Monday, March 12, 2012

March 2012 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

Some of these wines, originally listed in February, were moved to this month. The two intervening blogs explain why. Now it’s time to get back to tastings.

I’ve scheduled a blind tasting of five Chardonnays in the middle of March. Why not buy a few, try one or several and match your notes with mine? I'd appreciate any feedback. The Blind Tasting can be viewed at 5 Chardonnays.

For these Chardonnays I’ll be looking for two things: a dolomite terroir and value. Only one of the five I've tasted previously, at a local Bistro, so will be curious if it can be singled out and where it places overall. The price spread should be sufficient to distinguish these wines - how will they relate in value? 

Four wines are from Beppi Crosariol’s Decanter column of March 9, 2012.  I often use Beppi’s tastings (BCxx) as, except for a few wine regions, a levelset for my own and... a colourful wine-packed glossy, My Italy, from the LCBO arrived with our G&M. This prompted four wine selections and matching recipes by David Rocco - we love fresh pizzas/pastas.

This is the second month for Vintages' Wines of the Month to be featured in Strictlytasting. Last month‘s showed good value so I thought I'd extend my focus on these Vintages recommendations?

Salut, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, and sparkles:
  • Errazuriz Don Maximiano Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 91a-2  --  V, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, #230364 $19.95 
  • (WOM) Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 91-2  --  V,  Mendocino County, California, #025080 $24.95
  • Ascheri Barbera d’Alba DOC 2008, 90-2  --  G, Piemonte, Italy, #219790 $13.60
  • (WOM) Domaine Thunevin-Calvet Cuvée Constance 2008, 90-2  --  V,  Midi, France, #168690 $18.95
  • KULT Terre de Chieti IGT, 87a-1  --  G, Tollo, Italy, #230805 $9.95 
  • Casa Planeta Syrah 2010, 87a-1  -- G, Sicily, Italy, #219857  $11.95 
  • J.P. Chenet Premier de Cuvée Reserve Merlot-Cabernet 2010, 84a  --  G, Pays d’Oc, France, #621995  $11.95 
  • Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2006,  NR  --  V, Puglia, Italy, #724674 $13.95

  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Gewurztraminer 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench,  92-2  --  O,  Jordan, Ontario,  #Winery   $17.95
  • (BT) Anoro Chardonnay 2009,  90-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #183855 $22.40
  • (BT) Cave Spring 'Dolomite' Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 89-1  --  O, Jordan, Ontario,  #Winery   $17.95 
  • Frescobaldi Albizzia Chardonnay Toscana 2010, 88-2  --  G, Tuscany, Italy, #266585 $11.95*
  • Sartori de Verona Marani Bianco 2009, (BC88) 88a-1  --  V, Veronese, Italy, #265405 $16.95
  • (BT) Bachelder Oregon 'Willamette Valley' Chardonnay 2009,  87  --  V, Carlson, Oregon, #273334 $34.95
  • (BT) Bachelder Bourgogne Chardonnay 2009,  86  --  V, Burgundy, France, #272005 $34.95  
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 85  --  G, Marlborough, New Zealand, #426601 $15.95
  • Cave Spring 'Dolomite' Riesling 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 83  -- O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery   $16.95 
  • (BT) Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  82  --  V, Fenwick, Ontario, #271841 $34.95 
  • Crush Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009, 77 --  G, South-West Australia, #215673 $14.55 
  • Rosewood Natalie`s Sussreserve Riesling 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NR  --  V,  Beamsville, Ontario, #258806 $14.95

(WOM - Wine of the Month, V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated, BT - Blind Tasting)


WINES OF  THE MONTH  for April 2012 - Both released by Vintages on March 3, 2012

(WOM)HESS SELECT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Mendocino County, California, 13.5% D, #025080 $24.95  (Tasted March 30 2012)  CS 

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012. “Winemaker Dave Guffy's standards and styling make [Hess Select] a strong brand. The new Cab, off vineyards in (42%) Mendocino County, (40%) Lake County and (18%) Napa County, is stylish and varietally correct. The fruit is black currant up front, followed by black plums, cherries, raspberry and vanilla. Tannins are chalky and acidity provides structure... ”  My notes:  The film sticks to the glass unbroken then slowly gives up tears as well as a lacework pattern. A dark cherry colour, a drying layer of tannin and flavours of woody blackberry with a black currant core makes a reserved impact on the palate.  Full-bodied with a hesitant nose needing time to build and a rich flavour profile to partner prime rib, T-bone, grilled ribs or lamb roast. Cellaring another four years may be pushing but drinking well now. 91

