Thursday, August 25, 2011

Natural Wines

Blogged several months ago I thought it timely to repeat close to the recent entry on Biodynamics.  Biodynamics is not so much a focus on grapes as it is on the health of the vines. Look after the vines and the 'grapes will follow'. Then if additives are eliminated during the winemaking 'Natural Wines' result...  I haven't seen a description of the relationship between current bon mots: Natural, Sustainable, Biodynamic, etc. as yet. Are they alternatives or are they synonymous? Are they subsets of an umbrella process from vine to bottle? Is each exclusionary in part or whole? If they don't become adversarial does it matter? You say 'tah-mah-to', I say toh-mae-to. An article to read along the way is August 26, 2011 Natural wines by Isabelle Legeron MW

'Natural Wine' appears to be the antithesis of modern viticulture. Starting from the use of pesticides and herbicides control of bugs and unwanted plant life, the chemical fortification of soils and the selective addition (see photo from Natural Wine, Other Stuff) of tannins, acids, the use of foreign yeasts as well as other chemicals to 'enhance' wine the final product attempts to create markets and/or match tastes that have acclimatized to a commercialized age. 

Isabelle Legeron, France's only Master of Wine, tells the story on her website That Crazy French Woman and with so much more information it's the best place to start and to gain a complete picture of the principles of permaculture or permanent sustainable agriculture and making of 'natural' wine.  For convenience, and hopefully to convince you to visit her site, I've repeated segments here. 

In the videos below, Isabelle Legeron's guest Mark Garrett, resident permaculturist at Soneva Fushi, a luxury desert island getaway in the Maldives, describes aspects of sustainable agriculture. 
  • Mark Garrett, Permaculturist: 'No dig' gardening and Viticulture

  • Mark Garrett: Permaculture & Real Sustainability

For more on Mark's work, go to That Crazy French Woman's website:

And a documentary about natural wine in California

Biodynamics: Science or Scientology?

Rudolph Steiner
I thought I'd chat a bit about a workshop (OBV Workshop) I attended in Niagara-on-the-Lake this week.  Organic Biodynamics is a term coined to define the return of vineyard care and vinology back to days before -cides, ie. pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc.  Introduced by Rudolph Steiner in 1924 Biodynamics has spawned several offshoots claiming validity in returning winemaking to its organic roots. Steiner's Biodynamics fully implemented appears to be the most comprehensive.

Unfortunately science has not as yet caught up with an understanding of how Steiner’s nine biodynamic preparations (500 - 508) contribute to viticulture and some mysticism associated with certain aspects is unavoidable. Putting this aside there's an increasing number of wineries worldwide that are or have adopted the basis for Steiner's principles. The task of certifying Biodynamics has been taken on by two European organizations, Demeter and a rival called Biodyvin .   

Guest speaker Monty Waldin of Rome, Italy shared the day’s agenda with Southbrook Vineyards' well respected winemaker Ann Sperling and the venue was split between Niagara College and Southbrook. This is the second Niagara oriented event I’ve attended the first being sponsored by the LCBO and presented by almost a dozen wineries claiming practises that promote somewhereness, or terroir, in their wines.  It was held at the Japanese Cultural Centre in North York, Toronto. It seems that interest in both biodynamic and ‘somewhereness’ has picked up significantly this year both largely promoted by Marilyn & Bill Redelmeier, owners of 
Southbrook Vineyards .

Biodynamic horn
OBV Workshop
Monty Waldin  is known for his work in Europe defining the steps for implementing then acquiring Biodynamic certification. I have to say that his address continually lost me. Partly due to a heavily accented and rambling talk and partly with ’horn-hoof’ juxtaposed with a ‘grape vine-root’. This was compounded by describing the influences of astrological and sun/moon phases on vineyard care. Constellation references without foundation in science leaves an engineer like myself in disbelief, however, these are elements of Rudolf Steiner’s original treatise and I shouldn't 'shoot the messenger'. Recent crop ‘before and after’ photos demonstrating the effect of each step (500 through 508) of biodynamics would have been convincing. The OBV Workshop booklet summarized the subject very well.

