Friday, May 24, 2013

#Chardday 2013 - 5 Tasted of 5

Listed below are my choices for Chardonnays to celebrate #ChardDay, May 23, 2013, recognizing the popularity and the  contribution of the Chardonnay grape throughout the wine world.

The criteria for choosing these five wines are:
  • VQA wines, therefore, Canadian Chards only
  • 100% chardonnay grapes - no blends
  • VQA level of a vineyard or sub-appellation - no VQA Ontario or Niagara Peninsula
  • Priced below $25
  • Available from a local LCBO outlet - no bin ends or otherwise discounted wines


  • Southbrook Vineyards Organic & Biodynamic Triomphe Chardonnay 2011 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 91-2  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, #172338 $21.95 
  • Henry of Pelham Estate 'Barrel Fermented' Chardonnay 2011 VQA Short Hills Bench, 90-2  --  V,  St. Catharines, Ontario, #268342 $19.95
  • G. Marquis 'The Silver Line' Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 88a-1  --  V,  Beamsville, Ontario,  #258681 $16.95 
  • Flat Rock Cellars Chardonnay 2009 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 81  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #286278 $16.95 
  • Palatine Hills 'Neufeld Vineyard' Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Lakeshore, 80a  --  V,  Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario,  #319772 $22.95
(V - Vintages, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)

HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE 'BARREL FERMENTED' CHARDONNAY 2011 VQA Short Hills Bench, St. Catharines, Ontario, 13.5% XD  3g/L, #268342  $19.95  (Tasted May 30, 2013) 
Released by Vintages on March 2, 2013.  My notes:  A mid yellow colour with a film that coats evenly and drains through long legs from a slowly fragmenting rim.  A whiff of paraffin adds to toasted coconut for an inviting nose. The first sip has the tang of apple, the smoothness of butter and slight edge of orange zest, each flavour lasting into a long extra dry finish - easy to quaff for more intensity. A clean, on the light side of medium-bodied sipper to welcome a buffet of appetizers or pair with fresh oysters then into a meal of grilled Brook trout, scampi, crab or lobster pieces. I'd chance a few more years in the cellar looking for the edge qualities to develop. 90

FLAT ROCK CELLARS CHARDONNAY 2009 VQA Twenty Mile Bench,  Jordan, Ontario, 12.8%  XD  3.4g/L,  #286278  $16.95  (Tasted May 27, 2013) 

Released by Vintages on February 11, 2013. My notes:  A mild apple is prominent in the nose and the colour is a pale yellow. A swirl leaves a thin film that clears quickly through a receding rim until only fragments are left. The first sip has a mechanical aspect, some tang, some chalk, a touch of apple but combined is a flavour puzzle. The finish remains long, dry with not much depth. Not enough for a Boiled and Baked Baby Ribs with a 5 Chinese Spice & Soya sauce entrée. Perhaps a grilled tilapia and asparagus would fare better or lobster/crab pieces. A drink now. 81

PALATINE HILLS 'NEUFELD VINEYARD' CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Lakeshore,  Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario,  13.5%  D  12g/L,  #319772  $22.95  (Tasted May 23, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 16, 2013.  My notes: The Palatine Hills website doesn't mention the 2010 vintage - the 2008 vintage is listed at $8.00 - a big price change for the 2010 - perhaps the cost of a new label and doing business with the LCBO?  The empty bottle is an eco-unfriendly 1.75 lbs.  For the wine inside there's a nose of spoiled apples and this is carried through to the flavour and long sweet finish - perhaps a different style or for those with an acquired taste. The body is nicely rounded with a pleasing acid level, some butter, a light caramel - but not enough to balance the detractors. Did not pair well with sushi, tempura shrimp, mixed vege and delicate seafood. Aerating helped marginally and was marginally better two days later following decanting but was discarded.  80a

