Friday, December 28, 2012

Things of the Past

Handshake, Ethics, Truth, Innocence - of a past era
The recent exposing of some wine reviewers unethical practices has backed up my long time recommendation to all consumers to research any and every wine critic for the applicability to themselves of their reviews. Unless you do your homework the purchase of wines based on reviews by both professionals or amateurs is a Buyer Beware business.

Words can sound truthful and even well intentioned but the prose of any wine article can also be so general the only one knowing how it's to be interpreted is you, the consumer.  For instance what do the words(1) "by far the largest, most useful and reliable source of independent information and critical opinion on wine in the country" mean?  'most useful'?  Yes & No, in what respect.  reliable?  Yes & No... varies with source.  independent? is each contributor vetted? Yes & No...  The options change the meaning unless you the reader set the boundaries. Establish what's meaningful. Don't accept face value. Don't let someone with vested interests tell you what is meaningful. 

(1)(2)From the article  featured in WineAlign "John Szabo's Vintages Preview for January 5th 2013"

Another phrase
(2) "you generally get what you pay for" is an outdated and naive statement in today's world, a world in which there is an increasingly disproportionate 'high income' to 'middle and low income' people. In contrast to the many venture capitalists willing to con their position in today's wine industry there are others willing to give of their experience and time not expecting payment except for the voluntary and free exchange of thoughts. To discredit the many wine bloggers in the interest of self promotion is disingenuous in my view.  Every information source should be treated on its own merit and not discounted offhandedly. It would be a positive step if some leading Wine Critics/Journalists set the bar not only for themselves but for all their colleagues, ie. to start regulating their business. But a lifestyle once accustomed is easily rationalized by anyone.

That's my opinion, Ww

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Critical World of Wine

December 19, 2012: released a salvo with the lead 'Natalie MacLean: "What I am doing is legal and right"'  joining the PalatePress and a few other wine critics in what appears to be an exposé of Natalie MacLean's publication practices.

The reaction has been surprisingly personal in response perhaps to how aggressively and self promoting MacLean's personality is and the perceived aloofness she has shown for mainstream wine consultancy in Canada. However, a discussion of 'copyright infringement' is not a discussion point here.

For the most part, wine critics live parasitically on the product of wineries, individual and collectively, to support the expense of a multitude of activities: touring wine regions of the world and their vineyards, interviewing winemakers and affluent owners, and participation in tasting events that fill their days, weeks and months. Each activity is dependent in a variety of ways to pay the way whether it be through book and newsletter publishing, contributing to magazines, scheduling fee-based wine tours/cruises, radio spots or subscriptions to websites and/or blogs, etc.. There are many successful critics either generating their own 'intellectual property' or becoming part of an organization to which they contribute and draw a stipend or commission. And in a positive way if it weren`t for wine critics much of what is available wouldn`t exist. You and I as consumers would miss the colour and dynamic of a rapidly growing industry.  Each critic adopts their own personal approach as to how to Market wine products on behalf of clients and how to package and sell their consultant services. At times their personalities are entertaining. At other times the extent of their egos and self promotion become distracting if not annoying. 

Check out the Youtube selections from Natalie's website - do you have a reaction to either, positive or negative?  Personally I think they have a professional polish compared to many others.

Setting aside for the moment wineries as the primary benefactors of this focus, consumers, ie. wine collectors or imbibers, also benefit... and the benefits increase if a history with enough wine critics is established in order to understand where their allegiance is.

Collectively wine critics are the marketing arm of the Wine Industry and every recommendation should be read with the same caution as an LCBO ad or Vintages Panel note. By methodically understanding which critics among the enormous number of 'masters' of this trade exaggerate, have a nepotic relationship with wineries or simply a personal bias for a particular wine style consumers can get to the nut of tasting notes and avoid much of the plonk brought into Ontario by the LCBO and its Agencies. In today's world 'media is the message'. Being able to distinguish between the 'entertainer' and 'consultant' is knowing when to 'buy' and when to be part of a 'tour'.

This is more than a North American phenomenon.  The article 'Hype, Hype, Hooray' is worth the read as it describes today's publicity around higher priced brands as 'bamboozling, pretentious and definitely overwrought' and achieved through 'waves of gimmicks and marketing ploys'.

One criticism of Natalie's approach with wineries is something called 'Pay to Play'. This approach asks a winery to buy a subscription to a website in return for reviews of their wines. Whether true or not what's the big deal? It's a simple 'yes' or 'no'. If it's against a winery's policy to recompense a critic for the work involved and track what is said about its products in order to provide a more complete marketing cycle then say 'I won't Pay'.  

An option is to sponsor an event inviting one or more Wine Critics - who may charge an appropriate fee. There are also services from event convenors that guide wineries through a single or complete season of events. Businesses such as 
@The Wine Ladies offer events for local Wine Regions. 

And how many times have I been asked to pay a subscription fee when attempting to followup a Wine Critics Tweet? Perhaps because of my built in resistance it doesn't occur to me that asking either a winery or a consumer to pay a subscription fee is 'unethical' - it's a question with an answer I control.  How many times have I acted on a professional Wine Critics wine recommendation only to find the notes are not the Critics but those of fellow bloggers, ie. people I don't know from the plummer next door.

Several years ago I was asked to review and give recommendations on changes proposed for Natalie MacLean's website .  I was given a free subscription allowing me to become a contributor to the development process. All correspondence came to me by e.mail undersigned 'Natalie MacLean'.  After several days of back and forth I recognized a difference in 'language' one e.mail to another. This prompted me to ask how many 'Natalie's' there were? The answer was 'several'. It took me two seconds to realize, although a surprise, it was perfectly reasonable. My main correspondent was a programmer. My opinion is that this person would not consider the act of transferring text, if indeed it happened, from a purchased Vintages database as 'copyright infringement'. 

The value assigned to each tasting note as 'intellectual property' is largely the personal disposition of its author. My own tasting notes are fleeting opinions in time driven by my long time interest in wines and are offered freely to those readers choosing to visit here.
So much for my thoughts... Ww

Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 2nd Half Summary - Whites+

Rock Bridge Mackinac Island 07 '64
The Whites+, including Rosés, Dessert and Bubblies tasted from July 1st to December this year are listed below.  Shown in brackets is the month of tasting where the original notes can be found. I've coloured the ones bought in for the Holidays.

