Monday, January 16, 2012

January 2012 Whites+: 17 Tasted of 17

Peterborough Locks - Long ago
A collection of whites+ from under our Christmas tree.  Click on Reds for others.
Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by whites, rosés, sparkles and other:  

  • Ciù Ciù La Merlettaie Pecorino Offida 2009, 90-2  --  V, Marche,  Italy, #245670 $16.95
  • Murphy-Goode ‘The Fumé’ Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 90-2  --  V, Santa Rosa, California,  #721092 $18.95 
  • Springfield Estate Wild Yeast Chardonnay 2006,  90-1 --  V, Robertson, South Africa, #694646 $24.95
  • Angel’s Gate Riesling 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 88-1  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #160523   $13.95 
  • Amani Chardonnay 2009, 88-1  -- V,  Stellenbosch, South Africa, #687442 $17.95 
  • Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier 2008, 87-1  --  G, Narbonne, France, #162081 $10.70 
  • Angel’s Gate Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  84  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #001818  $12.95
  • EOS Estate Central Coast Chardonnay 2008, 83  --  V, Paso Robles, California,   #955914  $18.95
  • Running Duck Fairtrade Organic Chardonnay 2010,  80  --  V, Western Cape, South Africa, #149856  $12.95         

  • Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Rosé 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  85  -- V, Vineland, Ontario, #172643 $14.95

  • Bottega Petalo’ Il Vino dell’Amore Moscato,  91-3  --  G, Montebelluna, Italy, #588780   $13.05
  • 'De Chanceny' Crémant de Loire Rosé Brut NV, 88-1  --  G, Loire, France, #211466   $16.70*
  • Crémant de Bourgogne Réserve ‘Paul deLane’ NV, 88-1  -- G, Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, France, #214981  $17.60  
  • Foss Marai Extra Dry Prosecco Vino Spumante, 86  --  V, Valdobbiadene, Italy, #729392  $18.95
  • Codorniu Brut Clasico Sparkling NV, 83  --  G, Penedès, Spain, #215814  $12.75

  •  Jose Maria da Fonseca Alambre Moscatel 2000, 96-3  -- V,  Setúbal, Portugal, #357996 $13.95
  • Dr. Hermann Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese 2006, 93-2  --  V, Mosel, Germany, #181917  $21.95
    (G - General Listing, V - Vintages,  r-v - Rating-Value)


    DOMAINE DE VEDILHAN VIOGNIER 2008, Narbonne, France, 13.5% XD, #162081 $10.70  (Tasted January 19, 2012)  CS

    A General listing produced by Etablissements Paul Boutinot.  My notes:  A discontinued product. Without aerating: There’s a pale golden glint to the colour and a slight musk aroma to an apple lime nose - no floral. The film sticks to the glass then slowly recedes evenly leaving only small remnants. The first sip has a strong tang to silky textured, medium-bodied, round flavours of honey and lime, light and fading quickly to a chalky finish - a slight musk still present. An OK sipper that goes down with a pucker - better with buffet table servings. Also good paired with grilled trout with parsnip, broccoli and potato. A drink now. 86   With Aerating: A clean but light citrus nose and a pleasing tang to brighten the first sip adding to soft chalky textures with flavours of white grapefruit touched by lime that slowly fade leaving only tang and chalk. An interesting sipper - better as a House fish white.  87
    RUNNING DUCK FAIRTRADE ORGANIC CHARDONNAY 2010, Western Cape, South Africa, 13.5% XD, #149856 $12.95  (Tasted January 11, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on January 7, 2012 and a Stellar Winery product.  My notes: The Vintages Panel tasted this in February 2011. The colour is a mid yellow, bright in the glass and has a lees and pear aroma. The film forms a solid rim that slowly fragments dropping slow tears. Aerating helps reduce a sharp acid component and the first sip is medium-bodied with a round texture and salty pear carrying the lees on the lips for a long finish. An acquired taste as a sipper - needs a cheesy macaroni entrée or fried chicken fingers to build flavours. Cellaring could emphasize the salty component rather than the marginal fruit. 80

    CIÙ CIÙ LA MERLETTAIE PECORINO OFFIDA 2009, Marche, Italy, 13.5% D, #245670  $16.95  (Tasted January 14, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on August 6, 2011.  Rated 90 by Antonio Galloni (August 2010).  My notes:  If quality was gauged by the tightness of a cork this would rate 100.  A bright golden hue with a whiff of Meyer lemon for a nose. A swirl brings a rim that slides evenly down the glass. The first sip is a full lemon (Meyer) with equal tang and a silky smoothness followed by a light tangy chalk as an ending. A moderately long finish changing throughout. I enjoyed sipping for its freshness, however more of a dependable house white to pair with seafood, fish or crustaceans. Keep a year or two likely not to change except to add more silk. 90

    ANGEL'S GATE WINERY SELECT VQA GIFT PACK (4x375mL),  Beamsville, Ontario, #189969  $34.95  CS
    Overall I was impressed with the wines in this package when tasted December 3, 2010 - same mix and same vintages as this year with average 750mL price of $17.50. If my calculations are correct that's approx $8 for packaging. I also wonder if leftover packages have been langishing in an LCBO warehouse since last year?  The following includes prices for 750mL bottles currently on the LCBO website. Click on Angel's Gate Reds for remaining tasting notes.   Conclusion: I'm no longer impressed.

