Thursday, November 27, 2014

December 2014 Wines - 17 Tasted of 17

Town of Minden, Ontario from The Lookout



Photos by Peter:
Haliburton, Ontario


THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Bubblies)

  • Michael David Petite Petit 2012,  92  --  Lodi, California, #213017  $24.95*
  • Majella 'The Musician' Cabernet/Shiraz 2012, 91-2  --  V, Coonawara, Australia, #142018  $19.95
  • Dandelion Vineyards 'Lioness of McLaren Vale' Shiraz 2012, 91-2  --  V, McLaren Vale, South Australia, #357475 $19.95
  • Stags' Leap Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2011, 91  --  V, Napa,  California, #590356 $39.95*  
  • Don Luis L. A. Cetto Selecion Reserveda Terra 2010, 90a-2  --  V, Mexico, Baja California, #388520  $19.95 
  • Kilikanooon Killerman's Run Shiraz 2012, 88a-1  --  V,  Penwortham, Australia, #925453  $19.95 
  • L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2012, 84  --  V, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, #983742  $11.95
  • Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2012, 84  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #598813  $40.95
  • Jekel Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 83  --  V  Monterey, California, #967893  $19.95 
  • Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir 2012, 81  --  V, Tasmania, Australia, #162990  $22.95    

  • The Show California Chardonnay 2012, 90-2  --  V, Napa, California, #382184   $17.95
  • O Chardonnay by Gilles Louvet Organic 2012, 88-1  --  G, Languedoc, France, #320432  $14.95
  • Konrad Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 87  --  V, Marlborough, NZ, #616243 $19.95
  • Jekel Vineyards Gravelstone Chardonnay 2010, 86c  --  V, Monterey, California, #421016  $17.95
  • Danzante Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2013, 85  --  G, Veneto, Italy,  #026906 $14.95 
  • Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay 2011, 85  --  V, Sonoma, California,   #083345  $24.95 
  • Villa Maria Private Sauvignon Blanc 2014, 80  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #426601  $14.95*           
        (V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


MICHAEL DAVID PETITE PETIT 2012 , Lodi, California, 14.5% D  8g/L, #213017  $24.95  (Tasted November 26, 2014)

 Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014.  My notes:  $18.00 at the winery*. The 2008 vintage was tasted in April 2011 and rated 93.  A deep ruby with a purple hue. The film has a viscosity that builds on the glass then sheds a rim of long legs. Dark plums, a tangy edge and an aroma slow to fade going into a warm finish. The first sip has a freshness that stays with red cherry and blackberry flavours touched with liquorice - a bolder variation of the Michael David's 6th Sense Syrah (November).  Pairing with a rib-eye or beef short ribs would take advantage of the concentrated fruit. Cellar for several years or, if wanting a younger red, drink now.  92 

O CHARDONNAY BY GILLES LOUVET ORGANIC 2012, Languedoc, France, 13.5%  XD  4g/L, #320432  $14.95  (Tasted November 27, 2014)

 A General listing.  My notes: The same vintage was tasted in May this year priced at $14.40 and rated 89.  Tasted in May this year priced at $14.40 and rated 89.  A bright tawny yellow, crystal clear in the glass - inviting. The film sticks leaving a jagged rim that slowly recedes shredding into islands. A mild lemon zest adds to a straw aroma while the first sip has a contrasting chalk texture, a tangy citrus and seam of mineral from start to long finish. Pair with tilapia, halibut or a sweet pickerel - went well with baked cod. Ageing several years may bring out some smoothness and would be an economical table white - less of a sipper in the short term. 88

MAJELLA ‘THE MUSICIAN’ CABERNET/SHIRAZ 2012, Coonawara, Australia, 14.5% XD 10g/L, #142018  $19.95   (Tasted December 3, 2014)

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014. My notes: The 2008 vintage was tasted on January 21, 2011 and rated 92(Cellar). The 2009 vintage, on November 8, 2011 rated 92. A conservative nose, well endowed but also restrained with plum, wild berry, a touch of tart and a hint of cherry. The film adheres well taking its time to recede not breaking a slow stride to a circle of tears. There's a bright seam dry and fruity warming the palate with luscious sip after sip. Pair with grilled T-Bone or Beef Wellington, lamb chops, liver and caramelized onions or ham slices. Cellaring several more years may switch bright fruit for more depth. 91

