth edition of The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO  for 2011. The book is available in ‘good book stores everywhere’ for the price of a bottle of wine.

I enjoy the author’s writing style, relaxed and concise - no flamboyancy in either the early chapters, written for someone new to wine, or in the tasting notes for each of the wines, 161 of which are new this time around. Lined space is provided below each wine for personal notes making this a handy diary to keep in the glove compartment or purse. Using it regularly encourages one to break the routine of buying the same ole stuff without risking bringing home too much plonk. 

Some statistics:
Of the 500 and excluding Rosés, Sparkling and sweet wines, 103 are rated 4½ - 5 Stars (90+), the system used by the author. Of the 103, sixty-nine are red and thirty-four are white. The majority of top wines are from California (20), Australia (17), Italy (16), France (14), Canada (14) and Chile (11). To bridge to 2010 refer to 500 Best 2010

Also of the 103, 17 are rated 5 Stars (94+) with two of these being white, the rest reds. Not surprisingly, most of the top wines were rated highly in the 2010 edition although some had slipped to 4½ Stars. Seven ‘New’ wines made it into the top 17. I suggest that these leading vintners have maintained consistency over successive vintages or have adjusted blends and process to successfully produce quality wines. Seven of the top wines are priced above $20 suggesting that you pay for a highly rated wine. The challenge is to find low priced wines with high quality - that’s where value is. 

With one exception the ratings of 4½ and 5 stars are equivalent to Wine Advocate’s range of 90 to 100. The exception is that a ½ Star, the equivalent of 2 to 3 points, can be added to represent a wine’s value.  The Wine Advocate system leaves it up to the purchaser to determine value so only includes intrinsic parameters of colour, nose, flavour, finish and cellaring potential to be rated.  This could mean that a low-priced wine rated 4½, if considered a good value by the author, may be rated as low as 87 using the Wine Advocate 100 point system. Such a wine although ‘very good quality’ may not be ‘outstanding’ except for your budget. Everyone’s taste can vary from the authors, as my ratings indicate, muting any effect of this minor difference.  

The seven ’New’ 94+ wines are Vintages releases and from well established vintners. 
All appear to be locally available with the exception of the Perrin & Fils ‘les Sinards’. Just as well for two reasons: the price of the Perrin is out of my range & one review described it as "truly old-school Châteauneuf-du-Pape with complex notes of sheep manure, cow paddies and horse excrement". Simply not my 'cup of tea'.  The vintages shown are at time of purchase.  

Cheers, Ww  

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, sparkles and other:

  • Sterling Vineyards Merlot 2005*, 95-3  --  V, California, #330241 $24.95
  • E Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2006*, 92-3  --  V, Rhône, France,  #259721 $16.95
  • Mitolo ‘Jester’ Shiraz 2007, 91-2  --  V, Virginia, Australia, #659607 $21.95
  • Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2008, 84  -- V, Sonoma County, California, #954834 $22.95
  • (Perrin & Fils ‘les Sinards’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006, Ww  --  V, Rhône, France, #926626 $38.95)

  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2009,  94-3  --  V, Marlborough, NZ,  #035386 $18.95
  • J. Lohr ‘Riverstone’ Chardonnay 2009*,  83  --  V, San Jose, California, #258699 $18.95
(V - Vintages, * - Vintage change, ( ) - dropped)


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

RODNEY STRONG ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2007, Sonoma County, California, 14.4% D, #954834 $24.95 (Tasted April 12, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on October 11, 2008 and re-released on May 15, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “This silky smooth wine shows why the Russian River Valley is the 'go to' region for quality Pinot Noir in California. Seductive aromas of cherry, plum, cinnamon, and oak spice replay on the medium full-bodied palate. Dry and well-balanced, it's soft and smooth with a peppery finish. If you're not already a Pinot lover, you're about to become one. Try it with grilled salmon or veal tenderloin.” My notes: The 2005 vintage was tasted in Dec 2006 with the comment ‘Not a value - not recommended‘. The 2007 is a rich ruby with a strawberry glint and aroma of California strawberries, somewhat grassy. The film is firm with slow long legs and the first sip is silky smooth, tart with dregs of strawberry, red currant and a touch of rhubarb. Perhaps not a fruit bomb but there’s enough of everything in balance for an adequate sipper. It was light with bbq’d rack of lamb but OK. Should be better with planked salmon or grilled tuna. At peak now. 84.