    ANGEL'S GATE RIESLING 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench,  11.0% D, #160523  $13.95   (Tasted January 10, 2012)  CS

    A Vintages release. My notes:  Rated 88 in 2010. A light golden colour with a noticeable aroma of citrus, almond and peach - swirl for more - nicely tangy. The film fragments quickly from the rim leaving only small islands in its wake. A bright first sip, drying with a hint of sweet, a light silk and full of interesting flavours, some lime, some peach, some orange zest, a touch of petrol all leaving the palate refreshed for the next sip - ends with some chalk and a discernible touch of oil.  Could cellar a few years or more. Pair with any lightly seasoned seafood. 88 

    ANGEL'S GATE UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  13.0% D,  #001818  $12.95  (Tasted January 9, 2012)  CS

    A General listing.  My notes: Rated 92 on December 3rd, 2010. A light golden meets the eye and subtle citrus nose too light to discern specifically. A swirl gives a fragmented rim that recedes quickly shedding a few small tears. The first sip is smooth, tart, and has light flavours of white grapefruit, almond and a touch of sweetness coming away. The finish has a nice length continuing the flavours, a softness and an even tartness then becomes as dry as a light chalk. An interesting sipper with a clean chardonnay that builds character with each sip. Serve off chill - around 12oC. Cellaring the year has lost distinct fruit and nose - now off-peak. May be too light paired with lemon fettuccine and chicken parmigiana but I‘ll try (didn't work). 84

    SPRINGFIELD ESTATE  WILD YEAST CHARDONNAY 2006, Robertson, South Africa, 14.0% D, #694646  $24.95  (Tasted January 2, 2012)  CS

    A Vintages release on September 3, 2011.   My notes:  A mid golden with subtle butterscotch and banana aroma, slight nip as well. A swirl leaves a lacy rim widening its grasp until tiny tears slowly follow gravity - only fragments behind. Lemon, lime and salty caramel are the first on the buds, full flavoured for sure. A silky texture has noticeable warmth then ends soft, tangy still with a salt presence. A delicious sipper showing a strong South African terroir that may restrict its appeal. I`m enjoying it and will pair it with a Lucy Waverman tourtière recipe but using equal parts pork and turkey and a cayenne kick.  OK but missing some berry fruit for this recipe. Go for a Beaujolais... Now 5 years aged this could cellar another 5 - but drinking well now. 90

    AMANI CHARDONNAY 2009, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14.0% XD, #687442  $17.95  (Tasted January 2, 2012)  CS

    A Vintages release on November 26, 2011.  My notes:Now this has some politeness although still quite bright in the mouth. A soft mid gold colour and aromas needing time to develop into a subtle lemon and almond - around 12oC. The rim sticks immediately flowing long legs then quickly fragmenting into small islands. A touch of butterscotch, lemon, almond, a solid fresh tang followed by a warm dryness. Finish is short to middling although the warmth continues. I’ll try this with the tourtière comparing it with the Springfield (#694646 ) Wild Yeast Chardonnay. By itself not up to it with the tourtière...! Add some cranberry or loganberry and its OK. Was great with grilled Rainbow trout. Cellaring several years is likely - go yearly.  88
    JOSE MARIA DA FONSECA ALAMBRE MOSCATEL 2000, Setúbal, Portugal, 17.5% M, #357996 $13.95  (Retasted January 16, 2012)  CS
    My notes:  The Alambre 2000 was tasted after its release on January 8, 2005 and my notes then showed enthusiasm for this style.  However it's no longer available and this bottle is the last in my cellar. The tasting of July 2008 (95) said “... a rich, full-bodied dessert wine ... not as sweet as ice wine but rich in raisiny butterscotch and fig flavours at a very low price....” and in June 2010 (92) “... distinct aromas of meadow flowers and caramel, spicy sweet... ” This is now an exotic vivid peachy orange in the glass with not so prominent a nose at first then regaining orange zest and caramel aromas when slightly off chill - amazing!  The flavours and textures demand 100% attention: subtly sweet blended with orange and orange zest for a soft bite. The finish is exceedingly long as the fruit slowly declines leaving some sweetness and orange to enjoy - sipping is at foremost. Serve chilled after a fresh fruit dessert, not too acidic, or creamy cappuccino.  This will cellar forever and always be a beautiful sipper.  96  

    TAWSE 'SKETCHES OF NIAGARA' ROSÉ 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, 12.0% XD, #172643  $14.95   (Tasted January 4, 2012)  CS

    My notes: Last tasted on May 2, 2011 and rated 87.
    A blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for full flavours, textures and a medium body. Still with a peachy pink colour, delightfully vivid in the glass and an aroma of crushed red cherries with some spice. A sip shows bright acid with white cherry juice front and centre in a extra dry medley. Xdry through a long finish to a not-quite sour cherry ending. The tart builds making this a refreshing summer sipper - I‘d add one ice cube and a maraschino to retain chill and offset tang. Match with a Bento box of mixed tempura shrimp and vegetables or a Chinese buffet. If cellared drink soon.  85

    EOS ESTATE  CENTRAL COAST CHARDONNAY 2008, Paso Robles, California, 13.5% D, #955914  $18.95   (Tasted January 7, 2012)  CS