JEKEL VINEYARDS GRAVELSTONE CHARDONNAY 2010, Monterey, California, 13.9%  XD  5g/L, #421016  $17.95  (Tasted December 4, 2014)

Released by Vintages on August 17, 2013.  My notes: A Fetzer Vineyards wine. The 2007 vintage was tasted on November 11, 2009 and rated 86. A mid yellow, crisp and clear as are so many California Chardonnays. Has a slightly burnt butter, a tang of acid and a film that sticks then quickly releases as a screen of fragmented islands. Initially round, has a silky layer covered with a strong mineral and marmalade flavouring appealing for its uniqueness. A chalkiness is stronger slightly off chill - a meal white. Might improve if cellared -four years- rather than consumed now. 86c

GLORIA FERRER CARNEROS CHARDONNAY 2011, Sonoma, California,  13.5%  XD 6g/L,  #083345  $24.95  (Tasted December 2, 2014)

Released by Vintages not listed. My notes: A mid yellow, crisp and clear with a citrus straw aroma, pleasingly tangy. The film lays a thin layer fragmenting at the rim and receding leaving droplets on the glass. The first sip almost stings and flavours of unripe grapefruit/lemon/oak carries a sour theme through a long extra dry finish. Fresh and cleansing, a suitable match for curried chicken, hot Thai or sliced ham dishes. Chardonnay lovers may endure this as a sipper although flavours lean toward a tangy straw. Cellaring several years may bring some caramel forward - or is it past it?  85   

THE SHOW CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAY 2012, 13.5%  XD  6g/L, #382184   $17.95  (Tasted December 7, 2014)

Released by Vintages on August 30, 2014.  My notes:  There's a touch of bronze in the golden yellow shining from the glass. A soft floral, citrus and burnt toast aroma frames the first sip then a flavour of tangerine zest starts a long mineral finish chalk dry and mildly tart. Midway crushed walnut interjects a nutty presence giving a oddly uniqueness to the partnership. Have with pork ribs broiled in a sauce of dark coffee/ brown sugar/ Worcestershire/vinegar/lemon and ketchup (Wendy's Sauce). I suspect there's American oak involved somewhere. Cellar for several years to integrate or introduce more cream -yum!  90

JEKEL VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012,  Monterey, California, 14.3%  D 8g/L, #967893  $19.95  (Tasted December 7, 2014)

Released by Vintages on Aug 30, 2014 and a Fetzer Vineyards wine. My notes:  A dense purple hued ruby with a spicy plum nose. A swirl leaves a viscous film slow to accumulate a rim that eventually drains through long slow legs. A sharp attack comes with the first sip mellowing with further sips. A thick tannin layers the mouth. A dull plum flavour begs a partner... we had with pork ribs roasted in a sauce of dark coffee/ brown sugar/ Worcestershire/ vinegar/ lemon and ketchup (Wendy's Sauce). Aerating had little effect when sipped by itself and the strength of the acid and tannins in the finish. An overwhelming drink-now where process obliterates the grape and a sparring partner for any savoury or spicy meal. 83

L.A. CETTO PETITE SIRAH 2012, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, 13.5%  XD  4g/L, #983742  $11.95  (Tasted November 28, 2014)

Released by Vintages on June 22, 2013. My notes:  The 2010 vintage was tasted on February 23, 2013 and rated 87, the 2008 vintage, on February 9, 2011 rated 92.  The 2012 vintage stains the glass a deep black cherry and a moderate film drains to leave scattered islands. A scent of crushed black cherries freshens the first sip drying the palate readying it for the second although much of the fruit has left leaving a pleasing acid. Smooth, tangy and extra dry continues for a long finish, no black pepper but there's a hint of basil. Went well with hamburgers and would with beef grilled rare to well. Will keep but not much to gain cellaring - a drink now. 84

DON LUIS L.A. CETTO SELECION RESERVEDA TERRA 2010, Mexico, Baja California, 13.5%  XD  xg/L, #388520  $19.95  (Tasted December 1, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014.  My notes: A balanced blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot in which each contributes without being predominant. Aerating lessens a background acid aspect and is recommended. A swirl leaves a jagged rim. Dark plum, red currant, blueberry and raspberry provide a berry medley with soft tannins and a mild tang as a platform to prepare a long dry finish. Fruit fades slowly while bringing out an appealing dark chocolate for sipping. Pair with grilled meats, savory simmered stews or saucy tomato pastas. Cellaring several years should continue softening the current base. Bottle weight is just over 1.5lbs.  90a      