Biodynamic soil
One claim I found difficult to believe was stated as 'fact' that cows without horns are ‘less flavourful’.  Maybe so?  Horns are sometimes removed early in a cow's life to lessen damage to bovine enclosures or transport vehicles as it moves to the dinner plate. Monty Waldin stated that horns and hooves form a bond that purportedly reinforce a cow’s role that is essential to biodynamics. Horns along with varied parts of a cow are used to sheath organic solubles that are prepared usually over winter or dormant periods. These solutions are then sprayed or located in vineyards at certain times to control a vine's root growth, its canopy form and to protect vines from a rash of seasonal pests. The manure used in step 500 must be from animals certified as not having been fed genetically modified elements. The attached videos demonstrate a few of the biodynamic stages.

Ann Sperling's years in viticulture clearly showed the practicality gained by her field experience and as a widely consulted winemaker. Her considerable hands-on experience easily addressed questions from the audience of approximately seventy. Controlling insects, slugs/snails, fungi, moulds, above and below ground either by interrupting its natural development or introducing natural enemies depends heavily on a knowledge of life cycles from egg or spore to infestation and on daily monitoring of the vineyards. It was evident Ann is committed to a practical implementation of biodynamics. 

In the early stages of acceptance there's still considerable work to convert old ways to new. This applies to all winery staff with a heavy investment by owners.  Biodynamics is a major step and those wineries adopting it should be encouraged in their efforts to change a local industry entrenched in conventional and commercialized practises. As a consumer I look forward to a time when I can look a bottle in the label and be assured the age of -cides is behind us. 

My look at things,


I’ve included a series of videos below to expand on experiences with biodynamics by other winemakers. Hopefully these will encourage you to investigate the benefits of biodynamics as experienced by winemakers at a later stage in their implementation. The difference between conventional and biodynamic can be dramatic. Without question consumers should encourage earlier use of biodynamic principles to enable a natural product in the bottle. 

Paul Dolan on Biodynamic farming & winemaking

Applying the Biodynamic Preparations at Rosnay  (Australia)

Biodynamic Preparations with Mike Benziger  (California)

Monty Waldin - Biodynamic Winemaker (Europe)

Friday, August 05, 2011


Strewn Cooking Class

Monday, September 19 at Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel is the tasting event of the fall for Ontario wines - from ‘35 of our top wineries’ according to LCBO’s Vintages. 

There are almost 600 approved wines in Ontario and 105 of these will be available for tasting as well as purchase during the event - as long as supply lasts. Sixty-six of the 105 wines are labelled VQA Ontario, VQA Niagara Peninsula or VQA Prince Edward County (PEC). The remaining, thirty-nine from 19 wineries, are labelled VQA of specific terroirs in the sub-appellations of Beamsville Bench, Lincoln Lakeshore, Creek Shores, Twenty Mile Bench, the large regional VQA of
Niagara Escarpment  (consisting of Short Hills Bench, Twenty Mile Bench, and Beamsville Bench) and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Four Mile Creek, Niagara River and St. David’s Bench.  It may be an opportunity to identify differences in terroirs of these regions or perhaps their winemakers. There are no wines labelled VQA Vinemount Ridge which has a unique soil composition compared with other areas.

A new name to me was VINTAGE INK, a virtual winery belonging to Constellation Corporation and bottling at the VQA Niagara Peninsula level and an $18 price point.
Snooth has minimal information on VINTAGE INK and its operation in California. Locally Rod Phillips has rated the Chard and Merlot-Cab in his blog Winepointer #64.

But I digress… My interest is in ‘Natural’ wines. 
The September issue of Decanter has a column covering the controversy around this non-interventionist approach for winemaking . The main ‘antagonists’ are Isabelle Legeron (ThatCrazyFrenchWoman)  founder of the Natural Wine Fair in the UK who drinks only Natural wines and  Liberty Wines (UK)  chief  David Gleave MW, born and educated in Canada.   Only a dozen of the 80 Ontario wineries openly espouse adhering to a ’bio’ viticulture - and I’m not aware of any that are in Ms. Legeron’s cellar ;-)

Secondly, I’m interested in how the terroir of each vineyard or sub-appellation is captured in a wine and therefore exclude the generic VQA levels. Optimistically when  the VQA designation shows a specific area the winemaker will have retained the characteristics nurtured in the grapes without ‘enhancing’ the product un-Naturally. 

