Wednesday, February 01, 2012

February 2012 Wines: 24 Tasted of 24

In this Lineup there are some picks from Beppi’s column  (Jan 19, 2012) as well as more recent vintages of wines I’ve tasted before and rated in the high 80’s and low 90’s...  and a few new labels.

A couple of unrelated thoughts:

1. There's a continuous merger of personal interconnects between various media devices - iPads, Tablets, Blackberries, Kindles, Kobos, Apples, PCs, etc - and media applications - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Even home security has expanded using wireless networks allowing home owners to monitor their private space while travelling.

I haven't approached my use of the Internet to that degree but have been investigating information and entertainment sources beyond my local TV cable. Recently I've installed a new TV attachment called Boxee Box by D-Link . This box connects to the internet and organizes various media sources in a reasonably uncomplicated display of screens. Notice the ’reasonably’ as I find the internet complicated enough but organizing several thousand sites in a user friendly way is a definite challenge. 
Boxee Box

Boxee Box provides access to 249 ‘Apps’, ie. attachment software for media websites such as YouTube, TED, VEVO, CineTrailer, etc. As well there are 103 Movie sites, eg., MUBI, openfilm, TOU.TV and 178 TV sites. Then add NetFlix with over 2000 movies. 

Some are professional sites, some are amateurish, some are informative, some aim to be artistic... and many are free. I needed several iterations to select those App's and sites that matched my viewing interests. Trying one at a time then keeping or rejecting, gradually building a useable set of interfaces controlled by a handy wireless remote complete with small keypad.

Why bring this into a discussion of wines? I equate this internet experience to picking a wine from LCBO’s shelves: trying to find wines that are palatable and worth the price. As with the internet, some sources have as their secondary interest the quality of their wine. Some have poor viticulture practices, some use leftover grapes and happenstance blends. Some 'wineries' pump out thousands of cases of mediocrity and with little regard for the environment. The Con of confidence and questionable ethics take precedence over a dedication to their craft. It’s up to you and I to filter the good from the gar-bauge. 

Naïve me, at one time I thought the LCBO did some filtering. However, their objective is to fill the shelves and maximize profits. Of course, the LCBO ensures that products comply with Canada’s Food and Drug laws but if consumers choose to drink plonk the LCBO will oblige to provide same. You can usually tell if you’re a compliant/complacent patron when your friends or relatives don’t accept a second serving of your wine. Another hint is when they say "Wine? Don't worry about it. We'll bring our own."

2. Having enjoyed her first book - Red, White and Drunk All Over - I read a sample of Natalie MacLean’s new book ’Unquenchable’, a collection of notes and stories recounting interviews with winemakers, owners and others along the way. One such personality widely successful in the wine world, comes across, with Ms. MacLean's complicity, as having the morality of Charlie Sheen. With so much filler, food and drink recipes and wine pairings included, I’m left wondering whether this book isn’t a consolidation of content from the ‘Natalie MacLean’ organization.

But for the book: Informative? As much as eTalk Daily. Entertaining? As much as a Volkswagen commercial. As much a marketer as a wine critic Ms. MacLean does a great job of selling her services while criticising her male colleagues for not making wine 'fun', however, there is a difference between 'fun' and 'frivolous'. 'Unquenchable' is not so much a 'Quest for Bargain Wines' as a travelog of wine regions on 5 continents and in 8 countries. O
n sale at book stores everywhere - form your own opinion...  I've stated mine.

Salut, Ww

I've moved some wines to March tastings. (Too much wine or not enough time?)

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

  • (WOM) Plunkett Fowles Stone Dwellers Shiraz 2008, 93-3  --  V, Victoria, Australia, #265967 $19.95 
  • Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2009, 92-3  --  V, Padthaway, Australia,  #673897 $16.95
  • d'Arenberg d’Arry’s Original Shiraz Grenache 2008,  91a-2  --  V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #942904 $19.95 
  • Durigutti Reserva Malbec 2006, 89a-1 (Cellar)  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #246124 $16.95
  • (WOM) Leone de Castris Rosso Riserva Salice Salentino 2007, 88a-1  --  V, Puglia, Italy,  #597534 $17.95 
  • Alfredo Roca Pinot Noir 2010,  87-1  (BC86)  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #032979  $12.95
  • Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, 87a-1  --  G,  South Eastern Australia, #311795 $15.00
  • Don Louis Marin Old Vine Garnacha 2008,  87a  --  V, Cariñena, Spain, 13.0% D, #214205  $15.95
  • 13th Street Merlot 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84a  --  V,  St. Catharines, Ontario, #270504  $17.95   
  • Chanson Pere & Fils le Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009, 83  --  V, Beaune (Côte d’Or), France, #050575 $17.95 
  • Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Grenache 2010, South Eastern Australia, 82a  --  G, #494336 $15.00
  • Wolf Blass Yellow Label Shiraz 2010,  81a  --  G, South Australia, #506691 $16.55 