STERLING VINEYARDS MERLOT 2005, California, USA, 13.5% D, #330241   $24.95  (Tasted November 19, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “This classic Napa Merlot is rich and succulent with ripe blackberry and sweet cherry aromas. Dry and silky smooth, this medium-bodied Merlot has a ripe, juicy, fruity core that is accented by spice and toasty oak characters leading to a long, full-flavoured finish. Try it with roast chicken and herbed stuffing, or grilled tuna steaks.”  My notes: A Ravenswood label.  A strong scent of spicy blackberries on pouring and a deep ruby colour. The film is firm with many long slow legs, a strong acidity and firm tannins are the platform for intense spicy berries. Flavours dissipate slowly leaving a steely edge of dry fruit - I‘d guess from old vines. Bright and tannic: quaffing increases overall intensity and is both interesting and enjoyable if somewhat bold and unexpected for a Merlot. Have with grilled red beef, steaks, ribs, strips or full flavoured stews. Cellaring several years may mellow and bring forward potential depth to texture and flavours. 95
E. GUIGAL CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2006, Rhône, France, 13.0% XD, #259721  $16.95  (Tasted November 14, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “A fine Syrah/Grenache/Mourvèdre blend featuring aromas of plum, dried herbs, torrefaction, black raspberry and pepper. Dry and fresh, with fruit coming through nicely in the centre. Medium bodied with a long, well-structured finale. Match it to grilled or barbecued tamari steaks… “ My notes: The 2003 vintage was rated 83 in February 2008 and not tried since. A subtle nose of stewed cherries against a background of garnet tinged ruby. Velvety with tang and tannins before evenly blended flavours of cherries, blackberry and mild pepper. A super sipper half way to the new world with soft allure, dryness of the finish leaves some chalk with a red currant brightness. Have with veal dishes, a beef crockpot or Mongolian beef strips. Might cellar a few more years but drinking well now.  92

PERRIN & FILS 'LES SINARDS' CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2007, Rhône, France, 14.0% XD, #926626  $38.95  (Tasted tbd)  CS

A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 rated 92 and described by Robert Parker (Oct. 2009) as “Dense ruby, with liquorice, sweet cherry, and lavender notes, this full-bodied, admirably concentrated wine can be drunk now or over the next 10-12 years.”  My notes:  This is also available in half size (#005975 @ $19.95).  (Dropped from Tastings)

J. LOHR RIVERSTONE CHARDONNAY 2009, San Jose, California, 13.5% D, #258699   $18.95  (Tasted November 21, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “Bright medium-yellow Chardonnay with an enticing toasty/fruity nose (particularly apricot, apple and cranberry). Dry and quite clean with pretty oak tones surrounding the fruit. Medium-full bodied with a medium finish. An ideal Chardonnay for grilled herbed chicken or smoky prawns with mango salsa.”  My notes: The 2007 vintage was tasted in November 2009 and rated 83 saying ‘nicely rounded with a touch of butterscotch … ‘.  The colour of the 2009 is a vivid gold, not deep but bright in the bowl. The nose is almost perceptible with butterscotch and lemon tones - needs time to develop - and the first sip has lemon drop flavours, a balanced tang and soft butter flavour & feel leading into mostly lemon and butter fading quickly to a straw edged finish. Quaffing fills the mouth with rounded textures and lemon, pleasing on the palate - less than quaffing, not so much. Have with PC airy hors d’oeuvres, crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms or pairing with salmon filets would be suitable.  83

KIM CRAWFORD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #035386  $18.95  (Tasted tbd)  CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “… The 2007 and 2008 vintages each received 91 points from Wine Spectator! This lively wine exhibits aromas such as gooseberry, passion fruit, grass, nettle, mineral, and citrus. Tantalizing with steamed mussels or warm chicken salad.”  My notes: Now part of the Constellation Corporation it’s difficult to know the level of Kim Crawford’s continued involvement. With the string of Golds on the label the marketing team is 'corporate' rather than 'artisan'.  The crisp aroma of gooseberries and floral lemon wafts pleasing the nasal nodes. A golden blond brightens the glass for the first silky sip having enough biting acidity to refresh the buds - an appealing sipper for its refreshing fruitiness and hard to avoid quaffing. Lemon, a touch of grapefruit pulp and subtle gooseberry fruit makes for pairing flexibility: fresh oysters, crab pieces, fishes or white fowl - I plan to pair it with a coconut lime chicken stew. Cellaring up to five years is possible - try a year at a time. 94

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

November 2010 Wines: 19 Tasted of 19

The wine selections for November are listed below.  Some are carry overs from October.