    A Vintages release - no date given.  My notes:  The winery is now owned by Foley Family Wines. I’m amazed at the prices for EOS wine flights in their tasting room  (pictured) although there’s no product notes on the website to stimulate interest.  There’s a touch of green to a light golden colour and a firm rim sheds slow tears as it recedes without fragmenting. A herbaceous nose has a fresh yellow bean aroma with a mild tang. Serve well chilled and watch for minor changes as the wine warms… taste has a bland profile, no butter nor caramel (unoaked?), with a grassy crushed grapefruit seed flavour mildly acidic. Silky, clean and well balanced, dry. For me, not a sipper but acceptable with battered halibut and chips with malt vinegar and ketchup - likely would contribute more with grilled tilapia or cod. A drink now. 83

    DR. HERMANN ERDENER TREPPCHEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2006, Mosel, Germany, 9.0% M, #181917  $21.95  (Tasted January 27, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on November 26, 2011 and rated 92 by Bruce Sanderson (Dec 15, 2008). My notes: The rating used by the LCBO is ‘part of history’ and whether it applies three years later will be interesting.  A lime green tint to a mid golden and aromas of green pea and lime - serve chilled. A swirl layers a fine film with a rim that quickly laces then slides unbroken down the glass. Sweet as it should be. Acids are balanced nicely with delicate lemon-lime pear and with a softness that makes this appealing as a solo sipper. From the crest of flavours at first sip to a long fruity ending this is true to style and grape. Lasting well since December 2008 and cellaring for several more years may bring out even more luscious textures. 93

    MURPHY-GOODE ‘THE FUMÉ’ SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Santa Rosa, California, 13.5% XD, #721092  $18.95  (Tasted January 22, 2012)  CS

    Release by Vintages on January 7, 2012 and rated 90 by Robert Parker  (February 2011).  My notes:  Not aerated: There’s a green tint to a mid-gold colour and the nose is a delicate citrus kiwi. A swirl leaves a lacy rim that recedes evenly leaving islands and shedding just a few slow tears. Tart and bright, a slight roundness and citrus kiwi flavours give appeal to the first sip. The finish sees the flavours of the first sip slowly decline ending with chalk dry citrus.  More of a buffet sipper or pair with fresh oysters, crab cakes, buttered lobster pieces or grilled salmon/trout. Cellaring may bring out more smoothness. 87  Aerated:  Tart on the first sip but without the sharpness of before. This puts the focus on the citrus and kiwi flavours and the smoothness. The matching of acid with fruit is amenable to solo sipping. The finish starts bright declining to the fruit then slowly shows some chalk, smoothness to the cheeks and mild fruit - now ‘unctuous‘. Would pair well with a buffet selection - including fresh oysters - or with grilled whitefish and crustaceans. 90

    FOSS MARAI EXTRA DRY PROSECCO VINO SPUMANTE NV, Valdobbiadene, Italy, 11.5% D, #729392  $18.95  (Tasted January 1, 2012)  CS
    A Vintages release on December 10, 2011.  My notes: Tasted several times - Aug 2008, Feb 2007, May 2006 -  enjoyed each time. August 2008 rating was an 88 with aromas of apple pie and butterscotch, spritzy with a long ‘unctuous’ finish. Now a dollar more. A pale golden colour and a burst of multisized bubbles then a continuous stream.   Exceptionally floral on first pour then settling to a subtle yeasty floral. A sip brings a fresh tartness with apple piecrust trailing off quickly to an oily mouthfeel, grassy then mineral flavours. The shortness of the finish is disappointing compared with the unctuous start - altho' continuous sipping helps. Have with salty crackers, bruschetta, or party sandwiches or just sip.  86

    BOTTEGA PETALO IL VINO DELL’AMORE MOSCATO NV,  Montebelluna, Italy, 6.5%, S, #588780   $13.05  (Tasted January 22, 2012)  CS

    A General listing. My notes: Tasted on April 7, 2007 and November 24, 2006 with pleasing results - “a full floral nose, a soft yeast, apple juice and orange blossoms… etc.” “A sweetness through the low alcohol”.  Today's tasting: There is a touch of floral to a honey and Royal Gala nose. On pouring there’s a burst of effervescence followed by streams of fine to medium sized bubbles quickly subsiding to the rim. Beautifully balanced sweetness, a gentle acid to waken the palate, and apple flavour fills the first sip then declining slowly to a delectable long finish. Serve chilled in a tulip glass retaining aromas to accompany the complementing flavours. Its succulence and lo alcohol makes this a pleasing quaffer. Went well with Clarkson Fish & Chips (a good size halibut thinly battered). Previous releases cellared well as this should. 91

    CODORNIU BRUT CLASICO SPARKLING NV, Penedès, Spain, 11.5% D, #215814  $12.75   (Tasted January 9, 2012)  CS

    A General listing. My notes:  A traditional cava blend of Xarello, Macabeo and Paralleda. No colour and minimal nose - perhaps a delicate yeast. The burst of bubbles is dramatic and leads to a light mousse followed by a continuous spritz - no ring at the rim tho’. Extra dry on the first sip and every one following then finishing quickly with a steely mouthfeel. This paired nicely with chicken parmigiana cutting any leftover frying oils. A drink now - not that interesting except for the price. 83 

    CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE RÉSERVE 'PAUL DELANE' NV, Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, France, 12.0% D, #214981  $17.60  (Tasted tbd)  CS