G. MARQUIS 'THE SILVER LINE' SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2011 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  Beamsville, Ontario, 13.2%  D  7g/L,  #258681  $16.95  (Tasted May 28, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on May 25, 2013.  My notes: A Magnotta Winery label.  This is a rich yellow with a film that quickly slides down the glass from a fragmenting rim and ending cleanly. Poured at 12oC the nose is mostly vegetal with a mild apricot - the first sip has a pleasing tang, a silky texture and a pineapple/baked apple flavour muted by an almond nuttiness then changing to an astringent dryness for a long finish. Aerating brought the temp to 14oC lessening the vegetal while leaving the touch of apricot. My recommendation is to aerate and serve cooled, not chilled. Sipping has a interesting dryness, with enough body, tang and flavouring to pair with a light buffet, delicate seafoods or shellfish. A drink now.  88a

SOUTHBROOK VINEYARDS ORGANIC & BIODYNAMIC TRIOMPHE CHARDONNAY 2011 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 13.4%  XD  7g/L, #172338  $21.95  (Tasted May 27, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 2, 2013.  My notes:  A tarnish to a bright gold is saying elegance in a glass. A firm film takes its time to drain from the rim leaving shrinking fragments. Butter burnt, just enough for appeal, and a touch of spice makes a strong sniff worthwhile. The first sip is medium-bodied, both bright and silky with rich flavours of butterscotch and light cream leaving the palate refreshed with a soft melon and coconut. Slow sipping lets both the nose and flavours change (+15oC)  giving a wider spectrum. I could be stretching pairing this with a boiled and 5 Chinese Spice & Soya baked back rib recipe but there's a backup. (didn't need the backup... Southbrook Triomphe did a great job!) More predictably a complement with seafood, shellfish and chicken or Chinese fare. 91

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

May 2013 Wines: 30 Tasted of 30

Eons ago!
Most Ontarians will recognize the Niagara scene. Do you?  

An LCBO Primer
Listed below are wines to be tasted in May. Most are from Vintages' April 27th & May 11th releases and a promo called What's your grape? delivered with my G&M on Saturday.  Of the twenty-three (six whites and seventeen reds) wines featured in the promo I've selected five. This was based on my history with low priced wines - if enjoyed in the past it's likely they're at least OK.

Reviewing my history with each of the six whites, the 13th Street Riesling and the Masi Masianco were previously rated high - I went with the Masi. Of the seventeen reds nine were new to me and I went with the four listed below - all from the General (G) shelves. Let me know if I have missed any worth their price tag or to be avoided.

Cheers, Ww

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

  • Pillitteri Estates Cabernet Franc 2010 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 92-3  --  V,  NOTL, Ontario, #013763  $17.95
  • Château des Charmes Equuleus 2010 VQA St. David's Bench, 92-1  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #319525 $40.00
  • Domaine la Florane Côtes du Rhone-Villages Visan 2010,  91-2  --  V, Rhône, France, #320176  $18.95 
  • Cesari Mara Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2010,  90a-2  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #506519 $15.90*
  • Maycas del Limari Reserva Especial Syrah 2009, 90-2  --  V, Limari Valley, Chile, #269423 $19.95   
  • Irony Small Lot Reserve Merlot 2010, 89-1  --  V, Napa Valley, California, #183186 $19.95 
  • Fowles Stone Dwellers Shiraz 2009, Australia, 88-1  --  V, Victoria, Australia, #265967  $19.95
  • MacMurray Ranch Central Coast Pinot Noir 2009,  88*  --  V,  Healdsburg, California, #303990   $21.95
  • Domaine Manoir de Carra Non-filtré Beaujolais-Villages 2011, 85  --  V,  Beaujolais, France,  #320861  $15.95
  • Big House Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines 2011,  84  --  G, Livermore, California, #272401 $11.95*
  • Liberty School Zinfandel 2010, 83  --  V, Paso Robles, California,  #041095 $18.95 
  • Cusumano Syrah Terre Siciliane IGT 2012, 82a  --  G, Sicily, Italy, #145490 $9.95* 
  • Painter Bridge California Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 82  --  G, San Jose, California, #219113 $14.25   
  • Vicchiomaggio San Jacopo Chianti Classico 2011, 82  --  V, Tuscany, Italy,  #710194  $17.95

