Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Port Sampler

My spouse occasions a port in the mid evening and I have now started buying a price range of Ports attempting to narrow on a preference. One conclusion so far is price brings a more elegant and enjoyable sipper, as shown by the ranking below.

The comments are hers for this initial selection of four.

Cheers, Ww


1.   GRAHAM'S 20 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT NV, Portugal,  20.0%  S  115g/L,  #620641  (500 mL)  $36.95 

A General listing.  Notes:  "Richer, has an edge, deep nose!"

2.   GRAHAM'S 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT NV, Portugal, 20.0%  S 118g/L, #206508 $27.95  


A General listing.  Notes: "Tad lighter, aromatic, Quite like!"

3.   POÇAS SPECIAL RESERVE TAWNY PORT NV, Douro, Portugal,  20.0%  S  106g/L.  #286229  $15.95 
Released by Vintages on October 13, 2012 and rated 88 by Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast (March 2010).  My notes:  "less aromatic, viscous, sweet!"

4.   OFFLEY LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE 'LBV' PORTO 2007,  Douro, Portugal,  20.5%  S  104g/L,  #070086   $19.95 
Released by Vintages on December 8, 2012.  My notes:  "Flatter, not 'nosey', fruity"

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

January 2013 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

The January Lineup of wines follows this Intro: 

Click to enlarge
I've started reading John Szabo's Pairing Food & Wines for Dummies . I don't intend to 'review' so much as pass along my comments as I progress - warning - I'm a slow reader. I've read to page 14 and already have gleaned several tips on how to apply myself to the remaining chapters. Authors often are inclined to stretch beyond their area of expertise or life experience but this title should restrain material to within the expansive role of a sommelier.

Yesterday saw the purchase of both
Click to enlarge
John's book and Jancis Robinson's 'How to Taste' . 'It's about time!' some will say knowing I need some help with my tasting techiques. Will this book help? I'll let you know. Certainly John is someone who deserves respect for his objective and 8 year experience as a Master Sommelier, one of only 129 in North America and 186 worldwide.  

Ms. Robinson OBE and MW since 1984 is world renown for her impartial dedication to the world of wine as demonstrated by her energetic participation in most wine regions from plantings to processing, from terroir to grapes to blends ensuring events affecting viticulture and the product thereof are given a fair hearing through her blog Purple Pages , her constant presence on Twitter, her journalism and as an author. Some of the professional endorsements for her book appearing on the back cover is shown in the figure. There are 257 MWs in 23 countries with 30 in the US and 4 in Canada.

I'm looking forward to realigning my own do-it-yourself approach through the information in these books. 

 January is the month for back surgery so I'll be MIA for about 2 weeks: a lumbar fusion and some bone sculpting to relieve the sciatic nerve where it exits from its vertebrae channel to give my lower back and right leg some peace. The human body is a marvelous structure when all goes well. When it gets abused over time it can literally be a pain. I expect to 'hit the bottle' again the 3rd week of January.  Lots of reading time in between... 8-).

Meanwhile have a great New Year,

Update - January 19, 2013

My spine operation went according to schedule, in on January 4th and out, after a brief negotiation, on the 8th. Hospitals in spite of their high occupancy are not the easiest places to escape. 

Seven of the wines listed are from Tony Aspler's 'Top 10 wines from Vintages January 5th Release'  and Vintages January 19th Release '.  Aspler's ratings are shown as TAxx and are intended as benchmarks, ie. how far off track am I getting?, for my tastings.

Update - January 22, 2013

I officially took myself off Percocet today. Side issues with this drug kept me in a confused state, that is, more than usual. Without the opiate content a replacement drug is not as debilitating and with a walker I've managed two return trips to the local LCBO.  

I'm still not able to endure an oz. of Santa Rita Chardonnay 2010 so delay any early tastings of what would be more delicate whites. An oz. of Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2010, a first time sampler, was similarly raw which I attribute to my drugged state, consequently, I've sentenced myself to another few days of withdrawal before going online. 