  • Le Gravillas Sablet Cotes du Rhone-Villages Blanc 2010, 90-2  (BC87) --  V, Vaucluse, France, #251520 $17.95 
  • Jim Barry ‘The Lodge Hill’ Dry Riesling 2011, 90-2(Cellar)  --  V,  Clare Valley, Australia,  #262469 $19.95
  • St. Magdalena ‘Sudtirol-Alto Adige’ Pinot Grigio 2010, 89-2  (BC90)  -- V, Alto Adige, Italy, #249466  $15.95 
  • G. Marquis The Silverline Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 88-1  --  V,  NOTL, Ontario, #258681  $16.95
  • Pelee Island Winery Vendange Tardive Pinot Gris 2008 VQA Pelee Island, 88-1  --  V,  Kingsville, Ontario, #224196 $16.95
  • Doulce France Vouvray 2009,  85  --  G,  Loire, France, #253229  $13.75
  • Kunde Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2010,  85a  --  V, Sonoma Valley, California, #067363  $18.95
  • Mont’Albano Pinot Grigio 2010, 84  --  V, Fruili, Italy, #249532  $16.95 

  • Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine NV, 90-1  --  V, Sonoma County, California, #192898  $21.95
  • Korbel Sparkling Brut NV, 81  --  G, Sonoma County, California, #168310 $13.95
  • Wolf Blass Sparkling Mousseux NV, 81  --  G, South Eastern Australia, #649996  $17.95
  • Reginato CJR Blanc de Blancs 2008, 78  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina,  #238584  $13.50
(WOM - Wine of the Month, G - General Listing, V - Vintages,  r-v - Rating-Value, a - aerated,  BC - Beppi Crosariol) 

for March 2012

PLUNKETT FOWLES STONE DWELLERS ‘STRATHBOGIE RANGES’ SHIRAZ 2008,  Victoria, Australia, 15.0% XD,  #265967  $19.95  (Tasted February 8, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 4, 2012 and rated 92 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW  (June 2011)  My notes:  Not aerated: A deep purple with a concentrated blackberry infused with the warmth of a southern sun makes for an enticing first glance. The rim sits at the top slowly shedding lazy tears, at first a few then many. A luscious first sip of dense berries, a steely acid to balance fine tannins and fruit then finishing with the steely part of the sip, a diminished fruit and a touch of bramble.  A bold sipper, great to pair with savoury stews, beef tenderloin or a Barbarian rubbed T-bone. Cellaring for several years would tame some of the rawness making a mellower full-bodied red.  93  Aerated:  Has the same nose, colour and film but a diminished blackberry flavour that quickly gives way to an intense acid and heat which dominates a long, warm finish with a brambly, mineral edged ending. Same pairing - less appealing as a sipper.  90  This wine is meant to be 'in your face' bold.  I would not aerate.

LEONE DE CASTRIS ROSSO RISERVA ‘SALICE SALENTINO’ 2007,  Pouilles-Apulia, Italy,  13.5% XD, #597534 $17.95  (Tasted February 11, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 4, 2012. A blend of 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera and rated 91 by Antonio Galloni  (June 2011).  My notes: Not aerated:  A deep ruby with a light granite cast gives this a sombre beginning. The nose has an earthy side to aromas of a ripe plum and cherry. A sticky film with long tears coat the glass and slowly recedes.  Smooth, sharp edged, fine tannins then the flavour of pressed cherries, cranberries and a noticeable liquorice for an interesting old world sipper - A long woody finish wears thin tho‘. Have with any tomato based pasta dish preferably with something spicy e.g. Chorizo pieces or Buffalo wings. 85  Aerated:  Earth and fruit now less on the nose. Same colour and carbon cast ruby - now a softer sip, less acid, same tannins with reserved flavours of the earthy cherry. An milder and improved old world sipper showing less liquorice and having a long soft finish. Should go well with a buffet of suasage, mushroon or bacon appetizers… also anything tomato based… rosemary’d lamb or chicken. 88