    A General listing.  My notes: A blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligoté. A burst of bubbles of all sizes on pouring settling quickly to steady streams some remaining briefly at the rim. The colour is mid golden and the aroma is a pleasing lees and apple, somewhat subtle. Each sip brings a burst of softness that contrasts with a sour apple tartness. A delicate Pink Lady apple flavour ends with a chalky note - tart all the way through. Serve before dinner as a refresher or ‘amuse bouche‘. Serve during an afternoon to get the get-together going or serve with breakfast sausage or bacon on toast or waffles on the morning after.  88 

    'DE CHANCENY' CRÉMANT DE LOIRE ROSÉ BRUT NV, St Cyr en Bourg, France, 12.5% D, #211466   $16.70*  (Tasted January 6, 2012)  CS

    A General listing. My notes: *Reduced a dollar until Jan 1, 2012.  100% Cabernet Franc.  This has a bright peachy colour and pours with a burst of bubbles first effervescing to a mousseux profusion dispersing quickly to steady streams. The nose has a slight pie dough and subtle mineral aroma. A heavy but soft spritz accompanies flavours of drying tart apple pie quickly fading to a mineral dryness. Delightful as a sipper due to its acid bite and lively spritz. Except for its neutral flavour it paired well with buttered blueberry pancakes, light Maple syrup and Maple sausage pieces. Or serve well chilled at a baby or bridal shower. Cellaring for a short while should be okay.  88

    January 2012 Reds: 13 Tasted of 13

    Van Island Snowfall '96
    A collection of Reds from under our Christmas tree. For Whites+ click here. 

    Salut, Ww

    • Domaine Santa Duc Le Blovac Rasteau 2009, 93a-3  --  V, Gigondas, Rhône, France, #234641 $14.90
    • Koyle Alto Colchagua Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 91-3  --  V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #256073 $15.95
    • Angel’s Gate Cabernet Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 88-1  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario,  #620096 $12.95
    • Valpantena Torre del Falasco Ripasso Valpolicella 2009, 87-1  --  V, Verona, Italy, #642421  $16.95
    • McManis Family Vineyards Zinfandel 2010,  87*  --  V, Ripon, California, #256735 $18.95 
    • Ellena Dolcetto d‘Alba 2009, 87  --  WOL, Piedmont, Italy, Case#476340  $22.95
    • Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2010, Swartland, South Africa, 86-1  --  V, #595280 $14.95
    • The Hedonist Shiraz 2008, 86  --  V, South Australia, #090191  $23.95    
    • Monte Zovo Sa’ Solin Ripasso Valpolicella 2008, 85  --  V,  Veneto, Italy, #650713  $17.95 
    • Trivento Amado Sur Malbec/Bonarda/Syrah 2009, 84  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #037036 $15.00
    • Angel’s Gate Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #107722 $13.95 
    • Cascina Ballarin Tre Ciabot Barolo 2006, 82  --  V, Piedmont, Italy, #213058  $37.80
    • Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009, 79  --  G, Burgundy, France, #162073 $20.70          
    (G - General Listing, V - Vintages,  r-v - Rating-Value, WOL - WineOnLine)
    LOUIS JADOT BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR 2009,  Burgundy, France, 13.0% XD, #162073  $20.70  (Tasted January 16, 2012)  CS

    A General listing. My notes:  No aeration: A clear see-through ruby and no apparent aroma. Has some silk, a light tannin to compliment subtle acid. The finish comes quickly ending with a light chalky dryness following flavours of delicate red cherries and light oak.  Not much interest as a sipper and light-bodied combined with being lightly flavoured it would be difficult to pair. Also, not much there to cellar. Drink now or avoid. 79   Aeration: I preferred aerating, however, there is minimal change and no change in rating. 79

    KOYLE ALTO COLCHAGUA RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #256073  $15.95  (Tasted January 23, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on January 7, 2012. Rated 90 by Jay Miller  (December 2010).  My notes:  No aeration: A deep purple tinged ruby showing a thick film with a solid rim and long slow legs. The nose is a concentration of earthy forest floor and spicy rich black cherry juice.  Fine tannins and a moderate acid frame flavours of smoky blackberries. Sipping, based on a balance of sensual aspects, is appealing but could be short lived due to some dullness at a dry end. Full-bodied to have with prime rib, beef tenderloin and T-bones - the beef family of entrées. Cellaring for another three years could bring out more subtleties. 89   Aeration:  Possibly less ‘forest floor’ while retaining the smoky fruit, a cherry/berry in the nose and a smoother balance of textures, acids and flavours. There’s a tad increase in tannin presence, fruitier starting a long finish and leading to the same dry end. Overall slightly tamer and more appealing as a sipper and meal complement. Excellent paired with a spicy Chinese pork tenderloin, brussels and basmati rice. 91

    MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS ZINFANDEL 2010, Ripon, California,  13.5% D, #256735  $18.95  (Tasted January 12, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on January 7, 2012.  My notes:  I’ll try first aerating then not. No aeration: Sparse on nose for a Californian Zinfandel but with a clean and clear ruby colour. A swirl leaves a rim that rapidly drops fast legs then disappears. There’s a definite sweetness to the first sip and a blend of blackberries and straw- for fruit, a touch of liquorice and a complementing acid and tannic dryness then a woody dryness. On the mild side to be sipped then taken to a table of grilled beef or chorizo pieces in a tomato pasta. Not for cellaring - a drink now. 84  Aeration: More smoothness from the first sip which was a better balance with the acid, blackberry fruit and tannins. My preference is to not aerate this Zinfandel. 87

