Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Alice Feiring Fires Back

'Alice Feiring Fires Back' or 'Stirring the barrel on your behalf'.

Alice Feiring has been a contradictory figure outspoken from her book, Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally, and continues on this path today.  There is very few prominent figures speaking on behalf of wine consumers... willing to make it their career to counter or at least balance the corporate influence on what is produced and sold as wine you and I consume.

The wine market grows in every country every year. Is there any other answer except it's easier today to put together a marketable drink not based on a grape and nature's nourishment but on components better known by a white coated chemist than a grape stained winemaker. 

If you would like to be more informed in today's Corporate market visit Alice Feiring's website, The Feiring Line: The Real Wine Newsletter. For those that visit Strictlytasting I've embedded her video as a place to start.

Cheers, Ww

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Advent of the Billboard Bottle

A while back I commented on differences among wineries with a focus on 'Virtual Wineries'  and within 'Virtual'  I differentiated between two types: 'Virtual' and 'Absentee'.   A third related innovation may have surfaced... you be the judge.

World-wide a winery and the wine it produces are identified on the label. This is a VQA requirement and is the case for the mainstream Canadian wine industry. I'd say the majority of wineries whether in BC, Niagara, PEC or NB are striving for world attention. Most have gained and continue to gain traction each season and, from my recent participation, there is visibly more cooperation among wineries and regions in and outside Canada, case in point i4c2012.

What of a wine produced by a winery but labelled to advertise a business or personality unrelated to the producing winery? or for that matter, a business or personality having no direct involvement in the wine making process other than a consumer? Does marketing of this product contribute in some way to promoting the Canadian wine industry or does it instead detract?

The customary outlets for marketing a product or service are largely innocuous or at least traditional. We put up with each since it's easier to ignore than stop them. The weekly glossies delivered with the morning newspaper, the leaflets stuck in your mailbox, the unsolicited telephone calls or the countless commercials on cable TV. These traditionally advertise winter cruises, a ClubMed discount, 60" TVs with HD & surround sound, re-roofing your home or cleaning air ducts. But what does a business with a specialized service do? ...for example the Bay Street broker wanting to reach a client base interested in investment opportunities? One approach could be via a wine bottle label. Find a winery having a goal of reaching more consumers and combine that effort with a business interested in marketing a name and it's a win-win combination, isn't it? The principle doesn't even have to split a grape.

Hollywood celebrities, hockey players, golfers and actors have used the labelling approach. What's so different? Perhaps the level of investment. Changing the name on an existing winery seems to me to be a quick entry into the wine industry, however, the investment is a
sizeable commitment to the business.  The celebrity carries the winery... but sometimes for only a short while. Unless retiring from the limelight the celebrity often can't divert their personal focus for indefinite periods. The attraction of a winery fizzles and both the winery and brand are contracted out or sold to a consortium.

However, what if the extent of the investment is pared back to that of a labelling change? A few square inches of label multiplied several thousand times for several types of wines becomes a significant increase to the winery's production. The sponsor sees advertising equivalent to a chain of billboards, first in Ontario then, with cross border movement, Canada-wide. Not a virtual winery but potentially a win for the bottler and a win for the sponsor. It gives a new meaning to the phrase 'Go for Gold'.  What does the consumer get out of this arrangement? The principle and the winery could be motivated to bring an 'appealing' wine to market at a value price point. However, my altruistic values say there should be a reason for a name on a wine label other than 'you've got the money and you want to make more'.

I call this 'Billboard Bottling'. 

Next... how about sectioning wine labels into spaces for ads - similar to what is on every Facebook, LinkedIn or eBay panel? Or, advertise a TV series, eg. Real Wives of Van Shiraz - peppery and at 16% alc., You Think You Can Dance White, Coronation Street Rosé, Shades of Grey Cabernet. I'm sure that some winery, somewhere will corrupt the business that far someday.

Watch for a Billboard Bottle coming soon to an Outlet near you.