(WOM)DOMAINE THUNEVIN-CALVET CUVÉE CONSTANCE 2008, Midi, France, 15.0% XD, #168690 $18.95  (Tasted March 28, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012. “Thunevin-Calvet's tankraised Grenache-Carignan 2008 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Constance—all from Maury and all grown on schist—displays pungent struck-flint and peat overtones, along with cocoa powder…” Rated 90 by David Schildknecht, (June 2011)  My notes:    Pours as a granite tinged ruby, dense in the glass with aromas of ripe cherries, berries and an earthy structure. The film is firm with a solid rim slowly shedding tears. Silky with a tang and drying to the palate. A slight lacquer brightens the berries in the flavour with some red currant for lightness and a tart follow-through for a long warm finish. Not as hot as expected but warm moderated by the fullness of earthy dark fruit.  Cellaring for a few more years is likely before decline.  Have with rack of lamb, beef stew or crockpot of vegetables and lamb shank. 90

ERRAZURIZ DON MAXIMIANO SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Aconcagua Valley, Chile,  14.0% XD,  #203364   $19.95  (Tasted March 22, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012. Rated 90 by Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast (December, 2010) .  My notes:  Not aerated:  This has an intense red currant edged blackberry aroma, fruity and spice edged. The colour is an ebony hued ruby and a swirl leaves a solid rim that quickly sheds slow moving tears. The first sip penetrates with woody spice, more than mellow acid and enough heat to leave a dry palate with dark fruit remnants long after the sip. Full-bodied with such a strong impression a plate of grilled steak, Moroccan Flank steak or bbq’d ribs would make an equal complement. A slow sipper if full & hot is preferred - no concession given with this red. Cellaring several years might shift rawness in right direction but don’t think so - save for your cigar chewing crowd. 89  Aerated:  The nose is intense but less in-your-face and with luscious dark berry aromas. The film starts from a lacy rim followed by long slow tears and the first sip has a delayed bite with heavy fine tannins lasting forever and intense blackberry flavours tainted by unsweetened chocolate. An intrusive sipper but now with less raw intensity. 91   

ROSEWOOD NATALIE'S SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% MD, #258806  $14.95  (Tasted March 15)  CS
Released by Vintages on January 21, 2012.  My notes:  Not Rated: A pale straw with a curious nose of fish and pear. Silky textured on the first sip with balanced sweet and sour fruit. Finishes dry with some oil on the lips and a noticeable taint similar to skin from a grilled salmon filet - cork had same odour.  Not a sipper - if you persist complement with mild seafood or an Asian buffet.

CAVE SPRING ‘DOLOMITE’ RIESLING 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 11.5% D, #Winery $16.95 (Tasted March 30, 2012)  Winery

My notes: The 2007 rated 92 (July 18, 2011) was thoroughly enjoyed while staying at the Inn on the Twenty in 2011. The taste of dolomite was pleasingly evident - I’ll look for it specifically. The colour of the 2010 is a light straw and a delicately tart melon aroma needs time to develop in the glass - not too evident.  Bright acid, some roundness and soft flavours become dominant from the first sip although dolomite isn’t as pronounced as in 2007 but showing at the end of a long finish. Appealing as a sole sipper and a complement for lightly seasoned seafood or buffet fare - went well with grilled scallops and a cheesy pasta. A drink now.  83 

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED GEWURZTRAMINER 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, Jordan, Ontario, 11.0% D, #Winery $17.95 (Tasted March 27, 2012)  Winery
My notes:  A crisp lemon yellow with aromas of honey and lemon tea… interesting and delectable. The film sticks then recedes slowly and evenly. Medium-bodied with a tang mellowed by noticeable sweetness, flavours of lemon tinged with tangerine and an aftertaste having delicate staying power. A great starter sipper and companion for a vegetarian buffet or tea sandwiches: egg salad, cucumber and cream cheese, etc. Pair with tempura vegetables and sushi. Cellar or sip now. 92

CAVE SPRING ‘DOLOMITE’ CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 11.0% D, #Winery $17.95 (Tasted March 18, 2012)  Winery

My notes:  Dining at the Solara Bistro in Clarkson we order this for our entrée white. We enjoyed the pairing. Not on the website nor the LCBO but can be ordered at the winery.  89

FRESCOBALDI ALBIZZIA CHARDONNAY TOSCANA 2010, Tuscany, Italy, 12.0% D, #266585  $11.95*  (Tasted March 28, 2012)   CS