  • Mud House The Woolshed Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010,  91-2  --  V,  Marlborough, NZ, #312744 $20.95 
  • Maycas del Limari Reserva Especial Chardonnay 2009, 90-2  --  V, Limari Valley, Chile, #162040 $19.95
  • McManis Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2011,  90-2  --  V, River Junction, California,  #265983 $19.95 
  • Ironstone Obsession Symphony California 2011, 88-1  --  G, Napa, California, #295931 $15.10  
  • Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio & Verduzzo delle Venezie 2012,  87-1  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #620773 $14.00* 
  • Mt. Boucherie Estate Collection Semillon 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley, 87-1  --  V,  Kelowna, BC,  #279364 $16.50
  • Mount Riley Marlborough Chardonnay 2011, 87-1  --  V, Blenheim, NZ,  #032318 $17.95
  • Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio 2012, 83  --  V, Alto-Adige, Italy, #954024  $18.95
  • Murphy-Goode The Fumé Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 83  --  V,  The North Coast, California,  #721092 $18.95 
  • La Cappuccina Soave 2012, 82  --  V,  Veneto, Italy, #081489 $14.95
  • Sogrape Gazela Vinho Verde NV,  nr --   G, Gaia, Portugal, #141432 $7.95*

  • Carpineto Dogajolo Rosato 2012, 83  --  V, Tuscany, Italy, #699934 $13.95
  • Cave Spring Dry Rosé 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment,  83  --  G, Jordan, Ontario, #295006 $14.95 
  • Liberty School Rosé 2012,  82  --  V, Paso Robles, California, #276667 $16.95
  • Zenato Bardolino Chiaretto Rosé 2012, 77  --  V,  Veneto, Italy, #045203 $12.95 

  • Prevedello Asolo Superiore Extra Dry Prosecco 2011, 88-1  --  V,  Veneto, Italy, #262881 $17.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, nr - Not Rated)


SOGRAPE GAZELA VINHO VERDE NV, Gaia, Portugal, 9.0% D  13g/L, #141432 $7.95*  (Tasted May 24, 2013)  CS

A General listing and reduced from $8.95 until May 26, 2013. My notes:  A seasonal favourite and not rated. A light lemon spritz with a light lasting mousse and delicate body. The flavour is of mandarin zest - refreshing, dry, with a mild tang and low alcohol made for summer quaffing.  I paired with a Momiji Sushi Bento 
- sushi, california roll and tempura shrimp & vege - from their Lunch Menu.  NR

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES PAUL BOSC ESTATE EQUULEUS 2010 VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.5%  XD  5g/L, #319525 $40.00  (Tasted May 5, 2013CS

Part of Vintages April 13th's Release although this vintage has been available at the winery for a few years.  My notes: Rated 16+, with the  comment 'quite low tannins (a Canadian characteristic)', by Jancis Robinson MW,  (January 23, 2013). You'd have to be a follower to understand how to interpret. I enjoyed the 2002 vintage in March 2007 .  Equuleus is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot. The colour is a ruby black, the meniscus showing the only clear ruby. A swirl leaves a firm film gradually dropping a dozen slow tears. Full-bodied, silky smooth and layering velvet in the mouth with an acid to lightly cleanse the palate then ending with an extra dry flavour of penetrating black currant and black berry. A long finish of mild tobacco and dark chocolate makes this an appealing sipper. Pair with any game or savoury beef.  Cellaring several years is likely to give incredible depth retaining its classical charm. 92

FOWLES STONE DWELLERS SHIRAZ 2009, Australia, 14.4%  XD  0.0g/L,  #265967  $19.95  (Tasted May 2, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on March 30, 2013 and rated 88 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW (June 2012).  My notes: The 2008 vintage was tasted in February 2012 and rated 93-3. A deep purple colour with a rim that flows fast tears and having a polite aroma of crushed blackberries, cinnamon tainted and gradually developing over a few minutes. The first sip has the full tang of crushed young berries, complimentary tannins and fruit slowly declining to a steely bite, extra dry. Not quite as bold as the 2008 having less fullness but with the same warmth. Pair with T-bone, rib eye, bbq'd beef ribs or savoury stews. Aerated: Less of a bite allowing fruit and texture to come forward - the same biting finish and dryness. Overall aerating not significant. 88