For a list of Reds click on REDS. For an introduction and interpretation (tbd) of the numbers click on  INTRO .

  • Anakena Lilen Single Vineyard Viognier 2011,  92-3  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile,  #045138  $14.95  (Oct)
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Gewurztraminer 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench,  92-3  --  V,  Jordan, Ontario,  #302059 $17.95 (Jul)
  • Emiliana Signos de Origen 'La Vinilla' Chardonnay/ Viognier/Marsanne/ Roussanne 2010, 92-2  -- V,  Casablanca Valley, Chile, #063909 $19.95  (Jul)
  • Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc 2011,  92-2  --  V, Marlborough, New Zealand,  #010421 $21.95  (Jul)
  • Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 92-2  --  V,  Marlborough, NZ,  #677450  $21.95  (Oct)
  • Rosewood Estates Semillon 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario,  #Winery  $18.20  (Aug)
  • 2027 Cellars Falls Vineyard Riesling 2008 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 91-2 Cellar  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #294041 $18.95  (Aug)
  • Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2011,  91-2  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #278556  $19.95  (Aug)
  • Rosewood Estates Renaceau Vineyard Riesling Reserve 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $20.20  (Aug)
  • Cave Spring Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 90-2 --  G,   Jordan, Ontario, #228551  $14.95  (Jul)
  • Quintay Q Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 90-2  --  V, Casablanca, Chile, #276493 $14.95  (Oct) 
  • Hunter's Jane Hunter Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 90-1  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #280271  $19.95  (Jul)
  • Featherstone Estate Winery 2010 Canadian Oak Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula, 90-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #149302 $21.95  (Aug)
  • 13th Street Winery Old Vines Riesling 2009 VQA Creek Shores, 90-1  --  V, St. Catharines, Ontario, #272617 $23.95  (Aug) 
 (Return to Top)
  • Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011,  89-2  --  G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #275677 $13.95  (Nov)
  • Tommasi Viticoltori Vigneto le Rosse Pinot Grigio 2011,  89-2 --  G, Veneto, Italy,  #270082 $14.95  (Nov)
  • Flat Rock Chardonnay 2009 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 89-1  -- V, Jordan, Ontario,   #286278 $16.95 (Jul)
  • Jean-Marc Brocard Kimmeridgian Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008,  89-2  --  V,  Burgundy, France, #290049 $17.95 (Nov)
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chenin Blanc 2009 VQA Beamsville Bench, 89-1  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #627315  $17.95  (Aug)
  • Cave Spring Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 88-1  --  G,  Jordan, Ontario, #228551  $14.95 (Dec)   
  • Cave Spring Sauvignon Blanc 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 88-1  --  G,  Jordan, Ontario, #529933  $15.95  (Jul)
  • Spinyback by Waimea Pinot Gris 2010,  88-1  --  V, Nelson, NZ, #214569 $16.95 (Dec)
  • Tawse Quarry Road Riesling 2011 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 88  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #198853  $23.95 (Oct)
  • André Blanck & ses Fils Rosenbourg Pinot Blanc 2011, 87-1  -- V,  Alsace, France, #626606 $13.95  (Sep)
  • Spinyback Pinot Gris 2010, 87-1  --  V, Nelson, NZ, #214569 $16.95  (Aug) 
  • Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2011,  86-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #707158  $13.95  (Dec)
  • Cave Spring Estate Cave White 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86  --  G, Jordan, Ontario, #305128  $14.95 (Oct)
  • Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011,  86  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #293043  $15.45  (Sep)
  • Domaine de Fussiacus Macon-Fuisse 2009, 86  --  V, Burgundy, France, #279000 $16.95 (Nov)
  • Bosman Family Vineyards Adama White 2010, 86a  --  V, Cape of Good Hope, S. Africa, #282764  $18.95  (Dec)  
  • McManis Family Vineyards Viognier 2011, 86  --  V, Ripon, California, #658112 $18.95  (Aug)
  • Daniel Lenko Chardonngay 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  86  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #260398 $19.95  (Sep)
  • Mt. Boucherie 'Estate Collection' Semillon 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley, 86  --  V,  BC, Canada, #279364 $19.95  (Jul)
  • Ponzi Reserve Chardonnay 2009, 86 --  V, Willamette Valley, Oregon, #236208 $38.95  (Jul)
  • Calamus Estate Winery Riesling 2011 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 85a --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery  $16.20  (Aug)
  • Greenlane Estate Pinot Gris/Riesling 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, 85  --  G,  Beamsville, Ontario, #283721 $16.95  (Nov)
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Riesling 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench,  85  --  V,  Jordan, Ontario,  #286377 $17.95  (Jul)
  • 13th Street Winery Pinot Gris 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 85 --  O, St. Catharines, Ontario, #Winery   $19.95  (Aug) 
  • Bonterra Viognier Organic 2010, 85  --  V,  Mendocino County, California, #128900 $19.95  (Aug)
  • William Fèvre Champs Royaux Chablis 2011, 85  --  G, Burgundy, France,  #276436 $22.05 (Oct) 
  • Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010,  85  --  V, Napa Valley, California, #084988 $27.95  (Oct)
(Return to Top)
  • Cave Spring Dry Riesling 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  84  -- G,   Jordan, Ontario, #233635 $14.95  (Jul)
  • Calamus Estate Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84 --  O,  Jordan, Ontario, #Winery  $14.95  (Aug)
  • Anselmi San Vincenzo 2011, 84  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #948158 $14.95 (Nov)
  • Steininger Gruner Veltliner 2010, 84  --  V, Langelois, Austria, #280842  $14.95  (Aug)
  • Calamus Estate Winery Riesling 2010 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 84  --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #158642 $16.95  (Aug)
  • Bollini Trentino Pinot Grigio 2011, 84  --  V, Trentino, Italy, #951319 $16.95 (Nov)
  • Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2010,  84  --  V, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #738393 $17.95  (Oct)  
  • Konzelmann Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  83  --  G,  NOTL, Ontario, #200535  $11.95 (Nov) 
  • Lucien Albrecht Réserve Pinot Gris 2010,  83  --  V, Alsace, France,  #281394  $15.95  (Jul)
  • Babich Family Estates Individual Vineyard 'Fernhill' Viognier 2010, 83  --  V, Hawkes Bay, NZ, #269282  $16.95 (Jul)
  • McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2011, 83  --  V, Ripon, California, #181453 $17.95  (Nov)
  • Bonterra Chardonnay Organic 2010,  83  --  V, Mendocino County, California, #342436  $18.95  (Aug)
  • Angels Gate Mountainview Chardonnay 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench,  83  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #116384 $18.95  (Oct)
  • l'Escargot Cotes de Gascogne Sauvignon Blanc 2010,  82  --  G,  Bordeaux, France,  #289116  $9.95  (Nov)
  • Santa Julia[+] Pinot Grigio NV,  82  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #270314 $10.95  (Nov)
  • Konzelmann Pinot Blanc 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #219279 $12.15 (Dec)   
  • Pasqua Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2011,  82  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #213496 $12.45  (Nov) 
  • Domaine de la Tourlaudière Muscadet Sèvere et Maine Sur Lie 2010,  82  --  V, #171694 $13.95 (Jul)
  • Gray Monk Riesling 2009 VQA Okanagan Valley,  82  --  V, Okanagan, BC, #273466 $18.95  (Jul)
  • Jean Bourdy Côtes de Jura White 2007, 82  --  V, Jura, France, #286427  $24.95  (Aug)
  • Fuzion Alta Torrontes Pinot Grigio 2012, 81   --  G,  Mendoza, Argentina, #168419 $8.95 (Nov)
  • J.P. Chenet Reserve Premier de Cuvee Chardonnay 2011, 81  --  G, Pays d'Oc, France,  #255885  $9.95  (Oct)
  • Calamus Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 81  --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery  $17.20  (Aug)
  • Colio Estate Vineyards CEV Chardonnay Musqué 2007 VQA Lake Erie North Shore, 78  --  V, Harrow, Ontario, #116509 $15.55  (Oct)
  • Trius Riesling Dry 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  77  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #303792 $13.95 
  • Argento Pinot Grigio 2012, 75  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #620492 $9.95 (Nov)

