Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Shift in 'Mentalité'

A Wine Lovers Cranium
Matt Kramer's article "Why Our Wine Era Really is Different" posted January 21, 2014  distinguishes between consumers' perception of today's fine wines, ie. higher tier wines, and the fine wines of previous decades. What has instigated Kramer's discussion is a friend's comment that today's wines are "all about marketing and scores and money".  I agree with the friend - at least at my purchasing level if not across all price ranges.

I believe I've gone through an attitude adjustment with respect to where I was with wines when starting on my tasting journey six decades ago and where I am today. For a background to this perspective I'll try to explain the shift in my world - as I see it, ie.  my '

There's a  popular American TV series called "American Greed". This series points out an idiosyncrasy, albeit to an extreme, in a segment of today's business culture. Simply put, there is a focus on personal profits rather than ethically driven value. I would say 'fair value' but 'fair' was driven out of my vocabulary in the 70's by a young marketing executive reminding me that 'fairness' went out in grade 3. That admonishment was one of many trigger points along my journey. I'd say today's business culture is based on, with apologies to Bob Marlie, "You can fool some of the people some of the time and most of the people all of the time'”.

Less extreme and closer to today's business culture are demonstrated in two TV series: Shark Tank (US) and Dragon's Den (Canada). These reality series bring today's culture to the surface. The format of each program has several successful hosts, ie. filthy rich, set up to review the fledgling business ventures of eager entrepreneurs. These wannabees often have invested their home and life savings and have come to realize they now need additional investment of both dollars and experience to take their passion, ie. business, to the next level. When the host panel doesn't perceive the proposal as having a positive future the unfortunate presenter is often soundly humiliated if not metaphorically trashed. On the other hand a positive reception, ie. an acceptable proposal, becomes an opportunity for a host to harvest a multiple growth future, eg. 50% ownership for a relatively small investment. Hey! It's entertainment!

And... with apologies to those who stay a straight line... a significant portion of today's wine world follows a similar ethic. Labels previously owned by craft wineries and dedicated winemakers finding they need capital for new equipment or experience to develop their brand, are turned into space on which opportunists can masquerade... disingenuous theatrics and glossies front for product quality. Even our monopolistic retailer saturates the weekly media with hyperbole often reducing inflated plonk prices to entice sidebar products. But I'm a captive audience so reducing prices encourages me to play their 'hide and seek' game.

But I stray too far... "Why is this moment ... so different?"  The article responds with "The answer lies in a gathering force that, although far from universal, is altering both how wine is made and how we drink (and think) about what we're offered. It's all about what historians call '
mentality'". The French word referred to is mentalité which, in the source context, applies to how groups isolated in some way share within their community thought processes, values and beliefs distinct from other groups.

This is followed by an explanation. What previously was a 'mechanistic view' by wine lovers, aka the fine wine consumer, based on the W5 of how, what, when, where and why of wine making: with vineyards, horticultural practices changing over generations to a mindset intent on analysing how a fine wine changes 'thinking' - about the moment in time when the liquid raises the taster's senses to an ephemeral level followed by his/her dissection of its mystical, transitory qualities. Mr. Kramer's '
mentality' is my 'tasting' put into today's context... 'tasting' as it has, at least for most dedicated wine lovers, evolved over personal travels throughout their history of vineological experiences. 

I have no interest in new "techno-tools of reverse osmosis, spinning cones and vacuum concentrators". What were yesteryear advances, including the shift to 'natural wines', was based on that days scientific discoveries and has now become a shift to '
mentality' - giving way to current day's question 'What can we try now based on our new tools and knowledge?'

Winemaking has two foci: one based on using innovative technologies to knit improvements into wine quality and production efficiencies and the second on profits or how to pull the marketing levers for higher margins. This latter focus when given over to inscrutable marketing
- when the push for Brand outflanks truth or fact - attempts to 'fool all of the people all of the time'.  For myself and other consumers of the lower tiers, our mentality needs an understanding of how 'marketing' meddles with wine and the difference between exuberance and reality. We need to do our own research. It's 'Buyer beware time'.