CARPINETO DOGAJOLO ROSATO 2012, Tuscany, Italy, 12.5%  XD  2g/L, #699934 $13.95  (Tasted May 7, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on March 30, 2013.  My notes: Tasting notes for the 2011 vintage are on their website, not the 2012 vintage. There's a powder puff pinkness to a salmon rose colour. The film is thin and slowly recedes on a tulip glass. A taint of floral to a grassy nose provides some interest and the dryness of the first sip says it's suitable for fresh oysters or Oysters Rockefeller. Starts strong then declines quickly, try with a soft cheese tray or chilled shrimp. A thin red cherry flavour, light-bodied and well balanced giving some refreshment in each sip. The finish ends on a extra dry mineral note.  A drink now. 83

PREVEDELLO ASOLO SUPERIORE EXTRA DRY PROSECCO 2011,  Veneto, Italy, 11.0%  D  19g/L,  #262881  $17.95  (Tasted May 11, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013. Produced by Toronto restaurateur Franco Prevedello, and from his family-owned hillside vineyard in the heart of the Prosecco region.  My notes:  There's a  burst of fine foam and a thin layer that slides down the glass on pouring. The colour is a light yellow and there's negligible nose except for a scent of light floral and CO2 on the first sniff.  The first sip surprises with a refreshing delicate lemon and peach fuzz, as in licking a peach not biting, mild flavours carried on a rounded texture ( the Prosecco ) and a dusting of chalk. A refresher before or after a meal in lieu of sweets, a toasting beverage or pair with light seafood, shellfish or a tray of hard cheeses. Does the job nicely - fulfilling. 88

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2011, River Junction, California,  13.5%  D  9g/L,  #265983  $19.95  (Tasted May 21, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013.  My notes: This Chardonnay is the fourth McManis wine (Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, and Viognier) tasted since pairing a Viognier  with a meal at Boo's Bistro in Hamilton. The colour is a vibrant yellow and a swirl leaves a viscous film running slow legs until only fragments are left.  The nose has a briny edge with some honey and soft grapefruit as main scents. The first sip confirms the sweet honey altho' a tart lemon butter takes over for a long sumptuous finish making this an excellent complement with grilled tilapia, cod or halibut - even battered then deep fried with chips. Cellaring is a puzzle since a grassy component may overpower the fruit - I'd try a few years.  90

MOUNT RILEY MARLBOROUGH CHARDONNAY 2011, Blenheim, NZ,  13.5%  D  2g/L,  #032318  $17.95  (Tasted May 2, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013.  My notes: First tasted the 2005 vintage in August 2007 and enjoyed it (before ratings). There's a hint of sweetness with mainly a butterscotch and apricot scent. The colour is a mid yellow and a swirl leaves a thin film, no legs/tears but a fragmented rim that drains into a light lace. The first sip has a silky feel and a noticeable tropical fruit flavour and some spice trailing off extra dry. Serve as a bright sipper refreshingly tangy with hors d'oeuvres or pair with various shellfish or grilled whitefish. Cellaring may develop more depth but basically a drink now. 87

MT. BOUCHERIE ESTATE COLLECTION SEMILLON 2008 VQA Okanagan Valley, Kelowna, BC,  13.0%  D  xg/L,  #279364  $16.50  (Tasted May 9, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on July 7, 2012 and rated 91 by David Lawrason of winealign (June 2012).   My notes: Last tasted in July 2012 and thought it was past peak - rated 87 ($19.95).  Not much has changed since last tasted: a bright gold, a thin film and lacy rim and a nose of crushed lemon seeds and off lime. Air for twenty minutes then the first sip is refreshingly bright cleansing the throat with flavours of grapefruit/almond shifting quickly to a lengthy acid and chalk focus - has a pleasing fullness. Pair with grilled chicken or, as we did, with rainbow trout and bean sprouts drizzled with soy sauce. Also a partner with a seafood & hard cheese buffet. Likely would keep for several years and, at the new price of $16.50, it may be worth it.  87   

MURPHY-GOODE THE FUMÉ SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011,  The North Coast, California, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #721092  $18.95  (Tasted May 20, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013.  My notes: A blend of 94% sauvignon blanc and 6% semillon.  There's a delicate whiff of lavender to start until a scent of grapefruit rind creeps in. The colour is a faint yellow, crystal clear and showing tears slow to drain the thinnish film and leaving fragments on the glass. A combination of chalk, grapefruit zest and vanilla leads into a warming, extra dry finish. Possibly from young vines and I'd say closer to a Canadian International Blend altho' with depth  - Suitably matched with slices of President's Choice Stuffed Turkey Breast and veggies. A drink now. 83

