Saturday, January 01, 2011

January Wines 2011: 20 Tasted of 20

A Foggy Day in Niagara Town
Now the tree is gone, packed away until next December when, Bacchus willing, I’ll still be sniffing, sipping and slurping.  

Some of the following were gifts from visiting family. Most were from under the tree Christmas morning - Santa was good to me.  Ah So! My universe is in balance once more. 

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, sparkles and other:
  • Tatone Terra d’Aligi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2006,  93-3  --  V, Abruzzo, Italy, #994616 $15.95
  • Antinori Pèppoli Chianti Classico 2008,  92-2  --  V, Tuscany, Italy, #606541  $19.95 
  • Santa Ema AMPLUS Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 91-2  --  V, Peumo, Chile, #076307  $19.95 
  • Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2007,  91-2  --  V, Paso Robles, California, #738823 $18.95
  • Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages Combe aux Jacques 2009, 87-1 -- G, France, #365924  $15.95
  • Prospect Winery ‘Fats Johnson’ Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Okanagan Valley,  87-1  --  G, BC, #092304  $15.95  
  • Campillo Rioja Reserva 2004,  86  --  V, Rioja, Spain, #094870 $21.95
  • Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cab Sauvignon 2008, 83  --  G, Australia, #106377 $9.95
  • Domaine Autrand Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2007,  82  --  V, Rhone, France, #200030  $14.95
  • Pelee Island Shiraz Cabernet 2009, 80 -- G, Kingsville, Ontario,  #637199  $9.95
  • Château Divon Saint Georges Saint Émilion 2006, 78  --  V, Bordeaux, France, #190926 $23.95    

  • Wither Hills ‘Wairau Valley’ Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 92-2  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #919514   $17.95
  • Alamos ‘The Wines of Catena’ Torrontés 2009, 88-1  --  V, Argentina, #081539  $13.95
  • Château Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 2008, 88-1  --  V, Columbia Valley, Washington, #232439  $17.95 
  • Mission Hill ‘Five Vineyards’ Pinot Blanc 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley,  86  --  G, Okanagan, BC, #145094  $14.95  
  • Jean-Pierre Teissèdre Pouilly-Fuissé 2009, 85  --  V, Burgundy, France, #183483 $22.95 
  • Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008, 82  --  G, France,  #933077  $18.95
  • Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 82 --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #293043  $14.95* 
  • [yellow tail]* Chardonnay 2009, 61  --  G, South Eastern Australia, #627802 $10.95

  •  Henry of Pelham Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2008 VQA Ontario, 86  -- G, St. Catharines, Ontario, #395228  (375mL)  $17.95* 
      (G - General Listing, V - Vintages,  Rating-Value levels -  r-v)


      SANTA EMA AMPLUS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Peumo, Chile, 14.0% XD, #076307 $19.95  (Tasted January 2, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on December 11, 2010 rated 91 and described by James Molesworth (Who He?) (April 30, 2010) as “ Polished and very focused, with a terrific beam of red and black currant fruit, fig cake and melted licorice notes that glide over seamless structure. A tangy iron hint and fresh acidity lengthen the finish.”  My notes: The purple tint adds nobility to the deep ruby and a scent of cedar with blackberry adds background to the first sniff as the nose develops in the bowl. An even film sheds fast tears and a bright, minty flavour of red currant refreshes the palate. The flavour persists through a long finish before fading to a metallic ending. A medium-bodied combination of fruit and minerals, a firm tannin and noticeable acid makes this an interesting sipper but better paired with grilled beef, preferably rare, or a beef stew. Cellaring for a few years may introduce more velvet mellowing some of the ‘brightness’. 91

      ANTINORI PÈPPOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2008, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD, #606541  $19.95  (Tasted January 28, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “Light ruby in colour, this refreshing Chianti has a lovely strawberry-scented nose. On the palate there's good structure and balance, with redcurrant, strawberry and fresh cherry flavours. Silky smooth tannins make this red extremely quaffable… “   My notes: The nose develops beautifully in the glass with warm berries shifting to a currant edge then a spice enveloping all. Made me linger. Medium-bodied, silky smooth with red currant and soft cherry blend finishing on a slight wood and fresh minty note. Nicely balanced for easy quaffing before a sitdown session with serious spaghetti and meatballs - add some chorizo sausage or have bacon crusted tomato bruschetta. Ageing for several years should be OK but drinking well now.  92

      CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE CHARDONNAY 2008, Columbia Valley, Washington, 13.5% XD, #232439  $17.95  (Tasted January 5, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on December 11, 2010 rated 90 and described by Harvey Steiman (Who He?) (Feb 28, 2010) as “Bright and jazzy, with pretty pineapple, grapefruit, elderflower and spice flavours that linger on the finish without excess weight. This just floats on for a while. Drink now through 2012.” My notes: A golden blond with a delicate scent of pineapple and grapefruit... and a scalloped rim with slow tears sets this off as a delightful summer sniffer. Fresh pineapple and grapefruit, no sweetness, dry to the tongue including a long fresh tangy fruit finish then add full-bodied, a light caramel cream - not obviously oaked - makes an interesting sipper. Pair with grilled chicken, seafood or warmed stuff mushrooms. Cellar for a few years or drink now.  88 
      LOUIS JADOT BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES COMBE AUX JACQUES 2009, Beaujolais, France, 13.0% XD, #365924  $15.95  (January 1, 2011)  CS

      The back label says “A medium-bodied, vivid red wine with cherry fruit and subtle spicy flavours etc. … can be served chilled.”    My notes:  The 2006 vintage was tasted in May 2008 and rated 80 with the comment “A lightly oaked red with scant fruit… boring after a few sips.” A bouquet of fresh berries and a deep purple tinged ruby is an inviting intro to the 2009 vintage. A firm film and a silky first sip, a sharp lasting dryness and flavours of blackberries and cherries continue the invitation when the tang and leftovers turn into a mineral edged berry. No longer ‘boring’ this is a pleasant sipper, medium-bodied with a long finish to accompany broiled sausage or beef patties or pair with T-bone, tenderloin or tenderized sirloin. Cellaring for a few years should develop smoother textures and subtler tones.  87

      LOUIS JADOT BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2008, Bourgogne, France, 12.5% XD, #933077  $18.95  (Tasted January 3, 2011)  CS

      The back label says “A deliciously dry chardonnay with enchanting fresh fruit flavours, a hint of vanilla and a clean crisp finish.”  My notes: There’s a green tint to a mid gold colour and a light scent on the pithy side of a citrus zest. A tilt brings lots of fast tears following a scalloped edge and the first sip is smooth with a middle of soft lemon, and a herbaceous tart acid edge. Intensity increases as subtle young fruit develops along the acid seam. The finish is long, clean and simple. A meal white to pair with creamed or grilled chicken, fish or shellfish and a drink now. Did not contribute much to seared scallops with bacon risotto. 82

      [YELLOW TAIL]* CHARDONNAY 2009, South Eastern Australia, 13.0% D, #627802  $10.95  (Tasted January 6, 2011)  CS

      A General listing and a Casella Wine described anonymously (undated) as “Deep yellow; Aromas of butterscotch, vanilla and baked apple fruit; Dry, medium to full bodied, with tropical notes, apple, pear fruit flavours; Medium length on crisp finish. Serve with fish dishes; seafood; poultry.”  My notes: The 2006 vintage was discarded and the 2008 tasted in July 2009 was rated 80 saying ’… a unique taste neither oak influenced nor the crisp and clean of stainless.” The colour of the 2009 is a mid-gold, and has a clean nose needing time to develop in the glass then is a blend of apple strudel and vanilla. The firm film recedes slowly with just a few broad legs. The first sip has a smooth flavour of vanilla cream, almond and lemon shifting quickly to a nondescript acid then a dull vanilla cream leftover. Not a sipper, although quaffing quickly with a buffet assortment could mask its objectionable side. Of 37 chardonnays tasted in 2010 none has matched this. The bottle was discarded.  61

      STONELEIGH MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D, #293043   $14.95* ($16.95)  (Tasted January 13, 2011)  CS

      A General listing and a Pernod etc. company wine described anonymously (undated) as “Pale straw colour; gooseberry, herbs and a hint of tropical fruit on the nose; dry and medium-bodied with a crisp finish. Serve with smoked salmon, asparagus risotto or herbed chicken.”  My notes:The 2007 vintage was tasted in May 2008 and rated 82 with the comment “An OK sipper starting with an infusion of aromas and flavours that subside quickly.” Reduced a toonie for the holiday season this 2009 has a perfumed aroma of kiwi fruit and orange blossom, lightly sweetened. The film is thin with fast tears and a sip has a crisp, tangy flavour of mostly lemon zest, melon and small part orange.  A long flavourful finish carries the fruit to a dry tangy end. A social sipper which would also pair nicely with fried squid and most seafood dishes - herbed chicken too. A straightforward beverage to please a crowd.  82

      PELEE ISLAND SHIRAZ CABERNET 2009, Kingsville, Ontario,  12.5% D, #637199  $9.95  (January 1, 2011)  CS

