Saturday, September 24, 2011


This title would lead one, with a narrow interpretation of the phrase, to expect ‘terroir’ or ‘somewhereness’ in the Ontario wines featured in this LCBO glossy. However, after reviewing the selection of wines I'm led to a more generic interpretation. When compared with fruits and vegetables imported to Ontario wines don’t have to be refrigerated nor do they need prepicking or treated to delay ripening during travel. They can be shipped from New Zealand, South Africa, California and Chile with a modicum of environment control. Encased in their not quite hermetically sealed cylinders, in bottles or in bulk, the flavours of their home location are retained.  'Local Tastes Better’, in this instance, may simply mean ‘Buy Ontario‘.

With admittedly a narrow interpretation my question to explore this further is ‘Of the nineteen Ontario wines in this glossy which ones would I expect to have the taste of terroir and of the grape?’. 
My focus is where the wine originates, the sub-appellation, and what grape varieties are used. The remaining component of whatever's in the bottle is the winemaker's contribution including his/her care of the soils and vines.

Of the nineteen wines in this issue there are two sub-appellations that should have a specific terroir, one from Twenty Mile Bench (Flat Rock Cellars 2009 Pinot Noir  #001545). Flat Rock produces three Pinot Noirs the one being offered is their entry level, a blend of three traditional clones: 667, 777, and 115 from estate vineyards. The second sub-appellation is Lincoln Lakeshore and Legends Estate winery (Diva* Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc #179143) offers a
Page 17 - Do as I say, not as I do!
traditional (if I said Bordeaux I'd have to black it out ) blend. Three wines are from a zone, Niagara-on-the-Lake, consisting of several sub-appellations (Château des Charmes Riesling  #061499, Stone Church Sauvignon Blanc #101865, Southbrook Connect Red ‘Organic‘ #249565). The grapes in these three are likely from estate  vineyards with the potential to express a specific 'somewhereness'. The remaining fourteen wines are blends of juices from across Niagara Peninsula and the broader region of Ontario.

For the consumer on a budget this glossy offers a number of beverage options but to experience the taste of Ontario one really needs to be more selective and visit specific wineries.

Cheers, Ww

Separate note: Does anyone proofread the recipes? eg. Roasted Red Peppers: ignoring the 11 cups of liquids there are 12kg (26lbs) of sweet red peppers. I better start now if I want it for Monday's supper ... or...  maybe I'll drop into Longo's for a jar.

Friday, September 02, 2011

September 2011 Whites+: 15 Tasted of 15

Craggy Range - the mountains
I've split the September wines into Reds and Whites+ to facilitate editing - and hopefully it'll help find wines more easily. Some of the text has been repeated as it applies to Whites+. 

the Winery, April 2003
[Much has been said lately about biodynamic and other viticulture practices that break away from conventional methods. Over the next few months I’ll be looking for examples of ‘biodynamic’ wines and those claiming to be ’organic’, ’natural’ or at least using ‘sustainable practices’. A first search found 7 biodynamic (3 under $20) listed on the LCBO website and 101 organics.

Another category recently referred to in a tweet is called 'vegan' wines i.e. those which have had no animal by-product used during their production. No 'vegan' wines were found with an LCBO search.]

...and to support the GOLocal initiative I've added three Ontario VQA whites from a winery, Château des Charmes,  I haven't tried in a long while. 