The clouds hang to the east threatening showers - not yet cold enough for snow but every day leaves are quickly dropping and the air is cooler.   Brrrr, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, sparkles and other:

  • Hickinbotham ‘Clarendon’ Shiraz/Cabernet 2008, 90-2 Cellar   --  V,  McLaren Vale, South Australia, #159632 $15.95
  • Casa LaPostolle Carmenère 2008, 89-2  --  G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #168740 $15.95
  • C. J. Pask Gimblett Road Syrah 2007, 89-1   --  V, Hawkes Bay, NZ, #163998 $18.95 
  • Alamos Malbec 2009,  88-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, GP#601252  $15.95*
  • Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008,  87-1  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #163428 $12.95
  • Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  84  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, GP#601252, $13.95 (see #467944 )
  • Casa LaPostolle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008,  83  --  G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #168732 $15.95 
  • Casa LaPostolle Merlot 2008, 83  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #405712 $16.95
  • Tilia Malbec 2009,  83  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #160945 $13.00  

  • Fontanafredda Gavi ‘Del Commune di Gavi' 2009, 91-2  --  V, Piedmont, Italy, #075440   $15.95 
  • Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  89-1  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #089029 $17.95 
  • Gray Monk Gewurztraminer 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley, 89-1  --  V, Okanagan, BC, #321588  $18.95
  • Veramonte Reserva Chardonnay 2008, 88-1  --  V, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #494443 $14.95
  • Tilia Torrontes 2009,  84  --  G, Salta, Argentina, #186403 $12.95 
  • Inniskillin 'Winemaker's Series' Barrel Aged Pinot Gris 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #177766 $19.95  
  • Château de Quincay Sélection Tradition Sauvignon 2009, 83  --  V, Loire, France, #066183  $13.95 
  • Rosewood Estates Natalie's Sussreserve Riesling 2008 VQA Creek Shores, 82  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #164483 $18.00 
  • McWilliams Hanwood Chardonnay 2008,  78  --  G, New South Wales, Australia, #557934 $13.05* 
  • Barefoot Pinot Grigio NV,  77  --  G, California, USA, #053983  $9.95
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, r-v - Value levels, GP - Gift Pack)


ALAMOS MALBEC 2009 & CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 GIFT PACK, Mendoza, Argentina, #601252  $29.95*  CS

A Gift Pack containing a bottle of Malbec and one of Cabernet Sauvignon from Catena released by Vintages on October 30, 2010 in time for the holidays - described anonymously (undated) as “With Argentine Malbec being one of the fastest growing wine styles today, this 2-pack of deep and succulent reds is a 'can't miss' gift for the wine lover on your list.”  My notes: The Alamos Pinot Noir 2006, 2007 and their Chardonnay were tasted with excellent results (88). The 2007 Viognier tasted in February 2009 rated 75. I suspect this red Pack will have good value. We‘ll see…. My conclusion is a 'Marginal Value' - and not something I would gift to a fellow wine drinker. 
  • ALAMOS MALBEC 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, $15.95*  (Tasted November 11, 2010)
My notes:  The 2006 and 2007 were tasted with good results (90, 87 resp.) the main difference was in ‘character’. The 2008 had slipped to Ww84. The 2009 has a fragrance of a cherry stained basket sitting in the sun, a tad woody, a tad floral and the colour is a deep ruby. A firm film with fast tears shows a lighter side of full-body. There is a sharpness to a burst of brambly blackberry and red currant that fill the mouth then fade to a dry mineral end. Changes peak and flow rapidly from sip to swallow then linger until the next sip. Great with a rare rib eye steak covered lightly with Barbarian rub and should with most bbq’d red meats. A drink now up to two years.  88
  • ALAMOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, $13.95*  (Tasted November 17, 2010)  CS
My notes:  The 2007 was rated 87-1 and the 2006 was an 82 - seems to fluctuate in value at the ‘then‘ $13.95.  Compare with #467944.  There’s a characteristic purple tinge to the ruby and aromas, that take time to develop, of light spicy black currants combined with blackberries. A few slow legs droop from a slowly receding film. Velvet with a touch of oil on the lips, flavours of blackberry and black olive lead to a smooth, somewhat brambly with a touch of oil, ending. Some nibbles are needed to cover the woody edge as the flavours trail. Pair with grilled steaks or beef tenderloin although this is a mild Cabernet Sauvignon - go easy on the rub. A drink now.  84


