Saturday, December 01, 2012

December 2012 Wines: 21 Tasted of 21

As I write this it's nights like this - snowing a gale with ice underfoot and slippery slosh accumulating on the roads - the first this winter, for our part of Canada, snowfall, to make one wonder why we all don't go south... but it's only weather. Once it's here we adjust and get on with daily routines. 

Other places have bad climate of the human kind. It doesn't rain snow but shrapnel.  I pray that their 'god', in whatever form, is kind and helps mankind find a way to live in Peace. 'Tis the season' to be more than jolly but tolerant, giving and calm. Easy to wish, harder to make happen.

If you can, find a warm fire and relax with family and friends. Find the moments that celebrate your creation ... and give some thought as to how you can create a future full of harmony for others.

My wish for this season, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites and bubblies:
  • Stone Dwellers 'Strathbogie Ranges' Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  91-2 (retaste)  --  G, Victoria, Australia,  #212761 $20.15 
  • Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2011 & Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa 2009 2 Bottle Gift Set,  #290064 $39.95
    • Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore 2009, 90a-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #479766 $24.95 
    • Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2011,  86-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #707158  $13.95
  • Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 88-1  --  G, McLaren Vale, Australia, #091702 $17.95 
  • Red Knot Shiraz 2011,  85  --  G, McLaren Vale, Australia, #221820 $17.95
  • Cono Sur Reserva Syrah 2010,  84a  --  G, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #221820 $13.95
  • Monte Antico Sangiovese Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008,  84  --  V,  Tuscany, Italy, #069377 $16.95
  • Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  80  --  G, Central Coast, California, #307975  $14.95  
  • Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet 2011, 78  --  G,  Livermore, California, #260851 $12.95*  

  • Cave Spring Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 88-1  --  G,  Jordan, Ontario, #228551  $14.95
  • Spinyback by Waimea Pinot Gris 2010, 88-1  --  V, Nelson, NZ, #214569 $16.95
  • Strewn Two Vines Gewurztraminer/Riesling 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86-1  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #467662 $10.95* 
  • Bosman Family Vineyards Adama White 2010,  86a  --  V, Cape of Good Hope, S. Africa, #282764 $18.95 
  • Konzelmann Pinot Blanc 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  82  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #219279 $12.15
  • Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Trentino 2011,  80  --  G, Trentino, Italy,  #302380  $11.95
  • Hardy's Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer 2012,  79  --  G, South Eastern Australia, #448548 $10.00 
  • Trius Riesling Dry 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  77  --  G, NOTL, Ontario, #303792 $13.95

  • Katnook 'Founder's Block' Sparkling Shiraz 2009,  86 --  V, Coonawara, Australia, #053330  $24.95 
  • Thorn-Clarke Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Reserve Sparkling Wine NV,  84 --  V,  Eden Valley, Australia, #280925 $17.00
  • La Marca Prosecco NV, 82  --  G,  Italy, #287987 $17.95  
  • Kiwi Walk Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV,  69  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #270462 $17.95 

(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


KONZELMANN PINOT BLANC 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  NOTL, Ontario, 12.5%  D  8g/L, #219279 $12.15  (Tasted December 11, 2012) CS

A General listing.  My notes: A new label design from Konzelmann. A light golden with some fine bubbles sticking to the glass and a swirl leaves a quickly fragmenting coating? A soft, even bland, initial sip with a touch of pear to a dry mineral flavour the latter continuing through a short finish ending on a flat mineral note. A milder white and priced higher than the 2008, rated 87. Without the 'Weissburgunder' term on the label gives an impression of a wider blending of Niagara grapes. Flavours build with sipping but evenly, mineral and fruit - preferred as a meal white with scallops or coconut shrimp - had trouble with a mild cod. A drink now - serve chilled. 82