    DOMAINE SANTA DUC LES BLOVAC RASTEAU 2009, Gigondas, Rhône, France, 15.0% XD, #234641  $14.90  (Tasted January 25, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on August 20, 2011.  My notes: I had a previous Gigondas which was delicious so I decided to go for it. No aeration: This is a purple ruby colour, quite dense in the glass and a slosh brings long moderately slow legs from a smooth, firm rim. The first sip has blackberry, cedar, tar and a spicy, process driven richness of textures and flavours. Airing for twenty minutes gives a sweet fruit touch to the palate carried into a long finish slowly subsiding, smooth and dry. Pair with savoury or spicy pot roast, a lamb shank with red wine gravy or a grilled sirloin with Barbarian steak rub. ‘Smoky and raw’ for some, 'challenging' for others, broad and deep with interesting complexities. Cellar up to ten years or enjoy now. 90  Aeration: The mild nose has evaporated to a faint blackberry and cedar. Softer with the first sip, nicely blended and more distinct black fruit and light tar - delectable. The same richness of textures now with a balanced, subdued spice, full-bodied. My preference is for aerating however, some may enjoy the raw nature of before aerating. The finish twins before except 'no more raw'. 93

    PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH 2010, Swartland, South Africa, 14.5%  XD, #595280  $14.95  (Tasted January 17, 2012)  CS

    A Vintages release on January 7, 2012 produced by the Boekenhoutskloof Winery.  My notes: No aeration: The film sticks to the glass then gradually recedes through slow stubby tears. The colour is a dense ruby. There’s an objectionable brine tang on the nose I now refer to as the 'terroir' of some entry level South African reds and whites. The aroma has a sour plum, not unpleasant for some, but very evident with a texture that‘s smoother than silk, like a plush chamois or velveteen and flavours of mild overripe black cherries. The flavours fade slowly leaving smooth salt as a finish. A unique sipper. Pair with a chorizo and tomato pasta dish or an asparagus, leek and bacon bits soup. 80  Aeration: Half of the brine has gone from the nose, likely would also with an hour airing. Also the first sip retains the chamois smoothness but the salty tang balances with the acid and gives more prominence to a soft ripe cherry flavour - a nudge of liquorice shows. Finishes with a oily touch to the lips and a bland ripe cherry. To see if flavour or salt wins cellaring is an option - five years minimum? Aerating is a must if serving now. Pair with Denninger’s Chili Con Carne, loaded hamburgers or a rubbed T-bone.  86

    ANGEL'S GATE WINERY SELECT VQA GIFT PACK (4x375mL),  Beamsville, Ontario, #189969  $34.95  CS
    Overall I was impressed with the wines in this package when tasted December 3, 2010 - same mix and same vintages as this year with average 750mL price of $17.50. If my calculations are correct that's approx $8 for packaging. I also wonder if leftover packages have been langishing in an LCBO warehouse since last year?  The following includes prices for 750mL bottles currently on the LCBO website. For Angel's Gate Whites+ click here.  Conclusion: I'm no longer impressed.

    ANGEL'S GATE MERLOT 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 13.0% D, #107722  $13.95 (Tasted January 11, 2012)   CS

    A General listing.  My notes: Rated 89 in 2010. No aeration: The colour is a light ruby and aroma is a thin berry. The film sticks and slowly sheds small tears. A strong tang hits the roof while fine tannins line the mouth which is left with a faint impression of berries. The finish is long, dry with some brambly fruit retained. Surprising at first sip for its tang but with a narrow taste and depth to want a refill. Have with veal parmigiana or chicken breast with steamed veggies. Not cellarable - a drink now. 81   Aeration: The tang of the initial sip is tolerable balancing better with the soft texture, fine tannins and thin flavours.  Not cellarable - an uninteresting drink now. 82

    ANGEL'S GATE CABERNET MERLOT 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  13.0% D  #620096  $12.95 (Tasted January 10, 2012)  CS

    A General listing.  My notes:   Rated 89 in 2010. Aerating with Vinturi added some polish to lasting aromas or freshly crushed red currants, black cherries and some raspberries. The colour is a vivid purple tinged ruby, very clean in the glass. Light-bodied, silky smooth, a good bite and pleasing fine tannins that build, all round out full flavours that track the nose. If an Aussie red is preferred this is not it. Went well with leftover prime rib sliced thin, pan fried veggies with basmati rice and soy sauce. Perhaps it’s a terroir that adds a whiff of ‘lacquer’ making this unique. A long finish dries the mouth until ending on a mineral note.  Cellaring well so far and should for another few years.  88

    ELLENA DOLCETTO D’ALBA 2009, Piedmont, Italy, 13.5% XD, Case#476340  $22.95  (Tasted January 5, 2012)

    My notes:  Received from WineOnLine to fulfill a sambadays Global Wines Gift purchase. The LCBO product number shown is for a case of six 750mL bottles. A mild aroma of freshly crushed cherries and berries with a subtle tang. A deep black cherry colour and a swirl leaves a film with a solid rim falling as slow tears. The first sip is bone dry, silky and a combination of mint, berry and sweet tinged red currant. There`s a slight liquorice touch to a moderately long finish - tannins accumulate to a furry level. On the light side of medium-bodied with mild flavours, matched acids and tannins makes this a pleasing sipper - also good with a pork and turkey tourtière. A drink now. 87.