CLOUDY BAY PINOT NOIR 2012, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5%  XD  5g/L, #598813  $40.95  (Tasted November 30, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014 and rated 90 by MaryAnn Worobiec (July 15, 2014).  My notes: A dull charcoal tinted ruby for viewing and a lively black cherry starts the nose before dropping quickly bringing forward a hint of BRETT. Tannin and acid balance nicely  looking for fresh fruit but finding none. I had some difficulty identifying this as Pinot Noir - more of a Languedoc blend and a flat full-bodied meal red. Curious for its aftertaste - and difficult to match at the dinner table - try with roast chicken or turkey slices. Expect some character changes if cellared several years staying on the uninteresting side. 84 

JOSEF CHROMY PEPIK PINOT NOIR 2012, Tasmania, Australia, 13.5% XD 7g/L, #162990  $22.95  (Tasted December 1, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 22, 2014 and rated 91 by Ben Edwards (July 11, 2013). My notes:A dusty see-through red cherry juice with a film that accumulates a sparse rim eventually dropping a ring of tears. A sniff senses crushed cherries, bramble, a lime edge and a touch of smoke. The first sip brings a dry tannic flatness, a thin cherry flavour finishing long and dry - a drink-now light on body and character. 81

DANZANTE PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2013 , Veneto, Italy, 12.0% XD 5g/L, #026906 $14.95  (Tasted December 14, 2014)

A General listing:  My notes: Crystal clear and bright yellow in the glass. Airing for a few minutes leaves a soft lanolin aroma, to me, unusual but likely characteristic of a pinot grigio from the north of Italy. I let this go off chill for a broader flavour spectrum: chalk for mineral, touch of lemon for freshness, medium-bodied with balanced flavours that fade slowly through a long dry finish. Sufficiently delicate to pair with sautéed shrimp or scallops in a creamy sauce with fettuccine. A drink now. 85

VILLA MARIA PRIVATE BIN SAUVIGNON BLANC MARLBOROUGH 2014, Marlborough, NZ, 12.5%  D 8g/L, #426601  $14.95*  (Tasted December 7, 2014)

A General listing. Reduced $2 from list price of $16.95 until January 4, 2015.  My notes: A slight green hue to a light yellow colour and a nose tainted by floral, tart lemon and touch of gooseberry. A thin film fragments from a swirl then quickly recedes. The first sip has a grapefruit lime gooseberry with acid  added to freshen the palate. A social sipper for a mixed crowd looking for an economical 'sauvignon blanc', medium-bodied with a touch of sweet. Have with mild seafood raw or seared: surimi or crab. A commercial drink now.  80

STAGS' LEAP NAPA VALLEY PETITE SIRAH 2011 , Napa,  California,  13.9%  XD  7g/L, #590356  $39.95*  (Tasted December 15, 2014)

Released by Vintages on October 25, 2014 and rated 90 by Virginie Boone (October 2014).  My notes: Produced by Treasure Wine Estate - contains small percentages of Syrah, Grenache, Carignane, Mourvèdre and Viognier with the Petite Sirah. *Priced at $45.00US on the winery's webpage. A deep purple, opaque to view, and having a subtle crushed blackberry scent. The film sticks before running fast legs. The first sip combines fine tannins, dried blueberries and a hint of dark chocolate. Quaffing builds flavour and texture for pleasant sipping with a long extra dry finish. Pairing with lamb: as in chops, osso bucco, souvlakis, completes evening dining. Cellar a dozen to have as an alternate red.  91

KILIKANOON KILLERMAN'S RUN SHIRAZ  2012, Clare Valley, Australia, 14.5%  D 7g/L, #925453  $19.95  (Tasted December 6, 2014)

 Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014. My notes: Several vintages of Kilikanoon's Shiraz have been tasted over the years with varying results. The 2002 retasted in 2008 was rated 84, the 2006 in 2010 an 82 and the 2011 vintage on May 19, 2014 a 92. On opening the 2012 has a distinct BRETT odour that carries into the flavour. Airing forty minutes or aerating (recommended) reduces this leaving an aroma of dusty blackberry with matching flavour. The colour is a charcoal hued ruby and a swirl lines the glass with a static film. The first sip has a chalky texture and an extra dry, long finish. I preferred quaffing and sloshing for the intensity. Would go well with  roasted or bbq'd beef, lamb and savoury sauces. Keeping a few on the shelf short term (two years?) is possible. 88a