From these points of view I reviewed Vintages TASTE ONTARIO! wines:

  • There is no obvious indication as to if or which wines are Natural - meaning I didn’t dig to find out if this information is available on the 19 winery websites and it's not part of Vintages website or event release. 
  • Of the thirty-nine wines with a specific sub-appellation fourteen are below $20, fourteen are in the range $20 to $30, five are between $30 to $40 and three (Closson Chase Chardonnay, Lailey Old Vines Pinot Noir and Stratus Red and ) are in the mid forties.
  • These thirty-nine consisted of seven Riesling, nine Chardonnay, eight Pinot Noir - there are five red blends and the rest are split: a Chenin Blanc, 2 Gewurztraminer, a Pinot Gris, a Sauvignon Blanc, 2 Bubbly, a Cab Franc and a Shiraz. 
My budget limits any purchases to the $10 to $30 range - but why taste wines either I’ve tried as part of this blog or could be purchased at an Outlet in the future? My interest is then limited to the eight above $30 and it would be increased significantly if several other wineries had been included:  Hidden BenchDaniel LenkoPeninsula RidgeCalamusOrganized CrimePillitteriStrewnKonzelmannMarynissenCharles Baker2027Nyarai to name a few. Perhaps next time. Is there a rationale for excluding wineries: size of the venue? a winery or LCBO mindset or lack of significant return? simply a lack of SKUs? or ?

Conclusion (mine): The event is more for the City After Hours walk-around-and-taste crowd or a (modest) Night-on-the-Town. It's also an opportunity to try Ontario wines during a Meet-and-Greet with colleagues or to update a past experience with some current day Ontario wines. Perhaps you have your own conclusions?

My opinion, Ww

Monday, August 01, 2011

August 2011 Wines: 26 Tasted of 26

Minaki memories
One of the better values tasted in February this year was L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2008 (#983742) priced at $11.95. Vintages repeated its release, the same vintage, on July 23rd.  Will the second production run, if it was a second, have the same character as the first?  The L.A. Cetto Zinfandel 2008 tasted last month was rated 86-1, a good value for an 'interesting' wine but not quite the same. 

I’ve added some wines from Chile after reading
Beppi's column August 6th. Chile and Argentina have been a source of good value, full-bodied, fruity reds and naturally aromatic, tasty whites. The ones chosen try to get back to my original budget having soared out of control with some recent Niagara selections. As well, the Lineup this month includes several leftovers from July... and I've added 4 wines labelled as organic: Emiliana Adobe Reserva Rosé (Chile), Parés Baltà Mas Elena (Spain), Frogpond Farm Organic Gamay Noir (Ontario) and Gold Ring Chardonnay (California).

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, sparkles and other:
  • Delas ‘Les Reinages’ Gigondas 2007,  94-2  --  V,  Tournon-sur-Rhône, France, #222604  $29.95
  • L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2008, Mexico,  90-2 --  V, Mexico, #983742  $11.95
  • Anakena ‘Single Vineyard’ Carmenère 2008,  90-2  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile,  #059519  $13.95
  • Chateau Camplazens la Garrigue 2007,  90-2  --  V, Armissan, France, #195008  $14.35 
  • Canepa Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, 89-2  --  V,  Maipo Valley, Chile, #412031 $13.95 
  • Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Monti Garbi Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2008, 88-1  -- V, Veneto, Italy, #029850  $17.95
  • Schild Estate ‘Premium Wines’ Shiraz 2007, 88  --  V, Barossa, Australia, #066555 $27.95
  • Vina Leyda ‘las Brisas Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2009,  86 --  V, Leyda Valley, Chile, #209908  $16.95 
  • Parés Baltà Mas Elena 2007,  86  --  V, Penedès, Spain, #687236 $17.95
  • Malivoire Gamay 2009 VQA Niagara Escarpment,  86  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #591313  $17.95 
  • Emiliana Winemaker’s Selection ‘la Quebrada’ Syrah 2009,  86  --  V, Casablanca, Chile, #212407 $18.95  
  • Anakena ‘Single Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2009,  84  --  V, Leyda Valley, Chile, #208439  $13.95
  • Frogpond Farm Organic Gamay Noir 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 83  --  V,  NOTL, Ontario, #245613 $15.00 
  • Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 83  --  V, Graton, California, #904565 $17.95 
  • Château Pindefleurs ‘Saint-Émilion Grand Cru’ 2007,  80  --  V, Bordeaux, France, #102764  $20.00