DOULCE FRANCE VOUVRAY CHENIN BLANC 2009,  Loire, France, 12.0% S, #253229   $13.75  (Tasted February 19, 2012)  CS

The Bougrier family
A General listing. To be served chilled 45-46oF.  A Famille Bougrier wine.  My notes: A mid golden colour with a light melon apple nose and a film that evenly recedes through tiny slow tears. The sweetness starts from the first sip against an acid background and a burst of Granny Smith then finishing on a sweet note. A medium-bodied sipper for a general crowd before appetizers or dinner.  Or have with sushi, cold shrimp or a mound of basmati sweet and sour pork, chicken pieces in a delicate cheese sauce or with fruit & greens - nothing seasoned or strongly flavoured. A gentile wine for a summer social perhaps. A drink now. This was excellent 2 days later with grilled garlic tiger shrimps. 85

KUNDE  MAGNOLIA LANE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, Sonoma Valley, California, 13.8%  D, #067363   $18.95  (Tasted February 2, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on January 21, 2012.  The label states the grapes were sustainably farmed.   My notes: Not aerated: Serve well chilled. Pale golden with a green tint and a hint of seaside mingled with faint grapefruit aromas. A swirl leaves a lacy rim that falls quickly leaving island clusters. There’s a brightness to the first sip and a silkiness layers a delicate blend of straw, almond and lime flavours on the palate. The finish declines quickly leaving the straw and almond behind for a crisp ending. An odd sipper balanced toward the tart of sauvignon blanc and with marginal fruit. A seafood or chicken white - was OK with grilled pancho coated trout filets. A drink now.  84  Aerated: The same nose but less ‘seaside’ with an emphasis on a faint floral. The same silkiness with a lighter flavour blend shifting the focus to texture and body. More interesting as a sipper - overall a meal white. Perhaps a year in the cellar would produce more breadth. A drink now. 85
  LE GRAVILLAS SABLET CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES BLANC 2010, Vaucluse, France,    13.0% D, #251520  $17.95  (Tasted February 5, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on January 21, 2012 and awarded a Gold Medal at the 2011 Concours des Vins Orange in the Rhône.  My notes: A soft golden colour easily catching nearby shadings and a swirl leaves a rim running long legs ending in lacy droplets. The nose is a delicate and pleasing medley of kiwi and tangerine. A light oil coats the palate with upfront tangy flavours of tangerine and apple that change quickly to a faint tangerine pear combination and grows more interesting as the body and flavours build. Pair with a buffet including sundried tomato dip, stuffed mushrooms, lochs/cream cheese&capers, pancetta - even better with grilled seafood: crustaceans, crab cakes, tilapia, cod or halibut. Cellaring for several years will likely broaden complexity and mellow finish.  90
ST. MAGDALENA SUDTIROL - ALTO ADIGE - PINOT GRIGIO 2010, Alto Adige, Italy,  13.5%  XD,  #249466   $15.95  (Tasted tbd)  CS

A Vintages release on January 21, 2012. My notes: From Cantina Bolzano.
This has a bright straw colour with floral edge to lemon and melon aromas suggesting a tartness blended for a round mouthfeel. The film sticks then sheds slow tears as the rim recedes.  The tartness grabs the roof of the mouth on the first sip then flavours of crushed lemon seed full of mild fruit and dry as straw, refreshing also gripping. Held its own paired with rotisserie Swiss Chalet chicken cleansing the palate of the savoury gravy. A flexible match for a variety of grilled seafood or cheesy pasta dishes. Cellar for several years or drink now.  89