My thoughts,



During the recent Niagara trip I stopped at Vineland Estate to sample the Unoaked Chardonnay (#307751, $14.95) and the Cabernet Merlot (#307774, $14.95). The white is a blend of 90% chard, 5% Chard Musqué and 5% Sauvignon Blanc and has a sugar level of 12.1 g/L at 12.0% alc.   The red is 68% Cabernet Franc, 23% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon with a sugar level of 6.9g/L at 13.0% alc. Both are VQA Niagara Peninsula. My impression is that both fit the market competing with entry level imports and Canadian lifestyle blends.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

August 2012 Wines: 30 Tasted of 30

I was thinking of the Olympics this week! The controversies surrounding VIP lanes in London, the empty seats reserved for no-show teams, competitors' parents and Olympic officials that provoked fans anxious to attend, the questioning of whether drugs led to an early outstanding performance. I call them 'Squabbles' since they're distractions and a convenient way to fill airtime between events on News channels. The squabbles are  negative colour that come with  every Olympics.

Focussing on the competitions, I spend most of my time finding 'when' events are scheduled quickly followed by 'where', ie. the TV channels that provide coverage. There's always the question of 'do I follow a pattern of viewing events in which Canada is represented?' or 'do I follow my preferred sporting events?'  For events that overlap I end up trying to do both, watching local stations and being patient with the detailed commentary as well as viewing OMNI and French channels. My language skills are limited to English, but if I know the sport well enough the sound can be turned down/off and I follow along with everyone else that has a seat in the stands.

What does this have to do with Wine?  Lately there has been a number of inferred or stated comments that Ontario consumers should purchase Canadian wines - an encouragement to be patriotic. Some go so far to say our wines are 'world class'.  Unfortunately it may not be complimentary to be compared with the majority of imports on LCBO shelves. And I could understand focussing on native labels if there were ample choice of the 'world class' on Vintages shelves - to be able to find 'that' wine to go with an occasion or complementing meal.

I'd say in my defense I'm not a shirker when it comes to buying local. In the past, about one quarter of all wines bought - averaging a bottle a day - were from Ontario. But I also enjoy the diversity of world wines: the richness of Australian Shiraz or Argentinan Malbec, a full-bodied Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, the floral smoothness of an Argentinan Torrontes or the complexities of a Chablis. For wine and the Olympics I have to share the sound of 'O Canada' with International anthems to fully satisfy my tastes and interests.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy the mix below.... you'll only find four Canadian wines in this month's list however we do have reservations for a stayover at the Inn, a show at the Shaw and two days of visiting Niagara wineries mid month.  Hoping to visit Nyarai, 2027, Calamus, Cave Spring and Rosewood. So much wine and so little time...

Salut, Ww

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

  • Filon Garnacha 2010,  92-3  --  V, Calatayud, Spain, #280602 $14.95
  • Fog Head 'Highlands Series' Reserve Pinot Noir 2010,  92-2  --  V,  Monterey, California, #212944 $19.95 
  • Tyrrell's Rufus Stone Heathcote 2009 Shiraz, 91-2  --  V, Pokolbin NSW, Australia, #091488  $19.95  
  • Clos de los Siete 2009, 91-2  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #622571  $21.95 
  • Castano Solanera Vinas Viejas 2009,  90a-2  --  V, Yecla, Spain, #276162  $15.95  
  • (WOM) Tahbilk 'Estate Grown and Bottled' Shiraz 2008, 90-1  --  V, Central Victoria, Australia, #214742  $20.95 
  • The Show Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  87  --  V,  Napa, California,  #140715 $17.95
  • Le Ragose Ripasso Valpolicella Classico 2007,  87a  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #991984  $18.95  
  • Pillitteri Antagonist 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86a --  V, NOTL, Ontario, #291948  $15.95 
  • Le Cirque Carignan/Mourvèdre/Syrah 2010,  83  --  V, Côtes Catalanes, Midi, France, #277079 $14.95
  • Valduero Crianza 2004, 83  --  O, Valduero, Spain, #n/a,  $17 - 20  
  • Villa Matilde Rocca Dei Leoni Aglianico 2008,  83a  --  V, Campania, Italy, #165035 $19.95
  • De Bertoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir 2010, 82 --  V, Yarra Valley, Australia, #048587  $17.95 
  • Bel Echo by Clos Henri Terroir Greywacke Pinot Noir 2010,  82  --  V, Marlborough, NZ,  #159137 $18.95    
  • (WOM) Carpineto Chianti Classico 2010,  82  --  V,  Greve, Italy, #356048 $18.95       

  • Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2011,  92-2  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #278556 $19.95
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chenin Blanc 2009 VQA Beamsville Bench, 89-1  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #627315  $17.95
  • Spinyback Pinot Gris 2010, 87-1  --  V, Nelson, NZ, #214569 $16.95  
  • McManis Family Vineyards Viognier 2011, 86  --  V, Ripon, California, #658112  $18.95 
  • Bonterra Viognier Organic 2010, 85  --  V,  Mendocino County, California, #128900 $19.95 
  • Steininger Gruner Veltliner 2010,  84  --  V, Langelois, Austria, #280842  $14.95   
  • Bonterra Chardonnay Organic 2010,  83  --  V, Mendocino County, California,  #342436 $18.95  
  • Jean Bourdy Côtes de Jura White 2007, 82  --  V, Jura, France, #286427  $24.95  

  • Saint-Roche Côtes du Roussillon Syrah/Grenache Rosé 2011,  90-2  --  V, Perpignan, France, #276352  $14.95
  • Comte de Négret 'Fronton' Rosé 2011,  86-1  --  V,  Fronton, France, #276378  $12.95
  • Château de l'Aumérade Cru Classé Cuvée Marie Christine Rosé 2011,  86  --  V, Province, France, #282459  $15.95   
  • Hinterbrook Rosé 2011 VQA Niagara Lakeshore,  85 --  V, NOTL, Ontario, #275818 $16.00     
  • Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2011,  92-2  --  V, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, #256289 $25.95
  • Thorn-Clarke Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut Reserve NV,  91-2  - V, Eden Valley, Australia, #280925 $19.95   
  • Joseph Cattin Crémant Brut d'Alsace NV, 88-1  --  V,  Haut-Rhin, France,  #281329 $16.95
(WOM - Wine of the Month, V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


WOMs  for August 2012 - both were released by Vintages on July 21, 2012.

TAHBILK 'ESTATE GROWN AND BOTTLED' SHIRAZ 2008, Central Victoria, Australia, 14.5%  D  5g/L,  #214742   $20.95  (Tasted August 1, 2012)  CS

Rated 91 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW (June 2011).  My notes:  A deep ruby with a soft aroma of black plums and berries that gradually fills the bowl. A thick film layers the glass leaving a fragmenting rim and dropping slow tears. Silky textured, a soft tang and ripe berry flavours make for mellow sipping. This is a red to pair with filet mignon or prime rib au jus or just sip. Drinking well now and could keep for several years.  90

CARPINETO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2010, Greve, Italy, 13.0%  XD  4g/L, #356048   $18.95  (Tasted August 7, 2012)  CS
My notes:  The film recedes quickly leaving negligible reminders on the bowl. The colour is a see-through ruby and the nose has the scent of earthy cranberries. A lightish medium-body red with an inkling of silk, soft acids, fine tannins, light on the palate with a subtle cranberry and prune flavour declining quickly to a slight coating of fruit and tobacco, dry. Overall a conventional red without any standout characteristics. Serve with cheese nibbles or with conventional Italian pastas. A drink now.  82  ps. the open bottle was much better a few days later


FOG HEAD 'HIGHLANDS SERIES' RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2010, Monterey, California, 13.5%  D  8g/L, #212944  $19.95  (Tasted August 9, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 21, 2012 and a Delicato Vineyards wine.  My notes: Pinot Noirs vary so much when you find one you prefer it's worth jotting down. The 2008 vintage tasted June 2011 was rated 88 but had a BRETT-like nose. The 2010 has no sign of BRETT but of delicate strawberry/raspberry tinged by smoke. An interesting aroma to go along with an elegant smoky ruby with a purple cast. A swirl leaves a lacy rim that  sheds long legs as before. Silky smooth, full and rounded, a sultry layer of ripe raspberry and smoky strawberry edged with a tart spice increases the interest level.  A complex  finish adds dimension leading to a mellow ending.  Would enhance a meal it's paired with a tuna steak, rack of lamb or veal parmigiana.  Cellaring for a few years could have a surprise.  92

