Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 2011 Niagara Trip: 5 Tasted of 5

Faraway Fields
I became a tourist today squeezing in an impromptu visit to three Niagara  wineries: Southbrook, Pillitteri  and Lailey . Along with several buses loaded with tourists my Elantra found room in the spacious parking lots.  Inside each winery there was ample room at the tasting counters for the personal attention of each host.

I had wanted to order one of each of the Pillitteri Exclamation series but found the online ordering level, a case of twelve, outside my budget. I could order a mixed case but twelve times the average is still $300 - $400 plus delivery. The winery did not offer to package a smaller amount so I did without. The remaining alternative was an 80 minute drive, twice 80 for a return trip, to visit several wineries of choice. It was a good driving day and we had nothing else planned as my BH and I set off just after lunch on the middle of the month Thursday. Unfortunately - or fortunately depending on your viewpoint - by this time all of the Exclamation Merlot had been sold to an Asian buyer.

With gas prices the way they are it's unlikely I'll be able to taste many unlisted wines this year. I feel like I'm in no-man's-land, not a tourist - just an unwanted Niagara wine-ooh. I wonder how many of us are out here: restaurant owners, import sippers/amateur tasters, shut-ins, workaholics, single parents, ie. everyday Ontarians that just can't make the trip?

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites and other:

  • Pillitteri Exclamation Cellar Series Reserve Cabernet Franc 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  93-2  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery  $35.20 
  • Pillitteri Exclamation Cellar Series Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 93-2  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery  $38.20 

  • Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  91-2  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery  $21.95  ($18.10 at the LCBO? #172338#117572)
  • Pillitteri Exclamation Series Reserve Chardonnay 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 88  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery  $23.20 

  • Southbrook Connect Organic 2010 Rosé VQA Niagara Peninsula,  88-1  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #168492 $18.95
(O - Winery, r-v - Rating-Value)


SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CHARDONNAY 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.1% D, #Winery  $21.95  (Tasted June 24, 2011)
The back label says ‘Made from grapes from our organic and Demeter certified vineyard‘. 162 Cases produced.  My notes:A golden colour on pouring with citrus, mild apple and lees forming a subdued nose. Serve chilled then let go off chill to catch interesting changes. The film flows tears quickly and leaves broken lacework behind. The first sip is silky, on the light side of medium-bodied with a dry nip and muted caramel apple, pineapple flavours. Leaning to process while retaining delicate fruit gives this a refreshing elegance at the start and through to a moderate mineral finish. Seems warmer than 13% - would pair nicely with chicken schnitzel or seafood. Cellaring for several years would likely bring out more caramel - I’d start with four.  91
SOUTHBROOK CONNECT ORGANIC 2010 ROSÉ VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario, 12.5% D, #Winery  $18.95  (Tasted June 30, 2011)  CS
Released by Vintages on May 28, 2011 and rated 4 1/2 of 5 (90-93) by Rod Phillips  (April 14, 2011).  The back label claims ‘A smart choice from organically grown grapes.’ and their websites says ‘A fragrant nose of strawberry/rhubarb pie, fresh red raspberry, orange zest and brushed lavender. The palate delivers these same elements, with lively acidity for a refreshing finish.’ 341 Cases produced.  My notes: 100% Cabernet Franc grapes from ‘Niagara Peninsula’ which includes sub appellations outside Niagara-on-the-Lake. A clear-as-crystal crushed strawberry colour with a scent to match adding an equal touch of rhubarb. The film is thin and quickly recedes evenly from its rim. The first sip bursts with the sweetness of mature fruit and ends with a mild tartness - cream persisting throughout. Could be an alternative social sipper offered chilled solo or with a tray of soft cheeses - went very well with an assortment of salty crackers. Distinctly Niagara and a drink now.  88
PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CELLAR SERIES RESERVE  CHARDONNAY 2006 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 12.0% D, #Winery  $23.20  (Tasted June 24, 2011)
143 Cases produced. My notes:  The colour is a crisp golden and there’s an aroma of mild buttery toffee. The film slides down without breaking to form tears. There’s a spice note to the first sip and a pleasing tang that refreshes then carries into a long finish. A buttery smoothness stays on the tongue while muted flavours of honeydew melon and lemon stay through the finish. A distinct style that has more emphasis on process than fruit.  Sipping would have interest for some - not for all. Went well with Longo’s grilled salmon patties and fresh Ontario asparagus. This may go grassy if cellared a few years - try yearly.  88

PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CELLAR SERIES RESERVE  CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.5% D, #Winery  $38.20  (Tasted June 30, 2011)

8694 Cases produced.  My notes:  Take care with the roughness of the beautifully styled bottle - it may scratch table surfaces. By the rosy edge to the light ruby colour there’s a small percentage of Cabernet Franc in this Sauvignon - but the winemaker says not. The black current aroma takes no time to show altho’ more delicate than an Oz or Chilean. The colour is a deep and rich ruby and a swirl brings a modest film forming fast tears. A pleasingly intense blackcurrant and blackberry blend noticeably tart with matching tannins that trail off slowly leaving a metallic edge on delicate woody fruit. An interesting sipper - I’d call it youthful still having room to add more silk - 5+ years. Pair with a tenderloin of beef, rack of lamb or kobe sliders.  93

PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CELLAR SERIES RESERVE  CABERNET FRANC 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery  $35.20  (Tasted June 23, 2011)

1111 Cases produced.  My notes: First impressions are of a carbon hued ruby fairly dense in the glass and aromas of red cherries, a slight mushroom and white chocolate gradually filling the bowl. The film appears thin on the sides taking little time to flow fast tears. Silky smooth on the front with some tooth cleaning to start the finish. Tannins, nicely balanced by acids, combine with mild berry flavours then fade slowly ending with a smooth touch drying to the lips. More than polite this has sophistication from the interesting start and then evolving throughout. Sipping or pairing would make good use of this charmer. Have with veal schnitzel and vegetable medley or chorizo and stirfry beef in a white wine sauce and farfalle. Cellaring for several years should add to textures.  93

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

June 2011 Whites+: 15 Tasted of 15

A Secluded Pool
I've split the June selections into Reds and Whites+ to simplify editing and perhaps locating a wine. 

Cheers, Ww

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

  •  Meinhardt Hube Steinbach Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 90-1 --  V, Sudsteiermark, Austria, #211094 $19.95
  • 13th Street ‘June’s Vineyard’ Riesling 2008 VQA Creek Shores,  89-2  --  V, Jordan Station, Ontario, #147512 $16.95 
  • San Raffaele Monte Tabor Pinot Grigio 2009, 88-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #204768 $14.95
  • Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2009, 87-1  --  V, Languedoc, France, #350124 $11.95 
  • Kleine Zalze ‘Vineyard Selection’ Chardonnay 2009, 87-1  --  V, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, S. Africa, #096495 $15.95 
  • Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 86  --  V,  Marlborough, NZ,  #214460 $16.95  
  • Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay 2009, 82  --  V, Burgundy, France, #933077 $18.95
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2010,  81  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #426601 $15.95 
  • Fuzion Alta Torrontés Pinot Grigio 2010, 80  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #168419  $8.95 
  • Flipflop Chardonnay California 2009,  77  --  O, Ripon, California, #n/a, $6.99US               
  • Cattail Creek Estate Bottled Serendipity Rosé 2010 VQA Four Mile Creek,  80  --  V,  Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #118059 $14.95

  • 13th Street Premier Cuvée Brut Sparkling Wine VQA Niagara Peninsula,  95-3  --  V,  St. Catharines, Ontario, #142679 $29.95 
  • Chandon Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine NV,  90-1  --  V, California, #100693 $24.95
  • Naveran Dama Cava Sparkling Wine Extra Brut 2007,  88-1  --  V, Barcelona, Spain, #223602 $17.95 
  • Giavi Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut NV,  87-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy,  #209569 $17.95 
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, r-v - Rating-Value)