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by whites, rosés, sparkles and other:
  • William Fèvre Chile Gran Cuvée Chardonnay 2009, 91-2 -- V, Santiago, Chile, #045146 $16.95
  • Craggy Range ‘Te Muna Road Single Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 90-1 -- V, Martinborough, NZ, #225706 $24.95
  • Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2008, 89-2 -- G, Margaret River, Australia, #157867 $14.95
  • Heimberger les Origines Vieilles Vignes Gewurztraminer 2009, 89-1 -- V, Beblenheim, Alsace, #223933 $17.95
  • Bonterra Chardonnay 2009, 88-1 -- V, Mendocino County, USA, #342436 $18.95
  • Paul Dolan Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 88-1 -- V, Mendocino, California, #046334 $19.95
  • Château des Charmes Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 87-1  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #081653  $13.95
  • Gold Ring Chardonnay 2009, 83*see note -- V, Mendocino County, California, #239442 $16.95
  • Château des Charmes Sur Lie Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 82  --  G, NOTL, Ontario,  #056754 $10.95 
  • Yalumba 'Y Series' Riesling 2009, 82 -- G, Eden Valley, Australia, #212753 $14.95
  • Napa Ridge Chardonnay 2009, 82  --  V,  Napa, California, #213678 $18.95
  • Château des Charmes Aligote 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 81  --  G,  NOTL, Ontario, #284950 $13.55 
  • Blu Giovello Pinot Grigio 2010,  79  --  G, Venezie, Italy, #580183 $12.95   

  • Delas Frères Saint Esprit Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2010, 90-2 -- V, Tournon-sur-Rhône, France, #224964 $12.95
  • Yalumba 'Y Series' Sangiovese Rosé 2010, 88-1 -- G, Eden Valley, South Australia,  #234419 $14.95 

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


HEIMBERGER  LES ORIGINES VIEILLES VIGNES GEWURZTRAMINER 2009, Beblenheim, Alsace, 13.0% MD, #223933 $17.95 (Tasted September 2, 2011) CS
A Vintages release on May 28, 2011. My notes: First a new gold colour with a faint aroma of mild honey and field hay. Then a film that slowly separates into islands and shows a few slow tears. The first sip is full in the mouth, viscous, with a mild honey and grassy tartness before the swallow slides pleasingly leaving a sweet lining and ending dry and spicy. Less floral and a more pronounced spice throughout than expected. We’ll see how it pairs with Metro’s sushi: shrimp, salmon and sticky rice - not quite the sushi match but OK. Cellaring for several years could integrate the honey with the spice and grass. Keep chilled.  89
DELAS  ‘SAINT ESPRIT’ CÔTES DU RHÔNE ROSÉ 2010, Tournon-sur-Rhône, France , 14.0% XD, #224964 $12.95 (Tasted September 12, 2011) CS

A Vintages release on June 11, 2011.  This rosé is a blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Cinsault. It is made using the superior saignée method (bleeding off free-run juice after a short maceration on the skins - 18 hours in this case).  My notes: There’s a peach blush for visual appeal and a scent of rose tainted peach adding sniff appeal. The first sip has a pleasing fullness, a nice nip and dryness to refresh the palate. The flavour combines watermelon with cantaloupe without any underlying sweetness - as advertised, XD. Serve chilled watching for change as the glass warms. The glass bowl is covered with fragmenting lace from slow tears. Perfect for a summer afternoon - party sausage or bacon wrapped goodies would add to the experience. Was excellent with Pad Thai noodles, bean sprouts and Coconut Shrimp .  Should be able to cellar for a few years - go yearly.  90

CRAGGY RANGE ‘TE MUNA ROAD SINGLE VINEYARD’ SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Martinborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #225706 $24.95 (Tasted September 23, 2011) CS

Released by Vintages on May 14, 2011. My notes: A light blond with a green tint and subtle aromas of green gooseberries, not much when chilled, slightly more when off chill. Served chilled the fruit lays nicely on the taste buds while a delightful combination of dry viscosity and lime tang gives character to an interesting first sip. The finish remains true until fruit fades leaving a light oil on lips. Larger sips reveal an interesting fullness. Have with grilled scallops or bearded mussels in a curried broth and crusty breads. Cellaring for a few years should integrate fruit increasing the roundness that’s at first tasting. Very clean - a Martinborough not a Marlbourough and overall halfway to Europe.  90

WILLIAM FÈVRE CHILE GRAN CUVÉE CHARDONNAY 2009, Santiago (Pirque), Chile, 13.9% XD, #045146 $16.95 (Tasted September 12, 2011) CS