COMTE DE NÉGRET 'FRONTON' ROSÉ 2011, Fronton, France, 12.5%  D  4g/L, #276378   $12.95  (Tasted August 27, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on July 21, 2012 and winner of a Gold at the Concours des Vins du Sud-Ouest 2012 in Tolouse.  My notes:  A deep salmon pink with an apple peach and perfumed nose and a rim that immediately fragments and disappears. A smooth texture with subtle tang followed by a dryness to balance a sweet edge of pronounced raspberry strawberry flavours - makes me wonder if Fronton's négrette grape is akin to Ontario's cabernet franc. An unctious sipper for afternoon bridge or a shower, wedding or baby - perhaps a hot afternoon on the patio paired with a tray of soft cheeses. Cellar a year or two. 86
THE SHOW CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009, Napa, California, 13.9% D  xg/L, #140715  $17.95  (Tasted August 4, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 21, 2012. Made by the Rebel Wine.  Rated 88 by Daenna Van Mulligen  (Dec. 6, 2011).  My notes:  $14 US with 1.5 lbs of glass. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petite Sirah and 2% Zinfandel and a colour a deep granite hued ruby - there's a touch of sweet to the deep blackberry/currant scent. Acid and spice give life to the aroma and to the first sip that includes a healthy bite before laying off its fruit and fine tannins - a tad jammy with a touch of vanilla - a little goes a long way I'd say. The film sticks leaving a continuous rim and snail paced tears. Full-bodied and full-profiled with enough character to make sipping interesting for some. Pairing with stews or braised ribs would do justice to the blender's efforts. A drink now. 87
JOSEPH CATTIN CRÉMANT BRUT D'ALSACE NV, Haut-Rhin, France, 12.0% D  xg/L, #281329   $16.95  (Tasted September 8, 2012)  CS

 A  Vintages release on July 21, 2012 and winner of Gold at the 2011 Concours Général Agricole in Paris.  My notes: A delicate blond with a rush of effervescence subsiding to steady trails of fine bubbles. Almost negligible apple aromas and a thin film that fragments quickly the swirl leaving circular trails on the surface. A tangy apple flavour, a touch of sweetness with a bright spritz leads into a long dry apple and mineral finish. Delicious as a sipper, a popular toasting beverage and a super wake-me-up with maple syrup waffles with over easy eggs and sausage.  Keep on hand for any occasion - serve well chilled.  88

VALDUERO CRIANZA 2004, Valduero, Spain, 13.0%  XD,  xg/L, #Other,  $17 - 20  (Tasted August 25, 2012)  n/a

My notes: Price on Snooth and Decantalo is between $17 to $20. Notes for the 2007 vintage but not the 2004 is available on the Bodegas Valduero website.  There's a scent of spicy black currant and fig from an adobe edged, dark ruby red with a continuous rim drained by long legs and tears. I aerated on first sniff.  A sip leaves a penetrating acid on the palate with softened dark fruit and fine tobacco flavours. Fine tannins come forward as fruit slowly declines leaving a warm, extra dry mouthfeel. A full-bodied meal red for Barbarian Rub'bed beef: short ribs, rib eye or Moroccan strip. An oldworld drink now. 83

BONTERRA CHARDONNAY ORGANIC 2010, Mendocino County, California, 13.5% D 5g/L, #342436   $18.95  (Tasted August 2, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on April 18, 2012.  By Fetzer Vineyards.  My notes:  $12US.  A blend of 92% chardonnay, 4% muscat and 4% viognier and grapes from four Fetzer vineyards.  The colour is a light golden in the glass with scents of a subtle lemon floral. The film sticks then runs from a lightly lacy rim to shrink to island fragments.  The first sip nips the palate, past the acid it has a silky softness followed by a long tangy citrus ending dry and warm. A style that showcases the blending components along with a subtle vanilla. A meal white to have with fresh oysters then continue through a deep fried chicken entrée.  83
BONTERRA VIOGNIER ORGANIC 2010, Mendocino County, California, 13.7% D 7g/L, #128900  $19.95  (Tasted August 2, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 21, 2012.  By Fetzer Vineyards.  My notes: $15US.  A blend of Viognier 81%, Marsanne 10%, Roussanne 4% and Muscat 5%.  Poured at 10oC there is an indistinct floral aroma, just discernible, that remains unchanged as the temp rises. The colour is mid golden and a swirl leaves a rough edged rim that shows slow tears as it slides down the glass. The texture of the first sip is silky with a soft roundness and having the tang and taste of lemon, somewhat mild with a touch of stone fruit. The flavour accumulates on the palate and continues through long finish ending with a touch of chalk. Enjoyable as a crisp sipper - better paired with cod on risotto or scallops with pasta and vodka sauce.  A drink now.  85