KLEINE ZALZE ‘VINEYARD SELECTION’ CHARDONNAY 2009, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, S. Africa, 14.0% D, #096495   $15.95  (Tasted June 16, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on February 5, 2011. Barrel Fermented.  My notes: A pale gold colour with a whiff of lemon grass, a scent of grapefruit and somewhat savoury. A firm film sheds slow tears as it lays lacy patterns around the glass. The acid of the first sip attacks strongly and has a flavour of unripe melon balanced with red apple, appealing for its uniqueness. There’s a light oiliness and flavours fade slowly for a long grassy finish. The palate quickly adjusts and it becomes a refreshing sipper. Paired with roasted chicken pieces - dark and light-, green beans and mashed sweet potatoes it did quite well. Cellaring for a few years likely OK but not longer as oils and grass may dominate.  87
BEAUVIGNAC PICPOUL DE PINET 2009, Languedoc, France, 12.5% XD, #350124  $11.95  (Tasted June 20, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on January 22, 2011. Rated 88 by Robert Parker Jr.   (August 2010) saying “The gloriously fruity, perfumed, light-bodied 2009 Picpoul de Pinet reveals copious notes of honeyed citrus (grapefruit and lemon zest), good acidity, and delicate honeyed pear-like flavours…”  also “Picpoul de Pinet-tastes like a wine version of a gin and tonic."  My notes:  Made from the piquepoul (meaning ’lip stinger’) grape grown in the south of France and sometimes used for blending in crispness.  A golden colour with delicate aromas of tart apple and clover honey, and having a well established film running slow tears before showing a lacy edge. The first sip is medium- to full-bodied, has an intense acidity and lemony flavours leading to a pulpy, dry, tart finish. A smooth sipper but not for a general crowd - I’d call it an acquired taste - better with fresh oysters or a seafood platter. A ’gin & tonic’ comparison is appropriate. Cellaring for several years should be OK but likely at peak now and is meant to be consumed young.  87
CHANDON BLANC DE NOIRS SPARKLING WINE NV, California, 13.0% D, #100693  $24.95  (Tasted June 6, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on April 30, 2011 and made in the Traditional Method. My notes: A peach petal colour very delicate and an aroma of blossoms also delicate. The foam subsides quickly leaving a few islands of bubbles at the rim and a few streams. The film is firm and the first sip is Xdry, refreshing with a sharp tang and mild peach apple flavours. A fine spritz guarantees freshness with each sip. The acid carries into a long finish that ends with a mineral dryness. The colour and flavour gives a distinct character to this bubbly. Have for any festive opportunity or as a before dinner refresher. 90

LOUIS JADOT BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2009, Burgundy, France, 13.0% D, #933077  $18.95  (Tasted June 20, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on May 15, 2010. My notes: Not the ‘Petites Pierres’ that’s on the winery website evidently - perhaps a label blended for the Canadian market? This has a mid golden colour with a thin film that quickly goes lacy shedding many fast tears. The aroma is a negligible dry grapefruit and the texture is silky with a refreshing acid level. Fruit is mild throughout and the finish persists as a polite grassy citrus staying for awhile then losing much character. A social sipper that wouldn’t offend anyone - except ABCers. Should be a match for roast fowl or fish. A straightforward drink now.  82

FLIPFLOP CHARDONNAY CALIFORNIA 2009, Ripon, California, 13.5% D, #n/a, $6.99US  (Tasted June 9, 2011)

Vinted and bottled by Universal Wine Network  and distributed by Underdog Wine Merchants in the US. The back label says "Medium-bodied, rich Chardonnay with pineapple, soft vanilla and a long lingering finish. Creamy, toasted oak notes…"  My notes: A light yellow colour with a scent of grassy cooking apple - not pronounced. A thin film forms and leaves a slowly receding lacy edge with a few tears. Medium-bodied, smooth, flavours are a mix of indistinct fruit and vegetable: asparagus, lemon/lime, tart apple and melon - the finish carries this lack of distinction until a dry, slightly tart nondescript ending. Not a sipper… pair with grilled chicken or seafood.  77

MEINHARDT HUBE STEINBACH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Sudsteiermark, Austria, 13.0% XD, #211094  $19.95  (Tasted June 2, 2011)  CS
A Vintages release on April 30, 2011. Rated 91 by Peter Moser, Falstaff Wine Guide (2010) saying “Light green-yellow in colour. Fine leafy spiciness, with delicate gooseberries, smoky-backed grapefruit, and notes of red berry fruit. Medium texture, with mineral qualities, a dark spicy touch, and a solid acid core. With a hint of a saline aftertaste… ”  My notes:  A light golden with nicely spiced gooseberry aromas. The flavour has the body of fleshy gooseberries with hints of lemon zest, grapefruit pith and a slight raisin. Medium-bodied, very dry on the finish and on the verge of being succulent. Have with King crab or butter dipped lobster pieces, with Japanese fare or Chinese sweet and sour. Cellaring for  few years - not longer - should be OK changing some of the tart to deepen the character.  90
CATTAIL CREEK  ESTATE BOTTLED SERENDIPITY ROSÉ 2010 VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.5% D, #118059   $14.95  (Tasted June 7, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on May 28, 2011. My notes: The back label describes times of picking strawberries but this rosé is 35% gamay noir, 35% pinot noir and 30% merlot if it follows the 2009 vintage. 450 cases made. A cherry candy floss aroma adding a slight grassy note, and having a bright red cherry colour. The first sip is noticeably sweet having a silky edge and flavoured with tart red cherries. A light jammy flavour goes into the finish fading slowly leaving a touch of sugar and dry cherry. Difficult to pair with meals - more of a patio sipper straight or a spritzer, 50/50 with Schweppes Tonic. Did not pair well with grilled Copper River salmon and sweet potato fries. A drink now.  80