  • Heartland Stickleback White 2009, 92-3 --  V, Kent Town, South Australia, #186387  $10.95 
  • William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux 2009, 92-2  --  G, Burgundy, France, #276436 $20.75
  • Pedro Escudero ‘Fuente Elvira’ Verdejo 2009, 91-3 --  V,  Rueda, Spain, #218313  $13.95
  • Anakena ‘Lilén Single Vineyard’ Viognier 2010,  90-2  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #045138 $13.95
  • Pondview Estate Gewurztraminer/Riesling 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 89-2  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #234625 $14.20
  • Willm Réserve Riesling 2009, 80  --  V,  Alsace, France, #011452 $15.95 
  • [yellow tail]* Pinot Grigio NV,  78 --  G, Australia, #068254 $9.95  
  • [yellow tail]* Chardonnay 2010, 77  --  G, Australia, #627802 $10.95

  • Emiliana Adobe Reserva Rosé Syrah 2010,  87-1  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #229690 $11.95

  • Bellenda San Fermo Brut Prosecco Superiore 2010, 88-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #082347  $17.95
  • Epsilon Sparkling Wine NV,  86-1  --  V, Treviso, Italy,  #221929  $13.95 
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, r-v - Rating-Value)


WILLM RÉSERVE RIESLING 2009, Alsace, France, 12.5%  XD, #011452  $15.95  (Tasted August 25, 2011)  CS
A Vintages Essentials. My notes:  The back label indicates just a touch of sweetness - which I didn‘t note. A pale gold without aromas and a first sip that has a soft nip, a layer of chalky dryness and mild citrus flavours and nice depth. The finish carries the combination of citrus and chalk for a short while then fading into a fairly dull end. Not much there as a sipper and didn’t pair well with grilled wild sockeye salmon and greens - was good with Roast Chicken with Lemons & Capers. Overall I found it disappointing as a ’réserve’ Alsace riesling. 80


EPSILON SPARKLING WINE NV,  Treviso, Italy, 9.5% XD, #221929  $13.95  (Tasted August 7, 2011)  CS . A Vintages release on June 11, 2011.  My notes: I was surprised by the price of this bubbly even tho’ very commercial in appearance it‘s worth a try. A quick burst of large to tiny bubbles on the pop and a soft green hued golden blond greets the eye. A faint birthday cake nose, crisp and clean, and a thin film separating to leave small islands on the glass and a ring of fine bubbles at the rim. Very bright, a moderate spritz, dry, subtle lemon vanilla flavour finishes with a smooth, subtle lemon pulp. This would be a crowd pleaser on a warm, humid day and the price allows for seconds, etc. Have with a shrimp ring, bacon wrapped scallops or warm bruschetta. I think this could even go with a grilled cheese sandwich. A straightforward pleasurable bubbly and a drink now.  86

BELLENDA SAN FERMO BRUT PROSECCO SUPERIORE 2010, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% XD, #082347  $17.95  (Tasted August 3, 2011) CS

Released by Vintages on July 9, 2011. My notes: A definite green hue to a light blond with streams of bubbles continuing after the first burst. The nose is a subtle grassy birthday cake and the film is thin quickly settling to lacy islands. There’s a fineness to the spritz that is smooth and refreshing although not quite mousseux. Exceptionally dry layering chalk on the palate. If you prefer your bubbly crisp this is it - fruit perhaps on the low side as a sipper, better with fresh oysters to start then into prosciutto wrapped asparagus and similar appetizers. A clean finish has a light flavour of green apple, a light silk on the lips.  88

PONDVIEW ESTATE GEWÜRZTRAMINER/RIESLING 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.1% MD, #234625  $14.20  (Tasted August 9, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 9, 2011. My note: Halfway to an Alsace and closer than I’ve tasted from Niagara - minimal floral but a fresh tropical fruit on the nose with some spicy honey notes after airing twenty minutes. There’s a touch of sweet, some spice and acid then into flavours of apple and pineapple. Spice comes first then the dry edge of riesling that lasts through a long finish, some chalk at the end. Warmer than anticipated on the finish, medium-bodied and smooth.  Cellaring for several years should be OK. Have with an Asian buffet or sushi.  89

SCHILD ‘PREMIUM WINES’ SHIRAZ 2007, Barossa, Australia, 14.5% XD, #066555  $27.95  (Tasted August 19, 2011)  CS
A Vintages release on July 9, 2011 and ranked #43 in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2009. Harvey Steiman (October 15, 2009) rated it 92. The back label says ’shows a nose of ripe cherries, rich spices and liquorice with some vanilla… etc.’  My notes: A deep ruby colour with aromas of black cherry, spicy red currant and smoke. The first sip is silky, full-bodied with a peppery acid that gives life to moderate  red cherry and currant flavours. The finish is sharp on the back of the throat which, along with a chalk dryness, may discourage sipping. A bold meal red that paired nicely with Denninger’s Lasagna and could with a T-bone or Swiss Chalet ribs all having a sweet side. May keep a few years but likely at or just past peak now.  88