JIP JIP ROCKS SHIRAZ 2009, Padthaway, Australia, 14.5% D, #673897  $16.95  (Tasted February 19, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on January 7, 2012. A winner of multiple Gold and Silver Medals and rated 90 by Robert Parker Jr.  (August 2010).  My notes:  Not aerated:  A dense dark burgundy red with a film that sticks then laces following slow tears. A mineral touch to dark cherry spicy liqueur aromas and a full silky first sip bringing a black cherry, blueberry and liquorice flavour well balanced by a peppery spice - warm, not hot The finish carries the silk and softness until fading consistently with a touch of oil and dryness to the mouth.  A pleasure to sip or pair with any meat moderately seasoned and grilled, stewed or bbq’d. This should cellar well for five years or more.  92  Aerated:  The nose needs time to develop in the glass then is a touch milder but true. A sip is full-bodied with a silky texture and a broader, somewhat softer flavour followed by a finish less bold but dry. Retains appeal as a sipper for possibly a wider crowd and has better pairing flexibility.  92

DURIGUTTI RESERVA MALBEC 2006, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.5% XD, #246124 $16.95  (Tasted February 27, 2012)  CS

My notes: According to Vintages the 2008 vintage was released on September 17, 2011. Perhaps this 2006 is old inventory.  The 2008 was rated 90 by James Molesworth  (Feb 28, 2010).  Not aerated:  The colour is a deep opaque purple and spicy blackberries frame most of the nose. A swirl leaves a thick film, an unbroken rim and smooth flowing tears. Full-bodied with a strong tang, a silky touch, an intense warmth and flavours of dark berries all contending for attention in the first sip. A burning warmth continues through a long finish ending with a soft fur on the tongue. Cellaring for several years may soften but not likely. If you prefer heat with a full flavour and tang this is your sipper. I’d serve it with a well seasoned T-bones or bbq’d ribs or Texas chili. 89 (Cellar)  Aerated:  A milder nose directly after aeration and a slightly smoother edge to the same hot seam carrying blackberry flavours. The velvety fur builds with each sip leaving the mouth dry as a brambly bone. A tad improved sipper, if you found ‘Not Aerated’ rough, altho’ this ‘ain’t no softie’ retaining heat from start to finish. I'll call it a 'style' rather than a 'flaw'. The same food match. Personally I’d cellar for five years and hope it mellows out. 89 (Cellar)
JIM BARRY ‘THE LODGE HILL’ DRY RIESLING 2011, Clare Valley, Australia, 12.5% XD, #262469  $19.95  (Tasted February 17, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on January 21, 2012. A Gold Medal winner at the 2011 Royal Queensland Wine Show and rated 95 by James Halliday (Nov 18, 2011).  My notes:   A faint straw colour complements the lemon zest aroma and the thin film that slowly and evenly recedes down the glass. The first sip has just a touch of gooseberry adding interest to lemon/lime zest flavours while an astringency wakens the taste buds. This is a tooth and roof cleaner well into a long finish and there’s no sweetness to tame the bite. Pair with oysters, crab cakes, lobster or King crab pieces. Pair with butter fried cod or tilapia filets or quaff for full effect if that’s your thing but may be too intense for social sippers. Cellaring may soften this bright white and add to the profile - I‘d start at four years. 90 (Cellar)  (was terrific the next day with grilled trout!)

ALFREDO ROCA PINOT NOIR 2010, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.1%  XD, #032979  $12.95  (Tasted February 4, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on January 21, 2012.  My notes:  Grapes harvested from the San Rafael area south of Mendoza. The 2006 vintage was rated 90.  The 2010 has a clear deep ruby colour with a rim that instantly laces then slowly falls leaving the glass clean except for the odd island. Not aerated: The nose is a tangy red cherry with some smoke. The first sip has a silky texture, a fine tannin and modest red cherry-berry flavour trailing off to a dry remnant. Each swallow refreshes the palate building fruit and texture making this a pleasing not outstanding, lightish medium-bodied sipper.  A flexible match for a buffet or a variety of entrées: tuna steak, turkey wings, roast pork tenderloin or flattened chicken. Cellaring may add to the smoothness - drinking well now. 87   Aerated:  A perceptibly milder nose with less bite to the first sip while retaining the tang, silkiness and distinct flavours for prolonged sip sip sipping. Same cellaring comment as before - marginally a smoother texture. 87
WOLF BLASS RED LABEL SHIRAZ CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010,  South Eastern Australia, 13.5% D, #311795  $15.00  (Tasted February 16, 2012)  CS