Not a Gift Pack but three first tier reds from a well known French lineage. Beppi Crosariol  interviewed Alexandra Marnier LaPostolle in his column, Decanter, of November 3rd instigating this purchase. Hopefully there’s still a dedication to crafting natural value for this label. Rated Ww72, the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc didn't impress but this was back in 2007.  

  • CASA LAPOSTOLLE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #168732  $15.95  (Tasted November 12, 2010)  CS
A General listing. The back label says "... partially aged 10 months in small French oak barrels, and has aromas and flavours of red currant, strawberry and blackberry. The texture is supple and round. ... up to 10 years."   My notes: This has a rich deep scarlet tinged ruby and a faint, warm, spicy aroma of blackberries and slight menthol. The striking tang wakens the buds quickly, the bright edged red currants and blackberries follow through with a pleasing taste, neither jammy or overdone. The finish takes away half of the fruit leaving the smooth texture and taste of mineral tinged muted blackberry and forest floor - not pleasing as a lone sipper.  Have with savoury nibbles or pair with rack of lamb, grilled steaks, ie. red meats not overly seasoned. A drink now - not much to cellar.  83
  • CASA LAPOSTOLLE CARMENÈRE 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5%  D, #168740  $15.95  (Tasted November 22, 2010)  CS

A General listing. The back label says "... deep coloured, full of flavours with spicy and expressive aromas. A smooth and velvety texture to enjoy with red meats and stews."  My notes:  An intense aroma of spicy red currant, blackberries, a touch of menthol, a deep colour of black cherry skins and a firm film leading to long fast forming tears setup the first sip. Smooth, filling the mouth with spicy blackberries, a touch of bramble and a long warming finish of evenly mixed flavour remnants. An interesting sipper that starts out bold, a bit rough and finishes smooth with drying tannins, mild and warm. Should complement grilled Italian sweet sausage, a T-bone or rack of lamb, beef tenderloin or ribs. Cellaring for a few years should be OK but will remain a warm somewhat brash sipper. 89

  • CASA LAPOSTOLLE MERLOT 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.5% D, #405712  $16.95  (Tasted November 9, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on March 6, 2010 described by the Vintages Panel (Jan 2010) as "Medium- to deep-ruby colour; quite intense for a Merlot. The nose is redolent of black plum, cherry, menthol and soft old leather. It's dry, with a sweet black fruit core and mouthfilling texture. Fine acids and moderate tannins bring balance. Medium-full bodied with a medium to long finish."  My notes: A clear deep ruby colour with concentrated aromas of an even blending of spice, blackberry, raspberry and smoke. A swirl leaves a firm film only giving up slow tears at the last moment. Silky smooth with a strong penetrating tang, shallow fruit and an earthy liquorice then a finish that carries mostly an earthy echo of fruit with drying tannins noticeable at the start gaining ground at the end. Not a social sipper but suitable with well seasoned bbq’d pork ribs or pulled beef sliders. An unusual rendition of a merlot.  83