L.A. CETTO PETITE SIRAH 2008, Mexico, 14.0% XD,  #983742  $11.95  (Tasted August 17, 2011)  CS

This is the second release of this very popular red the first being in February and now July 23, 2011. My notes: Last tasted on February 9, 2011 and thought highly at 92 points. The colour and the aroma are the same, the nose, an earthy black cherry, is perhaps less pronounced needing longer to develop in the glass. The film is firm taking awhile to fragment into islands, no tears and the first sip has a smoothness before flavours of oak and crushed cherries arrive. Tannins are start mild then layer the mouth and include bright acid then a woodiness. An interesting sipper with enough depth and character for repeats. Quite flexible, pairing with steaks, tenderloin, lamb chops or Italian sweet sausage would do it justice. The nose is the first to go but cellaring for a short while would be OK.  90 

CHÂTEAU PINDEFLEURS SAINT-EMILION GRAND CRU 2007, Bordeaux, France, 13.0%  XD, #102764  $20.00  (Tasted August 26, 2011) CS

A Vintages release on  July 23, 2011.  My notes: A Grand Vin de Bordeaux with an opaque granite toned ruby colour and a film that runs long legs. Let air or decant for an hour. The aroma is a spicy earthy blackcurrant and fig and the first sip is full of tannin and a tartness that grabs the palate then shows light fig and red currant flavours. The tannin chalks the mouth leaving some brambly flavour remnants at the end. Not a sipper - nibbles of bacon or liver paté on toasts minimum must have. Pairing with a pork and tomato ragu did not work. Past peak and will likely fade fast - not so Grand a Cru.  80
TENUTA SANT'ANTONIO MONTI GARBI RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2008, Veneto, Italy, 14.0% XD, #029850  $17.95  (Tasted August 7, 2011)  CS
A Vintages release on June 11, 2011. BC says ‘…leans to the herbal side, with notes of flowers and fennel…’. My notes:  A black cherry red with a film that lays thin and slowly recedes following a lacy rim. A soft cherry berry nose hinting at acid until the first sip confirms it along with drying tannins and a taste of crushed cherry stones. Flavours continue gradually losing most of the fruit then ending with a soft herbal leather combo. The initial fruit makes this a pleasurable medium-bodied sipper. The flavours would pair nicely with light beefy meals - was a tad mild for bbq’d ribs, likely better with marinated sirloin or rib eye. Should keep for awhile - at peak now.  88

DELAS ‘LES REINAGES’ GIGONDAS 2007,  Tournon-sur-Rhône, France, 15.0%  D, #222604  $29.95  (Tasted August 1, 2011)  CS
A Vintages release on July 23, 2011. Scored 91-93 by Robert Parker Jr.  in February 2009.  “The stunning 2007 Gigondas ‘Les Reinages’ may be the finest wine Delas has yet made from this appellation. Beautiful notes of black raspberries, blueberries, crushed rocks, lavender, and a hint of spice are followed by a full-bodied wine displaying superb concentration as well as depth.”  My notes: The purple ruby colour has a sombre cast - uncertain of the future when added to the initial whiff of farmyard needing just a few minutes to subside. Dark plum, some blueberries and then a nutty lavender awakens. A swirl leaves a thick film dropping long slow legs and the first sip shows a rich velvet texture, a subtle acid balancing fine tannins and subdued blueberry and black cherry flavours - warm throughout. Its depth makes this a wonderful sipper - something to mull over. Pairing with a master chef prepared beef or venison dish could be a match. This needs delicate sauces over cautiously prepared medium-rare, aged slices.  Slow sipping provides a full appreciation of subtle changes - extraordinary. A wine that will cellar ages.  94