 Other (Rosés, Bubblies, Dessert)

  • Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 2008,  92-3  --  V, Mosel, Germany,  #606202  $16.95 (Jul)
  • Thorn-Clarke Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut Reserve NV,  91-2  - V, Eden Valley, Australia, #280925 $19.95 (Aug)
  • Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2011,  91-1  --  V, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, #256289 $25.95  (Aug) 
  • Saint-Roche Côtes du Roussillon Syrah/Grenache Rosé 2011, 90-2  --  V, Perpignan, France, #276352  $14.95 (Aug)
  • Joseph Cattin Crémant Brut d'Alsace NV,  88-1  --  V,  Haut- Rhin, France,  #281329  $16.95 (Aug)
  • Comte de Négret 'Fronton' Rosé 2011,  86-1  --  V,  Fronton, France, #276378  $12.95 (Aug)
  • Cave Spring Dry Rosé 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 86  -- G,   Jordan, Ontario, #295006  $14.95 (Jul) 
  • Château de l'Aumérade Cru Classé Cuvée Marie Christine Rosé 2011,  86  --  V, Province, France, #282459  $15.95  (Aug)
  • Domaine de Nerleux le Folie des Loups Brut Crémant de Loire NV, 86  --  V, Loire, France,  #048686  $16.95  (Oct)
  • Codorniu Pinot Noir Brut Rosé Cava NV,  86  --  V,  Penedès, Spain, #665372 $17.95 (Jul)
  • Hinterbrook Rosé 2011 VQA Niagara Lakeshore,  85 --  V, NOTL, Ontario, #275818 $16.00  (Aug)
  • Firriato Chiaramonte (Ansonica) 2009, 83  --  V, Sicily, Italy, #211870 $16.25  (Oct)
  • Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Pinks Dry Rosé 2011,  83  --  V, Central Coast, California, #277970 $19.95 (Oct) 
  • La Marca Prosecco NV,  82  --  G,  Italy, #287987 $17.95 (Dec) 
  • Reyes d'Aragon Brut Reserva Cava 2009, 79  --  V,  Calatuyad, Spain, #194803  $13.95 (Oct)
  • Kiwi Walk Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV,  69  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #270462 $17.95 (Dec)
  • Sogrape Mateus Rosé NV, NR  --  G, Portugal, #000166 $8.95 (Jul) 

(Return to Top)

2012 2nd Half Summary - Reds

Circa Opening of the CN Tower
The Reds tasted from July 1st to December 2012 are listed below.  Shown in bracket is the month of tasting where the original notes can be found. I've coloured the ones bought in for the Holidays.

For a list of Whites+ which includes Rosés and Sparklings click on WHITES+ . For an introduction and interpretation (tbd) of some related numbers click on  INTRO.

