Monday, May 28, 2012

BC Visit: 6 Tasted of 6

Gastown Steam Clock
This blog includes six wines tasted during a visit to see our grandson, 3 mos., in Gastown, Vancouver.  We couldn't pass up a chance to try BC wines and a few others snuck in. Some tasted but not noted here were: See Ya Later Ranch Riesling, Mt Boucherie Gewurztraminer, Pascual Toso Malbec, Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon - all were excellent for the occasion. ( Canada-Vancouver-Gastown-Steam_Clock.gif  )

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

  • Cedar Creek Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2009 VQA Okanagan Valley, 90-1  --  O, BC, Canada, #BC $25.00
  • Tinhorn Creek 'Estate Grown & Bottled' Merlot 2009 VQA Okanagan Valley,  85  --  O, BC, Canada, #BC  $18.99
  • Santa Ana Reserve 'Casa de Campo' Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  84  -- O, Mendoza, Argentina, #BC $18.95
  • Emiliana Adobe Reserva Chardonnay 2010, 89-1  --  O, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #BC $16.65
  • Blasted Church Hatfield's Fuse 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley, 84  --  O, BC, Canada, #BC $17.99
  • The People's Sauvignon Blanc Awatere 2010,  74  --  O, Auckland, NZ, #BC  $22.95
(WOM - Wine of the Month, V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


THE PEOPLE'S SAUVIGNON BLANC AWATERE 2010, Auckland, NZ, 13.5% D, #BC  $22.95  (Tasted May 22, 2012)

A General listing in British Colombia purchased from Bottle Jockey.  My notes:  A pale yellow with a delicate lime and slight gooseberry scent. A swirl leaves a smooth film flowing slow tears. The first sip has a shallow lime tang quickly fading to a dry mineral finish. There's insufficient body and balance of fruit and acid to be a complement for seafood entrees and also lacks the traditional New Zealand character for an appealing sipper. Comes across as a commercial mix of young grapes with ad hoc blending. The bottle was discarded. 74

TINHORN CREEK 'ESTATE GROWN & BOTTLED' MERLOT 2009 VQA Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada, 14.8% D, #BC  $18.99  (Tasted May 23, 2012)

My notes:  Grapes are from the Black Sage and Golden Mile Benches in the south Okanagan Valley. The ruby red has a slight charcoal cast mellowing its brightness. A swirl leaves a smooth film running long legs. The scent has a delicate berry aroma almost neglible but supports the first sip of berry, cherry and earthy flavours. The finish adds an earthiness that carries to a somewhat woody, dry end. A lightish medium-bodied red to enjoy with lightly seasoned grilled steaks. An appealing sipper without the warmth expected of the alcohol level. Great with nibbles of Balderson Cheddar or Cranberry wrapped goat cheese. 85

SANTA ANA RESERVE 'CASA DE CAMPO' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #BC $18.75  (Tasted May 23, 2012) 

My notes: A deep ruby with a garnet hue and swirling a smooth, thin film with fast tears. Prominent drying tannins with delicate flavours of black currant skins and almost negligible cassis. The finish carries a dry, mild flavour blend fading to a dry woody end. A medium-bodied smooth sipper better paired with a tomato pepperoni pizza, not too spicy, or a ham steak. A drink now or may keep for a year. 84

EMILIANA ADOBE RESERVA CHARDONNAY 2010, Casablanca Valley, 14.0% D, #BC $16.65  (Tasted May 24, 2012)

My notes: The colour of ripened wheat with a delicate aroma of lemon and pear. The film laces quickly receding quickly leaving no trails. An appealing flavour of pear infused creme cramel and almost as smooth making this a delectable sipper with a long sumptuous finish ending warm, dry and fruity. Cellaring four years will likely add to its complexity. Serve chilled with seafood or pasta in a mushroom cream sauce. 89

BLASTED CHURCH HATFIELD'S FUSE 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley, BC Canada, 13.0% D, #BC $17.99   (Tasted May 26, 2012)

My notes: The label has a colourful graphic suggesting a lighthearted white blend. A blond colour, clear with a flat aroma of apple.The film is smooth running fast tears. The first sip has spicy apple flavours, tangy with a rounded sweetness to entice continued sipping. The finish declines to an even apple dumpling with a touch of dryness. Would pair with Asian or Thai foods as well as being a pleasant sipper for a party crowd. 84 