CLOS DE LOS SIETE 2009,  Mendoza, Argentina, 14.5% XD  5g/L, #622571  $21.95  (Tasted August 3, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 25, 2012.  "... built around the Malbec grape." Rated 90 by Jay Miller  (December. 2011).   My notes: Tasted the 2007 vintage in March 2009 rating it 92-2. A blend of 57% Malbec, 15% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 3% Petit Verdot. The US price varies by State from $15 in New Jersey to $19 in Florida . In Ontario the 2009 vintage is now $2 less than the 2007. The colour is a deep ruby and the nose has aromas of spice, plums and blackberry. A firm film quickly runs long legs and the first sip is an unctuous combination of rich blackberries and earthy mushroom. A woody dryness coats the palate and leaves a pleasing residue of tannin and fruit. A sipper as well as a meal complement have with anything beefy, a roast, stew, soup or beefeaters pizza. Cellaring for several years should mellow textures even further. 91 
JEAN BOURDY CÔTES DE JURA WHITE 2007, Jura, France, 12.5%  XD  3g/L, #286427   $24.95  (Tasted August 7, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 20, 2012. Rated 89 by David Lawrason  (June 2012).   My notes:  Reference in Vintages' notes, or Lawrason's, is made to the 2010 vintage leaving me to believe no one has tasted the 2007 vintage.  The Cotes du Jura White 2010 wasn`t available as of writing.  The 2007 colour is a prominent golden and at 12oC the aroma is a liquid honey, gentle without sweetness. A swirl leaves a light lacy rim shedding slow tears. A bright acid wakens the palate and a smoothness carries a grassy lemon vanilla flavour chalking the mouth then to a finish of lemongrass. This has a style that one could say is an acquired taste - or it may have lost its fruit while retaining the process. No change with aerating. Have with bbq'd flattened Cornish Hens beans and carrots or a Swiss Chalet chicken bucket.  82

LE CIRQUE CARIGNAN/MOURVÈDRE/SYRAH 2010, Côtes Catalanes, Midi, France, 14.5% XD  7g/L, #277079  $14.95  (Tasted August 21, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 21, 2012.  Rated 90 by David Schildknecht    (June 2011).   My notes:  A dull ruby gives an opaque density and an aroma of dark plums, black cherries and red currant with smoke has oldworld (process dominant) written on it.  A thin film leaves a smooth rim that runs long legs. There's a velvety smoothness with raw spice, warmth on the throat and tannins supporting smoky prune flavours. Flavours shift to red currant, smoke and tobacco which grow, then fade to a dry light tobacco end. Not a sipper but a meal red to pair with tomato pastas or grilled ground beef.  A few more years cellaring is possible but mainly a drink now.  83

WHITEHAVEN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D  3.5g/L, #278556   $19.95  (Tasted August 4, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 21, 2012. Rated 5 of 5 by Michael Cooper's Buyer's Guide to New Zealand Wines, 2012.  My notes: I was impressed with this white paired with a meal during a stay in Boston in November 2010.  I had their Pinot Noir 2008 in April this year rating it 82a.  This has a soft crystal lemon colour and, allowing time to develop, there's a bright scent of fresh gooseberries juices. A swirl shows a slowly receding rim. A touch of ocean air adds to a nip on the nose and the first taste confirms the freshness of fruit, tart lasting through a long finish then ending with a grassy brush. Perhaps too tart to sip by itself - have with fresh oysters, seared scallop appetizers or stuffed mushrooms or pair with any spiny or finny seafood dish - it will provide the tartness without the need for seafood sauce. Cellaring a few years should soften some tart but don't wait long. 92
LE RAGOSE RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2007, Veneto, Italy, 13.5%  XD  6g/L, #991984   $18.95  (Tasted August 6, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on June 23, 2012.  Rated 88 by Antonio Galloni  (February 2011)   My notes: This wine was in a tweet from @lorieloveswine, Sommelier at TOCA Ritz-Carlton Toronto and ACC's Platinum Club. $27.50US  in the States and a lightweight bottle coming in at less than a lb.  A slight aroma of red currant, subtle with a tobacco edge and a colour of deep black cherry skins combining for an 'OK What's next?'  first impression. The first sip bites then looses a tingling acid and red currant flavour. Airing a half hour+ or aerating lessens the sharp tangy side letting more flavour come through - after aerating the sharpness is softened without harming the balance. The finish is long with a refreshing melding of tannin, acid, mild cherry and earthy oak. A medium-bodied, dry meal red to pair with anything Italian, beefeater pizzas, chorizo pasta or osso bucco.  I'd be tempted to cellar 3 to 5 years.  87   
CASTAÑO SOLANERA VIÑAS VIEJAS 2009, Yecla, Spain, 14.0%  XD  6g/L, #276162   $15.95  (Tasted August 28, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on July 21, 2012.  A blend of 65% Monastrell (aka Mourvédre or Mataro), 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Garnacha Tintorera. Rated 90+ by Jay Miller (June 2011).  My notes: Priced from $8US to LCBO's $16CAD.  Unfortunately the website doesn't show this label so there's no winery info available. There's a slight purple to this deep ruby and the rim is solid drained by slow moving legs. Oak scented dark berry fruit pleases the nostrils while sensuous berry flavours, rich and spicy (aerate to soften if preferred), offers a framework for pleasurable sipping. The end is delayed allowing the richness to soak the taste buds then stays dry with tannins balanced nicely by mild acids. Have with steaks of all kinds, a lamb rack or ragout. Three years now and could last another three.  90a