FONTANAFREDDA GAVI 'DEL COMUNE DI GAVI' 2009, Piedmont, Italy (Map it!), 12.5% XD, #075440  $15.95  (Tasted November 4, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on September 18, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as "Gavi is the home of the Cortese grape. Other regions in Piedmont and northern Italy also grow it, but nobody does it better. At its best, as with this version, Cortese is fruity and aromatic, with a hint of minerality..." My notes: Fontanafredda has adopted less or no chemical adjustments in their winemaking (YouTube it!, 4:25 of 5:07). This Gavi is a new gold colour in the bowl and has a firm film that recedes with slow tears. A light herbal and lemon aroma cries for seafood: lobster or crab with drawn butter, grilled white fishes, or scallops in a creamy pasta. The dry, fullness of its smooth texture, the delicate lemon flavour and its bone dry finish confirms the pairing. Quite enjoyable as a sipper for its unusual full-bodied texture but a meal white for sure. Should cellar well for several years.  91
VERAMONTE RESERVA CHARDONNAY 2008, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD, #494443  $14.95  (Tasted November 15, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 rated 88/100 and described by Jay Miller (June 2009) as "The light gold-coloured 2008 Chardonnay was fermented with natural yeasts and was partially barrel-fermented. It exhibits toasty apple and pear flavours, a smooth texture, and good depth."  My notes:  Light golden with a just perceptible scent of yeast and apple. A touch of butter carries a lemon and pear blend fading slowly in a dry, tangy finish. Pleasing for its round texture and refreshing crispness makes this a sipper for a curious crowd. Adequate when paired with a chicken strips on rice or buttery linguini, a fish Bouillabaisse or mussels in a curry sauce. Cellaring for a few years OK but may not improve overall.  88

C. J. PASK GIMBLETT ROAD SYRAH 2007, Hawkes Bay, NZ, 14.0% D, #163998  $18.95  (Tasted November 8, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 rated 4 of 5 and described by Michael Cooper (undated) as "... Estate-grown and barrel-matured for a year, the 2007 vintage is dark and highly fragrant, with generous plum, black-pepper and liquorice flavours, well-integrated oak and a firm backbone of tannin."  My notes:Some floral with the spice in the nose suggests a syrah rather a shiraz however both are strongly scented. There’s a touch of granite in the deep ruby colour and the film quickly recedes with lots of slow tears. A sip warms the palate spreading black cherry, red currant and liquorice across the palate and the warmth continues through a long, smooth, spicy finish. A full-bodied bold sipper, something to accompany a good book in solitude or listening to Rush on a Fall evening. Better paired with grilled beef. May improve marginally with cellaring, 2 years.  88

HICKINBOTHAM 'CLARENDON' SHIRAZ/CABERNET 2008, McLaren Vale, South Australia, 14.5% D, #159632 $15.95  (Tasted November 5, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on February 20, 2010 described by the Panel (Sept 2009) as "... Inky purple in colour, this Shiraz/Cab blend is attractive and approachable; full bodied with bright, juicy, mixed-berry fruit flavours balanced by medium acidity. The finish is juicy with medium length. A vivacious and thrilling wine to enjoy now."  My notes: From 37 year old vines on the Claredon hills south of Adelaide with a colour that is a deep rich ruby. The nose has a penetrating spice and raspberry blackberry essence, also rich. The heat penetrates and flows across and around the palate masking rather than complementing soft berry flavours. This continues into a long hot finish. Not quaffable - unless you're accustomed to quaffing a strong drink such as scotch. The sting remains on the tongue long after a sip. Pair with savoury bbq’d ribs or steaks - was too brash for a BMT Sub. Cellaring for 5 - 10 years may soften turning the brashness into a voluptuous full-bodied gem. If drinking now try decanting over night otherwise not a drink now.  90 Cellar

TAWSE 'SKETCHES OF NIAGARA' RIESLING 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, 10.0% MD, #089029  $17.95  (Tasted November 7, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on June 26, 2010 given 4½ of 5 (90-93) by Vic Harradine (May 1, 2010) and described by the winemaker, Paul Pender, as "The 2009 vintage gave us some incredible surprises, and this was certainly one of them! The fruit was perfect at harvest, showing great ripe flavors and acidity. The wine reflected this, exhibiting intense ripe grapefruit on the nose, and expanding on the palate to include crisp acidity, distinct minerality. The lingering finish includes a subtle contrasting bitterness reminescent of citrus zest.”  My notes: A Gold Medal winner at the 2009 Canadian Wine Awards and poetically praised by a local critic (not shown).  Also Tawse was chosen Winery of the Year at a Canadian wine event this year. I had to try this Sketches label. A light lemon colour and showing some micro bubbles on the bowl, crisp. The film is very slow to recede and shows no tearing. The first sip has definite sweetness balanced with some tart refreshing and thoroughly cleansing the palate with detectable lemon and pear flavours, pleasing as a sipper and leading to a long succulent finish slowly fading while remaining faithful to the fruit - distinctly Niagara. Serve chilled and consume while cold for best sipping. Pair with lobster or crab pieces on a bed of greens or lightly herbed risotto. A drink now or cellar tasting yearly.  89