A General listing: My notes: A loonie more than the 2005 tasted in Jan 2007 found to be a ‘pleasing sipper’ and a ‘good value for a crowd or dinner at the Keg’ (a steakhouse). Not aerated:  The 2010 is a dense ruby with a slight purple tint and has a mixed scent of berry and black currant. A peppery spice shows in the nose and the first sip along with a smoky berry flavour. Quite tart on the back of the throat and, with the tannins, gives a raw edge to the finish then ends as dried berry skin.  Should be great with any highly seasoned grilled beef, a savoury stew, Texas chili or bbq’d ribs. Cellaring for a few years may be OK - as this is a commercial product I’d go a year at a time. 86  Aerated:  A softer nose and smoother first sip, dry and tart without grabbing the throat but having a pleasing berry/currant flavour. The finish is also smoother being very dry with a currant ending. For sippers that prefer a dried berry flavour with some appealing depth and texture, still flexible paired with seasoned meat entrées. Cellar several years or drink now. 87

WOLF BLASS RED LABEL SHIRAZ GRENACHE 2010, South Eastern Australia, 13.5% D, #494336  $15.00  (Tasted February 14, 2012)  CS

A General listing: My notes: The 2006 vintage was tasted on June 27, 2007 and I found 'the texture and finish on the verge of being unpleasant'.  The 2006 vintage tasted June 27, 2006 was deemed ‘not a value’ at least not for me.  Not aerated:  This vintage has a carbon cast ruby and leaves a firm film that recedes slowly as a lacy rim. The nose is not as ‘Gamay-ish’ as the 2006 having a peppery touch of shiraz and the depth of Grenache - comes together as a polite whiff of spicy berry. The first sip has some bright fruit with fine tannins then quickly changes to a brambly mix of crushed blackberry seeds - not that appealing as a sipper. Should do well with grilled beef entrees or hamburgers with the works. A drink now. 81  Aerated:  Some of the rawness has gone from the nose and the flavours of the first sip show a tad more freshness altho’ this quickly shifts to a tangy, drying berry seed finish.  Same pairings for a drink now. 82

WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL SHIRAZ 2010, South Australia, 13.5% D, #506691  $16.55  (Tasted February 6, 2012)  CS

A General listing: My notes:  Not aerated:  A royal purple ruby in the glass and a mild aroma of swamp - air twenty minutes or aerate before serving. The film sticks then sheds a few slow tears as it falls. There’s a polite softness to the first sip with a touch of tannin and mild spice, not quite pepper.  Medium-bodied, balanced acids, tannins and a soft texture are unmatched by fruit. The finish starts with reasonable expectations then falls short by the blandness of the fruit! Not a sipper, not a meal red.  79   Aerated:  The swamp has gone but not replaced with other aromas. The softness with fine tannins, mild acids and soft texture has appeal. Missing is distinct fruit expected of an Aussie Shiraz so appeal is limited - a soft & lonely red. Difficult to pair - try with hamburgers, meaty or vegetable pizzas or a mild lamb stew.  Cellaring isn’t recommended - a drink now. 81   (Improved when left open overnight.)

D'ARENBERG d'ARRY'S ORIGINAL SHIRAZ GRENACHE 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.5% D, #942904  $19.95  (Tasted February 20, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release. My notes:  Not aerated:  The 2005 vintage was rated 92 on September 24, 2008. The 2008 has a touch of granite in the rosy ruby colour and the aroma is intense with a peppery spice, red currant, cherries and liquorice. Nothing polite about this full-bodied red, an aggressive sipper with forefront heat and spice. The heat warms the mouth and dry tannins set up the warm spices for maximum effect. Pair with seasoned steaks or bbq’d ribs. Cellaring for several years is recommended - a bit raw as a drink now, unless you prefer your reds that way. 91  Aerated:  Now is mellower in the right places. The nose is a touch softer altho’ with some penetration. The first sip is a touch smoother with tannins more prominent balanced with spice and acid. The finish is full of velvety tannins drying the mouth and carrying flavours longer. Same pairings and cellaring. This is my preference.  91
WOLF BLASS SPARKLING BRUT MOUSSEUX NV, South Eastern Australia, 11.0% D, #649996   $17.95  (Tasted February 2, 2012)  CS