SAINT-ROCH CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON SYRAH/GRENACHE ROSÉ 2011,  Perpignan, France, 13.0%  D  4g/L, #276352   $14.95  (Tasted August 10, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 21, 2012 and a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache Noir.  My notes: Approx $7.30 CAD (6 Euros) in France. Winner of a Silver at Concours Général Agricole Paris 2010 and a Gold at Concours National des vins vinifiés par les Vignerons Indépendants 2010. By the aroma alone this is on its way to a Gold Medal. At 12oC the scent of garden roses with the cool dew of the morning goes well with the salmon tinted blush in the glass. The lacy rim shedding fast legs says it's on the light side of medium-bodied. A polite sharpness with chalk on the throat gives the initial sip immediate interest, followed by flavours that trail to a dry finish. Subtle orange and lime blend in nicely as a mid-day sipper or after dinner refresher. Paired well with grilled wild Argentinan scallops and citrus spaghettini and likely would with shrimp or sliced chicken breast. Cellar short term or drink now. 90
THORN-CLARKE PINOT NOIR CHARDONNAY BRUT RESERVE NV, Eden Valley, Australia,  12.0%  D  12g/L. #280925  $19.95  (Tasted August 25, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on August 4, 2012.  My notes: Not to be confused with their Sandpiper tier this, having a higher sugar content, may be produced for export - the label doesn't appear on their website http://www.thornclarkewines.com.au/vineyards/ .  A 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  I've tasted several Thorn-Clarke wines - in November 2009 their Barossa Chardonnay (88), in June 2011 their Barossa Merlot (94) and Shotfire Quartage (93) all reasonably priced. This has a delicate salmon colour, no pink, with a burst of bubbles on pouring. The scent, a blend of nectarine and pear with no floral, makes an interesting sniff to accompany the polite tang and soft spritz of mild pear and apple. No sugar showing - the finish is smooth and lean with some carry over of flavours. Cellaring for several years should be possible enhancing texture.  Have with eggs & bacon, lox w/ capers & cream cheese on a bagel, oysters or with congratulatory speeches at showers, weddings or award luncheons. 91 

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS VIOGNIER 2011 , Ripon, California, 13.5%  D  9g/L, #658112  $18.95  (Tasted August 6, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on August 4, 2012.  My notes: McManis' Viognier 2007 (89) and 2008 (82) vintages were tasted in April 2010 and August 2012 respectively. Priced $3 lower at the LCBO today this has an SRP of $12 to $10 in the US.   A mid golden with a green tint with delicate, spicy citrus blossom aromas. A lacy rim slowly recedes shedding moderate tears and clearing the glass except for small nodules. A slight spritz shows on glass. The first sip has a well balanced roundness and a tart citrus flavour. Smooth and warming on the palate gives some interest as a sipper especially following several sips as a luscious texture grows. Better with crab cakes or seared scallop kebobs. Pair with seafood or pan fried chicken breast entrées. A drink now. 86
VILLA MATILDE ROCCA DEI LEONI AGLIANICO 2008, Campania, Italy, 12.5%  XD  10g/L, #165035  $19.95  (Tasted August 22, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on June 9, 2012 and rated 89 by Antonia Galloni (June 2011)  My notes:  100% Aglianico and the first time I've tasted this variety. The colour is a black cherry red and the nose is soft cherry with a slight smoke. The rim fragments immediately forming lacy islands. A mild sour cherry greets the buds leaving a light tannin while moderate acids fade and a flavour remnant remains.  If you like dry, medium-bodied reds then OK as a sipper but really a meal red: anything Italian and meaty.cheesy. Will cellar for several years but not improve. Aerating improves texture a tad and is recommended.  83a