DANDELION VINEYARDS 'LIONESS OF MCLAREN VALE' SHIRAZ 2012, McLaren Vale, South Australia, 14.5% XD  7g/L,  #357475 $19.95   (Tasted December 12, 2014)

Released by Vintages on December 6, 2014.  My notes: Complete with four Gold Medals across it's label, just like a General, so it must demand attention! I rated the 2011 Lionheart of Borassa Shiraz tasted on July 11, 2013 93 with a recommendation, as a drink now, to aerate to bring fruit forward.  A purple colour shows vividly in the glass, a deep blackberry with a hint of spice in the aroma - aerating not recommended. A viscous film lays a rolled rim with fast legs before draining through a ring of tiny tears. Smooth as velvet and dry as a bone from the first sip to a long, warm crushed seed finish. Add a remnant of black chocolate to pronounced tannins and the warmth of an Australian sunset for a pleasing sipper or pair with a rack of lamb simmered in a rosemary sauce and the visit is complete. At peak now or cellar a few years.  Barossa's the General and McLaren Vale, the First Lady. 91 

KONRAD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0%  XD  4g/L,  #616243 $19.95  (Tasted December 12, 2014)

Released by Vintages on December 6, 2014 and rated 92 by Natalie MacLean  (September 2, 2014).  My notes: Two vintages previously tasted were the 2006 in August 2008  and the 2012 in June this year rated 90 and 91 resp. The 2013 is a mid yellow with a green tint.  The aroma has a pea pod whiff to citrus that softens in several minutes - surprising when you expect gooseberries. Fresh and dry from the first smooth, medium-bodied sip with a long finish ending with flavour remnants start to finish. A swirl leaves a fragmenting rim that slowly recedes to the meniscus. Surprising compared with the 2012 vintage (Vintages online listed this correctly as 2013) but otherwise a well made alternative - just not my Sauvignon Blanc. Drink now or shelve for several years. Have with seafood. 87

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Flowers and Turkeys

Peter, Paul and Mary sang: Where have all the flowers gone?  

Wild Turkeys -- Erin, Ontario

In wine terms the question becomes: How do conglomerates handle the tons of grapes and juices that remain following each vintage - the leftovers? Surely some Executive is charged with the responsibility of finding a way to turn these into a windfall? and I have to believe it's standard practice by now and, if needed, new technologies and additives are used to supplement and emulate nature. How many spin-off labels can be concocted to fill the shelf space made available by our marketing monopoly? Where have all the 'leftovers' gone? Are they now flowers or turkeys? Have they all been converted to flowers (reasonable wines)? (it doesn't fit but I love the song!)

Any positive result turning leftovers into marketing successes is highly dependent on a skill that correctly anticipates what's in the blending vats and an ability to balance the proper components to turn them into consumable products. But how many winemakers willingly sell their talents to produce what often turns out to be saleable but artificial wines? That calls for a different breed of specialist, a biochemist perhaps, detached from terroir and the natural process of winemaking. 

There are many questions that puzzle me though - are there that many customers that drink plonk to warrant the level of subterfuge involved. But then how would these customers ever know they are being sold plonk? It's like a restaurant selling leftover turkey for grilled pheasant. Hey! The menu says it's pheasant. It's priced as pheasant. It must be pheasant! Unfortunately we have only one restaurant in the Province - and no way to question the veracity of the menu.   

Once the winemaker's job is done marketing folk add the finishing touches: 1) Attractive labels using names of associated wineries 2) Some kind words on the quality, something of sustainable viticulture and the geology - although perhaps it's wiser to stick to a short narrative on flavours and a food match. 3) A number of public and private events planned and reported by wine colleagues 4) Along with attractive labelling a heavier corked bottle may convey 'quality' or a screwtop, convenience? All this must be sufficiently distinctive not to present an alternative to existing labels. That's a tough order for any marketing team but they have a powerful accomplice.

By its nature this new marketing channel doesn't fit the 'above $100 bottle' price point where reputable wine consultants advise their clients. The retailer positions these marginal wines to compete with other like wines. I'll call this the 'leftovers price point', somewhere below $30.