  • I Giusti & Zanza Belcore 2009,  94a-3  --  V, Tuscany, Italy, #652990  $23.95 (Oct) 
  • Wolf Blass Grey Label Robe Mount Benson Shiraz Cabernet 2009,  94-3  --  G,  Nuriootpa, Australia, #261487 $35.95 (Oct)
  • Filon Garnacha 2010,  92-3  --  V, Calatayud, Spain, #280602 $14.95 (Aug)
  • Oscar's Estate Shiraz/Viognier 2008, 92-3  --  V,  Barossa Valley, Australia,   #287961  $17.00  (Sep) 
  • Château de Galifay Cairanne Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2010, 92-3  --  V, Rhône, France,   #290080 $17.00  (Sep) 
  • Domaine Grandy Vacqueyras 2010,  92-2  --  V, Côtes du Rhône, France, #287532 $18.95  (Sep)   
  • Vistalba Corte B 2008,  92-2  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #024919 $19.95  (Jul)
  • Fog Head 'Highlands Series' Reserve Pinot Noir 2010,  92-2  --  V,  Monterey, California, #212944 $19.95  (Aug)
  • Château d'Anglès La Clape Grand Vin 2007,  92-2  --  V,  Midi, France, #286492 $19.95  (Sep)
  • Stone Dwellers Strathbogie Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 92-2  --  G, Victoria, Australia, #212761  $20.15  (Nov) (Retasted Dec)
  • The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2010,  91-2  --  V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #066738 $17.95  (Sep)
  • Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  91-2  --  G, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, #335174 $18.95  (Nov)   
  • Casa de la Ermita Idilico Crianza Seleccion 2006,  91-2  V, Jumilla, Spain, #286161 $19.95  (Sep)
  • Tyrrell's Rufus Stone Heathcote 2009 Shiraz, 91-2  --  V, Pokolbin NSW, Australia, #091488  $19.95  (Aug)
  • Clos de los Siete 2009,  91-2  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #622571 $21.95 (Aug)
  • 'O' Pinot Noir by Gilles Louvet Organic 2010,  90-2  --  G, Narbonne, France, #292995  $13.95  (Oct)
  • Château d'Anglès La Clape Classique Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre 2007,  90-2  --  V, Languedoc, France, #286484 $14.95  (Sep) 
  • Castano Solanera Vinas Viejas 2009,  90a-2  --  V, Yecla, Spain, #276162 $15.95 (Aug)  
  • Fontanafredda Briccontondo Barbera 2010, 90-2  --  V,  Piedmont, Italy,  #072348  $15.95  (Jul)
  • Jean-Luc Baldès Triguedina la Chapelle du Clos Malbec Cahors 2008,  90-2  --  V, Cahors, France,  #276253 $16.95  (Sep)  
  • Raymond Classic Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  90-2  --  G,  St. Helena, California,  #269761 $18.95  (Jul)
  • Pasqua Black Label Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2009,  90-2  --  V, Verona, Italy, #203968 $18.95  (Nov) 
  • Evans & Tate Metricup Road Shiraz 2009, 90a-2  --  V, Margaret River, Australia, $606905 $19.95  (Sep)
  • Tahbilk 'Estate Grown and Bottled' Shiraz 2008,  90-1  --  V, Central Victoria, #214742 $20.95 (Aug)  
  • First Drop Half & Half Shiraz/Monastrell 2010, 90-1  --  V, Nurioopta, Australia,  #285452 $21.95  (Oct) 
  • Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore 2009, 90a-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #479766 $24.95  (Dec) 
(Return to Top)
  • J.P. Chenet Limited Release Premier de Cuvée Pinot Noir 2011, 89-2  --  G, Midi, France, #142406  $11.95  (Oct) 
  • Ferraton Père & Fils Plan de Dieu Côtes de Rhône-Village 2009,  89-2  --  V, Rhône, France, #074229  $15.95  (Oct) 
  • Masi Campofiorin Rosso Del Veronese IGT 2008,  89-1  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #155051 $18.45  (Jul)
  • Domaine Boisson Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne 2009, 89-1  --  V, Vaucluse, France,  #264630 $19.95  (Oct)   
  • Rutherglen Estates Single Vineyard Petit Sirah 2008,  89a-1  -- V, Victoria, Australia, #179127 $20.95  (Sep)
  • Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier 2008, 89  --  V, Eden Valley, Australia,  #524926 $21.95 (Oct)   
  • Trivento Colección Fincas No. 2 'Los Ponchas' Syrah 2007,  88-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina,  #269217 $16.95  (Jul)
  • Vina Tarapacà Gran Reserva Carmenère 2010, 88a-1  --  V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #057513 $16.95  (Oct)
  • Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon 2011,  88-1  --  G, McLaren Vale, Australia, #091702 $17.95  (Dec)   
  • Sledgehammer Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  88-1  --  G, Napa, California,  #238733  $19.95  (Jul)
  • Domaine Seguinot-Bordet Chablis 2010,  88-1  --  V, Burgundy, France, #289371 $19.95 (Oct)  
  • Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 88a-1  --  V, Jordan, Ontario,  #001545 $19.95  (Oct)
  • Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  88a-1  --  V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #337238 $19.95 (Nov)
  • Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 88  --  V, Marlborough, NZ,  #159244 $23.95  (Oct)  
  • Trivento Fair Trade Malbec 2010,  87-1  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #160994 $10.95  (Jul)
  • Beringer Founder's Estate Merlot 2010, 87-1  --  G, Napa, California, #534255 $16.95  (Oct) 
  • Sledgehammer Zinfandel 2010,  87-1  --  G, Napa, California, #230466  $17.95  (Jul)
  • The Show Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  87  --  V,  Napa, California,  #140715 $17.95  (Aug)
  • Le Ragose Ripasso Valpolicella Classico 2007, 87a  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #991984  $18.95  (Aug) 
  • Blue Pyrenees Shiraz 2009,  87a  --  V, Victoria, Australia,  #935890 $19.95  (Nov)
  • Sandhill Estate Cabernet Merlot 2009 VQA Okanagan Valley, 87  --  G, Kelowna, BC,  #269795  $20.05  (Jul)
  • Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2010 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 87  --  V, Jordan, Ontario,  #001560  $29.95  (Oct) 
  • Osborne Solaz Shiraz Tempranillo 2009,  86a-1  --  G, Rueda, Spain, #620922 $10.95  (Jul)
  • Sella & Mosca Riserva Cannonau di Sardegna 2008, 86  --  V, Alghero, Italy,  #425488 $15.95  (Jul)
  • Pillitteri Antagonist 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86a --  V, NOTL, Ontario, #291948  $15.95  (Aug) 
  • Katnook 'Founder's Block' Sparkling Shiraz 2009,  86 --  V, Coonawara, Australia, #053330  $24.95(Dec)
  • J.P. Chenet Premier de Cuvee Merlot Cabernet 2010, 85-1 -- G, Pays d'Oc, France,  #621995 $10.95 (Oct)      
  • Cave Spring Estate Cave Red 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 85a  --  G, Jordan, Ontario, #305110 $14.95  (Oct)    
  • Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Zaco Tempranilla Rioja 2008,  85a  -- G,  Haro, Spain,  #243097 $14.95 (Jul)
  • Wolf Blass Yellow Label Yarra Pinot Noir 2010,  85  --  G,  South Australia, #611509  $17.95  (Nov)
  • Red Knot Shiraz 2011, 85  --  G, McLaren Vale, Australia, #619395 $17.95  (Dec)
  • Featherstone Estate Winery Red Tail Merlot 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 85a  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #131540  $19.95  (Aug)  
  • Domaine Parent Pinot Noir Bourgogne 2010, 85  --  V, Cote-D'Or, France,  #597971  $19.95  (Sep)
(Return to Top)
  • Cono Sur Reserva Syrah 2010,  84a  --  G, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #221820 $13.95  (Dec)  
  • Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2010, 84  --  G, Napa Valley, California, #272393  $14.95 (Nov) 
  • The Seeker Malbec 2009, 84  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #271213 $18.95  (Jul)
  • Fuzion Alta Reserve Malbec 2011, 83  -- G, Maipu, Argentina, #135475 $9.95  (Oct) 
  • 'O' Pinot Noir by Gilles Louvet Organic 2011,  83  --  G, Narbonne, France, #292995  $13.95 (Oct) 
  • Gabbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2009, 83  --  G, Chianti, Italy,  #219808 $14.95 (Oct)  
  • Le Cirque Carignan/Mourvèdre/Syrah 2010,  83  --  V, Côtes Catalanes, Midi, France, #277079 $14.95  (Aug)
  • Monte Antico Sangiovese Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 83 --  V,  Tuscany, Italy, #069377 $16.95 (Dec) 
  • Château Paul Mas Clos des Mures 2010 Coteaux de Languedoc, 83a  --  V, Midi, France,  #286393 $18.95 (Oct)
  • Villa Matilde Rocca Dei Leoni Aglianico 2008,  83a  --  V, Campania, Italy, #165035 $19.95  (Aug)
  • Valduero Crianza 2004, 83  --  O, Valduero, Spain, #Other, $n/a  (Aug)
  • De Bertoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir 2010, 82  --  V, Yarra Valley, Australia, #048587  $17.95  (Aug)
  • Bel Echo by Clos Henri Terroir Greywacke Pinot Noir 2010,  82 --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #159137  $18.95  (Aug)
  • Carpineto Chianti Classico 2010,  82  --  V,  Greve, Italy, #356048 $18.95 (Aug)
  • KWV Roodeberg 2010,  80  --  V, Western Cape, South Africa, #007187  $11.95  (Jul)
  • Santa Rita Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 80  --  G, Maipo Valley, Chile, #253872  $13.95  (Jul) 
  • Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  80  --  G, Central Coast, California, #307975 $14.95  (Dec)
  • Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet 2011,  78  --  G,  Livermore, California, #260851 $12.95* (Dec)
  • Monte Zovo Sa' Solin Ripasso Valpolicella 2009,  78  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #650713  $16.95 (Nov)
  • Barba I Vasari Old Vines Montepulciano d'Abruuzo 2008, 75  --  V, Abruzzo, Italy,  #289991 $18.95  (Sep) 
  • Château des Capucins 2009,  73  --  V, Bordeaux, France, #279992 $19.95 (Jul) 
(Return to Top)

