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

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