CHÂTEAU CAMPLAZENS LA GARRIGUE 2007, Armissan, France , 12.5% D, #195008  $14.35  (Tasted August 3, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on January 22, 2011 and recommended by @bottleDJ via a Tweet. The vineyard overlooks the Mediterranean in the centre of the mountain of La Clape. The back label claims the grapes are infused with nearby aromas of thyme, rosemary and juniper…etc.  My notes:Sometimes a south of France red carries the odour of the farmyard from whence the cows wander. This however came with a subtle whiff of the surrounding fields, la garrigue.  Also has a deep ruby colour and a moderate film shedding moderate tears from a unbroken rim. Soft sipping, noticeable tannins and a tang that’s slow to penetrate with flavours of cherries blended lightly with thyme and rosemary leaving the palate dry. A distinctive terroir and medium-bodied red well suited for sipping but better with grilled lamb chops with lavender . Drinking well now and could cellar a few more years.  90 

ANAKENA ‘SINGLE VINEYARD’ CARMENÈRE 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile,  13.5%  XD,  #059519  $13.95  (Tasted August 16, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on June 25, 2011.   My notes: Anakena is ‘committed to conservation of the environment, using environmentally friendly methods’.  An opaque ruby leaving a firm film which gradually fragments into lacy islands. Aromas of liquorice, blueberry and red currant combine providing an interesting but modest nose. A full-bodied texture glides smoothly bringing a stab of tart and a muted blending of blueberry and dark chocolate. Finishes smooth and dry with delicate flavour remnants. Start to finish this is well constructed for an interesting sipper and pairing with savoury meals of anything from beef tenderloin to roast turkey . Cellaring for several years should be OK as well.  90

ANAKENA LILÉN ‘SINGLE VINEYARD’ VIOGNIER 2010, Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD, #045138 $13.95   (Tasted August 20, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on Aug 6, 2011   My notes: Labelled as being a ‘carbon neutral product’.  ‘Single Vineyard’ highlights the unique terror of the vineyard with ‘intense aromas and revealing taste’ - no exaggeration. Some honeysuckle, some green apple and some sea air in the nose making this intriguing on the pour either chilled or off-. Full-bodied with a sharpness balanced with raw fruit, a texture that is smooth and an aftertaste filled with remnants of all then ending dry.  Just a suspicion of floral throughout and not a distinct fruit but aromatic and tasty nonetheless. Have with Italian breads with shrimp or bacon toppings, anchovies on breads or proscuitto wrapped asparagus. Cellaring for a few years should be OK.   90

ANAKENA SINGLE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2009, Leyda Valley, 13.5% XD, #208439   $13.95  (Tasted August 8, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 6, 2011.  The back label describes this a ‘intense and complex aromas of red berries, tobacco, and a hint of violets.  On the palate it is ample and balanced, with silky tannins.’  My notes:  Give this a few minutes for a more evident aroma of leather and smoke, minimal fruit and slight floral which could be lavender.  The film shows some legs while retaining a rim before giving way to a laciness that clears leaving only globules.  A cheery cherry colour with fine tannins from the start, a subtle cherry flavour, a silky texture and dry finish makes for an interesting sipper. Delicate to make pairing difficult. Perhaps matching to a mixed buffet: tunafish or salmon pinwheels, ham salad triangles, bacon wrapped scallops, etc.  Not enough there to pair with Grilled Lamb & Feta Burgers .  I’d try cellaring a few years but go by year.  84

BOGLE VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Graton, California, 13.5% D, #904565  $17.95  (Tasted August 11, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 6, 2011.   My notes: The back label has no description perhaps letting the wine speak for itself. The colour is a deep ruby and the nose, a combination of blueberry, slight herb and tobacco or anise. The film sticks to the glass reluctantly shedding slow tears. Silky smooth, balanced acids and tannins dry the palate and leave red cherry as fruit and finishing with mild leftovers, a pleasing acid core then ending dry and smooth - an OK sipper. A front focussed red limiting pairing to mild meat dishes, nothing spicy. Nothing to cellar.  83
  EMILIANA WINEMAKER'S SELECTION ‘LA QUEBRADA’ SYRAH 2009, Casablanca, Chile, 14.5% XD, #212407  $18.95  (Tasted August 15, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on May 28, 2011.  My notes: The ‘la Quebrada’ estate in the Casablanca Valley is the source of the grapes for this Syrah. The Emiliana vineyards follow the international standards for the protection of the environment through ISO 14001. A blend of 88% Syrah, 7% Merlot and 5% Viognier. I wouldn’t want to spill this on a carpet! A deep purple that stains the glass with the first swirl and leaves a moderate film with long fast legs. The nose has an evident pepper edge to aromas of blueberry and black berry - air in a wide bowl. Rich tannins, a biting grip, flavours of blackberries felt from the tongue to the back of the throat. The finish starts and ends somewhat brambly and very dry. For those that prefer tart, young fruit. Have with savoury but not spicy entrees: beef bourguignon, Wellington or a lamb shank. Was OK with Mom's Meatloaf. Cellaring may soften the acids if left up to five years. 86

