Thursday, October 11, 2012

Birthday Bottles: 10 Tasted of 10

This is the 38th year I've turned 39 and my body feels like its been in an intriguing single minded beverage quest that long. Each of my doctors over the years has advised me to reduce my wine consumption. FAT CHANCE!  I'm sure I won't need formaldehyde when it's my turn.

I've concluded that LCBO's Wines of the Month feature does highlight some worthwhile wines - of 16 tasted from February to September this year eight were at the 'Buy a Few More' Value level and one at the 'Stock Up' level. However four were in the low 80's and another at 72.

Purchasing Wines of the Month monthly without a recommendation, not including the Vintages Panel, leads one to purchase some bummers so much so I've given up my focus on WOMs in Vintages Releases. 

I've had better luck purchasing by the aesthetics of the label believing an ethical winemaker/winery will have deliberated not only on what's in the bottle but also on style, wording, graphics carrying his message.  Yes, perhaps I'm naive. Of course Marketing can choose to be traditional or classical at times and the label approach isn't foolproof.  I refuse to buy labels that are dressed in khaki greens and browns, in cartoon primary colours or in tasteless epithets of an entitled or a 'party' generation. Neither do I favour labels that are garish entrepreneur/showman or celebrity themed. They have their own following.

As it was both my Birthday and Thanksgiving weekend I've had the opportunity of tasting other people's picks, ie. wines served to their guests over the long weekend.... and then there were gift wines, many exceeding my price ceiling, given by generous friends/relatives.  I'm very grateful - a real lucky pup!

Salut, Ww

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

  • I Giusti & Zanza Belcore 2009, 94a-3  --  V, Tuscany, Italy, #652990 $23.95
  • Wolf Blass Grey Label Robe Mount Benson Shiraz Cabernet 2009,  94-2  --  G,  Nuriootpa, Australia, #261487  $35.95 
  • First Drop Half & Half Shiraz/Monastrell 2010, 90-1  --  V, Nurioopta, Australia,  #285452  $21.95 
  • Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier 2008,  89-1  --  V, Eden Valley, Australia,  #524926  $21.95
  • Beringer Founder's Estate Merlot 2010, 87-1  --  G, Napa, California,  #534255 $16.95*   

  • Domaine Seguinot-Bordet Chablis 2010, 88-1  --  V, Burgundy, France, #289371 $19.95
  • Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2010,  88  --  V, Marlborough, NZ,  #159244 $23.95 
  • Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010,  85  --  V, Napa Valley, California, #084988 $27.95 
  • Firriato Chiaramonte (Ansonica) 2009, 83  --  V, Sicily, Italy,  #211870 $16.25   

  • Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Pinks Dry Rose 2011, 83  --  V, Central Coast, California, #277970  $19.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


HARTLEY OSTINI HITCHING POST PINKS DRY ROSÉ 2011, Central Coast, California, 13.7% XD 2g/L, #277970  $19.95  (Tasted November 1, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on June 9, 2012. A blend of 75% Valdiguie and 25% Pinot Noir grapes.  My notes: A bright cherry red with negligible nose, perhaps a soft crushed white cherry. The film sticks then many fast legs cascade for a continuous rim. A subtle flavour of crushed white cherry, watermelon and crushed cherry stone is part of a pleasing first extra dry sip. The finish has a dry blend without a conspicuous flavour. Sipping with an ice cream selection - a caramel pistachio would do it for me. A drink now - don't think it's for cellaring.  83
BERINGER  NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2010, Napa Valley, California, 14.1%  D  xg/L, #084988  $27.95  (Tasted October 23, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012 and rated 91 by Daenna Van Mulligan  (April 18, 2012).  My notes: A delicate nose, some burnt butter and apple mixed with melon and a mid gold colour. A smooth film with a continuous rim that drains quickly through long legs. The first sip is silky with a strong caramel apple followed by a mineral aftertaste that carries a long dry finish. Not that appetizing as a sipper but has the body and tang to go nicely with cod or halibut on Thai vegetables. Should cellar a few years but without improving and may decline. 85

YALUMBA SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2008, Eden Valley, Australia, 14.5% XD 6g/L, #524926   $21.95  (Tasted October 22, 2012)  CS
A Release Date is not given.  My notes: Grapes of the two varieties are co-fermented. A faint blackberry plum nose sets up moderate expectations while a firm film with many slow tears says it's smooth. The first sip is full-bodied, silky with a firm bite and penetrating spicy berry flavours. A smooth coating on the palate stays for a long warm finish ending dry yet still with a silkiness on the lips. Warm and flavourful as a sipper - wouldn't take backseat with a buffet table of nibbles. A suitable partner for rack of lamb or beef bourguignon - was beautiful with Osso Buco. Cellaring may not enhance but would keep a few on hand for the right savoury dinner.  89