FILÓN GARNACHA 2010, Calatayud, Spain, 14.5% XD  5g/L, #280602  $14.95  (Tasted August 13, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on August 4, 2012 and rated 90 by Jay Miller (June 2011).  My notes:  Reduced to $8US.  100% Grenache from 30 to 40 year old vines. A dense purple ruby with a soft aroma of crushed black berries and spicy cherries. The rim shows lacy with long legs - full-bodied. Spicy tart with rich fruit quickly saturating the palate, fine tannins leading to an extra long warm finish ending dry. For those, me, preferring the density to carry the textures and depth of ripe fruit this is outstanding. Well managed oak and ferment for a red to pair with grilled beef. Cellaring for several years should be OK and reign in acid and alcohol.  92

PILLITTERI ANTAGONIST 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  NOTL, Ontario, 13.0%  XD  3g/L, #291948   $15.95  (Tasted August 7, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on August 4, 2012.  My notes: A blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. No info for this label on the website - a 'lifestyle' blend and 1.75lbs. of glass. Air an hour or more, better still aerate to allow a herbal/mineral aroma but moreso, flavour to subside. The colour is a sombre ruby having a charcoal tint. A swirl leaves a fragmenting rim that slides to liquid level. The nose is now a blending of berries with a smoky, spicy overtone. There's a pleasing warmth in the back of the mouth quickly followed by a fusion of black cherry, sharp raspberry and herbal spice. The finish goes through several changes then ends extra dry with a 'ripasso' characteristic. Cellar 2 to 4 years. I'd try it with pizza, thin crust or panzerotti, or meatballs and pasta. 86a  Better next day.
SPINYBACK PINOT GRIS 2010, Nelson, NZ, 14.0%  D  9g/L, #214569  $16.95  (Tasted August 13, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on August 4, 2012 made by Waimea Estates.  My notes:  There's a slight Tasman Bay salt to the citrus nose and the colour is a pale gold. The rim is lacy shedding slow tears. A smooth lemon pear flavour with a tart seam, some salt and a chalky background becoming more prominent to start the finish then fading leaving the mineral dryness. A pleasing fullness and bright flavour provide interest as a sipper but more likely a dinner white. Perfect when paired with rotisseried chicken doused in fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with Barbarian rub. A drink now.  87

STEININGER GRÜNER VELTLINER 2010, Langelois, Austria, 12.5%  XD  3g/L, #280842   $14.95  (Tasted August 22, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on August 4, 2012.  My notes: Tiny bubbles on the glass on pouring with a touch of lanolin on an otherwise vacant nose. The colour is a mid straw and a swirl leaves a slowly fragmenting rim.  Light-bodied with a refreshing tartness, a mild softness and a flavour tainted with grapefruit and lemon-lime. This has a very dry long finish quite pleasing as a sipper. Held its own when paired with salmon cakes and green bean side. Cellaring for a year should be OK  tho' likely at peak now.  84

BENJAMIN BRIDGE NOVA 7 2011, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, 6.5%  M  60g/L, #256289  $25.95  (Tasted Augst 15, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on August 4, 2012 and rated 92 by John Szabo (May 31, 2012).  My notes:  Not an impressive package for the price - but the contents are a value. Both Gord Stimmell and Beppi Crosariol gave this 90+ scores. Having a high sugar level this bubbly is more like a muscato than a champagne, something for a baby shower or family wedding. A delicate scent of freshly sliced apples and lime. Pours with a fine spritz on the glass that accumulates as large bubbles. Medium-bodied, having a luscious tartness with pear and apple flavours - the sweetness entirely suits the natural fruit. Flavours last forever gradually ending puckeringly dry. Open this and expect a celebration to break out. Today's event is my spouse's birthday - just don't ask which one.  92