A General listing.   My notes:  I could find no indication of the process nor grape content on the Wolf Blass website - perhaps carbon dioxide under pressure and a chard dominant blend. The colour is a pale blond and the nose is undistinguishable. A burst of bubbles of all sizes rises quickly up the glass then subsides just as quickly leaving no trace at the rim except for a few steady streams. A full spritz with faint pie crust and mineral flavour starts and continues through a short finish ending tart with a mineral ending.  Paired with chicken pieces, grilled red pepper slices and mushrooms wrapped it was sufficiently refreshing to contribute.  Except for the fine spritz and soft tang I found it uninteresting as a sipper - there are other bubbly options at the price. 81

KORBEL SPARKLING BRUT NV, Sonoma County, California, 11.5% D, #168310  $13.95  (Tasted February 21, 2012)  CS

A General listing. Follows the traditional champagne method and naturally fermented in individual bottles.  My notes:  A light golden colour settles quickly from a burst of bubbles all sizes. A blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, French Colombard and Pinot Noir. A cool wet straw aroma and the first sip is light-bodied, dry with a touch of sweet, a slightly rounded body and a spritz tang with a mild melon and muted lime flavour. The finish falls quickly leaving a softness and delicate straw on the tongue. A clean sipper, smooth on the lips preparing for the next refreshing sip. An economical toaster, lively enough to pair with an early breakfast of syrupy waffles with sliced fruit. Was a nice refresher after grilled garlic shrimp. 81
  DON LOUIS MARIN OLD VINE GARNACHA 2008,   Cariñena, Spain, 13.0% D, #214205   $15.95  (Tasted February 15, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on January 21, 2012 and winner of a Bronze medal in Decanter’s 2010 World Wine Awards. Produced by Bodegas Ignacio.   My notes:  Not aerated:  Every motion of the glass causes a rippling movement in this red - on the light side of medium-bodied. A swirl leaves a lacy rim slowly receding through long moderate legs. An aroma of raspberry and cranberry a lighter style than previously tasted Grenache (e.g. Rosenvale Estate Grenache 2005 #n/a). Silky with a sharp acid initially masks red cranberry and light tobacco flavours then to show fine tannins more prominently and ending dry with only a hint of tobacco. Should pair nicely with a tomato paella adding some shrimp or scallops seared in butter and garlic. We’re trying with a marmalade crusted pork tenderloin medallions. I’d guess past peak and a drink now.  84 Aerated:  A notch up in aroma strength with an equal sharing of rasp- and cranberry.  A reduced sting of acid in the first sip making for a softer blend while retaining the silk and fruit follow through for a longer finish. An interesting sipper with better pairing possibilities. I’d chance a few years in the cellar. 87

CHANSON PÈRE & FILS LE BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR 2009, Beaune (Côte d’Or), France, 12.5% D, #050575  $17.95  (Tasted February 2, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release date not given.  My notes:  Not aerated: A carbon cast see-through ruby that leaves a lacy rim to slowly separate into lacy drops on the glass. A delicate smoky scent is given off on initial pouring that dissipates quickly with a faint red cherry aroma. The initial sip has a light smoothness, a mild acid and brief peak of woody cherry going into a finish that shows modest tannin and flavour. Dry with no sign of sugar and a shallow texture and flavour profile makes this an uninteresting sipper and a minor meal partner. 82  Aerated:  Same nose with a flavour having less smoke on the first sip. Same flavours with perhaps less ‘wood’ however not substantially, The brief finish is unchanged leading to a dry ending with fine tannins. Nothing to cellar - a passable sipper and meal complement. 83
13TH STREET  MERLOT 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, St. Catharines, Ontario, 12.5% XD, #270504   $17.95  (Tasted February 9, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on February 6, 2012.  500 cases made.   My notes: From the 13th Street Winery  in Niagara. Not aerated: A garnet tint to ruby giving this a dull cast. The nose as well has a dullness to faint aromas of black cherries and red currants - needs ten minutes to air. The rim fragments immediately then sheds long tears around the glass.  Drying tannins and a pronounced acid frame flavours of dusty raspberries that carry into a long slow-to-decay finish dry on the lips. An OK but not interesting as a sipper. Save for a lamb roast, ham steak or turkey slices. Cellaring won’t bring this alive - a drink now.  82  Aerated:  Same colour, film and nose with a first sip seemingly smoother and in tune with acids and a silky texture - not dramatic but noticeable and now more interesting as a sipper. Finishes evenly ending with a prominent flavour profile and uniform density - not bright but soothing.  84