      A General listing described on the back label as “Our Shiraz (Petite Sirah) Cabernet blend reveals shades of deep purple in the sunlight and is enriched by intense tannins. …. a great partner for Cajun dishes and spicy bbqs.”  and  “…from 70% imported and 30% domestic wines”.  My notes:  Petite Sirah, some authorities say, is a term applied to ‘several different little-known varieties often planted together’ and may not be related to the better known Syrah or Shiraz . The 2007 vintage was tasted in December 2008 and rated 76 saying “an OK bar drink or companion for burgers…”. The 2009 on the label may refer to a bottling date and for this red, a sniff brings a perfumed whiff of blueberry and raspberry preserve. The colour is a deep purple ruby and a swirl leaves a firm film with etched edges with a tilt showing a rim of viscous tears. The first sip is smooth with an intense berry jam flavour with tannins balancing the acid leading to a long finish, a mix of dry, penetrating black berries with a mineral note that becomes more prominent at the end.  A full in the mouth bold sipper. Pairing with a well seasoned steak, bbq’d ribs or beefy burger could be a match. A drink now.  80

      JEAN-PIERRE TEISSÈDRE POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2009, Burgundy, France, 13.0% XD, #183483  $22.95  (Tasted January 9, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on December 11, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “From the top-tier appellation in the south of Burgundy comes this fresh and delicious Chardonnay with aromas of green apple, ripe pear, citrus and layers of minerality. Dry with good aroma replays, plus enough crisp acids for cellaring 3-5 years. It is also a fine candidate for a seed-encrusted Arctic char with pomegranate-infused rice, grilled pork, or even game bird.”  My notes: A clear and crisp golden colour in the bowl and scant aromas, some chalky mineral and no fruit - increases when off chill. Flavours quickly change from citrus and chalk to a light lime to a tangy mineral, none intense but an interesting and lasting end. Have with sole and creamy linguine or shrimps & scallops with spaghettini/angle hair. A meal white - will likely go flat with cellaring?  85

      CAMPILLO RIOJA RESERVA 2004, Rioja, Spain, 13.5% D, #094870  $21.95  (Tasted January 3, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on November 13, 2010 described by the Vintages panel (April 2010) as “Julio Faustino Martínez, owner of Bodegas Campillo, named the winery as a tribute to his family's first vineyard. An opaque, youthful ruby, this Rioja has a nicely intense, blackberry and spice nose. The blackberry continues in the flavours, along with rich chocolate, mocha, red fruit and bumbleberry. An elegant, medium- to full-bodied red with good structure, and tannic enough to reward cellaring for up to five years. You don't need to wait, though - enjoy this beauty tonight with your favourite pasta in savoury marinara sauce, or with veal marsala.”  My notes: There’s a garnet hue to the deep ruby and the blackberry in the nose is mostly masked by the influence of penetrating, rich oak tones. A thin metallic edge on the first sip fronts a bright red currant flavour, firm tannins and acid that lead to a long finish, dry with the metallic edge slowly returning as fruit fades. An uninteresting sipper, more of a medium-bodied red meat red, ground and grilled rare with herbs and/or spices. A drink now… most of the cellaring is past.  86

      GANTON & LARSEN PROSPECT WINERY ‘FATS JOHNSON’ PINOT NOIR 2007 VQA Okanagan Valley, BC, 13.0% D, #092304   $15.95  (Tasted January 9, 2011)  CS

      From the Artisan Wine Co. and a General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale ruby colour with a garnet hue; aromas of ripe strawberries, earth, and a hint of vanilla; light bodied, delicate and silky flavours of warm spice and black cherries.”  My notes: The 2006 was rated 82 when tasted in January 2009 saying “Silky soft with a delayed tang… flavour of half ripe cherries…”.  The 2007 is of the same style, mid cherry colour, light-bodied with tears that are fast to form and an aroma of vanilla tainted, earthy strawberry. Silky textured, flavours of strawberry fruit and light liquorice trending to being tart with a finish that is dry balancing fruit and ending with earthy anise tones. Decant or let breathe thirty minutes - still this style may not appeal to everyone. Have with salmon en croûte with leeks and dill or rosemary`d roast chicken. Cellaring two years may bring out more focus.  87

      LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Paso Robles, California, 13.5% D, #738823 $18.95  (Tasted January 12, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on May 15, 2010 not rated and described anonymously (undated) as “This delicious Cabernet teaches the meaning of value. Its nose is intense with concentrated dark fruit, particularly cherry and plum, complemented by spicy and savoury notes. It's dry, dense and richly textured, with great balance and ripe tannins. For continuing education, enjoy any time over the next 2-3 years with rare roast beef or gourmet sausages.”  My notes: A perennial high scorer with the last vintage, 2006 tasted in February 2009, rated 94-2, “A delightful sipper, full of flavour, appropriately dry and building in warmth and interesting nuances.”  The 2007 has a dense purple tinged ruby with aromatics of mahogany, plums and spicy currants. A firm film with many fast flowing legs introduces a full-bodied first sip. An intense and well balanced tang and fruit makes a good first impression, perhaps not as full as the previous vintage but interesting all the same. The finish is bright with minty, smooth, long ending with an equal mineral edge. Cellaring for two, perhaps not three, years is likely. Have with roast and rare prime rib.  91

      CHÂTEAU DIVON SAINT GEORGES SAINT ÉMILION 2006, Bordeaux, France, 13.0% XD, #190926  $23.95  (Tasted January 7, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on October 30, 2010 unrated and described anonymously (undated) as “This blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc is given a full 12 months in French oak before bottling. The resulting wine, from the respected 2006 vintage, features aromas of black cherry, new leather, cassis and hints of vanilla. Dry with a nice balance between the fruit and cedary tannins. A great, inexpensive cellar starter as it is showing well now and will only improve with 3-4 years in cellar.”  My notes: Got to admit this has a different nose, flavour, and finish - different not to the benefit but something to search for. The nose is a flat plum and capsicum (made you think didn‘t I?). The initial sip is dry overcoming scarce flavours of cherry and brambly berry. The finish continues drying the palate leaving a reminder of the faint plum of the initial sip. Somewhat thin flavoured, light-bodied and lacking character. Pair with a vegetarian pizza or cold salmon filet on greens. No longer cellarable - nothing left to improve, drinkable but not interesting and not recommended - disappointing.  78

      TATONE TERRA D'ALIGI MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2006, Abruzzo, Italy, 14.0% XD, #994616  $15.95  (Tasted January 4, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on November 13, 2010 and winner of a Gold Medal at Vinitaly 2009. Rated 5 out of 5 by Susan Desjardin  (Who She?)  (May, 2010) and described as “Concentrated and opaque with deep red hues, this is a richly aromatic wine with notes of licorice, ripe fruits and smoky oak. The full dark fruity flavors combine with silky slightly drying tannins and moderate acidity to produce a beautifully balanced wine with enduring impact. It has a long dazzling finish with lovely notes of sweet spice and rich caramel.”  My notes:A soft scent of earthy black fruit, spicy and warm. A garnet hued deep ruby, clear in the glass and a light film with many fast tears followed by a first sip full of tannins coating the palate a balance of black fruit flavours and mild acid that continue into a long finish. This has everything to please as a mild sipper and enough to pair with entrées from Italian tomato sauce pastas, cheesy panzerotti pizzas or a cloved ham slice. Still has a few years left in the cellar but drinking well now. 93

      ALAMOS ‘THE WINES OF CATENA’ TORRONTÉS 2009, Argentina, 13.5% XD, #081539   $13.95  (Tasted January 4, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on December 11, 2010 and described by Dennis Schaefer (Who He?)  (May, 2010) as “… has a pleasantly floral nose of orange blossom, jasmine with a bit of minerality. Peach, nectarine, citrus and orange creamsicle flavours are abundant, with a bit of almond and marzipan sneaking in too. Light and fresh on the palate, it never sacrifices flavour. Piquant and lively, it seems both elegant and angular at the same time, which provides a good contrast as the flavours and textures make their way to the finish. Crisp and clean at the end, the bright acidity shows through, setting up the taste buds for another bite of food.” My notes: A strong golden colour with a firm viscous film leading to a few slow tears. An aroma of citrus and asparagus has a tang that excites the senses and a full-bodied first sip lays a blanket of interesting flavours: peach, tart apple, a hint of almond and enough acid to waken the taste buds. A chalky dryness comes out in a long finish as flavours give way. Have with fresh oysters, oysters Rockefeller, deep fried calamari or a buffet of grilled hors d’oeuvres. Cellaring a few years could work but drinking brightly now. 88

      MISSION HILL ‘FIVE VINEYARDS’ PINOT BLANC 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley, Okanagan, BC, 12.5% D, #145094   $14.95  (Tasted January 27, 2011)  CS