A General release and a white from Marchesi De Frescobaldi reduced a *loonie until April 1, 2012.  My notes: A bright mid golden with aromas of spicy melon, sharp on the nose. A swirl leaves a firm lacy rimmed film shedding slow tears and ending with fragments on the glass. Silky with a sharp acid seam and spicy melon flavours slowly declining to a tangy dry finish. This was great with lemon and garlic spaghettini with grilled scallops. Keep several on hand for an impromptu Italian pasta dish or for casual cleansing with a seafood buffet. 88

BACHELDER NIAGARA CHARDONNAY 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Fenwick, Ontario, 13.0% XD, #271841  $34.95  (Tasted March 18, 2012)  CS

 A Vintages wine released on February 18, 2012. Konrad Ejbich, on CBC Radio monthly, picks Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2009 as his wine of the month.  My notes: One of three chardonnays (Oregon, Niagara, Bourgogne) produced by Thomas Bachelder illustrating 3 terroirs, this one possibly a blend of Niagara terroirs. See if you can taste the Dolomite limestone. 82

BACHELDER BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2009, Burgundy, France, 13.0% XD, #272005  $34.95  (Tasted March 18, 2012)  CS

A Vintages wine released on February 18, 2012. My notes: It's difficult to say where the grapes specifically came from in this case. The website says 'the vineyards stretching from Nuits-St. Georges in the north, through Beaune heading south to Puligny-Montrachet'. 86

BACHELDER OREGON CHARDONNAY 'WILLAMETTE VALLEY' 2009, Carlton, Oregon,  13.0% XD, #273334  $34.95  (Tasted March 18, 2012)   CS

A Vintages wine released on February 18, 2012.  My notes: Initially held back resulting from a customer complaint of immpurities is now cleared. Some harmless, natural tartrate crystals may occur in some bottles. This release is to illustrate the terroir of Lemelson Vineyards, 'a state-of-the-art gravity facility, and 60 hectares of organic vineyards that are amongst the most meticulously-kept vineyards in the entire Willamette Valley'. 87
ANORO CHARDONNAY 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.2% XD, #183855  $22.40  (Tasted March 18, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on November 27, 2010 rated 92 by Jay Miller (August 2009).  My notes:  Unfiltered.  Not much information on the website however rated highly by a number of tasters.  90

CASA PLANETA SYRAH 2010 IGT, Sicily, Italy, 13.0% D, #219857  $11.95  (Tasted March 26, 2012)  CS

Salsa Bolognese & Gnocchi
My notes:  Not aerated:  A mid ruby with a see through clarity and a scent of delicate spice on floral white cherry are the first attractions. The film is thin with a fine laciness at the rim evaporating without only minor traces - a tilt brings fast flowing tears. The first sip is dry, a lightish-body, a touch of oil and moderate flavours of tart apple and woody raspberry. The oil lasts through a moderate finish with declining spice and woody berry ending on a smooth note.  An interesting sipper and could cellar a year or two. 85  Aerated:  The nose is a much muted scent of the former self, ie. not aerated. The same dryness on first sip with a delicate spice and more wood, but softer, on the berries. Silky smooth with less sense of ’oil’ now more integrated with other textures for a balanced sipper. Should be great with a range of meaty pastas and pizzas. Paired with David Rocco’s Salsa Bolognese, mine with gnocchi - great!  and my BH with egg noodles - super!  87 
J.P. CHENET PREMIER DE CUVÉE MERLOT CABERNET 2010, Pays d’Oc, France,  13.0% D,  #621995  $11.95  (Tasted March 14, 2012)  CS

My notes:  Not aerated: A purple colour with an earthy fragrance of ripe black cherries edged with a tight spice. The film fragments easily sliding quickly into lacy islands. The first sip quickly forms a parchment dry flavourful coating with a raw acid bite, some lasting cherry remnants and crushed cherry pits. Pair with anything grilled or stewed, beef or lamb, savoury to spice rubbed. The texture has some rough bramble which doesn’t air out - from young vines and an unselective harvest? 82  Aerated: The texture is smoother, a better match with dry fruit flavours and noticeable herbal mix. More appealing as a sipper and a more polite meal partner but not substantially improved. A workhorse with picnic fare  -  could smooth out in a few years.  84 