Released by Vintages on August 6, 2011 and rated 88 by Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar (May/June 2011). My notes: This has a curious nose of lime zest, Bosc pear and spice that anticipates a pronounced tang. The film recedes from an unbroken rim until islands of lace and tears remain. The colour is mid golden and the first sip has a sustained tanginess with flavours of lime, soft butter and a crushed spice. A persistent finishes finally ends, except for the subtle butter and spice, warm & dry. Interesting as a sipper altho may not suit anyone looking for conventional fruit, this went nicely with scallops, grilled with parmesan cheese, and whole wheat noodles. Cellaring for many years is likely. 91

GOLD RING CHARDONNAY 2009, Mendocino County, California, 15.5% XD, #239442 $16.95 (Tasted September 8, 2011) CS

Released by Vintages on August 20, 2011 and a product of the Rutherford Wine Company from grapes organically grown along the Russian River.  My notes: A soft golden blond with a light citrus and lemongrass nose. The film firmly attaches until clusters of slow tears clear a path for lacy islands. The first sip is astringent through to the throat, full in the mouth with buttery texture and burnt caramel. Interesting for its strength and smoothness but with a rawness not appealing to  all tastes. Have with tuna- or swordfish steak, grilled salmon, lake trout or mussels curried or in a tomato sauce. Cellaring for several years may soften acids but not the alcohol. *Much better the next day! +3  83

YALUMBA 'Y SERIES' SANGIOVESE ROSÉ 2010, Eden Valley, South Australia, 12.5% D, #234419 $14.95 (Tasted September 5, 2011) CS

A General listing and judged the best rosé of the Perth Royal Wine Show 2010. My notes:  Common in Tuscan wines Sangiovese has its origin in ancient times as inferred by its root name, ’Blood of Jove’.  This blend of grapes from two separate regions, Barossa and Wrattonbully, shows a  deep rosy peach colour with a pronounced aromatic nose partly floral and partly stone fruit. The film runs slow tears leaving the rim lacy until breaking into islands linked by globules. Bright on the palate with a touch of sweet watermelon and cherry flavours match the acid nicely then ends dry to the tongue. An interesting sipper as well as a match for most seafoods, crustaceans and small denizens of the sea prepared with flavourful sauces. Cellaring for several years could lead to a pleasing outcome.  88 

YALUMBA 'Y SERIES' RIESLING 2009, Eden Valley, Australia, 11.0% D, #212753 $14.95 (Tasted September 14, 2011) CS

A General listing. My notes:A pale gold in the glass with a subtle scent of oleander given time to develop - not much to sniff tho‘. A thin film recedes slowly from a lacy rim and the first sip confirms a light-bodied, dry wisp of citrus that spreads to the back of the throat then finishes dry with a mineral note, not pronounced.  As a sipper, shallow textured but with an interesting citrus roundness - did not contribute much to a grilled salmon filet with green beans and stir-fried bean sprouts. A lighter entrée of seared scallops or shrimp with brown rice would likely have been more appropriate. Serve as a before dinner sipper or a party quencher. A drink now.  82

SKUTTLEBUTT SAUVIGNON BLANC-SEMILLON 2008, Margaret River, Australia, 13.0% D, #157867 $14.95 (Tasted September 25, 2011) CS

My notes: Previously tasted in November 2009 as Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008, #047621 @ $15.95 and rated 88. Perhaps a rebottling by Stella Bella Wines, dormant inventory or ?  The colour of clear light lime juice in the glass and aromas of green gooseberries with some pond allure, tangy to the nose. The film is firm on the glass and sheds long slow legs from a solid rim. The first sip has a roundness to complement fresh gooseberry flavours - scrumptious to the palate having a long finish ending with enough tang to remain interesting.  I don’t think this should be cellared - the freshness could give  a seafood entrée that something special. Have with a.) scallops b.) bearded mussels c.) whole trout stuffed with crab meat.  89 

