Tuesday, May 01, 2012

'Earthday 2012' Wines: 14 Tasted of 14

A moment in time

Q. What prompted a focus on Sterling and Southbrook wines this month?
A. An April 19th article in Wine Spectator asked ‘Help save the planet this Earth Day with these eco-conscious vintners’.

Reference in the article
was made to fourteen wineries all claiming eco-friendly practises,  anything from providing electric car charging stations for their visitors, solar panels for their operations, recyclable  packaging materials, reforesting projects, sustainable farming, etc.  These individual efforts should not be confused with a return to -cide and additive free winemaking as in the case of Natural, Biodynamic, Organic, Sustainable or other terms which are oeno-centric and not eco-inspired practises.  

Started on Sunday April 22nd 1970 in the United States this year’s theme is “Mobilize the Earth”.  For a synopsis of what Earth Day means the G&M article, Moving beyond Earth Day, of April 20th reports one viewpoint.

Searching the LCBO website two of the fourteen wineries were represented by product - Iron Horse and Sterling. I don’t expect to find any wine trait to be directly attributable to Earth Day but was encouraged sufficiently to select their wines.  With the exception of Southbrook, the idea of Earth Day hasn’t got the attention of Canadian wineries therefore a selection of only Southbrook wines.  Sorry if other winery efforts have eluded me.

The majority of Earth Day events in Canada appear to be those planned by K- 9 schools, Community Centres, and Libraries, ie. organizations with public representation rather than Corporate sponsors. There's no question that private individuals with focus on the young and publicly involved is important. Everyone needs to conserve rather than consume, however, a corporate impetus could have a large impact. It seems our personal 'recyclables' increase with every shopping cycle.

At the government level the Federal direction has been to cut back on eco-efforts by fast tracking/bypassing environmental impact studies and supporting ventures that potentially threaten the environment if not given closer scrutiny.

Forget the naysayers... let's celebrate the gains in the last forty-two years and work to preserve the world for future generations.

Salut, Ww

Related articles:
  1. Embassy of the United States, Ottawa - Canada
  2. Earth Day Predictions
  3. Apocalyptic Daze

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

  • Sterling Vineyards Merlot 2009,  90-1  --  V,  Napa Valley, California, #330241 $27.95
  • Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  89a  --  V,  Napa Valley, California, #314575 $27.95 
  • Southbrook Organic Red Connect 2011 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 88-1 --  G, NOTL, Ontario,  #249565 $14.95  
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection Merlot 2009, 88-1  --  G, Central Coast, California, #622837 $14.95 
  • Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet/Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  86  --  V, NOTL, Ontario, #172080 $22.95
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection Pinot Noir 2010,  82  --  G, Central Coast, California, #226571 $14.95 
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  81  --  G, Central Coast, California, #056366 $14.95 
  • Southbrook Triomphe Syrah 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  81  --  V, NOTL, Ontario, #129809  $19.95
  • Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 80  --  V,  NOTL, Ontario, #237065  $19.95 

  • Sterling Vineyards Chardonnay 2010, 88  --  V,  Napa Valley, California,  #330233 $21.95
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay 2010, 82  --  G, Central Coast, California, 13.5% D, #669242 $14.95 
  • Southbrook Organic White Connect 2010 VQA Ontario,  80  --  G,  NOTL, Ontario, #249078  $14.95 

  • Southbrook Connect Organic Rosé 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84  -- V, NOTL, Ontario, #168492 $18.95

  •  Iron Horse Estate Bottled Wedding Cuvée 2007,  87  --  V,  Sebastopol, California, #707836 $21.95 
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


STERLING VINEYARDS  CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009,  Napa Valley, California, 14.6%  D, #314575  $27.95  (Tasted June 1, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2012. Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.  My notes: The nose is a combination of bright fruit of raspberries, has the penetrating spice of black currant and an edge of red cherries, inviting as a sipper and a flavourful contribution to roast lamb or grilled steak. The colour has a black hue on deep crimson and leaves a smooth film with columns of slow tears. Sharp on the first sip stinging then gradually declining layering the palate with heat and spice, dry and brambly at the end. I doubt if this will improve with cellaring. A meal red. Aerating lessens intensity of the nose and removes much of the sting from the sip putting the focus on smoother tannins and clean acid. Same overall rating but preferred.  89