HINTERBROOK ROSÉ 2011 VQA Niagara Lakeshore, NOTL, Ontario, 13.3%  D  11g/L, #275818  $16.00  (Tasted August 14, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on June 9, 2012.  My notes:  Rated 90 in August 2011 the 2010 vintage won Gold at the 2010 All Canadian Championships. The colour is a crisp, crushed strawberry and the scent is also crushed strawberry with slight apple and tea. The film leaves a continuous lacy rim that recedes evenly.  The flavour is strawberry liquorice - airing an hour lessened a 'love it or hate it' candy floss flavouring, not as prominent in 2010, while adding a touch of white cherry. A different grape from that of a southern France blend, fruitier with a touch of sweetness, less tart, smooth, nicely balanced and leaving a hint of oil on the lips. Did not pair well with rotisseried lemon chicken - likely would do better with chicken sliced for a cold lunch w/ no lemon and served with lingonberries. A drink now.  85

CHÂTEAU DE L'AUMÉRADE CRU CLASSÉ CUVÉE MARIE CHRISTINE ROSÉ 2011, Province, France, 14.0%  D  5g/L, #282459   $15.95  (Tasted August 14, 2012) CS

A Vintages release on August 4, 2012 - a blend of 33% Grenache, 34% Cinsault and 33% Syrah.  My notes:  A powder blush of salmon with a negligible nose at 10oC in a tulip glass - a delicate floral showing at 15oC. The first sip is light-bodied, has a dry tang and subtle pear, rhubarb and cranberry flavourings sustained awhile then slowly fading ending on a dry mineral note.  An interesting sipper for its soft texture, light tang and parching effect. Have with fresh oysters or as an aperitif before a noonday meal. Cellaring short term is a possibility. 86

DE BORTOLI WINDY PEAK PINOT NOIR 2010, Yarra Valley, Australia, 13.0%  D xg/L, #048587   $17.95  (Tasted August 14, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 21, 2012 and rated 89 by James Halliday (October 25, 2011).  My notes: A deep red with a brooding hue and there's a soft delicacy to a beet and berry nose. The film is thinly layered and recedes slowly leaving small patterns. There's a significant tang and fine tannins with the first sip overwhelming a subtle cherry and beet flavour. Medium-bodied to light- with fruit that fades quickly leaving a smooth dryness. Did not match a grilled Moroccan strip loin sliced with Cremini mushrooms. Perhaps better matched with seared pork chops with apple sauce or veal scallopini or schnitzel. A drink now.  82

BEL ECHO by CLOS HENRI TERROIR GREYWACKE PINOT NOIR 2010, Marlborough, NZ, 14.0%  XD  5g/L, #159137   $18.95  (Tasted August 27, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on July 21, 2012 and a Gold Medal winner at the 2012 Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. My notes: The dark ruby has a dullness and a swirl leaves the glass with long legs and quickly disintegrating fragments. There's some rhubarb amongst the brambly berries, nothing fresh about the nose with possibly some BRETT going on in the background. The first sip is medium-bodied, silky smooth with a soft warmth to dull flavours of currant and blackberry. The finish is long, berry seed dry from start to end.  A sipper for a curious oenophile but not the general crowd. Cellar up to five years to see where its going.  82

TYRRELL'S RUFUS STONE HEATHCOTE 2009 SHIRAZ, Pokolbin NSW, Australia, 14.0%  D  6g/L, #091488   $19.95  (Tasted August 21, 2012)  CS

Vintages lists the 2010 as the vintage released on July 21, 2012 however the 2009 was on the shelf.   My notes:  A deep purple and a penetrating nose of pepper edged blackberries, enticing as a sipper. A swirl brings a lacy rim and tears slowly draining to island fragments.  Full-bodied, bright acid well integrated with velvet tannins and ripe fruit entertains as a precursor to a beefy meal. Have with bbq'd ribs or steaks of all kinds. The finish continues on the bright tangy fruit theme 'til a dry end. Didn't get heat, but comforting warmth and bold. Cellaring another four years should be OK. I preferred aerating imagining it to be a tad softer.  91

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHENIN BLANC 2009 VQA Beamsville Bench, Jordan, Ontario,  12.0%  D  18g/L,  #627315  $17.95  (Tasted August 19, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release date is not available.  My notes:  The 2008 vintage was tasted in April this year. This vintage has the same crisp lemon colour and an almond honey scent needing a short time to develop. A swirl brings a lacy rim that slowly recedes intact. A wonderfully round mouthfeel with lemon lime accented pear apple flavours lasting awhile ending smooth and tart.  Enjoyable as a sipper and willing to companion with any seafood prepared neat or with a creamy sauce. Also the delicate balance of acid and sugar could pair nicely with tasty Thai or sushi. Already three years aged and could another three. 89