Wednesday, December 07, 2011

December 2011 Wines: 10 Tasted of 10

Sharp Shinned Hawk Browsing
My venture into South Africa grew larger than anticipated so I've organized the 'orphans' here in a separate entry.

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, sparkles and other:
  • Stalking Horse 'McLaren Vale'  Shiraz 2008*, 93-3  -- V,  McLaren Vale, Australia, #251215 $17.95  
  • [Veedha] Means Life Douro Red 2008, 89-2  -- V, Gaia, Portugal, #255851  $12.95 
  • Trio Reserva Merlot/Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, 89-2  -- V, Santiago, Chile, #433920 $14.95 

  • Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Stratus Riesling 2009 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 92-1  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery $35.20  
  • Charles Baker Ivan Vineyard Stratus Riesling 2010 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 90  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery $35.20
  • Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 86  -- V,  Marlborough, NZ, #919514 $17.95
  • Bodega Francis Lurton Pinot Gris 2010, UCO Valley, 83  --  G,  Argentina, #556746 $11.95

  • Bellussi Belcanto Extra Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore NV,  86  --  V,  Valdobbiadene, Italy, #053215 $17.95 
  • Domaine Allimant-Laugner Brut Crémant d’Alsace NV,  83 --  V, Orschwiller, France,  #030593 $17.95 
  • Katnook ‘Founder’s Block’ Sparkling Shiraz 2008, 82  --  V, Coonawara, Australia, #053330 $24.95

[VEEDHA] MEANS LIFE  DOURO RED 2008, Gaia, Portugal, 13.0% D, #255851  $12.95  (Tasted December 24, 2011)  CS

Produced by Sogevinus Fine Wine and a General listing. My notes: Suggested by @thegrapeguy, Michael Pinkus, in his column. Almost black in the glass with a smoky, earthy faint plum aroma and a lacy edged rim that refuses to fall - tilting shows columns of slow legs. Silky, full-bodied, a firm tannin with matching acids front concentrated black cherry flavours mellowed by process and ageing. The first sip declines slowly leaving a savoury red currant on the palate. A mellow and smooth sipper with a pleasing richness. Cellaring for another three years is doable, likely longer. 89

TRIO RESERVA MERLOT/CARMENÈRE/CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010,  Santiago, Chile, 14.0% XD, #433920  $14.95  (Tasted December 28, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 23, 2011. A blend of 70% Merlot, 15% Carmenère, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Sustainable practices are followed My notes: The 2003 vintage tasted in March 2005, before ratings, was $13.95 and  had cellaring potential. The 2010 is a dense ruby with a purple cast and a spicy ripe chocolate-dipped, black cherry aroma, mild with a warming penetration. The film sticks to the glass until fragmenting into long legs and lacy islands from a coloured rim. A sip confirms full-bodied with a silky softness easily matched by a penetrating acid. Flavours of plum, black cherry, dark chocolate and tobacco slowly fade to an earthy currant with an oily touch to the lips. Entertaining as a sipper although the end could use a buffet selection. A flexible complement with grilled meats, a beefy stew or rack of lamb. Cellaring for several years is likely but drinking well now and may not improve significantly. 89

STALKING HORSE 'MCLAREN VALE'  SHIRAZ 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia, 15.0% XD, #251215  $17.95  (Tasted December 13, 2011)  CS
Released by Vintages on November 12, 2011 and rated 90 by Harvey Steinman (March 31, 2011).   My notes: The videos on their website has Bruce Glugston, Winemaker, showing each of their single vineyard wines this one being from McLaren Vale, the others from Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley. *Considerable amount of sediment - decant. This has a purple hued ruby color, is dense in the glass with a film that sticks forming a solid rim flowing columns of slow tears. There’s a mild pepper to aromas of bacon and berry aromas. Full, velvety from the first sip, with smoky bacon and blueberry flavours gives distinctiveness. The velvet and a touch of oil remain at the end of a long flavourful, dry finish. This should cellar several years gaining more character altho’ it's well developed now.  93  

CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD STRATUS RIESLING 2009 VQA Vinemount Ridge, NOTL, Ontario, 10.5% D, #Winery $35.20  (Tasted December 28, 2011) 

My notes: The 2008 vintage was tasted in October last year with a rating of 93 due to its ‘delectable aroma of tropical fruit’, the likelihood of developing refined petrol and the fullness of flavour balanced with acids. Chilled to 8oC this vintage has less tropical aroma still ’noseworthy’ with tang balancing a subtle sweetness. A luscious first sip with long slow legs forming from a solid rim eventually cascading as lacy islands, on the lighter side of full-bodied with a finish carrying apple, pear, lime and a slight petrol to a dry end. A ‘leave me alone to sip’ sipper this also paired nicely with grilled Atlantic salmon and a green beans w/mushroom side. Drinking well now but could possibly be a solid performer in a few years. 92

CHARLES BAKER IVAN VINEYARD STRATUS RIESLING 2010 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, NOTL, Ontario, 10.5% D, #Winery $35.20  (Tasted December 28, 2011) 