2012 2nd Half Summary - Intro

Ferry Arrival Mackinac Island 07 '64

The wines tasted during the 2nd half of 2012 are listed in two Blog Entries, REDS and WHITES+. Sequenced by rating and value (r-v) the wines tasted up to now are those I'll be selecting from over the next few weeks for holiday guests, gifts under the Tree, matching a lunch or dinner and casual sipping. Wines with the highest ratings usually disappear from LCBO shelves quickly and too often the Outlet will stock a later vintage mixed with or replacing the vintages shown here.  

Click on REDS or WHITES+  for detail listings.

The second half of 2012 Tastings included fifty wines from General listings (28 reds, 22 whites+), one hundred and three from Vintages (50 reds, 53 whites+) and nine direct from wineries or other sources (1 red, 8 whites+). In total there were 162 wines (79 reds, 66 whites and 17 other) from nine countries. Having found it worthwhile I continued to aerate wines based on a first sip. I no longer focus on Wines of the Month finding no advantage and, in a few cases, I had to return wines.
Overall the wines were picked at random.

Narrowing to just the reds and whites:

Of 79 Reds there were 8 from Australia, 6 from France, 4 from Italy. The rest were from the US, Chile, Argentina and Spain. The average price of 58 reds rated 85+  was $19.62 - 26 of these reds were rated 90+.  The ratings for the 5 reds from Canada ranged from 85 to 89 and averaged $20.17.

Of 66 whites there were 28 Canadian, 9 France, 8 New Zealand, 5 Italian, 5 Chile, 5 US. The remaining few were from Argentina, Austria and South Africa. The average price of 14 wines rated 90-92 was $19.27. Another 27 were rated 85-89 and averaged $17.61 including 13 Canadian averaging $18.12. 

Repeated below is a summary of the ratings I use in this blog as well as a conversion from a 5 Star system to a 100 point system (WARS - Wine Advocate Rating System). My definition for Values can be found at the bottom of the Blog's side panel. A Tasting for any wine consists of two parts, the actual notes that provide a clue as to the characteristics of a wine for sipping or pairing with an occasion and the Rating-Value rating as to whether it's a good buy, quality and price, compared with similar wines, that  is: the What and the Why. 

96-100 Extraordinary
90 - 95 Outstanding
86 - 89 Interesting to Excellent
80 - 85 Drinkable to Enjoyable
70 - 79 Uninteresting to Simple
60 - 69 Unpleasant
50 - 59 Unacceptable

5  Stars        It’s hard to imagine better quality (94-100 points).
4 ½  Stars   Excellent quality (90-93 points).
4 Stars        Very good quality (87-89 points).
3 ½ Stars    Good quality (85-86 points).
3 Stars        Well-made wine but without distinction (82-84 points). 

Cheers, Ww

Saturday, December 01, 2012

December 2012 Wines: 21 Tasted of 21

As I write this it's nights like this - snowing a gale with ice underfoot and slippery slosh accumulating on the roads - the first this winter, for our part of Canada, snowfall, to make one wonder why we all don't go south... but it's only weather. Once it's here we adjust and get on with daily routines. 

Other places have bad climate of the human kind. It doesn't rain snow but shrapnel.  I pray that their 'god', in whatever form, is kind and helps mankind find a way to live in Peace. 'Tis the season' to be more than jolly but tolerant, giving and calm. Easy to wish, harder to make happen.

If you can, find a warm fire and relax with family and friends. Find the moments that celebrate your creation ... and give some thought as to how you can create a future full of harmony for others.