ROSEWOOD ESTATES NATALIE'S SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING 2008 VQA Creek Shores, Beamsville, Ontario (Map it!), 11.0% M, #164483  $18.00  (Tasted November 11, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 described by the Vintages Panel (March 2010)  as "Aromas suggest smoky peach, lime, mineral, McIntosh apple and nectarine. It starts out off-dry and then dries out nicely due to the brisk acidity. Medium bodied with a tangy/fruity finish. Almost Rheingau or Pfalz Kabinett in style."  My notes: Allowing some natural sugars to remain leaves a slight sweetness to this Riesling and lowers the amount available for alcohol. The film is slow to recede and has no tears at least initially. A pear apple aroma for a delicate nose and the first sip has a definite sweet tinge with an acid level creating a refreshing succulence. The finish is dry although the sweetness remains along with a mineral apple note. If you’re looking for petrol I could not detect any. Nibbles are a must - did not go with grilled salmon, green beans and salad - perhaps with sushi or a bento box of tempura shrimp and veggies. A drink now.  82

INNISKILLIN 'WINEMAKER'S SERIES' BARREL AGED PINOT GRIS 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (Map it!), 12.0% D, #177766  $19.95  (Tasted November 24, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on July 10, 2010 scored 4 of 5 by Christopher Waters (Who?) (Vines, Summer 2010) and described as "... ripe, mouth filling and exotic Winemaker's Series model makes the most of its delicious peach and tropical fruit notes, which are accentuated nicely by spice and smoke notes. The wine's lovely smooth texture and core of ripe fruit make it a delicious 'go to' wine for warm weather sipping." My notes: The Winemaker is Bruce Nicholson. A crisp and clear new gold colour and aromas of just perceptible peach, apple with a light herbaceousness. The flavour has an interesting mix of apple, peach fuzz and lead pencil, medium-bodied and all evenly contributing delicately to the blend. Finishes along the same mix with a moderate roundness and acidity. A mellow sipper, smooth and polite with an ambiguous finish. Pair with light seafood, eg. tilapia on rice or risotto or cold salmon filet on greens. A drink now - not for cellaring. 84

GRAY MONK GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley, Okanagan, BC (Map It!), 12.9% D, #321588 $18.95  (Tasted November 11, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 rated 88/100 and described by John Schreiner (Who?) (August, 2009) as "a classic expression of the variety, beginning with spicy aromas. On the palate, there are layers of fruit, including grapefruit and lychee, with spice on the finish."  My notes: The nose has a delicate level of honey backed with spice and shows golden blond in the glass. Long legs drip from a firm film suggesting a rounded texture and the first sip starts with spice ending with a level of tang that overrides just a suspicion of sweet. Flavours of Bosc pear, white grapefruit and lychee carry into a long dry finish. An interesting sipper with a prominence needing an Asian buffet to tame its spirit - may develop nicely with 2-3 years cellaring. 89

BAREFOOT PINOT GRIGIO NV, California, USA, 12.5% D, #053983  $9.95  (Tasted November 22, 2010)  CS

An E J Gallo wine described anonymously as (undated) "Pale straw with aromas of pineapple, peach, citrus and floral. Dry, light to medium-bodied with pineapple apple and pear flavours and hints of citrus ending with a very crisp finish."  My notes:  A just-noticeable scent of grapefruit pith and the thin film recedes slowly leaving a lacy pattern on the glass. The colour is a sandy blond and the first sip has a balanced tang with a pithy grapefruit flavour trending to a slight chalk dry finish. There’s a hollowness to the foreground herbaceous flavours providing some mystery -  difficult to attribute to pinot grigio. A party sipper for a distracted crowd or a white to pair with roast chicken, white fish or shellfish entrees. A drink now. 77