PAUL DOLAN VINEYARDS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Mendocino, California, 13.5% XD, #046334 $19.95 (Tasted September 7, 2011) CS
Released by Vintages on April 30, 2011. My notes: Paul Dolan noticed the difference in his vines when he discontinued use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. This sauvignon blanc is an example of his present day organic viticulture.  There are tiny bubbles, very few, sticking to the glass on pouring and a film that recedes quickly from a lacy rim. A clean nose without appreciable scent - perhaps there’s more as it warms? - waited and not much change - perhaps a lemon zest.  Nice depth and balance of citrus fruit, acid with a softness and slight roundness makes this an appealing white  - serve with a buffet spread. The finish carries tasty elements ending eventually tart and a touch of chalk. A thirst quencher to go with bacon wrapped mushrooms or creamy potato & leek soup.  88

BONTERRA CHARDONNAY 2009, Mendocino County, USA, 13.5% D, #342436 $18.95 (Tasted September 5, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release with an unknown date. My notes: By Fetzer Vineyards and is certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers. A blend of  96% Chardonnay, 3% Muscat, 1% Rousanne and 1% Viognier.  A mid gold colour nicely clear, an almost perceptible aroma of honeyed coated grapefruit and an even film that breaks into lacy islands. If you prefer medium-bodied, bright and full of grassy grapefruit this is a pleasant sipper. The acidity and fullness went nicely with crab (I used lobster) burgers with red pepper dressing on a bed of romaine lettuce hearts especially refreshing at the meal end. As well, pair with mussels or other crustaceans. A drink now.  88

BLU GIOVELLO PINOT GRIGIO 2010, Venezie, Italy, 11.5% D, #580183 $12.95  (Tasted September 13, 2011)  CS
A General listing.  My notes: One of seven wines for this international label, and entry level, produced by Piera Martellozzo. The website claims “all my wines are produced to the logic of sustainability’, from the traditional range to the specific ‘ORGANIC’ selection.” I prefer statements, on the label, of certification by an independent body.  The nose is a faint citrus and the colour is a faint blond. The film recedes quickly following a lacy rim. The first sip no longer has the fruit of the 2007 vintage (March 2009) but a tinge of lemon balanced by a tart, light-bodied presence in the mouth. The finish continues with warmth and a brightness that gradually fades to a dry lemon zest. There was insufficient body, flavour and acid to contribute to an entrée of sweet curried chicken pieces over basmati rice. By itself an adequate social sipper but without depth of the varietal and lacking much interest.   A drink now.  79 

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ALIGOTÉ 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.0% D, #284950  $13.55 (Tasted September 21, 2011)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A light citrus colour with negligible scent and a film that lies lightly on the bowl shedding tiny tears from a fragmented rim.  The first sip has a smooth balance of acid and white grapefruit leading to a moderate finish retaining tangy and dry  elements of both. An economical sipper for a social gathering, by itself or with a buffet of bacon wrapped asparagus, a cheese assortment or tri cornered sandwiches. Not a conversation starter. Pair with a salad of greens or grilled chicken breast. A drink now.  81

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES CHARDONNAY BARREL FERMENTED 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.0% D, #081653   $13.95  (Tasted September 16, 2011)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: This chardonnay has a polished crystal mid gold with a possible green tint on pouring. A swirl leaves a lacy rim to recede slowly and a lemon zest scent to accumulate in the bowl. A silk touch with a refreshingly tart citrus burst pleasantly surprises the palate cresting a short time then ending with a firm grassy tang. Chilled it’s a fresh sipper to please most of a buffet crowd and likely could companion a Swiss Chalet chicken dinner or other fowl or fish entrée. Has nice fruit and some depth with a price point to encourage trying a year or two in the cellar.  87
CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES SUR LIE CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario,  NOTL, Ontario, 13.0% D, #056754  $10.95  (Tasted September 16, 2011)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: A mid gold colour with negligible scent. A thin film leaves lacy layers as it recedes in the bowl. The first sip has a pleasing combination of tart and light citrus leaving the palate fairly dry without appealing remnants - did not get 'sur lie' cream. A conservative sipper that could possibly entice ABC advocates. A no-show when paired with tomato slices on multigrain breads pan-warmed with shredded parmesan cheese - difficult to pair. Treat as a buffet sipper with cheese options, party sausage  or hummus dips with dry crackers. A reasonable quaffer.  82