      A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “clear, straw colour with green flecks; pineapple and pear with a hint of hazelnut; dry, medium body; creamy round fruit flavour with balanced acidity, medium finish with a touch of spice.”  My notes:  A clear light blond and evenly scalloped film with slow tears starts this off. A nose of ‘pineapple and pear with a hint of hazelnut’ isn’t misleading there’s just not a lot of it.  More hazelnut in the first sip along with some pear and honeydew melon. The finish is a citrus following, nicely tart with a hint of sweetness and creamy right to a mineral ending. Fuller-bodied than my expectation of a pinot blanc and an appealing drink now for an easygoing social crowd. Pair with sushi, a bento box of tempura shrimp and broccoli flowers or pineapple chicken from a Chinese buffet. A drink now.  86

      WITHER HILLS WAIRAU VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% XD, #919514  $17.95  (Tasted January 10, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on December 11, 2010 rated 4 out of 5 in Michael Cooper’s Buyer‘s Guide to NZ Wines and described as “The 2009 vintage is sweet-fruited, with strong, fresh, tropical-fruit and gently herbaceous flavours. It's an instantly appealing, finely balanced wine, vibrant, crisp and lingering.” My notes: A soft blond colour with aromas of nettles, passion fruit and lime brought forward with a delicate tang. The softness enveloped by tart acid with a filling of fresh tropical fruit makes this an intriguing sipper. The dryness and intensity of the finish delays the next sip until a long lime zest gives way to a mineral ending. Pairing with poached or grilled salmon with asparagus and portabello mushrooms done in light garlic and butter is planned. Sip or pair - either is suitable for this typical Kiwi sauvignon blanc. Drink now for its brightness or cellar two to three years for depth. 92

      HENRY OF PELHAM SPECIAL SELECT LATE HARVEST VIDAL 2008 VQA Ontario, St. Catharines, Ontario, 10.0%  S, #395228   (375mL)  $17.95*  (Tasted January 14, 2011)  CS

      A General listing and *regularly $19.95 this is described anonymously (undated) as “Bright yellow gold colour; aromas of honey, ripe peach, fig and apricot; sweet with ripe fruit flavour; well-balanced by crisp lemon acidity; rich and luscious without being too cloying.”  My notes: Not sure of the meaning of ‘Special Select’ wine since the grapes could come from anywhere in Ontario however, the colour, a bright gold, and the description of the aroma: a mix of dried figs, honey and apricot, is dead-on. A swirl coats the bowl with a brocade film and a sip follows the nose adding a smooth texture to carry it along. Tang matches the sweetness while both are moderate. The finish fades to a light lemon fairly quickly leaving a honey touch on the lips. Better serve chilled as a dessert solo or with Lindt truffles. A drink now.  86

      DOMAINE AUTRAND CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2007,  Rhone, France, 14.5%  XD, #200030  $14.95  (Tasted January 21, 2011)  CS

      A Vintages release on January 8, 2011 described (April 2010) by the Vintages panel as “… a pretty nose, featuring aromas of blueberry, black cherry, blood orange and garrigue (fresh herb scent in the air in southern France). Dry with a sweet core of fruit followed by an intense spicy, cedary finish. Beautifully textured wine with a lingering, gently spicy finish…”  My notes: A Gold medal winner at the Concours de Vins Orange 2009 and an impulse purchase. Hope the ‘garrigue’ isn’t too prominent!  Mostly earth in the nose, a very slight garrique or herb scent with a faint blueberry for fruit, if any is present, all make for an insignificant nose. The colour is a garnet tinge ruby, dense, and having a firm film with slow tears. Biting acid, velvety smooth, medium-bodied, moderate tannin, dry, black cherry flavours masked by an earthy core and finishing with more of the same. A dull sipper. Have with prime rib, T-bone, portabello burgers  or beef bourguignon. Likely not to improve with cellaring but may stay several years.  82
      JACOB'S CREEK SHIRAZ CAB SAUVIGNON 2008,  Australia, 13.5%  D, #106377  $9.95  (Tasted January 13, 2011)  CS

      A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Ruby red colour, cassis, berry, mint, soft vanilla aroma; fresh ripe fruit flavour, dry wine, spice & oak finish, good quality wine.”  My notes: An Orlando Pty. Ltd. Product described on the back label as “Blackberry and plum with hints of pepper, smooth tannins and subtle oak.”  A tinge of purple to a deep ruby colour and aromas of spicy blackberry, couldn’t detect vanilla. Forms a smooth film with no lacing but long fast tears that show quickly on the bowl. Minty, velvety tannins, bright raspberry and blackberry then a quick shift to a prominent acid ending dry and woody on the palate.  Retains fruit level if quaffed - alternatively sip with buffet fare of bacon bits on toasted squares, portabello mushrooms or chicken/turkey wings. A basic drink now.  83

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