CAVE SPRING CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #228551  $14.95  (Tasted December 7, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: The 2005 vintage @ $13.05 was tasted in February 2008 with an 87 rating and the 2010 was previously tasted (July) of this year with a rating of 90.  The nose still has an apple blossom twist and the colour has a green tint to a mid gold, crisp and clear. The first sip is pleasingly tart, very smooth with mild lemon and melon increasing as the chill lessens. Flavours fade slowly as a faint mineral comes forward increasingly extra dry on the palate. A fish white or to have with fresh oysters, grilled scallops or coconut shrimp and easily sipped if food isn't nearby. My temp preference is 14oC as the body and a smooth melon is more noticeable.  88

CONO SUR RESERVA SYRAH 2010, Colchagua Valley, Chile,  13.5% XD 4g/L, #221820  $13.95  (Tasted December 2, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  The first pouring prompted me to aerate a second glass to compare: There's a slight sharpness to the nose of the non aerated that's missing from the aerated. Aeration also gives a smoother first sip, sufficient for me to stick with the aerated pouring for the remainder of this tasting. Aromas of dried blue-, rasp-berries with an earthy dryness. I didn't sense spice. There's a rush of fruit at the start and a fine tannin texture making this an interesting sipper but flavours fade leaving a long woody finish. Have with bacon on a bun, stuffed mushrooms or a grilled steak.  Not for cellaring.  84a

KIWI WALK SPARKLING SAUVIGNON BLANC NV, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D  9g/L, #270462  $17.95  (Tasted December 5, 2012)  CS


 A General listing and produced by Yealands Estate Wines Ltd My notes: An unusual closure similar to Red Knot Shiraz 2004 (#619395 $17.95) tasted August 20, 2006.  The 'cork' under pressure releases suddenly  with minor thumb action. Let air ten minutes for the scent to settle altho a prominent mouldy lemon remains - not offensive but led me to avoid sniffing. A continuing effervescence follows a burst of large bubbles. The colour is a midgold, crystal clear. The first sip has a flavour of overripe kumquats* in the foreground and a taint of mouldy cardboard as a background and continues through to a tangy finish. No gooseberry, no passionfruit in this brew. The freshness leads me to accept this as the winemakers 'style' of bubbly rather than 'flawed' -  there's no information on the Yealands site. *Has an essence of some 'organic' wines.  69

LA MARCA PROSECCO NV, Italy, 11.0%  D  19g/L, #287987  $17.95  (Tasted December 16, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012 and an E. & J. Gallo wine.  Colette & John Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times (July 20, 2011) seemed to enjoy it.  My notes:  Vintages called this XD - however, if the 19g/L is close I've changed to D. A blond colour with a burst of bubbles on pouring then settling to a steady stream of moderate size as well as a few tiny at the rim. A leesy scent to a fresh apple aroma including a touch of sweet along with the tart.  Fragmented islands are left on the glass. The first sip has a peak of flavour, definitely extra dry settling quickly with a short finish having a chalky dryness and remnants of smooth apple. Refreshing and easy to quaff. Have with fresh oysters - plan a different white with a meal.  82   Retasted on April 28, 2013. Closer to XD this bottle. The same colour and nose with more effervescence lasting through a long chalk dry finish. Fruit on top of the chalk is green apple. Price and performance is more of a 85 for anything celebratory or with fresh oysters. 

BOSMAN FAMILY VINEYARDS ADAMA WHITE 2010, Cape of Good Hope, S. Africa, 14.0%  D  2g/L,  #282764  $18.95  (Tasted December 10, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 18, 2012. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, gives this a rating of 91 (March/April 2011).  Vintage calls this D with a 2g/L sugar level. My notes:  A blend of 60% chenin blanc, 20% chardonnay, 10% pinot gris, 6% viognier and 4% semillon so I had to try it.  A light golden colour that leaves a firm film to slowly recede from a mildly jagged rim. The nose has an objectionable vegetal scent with some yellow mango blending - aerate or open an hour ahead. Silky smooth, a moderate acid to accompany spicy mango and lemon carrying into a long extra dry finish. Letting go off chill let's the nose and flavours complement each other. Better paired with anything with bacon bits... or have with chorizo sausage on a cheesy pizza.  Cellaring for a year may introduce some nuances and worth the try.  86a