    CASCINA BALLARIN TRE CIABÒT BAROLO 2006, Piedmont, Italy, 14.0% XD, #213058  $37.80  (Tasted January 30, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on September 17, 2011 and called ‘a powerful 100% Nebbiolo’ by the Vintages Panel (July 2010).  My notes: No aeration: A slight adobe at the rim on a mid ruby/cranberry colour and a light nose that has both brambly berries and a taint of forest floor. The film is thin but firm flowing long fast legs. Smooth on the lips, not viscous, and a lightish medium-body with fine tannins coating the palate. Fruit is a distant memory for this Barolo with dry remnants going into a long finish ending smooth and dry. Sipping is pleasing but not memorable as might be expected for the price. Past cellaring and not recommended. 82  Aeration:  Smooth matching nicely the fine tannins but missing a flavour focus. The finish is milder, perhaps dry and softer is a better description. ‘Powerful’ it is not. More like ‘timid and tame’. Paired with Veal & Italian Sausage Ragu & Porcini Pappardelle.  82  Never ask the butcher if his meat is tender is my suggestion.

    THE HEDONIST  SHIRAZ 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.0% XD, #090191  $23.95  (Tasted January 8, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on November 12, 2011 and rated 92 by Harvey Steiman (June 2010).  My notes: A wine from the Walter Clappis (winemaker) Wine Co. Out of the bottle this has strong cherry cough syrup aroma and a murky cherry colour. Nose is much tamer after using a Vinturi and airing twenty minutes. A solid rim is quick to form columns of tears flowing slowly down the glass. The first sip, stings the mouth then dries it with fine tannins laying a flat cherry berry peppery coating tinged by a woody, slight tar flavour. An OK sipper if you’re a Cutty Sark devotée - full-bodied, smooth and warm. Have with a savoury beef bourguignon, T-bone steak or prime rib. Likely past peak or perhaps a style from a former era.  86

    VALPANTENA TORRE DEL FALASCO RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA 2009, Verona, Italy, 13.5% D, #642421  $16.95  (Tasted January 13, 2012)  CS

    Released by Vintages on December 17, 2011.  My notes: No aeration:  A slight aroma of red currants without a tart edge and a colour of deep ruby. Leaves a solid rim until slowly shedding short slow tears from the rim… lots of them. Silky first sip with a follow through of tart red raspberries, nice tannins to complement a medium-bodied sipper. Leaning toward extra dry with no sugars showing in this tasting. The finish is moderate ending with a mild fruit. Have with a pepperoni pizza or beefy grilled hamburgers. 85  Aeration: Immediately noticeable on the sip is the pleasing softness balanced by a mild acid and tannins. A light flavour of woody berries soft on the palate and fading slowly to an end that has remnants of fresh fruit. A polite sipper that would pair nicely with veal parmigiana dish, ham steak or went well with a mixed pizza. 87

    TRIVENTO AMADO SUR MALBEC/BONARDA/SYRAH 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  XD,  #037036  $15.00  (Tasted January 22, 2012)  CS

    Release by Vintages on January 7, 2012. Rated 90 by James Molesworth   (June 15, 2011)  My notes:  A blend of 73% Malbec, 15% Bonarda and 12% Syrah. No aeration: A carbon cast dark ruby showing a sticky film shedding the odd slow tear. The first sip is extra dry, initially smooth then covering the mouth with a furry layer. Medium-bodied, lightly floral with a prominent acid supporting earthy edged red berry flavours with Bonarda having a higher influence. The finish is long ending with dry, firm tannin and woody berry. An Italian or Spanish styled red - not a sipper, more of a tomato pasta pairing. Was OK with a three cheese and ground pork lasagna. 84    Aeration:  Still furry but with finer tannins, balanced, and with a less furry finish.  Merlot flavours add softness giving some appeal, not much, as a sipper - very dry with less prominent acids. Cellaring for several years is possible without improvement expected.  84

    MONTE ZOVO SA' SOLIN RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA 2008,  Veneto, Italy, 14.5% XD, #650713  $17.95  (Tasted January 4, 2012)  CS

    A Vintages release on December 10, 2011.  My notes: An old favourite until the price (+$2) and alcohol level went up.. The 2003 vintage was tasted in June 2006 - no rating but I cellared a case at the time which improved nicely over several years. The 2008 has a colour of deep black cherry and the aroma is spicy raspberry with slight earthy bramble. A swirl leaves a lacy rim that fragments slowly forming islands and slow legs. The first sip is full-bodied, smooth accompanied by a strong nip then liquorice and berry flavours ending quickly with tar, tannins, faint berries and heat. For me, too much process as a sipper. Xdry with enough tang to match grilled beef, T-bones or back ribs well seasoned with Barberian's Steak Seasoning - did not go with salty crackers. Cellaring for several years should mellow some rough edges - OK now if you like nippy. 85  

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Wine Aeration - I’m a believer!

    Now what do I do? 