LA CAPPUCCINA SOAVE 2012,  Veneto, Italy,  12.0%  XD  6g/L, #081489  $14.95  (Tasted May 14, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013.  100% Garganega and organically grown.  My notes:  A mid golden leaving a thin film that recedes from a lacy rim. A delicate scent of lemon and almond develops in the bowl given a few minutes and slight warming. Winery says to serve 10 - 12oc,  at 14oc body is more apparent and flavours are  integrated with texture.  Chalky from the first sip with bright but not penetrating acid and flavours of mild lemon and apple, no sweetness.  Have with grilled fish, scallops with pasta and Alfredo sauce or coconut shrimp didn't work with chicken. A drink now and likely a local (Veneto) House white. 82

DOMAINE LA FLORANE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES VISAN 2010,  Rhône, France, 15.0%  XD  6g/L, #320176  $18.95  (Tasted May 17, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013 and rated 90 by James Molesworth (October 15, 2012).  My notes: The colour is a deep ruby stained with charcoal and has a penetrating essence of blackberry balanced in fruit and acid. The film is thick sticking well to the glass then sliding from the rim with delayed tears. Penetrating as well on the first sip with furry tannins throughout the mouth then a long sumptuous finish of mineral edged berries in search for another sip or buffet treat.  Pairing with Italian sausage with a mushroom rice side went well. Likely wouldn't change much if cellared for several years. 91

VICCHIOMAGGIO SAN JACOPO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011, Tuscany, Italy,  13.5%  XD  5g/L, #710194   $17.95  (Tasted May 24, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013.  My notes:  A black cherry colour and a scent of lightly lacquered cigar box -no cigars- and showing a smooth film with a continuous rim that slowly recedes. Dusty tannins carry a taste of red cherries, crushed with a drying texture needing an accompaniment of spaghetti and meatballs or a lamb shank dish.  The finish is extra dry with a seam of cherry stones, long and chalky. A drink now. 82

MAYCAS DEL LIMARÍ RESERVA ESPECIAL SYRAH   2009, Limari Valley, Chile, 14.5% D  2.64g/L, #269423  $19.95  (Tasted May 20, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013 and rated 91 by John Szabo, MS  (February 3, 2011).  My notes:The colour is a deep crimson leaving a firm film with a continuous rim and long slow tears.  Peppery on the first sip with balanced acid and tannin giving a full-bodied lusciousness that begs more sips. The flavour is of blackberries, some liquorice to complement the fruit and a long smooth dry finish - didn't feel an expected warmth. This is a staple steak or ribs red to cut any fats and to linger over a flavour change. Cellaring for several years is likely with possibly a smoother texture increasing depth of character. 90

MAYCAS DEL LIMARÍ RESERVA ESPECIAL CHARDONNAY 2009  , Limari Valley, Chile, 14.0%  D 2.59g/L,  #162040  $19.95  (Tasted May 13, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 13, 2013and rated 90 by Jay Miller  (February 2012).  My notes:  A clean and crisp mid yellow. A swirl coats the glass then the film recedes evenly from a scalloped rim, no tears. The nose has an aroma of grated lemon rind not aggressive but with a definite presence. The first sip is quite tangy accumulating with successive sips - a tooth cleaner and mainly a meal white. A dusting of chalk at the end and full of lemon and spicy butter. Pair with seafood or roast chicken breast. We had with salmon pattie sliders with a dill tartar sauce and asparagus. Cellaring a few years may introduce more roundness, fairly neat now. 90

DOMAINE MANOIR DE CARRA NON-FILTRÉ BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES 2011, Beaujolais, France,  12.5%  D 4g/L, #320861  $15.95  (Tasted May 3, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013. Rated 90 by Rosemary George MW, Decanter  (September 2012)  My notes:  The meniscus has a rosy glow to frame a dense ruby - attractive. A red currant scent comes first edged with smoky wood and a ripe black cherry aroma. Silk, fine tannin, a sharp cleansing acid and red currants blend for a savoury first sip. A light body carries into a long clean finish. Have with prime rib au jus, grilled tenderloin or seared lamb with snap peas - a house meal red. Cellaring for several years could reduce roughness. Aerating smoothed a bit but not worth the trouble.  Put aside for party crashers.  85