My wish for this season, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites and bubblies:
  • Stone Dwellers 'Strathbogie Ranges' Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  91-2 (retaste)  --  G, Victoria, Australia,  #212761 $20.15 
  • Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2011 & Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa 2009 2 Bottle Gift Set,  #290064 $39.95
    • Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore 2009, 90a-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #479766 $24.95 
    • Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2011,  86-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #707158  $13.95
  • Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 88-1  --  G, McLaren Vale, Australia, #091702 $17.95 
  • Red Knot Shiraz 2011,  85  --  G, McLaren Vale, Australia, #221820 $17.95
  • Cono Sur Reserva Syrah 2010,  84a  --  G, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #221820 $13.95
  • Monte Antico Sangiovese Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008,  84  --  V,  Tuscany, Italy, #069377 $16.95
  • Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  80  --  G, Central Coast, California, #307975  $14.95  
  • Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet 2011, 78  --  G,  Livermore, California, #260851 $12.95*  

  • Cave Spring Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 88-1  --  G,  Jordan, Ontario, #228551  $14.95
  • Spinyback by Waimea Pinot Gris 2010, 88-1  --  V, Nelson, NZ, #214569 $16.95
  • Strewn Two Vines Gewurztraminer/Riesling 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86-1  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #467662 $10.95* 
  • Bosman Family Vineyards Adama White 2010,  86a  --  V, Cape of Good Hope, S. Africa, #282764 $18.95 
  • Konzelmann Pinot Blanc 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  82  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #219279 $12.15
  • Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Trentino 2011,  80  --  G, Trentino, Italy,  #302380  $11.95
  • Hardy's Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer 2012,  79  --  G, South Eastern Australia, #448548 $10.00 
  • Trius Riesling Dry 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  77  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #303792 $13.95

  • Katnook 'Founder's Block' Sparkling Shiraz 2009,  86 --  V, Coonawara, Australia, #053330  $24.95 
  • Thorn-Clarke Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Reserve Sparkling Wine NV,  84 --  V,  Eden Valley, Australia, #280925 $17.00
  • La Marca Prosecco NV, 82  --  G,  Italy, #287987 $17.95  
  • Kiwi Walk Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV,  69  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #270462 $17.95 

(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


KONZELMANN PINOT BLANC 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  NOTL, Ontario, 12.5%  D  8g/L, #219279 $12.15  (Tasted December 11, 2012) CS

A General listing.  My notes: A new label design from Konzelmann. A light golden with some fine bubbles sticking to the glass and a swirl leaves a quickly fragmenting coating? A soft, even bland, initial sip with a touch of pear to a dry mineral flavour the latter continuing through a short finish ending on a flat mineral note. A milder white and priced higher than the 2008, rated 87. Without the 'Weissburgunder' term on the label gives an impression of a wider blending of Niagara grapes. Flavours build with sipping but evenly, mineral and fruit - preferred as a meal white with scallops or coconut shrimp - had trouble with a mild cod. A drink now - serve chilled. 82

CAVE SPRING CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #228551  $14.95  (Tasted December 7, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: The 2005 vintage @ $13.05 was tasted in February 2008 with an 87 rating and the 2010 was previously tasted (July) of this year with a rating of 90.  The nose still has an apple blossom twist and the colour has a green tint to a mid gold, crisp and clear. The first sip is pleasingly tart, very smooth with mild lemon and melon increasing as the chill lessens. Flavours fade slowly as a faint mineral comes forward increasingly extra dry on the palate. A fish white or to have with fresh oysters, grilled scallops or coconut shrimp and easily sipped if food isn't nearby. My temp preference is 14oC as the body and a smooth melon is more noticeable.  88

CONO SUR RESERVA SYRAH 2010, Colchagua Valley, Chile,  13.5% XD 4g/L, #221820  $13.95  (Tasted December 2, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  The first pouring prompted me to aerate a second glass to compare: There's a slight sharpness to the nose of the non aerated that's missing from the aerated. Aeration also gives a smoother first sip, sufficient for me to stick with the aerated pouring for the remainder of this tasting. Aromas of dried blue-, rasp-berries with an earthy dryness. I didn't sense spice. There's a rush of fruit at the start and a fine tannin texture making this an interesting sipper but flavours fade leaving a long woody finish. Have with bacon on a bun, stuffed mushrooms or a grilled steak.  Not for cellaring.  84a

KIWI WALK SPARKLING SAUVIGNON BLANC NV, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D  9g/L, #270462  $17.95  (Tasted December 5, 2012)  CS


 A General listing and produced by Yealands Estate Wines Ltd My notes: An unusual closure similar to Red Knot Shiraz 2004 (#619395 $17.95) tasted August 20, 2006.  The 'cork' under pressure releases suddenly  with minor thumb action. Let air ten minutes for the scent to settle altho a prominent mouldy lemon remains - not offensive but led me to avoid sniffing. A continuing effervescence follows a burst of large bubbles. The colour is a midgold, crystal clear. The first sip has a flavour of overripe kumquats* in the foreground and a taint of mouldy cardboard as a background and continues through to a tangy finish. No gooseberry, no passionfruit in this brew. The freshness leads me to accept this as the winemakers 'style' of bubbly rather than 'flawed' -  there's no information on the Yealands site. *Has an essence of some 'organic' wines.  69

LA MARCA PROSECCO NV, Italy, 11.0%  D  19g/L, #287987  $17.95  (Tasted December 16, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012 and an E. & J. Gallo wine.  Colette & John Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times (July 20, 2011) seemed to enjoy it.  My notes:  Vintages called this XD - however, if the 19g/L is close I've changed to D. A blond colour with a burst of bubbles on pouring then settling to a steady stream of moderate size as well as a few tiny at the rim. A leesy scent to a fresh apple aroma including a touch of sweet along with the tart.  Fragmented islands are left on the glass. The first sip has a peak of flavour, definitely extra dry settling quickly with a short finish having a chalky dryness and remnants of smooth apple. Refreshing and easy to quaff. Have with fresh oysters - plan a different white with a meal.  82   Retasted on April 28, 2013. Closer to XD this bottle. The same colour and nose with more effervescence lasting through a long chalk dry finish. Fruit on top of the chalk is green apple. Price and performance is more of a 85 for anything celebratory or with fresh oysters. 