NAPA RIDGE CHARDONNAY 2009, Napa, California, 12.5% XD, #213678   $18.95  (Tasted September 18, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 3, 2011 and an Antares Wine Company label a  Bronco Wine Company affiliate.  My notes:  Two interesting manuals (Manual 1Manual 2 ) can be found on the Bronco Wine Company website. Unfortunately they have been  formatted so that a fee is required to convert them to printable form. This chardonnay has a new gold with a tint of green and showing a film that fragments into islands then shrinking globules. Scarcely a sniff and a first sip that has a nice softness, off chill, slight grassy tang and a growing savoury and honey nectar flavours. Lasting a short while, the finish ends soft with a edge of yeast. A sipper for a social setting with a variety of snacks to mix-match to guests’  tastes. Should be okay with seafood entrées or aged cheddar pieces on toasts. A drink now.  82


Wine Spectator & Domaine Cazes on Large-Scale Biodynamics

Thursday, September 01, 2011

September 2011 Reds: 15 Tasted of 15

View from Château Lake Louise
Much has been said lately about biodynamic and other viticulture practices that break away from conventional methods. Over the next few months I’ll be looking for examples of ‘biodynamic’ wines and those claiming to be 'organic', ’natural’ or at least using ‘sustainable practices’. A first search found 7 biodynamic (3 under $20) listed on the LCBO website and 101 organics.

Another category recently referred to in a tweet  is called 'vegan' wines i.e. those which have had no animal by-product used during their production. No 'vegan' wines were found with an LCBO search.

I've enjoyed Petite Sirah from Mexico (L.A.Cetto) and have added two others in the list encouraged by a Petite Sirah advocacy group in California, P.S. I loveyou. (Don't take it personally! 8-) )

Two Pinot Noirs are added to compare and to support GOLocal, the purchase of Ontario wines. 

Cheers, Ww

  • Kunde Family Estate ‘Sonoma Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 93-3  --  V,  Kenwood, California, #226977   $19.95
  • Kunde Family Estate ‘Sonoma Valley’ Zinfandel 2007, 92-3  --  V,  Kenwood, California, #965921  $16.95
  • Domaine Duseigneur Antarès Lirac 2007, 91-2  --  V, Lirac, France, #213082  $19.95
  • Yalumba 'Y Series' Shiraz/Viognier 2009, 89-2  --  G, Eden Valley, Australia, #624494  $14.95
  • Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 88-1  --  V,  Livermore, California, #301507 $16.95 
  • Château la Grolet Côtes de Bourg 2009, 88-1  --  V, Bordeaux, France, #126615  $17.95
  • Bonterra Zinfandel 2009,  86  --  V, Mendocino County, USA, #530139  $19.95
  • Peachy Canyon Petite Sirah 2007,  85** see note  --  V, Paso Robles, California, #239483  $19.95
  • Banfi Centine 2008, 84  --  V, Tuscany, Italy, #947440  $16.95
  • Napa Ridge ‘Napa Valley’ Petite Sirah 2007,  83  --  V, Napa, California, #213686  $19.95 
  • Konzelmann ‘Spaetburgunder’ Pinot Noir 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #200584  $12.95  
  • Château des Charmes 'Old Vines' Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 81(Cellar)  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #056754   $10.95 
  • Aldo Marenco Pirun 2008,  81  --  V, Piedmont, Italy, #161729  $17.95  
  • Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  81  --  V, Mendocino County, USA, #342428  $19.95
  • Masi Modello Rosso Delle Venezie 2010, 72  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #533026  $11.95

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


YALUMBA 'Y SERIES' SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2009, Eden Valley, Australia, 13.5% D, #624494  $14.95  (Tasted September 15, 2011)  CS

A General listing. My notes: A deep black cherry red with the scent of mahogany and savoury. A swirl brings a smooth coating that runs small tears before the rim slowly breaks up. An interesting sipper for its smoothness and balance of fruit, tannin and spice all of which carries through a long finish. Perhaps too bold for everyone’s tastes (but not as bold as some) but makes for a social option with say, a Chilean Malbec, for extensive fruit, and Bordeaux blends, for moderation. Have with a marinated sirloin, strip steak or bbq‘d ribs.  Cellar for up to four years to see if it changes… if for the better continue for another four. My guess it’ll develop depth and complexity.  89