MACMURRAY RANCH CENTRAL COAST PINOT NOIR 2009,  Healdsburg, California, 13.8% D  2.8g/L, #303990   $21.95  (Tasted May 1, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on January 5, 2013. An E & J Gallo winery.  My notes: The young cashier commented that I would thoroughly enjoy this Pinot. The beet juice colour is not quite as opaque and the nose has a dull off-raspberry scent with a pleasing sharpness.  A swirl gives a firm film showing a solid rim flowing long legs and slow tears. A touch of bacon adds a distraction to the dull berry, a fine tannin dries the palate and the lengthy finish continues with the dull berry/bacon focus. Cellaring may push more of the bacon. 81  *What a change! Overnight in the bottle the nose has a vanilla walnut scent, quite pleasing. The bacon accent is no longer perceptible now combined with a herb mix that accentuates a beet and berry flavouring. No changes as the blend recedes on a long fading finish.  Now rated 88 .

PAINTER BRIDGE CALIFORNIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, San Jose, California, 13.0% D  8g/L, #219113  $14.25  (Tasted May 10, 2013CS

A General listing from a J. Lohr winery. My notes:  When posted neither the tasting notes nor Fact Sheet were available.  This has a quiet ruby colour with a raspberry scent dominating a mildly penetrating nose. A swirl lays a thin sticky film that slowly runs slow tears. The texture is smooth carrying a milder raspberry flavour and scent now, along with an earthy dryness to the senses. A background mustiness tinges the ending as fruit fades. A passable sipper along with party sausage in a blanket or asparagus wrapped in bacon for a gathering of casual guests. A drink now. 82
BIG HOUSE CARDINAL ZIN BEASTLY OLD VINES 2011, Livermore, California, 13.5% D 13g/L, #272401  $11.95*  (Tasted May 14, 2013) 

A General listing and reduced from $12.95 until May 26, 2013. A Big House Wine Company wine.   My notes:  A blend of 80% Zinfandel, 10% Mourvèdre, 8% Carignane, 2% Petite Sirah.  There's a noticeable charcoal tint and some red cherry for an off ruby colour. The film is thin receding slowly showing a lacy pattern with minimal tearing. A touch of sweet on a peppery cherry nose that previews flavours of crushed whole cherries, a noticeable tannin level and a prominent acid for a long and bright finish. This could be an economical sipper for a crowd or a red to pair with a pepper steak - has a smooth intro and reasonable body.  A drink now. 84

CUSUMANO SYRAH TERRE SICILIANE IGT 2012, Sicily, Italy, 13.5% XD 4g/L, #145490   $9.95*  (Tasted May 9, 2013

A General listing and reduced from $10.95 until May 26, 2013.  My notes: I don't know what to make of the glass stopper in lieu of a cork or cap - it's novel. A ruby colour touched with purple leaves a thin film falling from a unbroken rim through a circular row of slow tears. A bright scent of ripe red, tangy edged cherries is a pleasing intro although a penetrating acid slows down sipping. A long finish of sharp red currant needs a companion nibble or pairing with a saucy Italian pasta dish. Perhaps this is an Islanders acquired taste or one to go with an Italian feast - I would need a buffet of pepperoni/anchovie pizza slices or bruschetta. Aerating softens the bite a tad altho' not quite enough.  82a

MASI  MASIANCO PINOT GRIGIO & VERDUZZO DELLE VENEZIE 2012, Veneto, Italy, 13.0%  XD 5g/L,  #620773   $14.00*  (Tasted May 6, 2013

A General listing and reduced from $15.00 until May 26, 2013.  My notes:  The extra tang held its own when paired with lightly seasoned bbq'd chicken moreso than a sweeter 2011 Mount Riley Chardonnay (notes above). The nose needs time to develop then isn't as prominent as the 2009 tasted Dec 2010 having less beeswax of the 'verducco' and more 'pinot grigio' spice. A swirl leaves a firm film shedding long legs from a lacy rim. The delicate yellow is tainted by a touch of peach hardly perceptible and a sip has a hint of stone fruit then ends with a chalky finish. A sweet edge at the start quickly disappears ending extra dry on the tongue with a rounded texture. Have with grilled seafood or an Alfredo pasta dish. A drink now. 87