Update - January 25, 2013

No longer requiring a chauffeur I'm free to schedule my own periodic LCBO visits.  Doing tastings but not back to the quaffing stage as yet.  I'll be repackaging the January lineup shifting some wines to February rather than overindulging

Cheers, Ww 
THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites and bubblies:

  • M. Gassier Nostre Pais Costieres de Nimes 2010, (TA90) 91-2  --  V, Loire, France #295410  $18.95 
  • Mitolo Jester Gift Box. #186759 (2x750mL) $44.95 including: 
    • Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  91a-2  --  V, McLaren Vale, Australia, #043224 $21.95
    • Mitolo Jester Shiraz 2010,  89a-1  --  V, McLaren Vale, Australia,  #659607 $22.95
  • MontGras Quatro 2011, 88a-1  --  V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #050641  $14.95
  • Lady Anne Barnard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, (TA89)  88-1   --  V, #101758 $16.75
  • Arnaldo- Caprai Rosso Montefalco 2009, (TA89) 82  V, Umbria, Italy, #303065  $19.95 
  • Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2010  (TA90)  80  --  V, Campo de Borja, Spain, #273748  $19.95  
Trapiche Malbec Gift Box, #253633 (3x750mL)  $36.45  including:   
  • Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2010, 90a-2  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina,  #234385  $14.95
  • Trapiche Reserve Malbec 2011, 83  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #614651  $12.00 
  • Trapiche Varietals Malbec 2012, 81  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina,  #501551  $9.45

  • Scott Family Estate Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2011,  (TA91)  92-2  --  V,  St. Helena, California, #099051, $23.95 
  • Anne Boecklin Gewurztraminer Collection 2010,  (TA90) 90-2  --  V, Alsace, France, #141226  $18.95
  • Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 87a  --  V, Marlborough, NZ,  #686675  $18.95 
  • Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86  --  V, Vineland, Ontario,  #080234 $16.95 
  • Roger & Didier Raimbault Sancerre 2011, (TA91) 85  --  V,  Loire, France, #082255 $22.95 
  • Roche De Bellene Vieilles Vignes Bourgogne Chardonnay 2010  84  --  V,  #299867   $19.95 
  • McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2011,  80  --  V, Ripon, California, #181453 $17.95 
  • Santa Rita Reserva Chardonnay 2010,  NR  --  G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #348359  $12.45*
  • Skinnygrape Pinot Grigio NV,  NR  --  Andrew Peller Ltd.,  #Boutique, $11.95 

  • Domaine du Clos de l'Epinay 'Tête de Cuvée' Brut Vouvray,  83  --  V, Loire, France, #298398 $19.95  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


MONTGRAS QUATRO 2011, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.0%  XD  4g/L, #050641   $14.95  (Tasted January 2, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on November 10, 2012 and a blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carmenère and Malbec.  My notes:  A cardinal tinge to the deep ruby and the film sticks from a continuous rim quickly flowing long legs. A woody cranberry aroma adds to tart red currant, mild raspberry flavour that carries through a moderate finish ending dry and smooth on the tongue. Have with meaty pizzas or a ham steak w/cranberry sauce - not raisin. Keep a few on hand for times of ordering in that pizza. Aerating mellows the aroma's woody edge and tannins aren't as pronounced throughout. Definitely worthwhile. Eco-wise the empty btl weighs in at over 1.5lbs.  88a

FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, 10.0%  D  18g/L,  #080234  $16.95  (Tasted January 2, 2013CS

A Vintages release date not given. 1675 cases produced.  My notes: Now sold out.  A platinum blond colour with a almost perceptible lemon floral nose when aired in the glass. The film quickly fragments leaving lacy islands. A tangy attack of silky lemon starts the first swallow and continues a strong presence to a dry finish. Any sweetness is balanced by stringent lemon giving this limited appeal as a sole sipper. Have with fresh oysters or a shrimp ring. A local style not likely to acquire a petrol nose if cellared.   86

MITOLO JESTER SHIRAZ 2010 & JESTER CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 GIFT PACK, #186759  2x750 mL bottle  $44.95  CS

Released by Vintages on October 27, 2012.