My opinion, Ww

More Matt Kramer articles:

More on Mentalité

More on the Brain

Saturday, February 01, 2014

February 2014 Wines - 22 Tasted of 22

As the price of Ontario wines increase my monthly selection shrinks.  There's just so much I can squeeze from a fixed pension. If you sense a degree of frustration (and envy) in this diatribe it's because I enjoy wine - all styles, all grapes, all countries - and a wine free of cosmetic production has become more difficult to pick out among the hundreds of manufactured gumbo. Hopefully I've found legitimacy in the wines below.

I find that I'm relying more on local critics for their direction although pros tend to taste higher priced wines before throwing in a few local concessions. Wines at the LCBO are often priced, independent of the winery price, to take advantage of their past vintage success. This is on top of a markup, I put at 10 - 20%, that only a monopoly could offer with a straight face. A wine priced at $20 from the winery ($18 at retail wine shops) can be priced $24.95 in Vintages. The next time you frequent an Outlet scan the top couple of shelves in Vintages. Prices at our local Outlet range, within easy arm's reach, from $40 upwards. The wines on the bottom shelf, the ones you have to kneel to view the labels, are from the $teens to high $20's.  Exploitive marketing at its subtlest.

Division of Labour

Wine is less of a meal time beverage but has or is becoming one reserved for the well-heeled among us...  and for the expanding ranks of Marketers and Wine Critics lining up for premium products at frequently scheduled and/or improvised 'Medal Awards'. 

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Rosés then Bubblies)

  • Bodegas Castano Hecula Monastrell 2011, 91a-3  --  G, Yecla, Spain, #300673 $11.80
  • Heartland Stickleback Red 2010, 90-2  --  V,  South Australia, Australia, #116574 $13.95 
  • Syrousse Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2011, 90-2  --  V, Tautavel, France,  #357343 $16.95 
  • JIP JIP Rocks Shiraz 2011, 90-2  --  V, Padthaway, Australia, #673897 $16.95
  • Cesari Mara Vino de Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2011, 89-2  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #506519 $17.95 
  • Emiliana Natura Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 88-1  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #061069 $14.95 
  • Ravenswood Vintners Blend Old Vine Zinfandel 2012, 88-1  --  V, Acampo, California, #359257 $17.95  
  • Robert Oatley Signature Series Pinot Noir 2012, 88-1  --  V,  New South Wales, Australia, #357491 $18.95 
  • Château Haut Méthée 2009, 87-1  --  V,  Bordeaux, France, #356592 $15.95
  • Les Vignerons du Castelas Signargues Côtes du Rhône-Villages Vieilles Vignes 2010, 87  --  V, Rhône, France, #034116 $16.95  
  • Cave de Roquebrun la Grange des Combes Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun 2011, 86 --  V, Midi, France, #155804 $15.95 
  • Tenuta de Angelis Rosso Piceno Superiore 2009, 83a  --  V, Marche, Italy, #324756 $11.25* 

  • Robert Oatley Signature Series Riesling 2012, 93-3  --  V, Western Australia, #357426 $17.95 
  • Monchhof Robert Eymael Riesling 2011, 92-2  --  V,  Mosel, Germany, #349431 $16.95 
  • Donatien Bahaud Les Grands Mortiers Vouvray 2012, 90-2  --  V, St. Florent, France, #140889 $15.95
  • Flat Rock Twisted 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 90-2  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #001578  $16.95
  • William Fèvre Espino Chardonnay 2011, 84a  --  V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #350058 $13.95 
  • Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio & Verduzzo IGT 2012, 82  --  G, Italy, #620773 $15.00 
  • Mas des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Blanc 2012, 80  --  V, Rhône, France, #701094  $15.95

  • See Ya Later Ranch Nelly Rosé VQA Okanagan Valley 2011,  87-1 --  V,  Okanagan Falls, BC, #325936 $13.25
  • Milbrandt Traditions Columbia Valley Rosé 2011, 83  --  V, Washington, USA, #278309  $14.65

  • Azahara Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, 88-1  --  V, Victoria, Australia, #357483 $17.95  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION BLANC 2012, Rhône, France, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #701094   $15.95  (Tasted February 9, 2014) 