An Irish Food and Wine journalist has concluded that roughly half of a long list of commercial wines (ref. 1), ie. those having substantial revenue growth in recent years, are 'complete crap' and 'a lot taste like alcoholic fruit juice'. I suspect many of these wines are from 'leftovers'.

Of the wines I've tasted recently 'roughly half' should not have made it to LCBO shelves. But then how can an organization responsible for sourcing wines for a market as large as Ontario be expected to exclude a large portion even if most would be analysed as 'crap'? And who can argue with the customer that wants to purchase these wines? The bar is set by an uninformed captive public.  LCBO testing practices ensure that Ontario customers won't be poisoned leaving reconstituted leftovers on the shelves as very profitable turkeys.

My opinion, Ww

Sunday, November 02, 2014

November 2014 wines - 15 Tasted of 15

Home Suite Home
Except for McManis Family Estate the remaining wines listed below were picked at random. Paired with the elegant decor of The Keg (North York) McManis' Petite Sirah could not have been a better choice for grilled ribs, steaks, and filet mignon topped with assorted seafood. This prompted a focus on the two McManis wines presently available at our local LCBO. When will our monopoly be releasing their Petite Sirah and over a dozen other McManis wines? Who knows!  If you see any on a wine list anywhere please let me know. 

Also, a wine to look for in the November 8th Vintages Release is Michael Davids 6th Sense Syrah 2012 (#394395, $16.00US, $24.95LCBO). My nephew says it's beautifully endowed.

Salut, Ww

 THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Bubblies)

  • McManis Family Vineyards Zinfandel 2013, 90-1  --  V, Lodi, California, #256735  $19.95
  • McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 90a-1  --  V, California, USA, #212126  $19.95 
  • Michael David 6th Sense Syrah 2012, 90+  --  V, Lodi, California, #394395  $24.95
  • Daniel Lenko Estate 2008 Old Vines Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86 --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #075622 $30.05
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera de los Andes Syrah 2010, 83NR  --  V, Maule Valley, Chile, #389700  $19.95
  • Alamos Seleccion Malbec 2012,  82  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #322800  $16.95 
  • Aure Umoja Cabernet Franc 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  82 -- V,  Beamsville, Ontario,  #367557  $19.95* 
  • Fuzion Alta Reserve Malbec 2013, 80  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #135475  $9.95
  • McWilliam's Hanwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 78  --  G,  South Eastern Australia, #214577  $15.00 

  • La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012, 90  --  V, Santa Rosa, California, #158683 $25.95 
  • Paco & Lola Rias Baixas Albarino 2012, 88-1 --  V,  Rias Baixas, Spain, #350041 $18.95
  • Malivoire Musqué Spritz 2013 VQA Beamsville Bench,  87  --  O, Niagara, Ontario, #189670  $16.25
  • The Foreign Affair Enchanted 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 87  --  V, Vineland Station, Ontario, #389767  $17.95
  • MOMO Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 83 --  V, Marlborough, New Zealand, #009167  $17.95 

  • Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling Sparkling Wine 2012 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 91-2  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #370361 $19.95

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


AURE UMOJA CABERNET FRANC 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0%  XD  4g/L,  #367557  $19.95*  (Tasted November 14, 2014)

Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014. Reduced from $22.95.  My notes:  My opinion of a Cabernet Franc is as a blending grape to soften and uplift an otherwise aggressive or dense wine. There's an auburn tint to a charcoal hued ruby and a swirl brings a film that sticks slowly accumulating a rounded rim before releasing a curtain of reluctant legs. The fruit is a raspberry/strawberry with a touch of smoke. The first sip starts silky finishing with a metallic edge changing its character from fresh berry to spicy plum, from polite to a thin silk and from soft to fine tannins forming a long dry layer. Have with grilled bacon or a morning soufflé. Lacks sufficient boldness to pair with a savoury or spicy meal... a drink now. 82

PACO & LOLA RIAS BAIXAS ALBARIÑO 2012,  Rias Baixaz, Spain, 12.5%  XD  5g/L, #350041 $18.95  (Tasted November 10, 2014)

Released by Vintages - date not given.  My notes:  An empty bottle weighs in at 1.4lbs. A mid straw colour, green tinted and crystal in the glass. A full aroma of tangy apple and pineapple without sweetness, then a refreshing herbal and an unusual invitation to sip or as an accompaniment to sushi, a bento box of tempura greens and shrimp or grilled tilapia and basmati rice - great with chicken cordon bleu. Initial fruit fades slowly eventually leaving a neutral chalk on the palate. A moderate film recedes from a ragged rim leaving a clear surface. A drink now to be served chilled.  88