13TH STREET ‘JUNE'S VINEYARD’ RIESLING 2008 VQA Creek Shores, Jordan Station, Ontario, 11.2% D, #147512  $16.95  (Tasted June 17, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release unknown date. My notes:A Thirteenth Street Wine Corp. product with 433 cases made. There’s a mild floral and mineral to the nose increasing slightly as the chill goes off and a thin film sticks before leaving a fine lace edge. Bright acid covers any trace of sweetness - not quite a tooth cleaner but close. A suspicion of tart apple supported by a light-bodied smoothness refreshes as a sipper or with a plate of crab pieces or scallops. Paired with an early Father’s Day lobster and shrimp plate the flavours cooperated well with the delicate, buttery seafood. Still fresh this should improve with each year in the cellar.  89

13TH STREET PREMIER CUVÉE BRUT SPARKLING WINE VQA Niagara Peninsula, St. Catharines, Ontario, 12.5% XD, #142679  $29.95  (Tasted June 5, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on December 11, 2010. My notes: Recommended by  Michael Pinkus (March 4, 2011).  A blend of 2/3 pinot noir and 1/3 chardonnay and using the traditionelle méthode, aged sur lattes for 36 months then 6 months post dosage addition.  3900 bottles produced. An impressive bottle having a resounding pop when opening. Careful pouring brings a fine mousseux to the top of the glass taking awhile to settle then continuing to burst bubbles in continuous streams. A lasting apple pie nose, a full spritz on the tongue and, to accompany the refreshing tartness, a moderately creamy texture. Xdry for sure ending with a hint of tart apple and some clay. Have with fresh oysters,  sharing a shrimp ring or toast an occasion with special friends.  95 

FUZION ALTA TORRONTÉS PINOT GRIGIO 2010, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0% D, #168419   $8.95  (Tasted June 28, 2011)  CS

A General listing made by Familia Zuccardi from Torrontes and Pinot Grigio grapes. My notes: Tasted in March this year with a rating of 84 - worth another look. This vintage has a bland nose perhaps of soft grapefruit and leaves a film with fast tears. The colour is a golden blond and the first sip has a nippy flavour of mixed citrus nicely texture leaving flavours to carry into a moderate finish the ending of which is a muted citrus and grassy with nothing to look forward to. OK as a simple sipper or with pan seared fish or white fowl. Did not support a grilled salmon with mixed carrot and snap pea side. Neither the Torrontés nor the PG adds much to this blend. A drink now.  80
NAVERAN DAMA CAVA EXTRA BRUT SPARKLING WINE 2007, Barcelona, Spain,  12.0% XD, #223602  $17.95  (Tasted June 10, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on May 14, 2011 rated 90 by Jay Miller  (April 2010) describing it as “… a blend of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Parellada which spent 24 months on the lees. The presence of the Chardonnay elevates the aromatics well above the norm for Cava. It is broad in the mouth with excellent volume and lingering flavours… “  My notes: There’s a brilliant yellow colour on the greenish side, not much, and the nose has a curious aroma of pond scum - nothing objectionable. Lots of fine foam on pouring with several streams of minute bubbles. The spritz is full in each sip adding an enjoyable texture to muted green apple, asparagus and lime flavours - no sign of sugar and medium-bodied. The finish is curious emphasizing the vegetable aspect and ending extra dry. The burst of spritz sells this as a sipper and a buffet table could further enhance the interest. Four years into a eight year cellaring but not going to change much from now. Try it … if you like it then cellar it!  For me there’s others to enjoy. 88