SPINYBACK BY WAIMEA PINOT GRIS 2010, Nelson, NZ, 14.0%  D  9g/L, #214569  $16.95  (Tasted December 17, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 4, 2012.  My notes: Of course no onion skin hue since the LCBO considers that a flaw (lol). Has a 'NZ Sustainable Winegrowing' label. A mid golden with a nose of fresh melon, a whiff of sea air and hint of floral. There's a soft limestone seam carrying fresh melon gradually declining to mostly the dry mineral. A pleasing sipper building a sweet presence, some may even say 'unctuous' and look for an alternate. Pair with bearded mussels or sea Bream, sliced potato and steamed asparagus - was great with Chicken Pot Pie and snow peas. Cellaring for a few years may add a tawny hue and integrate some roundness. A medium-bodied drink now.  88

RED KNOT SHIRAZ 2011, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.0%  D  6g/L, #619395  $17.95  (Tasted December 6, 2012)  CS

A General listing. Labelled with 'Gold Medal - Selections Mondiales Des Vins Canada 2012' and 'Silver Medal - Decanter World Wine Awards UK 2012' and a Shingleback Wine.  My notes:  The 2004 vintage was tasted on August 20, 2006 after a recommendation by Toronto Star wine columnist Gord Stimmell who rated it 89/100. My comment suggested cellaring 'two years minimum' at that time. The 2011 has a purple hue to its deep ruby and the nose has a warm plum plus red cherry and mild spice aroma. The film is smooth, sticking to the glass to form a continuous rim that sheds slow tears. The first sip has a soft red cherry and orange citrus flavour losing the cherry and continuing a hint of orange until a fine dryness takes over. Medium-bodied and an appealing social sipper with just enough depth to pair nicely with rack of lamb or a meaty pizza. A drink now.  85
RED KNOT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.0%  XD  5g/L,  #091702  $17.95  (Tasted December 7, 2012) CS

A General listing and a Shingleback Wine.  My notes:  A dense and deep garnet leaving a firm film, a continuous rim and slow flowing legs. A scent of iodine and chocolate to plum and currant aromas gives this red a serious attitude. The first sip is smooth, has a tangy approach and steely red cherry flavours before a layer of fine tannins adds a drying finish. Silky smooth but somehow a lighter body than expected from film and aroma - a bright sipper and a tolerable tooth cleaner by itself better paired with a meat lovers pizza, grilled steaks, back ribs or rack of lamb. Could cellar a year or two, not longer.  88

The Gift set was a Vintages release on October 27, 2012. 

  • ZENATO  RIPASSA VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2009,  Veneto, Italy, 14.0% D 10g/L, #479766  $24.95  (Tasted December 17, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on April 18, 2012.  My notes: A deep rich ruby colour with a soft aroma of plums, black cherries and earthy forest floor - needs time - aerating or decanting is recommended. The film runs fast legs then slowly recedes along a rim of flowing tears. Silky with hesitant acid, fine tannins complement flavours of cherries and red currants - aerating  or decanting is suggested. Lightish full-bodied and as a sipper flavour and texture build widening appeal. The finish mellows fruit and textures providing long term interest. Have with beef tenderloin, rack of lamb or osso bucco . Two to four years cellaring could develop latent character.  90a  

  • ZENATO  LUGANA SAN BENEDETTO 2011,  Veneto, Italy, 13.0% XD 6g/L, #707158   $13.95  (Tasted December 20, 2012)  CS 
A Vintages release on March 3, 2012.  My notes: Likely from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana grapes. There's negligible nose when served well chilled and a clear pale blond with a film that forms a lacy rim flowing slow tears. The first sip has a softness that touches the lips with a roundness and chalky texture highlighted by a faint citrus flavour - medium-bodied. A tangy acid refreshes with each sip and could appeal in a social setting. The dryness edges through to dominate a tangy finish. A social sipper and paired nicely with baked chicken thighs, orzo and peas in a cranberry and onion sauce. A drink now up to a year.  B50 C5 N10 F&F15 P1 T5 86   