MITOLO JESTER SHIRAZ 2010 , McLaren Vale, Australia,  15.2%  D  5g/L, #659607  $22.95  (Tasted February 17, 2013CS

Release by Vintages on October 27, 2012.  My notes: A deep purple colour with a firm film leaving long legs falling from a solid rim. The nose has a bright edge and muted scent of ripe crushed blackberries, blueberries and a slight tobacco to increase the character. The first sip is full, refreshingly sharp but smooth leaving a dry layer on the palate to continue a long finish. The warmth increases with each sip and aerating is preferred if sipping. Cellaring should be OK for several years. Have with osso buco, savoury stews or Barbarian rubbed sirloin or T-bone steaks. 89a

MITOLO JESTER CABERNET SAUVIGNON  2010 , McLaren Vale, Australia, 14.9%  D  xg/L, #043224, $21.95  (Tasted February 9, 2013CS

Release by Vintages on October 29, 2011.  My notes:  A deep plum colour with a pungent aroma of blackcurrant/blackberry. A swirl leaves a fragile rim sliding down the bowl. Refreshing crushed blackberries with a touch of sweet, full-bodied, a mild tannin added to a long warm eucalyptus finish. I hesitate to aerate possibly losing the fullness of the fruit altho' the pungency could be more palatable... aerating lessened the penetrating tartness on a sip without losing fruit or length. Have with bbq'd ribs, pork or beef, or a grilled sirloin with 'fixings'. Cellaring for several years could soften and further add to varietal character.  91a

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS PINOT GRIGIO 2011, Ripon, California, 11.5% XD, #181453  $17.95  (Tasted January 1, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on October 13, 2012. My notes: The 2009 vintage was tasted on October 5, 2010 and rated 80.  A mid straw colour leaving a fragmented rim flowing slow legs. The nose needs warming, +12oC, to appear then it's a timid floral. The first sip is medium-bodied, nicely balanced with a silky touch to a crushed lemon seed flavour that continues through the finish. No sweetness detected and closer to XD. A white to go with grilled seafood, sea bass or cod with an olive tapenade. Not objectionable just not a sipper unless fruit and finish isn't a priority. A drink now.  80 


From Argentina's wine producer of the year in 2004, 2006 & 2011.
TRAPICHE BROQUEL MALBEC 2010,  Mendoza, Argentina,  14.5%  XD  2.81g/L,  #234385   $14.95  (Tasted January 28, 2013CS

A General listing.  My notes:  I couldn`t find this label on the Trapiche website - reference is to the local distributor Vins Philippe Dandurand Wines and an excellent website. A deep blackberry colour deepened still by a reflecting opacity. The nose is heavy yet soft giving pleasurable berry scents. As the glass is swirled a thick film, not syrupy but nicely viscous, leaves a contiguous rim to trail long slow legs. Velvety, penetrating flavours of ripe fruit well concentrated for pairing with bbq'd pork or beef ribs. If one prefers full and dense this is a sipper otherwise save for a slow sip with dark chocolate - go on to a lighter brew with prime rib or rack of lamb.  Cellaring several years may soften however aerating also provides a gentler sip and is recommended.  90a  

TRAPICHE RESERVE MALBEC 2011, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D  2.71g/L, #614651   $12.00  (Tasted February 1, 2013CS

A General listing. My notes: Leaves a thin film with legs slow to show then fall sparsely after accumulating at the rim. A deep raspberry colour losing its brightness to a garnet hue and a light scent of earthy peat losing most of the fruit. The first sip stings before filling the palate with earthy, liquorice tones and leaving a layer of tannin. Full-bodied with flavours that trail along a long finish and needing some moderating nibbles. Serve with bacon on a bun, double tomato bruschetta or a meatlovers pizza. Aerating softens the acid a tad but still quite raw.  83

TRAPICHE VARIETALS MALBEC 2012, Mendoza, Argentina,  13.5%  D  4g/L,  #501551  $9.45  (Tasted February 1, 2013CS

A General listing. My notes:  There's a freshness to the nose on pouring of a muted crushed raspberry aroma. A swirl leaves a thin film that falls quickly showing unfiltered dots (tartar?) along with fast legs on the glass. More fruit with the first sip giving this an opening as an entry level medium-bodied sipper altho' have nibbles close-by. There's a touch of sweetness with moderate tannin and acid and a short earthy finish - I'd pair it with bbq'd fare: hamburgers, T-bone or seasoned sirloin.  Not for cellaring - a drink now.  81    

DOMAINE DU CLOS DE L'EPINAY  'TÊTE DE CUVÉE' BRUT VOUVRAY 2007, Loire, France, 12.0%  XD  13g/L, #298398  $19.95  (Tasted February 3, 2013CS