GIAVI CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE BRUT NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.0% XD, #209569  $17.95  (Tasted June 25, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on March 5, 2011.  My notes: A blond colour, a profusion of mid size bubbles on pouring and a slight whiff of lees for a nose.  There’s a ring of small bubbles at the surface barely mousseux and the first sip has an appealing fullness, a soft spritz and bright lemon custard flavour. Very acceptable as a social sipper - one that all could enjoy. Although tangy there appears to be just a touch of sweet, also appealing. Have with grilled scallops or King crab pieces. The finish is moderate ending on a silky bland note quickly replaced by another sip.  A middle of the road drink now with several years potential.  87
LAWSON'S DRY HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009,  Marlborough, NZ,  13.5% XD, #214460   $16.95  (Tasted June 30, 2011)  CS
A Vintages release on May 28, 2011. Harvey Steiman  (May 31, 2010)  rated this a smart buy at 91 points and described it as “Light in style, but generous in flavour, offering fresh, coconut-scented pineapple and lime flavours. Finishes with a creamy texture against zippy acidity.”  My notes:  A crystal clear and polished blond colour with soft aromas of freshly crushed gooseberries sets a good first impression. A just noticeable film and the tang of the first sip is consistent with the light fruit. The finish fades moderately fast ending with a light lemon tartness and chalk dry. Light-bodied and refreshing with a touch of cream makes this a reasonable socializer for a patio crowd. Pair with spicy to sweet Thai or vietnamese dishes or North American shellfish with drawn butter. Serve well chilled and keep in an ice bucket to keep its refreshing character. Definitely a NZ drink now to a year. 86 
SAN RAFFAELE MONTE TABOR PINOT GRIGIO 2009, Veneto, Italy, 12.5% D, #204768  $14.95  (Tasted June 12, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on June 11, 2011. My notes: BC says ‘…good, organic pinot grigio, with a silky middle, lemon and red-apple flavour…’ . There’s a slight rusty hue to the bright gold colour and a scent that includes soft floral orange, apple and melon. The film breaks into lacy islands interspersed with long fast legs. A core of silk carries flavours of honey, lemon, melon and finishes dry with a touch of mineral. A soft texture and light acid distinguishes this Pinot Grigio possibly making this more flexible for pairing. Serve well chilled with cheesy pastas, crusted squid or pepperoni/anchovy pizza - was great with grilled Atlantic salmon steaks. A drink now.  88

VILLA MARIA PRIVATE BIN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% D, #426601  $15.95  (Tasted June 30, 2011)  CS

From the General listing. My notes: The initial sharpness in the nose mellows into a slightly floral juicy gooseberry aroma. The colour is a bland blond and a thin film laces at the rim as tears flow quickly. The first sip bites the taste buds and initially masks a brief moment of mild fruit then shifts to a vegetal tartness that continues into a long vibrant finish. Not a sipper. Paired moderately well with stir-fried skinless chicken pieces but competed with the mixed vegetables. A commercial drink now.  81 

June 2011 Reds: 15 Tasted of 15

A Sawyer's Afternoon...
To start the month of June there are eleven leftovers from May and I've added more based on some noted recommendations or the 'manliness' of the label (Ahhh comeon, I'm kidding!).   More recent choices for wines are from Beppi Crosariol’s (BC) column ‘Breadth in Venice’  in Saturday's Globe&Mail. 

I've separated reds from other June wines - click here for Whites+ .
Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, sparkles and other:
  • Thorn-Clarke  Terra Barossa Merlot 2009,  94-3  --  G, Barossa, Australia, #218826  $15.00
  • Les Vignerons d’Estézargues Vieilles Vignes la Granacha Signargues 2009,  93-3  --  V,  Rhône, France, #082560 $17.95 
  • Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Quartage 2008, 93-2  --  V, Barossa, Australia, #024091 $21.95
  • d'Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2007,  93-2  --  V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #984021 $22.95 
  • Mayu Reserva Estate Bottled Carmenère 2007,  91-2  --  V, Elqui Valley, Chile, #090035 $14.95  
  • Piovene Porto Godi ‘Fra’I Broli’ Merlot 2008, 91-2  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #222661 $23.95 
  • Valdivieso Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008,  90-2 --  V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #032110  $16.95
  • Zeni Marogne Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2008,  90-2  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #220830 $17.95
  • Fog Head Highlands Series Reserve Pinot Noir 2008,  88-1 --  V, Monterey, California, #212944  $19.95
  • Domaine de Peyanne Saumur 2009,  87-1  --  V, St Cyr en Bourg, France, #197038 $13.95
  • Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 86-1  --  G,  Mendoza, Argentina, #207357 $9.95
  • Tedeschi Corasco 2008, 84  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #216440 $15.95  
  • Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 83 --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #140855  $18.95
  • Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2009,  80  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #135475 $9.95
  • Masi Serego Alighieri Poderi del Bello Ovile 2007,  80  --  G, Tuscany, Italy, #073106 $16.45

    (G - General Listing, V - Vintages, r-v - Rating-Value)