HARDY'S STAMP SERIES RIESLING GEWURZTRAMINER 2012, South Eastern Australia, 11.0%  M 24g/L, #448548  $10.00  (Tasted December 9, 2012)  CS

A General listing and a Constellation Wines Austraia product.  My notes:   Air and warm to 14oC to allow nose and flavour to develop. There's a soft melon aroma with some spice in the initial sniff, and perfume in the background. The mid gold colour has a hint of green and the first sip has a smoothness that's balanced with a dry-as-chalk coating ending with a lick of the Stamp. A touch of sugar meets the tang of acid with soft melon offering a predominant fruit flavour. As a sipper this is for those preferring a standalone sweetness with their standalone fruit - not quite integrated. Have with a Bento box of sushi and tempura broccoli flowers and shrimp, a Chinese buffet or Thai.  79

MEZZACORONA PINOT GRIGIO TRENTINO 2011, Trentino, Italy, 12.5% XD 5g/L, #302380   $11.95*  (Tasted December 9, 2012)  CS

A General listing reduced from $12.95 until January 5, 2013.  My notes:   A pale gold in the glass and a negligible scent of lemon zest having a neutral intro to sipping. A swirl leaves a craggy rim quickly fragmenting into lacy islands. Tart, round on the lips, nondescript flavours with slight citrus carrying through the finish ending dry with a soft texture. Uninteresting as a sipper - better quaffed with party snacks or with creamy seafood dishes.  A drink now.  Mix with Sprite for a touch of spritz and flavour.  80

TRIUS RIESLING 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario, 11.2%  D  12g/L, #303792  $13.95  (Tasted December 16, 2012)  CS

A General listing produced by Andres Wines Ltd.  My notes:  Airing brings forward a faint apple-lemon aroma, not enough to enjoy. The colour is light golden and flavours of a just perceptible tangerine and apple blend for a first sip then finishes with less. Having a short finish and minimal flavour leaves a chalky mineral ending altho' because of its lightness would be refreshing on a summer day. Adding a slice of lime or lemon would liven this as a sipper - difficult to pair because of its shallow profile, not a meal white.  77

STREWN TWO VINES GEWÜRZTRAMINER/RIESLING 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NOTL, Ontario,  12.1%  D 15g/L,  #467662  $10.95*  (Tasted December 13, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A bright gold colour and better to breathe awhile for an aroma of mild honey. The first sip has a slight chalk carrying a touch of lemon, honey and a delayed spice. Should be interesting sipped with lox and cream cheese on multigrain bagel pieces or lox with a caper sauce on Tempura chips or pair with fried cod and greens. A long dry finish gives this Two-some more appeal both sipping and pairing... and there's enough structure to cellar for a year or two.  86

KATNOOK ‘FOUNDER'S BLOCK’ SPARKLING SHIRAZ 2009, Coonawara, Australia, 12.5% D 10g/L, #053330  $24.95  (Tasted December 19, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on December 8, 2012 and rated 89 by James Halliday (Feb. 26, 2012). My notes: One of our favourite sparkling reds having tasted the 2004 ($19.95) in March 2010 (88), September 2010 (87) and previously December 2007 (89). The 2008 ($24.95) tasted in December 2011 was rated 82. This vintage, 2009, has the same colour, a rich ruby, and mineral aroma when served chilled - better to serve off chill (15oC+). Bubbles are profuse on pouring settling into steady streams - no mousse but a firm spritz. The flavour is mild blackberry with furry tannins, a very dry touch of acid and mild pepper all continuing into a long mineral finish. A pleasing sipper and would pair nicely with pork chops, turkey or filet mignon. Not as flavourful as the 2004 and a lower potential for cellaring.  86