MIGUEL TORRES CORDILLERA DE LOS ANDES SYRAH 2010, Maule Valley, Chile, 14.0%  XD  5g/L,  #389700  $19.95  (Tasted November 21, 2014)

Released by Vintages on October 25, 2014.  My notes:   Bottle weight close to 1.5lbs - does not signify 'quality' nor ecology support. Purple edged with noticeable viscosity in the slow tears that form following a soft tilt. A strong berry noticeably sharp tolerated when complemented by matching flavours of the initial sip. Chalk dry tannins cover the tongue losing most of the fruit. Not a sipper unless repeatedly quaffed or accompanied with party sausage, stuffed mushrooms and the like. Was a match for a pork tenderloin stir-fry covered with a piquant sauce and rice risotto. Full-bodied, full-flavoured and a full warmth with each swallow, however the ending's full chalkiness and bramble are excessive. I doubt if further time will mellow this Syrah - not recommended.  83

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, California, USA, 13.5% XD 9g/L, #212126  $19.95  (Tasted November 7, 2014)

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014.  My notes: A familiar purple accent to an opaque ruby on pouring. The nose quickly loses intensity subsiding to a pleasing medley of blackberry, black currant, vanilla, slight liquorice and a smoky edge. The first sip shines the teeth while presenting a silky crushed berry acidity - a sipper if party sausage, mini pizza slices are nearby and, as a meal red, with The Keg steaks or ribs, a Wendy's Burger, maybe liver & onions. The film is firm enough to leave a rounded rim then long legs. Leftover wine tends to show more tartness - an excuse to finish that partial bottle. Aerating mutes some of the acidity and is recommended. As the LCBO recommends - respond drinkably!.  90a
MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS ZINFANDEL 2013, Lodi, California, 13.5%  D  10g/L,  #256735  $19.95  (Tasted November 5, 2014)

Released by Vintages on October 25, 2014.  My notes: The first sip shows velvet and a latent fervour. Lots of depth warming as it spreads a blend of berries and vanilla. The colour is a dense ruby with a purple glow. A film sticks and quickly recedes to show a lacy topped soft rim. This must be sipped slowly for its  syrupy texture, soft fruit and fine tannins that continue through a long ending. Have with grilled English back bacon and multigrain toasts. Drink or cellar several years. Comes across as subdued unless given twenty minutes to develop in a broad bowl glass.  90

FUZION ALTA RESERVE MALBEC 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D 9g/L, #135475  $9.95  (Tasted November 11, 2104)

A General listing.   My notes:  A regal ruby, deep and velvet toned leaving a moderate film dropping long legs. A second sample was aerated for comparison - both have a smoky leather with a plum/blackberry scent the aerated being a touch cleaner. Both have a dull liquorice, black fruit flavour not appealing as a sipper. As fruit fades finish becomes dry with tannin layer revealing more dull liquorice. An acerbic background flavour conflicted with grilled beef strips and sliced veggie mix. Aerating is not a solution. Not recommended. 80
MCWILLIAM'S HANWOOD ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, South Eastern Australia, 13.0%  D 7g/L, #214577  $15.00  (Tasted November 17, 2014)

A General listing.  My notes:  A charcoal hued ruby colour and a viscous film eventually running long slow legs. There was no noticeable improvement with aerating. A persevering acidity starts with the first sip and continues to dominate through a long extra dry jammy finish. A strong berry-like liquorice flavour overpowered my taste buds and for several minutes I was unable to stop sneezing. The liquorice continued to build becoming reminiscent of 'road tar' and continuing through the finish . I set aside the remainder of the bottle for a sauce to go with barbecued ribs. 78

DANIEL LENKO ESTATE 2008 OLD VINES MERLOT VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #075622 $30.05  (Tasted November 23, 2014)

Purchased from the Winery:  My notes:  Last tasted June 29, 2013 and rated 91. A polite red with a raspberry scent to greet the nose, smoky on the side and pleasingly tart. A moderate film sticks then runs long fast tears. Dry, medium-bodied, having a depth to carry flavours and a penetrating acid without fading for a long finish. The colour doesn't appear as bright as in 2013  with a hint of adobe showing - flavours are not as rich for sipping. A match for sliced pork with a light basmati sauce or chicken chunks with pineapple and sweet potatoes. A hurry up and drink now. 86