NAPA RIDGE  ‘NAPA VALLEY’ PETITE SIRAH 2007, Napa, California, 12.5% D, #213686  $19.95   (Tasted September 26, 2011)  CS

A release date by Vintages is not stated. The back label says ‘A cheery wine exuding abundant personality…’.  My notes:  Two interesting manuals can be found on the Bronco Wine Company's  website.They are formatted so that a fee is required to convert them to printable form, Manual 1  & Manual 2. The 2007 Napa Ridge Petite Sirah, released in October 2009, won several awards in 2010 west coast wine competitions and is an Antares Wine Company label, one of the Bronco Wine Company affiliates. The colour of this Vintages release is almost ruby shaded black in the bowl with aromas of black cherries that need time to develop. A firm film with fast running legs changes to columns of tears from a solid rim. There’s a slight sweetness and a bright cherry flavour to balance mild tannins and acid. The finish changes to dry with a natural sugar, not too sweet more suitable as a social sipper - not complex. Have with a buffet table of proscuitto & mozzarella on pitas, party sausage, et cetera. Pair with most grilled meats including a ham or possibly a tuna steak. Not intended for cellaring - a drink now. 83

PEACHY CANYON  PETITE SIRAH 2007, Paso Robles, California, 15.1% XD, #239483  $19.95  (Tasted September 9, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 20, 2011. My notes: The 2007 was listed on their website. The Peachy Canyon Winery is SIP, 'Sustainability in Practice' , certified.  There’s a purple taint to the deep red and a faint scent of blackberries. The film falls evenly quickly forming fast tears. A sustained acid bite lines the mouth with a a burst of fruit and fine tannins leading to a dry metallic finish. Overall, an interesting medium-bodied sipper as flavours and character shift quickly and should be great with a buffet spread or with a meaty lasagna dish. Pairing with a grilled T-bone, a marinated strip steak or bbq’d ribs would also balance nicely. Cellaring a few more years should smooth it a tad.  Note: *Very nice if left open a day.... add +4. Amazing improvement the second day - full textured: depth, breadth and length. add another +3 for 92    (originally 85) 

MASI MODELLO ROSSO DELLE VENEZIE 2010, Veneto, Italy, 12.0%  D,  #533026  $11.95  (Tasted September 27, 2011)  CS

A General listing. My notes: A commercial blend by Masi Agricola of grapes from the Veneto region.  A dull ruby colour and the first sip has a level of acidity and dryness, a level of tannin and a taste of moderate chokecherries that makes this a non sipper. The film is thin running a rim that laces and falls quickly. The body is thin leaving the palate parched at the end with a woody aftertaste. Pairing with meat lovers pizza may have some merit but limited. Not a drink now and not for cellaring - doesn’t leave much. Discarded the rest of the bottle. 72

DOMAINE DUSEIGNEUR ANTARÈS LIRAC 2007,  Lirac, France, 14.5% D, #213082  $19.95  (Tasted tbd)  CS

A Vintages release on July 9, 2011 and a blend of 60% Grenache and equal parts Mourvedre and Syrah.  Listed as a biodynamic wine and is unfiltered.  Rated 91 by Robert Parker Jr. (October 2009).  My notes: Sticky for sure as the film grabs the bowl and is slow to shed columns of tears from a solid rim. The colour is a deep purple tinted ruby and the nose is balanced pepper and earthy edged black currant. Full and round, soft until fine tannins take hold then black cherry flavours masked by leather tones. The finish is silky soft ending dry and leathery. Interesting as a sipper including the moderately warm, earthy ending. Could be an excellent partner to rare cuts of game - or, more commonly, grilled T-bone, tenderloin or racks of back ribs. Cellaring for another four years is likely but drinking well now. 91