CEDARCREEK ESTATE WINERY PINOT NOIR 2009 VQA Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada, 14.9% D, #BC $25.00  (Tasted May 28, 2012)

My notes: This has the colour and clarity of a ruby gem. The rim stays firm then flows slow tears. The nose is a delicate medley of cerise, cassis and slight cedar. Light and bright on the first sip leaving the palate dry with fine tannins and mild acid. The warmth continues for a long finish ending dry. Cellaring several years may introduce more silk. Pair with pork back ribs with honey garlic sauce or a tuna or swordfish steak lightly seasoned. 90

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

May 2012 Malbecs: 12 Tasted of 12

Special Ribbon at Catena Zapata
Other than the Wines of the Month the rest in this posting are Malbecs selected from the 170+ found on the LCBO website. I enjoyed last month’s Wine of the Month Malbec so decided to investigate this variety further. 

Of the 170+ three dozen or so are General listings the rest being Vintages releases. About 140 are from Argentina. Coming in second are a dozen+ from the southwest of France then Chile with a half dozen more. Of the few from Canada Malbec appears to used as a blending component giving more body and colour to local grapes. How many of the 170+ are actually available in Ontario is unknown.
Included in the General listings are a few popular Malbecs from Italy and Chile near or below $10.

Related articles:
  1. Malbec World Day
  2. Christopher Waters, Toronto Sun (April 24, 2012)  -  Merry Malbec
  3. Doug Sloan, Celebrate Malbec World Day on April 17
  4. Photo courtesy of
Salut, Ww 
THE LINEUP - grouped by WOM and Malbecs:

  • (WOM) Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 83  --  V, Alexander Valley, California, #038075  $23.95
  • (WOM) Stefano Accordini Acinatico Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009, 80  --  V,  Piedmont, Italy, #085159  $19.95

  • l'Excellence du Château Bladinières 2008,  92-3  --  V, Cahors, France, #264671 $16.95
  • Georges Vigouroux Antisto Tradition Malbec 2008, 92a-2  --  V, Cahors, France,   #265462 $17.95 
  • Mendel Lunta Malbec 2009, 91-2  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #261917  $18.95
  • Mendel Malbec 2009,  90-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #108225 $24.95
  • Fabre Montmayou Reserva Malbec 2009,  88-1  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #261867   $15.95  
  • Rigal Les Terrasses Malbec Cahors 2009, 86-1  --  G, Cahors, France, #245761   $12.95 
  • Lionel Osmin & Cie. Malbec 2009,  83  --  V, Cahors, France, #247544  $15.95
  • Los Haroldos Reserva de Familia Malbec 2008,  82a  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #269068  $14.95
  • Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum Malbec 2010,  79  --  G, Cahors, France, #255182   $13.75

  • Santa Julia Organic Malbec Rosé 2010, 82  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #120279  $12.95

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


WINES OF  THE MONTH  for May 2012 - Both released by Vintages on April 28, 2012

FREI BROTHERS  RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Alexander Valley, California, 14.2%  D, #038075  $23.95  (Tasted May 11, 2012)  CS

Rated 90 by Robert Parker Jr. (February 2011).   My notes:  80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and the rest Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot.  Aerate or let air an hour. A deep ruby colour that, with a swirl, forms a continuous rim eventually shedding a dozen slow tears. A sniff senses a mild earthy aroma of currants and cherries accented with a moderate tang. The first sip has a silky layer on a currant, cherry and berry seam and finishes dry with fine tannins and lightly flavoured.  The label says Cabernet Sauvignon but is a mild partner in this blend with an equal influence of Merlot and Verdot making this lighter than expected as a sipper. Aerating brings flavours forward improving the taste experience. Pair with a ham steak, chicken wings or vegetarian pizza - nothing cheesy. A drink now - not for cellaring.  83

STEFANO ACCORDINI ACINATICO RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2009, Piedmont, Italy, 14.0% D, #085159  $19.95  (Tasted May 11, 2012)  CS