    I believe everyone has heard that a red wine should be aerated, either letting it breathe or decanting an hour before guests arrive and even shaking the decanter to speed up the process.  I recall going to  restaurant in Hamilton several years ago. Dimly lit and our foursome were the only patrons. The wine list included a wine named ’Chateauneuf du Pape-like‘.  I kid you not!  A homemade wine. The server brought the wine  bottle to the table and asked if one of us would like to taste. Of course!  But first opening and decanting was a full service at this restaurant.

    I was more than surprised - in fact I could feel myself stifle a giggle.  The server proceeded to vigorously shake the decanter the palm of his hand pressed firmly on top to avoid spillage.  ‘These fresh wines need airing for full nose and flavour’ he said.

    Needless to say the wine was spongy, had weak popsicle fruit, mild acid and no tannins - similar to what you’d expect from freshly pressed grapes strained through cheesecloth.

    I relived that experience when ‘researching’ this topic. Not the wine part but the 'aerator'.  It seems everyone has ‘invented’ a version of a wine aerator.  Daniel Bernoulli would turn over seeing the implementations based on one of his principles of fluid dynamics. All claim their product provides ‘the proper air-wine contact’. Some insist on the correct angle of bottle on pouring. Some insist their product has never fallen from the bottle on pouring. Some insist multiple aerators are needed for whites - and for scotches, brandies and so on.

    What most do not do is examine the logistics of using their device in a social setting. Where do I put the aerator dripping wet with red wine between guest pourings? What do my guests do as they anxiously await their turn to be ‘aerated’. Some products have thimble size 'reservoirs' such you simply can’t speed up the pouring process. Almost as an after thought there are ’accessories’.  A ’stand’, a drip holder, a second crystal decanter or just leave the aerator in the bottle letting each guest have the wonderful experience of ’aerating’ their own. But you’re having two (or more) reds and whites this evening. Now we need a wiping cloth and basin so the BH’s damask tablecloth, the patterned silk sofa with pastel cushions and the recently purchased white deep piled carpet aren’t stained.  

    The one recommendation from this discussion is, before you invest in an aerator, choose for
    style and convenience. Whether they swirl, gurgle, slosh or fizz they all essentially provide the same function. Play through a real life scenario of serving wine to guests in a setting of your choice. Use as a pattern what you do now without an aerator and then again imagining having an aerator(s) of your choosing.  The following are some of those from a search of the Amazon website with prices excl. tax and shipping.

    • Allure Aerating Decante  $29.99
    • Metrokane Rabbity Super-Aerating Decanter System  $54.00
    • Metrokane Houdini Decanter with Wine Shower Funnel and Sediment Strainer $36.00
    • Vivid Wine Decanter & Vinturi Red Wine Aerator Gift Set  $59.99
    • Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator  $34.41
    • Soiree bottle-top Wine Decanter & Aerator  $19.99
    • Nicholas VinOair Wine Aerator  $14.77
    • Trudeau Aroma Aerating Pourer  $24.45
    • True Fabrications Wine Aerating Pour Spout  $7.83
    Also there are countless demonstrations on YouTube - search using 'wine aerators'.

    ... and YES!  Having used one recently the nose and flavour of most wines definitely improve with aeration, for instance McManis Zin - but a few do not, e.g. Alfredo Roca Pinot Noir

    Cheers, Ww

    Saturday, January 07, 2012

    The Taste of South Africa

    In October 2011 I blogged some thoughts on The Taste of History, ie. the consequence of, over time, migrating vines and winemaking to various regions of the world. South Africa has its own history starting in the middle of the 17th century with Dutch colonization at the southernmost tip now Cape Town. Known for its antiseptic properties wine was used to combat scurvy, to treat water supplies and other medicinal uses. The rest is a historical digression of wine capitalizing on its social and commercial value.

    In the early 1900’s winery owners suffered under pressures of phylloxera and the Anglo-Boer War until supported in 1918 by the Cooperative Wine Growers Association of South Africa, in Afrikaan ‘KWV’. KWV found new markets while setting prices and quotas regardless of wine quality. The reputation of South African wines ‘died on the vine‘ until KWV dominance as a regulator lessened through to the 70s. But legislation intended to focus on wine quality was put on hold until the 90s as the Country went through years of sanctions and civil strife.  A ‘Wine of Origin’ scheme introduced in 1973 continues to recognize winegrowing regions, districts and wards. The names of specific vineyards started to appear on labels in 2005(1) .

    A first step was distinguishing between ’estate’ and ’branded’ wines quickly followed by scrutinizing label claims of origin and bottle content. Identifying soil types and the suitability of vine varieties in the geologically diverse areas of South Africa was complicated by the influence of two Oceans and several mountain chains. ‘Wine of Origin’ mapping progressed from Constantia at the tip near Cape Town to Cape Point, Somerset West, Helderberg (Raithby), Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Tygerberg (Durbanville), Paarl and  expanding inland & eastward to Elgin, Breedekloof, Worcester, Robertson, Calitzdorp and north to Darling, Swartland, Tulbagh and Olifants River. These are just a few of the districts in these regions. South African wines tasted in the December blogs originated from the districts/towns underlined.   

    Looking at the recent tasting results (Reds, Whites+) South African wines are equal to any the LCBO is importing (in my price bracket) - but they have their own style. While retaining close to a European style South African wines strongly reflect the extreme terroirs and climates  and range from subtle and salty, bold & hot and flat & furry. The reds are not Australian. The Sauvignon Blancs are not of New Zealand nor France. The Chardonnays are not Californian nor Burgundian. The Chenin Blancs are full and savoury having a wide range. A projection to Semillon, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz etc., varieties not tasted, would likely show the same results. All are uniquely South African.
    .. and not a bandaid in the lot!