CHÂTEAU DE QUINCAY SÉLECTION TRADITION SAUVIGNON 2009. Loire, France, 12.5% XD, #066183 $13.95  (Tasted November 10, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release described anonymously (undated) as "...This very crisp and dry, light-bodied wine shows lots of citrus fruit aromas and flavours balanced by refreshing acidity."  My notes: Delicate in so many ways: the colour is clear touched by honey, the film recedes evenly showing a few fast legs and the first sip gives an impression of tropical fruit, a moderate acid leaving the palate lightly refreshed and dry. Flavours and texture are light-bodied and pleasant. Pairing with white fishes or crab meat, cold preferable to hot would be suitable - nothing seasoned or spicy - a creamy shrimp salad. A drink now. 83

MCWILLIAM'S HANWOOD CHARDONNAY 2008, New South Wales, Australia, 13.5% D, #557934 $13.05*  (Tasted November 17, 2010)  CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as "Medium straw; oaky, tropical fruit and coconut aromas; very fruity and soft with a long oaky finish. Serve with Digby herring, crab legs, grilled salmon-trout."  My notes: Reduced from $14.05.  The 2008 is new gold in the glass and an aroma, almost perceptible, of pineapple and pear. The film separates slowly forming broad, slow tears and the first sip has separate seams of glycerol, tangy subdued lime, pineapple and acid. A sipper having a pleasing smoothness but some blandness, nothing else. Seems to me not well integrated. The finish starts bold then declines quickly leaving a dry, lime shadow. Have with shellfish - or chicken done on a spit. A dry drink now.  78

TILIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #163428  $12.95  (Tasted November 25, 2010) CS
A wine of Catena from LCBO's General shelves described anonymously (undated) as " deep youthful purple-red; red berry, cherry and a touch of smoke in the aromas; dry, medium body; rich fruit flavour, balanced acidity, medium tannins to finish; could hold 1 to 2 years."  My notes:There’s a touch of Brett that airs quickly when initially opened leaving a moist earth and mild blackberry scent. There’s a touch of purple to the ruby red adding a rich glow to the glass and a swirl leaves a firm film with just a few reluctant tears. Sipping is smooth and a light tannin turns the texture to velvet with flavours of delicate blackberry, plum and leather. Full-bodied with acids that balance the black fruit to make this a mild house red, no flamboyancy to distract conversation. Pair with buffet fare: sausage pieces, stuffed mushrooms, bacon wraps. There’s enough to expect keeping a year or two. Drinking well now.  87
TILIA MALBEC 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.9% D, #160945 $13.00  (Tasted November 15, 2010)  CS
A wine of Catena from LCBO's General shelves described anonymously (undated) as "deep ruby/purple colour; blackberry and plum with a touch of coffee and pepper aromas; medium body with fruit forward flavour and medium tannin, could age for 1or 2 years."  My notes: The 2008 vintage was rated 4 1/2 (90-93) by Rod Phillips'  fourth edition of The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO. The 2009 has a stewed plum tinge to red ruby and a firm film that leads to many slow tears. The nose has a scent of dark plums, pepper, black cherries and warm earth - enjoyable, simple. Smooth on the tongue with flavours of plums and blackberries that briefly brighten the palate then fade to a long drying, warm finish. A match with veal scaloppini, veal parmigiana, or schnitzel and spätzle. Cellaring a year or two possible but not likely to improve. 83
TILIA TORRONTES 2009, Salta, Argentina, 13.5% D, #186403  $12.95  (Tasted November 22, 2010)  CS
A wine of Catena from LCBO's General shelves and described on the back label as "Tilia is the Latin name for the Linden tree grown throughout Mendoza. ... The warm sunny days and cool mountain nights produce intensely aromatic Torrontes that is crisp and refreshing. ... shows ripe citrus and apricot fruit and finishes with bright clean acidity.... " My notes:A bland blond colour with a blend of nettles and citrus for a nose and a fairly thin film leaves scalloped edges that recede slowly. A sip says it’s a meal white and not a sipper… and specifically a seafood white. Citrus and white peach with an overall chalky dryness starts with the first sip and carries through to a long round finish. Have with pan-fried white fish filets or cold salmon filets on greens. Has a indigenous oneness that gains points. 84