My notes:  A classic blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara grapes.  A murky ruby colour and a swirl gives an even coating with fast running legs. The nose has an aroma of black cherries blended with red currants and cranberries. The first sip is medium-bodied, has an acrid bite with fine tannins and bitter red currants (mindful of my neighbours home brew but cleaner). Aerating helps a bit.  Not a sipper - have with Italian pastas in a rich tomato sauce with chorizo sausage.Went well with a Quiznos Classic Italian w/chili peppers. Cellaring for several years may bring some softness - may also lose the fruit leaving the tannins and bite.  An extra dry, warm finish.  80


For the 11 Malbecs there'll be pairings of Argentinan and Cahors Malbec. The setup for the first pairing is the photo on the left...  I started with a pair but added a third for possible diversity. One thing about glasses - we stuck to wide bowls for each tasting as results were affected using different glasses. The tasting details are below:

MENDEL MALBEC 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.2% D, #108225  $24.95  (Tasted May 2, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on April 28, 2012 and rated 91 by Jay Miller (December 2011).  My notes:  The colour is opaque purple ruby rich as dark mahogany, brooding in the centre and right up to the meniscus.  Has a prominent ripe black cherry nose with an attractive softness. A swirl shows the same rim and tears as its partners in this tasting.  A sip is smooth with balanced tannins, acid and black cherry/berry softened by gentle tobacco. The profile carries through a long finish with a pleasing fullness. I found it to be a multifaceted sipper that could pair nicely with lamb or beef, grilled, crockpot or stewed. Went well with a bbq'd rib steak with Barbarian rub. 90

FABRE MONTMAYOU RESERVA MALBEC 2009,  Mendoza, Argentina, 14.5% XD, #261867   $15.95  (Tasted May 2, 2012)   CS

A Vintages release on March 31, 2012 and rated 91 by Jay Miller (October 2010). Produced by Domaine Vistalba S.A.  My notes:  Tasted the Fabre Montmayou Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (#261891  $14.95) last month enjoying it as a sipper and grilled meats partner. The Malbec is a purple tinged, charcoal hued ruby, see-through at the edges of a broad bowl.  The black cherry nose is subtle and has a dusty aspect. A swirl brings a rim that is continuous and slowly shows tiny tears. Medium-bodied, a balanced tannin/acid with a subdued black cherry flavour tamed by touch of earthiness. A moderate finish ends with nice fruit level and a touch of silk making for an interesting sipper - no need for nibbles - or pairing with grilled lamb or beef. A drink now. 88

LIONEL OSMIN  & CIE MALBEC 2009, Cahors, France, 14.0%  XD, #247544   $15.95  (Tasted May 2, 2012)   CS

A Vintages release on October 1, 2011 and rated 89 by Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast (March 2011).  My notes: A purple tinged deep ruby a brighter see through at the edges in a broad bowl. A black cherry nose with some spice showing and with a continuous rim shedding slow tears.  The first sip has a red cherry flavour, very dry with tannins quickly coating the mouth going quickly into a dry finish and ending with a bright bramble touch.  The freshness in the fruit has appeal as a sipper but with a buffet table nearby. Was a tad thin paired with a rib steak w/rub - perhaps would fare better with a ham steak. Past peak?. 83

GEORGES VIGOUROUX ANTISTO TRADITION MALBEC 2008, Cahors, France,  14.0% D,  #265462   $17.95  (Tasted May 10, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on March, 2012.  My notes: A distinct purple tinge to a deep ruby with a thick film sticking to the glass and shedding long slow tears. A sumptuous aroma of ripe black plums and cherries, spices tingling the nose. Acid first then fine tannins waken the taste buds and embed warm flavours for an interesting first sip. Aerating improves a liveliness and balance of the first sip. The full profile continues into a long finish finally ending dry, earthy and having lost much of the initial sharpness. Being full-bodied with a build-up of tannin demands nibbles of bacon wrapped asparagus, stuffed mushrooms or paté on toasts.  Better with a savoury sauced sirloin or such. Cellaring for several years could mellow edges. 92

SANTA JULIA ORGANICA MALBEC ROSÉ 2010, Mendoza, Argentina, 12.5% D, #120279   $12.95  (Tasted May 4, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release unknown date.  My notes:  A bright salmon colour crystal clear in the glass with scant scent of fruit perhaps a light peach. A lacy rim falls quickly projecting a lightish medium-bodied sipper. Silky mouth feel is the most appealing trait of the first sip with a subtle unripe peach flavour which fades slowly leaving the silk. Has little of a Malbec character - better chilled and served as a summer sipper. The silk and a mild acid wasrefreshing with grilled tiger shrimp and mushroom risotto. A drink now. 82