My notes: Ordered directly from the winery this new Riesling, made from grapes grown in the Ivan vineyard, sold out quickly.  The colour is a pale new gold, crystal clear in the glass with a delectable aroma of pear and sweet apple blossom. The film leaves a lacy rim that recedes evenly quickly forming lacy islands. At 10oC, my preferred sipping temp, there’s a change to sweet apple and almond in the nose - this follows to the flavours of the first sip. There’s a long finish ending with quieter citrus leaving the almond prominent still with a suspicion of natural sugar. Enigmatic to pair it was a mild complement to grilled Atlantic salmon and did not work with chicken Wellington with petit pois and risotto. I’ll save for sipping where character builds with each sip… or cellar year by year and watch for a peak.  A drink now. 90


BODEGA FRANCOIS LURTON PINOT GRIS 2010, UCO Valley, Argentina, 12.5%  D, #556746  $11.95  (Tasted December 2, 2011)  CS

A General listing. My notes: Recommended by Anthony Gismondi (@TheSpitter) in a Tweet (Nov 30)  “… a ridiculous value”.  As well, Jay Miller (Wine Advocate) stated “Francois Lurton’s newest releases are uniformly excellent” June 2011.  A pale lemon colour and a just perceptible pond scum aroma that airs quickly - not objectionable, not fruity/floral. Flavours of delicate kiwi with a melon tinge, a nice tang and texture, dry on a slow journey to a dry end. An acceptable sipper for a mixed buffet or paired with white fish fillets seared and roasted with mixed root vegetables. A drink now before the meagre fruit disappears. 83

WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0%  XD, #919514  $17.95  (Tasted December 4, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on November 12, 2011.  My notes: Vineyards are located in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough and Ben Glover is the winemaker.  A clean crisp blond colour with an aroma of partly ripe gooseberries has a conservative initial appeal. A thin film with a evenly receding lacy rim says it’s a lightish medium body sipper. A tang that grabs the palate in the same way as walking a bush row and crushing a few herbaceous gooseberries impromptu gains the palate’s prompt attention. A sipper if you enjoy some acid with your conversation, otherwise, a complement to crustaceans or their finny cousins - went well with Clarkson Fish & Chips. Cellaring a year could maintain current appeal.  86

DOMAINE ALLIMANT-LAUGNER BRUT CRÉMANT D'ALSACE NV, Orschwiller, France, 12.5% XD, 030593  $17.95  (Tasted December 1, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on October 15, 2011. Scored 1 star out of 3 by Guide Hachette's rating system (2010). A blend of  80% Auxerrois and 20% Riesling.  My notes: I'm curious to know how a 1 star is rated when tasted here.  There’s a burst of varying size bubbles on pouring that settles to large then steady streams of fine - no mousse. A pale straw colour with a light yeasty aroma and soft texture from the first sip. A moderate lemon tang and hint of apple pie builds interest then quickly ends with a soft mineral dryness. The initial sip is followed by a bland finish - quaffing helps maintain interest. Have with salty hors d‘oeuvres. A well made, straightforward style to be served well chilled.  83 

BELLUSSI BELCANTO EXTRA DRY PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE NV, Valdobbiadene, Italy, 11.5%  XD, #053215  $17.95  (Tasted December 25, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on November 26, 2011.  My notes: Tasted a year ago on December 31, 2010 and rated 88. Vintages has retained the same notes as the 2010 Release. Except for the price, a loonie higher, there’s likely consistency from this producer. There’s a floral aspect to a fresh apple aroma as a profusion of bubbles, mostly fine, bursts on the initial pour and forms a light mousse at the rim. A pale blond with a spritz that blends nicely with a biting acid and sweet apple flavours, milder than previous, that decline slowly to a bone dry fruit. Served with a mixed Mandarin Gardens selection this cut the sugary sauces and paired with a combination of beef slices, shrimp and chicken balls. A refreshing drink now. 86

KATNOOK ‘FOUNDER'S BLOCK’ SPARKLING SHIRAZ 2008, Coonawara, Australia, 12.5% D, #053330  $24.95  (Tasted December 18, 2011)  CS.

A Vintages release on November 27, 2010.  My notes: The 2008 is five dollars more than the 2004 tasted in September 2010 - that’s our monopoly’s approach to saving Ontarians from overindulging. The 2004 was released by Vintages and tasted December 8, 2007 (89). The vintage maintained high ratings when retasted October 21 2008 (89), March 25 2010 (88) and September 25, 2010 (87).  Last December 9th the 2008 was ‘lip smacking luscious’ , rated 88 and became a family favourite. Tasted today, December 18th there is the same deep ruby colour and faint blackberry aromas with a steely coolness. Fine bubbles burst on pouring relaxing to a stream settling at the rim. A strong tartness accompanied by a light bitterness meets the palate, negligible fresh fruit but an abrupt dryness continuing to a metallic end - chalky tannins predominate. Pairing with a raisin and brown sugared ham steak wasn’t satisfactory  Perhaps pairing with bacon stacked on a bun or maple coated waffles and sausage. Lacks distinct varietal character and past peak.  82

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