Released by Vintages on January 18, 2014.  A blend of  50% Roussanne, 10%  Marsanne,  30% Grenache blanc and 10% Viognier. Rated 90 by Tony AsplerMy notes:    Pours as a crisp mid yellow with a lemon and subtle almond aroma. Fast tears drain a light rim slow to develop while a thin film separates into islands on the glass. A touch of silk with a grassy burnt butter flavour that carries into a long dry-as-chalk finish. Keep chilled for sipping. OK with Swiss Chalet rotisserie chicken with their sauce - could work with crab or lobster pieces dipped in melted butter. A commercial drink now.  80

MÖNCHHOF ROBERT EYMAEL RIESLING 2011, Mosel, Germany, 8.5%  MS  74g/L, #349431  $16.95  (Tasted February 20, 2014) 

Released by Vintages on January 18, 2014. Rated 90 by Kim Marcus (April 30, 2013) and 91 by Tony Aspler My notes: A citrus and pear nose shows with a polished mid yellow in the glass. A thin film drops quickly following a fine lacy rim and the first sip has an immediately appealing fruity freshness including a mellow sweetness surrounding a matching tartness. Serve as an alternative to drier beverages where a soft cheese selection and tropical fruit assortment is offered. A pleasing spice takes over a long finish and could develop more nuances with several years in the cellar. 92

MASI MASIANCO PINOT GRIGIO & VERDUZZO IGT  2012, Italy, 13.0%  XD  5g/L, #620773  $15.00  (Tasted February 23, 2014) 

A General listing.  My notes: A pale straw colour with mild floral on the lemon side of citrus. A swirl lays a thin film with a shallow rim that sheds long thin legs leaving fragmented islands. Serve chilled for a refreshing lemon and peachstone dryness lingering awhile on the palate. Sip with soft cheeses, thinly sliced ham- or prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, Italian mild sausage pieces or crab cakes with a dill dip. A commercial drink now and a white for seafood.  82
BODEGAS CASTANO HECULA MONASTRELL 2011, Yecla, Spain, 14.0%  XD  6g/L, #300673  $11.80  (Tasted February 7, 2014) 

 A General listing.  My notes: Let's see whether this vintage, two years later than the 2009 tasted in March last year has changed its previous rating (88a). (Michael Pinkus also commented on the 2011 vintage in his April 2013 article).  A swirl shows a thick film sticking to the glass and running columns of slow tears. The colour is a dense ruby and a sniff senses earthy berries, intense on the pour and edged with a pleasing tang. Full-bodied, silky smooth with a burst of dark fruit that slowly gives way to earth. Fine tannins dry the palate while earth changes to black liquorice for a long finish. I'd call it a meal red, old world style, better paired with savoury beef dishes - was awesome with a Quiznos Classic Italian with red onion and jalapenos. Decant or aerate before serving. 91a

CESARI MARA VINO DI RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2011, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D  11g/L, #506519  $17.95  (Tasted February 0, 2014) 

A General listing.  My notes:  The colour is a black cherry tinted with charcoal. Several long legs drop quickly draining a modest rim with the remaining reserve forming a chain of slow tears. Silky texture with fresh raspberry-cherry flavours brightened by a youthful acid makes an appealing first impression especially in a social setting. A long fresh finish, well balanced acid, silk changing to velvet, delights with each sip. Pair with Panzarotti pizza or burgers with sweet potato fries... Montreal Smoked meat on rye  could work if a draft Stella Artois isn't available. Keep several on hand for guests or to cellar a few years. At peak now. 89

EMILIANA NATURA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012,  Rapel Valley, Chile,  13.5%  XD  7g/L,  #061069  $14.95  (Tasted February 8, 2014)  CS

 Released by Vintages on January 18, 2014.  My notes:  The scent of rich black currant mellowed by a soft blueberry while retaining a polite edge makes for interesting sipping. The colour is a charcoal hued ruby dense in the glass and a swirl lays a viscous film running slow legs to empty a rounded rim. The first sip is fairly laid back, very smooth, dry with fine tannin, a soft acid and crushed berries. Balanced, straight forward. Served socially its freshness would please or pair with beef or veal entrees: Beef Wellington, Steak Tartare or Osso Bucco.  A drink now. 88