BOSMAN FAMILY VINEYARDS ADAMA WHITE 2010, Cape of Good Hope, S. Africa, 14.0%  D  2g/L,  #282764  $18.95  (Tasted December 10, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 18, 2012. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, gives this a rating of 91 (March/April 2011).  Vintage calls this D with a 2g/L sugar level. My notes:  A blend of 60% chenin blanc, 20% chardonnay, 10% pinot gris, 6% viognier and 4% semillon so I had to try it.  A light golden colour that leaves a firm film to slowly recede from a mildly jagged rim. The nose has an objectionable vegetal scent with some yellow mango blending - aerate or open an hour ahead. Silky smooth, a moderate acid to accompany spicy mango and lemon carrying into a long extra dry finish. Letting go off chill let's the nose and flavours complement each other. Better paired with anything with bacon bits... or have with chorizo sausage on a cheesy pizza.  Cellaring for a year may introduce some nuances and worth the try.  86a

SPINYBACK BY WAIMEA PINOT GRIS 2010, Nelson, NZ, 14.0%  D  9g/L, #214569  $16.95  (Tasted December 17, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 4, 2012.  My notes: Of course no onion skin hue since the LCBO considers that a flaw (lol). Has a 'NZ Sustainable Winegrowing' label. A mid golden with a nose of fresh melon, a whiff of sea air and hint of floral. There's a soft limestone seam carrying fresh melon gradually declining to mostly the dry mineral. A pleasing sipper building a sweet presence, some may even say 'unctuous' and look for an alternate. Pair with bearded mussels or sea Bream, sliced potato and steamed asparagus - was great with Chicken Pot Pie and snow peas. Cellaring for a few years may add a tawny hue and integrate some roundness. A medium-bodied drink now.  88

RED KNOT SHIRAZ 2011, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.0%  D  6g/L, #619395  $17.95  (Tasted December 6, 2012)  CS

A General listing. Labelled with 'Gold Medal - Selections Mondiales Des Vins Canada 2012' and 'Silver Medal - Decanter World Wine Awards UK 2012' and a Shingleback Wine.  My notes:  The 2004 vintage was tasted on August 20, 2006 after a recommendation by Toronto Star wine columnist Gord Stimmell who rated it 89/100. My comment suggested cellaring 'two years minimum' at that time. The 2011 has a purple hue to its deep ruby and the nose has a warm plum plus red cherry and mild spice aroma. The film is smooth, sticking to the glass to form a continuous rim that sheds slow tears. The first sip has a soft red cherry and orange citrus flavour losing the cherry and continuing a hint of orange until a fine dryness takes over. Medium-bodied and an appealing social sipper with just enough depth to pair nicely with rack of lamb or a meaty pizza. A drink now.  85
RED KNOT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.0%  XD  5g/L,  #091702  $17.95  (Tasted December 7, 2012) CS

A General listing and a Shingleback Wine.  My notes:  A dense and deep garnet leaving a firm film, a continuous rim and slow flowing legs. A scent of iodine and chocolate to plum and currant aromas gives this red a serious attitude. The first sip is smooth, has a tangy approach and steely red cherry flavours before a layer of fine tannins adds a drying finish. Silky smooth but somehow a lighter body than expected from film and aroma - a bright sipper and a tolerable tooth cleaner by itself better paired with a meat lovers pizza, grilled steaks, back ribs or rack of lamb. Could cellar a year or two, not longer.  88

The Gift set was a Vintages release on October 27, 2012. 

  • ZENATO  RIPASSA VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2009,  Veneto, Italy, 14.0% D 10g/L, #479766  $24.95  (Tasted December 17, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on April 18, 2012.  My notes: A deep rich ruby colour with a soft aroma of plums, black cherries and earthy forest floor - needs time - aerating or decanting is recommended. The film runs fast legs then slowly recedes along a rim of flowing tears. Silky with hesitant acid, fine tannins complement flavours of cherries and red currants - aerating  or decanting is suggested. Lightish full-bodied and as a sipper flavour and texture build widening appeal. The finish mellows fruit and textures providing long term interest. Have with beef tenderloin, rack of lamb or osso bucco . Two to four years cellaring could develop latent character.  90a  

  • ZENATO  LUGANA SAN BENEDETTO 2011,  Veneto, Italy, 13.0% XD 6g/L, #707158   $13.95  (Tasted December 20, 2012)  CS 
A Vintages release on March 3, 2012.  My notes: Likely from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana grapes. There's negligible nose when served well chilled and a clear pale blond with a film that forms a lacy rim flowing slow tears. The first sip has a softness that touches the lips with a roundness and chalky texture highlighted by a faint citrus flavour - medium-bodied. A tangy acid refreshes with each sip and could appeal in a social setting. The dryness edges through to dominate a tangy finish. A social sipper and paired nicely with baked chicken thighs, orzo and peas in a cranberry and onion sauce. A drink now up to a year.  B50 C5 N10 F&F15 P1 T5 86   

HARDY'S STAMP SERIES RIESLING GEWURZTRAMINER 2012, South Eastern Australia, 11.0%  M 24g/L, #448548  $10.00  (Tasted December 9, 2012)  CS

A General listing and a Constellation Wines Austraia product.  My notes:   Air and warm to 14oC to allow nose and flavour to develop. There's a soft melon aroma with some spice in the initial sniff, and perfume in the background. The mid gold colour has a hint of green and the first sip has a smoothness that's balanced with a dry-as-chalk coating ending with a lick of the Stamp. A touch of sugar meets the tang of acid with soft melon offering a predominant fruit flavour. As a sipper this is for those preferring a standalone sweetness with their standalone fruit - not quite integrated. Have with a Bento box of sushi and tempura broccoli flowers and shrimp, a Chinese buffet or Thai.  79

MEZZACORONA PINOT GRIGIO TRENTINO 2011, Trentino, Italy, 12.5% XD 5g/L, #302380   $11.95*  (Tasted December 9, 2012)  CS

A General listing reduced from $12.95 until January 5, 2013.  My notes:   A pale gold in the glass and a negligible scent of lemon zest having a neutral intro to sipping. A swirl leaves a craggy rim quickly fragmenting into lacy islands. Tart, round on the lips, nondescript flavours with slight citrus carrying through the finish ending dry with a soft texture. Uninteresting as a sipper - better quaffed with party snacks or with creamy seafood dishes.  A drink now.  Mix with Sprite for a touch of spritz and flavour.  80