    Change continues at a great pace increasing sustainable and organic viticulture and awakening to New World preferences. There have been substantial increase in premium plantings and as vineyards mature and private holdings dedicate their effort to quality South Africa, based on what I see in only 22 tastings, is becoming a player in the world market.  

    My opinion, 

    1. The World Atlas of Wine, Hugh Johnson Jancis Robinson, 6th Edition
    2. Wikipedia
    3. South Africa regions

    Tuesday, January 03, 2012

    sambadays Gift-box Experiences - updated Jan 5th

    ... First posted December 27th, 2011
    I never knew it existed! ...until Christmas morning opening my gifts. A package the size of a CD/DVD but containing a variety of ‘Gifts’ packaged as activities involving the recipient in an exciting adventure. Everything from Balloon Rides to Night Outs, from Spa treatments to Skydiving... and much more.  To be given at Christmas, on a special occasion or as Corporate awards sambadays sources to partners the elements needed as part of each package. Their website describes the numerous, as well as the newest, ‘Gift-box experiences’ available. 

    Categories of Gift-boxes:

    • Adventure
      • Explore
      • Action and Adventure
    • Life and Culture
      • Live and Learn
    • Golf
    • Gourmet
      • Shared Plates
      • Table for Two
      • Chef at Home
    • Body and Soul
      • Rejuvenate
      • Pamper and Wellness
    • Wine
      • Wine and Tour
      • Global Wine
    • Getaway
      • Gourmet Getaway

    As a Christmas gift I received the Global Wine package and the WineOnLine Marketing Company is sambadays’ fulfilment partner.

    Global Wine

    ‘Activation’ is the first of a 3 step process and simply means registering the fourteen digit number, found on the small card
    that comes with the Gift-box, on sambadays website

    This package contains a choice of 10 wine styles (see photo) from which 6 bottles can be ordered from the partner. Included in the package are food recipes “to help accentuate your wine experience”, two Riedel glasses, a Vinturi aerator, tasting notes and Shipping costs. 
    To help me decide what to order there is a card describing each style. For example, ‘Smooth and Silky Reds’ are said to be wines having “a firm yet distinctively soft texture, smooth, mellow, with no rough edges. Tannins and acids are well married and folded into the wine. When the wine is bigger, more opulent, the word ’velvety’ is often used. As you taste, feel the wine in your muoth, roll it around, noting not just flavor but texture as well. Soft & silky, young pinot noirs, mellow perfumed reds with lots of red fruit flavors.  Riojas, Chiantis and some creamy Malbecs will fall into this experience.”

    The next step is up to me. I must:

    • Activate
    • Choose a Style
    • Order my Global Wines
    …but first I’ll need to talk to the Partner to find out what's available.

    My first choice is ‘Aromatic Whites’ with the expectation of receiving wines with “intense aromas and flavours that come from their particular grape variety, whether they are off dry or dry. … Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Riesling…”

    … and in case this doesn’t pan out

    My backup choice is ’Intense and Bold Reds’ with the expectation of receiving wines from “warmer wine producing regions such as Australia, Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal and California. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel are typical varieties”.

    I believe I’m ready to call WineOnLine.  Stay tuned…I'll let you know how I make out.

    …cont’d December 28th, 2011
    A short conversation with the WineOnLine rep arranged for delivery of 6 bottles to my address in Mississauga.

    However there are some restrictions imposed by Ontario’s monopoly, the LCBO. From a consumer perspective the following are completely arbitrary only enforced by an arrogant disrespect for the wine buying public and burdensome bureaucratic oversight.

    • An option on the WineOnLine website labelled Mix-a-Six  provides for mixing 6 wines if and only if they are from the same participating Ontario winery. Several wineries however have limited selections.
    • If imported wines are requested all six must be same label and may be limited to certain wines imported in 6 bottle cases.

    A minor issue is a Vinturi aerator for white wines is not available. An aerator from another manufacturer can be substituted. Basically, the elegant descriptions of ‘10 wine styles’ are well intentioned but not pertinent in Ontario.

    … cont’d January 3rd, 2012

    A call from WineOnLine puts shipment within the week via Canada Post. For a wine selection a 2009 Dolcetto d’Alba  was recommended which I accepted after a review of the tasting notes and heritage.


    ... cont'd January 5th, 2012
    Gift as received
    A second call from WineOnLine scheduled a personal rather than a Canada Post delivery for today. The Gift is shown as received then as unpacked. Imagine. A real person at the door and offering me the choice of Riedel 'O' or Riedel Pinot Noir Stemware wine glasses.

    Not included, and not a concern, were “food recipes to help accentuate your wine experience”.

    The Ellana Dolcetto d'Alba has been added to my tastings for January 2012 Wines

    Overall the contents are top quality and, separately priced, would be $230+ incl. shipping and taxes.  I appreciated the options of glassware, wines - which are not available at Outlets - and the attention from WOL considering having to comply with arbitrary LCBO restrictions. The only suggestion I have is for sambadays to clarify their wine packages to reflect Ontario laws. Anyhoo, it's a terrific Gift approach!

    Now to taste the wine!

    Cheers, Ww