CANEPA RESERVA PRIVADA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010,  Maipo Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #412031  $13.95  (Tasted August 28, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 6, 2011.   My notes: This winery has its origin with Jose Canepa’s migration to Chile from Genoa in the early 1900s.  The nose is heavily scented with sharp edged, earthy plums and the colour is a deep royal ruby. A wall of film slowly gives up a rim of tears. The first sip shows velvet before quickly penetrating the taste buds and leaving a warm flavour of red currants and black cherries. The tartness is prepared for any grilled, roasted or bbq’d well seasoned Moroccan flank steak. The finish fades leaving a touch of dry leather. A full-bodied meal red that should age well for several years.  89

EMILIANA ADOBE RESERVA ROSÉ SYRAH 2010, Rapel Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #229690  $11.95  (Tasted August 15, 2011)  CS
Released by Vintages on May 28, 2011   My notes: The label says ‘Organic viticulture …. achieve[s] the maximum expression of our vineyards and terroir. And ‘Certified organic by IMO Switzerland’.  A crisp red cherry colour leaving a thin film that recedes quickly into lacy islands. An aroma of delicate red currant with a dust of pepper and a flavour on first sip of red currant with prominent acid that fades into a long dry finish.  A light-bodied aperitif if you prefer tart, better with ham or party sausage and would pair with rabbit, chicken or turkey. Cellaring is not likely of benefit although may bring out some latent softness.  87

VIÑA LEYDA LAS BRISAS VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2009, Leyda Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #209908  $16.95  (Tasted August 8, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on Mar 5, 2011.   The back label says ‘…located 12km from the Pacific Ocean…  the cool conditions of spring and summer makes it an extraordinary area for … Pinto Noir.’  My notes: The film is thin and drains quickly from a lacy rim to meet the wine. The colour is a strawberry edged ruby and an aroma of crushed strawberry, light herbs and leather is very approachable - could be a gulper rather than a sipper. Silky smooth from tip to the back of the throat with a slight acid, discrete fruit and retaining a fine silk to the end. A gentile red to sip and needs a polite entrée for company: beef tenderloin au jus or duck with cherry sauce. Was good with Grilled Lamb & Feta Burgers. This could be a surprise after cellaring four years but will always be gentile.  86  

HEARTLAND STICKLEBACK WHITE 2009, Kent Town, South Australia, 12.0%  D, #186387  $10.95  (Tasted August 28, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on unknown date. My notes: The label identifies the winemaker as Ben Glaetzer. A blend of Verdelho, Semillon and Viognier.  A new gold colour and a film that sticks to the sides and fragments as the rim recedes. The aroma is of nettles, gooseberries and lemon - in that order and prominent. The first sip has a silky texture, full-bodied and nicely balanced acids and fruit: lemon, gooseberries and touch of kiwi and lime. The finish lasts forever ending mildly flavourful and soft from chilled to off chill it‘s great. A wonderful sipper - different than the norm. Have with curried mussels, an entrée of grilled mild fish filets, a creamy mushroom soup - super with  Roast Chicken with Lemons & Capers. Cellaring for another two years should be OK but not adding a lot since it’s drinking well now. 92

PEDRO ESCUDERO ‘FUENTE ELVIRA’ VERDEJO 2009,  Rueda, Spain, 13.0% D, #218313   $13.95  (Tasted August 26, 2011) CS

Release by Vintages on Jun 25, 2011. Rated 91 by Josh Raynolds of International Wine Cellar (Sept/Oct 2010).  My notes: Produced from 100% old vines Verdejo grapes from a single vineyard, Fuente Verdejo.  A lemon colour with a slight sprtiz on the glass. There’s a softness to a lemon blossom scent and the film quickly shows a lacy rim before receding into fragmented islands. Tart, creamy, bright lemon and green apple flavours lead to a very dry mouthfeel accentuated during a long finish ending chalk dry. Not a sipper unless nibbles are close-by. An aperitif for fried octopus, fresh oysters or lox, capers, onions and cream cheese - no bagel. Serve chilled with vichyssoise or with a grilled whitefish entrée. Cellaring for a few years should be OK.  91