TRIUS RIESLING 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario, 11.2%  D  12g/L, #303792  $13.95  (Tasted December 16, 2012)  CS

A General listing produced by Andres Wines Ltd.  My notes:  Airing brings forward a faint apple-lemon aroma, not enough to enjoy. The colour is light golden and flavours of a just perceptible tangerine and apple blend for a first sip then finishes with less. Having a short finish and minimal flavour leaves a chalky mineral ending altho' because of its lightness would be refreshing on a summer day. Adding a slice of lime or lemon would liven this as a sipper - difficult to pair because of its shallow profile, not a meal white.  77

STREWN TWO VINES GEWÜRZTRAMINER/RIESLING 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario,  12.1%  D 15g/L,  #467662  $10.95*  (Tasted December 13, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A bright gold colour and better to breathe awhile for an aroma of mild honey. The first sip has a slight chalk carrying a touch of lemon, honey and a delayed spice. Should be interesting sipped with lox and cream cheese on multigrain bagel pieces or lox with a caper sauce on Tempura chips or pair with fried cod and greens. A long dry finish gives this Two-some more appeal both sipping and pairing... and there's enough structure to cellar for a year or two.  86

KATNOOK ‘FOUNDER'S BLOCK’ SPARKLING SHIRAZ 2009, Coonawara, Australia, 12.5% D 10g/L, #053330  $24.95  (Tasted December 19, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on December 8, 2012 and rated 89 by James Halliday (Feb. 26, 2012). My notes: One of our favourite sparkling reds having tasted the 2004 ($19.95) in March 2010 (88), September 2010 (87) and previously December 2007 (89). The 2008 ($24.95) tasted in December 2011 was rated 82. This vintage, 2009, has the same colour, a rich ruby, and mineral aroma when served chilled - better to serve off chill (15oC+). Bubbles are profuse on pouring settling into steady streams - no mousse but a firm spritz. The flavour is mild blackberry with furry tannins, a very dry touch of acid and mild pepper all continuing into a long mineral finish. A pleasing sipper and would pair nicely with pork chops, turkey or filet mignon. Not as flavourful as the 2004 and a lower potential for cellaring.  86

MONTE ANTICO SANGIOVESE MERLOT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD 6g/L, #069377 $16.95 (Tasted December 21, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on April 18, 2012 and claimed to be 'an incredible value'. My notes: Perhaps some of Vintages 'incredible value' disappeared when it was priced $2 higher than previous vintages. The 2006 vintage ($14.95) tasted in October 2009, was rated 90. The colour is a deep charred ruby and the nose has a earthy plum/cherry scent. The film lays firm on the glass then slowly recedes leaving fragmented islands. The first sip is dryyyy accentuated by fine tannins to fuzz the palate before a mild, woody blackberry flavour takes over. The ending is chalk dry building noticeably when sipped - better as a meal red. Pair with T-Bone or bbq'd beef ribs or have with a meat lover's pizza.  Cellaring four years could smooth the tannins but flavours may not come forward.  83

CUPCAKE VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, Central Coast, California, 13.5%  S  12g/L, #307975  $14.95  (Tasted December 29, 2012)  CS

A General listing - Adam Richardson winemaker.  My notes: 115,000 cases bottled. There's a jammy edge to fruity raspberry and strawberry aromas - the colour is a deep raspberry. A swirl starts a lacy rim that quickly fragments into small nodules on the glass. The sweetness of the first sip comes before silk and tannins layer the palate then a taste of earthy raspberry gummy bears that provide a long finish. Ending sweet the unctuous flavours could be an acquired taste - not mine. Have with a meat lovers pizza,  Barbarian rubbed sirloin or honey coated bbq'd ribs. Aerating offers no change. A drink now for a select group.  80 

CUPCAKE VINEYARDS RED VELVET 2011,  Livermore, California, 13.5%  D  17g/L, #260851  $12.95*  (Tasted December 29, 2012)  CS

A General listing. Adam Richardson winemaker. *Price reduced from $14.95 until January 6, 2013.  My notes: A blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah - 146,000 cases bottled. A warm scent of blended sweet berries with a touch of earth and mild spice if allowed to develop in the glass. There's a touch of purple to the deep ruby colour and a swirl leaves a smooth rim flowing long legs. The first sip combines sweet red currants, a touch of tang and tannins with a woody bramble going into a long finish. Better paired with tomato pasta or spaghetti & meatballs. A drink now if blended with 8oz. of Australian shiraz or Argentinan Malbec.  78

STONE DWELLERS 'STRATHBOGIE RANGES' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009,  Victoria, Australia, 14.5%  XD  0g/L, #212761  $20.15  (Retasted December 31, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: Tasted last month with a 92-2 rating so I thought I'd stock in for the Season in spite of recommending cellaring for several years for peak. Produced by the Plunkett & Fowles family from grapes grown in granite rich soils. A nose worthy nose to start, warm, full, black currant with blackberry. Same fullness with a deep, smooth texture, spicy with fine tannins and a light velvet touch. A possible note of sweetness continues for a long dry finish. A full-bodied, entertaining sipper and should pair well with anything grilled, bbq'd and beefy. No need to cellar or aerate if opened early. 91

THORN-CLARKE CHARDONNAY / PINOT NOIR BRUT RESERVE SPARKLING WINE NV, Eden Valley, Australia, 12.0%  XD  12g/L, #280925  $17.00  (Tasted December 24, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on August 4, 2012.  My notes: Previously tasted on August 25, 2012 with a 91 rating.  The label doesn't appear on the winery website. There's some change since last tasted in August this being a blend change to 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir according to the LCBO. The colour remains a delicate salmon and there's a full burst of bubbles on pouring. The nose is of strawberry and mild apple with a tangy sniff and even tangier first sip. On the light side of medium-bodied. There might be a whisper of sweetness past a chalky dryness and slight apple pear flavour which pokes through the continuous spritz then a tart mineral ending. Some of a social crowd will favour the August taste as a toasting sipper - this is better quaffed but preferable paired with stuffed mushrooms, lox & capers & cream cheese or bacon bit canapés.  Drink now before more change occurs.  84