BONTERRA ZINFANDEL 2009, Mendocino County, USA, 14.5% XD, #530139  $19.95  (Tasted September 4, 2011)  CS
A Vintages release on August 20, 2011 and labelled as an organic wine. Won a Silver as best in class at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2010.  My Notes:  A Fetzer wine and organic. This has a smoky blackberry cranberry aroma and a colour that’s a deep black cherry.  Decanting for twenty minutes gives a fresher nose. A swirl leaves lacy patterns on the glass as it quickly drains. Full-bodied with a slight silk, firm tannins and penetrating tang make first impressions OK then, as the acid continues and subtle fruit turned warm and woody, my interest in sipping faded. Have with well seasoned grilled meats, bbq’d ribs, burgers or a meat lover’s pizza. Perhaps cellaring four years could soften but other reds are available at this price point. 86 

BONTERRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009, Mendocino County, USA, 13.5% D, #342428   $19.95  (Tasted September 6, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release with an unknown date.  My notes: The LCBO indicates this is from Brown-Forman Louisville Operations and is certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers. Also ‘Organic’ is on the label. The nose is a dusty leather with a mild aroma of blackcurrants and the film quickly forms flowing tears. The texture is soft with tannins filling every cranny drying the tongue out to the cheeks. Fruit flavours and a moderate acid fade quickly leaving a dusty finish to continue a flat theme. Not a lone sipper - have with sausage rolls or rib pieces at a buffet or pair with a juicy tenderloin or a rare T-bone. Cellaring is unlikely to develop this red further.  81

CHÂTEAU LA GROLET COTES DE BOURG 2009, Bordeaux, France, 13.0% XD, #126615  $17.95  (Tasted September 9, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on July 23, 2011. Château la Grolet is certified both organic and biodynamic.  My notes:  A blend of mostly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and is labelled a Grand Vin de Bordeaux. The deep ruby in the glass has a scent of blue- and blackberries tinged with vanilla and raindrops from a mossy floor - not intensely aromatic but subtly appealing. Flavours are well integrated and lined with fine tannins - starting with chalky herbal berries then keeping the bright and ending brambly as fruit fades. A modest sipper and a match with rare tenderloin not overly seasoned. OK now and will likely improve moderately over five years.  88
BANFI CENTINE 2008, Tuscany, Italy , 13.5% XD, #947440  $16.95  (Tasted September 13, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on March 19, 2011 and recognized by the ISO (ISO14001) and SAI (SA8000) for social responsibility (organic). A blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot.   My notes: The colour of black cherries, black at its heart, with a subtle aroma of plums and soft mint for spice. Smooth on the lips then a dry tannin on the palate with black cherry flavours. The combination is similar to licking a leather belt and sucking a cherry candy at the same time - an interesting sipper. A long dry finish ending on a mild leather note. Meant to pair with Italian pasta dishes this would be a suitable match for anything tomato-y and savoury if not spicy - even better the following day. Cellaring for a short while is possible although drinking well now.  84

ALDO MARENCO PIRUN 2008, Dogliani , Italy, 12.0% XD, #161729   $17.95  (Tasted September 26, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on March 6, 2010.  My notes: Certified organic ICEA. There’s a  graphite hue to a deep ruby and a swirl leaves a film that slowly separates retaining a solid rim and shedding almost stationary tears. A stiff sniff raises a sombre blend of earthy leather and blackberries. The first sip wakens the palate then dries it with rough tannins - decant or air for an hour. The flavour is consistent with the nose - leather tainted berries retained through an extra dry finish and a fuzz coating. Have with  panzerotti pizza : onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage and cheeses. Not a sipper unless you’re from northern Italy  - and it‘s unlikely cellaring will tame this red. 81
CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES  'OLD VINES' PINOT NOIR 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario,  13.0% D, #056754   $10.95  (Tasted September 17, 2011) CS