STERLING VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2010,  Napa Valley, California, 14.2% D, #330233  $21.95  (Tasted April 29, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012.  My notes: My notes: ($18.00US) A yellow straw colour with a lacy rim that slowly falls to leave the glass clear. The nose has an apple and faint pear too delicate for a high sniff rating. Medium-bodied with citrus and pear flavours burst on the palate, sharp and warm, then fade as luscious silk and acid keep the taste buds alert - ending with a suspicion of vanilla. Have with seafoods, grilled chicken breasts sliced over creamy pasta or pork tenderloin with a pineapple mango sauce. Cellaring a number (six?) of years should be possible with acids eventually mellowing. 88

STERLING VINEYARDS MERLOT 2009, Napa Valley, California, 14.5% D, #330241  $27.95  (Tasted May 7, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages unknown date. Merlot blended with small amounts of other grape varieties.  My notes:  The nose has a spicy edge to a soft remnant of cedar and blackberry.  The colour has  the hue and depth of black cherry skins and a swirl gives a lacy rim that slowly slides down the sides. Soft on the palate with fine tannins that go into a long flavourful finish leaving the mouth dry along the way. A pleasing sipper with or without nibbles. Match with Lucy Waverman's The Big Ragout or broiled turkey pieces. A drink now but could keep a year or two gaining more complexity.  90 

STERLING VINTNER'S COLLECTION CHARDONNAY 2010, Central Coast, California, 13.5% D, #669242  $14.95  (Tasted May 1, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A pale straw colour and nose that is without a distinctive scent. Let go off chill (15-16oC) for a smoother texture, a high point of this white. A thin film leaves lacy islands on the glass. The first sip has a gentle tang with a smoothness that gives way to a light straw accent on dry lemon/melon flavours with some accumulated warmth. A sipper if a buffet table is nearby to support a short finish - better to pair with a roast white fowl or seafood meal with a cream sauce. Not for cellaring. 82

STERLING VINTNER'S COLLECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009, Central Coast, California, 13.5% D,  #056366  $14.95  (Tasted May 17, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: A lower-tier label from Sterling and a lighter version of their Vineyard line. The smoothness is shown by the film headed by a solid rim and the long slow legs flowing down. There's an aroma so slight it's difficult to discern specific fruit or process - not objectionable at least - a touch of sweetness. The first sip is smooth, has an appealing texture of fine tannins and sense of dried cherry skins. The finish is moderate ending with dried indiscernible fruit. A shallow sipper for an open bar or a Bridge party and a partner for chicken/veal schnitzel, hamburgers or a ham steak. Not for cellaring - a drink now. 81

STERLING VINTNER'S COLLECTION PINOT NOIR 2010, Central Coast, California, 13.5% D, #226571  $14.95  (Tasted June 10, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A rich black cherry colour better served slightly chilled then allowed to warm in the palm for the subtle aroma of earthy raspberries. A swirl leaves a thin film, hardly noticeable. The first sip is light-bodied, smooth with a hint of strawberries, no sweetness and easily giving up the fruit and leaving a sense of dried cherry skins. A social sipper with not much appeal - easily quaffed. Have with a ham steak or pork chop broiled with sweet potatoes and green beans. Not for cellaring - a drink now.  82  

STERLING VINTNER'S COLLECTION MERLOT 2009, Central Coast, California, 13.5% D, #622837  $14.95  (Tasted May 7, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  Mostly spice and cedar in a subtle, almost non existent  nose, nevertheless there and appealing. The rim is continuous dropping slow legs for a medium-bodied red. The first sip has a bright edge with some firm fine tannins and a mild flavour of blackberry. The palate is left dry with light fruit. Have with rotisserie'd chicken, a filet mignon or sliced ham. Held its own with Lucy Waverman's  The Big Ragout. A drink now with a lightness in texture pleasing as a sipper - will keep a year or so. Could be light for some seasoned entrées.  88

IRON HORSE  ESTATE BOTTLED WEDDING CUVÉE 2007,  Sebastopol, California, 13.5% D, #707836  $21.95  (Tasted May 5, 2012)  CS