PELEE ISLAND  WINERY VENDANGE TARDIVE PINOT GRIS 2008 VQA Pelee Island, Kingsville, Ontario, 13.5% MD, #224196  $16.95  (Tasted February 6, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 2, 2011.  My note:  A mid gold in the glass, crisp and clean with a film that laces quickly, separates and falls cleanly.  The nose takes time to develop when served at 12oC then has a touch of white grapefruit including a delicate tang. The first sip is also delicate adding a hint of almond and has an interesting, well balanced acid and soft silk which carries into a sustained finish adding a suspicion of sweetness along the way. An interesting sipper for a summer patio crowd or as an intro to seafood appetizers. I’m pairing this with Miso-Ginger Glazed Salmon Recipe, green salad and Roasted cauliflower and dill soup . Perhaps a tad light - this Pelee Island PG was a winner with our dinner. Cellaring a year may have a surprise but I’d say a drink now.  88

GLORIA FERRER SONOMA BRUT SPARKLING WINE NV, Sonoma County, California, 12.5% D, #192898   $21.95  (Tasted February 14, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on December 10, 2011 and rated 90 by Steve Heimoff (December 15, 2010). Méthode champenoise.  My notes: A delicate peach colour with a frothy first pour followed by continuous streams of fine bubbles that accumulate at the rim. Also delicate is the nose, the scent of orange zest. Bubbles envelope each tangy tangerine sip and the long finish ends with a light zest and a mineral dryness. Perfect for Valentine’s Day or for a wedding shower or banquet - why stop there? A baby shower or birth, a promotion, Mother‘s Day, etc. There’s a suggestion of sweetness altho’ this is easily balanced by the polite acid. Cellaring for several years could add more silk to the present roundness - a pleasing drink now. 90

REGINATO CJR BLANC DE BLANCS 2008,  Mendoza, Argentina,  12.6% XD, #238584   $13.50  (Tasted February 24, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 23, 2011. Rated 89 by Jay Miller (August 2009).  Méthode champenoise and a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Chenin Blanc.  My notes: A crystal clear, bright golden colour with a moderate profusion of all size bubbles on pouring. A cork tight enough to test your patience and strength. An aroma of bacon and Meyer lemons, a scent that is both interesting but uninviting waiting to prove its value as a sipper. Spritzy on the tongue with smoky bacon layered on well blended mild banana and pineapple flavours making this an acquired taste or niche bubbly. Personally, too odd a combination of nose and flavour for the grape blend claimed - maybe a flawed process - barely sippable. Airing helps - but this is a bubbly! Have with oysters liberally coated with sauce or with breakfast kippers and mushy peas.  78


G. MARQUIS THE SILVER LINE CHARDONNAY 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  NOTL, Ontario, 12.3%  XD, #258681   $16.95  (Tasted February 11, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on December 10, 2011 and rated 89+ by Tony Aspler (June 20, 2011).  My notes: A new line made by Magnotta Winery and a Single Vineyard Niagara Stone Road wine.  The colour is ripe pineapple gold with a lacy edged film shedding fast tears quickly clearing the glass.  At 12oC and with a good imagination aromas have a touch of lemon zest. The first sip has a clean taste of lemon, apple and quince, nicely full with a mild acid and a long dry citrus finish. An appealing sipper looking for crab cakes, scallops and a lemon pasta or any whitefish with broad buttered noodles. Was excellent with Miso Cod & Scallions with Cucumber, tomato and green bean salad. Cellaring for several more years is likely and may develop a deeper broader texture.  88

MONT'ALBANO PINOT GRIGIO 2010, Fruili, Italy, 12.0% XD, #249532   $16.95  (Tasted February 6, 2012)  CS


A Vintages release on January 7, 2012. From Casa Vinicola Cav. P. Sartori.  My notes: An organic wine. Pouring at 11oC the colour is a pale gold and a sniff fails to recognize a scent - perhaps a faint leesy lemon. The film fragments quickly and falls into isolated islands. The first sip has a mild tang, dry with a slight roundness and a delicate nutty flavour. A moderately long finish leaves the palate dry with a soft mineral flavour. A polite sipper or a complement to a mild whitefish, grilled in a buttered pan meal. Too light for a Miso-Ginger Glazed Salmon dish with green salad and Roasted Cauliflower and Dill soup.  84