WILLIAM FÈVRE ESPINO CHARDONNAY 2011, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.2%  XD  2g/L, #350058  $13.95  (Tasted February 11, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on October 12, 2013 and rated 91 by Descorchados Wine Guide (2013).   My notes:  Tasted last November with an 88 rating and comments 'a sour touch', and 'off' . This time the cork was whole when removed. The colour is a mid yellow and a light film is left to drain a light rim that recedes slowly into fragments shrinking until the glass is cleared. Served chilled there is a refreshing acidity along with an aroma of pineapple, melon and grapefruit zest but lacking distinct fruit - aerate or decant 30 minutes. A hint of salt and a suggestion of sweet both come forward with some cream and a momentary warmth before a dry finish. A drink now to pair with seafood. For those that prefer a difference. 84a

TENUTA DE ANGELIS ROSSO PICENO SUPERIORE 2009, Marche, Italy, 13.0%  XD  6g/L, #324756  $11.25*  (Tasted February 19, 2014) 

Released by Vintages on April 13, 2013 and rated 2 of 3 by Gambero Rosso (2012).  My notes: *Clearance priced at $11.25 reduced from $14.95.  A hint of Brett in the nose led me to aerate before sipping. The colour is a deep ruby with a charcoal tint and a swirl leaves a thin film topped by a thin rim quickly drained by long fast legs. The first sip shows an unexpected lightness in body with a fresh plum and red currant flavour going into a long fading finish - no Brett. Balanced complements of fruit, flavour and texture makes this a adequate party sipper or a match for meat based pizzas or pastas. A drink now.  83a 

JIP JIP ROCKS SHIRAZ 2011, Padthaway, Australia, 14.5%  XD  6g/L,  #673897  $16.95  (Tasted February 11, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014. Rated 91 by Natalie MacLean (November 17, 2013) and 88 by Beppi Crosariol.  My notes:  A deep earthy ruby leaving a smooth moderate film to run long fast legs from a rounded rim. A pleasingly nippy nose with well balanced fruit, blackberry blueberry and the brightness of red currant. Aromas carry over to flavours for tasty sipping having a long, dry, low-key finish. Pair with rack of lamb, pork tenderloin or filipino ribs. Shiraz character gives this red depth in both taste and aroma making it a social favourite with/without a buffet of pigs in a blanket, strong cheeses on salty crackers, pepperoni pizza pieces. May cellar several years without decline. Drinking well now. 90
DONATIEN BAHUAUD LES GRANDS MORTIERS VOUVRAY 2012, St. Florent, France, 11.0%  M  24g/L,  #140889  $15.95  (Tasted February 17, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on October 26, 2013.  My notes: A whiff of lemon blossom and granite, clean and refreshing and having the colour of lightly tinted lemon to a crisp straw blond. The film is thin lacing as it swirls then separating quickly into shrinking lacy patterns
Ready for the Last Stage
. The first sip is dry (I can't believe the 'M'), has a tart acid to cleanse the palate before leaving chalk and a silky lime/lemon for a long finish. Take more than a sip for the polite warmth of alcohol. An elegant white to pair with shell- or finny food or to relish in the shade of a patio umbrella. We'll try with Roast Chicken with Potatoes Lemons and Capers. PS. Good not great with the Chicken.  90

FLAT ROCK TWISTED 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Ontario, 11.5%  D  17g/L,  #001578   $16.95  (Tasted February 1, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2013. My notes: A green tint sets off a golden glow to the first pouring and a swirl leaves a moderate film to flow slow tears. Aromas of grapefruit, pineapple and green apple makes for a unique nose - 'Twisted' seems appropriate. A blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay with time spent on lees to add a touch of cream and for flavours reflecting the nose. A sweetness is suitably matched with a spicy tartness for a pleasing softness and long lip smacking finish. Pair with mussels in a curry broth or have with Far Eastern meals. Slightly sweeter and fuller  than the 2005 and 2007 previously tasted (June 2006 and October 2008 resp). Cellaring for a few years could move this to an elegant level.  90

