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'

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