L'EXCELLENCE DU CHÂTEAU BLADINIÈRES 2008, Cahors, France, 13.0% D, #264671  $16.95  (Tasted May 14, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on February 4, 2012 and winner of a Gold Medal at the 2010 Coucours des Vignerons Indépendants in Paris.  My notes: The telltale purple of Malbec (75%) and soft touch of Merlot (25%) with an aroma and polite bite of ripe plums and black cherries on the nose. Aerating or airing 30 minutes min helps settle its intro. A swirl shows a fragmented rim and fast flowing tears. The first sip has the feel of fine tannins, a warm and tangy bite and flavours of blackberries deepened by a earthy edge, the velvet texture carrying through a long warm finish. A sipper for aged leather, a crackling fireplace and  recollections of past times. Went well with Ale-Braised Short Ribs, Fiddleheads and Roasted Potatoes (I used white and sweet). Cellar for several more years or drink now.  92
GEORGES VIGOUROUX PIGMENTUM MALBEC 2010, Cahors, France, 13.5% XD, #255182   $13.75  (Tasted June 4, 2012)  CS
A General listing.  My notes: A deep ruby with a raspberry hued edge and a film that slowly falls through tiny tears circling a lacy rim. The nose has minute fruit tainted by an earthy dullness. The first sip has prominent tannins, soft with a mild acid and blackberry fruit making this a possible open bar starter provided a buffet is nearby. Flavours and body fall off quickly leaving a hollow dryness on the palate. Pair with pizza or pasta meals - something with life. A drink now - becomes metallic if kept over.  79

RIGAL LES TERRASSES MALBEC CAHORS 2009,  Cahors, France, 13.5% XD, #245761   $12.95  (Tasted May 18, 2012)  CS
A General listing.  My notes:  Front label says Malbec - back label shows a blend with 20% Merlot. A soft earthy nose with the faint scent of warm crushed blackberries. Purple hued ruby dense and regal. A swirl leaves a clean rim flowing fast tears and the first sip is smooth lightly tangy with fine tannins and young berry flavours. Acid and tannins carry well into a long finish leaving behind most of the fruit and ending soft and dry. A medium-bodied sipper for a social setting - a buffet table would extend interest. Pair with anything Italian and tomato-y or have with grilled sirloin, bbq'd ribs or saucy chicken pieces. A drink now. 86

MENDEL LUNTA MALBEC 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% XD, #261917   $18.95  (Tasted May 17, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on April 28, 2012 and winner of a Gold Medal at the 2011 Argentina Wine Awards in Mendoza.  Also rated 91 by Michael Schachner of the Wine Enthusiast (November 2011).   My notes: Purple tinted and deeply hued ruby in the glass with a scent of black currants softened by blackberries. A swirl leaves a continuous rim quickly shedding fast tears. The first sip brightens the palate with sharp acid matching fine tannins and the blending of fresh fruit. Serve to discriminating guests for a warm greeting to an open house or summer patio bbq. A bit of a tooth cleaner - aerating helps - but nevertheless a welcomed sipper. Pair with any grilled red meat with savoury seasonings. Cellaring for several more years should be beneficial but also a bright drink now. 91

LOS HAROLDOS RESERVA DE FAMILIA MALBEC 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5%  XD, #269068   $14.95  (Tasted June 4, 2012)  CS
A Vintages release on April 28, 2012.  My notes:  A deep charcoal tinged ruby opaque in the glass with an aroma of plums, black olives and mild herb. A continuous rim sheds many slow tears seeming to stick to the glass. Full-bodied, silky smooth with a touch of tart and some warmth along with a subtle black plum & herb flavouring that slowly fades to a dry herbal finish. Air an hour or aerate to lessen herbal aspect and is preferred. A curious well developed profile lacking a fruity backbone and appeal.  Have with seasoned grilled beef - good paired with Chimichurri Tri-Tip Sirloin with Sweet Potato fries.  Already four years and not likely to improve with extended cellaring. A drink now likely past peak. 82  


'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