[YELLOW TAIL]* CHARDONNAY 2010, Australia, 13.5% D, #627802  $10.95  (Tasted August 20, 2011)  CS

A General listing produced by Casella Wines.  My notes: A house gift. A new gold colour with a film that sticks to the glass then recedes with a few small tears fragmenting & forming globulet clusters. The nose isn’t and the first sip has a little resemblance to chardonnay with a tart spice to match a slight sweetness and citrus based flavour followed by an awkward finish that’s dry on the palate. A social sipper to go with buffet selections or with a mild seafood - a beverage for a crowd.  77  

[YELLOW TAIL]* PINOT GRIGIO NV, Australia, 11.9% D,  #068254  $9.95  (Tasted August 16, 2011)  CS

A General listing produced by Casella Wines.  My notes: A house gift. A polished pale lemon in the glass with a film that sticks then gradually falls evenly. There’s no perceptible scent of fruit and the first sip starts with a mild acidic lining around a soft lemon drop flavour. Texture is clean and refreshing, light-bodied and continues along a short finish ending with a polite tartness. As a sipper interest wanes after the fourth sip. This could quench a thirst on a hot day and may match a buffet spread of finger foods. I had difficulty pairing because of its simple flavour profile and shallow structure, without varietal strength. A drink now.  78 

PARÉS BALTÀ MAS ELENA 2007, Penedès, Spain, 13.5% XD, #687236 $17.95  (Tasted August 24, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 20, 2011. A blend of 61% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc and resulting from Organic Farming. Rated 90 by Josh Reynolds, International Wine Cellar (Sept/Oct 2010).  My notes: A light nose of black cherries and warm earth. The colour is opaque ruby and the film is firm leaving long slow legs. Smooth on the lips emphasizing the initial tang then a spicy flavour of blackberries, blueberries and mild cassis. The velvet mouthfeel has a distinct dryness  which passes leaving a spicy chalk finish. Interesting for its difference if you’re a curious sipper although you may pass up a second glass given an alternative. To me the smoothness dominated the flavours - a two lobed red. Pair with a beef stew, rib-eye steak or rack of lamb. Will keep for several years but not change much.  86

FROGPOND FARM ORGANIC GAMAY NOIR 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 12.4%  XD, #245613  $15.00  (Tasted August 22, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 20, 2011.  The back label states the Farm has been certified organic since 2001 and all wines are from grapes grown on the family farm.  My notes: There’s a candy floss scent to the raspberry nose and the colour is a light ruby on the pour presenting itself as a bright ruby in the glass. I aired for twenty minutes to an hour to mellow a metallic edge to bright raspberry and white currant flavours. An acid seam cleans the palate and, I suspect, limits this as a social sipper. The finish carries the acid then ends with mostly a metallic reminder of the initial sip. Pair with pork tenderloin or a lamb stew. (Try opening a day ahead to quell the acid - I found it mellower by next day).   83

MALIVOIRE GAMAY 2009 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% D, #591313  $17.95  (Tasted August 22, 2011)  CS

Release date is unknown.  My notes: The nose has an earthy note added to a plum and cherry aroma. A ripe raspberry colour has eye appeal and a raspberry or berry compote flavour gives appeal as a sipper although the intensity of acid detracts from what could be pleasurable fruit and lasts to a dry metallic ending. On the light side of medium-bodied and OK as a sipper - if nibbles are available. More suited to a meat eaters pizza or rib-eye steak. Cellaring a year or two is possible but treat as a nouveau and drink now. A well made wine needing an acquired taste. (Try opening a day ahead to quell the acid).  86 

WILLIAM FEVRE CHABLIS CHAMPS ROYAUX 2009, Burgundy, France, 12.5% D, #276436 $20.75 (Tasted August 31, 2011)   CS

The 2004 vintage was tasted in 2008 (before ratings) and thought highly. The 2009 was tasted in December 2010 and rated 91 - a consistent winemaker for sure.  Leaving a lacy pattern on the glass this has more body than expected. It has a delicate nettles and gooseberry aroma more pronounced if aired and off chill slightly. The flavour follows the nose but more pronounced and dry, steely edged, nicely full with a lining of silk shifting to light lemon at the end. I enjoyed it as a sipper and with an entrée of grilled cod with sweet potato fries. A great combination making this a flexible white sipping or pairing. Given the cellar-ability of the 2004 the 2009 should continue to improve four years and more.  92