    ZUCCARDI Q CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #140855  $18.95  (Tasted June 12, 2011)  CS
    Release by Vintages on May 29, 2010 rated 90 and described by Jay Miller  (August 2009) as ‘… spent 12 months in new French oak. Purple-coloured, it exhibits an excellent perfume of damp earth, mineral, tobacco, spice box, and black currant. Medium-bodied, it has layered flavours, plenty of succulence, good balance, and a lengthy finish…’  My notes: On the rusty side of black as in black cherry and the nose is an earthy black cherry.  A heavy film with long slow legs coats the glass and the first sip is full in the mouth, silky with velvet tannins. Drink when opened as the acid level shifts into high in a few hours hiding an initial soft texture. Old world, earthy, light tobacco, moderate spice, woody and mild black currant for flavours and forming the dry finish. Interesting, not enjoyable, as a sipper. Pair with prime rib and other grilled meats. Past peak?  83

    VALDIVIESO RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #032110   $16.95  (Tasted June 2, 2011)  CS
    Released by Vintages on April 16, 2011.  The back label says ’only the finest hand picked grapes are used to produce our reserve wines… full-bodied, aged in oak barrels for 12 months”.  My notes: There’s a bright cherry to the deep ruby when pouring and the nose is an evenly matched combination of black currants and blackberries. The film is firm clinging to the glass for some time before shedding slow tears. The first sip is smooth, spicy, with tannins that build with each sip and a flavour that is true to the nose. Finishing dry on the mouth and layering the palate with the skins of black currants letting the fruit burst then fade slowly. Not quite full-bodied this fell short paired with a Barbarian spiced grilling steak - would do well with prime rib or bbq’d pork ribs. Makes an interesting social sipper. Cellaring for several years would be OK and may bring out some velvet.  90

    MASI SEREGO ALIGHIERI PODERI DEL BELLO OVILE 2007, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% D, #073106  $16.45  (Tasted June 4, 2011)  CS

    A General listing. My notes:This matched well a thin crust chicken, cheese and black olive pizza adding a piquant and slight plum flavour to each bite. The colour is a sombre ruby without much excitement. The nose is a mild plum with a slight earthy spice. The first sip has little depth with mild tannins and acid then finishing with a clean, red currant, a touch of liquorice flavour with a warm mouth feel not lasting long. There’s nothing to complain nor ooh-aah about as a sipper. Past peak, if there was one, with little fruit or texture. Have with vegetarian pizza, a buffet spread of party sausage, pigs-in-a-blanket or cheeses.  A drink now - much improved the next day(83).  80

    DOMAINE DE PEYANNE SAUMUR  2009, St Cyr en Bourg, France, 13.0% XD, #197038  $13.95  (Tasted June 26, 2011)  CS

    Released by Vintages on February 5, 2011. This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc and won a Gold Medal at the Concours Général Agricole in Paris in 2010.  My notes: A new world influence is noticeable in this light-weight cabernet franc.  The colour is a  rich carbon hued ruby and the nose has a subtle floral accent to aromas of crushed berries. Tears run freely from a moderate film. Red cherry flavours have a definite slate accent, losing the fruit quickly and ending extra dry with a mineral edge. A chalk dry sipper unless nibbles are nearby. Pair with a grilled veal entrée - also went well with Ontario lamb chops grilled without seasoning and served without the customary mint sauce. A drink now.   87   

    FOG HEAD HIGHLANDS SERIES RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2008, Monterey, California, 13.5%  XD, #212944   $19.95  (Tasted June 1, 2011)  CS
    A Vintages release on April 2, 2011.  My notes: By Delicato Vineyards.  A carbon hued deep ruby with a BRETT-like nose tinged with strawberry/raspberry.  A swirl leaves a lacy rim and long legs. The nose changes slowly prompting me to decant the remainder of the bottle and wait twenty minutes. The nose is now settled - still can’t be called fruity, somewhat spicy earth with light jammy fruit on the side - interesting. The first sip is soft, bright and leaves a long, smooth finish. Well into the tasting a flavour of earthy raspberry/strawberry comes forward. Have with grilled salmon, turkey burgers, tuna steak or ginger-orange beef stew.  Enjoyable as a sipper but if not decanted, the earthiness won’t be for everyone. Cellaring could focus the fruit and improve it substantially  - a year at a time.  88  