MONTE ANTICO SANGIOVESE MERLOT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD 6g/L, #069377 $16.95 (Tasted December 21, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on April 18, 2012 and claimed to be 'an incredible value'. My notes: Perhaps some of Vintages 'incredible value' disappeared when it was priced $2 higher than previous vintages. The 2006 vintage ($14.95) tasted in October 2009, was rated 90. The colour is a deep charred ruby and the nose has a earthy plum/cherry scent. The film lays firm on the glass then slowly recedes leaving fragmented islands. The first sip is dryyyy accentuated by fine tannins to fuzz the palate before a mild, woody blackberry flavour takes over. The ending is chalk dry building noticeably when sipped - better as a meal red. Pair with T-Bone or bbq'd beef ribs or have with a meat lover's pizza.  Cellaring four years could smooth the tannins but flavours may not come forward.  83

CUPCAKE VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, Central Coast, California, 13.5%  S  12g/L, #307975  $14.95  (Tasted December 29, 2012)  CS

A General listing - Adam Richardson winemaker.  My notes: 115,000 cases bottled. There's a jammy edge to fruity raspberry and strawberry aromas - the colour is a deep raspberry. A swirl starts a lacy rim that quickly fragments into small nodules on the glass. The sweetness of the first sip comes before silk and tannins layer the palate then a taste of earthy raspberry gummy bears that provide a long finish. Ending sweet the unctuous flavours could be an acquired taste - not mine. Have with a meat lovers pizza,  Barbarian rubbed sirloin or honey coated bbq'd ribs. Aerating offers no change. A drink now for a select group.  80 

CUPCAKE VINEYARDS RED VELVET 2011,  Livermore, California, 13.5%  D  17g/L, #260851  $12.95*  (Tasted December 29, 2012)  CS

A General listing. Adam Richardson winemaker. *Price reduced from $14.95 until January 6, 2013.  My notes: A blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah - 146,000 cases bottled. A warm scent of blended sweet berries with a touch of earth and mild spice if allowed to develop in the glass. There's a touch of purple to the deep ruby colour and a swirl leaves a smooth rim flowing long legs. The first sip combines sweet red currants, a touch of tang and tannins with a woody bramble going into a long finish. Better paired with tomato pasta or spaghetti & meatballs. A drink now if blended with 8oz. of Australian shiraz or Argentinan Malbec.  78

STONE DWELLERS 'STRATHBOGIE RANGES' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009,  Victoria, Australia, 14.5%  XD  0g/L, #212761  $20.15  (Retasted December 31, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes: Tasted last month with a 92-2 rating so I thought I'd stock in for the Season in spite of recommending cellaring for several years for peak. Produced by the Plunkett & Fowles family from grapes grown in granite rich soils. A nose worthy nose to start, warm, full, black currant with blackberry. Same fullness with a deep, smooth texture, spicy with fine tannins and a light velvet touch. A possible note of sweetness continues for a long dry finish. A full-bodied, entertaining sipper and should pair well with anything grilled, bbq'd and beefy. No need to cellar or aerate if opened early. 91

THORN-CLARKE CHARDONNAY / PINOT NOIR BRUT RESERVE SPARKLING WINE NV, Eden Valley, Australia, 12.0%  XD  12g/L, #280925  $17.00  (Tasted December 24, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on August 4, 2012.  My notes: Previously tasted on August 25, 2012 with a 91 rating.  The label doesn't appear on the winery website. There's some change since last tasted in August this being a blend change to 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir according to the LCBO. The colour remains a delicate salmon and there's a full burst of bubbles on pouring. The nose is of strawberry and mild apple with a tangy sniff and even tangier first sip. On the light side of medium-bodied. There might be a whisper of sweetness past a chalky dryness and slight apple pear flavour which pokes through the continuous spritz then a tart mineral ending. Some of a social crowd will favour the August taste as a toasting sipper - this is better quaffed but preferable paired with stuffed mushrooms, lox & capers & cream cheese or bacon bit canapés.  Drink now before more change occurs.  84


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