A General listing. My notes:  A see-thru dark hued ruby with a film that recedes from a lacy rim and leaves standing columns of slow flowing tears - interesting. There’s a muted scent of black cherries and light anise that needs time to develop. An acerbic poke shocks the palate along with firm fine tannins that mask a silky texture and subtle plum and cherry flavour.  Airing for an hour or decanting is recommended before serving. Tannins coat the mouth as flavours fade to a chalk dry end. Not a sipper. Pair with rack of lamb, ground beef burgers or a steak sandwich. Cellaring for another four years may quell the acid - at the price may be worth a try.  81(Cellar)

KONZELMANN PINOT NOIR 'SPAETBURGUNDER' 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario, 13.0% D, #200584   $12.95  (Tasted September 12, 2011) CS

A General listing. My notes: A website that lists wines inadequately, imho. Two Pinot Noirs with same year, labels are too small to distinguish a difference, the same price but different sweetness levels. How does one order online? Phone the winery to talk to a pleasant server - which is a better option any day.  The 2008 tasted in October 2010 wasn’t rated highly at 78. The colour of the 2009 is a light ruby with a strawberry edge and the scent is of faint strawberry with a tinge of Brett until aired for half hour losing the Brett and half the fruit. Sipping reveals a tang balanced with a light tannin and flavours of strawberry jam and equal forest floor - different more than interesting. Light-bodied, fairly shallow and finishing dry with smooth strawberry and anise.  Pairing with a ham steak or lamb chops may give this pinot an advantage. A drink now and cellaring will not likely improve.  82


KUNDE FAMILY ESTATE 'SONOMA VALLEY' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007,  Kenwood, California, 13.8% XD,  #226977   $19.95  (Tasted September 19, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on June 11, 2011.The Kunde Family Estate was awarded for their sustainable practices and 

facilities in 2008.  My notes:  Kunde is a winery Michael Pinkus visited this month. He has more to say on his website. This has a film that sticks awhile before shedding a waterfall of slow tears. The berry/currant nose flows from the bottle only to partly fade in the glass. The flavour is an intense black currant infused with black berries carrying a long fruit filled finish ‘til a luscious black currant ending extra dry. Full-bodied with a soft velvet texture this has much of interest to ponder over - sip and savour. Pairing with beef Wellington, a Prime rib roast or Greek Lamb Burgers (with green beans and portabello slices) should complement flavours nicely. Cellaring for several years should add to the complexity however pleasing it is now.  93
KUNDE FAMILY ESTATE 'SONOMA VALLEY' ZINFANDEL  2007, Kenwood, California, 14.5% XD, #965921  $16.95  (Tasted September 21, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on  August 6, 2011. Noted on the back label as ' varietally correct'.  My notes: Swirling for several minutes in a wide bowl allows aromas of pepper edged dried cherries to shine. Garnet hued in the glass with a film that sticks then flows slow tears from a continuous rim.  Tart? Dry? Full in the mouth with blackberry fruit balancing acid and tannins? Yes to all. Enough heat to slow the sipping to a crawl with a moderate finish ending velvet layered. Pair with seasoned grilled beef, bbq’d ribs beef or pork, or a savoury shank of lamb slow cooked. This should cellar well for several years and is drinking well now if, like me, you like warmth, dry and full. I think of ‘appassimento’.  92

WENTE SOUTHERN HILLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON  2009, Livemore, California, 13.5% D, #301507  $16.95  (Tasted September 20, 2011)  CS
A General listing. Their website states ‘Wente Vineyards is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery. … Blending traditional and innovative winemaking practices, the winery draws from approximately 3,000 acres of sustainably farmed Estate vineyards.’  My notes: Let air or decant twenty minutes before serving, the nose then has a subtle plum aroma with a spicy edge. The colour is a fuzzy ruby and the film is firm shedding many slow tears from a continuous rim. The texture is smooth with well balanced acid, tannin, fruit along with a process induced earthy accent.  A touch of natural sugar takes the edge off being barely noticeable. A very suitable sipper for a general crowd given an ample buffet table - the finish is ample declining to a moderate bramble. It’s also a polite companion to grilled or roast meats but not sufficiently bold to stand up to highly seasoned steaks or ribs. Made for early consumption.  88

Paul Dolan interviewed by Wine Spectator on 'Biodynamics'