ROBERT OATLEY SIGNATURE SERIES RIESLING 2012, Mudgee, Australia,  12.0%  XD  8g/L, #357426  $17.95  (Tasted February 7, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014. Rated 91 by Beppi Crosariol (February 1, 2014) and 94 by James Halliday (July 11, 2013)  My notes:  A light gold with a thin film and rim that slowly fragments to hang tiny tears. On pouring there's a scent of candle wax with lemon lime and a pleasing tang to immediately catch nasal notice. From start to a long finish a terroir driven complexity in all senses makes this interesting as a sipper and a match for seafood, sushi or sashimi and fresh oysters - paired nicely with Cuban Cod on basmati rice. Cellaring a few years may integrate further but drinking well now.  93

AZAHARA SPARKLING CHARDONNAY/PINOT NOIR, Victoria, Australia, 12.0%  D  9g/L, #357483  $17.95  (Tasted February 5, 2014) 

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014 and rated 91 by Beppi Crosariol My notes:  A touch of pie dough smoothes a citrus scent following a burst of all size bubbles and going into a continuous effervescence. The colour is a green tinged mid yellow and a moderate film streams long fast legs with each swirl. The brightness of fresh squeezed lemon with a hint of apple and a firm spritz gives sipping interest. A touch of the original pie dough comes forward for a long dry finish. A drink now for social functions or to save for a sunny patio. 88

HEARTLAND STICKLEBACK RED 2010,  South Australia, Australia, 14.5%  XD  5g/L, #116574  $13.95  (Tasted February 16, 2014) CS

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014. Rated 90 by Beppi Crosariol. My notes: A blend of Shiraz 42%, Cabernet Sauvignon 25%, Dolcetto 24% and Lagrein 9% from Langhorne Creek 55% and the Limestone Coast 45%. This has a black cherry colour with a scent of prunes and cherries covered by a muted dark chocolate. A moderate film stays fixed to the glass then slowly releases rows of tiny tears elongating smoothly as gravity takes hold. The first sip puts a lasting sharpness on black cherry tones and continues into a long luscious finish. Extra dry, bold to a degree and flavourful for sipping and excellent with grilled meats. Likely at peak now with a few years to go.  90

ROBERT OATLEY SIGNATURE SERIES PINOT NOIR 2012,  Yarra Valley, Australia, 13.5%  XD  5g/L, #357491  $18.95  (Tasted February 4, 2014) 

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014. My notes:  A crisp red cherry sparkles in the glass and a crushed red cherry cranberry aroma softened by a bit of warm bacon stimulates the nose - decant or let air 30 minutes. A moderate film topped with a rounded rim flowing columns of slow tears provides decoration. Silk and fine tannins parch the palate while a tight acid and berry cherry finish fades to dry. Medium-bodied - showed some modesty with a chicken breast, boulangére potatoes and asparagus. Try with veal or pork schnitzel, ham steak or tuna. May need a few years cellaring for peak. 88

LES VIGNERONS DU CASTELAS SIGNARGUES CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES VIEILLES VIGNES 2010, Rhône, France, 14.0%  XD  5g/L,  #034116 $16.95  (Tasted February 25, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014.  Rated 90 by Beppi Crosariol.  My notes: A blend of equal parts Grenache and Syrah along with 20% Carignan. Rated 90 by Beppi Crosariol and Natalie MacLean.  My notes:  The online price is 6.2Euros ($9.80).  A charcoal hued cherry with the scent of raspberry edged ripe cherries - OK on the eyes, soft on the nose. A fast swirl leaves a thin film draining from a lacy rim through delayed tears. Flavours of cherries, politely tangy with a soft texture going into a long extra dry finish with a hint of dusty licorice. A table wine as a sipper and a meal wine to pair with burgers, beef stroganoff on egg noodles or liver and onions. Already four years on and may be on the decline. 87

CHÂTEAU HAUT MÉTHÉE 2009,  Bordeaux, France, 13.0%  XD 5g/L,  #356592  $15.95  (Tasted February 9, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014 and a Gold Medal winner at the 2011 Concours International de Lyon.  Rated 87 by Beppi Crosariol.  My notes:  A viscous film lays down slow tears from a loaded rim and a sniff reveals a soft texture with aromas of dark berries nicely edged with a mild woody tang. The first sip dries the palate while offering a blend of blue-, blackberries and subtle forest floor. Not outstanding but nothing to dislike as a sipper while offering a scintillating ruby in candle light. Should pair well with a sundry of edibles: pepperoni pizza, burgers, T-bone or rack of lamb. A staple house red that could cellar a few years.  87