CESARI  MARA VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSO 2010, Veneto, Italy, 13.5%  D 10g/L, #506519  $15.90*  (Tasted May 8, 2013CS

A General listing and reduced from $16.90 until May 26, 2013.  My notes: A dense ruby, opaque to the view, a soft scent of motor oil and a dozen ripe plums showing a thick film running snail-slow tears from a solid rim - each a sign of its viscosity further confirmed by a first sip. The taste of pencil shavings and graphite, well ripened black cherries, a staying acid and a brush of olive oil for an interesting sipper. Over powered my leftover bbq'd chicken - better paired with osso bucco or a rich Italian meat stew. Cellaring for more than another year may lessen minimal fruit and isn't recommended. Open and decant the day before - or preferably, aerate to waken the nose, moderate the 'oil' and give a touch of brightness to an otherwise flat finish.  90a

PILLITTERI ESTATES CABERNET FRANC 2010 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, 13.5% XD 4g/L, #013763  $17.95  (Tasted May 22, 2013) CS

Released by Vintages on February 11, 2013.  My notes:  Really enjoyed Pillitteri's Exclamation series when tasted in June 2011 rating both the !2007 Cabernet Franc and the !2007 Cabernet Sauvignon 93-2. I last tasted the Estates 2007 Cabernet Franc, now with an attractive new label, in April 2011 and rated it 93.  The film sticks leaving no gaps and forming a continuous rim followed by long slow legs to drain evenly.  The deep crimson colour has a charcoal hue and a whiff of coal tar adds spice to intense blackberry aromas. Balanced tannins, acid and berry flavours start a sip while liquorice mellows out a long finish that ends extra dry. Lighter than expected but in the full-bodied range with some interesting palate changes through successive sips. A super match with anything grilled or bbq'd and beefy. Now three years and likely will go eight - cellar a dozen.  92

IRONY SMALL LOT RESERVE MERLOT 2010,  Napa Valley, California, 14.5%  D  6g/L, #183186   $19.95  (Tasted May 15, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on May 11, 2013 and produced by Delicato Vineyards.  My notes:  There's a scent of crushed blueberries soft and appealing. The colour is a rich ruby and the film is firm with a continuous rim eventually flowing slow tears. Smooth as velvet with rich tannins and flavours of fresh black- and blueberries leading into a long warm finish that coats the palate with a dry layer of tang. A sociable sipper everyone could favour or a red to pair with pork, lamb chops or bbq'd chicken wings without taking over.  There's some depth now that a few more years could develop further. 89

LIBERTY SCHOOL ZINFANDEL 2010, Paso Robles, California, 13.5% D 7g/L, #041095  $18.95  (Tasted tbd)  CS

Released by Vintages on May 11, 2013.  My notes: I tasted the 2007 (July 3, 2010) and 2008 (November 10, 2011) vintages rating them 90 and 86 respectively with a thought the 2008 may have been corked a bit.  The colour of the 2010 has a deep charcoal hue to a deep crimson and a swirl leaves a thick film that recedes from an unbroken rim until slow tears start to form. A scent of pepper adds to a delicate blackberry enveloped in soft warm earth. The first sip is smooth, tangy then a warm layer of drying tannin sets in for a long finish - a background of liquorice and woody berries. A social sipper if near a buffet table. Was OK paired with saucy tomato Rotini and seared chicken strips, likely better with sirloin strips with mushroom risotto. A drink now. 83

LIBERTY SCHOOL ROSÉ  2012, Paso Robles, California, 13.5%  D  6g/L,  #276667  $16.95  (Tasted May 13, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on May 11, 2013. A blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache.  My Notes:  This wine wasn`t found on the Liberty School webpage. A salmon colour and a swirl leaves a firm film with legs that flow quickly clearing the glass. A just perceptible aroma of crushed cherries takes time to develop in the bowl. The first sip has an appealing texture and a slight flavour of cherries declining to a soft fruit remnant with a tang that builds with each sip. A quaffer for a crowd or to pair with a dessert table of soft pastries and fruit - was lovely with Edible Arrangements chocolate covered strawberries. A drink now or wait for the summer patio season - add ice and pomegranate juice.  82