DOMAINE SÉGUINOT-BORDET  CHABLIS 2010,  Burgundy, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L, #289371  $19.95  (Tasted November 5, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012 and rated 88-91 by Allen Meadows  (October 2011).  My notes:  88-91! That's covering the bases! Production was 70,000 bottles. This has a crisp golden colour and a nutty nose with elements of citrus, floral and fruit. The first sip has prominent flavours of soft butter, tart lemon with a lime taint and leaving a extra dry lining on the palate up to a tangy end. A classic Chardonnay from 15 to 20 year-old vines and fills the need for a strong seafood or fowl white. Pair with battered halibut and chips or a broiled whole chicken with a vegetable broth side. Cellaring for several years or serving now well chilled (8-10oC) then let 'warm' (10-12oC) to allow its many characters to evolve.  88

I GIUSTI & ZANZA BELCORE 2009, Tuscany, Italy, 14.5% XD xg/L, #652990  $23.95  (Tasted October 15, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012 and rated 91 by Bruce Sanderson,   (October 15, 2011). My notes:  A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot giving a royal hue to deep ruby. The nose has an interesting spice and plum scent that penetrates the olfactory. A viscous film sticks to the glass and slowly disappears without tearing. Smooth with fine tannins and a bright tang followed by rich blackberry and cranberry flavours. Very warm through a long finish with luscious berries lasting to a dry satin smooth ending. A sipper that takes the breath away with its lip smacking richness. Have with pepper steak or a thinly sliced sirloin in a red wine and peppercorn sauce. Now three years on and could go another six. Aerating makes for a smoother sip.  94a

WOLF BLASS  GREY LABEL ROBE MOUNT BENSON SHIRAZ CABERNET 2009,  Nuriootpa, Australia, 14.5% D 6g/L, #261487  $35.95  (Tasted November 9, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A swirl instantly shows a thick film with snail's pace tears until lacy islands remain. The colour has a brooding purple cat to dark ruby and a nose wafting strong blueberry and currant aromas on pouring. Silky smooth, tangy bright, fine tannins and rich berry flavours starting fresh and shifting to a brambly currant over a long dry finish. An enjoyable sipper and would complement a charcuterie of shaved Italian meats and strong cheeses. Also pair with grilled steaks or rack of lamb well seasoned. Cellaring another three to six years OK but drinking well now. Warm - not hot.  94

CHURTON SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5%  XD  2g/L,  #159244  $23.95  (Tasted October 18, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on July 7, 2012 and rated 4 of 5 (90-93) by Rod Phillips (May 11, 2012).  My notes:  A crisp mid golden with mild aromas of gooseberry and floral lemon - a hint of pond scum too. The film drains from a lacy rim through a cascade of long tears. Medium-bodied, tangy, a chalky dryness layers the mouth continuing through a moderate finish ending chalk dry. Either quaff neat or with a squeeze of orange on a warm summer day or pair with shrimp kebabs or seared white fish filets. Not the usual 'Marlborough' - a cross between Europe leaning to NZ and a drink now. 88

FIRRIATO CHIARAMONTE (ANSONICA) 2009,  Sicily, Italy,  13.0% D  xg/L, #211870  $16.25  (Tasted October 22, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 30, 2011.  Ansonica is a synonym for the Sicilian white variety Inzolia and this vintage was rated 89 by Antonio Galloni   (June 2010).  My notes: Planted mostly in Sicily but also Tuscany for its aromatics and nuttiness potential. This is a mid gold and leaves a film that sticks then slowly drains from the rim showing some slow tearing. Light floral with a light citrus for a nose while the first sip is smooth, medium-bodied and with a citrus leaning. The finish has a silky texture while the flavour mellows to a tangy melon. A tad hollow as a sipper but interesting for its aloof tang and texture. Acids may fade paired with seasoned entrees, was OK with bbq'd lemon sprinkled chicken - likely better with hard shelled seafoods.  83

BERINGER FOUNDERS ESTATE MERLOT 2010, Napa, California, 13.9%  D  6g/L, #534255  $16.95*  (Tasted October 25, 2012)  CS

A General listing and rgularly priced $18.95, reduced until November 11th.  My Notes: This Merlot was tasted at Michael's Back Door and found to be 'flat' - wanted to confirm one way or t'other. There's a tinge of purple to a dense ruby and a swirl brings a film that sticks and quickly leaves a rim that hangs fast legs then lacy patterns on the glass. The nose is a spicy berry with an earthy warmth that invites that first sip. Soft and nippy with a blackberry scent, fine tannins and drying to the palate - no sweetness that I could sense.  Have with a T-bone, rack of lamb, tenderloin slices or a rich ragout. A drink now. Restaurant By-the-Glass wines can sit for a few days - buy by the bottle or not at all.  87

FIRST DROP HALF & HALF SHIRAZ/MONASTRELL 2010, Nurioopta, Australia, 14.5%  XD  4g/L, #285452  $21.95  (Tasted October 20, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on October 17, 2012 and rated 90 by Josh Reynolds, International Wine Cellar (July 2012).  My notes:A dense black cherry colour with a warm scent of crushed berries, part rasp- and part black- edged slightly with white pepper.  A thick film sticks and stays before slowly forming tears and sliding down from the contiguous rim. The first sip has a bite, fine tannins and a full-bodied crush of berries shifting to a full lining of warm velvet. If you enjoy bold this is your sipper! If you prefer subtlety and elegance it's not. Have with seasoned grilled red meats or a full flavoured stew or lamb shank. Cellar up to four years, perhaps longer.  90-1

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