SYROUSSE CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON VILLAGES 2011, Tautavel, France,  14.5%  XD  7g/L,  #357343  $16.95  (Tasted February 14, 2014) 

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014 and rated 90 by Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate (August 31, 2012) and, as well, by Beppi CrosariolMy notes:  A blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre.  A black cherry colour to a dusty ruby meniscus, not quite see-through and there's a bright edge to a prune cherry aroma carrying some welcoming warmth. The film is firm waiting for a rounded rim to form then lace and falling in columns of slow tears. A sip starts with silk then fine tannins that layer the tongue with velvet. Flavours of prunes, cherries then a sweet liquorice touch for long flavourful finish gives sipper appeal. Cellar for a short time - drinking nicely now. Pair with a grilled steak, short ribs or rack of lamb. 90

SEE YA LATER RANCH NELLY ROSÉ VQA Okanagan Valley 2011,  Okanagan Falls, BC, 11%  D  17g/L,  #325936  $13.25  (Tasted February 16, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 6, 2013 and a Constellation Brands Inc. wine.  My notes:  A blend of 57% Gamay and 43% Pinot Noir. A slight peach hue to vivid pomegranate red gives this rosé a festive mood. A moderate film quickly sheds long legs to drain the rim. The first sip balances a chalk dry feel with mild strawberry apple flavours, some restrained sweetness shows. The finish is long and extra dry with strong flavour remnants. Serve chilled for a patio refresher or have with a shrimp tray or proscuitto wrapped asparagus... or with a cold fruit salad or ham slices or both. Paired nicely with Pork Tenderloin and Red Cabbage.  A drink now.  87

CAVE DE ROQUEBRUN LA GRANGE DES COMBES SAINT-CHINIAN-ROQUEBRUN 2011, Midi, France, 14.0% XD  5g/L,  #155804  $15.95  (Tasted February 22, 2014) 

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014. Rated 89 by Kim Marcus (Oct. 31, 2012) and 91 by Beppi Crosariol My notes: A blend of 20% Mourvedre, 50% Syrah and 30% Grenache. One of the best back labels I've seen!  A lean scent of red cherries pulled fresh from the tree in a fragrant orchard meets the olfactory. The film is thin and leaves a lacy rim to slowly drain. The first sip balances fruit, acid and tannin making this an appealing social sipper - a shallow dry finish urges more sips to maintain a fuller experience. Pair with a variety of meat and cheese pizzas or quaff with burgers or steaks. Likely at peak but could shelve a few for casual dining. 86

MILBRANDT TRADITIONS COLUMBIA VALLEY ROSÉ 2011, Washington, USA, 13.0% D 3g/L, #278309  $14.65  (Tasted February 27, 2014)  CS

 Released by Vintages on July 7, 2012. My notes:  Kori Voorhees, @winepeeps , suggested two wines by the Milbrandt brothers in Washington State. This is a 3rd Milbrandt and the only available through Vintages. Available by the case of 12 through the winery website - price $75US or $6.25 per.A vibrant peachy coral in colour with negligible nose and leaving a thin film that recedes from a fragmented rim clearing the glass except for a few tears and islands. The first sip demands a quaff - then a dry texture balanced acids and negligible fruit and slight chalk for a finish. A social sipper attractive for its refreshing mouth appeal and colour. Have with shrimp in a curry sauce or like mild seafood. A drink now. Recommendation: Add 2oz. Cointreau and crushed ice. 83

RAVENSWOOD VINTNERS BLEND OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2012, Acampo, California, 13.5%  D  6.6g/L,  #359257  $17.95  (Tasted February 23, 2014)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2013.  My notes:  A rich deep ruby with a suspicion of purple graces the glass. Enough viscosity to hold a film before draining a rounded rim with long fast legs then columns of slow tears. An aroma of raspberries left in the sun, not penetrating but there. A drying layer of berries balanced with acid and tannins with the fruit fading leaving a long dusty finish - quaffing reinforces the depth of the Zin character. Have with Sticky Oven Ribs and stir fry veggies or any grilled meats. Keep a few on the shelf for unexpected guests or just to sip after a long day. 88