TIEFENBRUNNER PINOT GRIGIO 2012, Alto-Adige, Italy, 13.5%  XD  4g/L, #954024  $18.95  (Tasted May 22, 2013CS

Released by Vintages on May 11, 2013.  My notes: The 2003 vintage was the tasted in 2005 - wasn`t all that impressed. Thought more highly of the 2004 at $16.95 tasted in 2007. No discernible nose and a pale yellow colour with a thin film that runs tears quickly. Served off chill spicy pear and Granny Smith flavours at the start lead to a nicely textured and warm sensation on the palate while retaining a fruity freshness. The finish is moderate ending extra dry and mineral edged. Pair with Tiger shrimp with an Alfredo pasta, lobster bisque/clam chowder or with most seafood dishes and soft cheeses. 83

ZENATO BARDOLINO CHIARETTO ROSÉ 2012,  Veneto, Italy, 12.5%  D  6g/L,  #045203  $12.95  (Tasted May 13, 2013CS
Released by Vintages on May 11, 2013.  A blend of Corvina and Rondinella.
   My notes:  A collection of earlier vintages of still rosés was tasted in 2008 including this from Zenato.  This vintage of Chiaretto on pouring covers the bowl with fine bubbles and has a  slight salmon tint to a see-through strawberry colour. The nose has a scent close to a sweet berry but is too delicate to be distinguishable. The first sip has a touch of sweetness followed by a hollow flavour shifting quickly to a flat mineral finish with a touch of metallic tang.  I found it unappealing as a sipper and feel it would not complement a meal - might try pairing with buttered strawberry waffles with maple syrup and sausage. Returned for a refund. 77

MUD HOUSE THE WOOLSHED VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC  2010,  Marlborough, NZ, 13.5%  XD  2g/L,  #312744  $20.95  (Tasted May 24, 2013)  CS
Released by Vintages on April 27, 2013 and rated 90 by Lisa-Perrotti-Brown, MW (October 2011).  My notes: A blend of 95% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Pinot Noir. A crisp, clean pale yellow with the slightest green tint, an intense aroma of ripe crushed gooseberries with equal tang and lasting soft fruit are enticements for continued sipping. A biting first sip confirms everything in the nose continuing to penetrate and entice until a dry mineral end. Sip, sip!  Have with a seared pork chop or a range of shellfish and seafood. Cellaring several more years could envelope today's white in a rounder package but drinking well now.  91

CAVE SPRING DRY ROSÉ 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 12.5%  XD  2g/L, #295006  $14.95  (Tasted May 17, 2013CS

A General listing.  My notes: Grapes came from (94%) Beamsville Bench (Cave Spring Vineyard) and (6%) Lincoln Lakeshore.  A dusty peach with a film that sticks before running slow tears from a solid rim and a nose the scent of a California strawberry, herbaceous. The first sip is tangy, dry with a dusting of chalk. The flavours follow the nose although the strawberry and red cherry is less predominant at first building after a few sips but remaining subdued. Warming a few degrees gives a smoother texture on the lips - dryness and light acid would go well with grilled tilapia or cod filets. This hasn't improved since last tasted (July 2012) and perhaps is on the decline.  83

IRONSTONE OBSESSION SYMPHONY CALIFORNIA 2011, Napa, California, 12.0%  M   21g/L,  #295931  $15.10  (Tasted May 26, 2013)  CS
A General listing produced by Ironstone Vineyards.  My notes:  Perfect when paired with a miso glazed pork tenderloin, the touch of sweet complementing the sweet and sour of the glaze. This has a touch of lemon to a colour clear of any other hue. A delicate herbal to a lightly floral nose leads more to the mystery of the first sip. Pear and stone fruit flavours with a soft texture and penetrating tang is interesting combined with many seafoods, straight or saucy, or, in our case, the pork tenderloin. The freshness of the ending builds making it difficult not to quaff.  As a sipper or with a meal this is a winning social beverage.  88