Release by Vintages on December 8, 2012 and awarded a Gold Medal in the 2012 edition of the Gilbert & Gaillard Wine Guide.  My notes: 100% Chenin Blanc and 8.80Euros ($11.60C) at winery. As golden as the medal it won in 2012 and effervescent from start to the last sip. Extremely tart with a strong, unusual rusty flavour, metallic with a touch of honey and wet straw. There's little fruit in a long dry finish, perhaps a hint of pear but with an appealing fullness. Have with fresh oysters or grilled scallops and broad pasta. Past peak or an acquired taste.  83

ROGER & DIDIER RAIMBAULT SANCERRE 2011,  Loire, France, 12.5%  XD  2g/L,  #082255 $22.95  (Tasted January 25, 2013CS
Released by Vintages on January 5, 2013.  My notes: A pale straw with a fragmenting rim that runs fast tears. Let breathe for several minutes for a soft aroma of warm butter and tart apple. The first sip penetrates with an interesting chalky, mineral flavour lasting into a long dry finish. Not a social sipper but a seafood white to balance with fresh oysters, grilled buttered shrimp or lobster pieces. Cellaring may introduced more roundness and depth and may retain the fruit aspect - perhaps 5 years.  85

ARNALDO-CAPRAI ROSSO MONTEFALCO 2009,  Umbria, Italy, 14.5%  XD  6g/L, #303065  $19.95  (Tasted February 9, 2013CS
Released by Vintages on January 5, 2013. A blend of Rosso (70%),  Sangiovese (15%), Sagrantino and (15%) Merlot and rated 90 by Antonio Galloni  (June 2011).  My notes:  A dull ruby leaving a smooth rim running fast legs. A slight aroma of warm, dried cherries, woody spice with little nose appeal. Silky, a fine tannin that coats the palate for a long dry woody finish. Less fruit and more earthy tobacco with offering some sippability when served with bruschetta but more of a meal red: panzerotto pizza or spaghetti and meatballs. A drink now. Aerating marginally brings out more fruit.  82a

M. GASSIER NOSTRE PAIS COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES 2010, Midi, France,  14.5% XD 6g/L, #295410  $18.95  (Tasted February 9, 2013CS
Released by Vintages on January 5, 2013. A blend of  35% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 20% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault and 5% Syrah.  Rated 90 by Robert Parker Jr. (June 2012).   My notes: Lovely on first sip... an initial crisp red cherry followed by the soft fullness of blue- and blackberry. A slight herbal aspect to a berry scent and shows a rosy pink with a swirl.  Approaching full-bodied and coloured with deep rouge the finish leaves slowly adding a drying coating. An amenable sipper and would pair nicely with savoury stews over puréed cauliflower. Cellaring for several years could add value. 91

LADY ANNE BARNARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010,  Cape Town, S. Africa,  14.0%  XD 4g/L, #101758  $16.75  (Tasted January 25, 2013) 
Released by Vintages on January 5, 2013.  My notes:  A deep black currant colour leaving a viscous film and solid rim that takes its time to run slow tears. The nose has a smooth essence of freshly pressed black currants, a clean edge and sets an expectation of penetrating flavour. Flavours follow the nose with more emphasis on crushed pulp. The film is firm leaving a continuous rim to drain through slow tears. The body is lighter than expected and leaves a fuzzy tannin layer to carry thru a long finish. Cellaring not likely to develop further.  Have with grilled beef, beef lover's pizza or spaghetti and meatballs.  Aerating did not improve.  88  

SCOTT FAMILY ESTATE DIJON CLONE CHARDONNAY 2011,  St. Helena, California,  13.5%  XD 6g/L,  #099051,  $23.95  (Tasted January 29, 2013CS
Release by Vintages on Jan 5, 2013 and a Rutherford Wine Company product.
  My notes: There's a tawny hue to a mid gold colour and a grassy aroma wafts from the glass on pouring. A swirl leaves a firm film with a continuous rim that fragments into long slow tears.  An interesting combination of sweet grasses with yellow plums and lemon from the first sip lasts long on the palate, dry, warm and full. Each stage gives something new making this a social favourite - better with a roast chicken or Tiger Shrimp, Pacific Scallops with lychees, plain rice swimming in a medium-hot curry sauce.  Cellaring for several years will likely pay off.  92