KULT TERRE DI CHIETI 2008 IGT, Abruzzo, Italy, 13.5% D, #230805   $9.95  (Tasted March 23, 2012)  CS
My notes: Reduced a loonie until April 1, 2012. Not aerated:  Shows a granite hued ruby, opaque in the glass and leaves a firm film gradually shedding slow tears. A slight jammy aroma to an earthy black  plum and berry scent edged with pepper.  Very smooth, bright on the tongue and showing velvet tannins quickly shifting to oil lasting a swallow then flavours turn a tad brambly. Dry except for a suspicion of natural fruit sugar.  For the price an interesting full-bodied sipper. Should go well with meaty pastas - finish could be tiring without food. 84  Aerated:  Smooth with a polite tang and soft tannins edging the earthy black plum and blackberry. Less pepper on the nose makes this more appealing as an economical sipper and the tasty finish gives this quaff appeal. Have with bbq’d ribs, grilled T-bone, Barbarian rubbed sirloin. A House red for a soccer crowd.  87
COPPI PEUCETICO PRIMITIVO 2006, Puglia, Italy, 13.5% XD, #724674  $13.95  (Tasted March 20, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 18, 2012.  My notes:  Not aerated:  A dense ruby with a solid rim that flows columns of slow tears.  A heavy aroma of ripe berries pressed in the noonday sun with soft mocha and mild tannins to envelop the palate. An even tartness brightens what could be a berry bowl extravaganza gone native. Full-bodied, unctuous sweet and a bright sting constantly saturate the palate along with jammy dark fruit. A taste I could not acquire but if you prefer full and jammy this could be yours. Could cellaring ten years smooth some roughness and change ‘overly unctuous’ into ‘mellow and complex’? Perhaps.  Aerated:   Aeration softens some acid bringing out more dark fruit but overall cannot change the style. If purchased I recommend aerating and trying for your guests before serving.  NR  

VILLA MARIA PRIVATE BIN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.0% D, #426601  (Tasted March 15, 2012)  CS
My notes:  A classic kiwi Sauvignon Blanc with intense, unripe gooseberry on the nose. The colour is a pale straw and a swirl leaves a lacy film that slowly fragments into shrinking islands. Ripe fruit coasts on a smooth layer of tart and sweet making this an unctuous sipper finishing with the flavour blend and dry grassy textures.  For kiwi aficionados or to pair with slightly sweet Asian fare or a sushi tray. Doesn’t have the finesse or complexity of a Cloudy Bay - a commercial white.  85    ASCHERI BARBERA D'ALBA 2008,  Piedmonte, Italy, 13.5% D, #219790   $13.60  (Tasted March 15, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  Not aerated:  A deep ruby with a film that sticks then recedes first as slow tears then gradual lacy islands. A scent of fruit, near jam, stains on moist mahogany feeds an expectation of rich berries in the first sip. Velvety smooth with a penetrating warmth and tangy fur wraps the palate. Dark fruit on a cedar seam adds the unexpected making this an interesting full-bodied sipper - not a fruity as the nose would indicate. An old world balance of process and fruit to pair with rack of lamb or grilled beef, Italian meatballs with spaghettini. This should cellar well for up to 5 years. 90  Aerated:  The nose needs a short while to develop in the glass after aerating then is a softer version of the previous. Full-bodied with a milder flavour, same fur and smoothness, an interesting texture, dense black fruit with an oldworld balance and extra dry finish. A more polite sipper with an equal pairing spectrum. My preference is aerating.  89

  SARTORI DI VERONA MARANI BIANCO 2009, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #265405  $16.95  (Tasted March 14, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012. Made from partially-dried Garganega grapes with the drying process adding to the intensity of the aromas and flavours.    My notes: Not aerated:  The colour is a mid gold, clear and bright on the glass with a sharp tang to apple and pear each adding their fruit to a convincing nose. A swirl forms a firm film changing quickly to a lacy rim then shrinking to islands and drops. A tangy first sip dries the palate extending to the mid throat for a long smooth finish. Flavours are unusual and interesting… a seafood or chicken white. May not appeal to all as a sipper. Have with scallops seared on a garlic and butter skillet accompanied by cheese gnocchi. Keep a year or two or drink now. 85  Aerated: A milder tang on the nose with the same round appeal that invites the first sip. A focussed tang carried by a blend of apple and muted pear and long finish with a dry edged persistence. I prefer aeration with only a subtle softness being difference.  88

CRUSH SAUVIGNON BLANC SEMILLON 2009, South-West Australia, 13.1% D, #215673  $14.55  (Tasted March 25, 2012)  CS

A General listing from Barwick wines.  My notes: A pale straw colour with an unripe gooseberry aspect to the nose for a prominently acrid sauvignon blanc blend. The film is solid forming a solid rim that declines slowly. The first sip bites the buds, it’s dry, medium-bodied, has a smoothness carrying a semblance of fresh gooseberries and muted stagnant pond. The flavours continue on a slow decline ’til the tart dominates a light sweetness. A sipper with a mixed buffet but not solo. Have with seafood but too rough to ignore - I’d skip.  77  

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