A Vintage release on October 1, 2011.  My notes:  A blend of 88% Pinot Noir and 12% Chardonnay and aged three years in bottle. Total production was 4,775 cases.  A Pacific salmon colour, lighter than Atlantic with a burst of large bubbles that quickly subside into a few streaming strands of small. The nose has a faint perfumed powder puff scent and a sip adds a light apple flavouring to the spritz, refreshingly tart. Serve well chilled to capture the spritz needed to carry through to a mineral dry finish. Have on hand for special occasions or wedding day toasts. Our 'special occasion' is a meal of pancakes and back bacon smothered with butter & Maple Syrup.  There's no sweetness in this bottle. 87

SOUTHBROOK CONNECT ORGANIC ROSÉ 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario, 12.5%  D, #168492  $18.95  (Tasted May 6, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on May 28, 2011.   My notes:  100% Cabernet Franc.  A deep salmon red colour and a scant vegetal aroma that fades. A swirl sets a lacy rim that falls quickly. Served off chill the initial flavour is a light pomegranate with a touch of sweetness. A subtle dryness and light tang sets in to accompany the sweet all lingering a long while then ending silky smooth.  Add some crushed ice and Ontario strawberry slices for a sipper on a hot summer day or served with ice alone to an afternoon Bridge foursome on the patio followed by skinned & sliced Niagara peaches.  A straightforward drink now - a better quaffer. 84

SOUTHBROOK ORGANIC RED CONNECT 2011 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario,  12.5% D, #249565  $14.95  (Tasted June 3, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:Smooth, nicely balanced acid, fruit, tannin, overall an appealing first taste. The colour is dark cherry skin and the film lies firm on the glass with a solid rim and long slow tears. An aroma of crushed sweet cherries blended with blackberries. Presentation has all of the elements of a welcoming sipper. There's fresh cherries with an earthy background and soft texture . Nicely put together for an afternoon patio buffet - a crowd pleaser - or paired with pork tenderloin, a tuna steak. Was great with Argentine Tri-Tip Sirloin w/Chimichurri Sauce and Sweet Potato fries. A drink now with a touch of sweet.  88

SOUTHBROOK ORGANIC WHITE CONNECT 2010 VQA Ontario,  NOTL, Ontario, 9.6% D, #249078  $14.95  (Tasted April 30, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: Made from Vidal grapes. Serve well chilled. The colour is a pale blond and the nose has an indistinct blend of almond and apple, almost imperceptible. The film is thin receding very quickly. Light-bodied with an initial acid that carries a faint crabapple flavour showing briefly then fading to a weak remnant. A sipper lacking either depth or a nominal Vidal profile. Not the right choice to contribute to a pappardelle, butter leek and sea scallop entrée. Pour over ice and add a healthy squeeze of lime or use for a summer punch perhaps.  80

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET FRANC 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  NOTL, Ontario, 13.3%  D,  #237065   $19.95  (Tasted May 15, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on December 10, 2011.  My notes:  Winery notes indicate this was made from grapes from vineyards certified both Demeter (Biodynamic) and organic.  A charcoal hued ruby barely see through in the glass and an aroma of spicy berry preserves - let air thirty minutes or aerate to lessen sweet edge slightly. The rim fragments then recedes evenly slowly flowing columns of tears. A very smooth texture with a sharp tang and fine tannins balancing cherry/berry flavours. A party sipper for any preferring sweet - an alternate house red perhaps - a long finish. Have with burgers and chips, chicken wings or takeout pizzas. A drink now.  80

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET/MERLOT 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 12.5% D, #172080  $22.95  (Tasted May 15, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release with date not specified.  My notes: Similar to Southbrook's Cabernet Franc but now with less (33%) it benefits from 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. There's less sweetness on the nose and first sip. The texture is nicely smooth balanced with dry berry flavours and better positioned as a meal red as well as a flavourful sipper with a long finish. New world but fruitier and a lighter body. More reserved and likely a match for grilled sirloin or lightly flavoured T-bone. Cellaring may add depth but don't think so. A drink now. 86

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE SYRAH 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario, 11.8% D, #129809   $19.95  (Tasted April 30, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on November 12, 2011.  My notes:  A see through ruby colour with scant nose possibly a light fruit without spice or mineral. A swirl leaves a lacy rim with columns of fast legs until a few fragmented islands are left. Medium-bodied with a light silk and penetrating warmth both persisting beside delicate flavours of red cherry and ending with a crushed cherry stone dryness. Sipping along side a buffet spread could alternate taste interests or pair with bacon-on-a-bun or hummus on crisps. A drink now.  81

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