ANNE BOECKLIN GEWURZTRAMINER COLLECTION 2010, Alsace, France,  12.5%  D  32g/L, #141226  $18.95  (Tasted January 30, 2013CS
Released by Vintages on January 19, 2013.
A Gold Medal winner at the Grands Vins de France in 2012. My notes:  A mid bright gold with a soft spicy grass as a nose - the film slides uniformly and quickly down the glass.  Kept chilled the grass combines with a slight melon and Granny Smith showing the smoothness of one and the sweet, mild tartness of the other. A sip then swallow wipes the palate with sweet then spice both remaining for a long while. Have with equally sweet and tart apple crumble and cheese or Bosc pear slices.  Cellar for a few years to blend flavours while retaining mellow.  90

BORSAO TRES PICOS GARNACHA 2010,  Yecla, Spain, 14.5% XD  5g/L, #273748 $19.95  (Tasted January 29, 2013CS
Released by Vintages on January 19, 2013 and rated 92 by Robert Parker Jr.  (October 2012).
  My notes:
100% Grenache grapes and 1.5lbs+ of glass. Long legs flow freely with the initial swirl. There's a mellow scent of earthy plums, black cherries with a clove overtone introducing a velvety, tannin laden first sip. The spice overwhelms and distracts from any expected fruit making this an acquired taste - not for me. Try aerating or decanting an hour ahead hoping to subdue spice (add 2 points) - still leaves a flat offness lasting well into a long dry finish. Pair with a well seasoned, hickory smoked sirloin strips and double baked potato w/sour cream. Not a sipper.  80

ROCHE DE BELLENE VIEILLES VIGNES BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2010, Burgundy, France, 13.0%  XD 2g/L,  #299867   $19.95  (Tasted February 4, 2013CS
Released by Vintages on January 19, 2013 - rated 16/20 by Jancis Robinson MW 
(January 24, 2012) .  My notes:  A golden colour with a lemongrass aroma, not quite grassy but dry, no sweet. Leaves a thin film with a fragmented rim that separates into tiny islands. There's a smoothness to the first medium-bodied sip, tart, even acidic suitable for grilled seafoods or cheesy noodles - not a drink now. The finish continues the dry grassy theme leaving the palate looking for nibbles.  Much better if allowed to go off chill for an extra long finish and silkiness - aroma dissipates quickly.  Either past peak or shortly before... try cellaring three to five years tasting regularly after two.  84

SANTA RITA RESERVA CHARDONNAY 2010, Casablanca Valley, Chile,  13.5%  XD  2g/L,  #348359  $12.45*  (Tasted January 22, 2013CS
A General listing now priced $12.45 until February 3, 2013 - was $13.95 . 
  My notes:  Not rated.

SPY VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Marlborough, NZ,  13.5%  D  5g/L, #686675   $18.95  (Tasted January 28, 2013CS
Released by Vintages on January 19, 2013 and rated 89 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW (October 2011).
  My notes:  A pale blond with a firm film that rings a fragmenting rim  to drain thru' slow tears leaving only islands.  There's a lightly floral fragrance of crushed gooseberries edged with a tart touch of lime.  The first sip translates aroma to tart fruit ending with a long bright chalky finish. Medium-bodied but full in Kiwi character for those preferring tangy - on the strong side for most - aerating helps minimally. Have with prawns and lemon risotto or scallops wrapped in English bacon with hashbrowns or onion rings. I don't see this gaining much with cellaring.  87a

SKINNYGRAPE PINOT GRIGIO NV,  Andrew Peller Ltd., 8.0%  M  16g/L,  Boutique  $11.95  (Tasted January 26, 2013)

A beverage produced by Andrew Peller Ltd. from unknown fruit, unknown sources and produced from an unclear manufacturing
process.  My notes: My first boutique tasting and, in principal, outside the latitude of this blog. The colour is a mid gold and a mild scent of sour apple predominates the nose and loses its fruit quickly . The film is light and leaves a fragmented rim to run slow tears. The first sip has a mild sweet apple and leaves the palate dry. Quaffing has the flavour of diluted canned apple juice almost quenching then at the last introduces a unpleasant taste. Not a sipper nor would it contribute to most meals - try cod on a mushroom risotto. With many alternatives available I don't see a place for this as a beverage - we discarded the bottle.  Not rated.