    LES VIGNERONS D'ESTÉZARGUES VIEILLES VIGNES LA GRANACHA SIGNARGUES 2009, Rhône, France, 14.5% D, #082560  $17.95  (Tasted June 6, 2011)  CS
    Released by Vintages on May 14, 2011, rated 90 and described by Robert Parker Jr.  (August 2010) as “…made from 100% old vine Grenache (some parcels are nearly 100 years old) ... precise, fresh, lively kirsch liqueur notes intermixed with tobacco leaf, loamy soil, and forest floor characteristics. This delicious, deep ruby/plum-coloured, round, generous, glycerin-filled wine can be enjoyed over the next several years.”  My notes: Perhaps I have a weakness for bold labels. This wine is unfiltered. A conservative nose of earthy plum and spicy cherry. I started to air but doesn’t need any time before serving. The colour is a deep ruby plum and a swirl sheds long slow tears from a firm film. The first impression is of ’lively kirsch liqueur’ with a mild tobacco taint. The finish lasts well into next week with insistent flavours and tannin balanced with mild acid - warm but not hot. A ’by the log fire’ smooth red with an aged aspect that would match most rare red meats. Cellaring for several years should be OK but drinking well now.  93 
    FUZION ALTA RESERVA MALBEC 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #135475  $9.95  (Tasted June 5, 2011)  CS
    A General listing made by Familia Zuccardi from 100% Malbec grapes. My notes: The 2008 vintage didn’t cellar well being rated 83 in August 21, 2010 down from 90 when purchased in October 2009.  This has a deep ruby colour with a faint nose of spicy black cherry and raspberry. The film is firm shedding many fast tears. The first sip has a peppery tang coating the palate with tannic dryness masking flavours of brambly black cherry then quickly finishing hot and dry - from young vines? Overall has a rough character passable as a social sipper, raw, light- bodied - and passable with roast prime rib and veggies. A drink now. 80   
    FUZION ALTA RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0% D, #207357  $9.95  (Tasted June 18, 2011)  CS

    A General listing made by Familia Zuccardi from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. My notes:  A moderate film leaves a lacy edge with slow tears and there’s a light aroma of a black currant and blackberry blend. The colour is deep blackberry juice with a slight purple cast. The first sip has a feel of soft tannins, a mildly penetrating tang and flavour of blackberries leading to an assumption of a pleasing sipper until the finish starts with declining fruit changing the focus to tobacco, tar and acid. Sipping has some raw edges - pairing with grilled meats is preferred. Full-bodied and dry overall. Cellaring may not mellow the boldness.  86

    THORN-CLARKE  TERRA BAROSSA MERLOT 2009, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% D,  #218826  $15.00  (Tasted June 8, 2011)  CS


    A General listing made by family owned estate and vigneron David B. Clarke. My notes: A firm film with many slow tears from a lacy rim reveals a smoothness perhaps even velvet to look forward to depending on the tannins. The colour is a deep purple and the nose is a rich spicy blackberry.  The first sip carries through the theme of ripened blackberries, peppery edged, very smooth until the complete package fills the palate then slowly fades to a spice and a touch of tobacco. A ‘ripasso’ fullness,  deeply textured with dense fruit. Have with rare game: venison, bison, moose - a Moroccan flank steak would work. Cellaring for several years possible but may not improve as it’s drinking well now. A bit hot? No, just warm.  94
    THORN-CLARKE SHOTFIRE QUARTAGE 2008, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% D, #024091  $21.95  (Tasted June 9, 2011) CS
    A Vintages release on April 16, 2011.  Scored 89 points at the Wine Access 2010 International Value Wine Awards. My notes: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The film suggests a very smooth texture - the aroma has woody earth of oak treatment blended with dark berries each variety contributing to the nose. A dense granite hued ruby, full-bodied, noticeable tannins and mild acids with plums, currants and black cherries for flavour components making this an interesting sipper. Black currants wash the back becoming more noticeable in the finish along with a bright edge framed by drying tannins. Pair this with grilled red meats: a T-bone or back ribs dusted with Barbarian Rub, a beef stew or just sip. Drinking well now but could also cellar for several years changing ‘smooth’ to ‘velvet’ and adding depth to an already complex character.  93 


    ZENI MAROGNE RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2008, Veneto, Italy, 14.0% XD, #220830  $17.95  (Tasted June 13, 2011)  CS
    A Vintages release on June 11, 2011. My notes: BC  says ‘…has a green, herbaceous tingle … not what I look for in ripasso…’ .  Colour is a dense and dark ruby, ie. a ripasso, with a film that stays clinging to the glass while shedding lots of long tears. The balance of black berries and damp earth aroma speaks to an old world ferment appealing for those not looking for distinct fruit. The first sip is full-bodied, flavoured with soft black plums and the brightness of red cherries. If you prefer a rounded earthy texture with a touch of fruit this could be it.  The long finish ends with subdued flavours smooth on the lips. Have with tomato pasta dishes, meat lovers pizzas or bbq’d ribs, stewing beef in a onion and wine sauce. This could wait a year or two in the cellar but likely at peak now. Nice.  90
    TEDESCHI CORASCO 2008, Veneto, Italy, 14.0% XD, #216440  $15.95  (Tasted tbd)  CS