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

November 2010: Boston Trip

Boston here we come….  Tiring to say the least and if it were not for GPS to negotiate unfamiliar traffic patterns and the pace our niece maintained all would have been impossible. We enjoyed every moment of our four day visit and wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Up at 7am, picked up our ride at 10am, over the Queenston bridge and the border at 11am with a stop at Duty Free. Then the long drive passing the tips of the Finger Lakes, Syracuse, Utica, Albany into Vermont tracking the
I90 into Massachusetts arriving in Lowell - 40 minutes north of Boston - on time at 7pm.  (Map it!)

We saw only one idiot texting while driving - in a dealer Chevrolet - using the rumble strip on the right to correct his driverless motion and swerving only once into our path as we attempted to pass on his left. I would have had GM fender blue on my right pant leg if it were not for our alert driver.

A few hockey games between UMass Lowell and Boston University kept our sport life alive and dinners at Longhorn Steakhouse, Cobblestones, P J Chang’s and Ye Olde Union Oyster House   kept our digestive systems fully loaded. We even indulged in creamy delicacies from Mike’s Pastry. Hey, we were on holidays enjoying every calorie and kilometer.

Woods Hole  is at the shoulder of Cape Cod, an hour’s drive from Boston. From there the ferry leaves for Martha’s Vineyard however the skies were grey with stiff winds across Buzzards Bay so we did a walk-about. We then wove around the weekend marathoners who were being guided by route wardens and police escorts, slowly to East Falmouth eventually having a chowder lunch at McMenamy’s then returning to our new  sleepover at the Hingham Holiday Inn. (Map it!)

Tastings for three reds, two from a Massachusetts CostCo, are blogged below. Three of the other wines consumed during dinners were stellar but tastings weren’t recorded. The wines were Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay and Treana White Marsanne Viognier.
All were excellent!

This is a short history of our Boston trip so I won’t forget the great time we had.   Cheers, Ww

  • MacMurray Ranch ‘Central Coastal’ Pinot Noir 2008,  Ww83  --  Healdsburg, California, #Costco $14.89US 
  • Chateau Ste Michelle ‘Indian Wells’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Ww82  --  Columbia Valley, Washington State, #Costco  $13.99US
  • Fuzion ALTA Malbec Reserva 2009, Ww76  --  Mendoza, Argentina, #DutyFree $6.99US 


FUZION ALTA MALBEC RESERVA 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #DutyFree $6.99US  (Tasted October 31, 2010)

My notes:  Jammy sweet berries to the nose, an opaque purple tinted ruby with a firm film and lots of tears. Off dry with a slightly tangy, freshly pressed berry fruit, thin and the finish quickly shifts to a shallow mineral ending. A ‘pop’ red, simple and quaffable. Could be an economical house sipper for ‘pop‘ drinkers - not a serious grilled meat red, have with bacon or sausage on a bun. A drink now.  Ww76

MACMURRAY RANCH ‘CENTRAL COAST’ PINOT NOIR 2008, Healdsburg, California, 13.5% d,  #Costco $14.89US  (Tasted November 1, 2010) 

My notes:  This has a strawberry hued ruby colour with an almost detectable nose of strawberry. On the light side of medium-bodied with a hint of strawberry flavour with a soft edge. The moderate finish carries some fruit and a balanced tang to a dry, silky, phenolic tainted finish.  A polite red to pair with a ham steak, tuna or planked Pink salmon. A drink now - not for the cellar. Ww83  

CHATEAU STE MICHELLE ‘INDIAN WELLS’ CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Columbia Valley, Washington State, 14.5% d, #Costco  $13.99US  (Tasted November 1, 2010)
My notes:  An ebony hued ruby colour in the bowl showing a firm film with slow tears and having an aroma of earthy blackberry. The first sip retains the moderate spice and tang of the blackberry adding some roundness - medium-bodied. A social red meant for generous consumption by a convivial crowd and buffet - or have with lightly spiced entrées. A drink now.  Ww82