    A Vintages release on June 11, 2011. Uses 80% Corvina with 10% each of Refosco and Raboso Partially dried in a traditional Veronese manner. Rated 89 by Anthony Gismondi & Stuart Tobe  (July 14, 2010) and described as “... Spicy, peppery, black liquorice, olives, dried flowers, sausage, orange, chocolate aromas. Ripe, round, supple and full but elegant and fresh. Chocolate, plum, smoky, savoury, tobacco, cedar, rooty, plum and cassis flavours etc. “.  My notes: BC says ‘ …medium-bodied, with a complex profile of strawberry, plum and herbs…’.  A dark plum shade with a film that sticks to the glass and sheds lots of slow tears. Decant or open an hour before serving. The nose is a blend of light oils, moist earth and spicy black cherry. Sipping has an initial appeal for its smoothness and black cherry flavour that quickly changes to a savoury blend of herbs, liquorice and black fruits. The fruits yield to dark chocolate, minerals, tobacco, moist earth and soft spice well balanced with acids and tannins. Unless you enjoy process oriented reds a sipper it is not. Cellarable for several years retaining earthy side gaining some velvet while losing fruit. If this is your thing it could be a good match with anything Italian.  84

    PIOVENE PORTO GODI FRA I BROLI MERLOT 2008, Veneto, Italy, 15.5% XD, #222661  $23.95  (Tasted June 15, 2011)  CS

    A Vintages release on June 11, 2011. My notes: BC says ‘…concentrated, fruity and juicy, … delivers a silky texture … It’s a bargain.’  A granite hued deep ruby, a firm film with many long slow legs and a nose with a spicy edge to dark berry aromas, all give an impression of a full-bodied, complex red. The first sip has mild tannins, balanced acids, a soft texture and blackberry, earthy mild chocolate flavours. This is a mellow sipper finishing with warm fruit and quite dry. A drink now for cool nights or have with a cheese tray, grilled red meats or beef bourgignon. Cellaring for a few years should be OK but likely at peak now.  91

    MAYU RESERVA ESTATE BOTTLED CARMENÈRE 2007, Elqui Valley, Chile, 15.0% XD, #090035  $14.95  (Tasted June 17, 2011)  CS
    A Vintages release on May 14, 2011. Tim Atkin MW rated this 91 (November 24, 2010) saying “Unusually alcoholic for a red from cool climate Elqui, this fascinating Chilean red was made from late-picked, lightly raisined fruit. Spice, pepper and savoury tannins with a lovely sweet, raisin and raspberry core…”  My notes: Located in London Tim Atkin (@Timatkin)  tweets on a broad range of subjects wine related. The colour is a dense raisined fruit and initially there is a medicinal nose and flavour accent needing decanting or airing 30 minutes before serving. Both nose and taste settle to a liquorice and earth accented blackberry. Tannins are mild not interfering with a moderate fruit and acid. The film is firm leaving the glass with long slow legs and the first sip is full-bodied, mouth filling smooth and warm on the palate. The fruit is subdued and finishes mild on the tongue but warm at the back. An interesting sipper as long as it’s allowed to vent initially. Have with grilled red meats or enjoy as a slow sipper.  91

    D'ARENBERG THE FOOTBOLT SHIRAZ 2007, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5% XD, #984021  $22.95  (Tasted June 28, 2011) CS

    A Vintages release on March 5, 2011, rated 90+ by Jay Miller  (Dec. 2009).  My notes: No fining or filtering used so care pouring the last glass may be needed to avoid sediment. A small image says ‘Foot Trod Basket Pressed’ - if it’s on the label it must be true. The colour is a deep carbon hued ruby and a swirl leaves a thick film with long slow legs. A modest aroma of spicy blackberries. The first sip is on the way to full-bodied and has some silk half hidden by warmth, spice and satisfying tannins. Flavours are of mossy earth and black berries which combined is interesting and enjoyable as a sipper. The warmth carries into a long balanced finish. Have with grilled meats or beefy stews or soups. Cellaring for several years is likely.   93