MALIVOIRE MUSQUÉ SPRITZ 2013 VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Ontario, 9% MS 35g/L, #189670  $16.25  (Tasted November 17, 2014)

Release by Vintages.   My notes:  Originally listed at $19.95 this is now shown as $16.25.  The 2011 vintage was tasted in April 2013 and rated 87: the 2009, in April 2010 at 85 and compared with SoGrape's Vinho Verde (NR) (#141432) at $8.95.  Bubbles show immediately on pouring and an aroma of grapefruit, vanilla cake and citrus suggests a festive occasion - but it needn't be. Light on the tongue but bright on the palate this white paired well with roast pork tenderloin and would with other mild dishes: pork, fish or breakfast sausage - or just sip on a warm afternoon. There's a touch of sweet and a slight chalk in the finish - nicely balanced for a social drink now -  serve chilled . 87

MICHAEL DAVID 6TH SENSE SYRAH 2012, Lodi, California, 15.0% D xg/L, #394395  $24.95  (Tasted November 9, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014.  My notes:  Nicely packaged although a bottle weight of 1.38lbs questions the winery's ecological support and LCBO's price uplift of $8 drops it below a 'Value' level.  There's a deep purple hue and a swirl reveals medium-body as a full rim quickly disintegrates into slow running tears. A just-detectable sense of crushed blackberry invites a sip. There's a wow factor contrasting delicate nose with a flavour burst combining fresh berries, red currant, balanced acid and fine tannins. A luscious xdry finish continues to embellish this wines' character. Serve with a savoury T-bone or braised beef short ribs or just sip. Cellaring several years could bring forward what's hidden today. Try it.  90+

LA CREMA SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2012, Santa Rosa, California, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #158683 $25.95  (375mL, #728352 $15.95, Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014) (Tasted November 15, 2014)

Released by Vintages on July 24, 2014. My notes: Keeping within my budget I chose the half size bottle for this tasting. A brilliant yellow in the glass and showing a light but sticky film yielding tears that expand into short legs as the rim falls. A spicy citrus leaning toward a tangerine/ grapefruit pith scent adds interest as a sipper for Chard lovers. The first sip brightens the palate with lemon lime followed by a layer of fine chalk going into a long extra dry finish. A citrus push adds to the interest. Chicken slices on a mound of rice risotto with a sweet Asian sauce paired nicely as would most mid-eastern dishes. A drink now with good cellaring potential. 375mL not a value at the LCBO price. 90

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR ENCHANTED 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland Station, Ontario, 12.0%  XD  18g/L, #389767  $17.95  (Tasted November 11, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014. Rated 88 by Rick Van Sickle (May 2014).  My notes: It's difficult for this to be XD with a sugar level as shown. A blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Riesling that glows like polished crystal with a mild yellow colour. The nose has elements of tamed gooseberry, citrus and tarragon, not one scent being dominant. The film is light leaving a jagged rim to slowly recede. Sugar level is well balanced with a polite tartness - 5g/L sugar level is more like it. This one is to sip then savour slowly allowing roundness and subtle flavours to develop before a moderate, dry finish. Pair with grilled halibut, cod or shrimps with green vegetables. A drink now.  87

MOMO MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.0%  XDs  3g/L, #009167  $17.95  (Tasted November 16, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014. A Seresin Estate wine.  My notes: A tarnished gold showing bright in a wide bowl with a film that spreads thinly quickly forming long legs from a rippled rim. Served chilled the taste has a touch of burnt toast, a tart lemon zest and a dry herbal aftertaste, interesting but insufficient fruit for balance.  An acquired taste as a sipper needing some nibbles: stuffed mushrooms or prosciutto wrapped asparagus or pair with Arctic char, Pickerel filets or seared scallops w/diced tomato & spaghettini. Serve chilled and watch for changes as aromas carry into flavours into finish starting dry and ending drier. A drink now. 83

ALAMOS SELECCIÓN MALBEC 2012, Uco Valley, Argentina, 13.5% D 7g/L, #322800  $16.95  (Tasted November 13, 2014)

Released by Vintages on October 25, 2014. Rated 90 by Luis Gutierrez (April 2014).  My notes: Shows ruby with a deep pink edge and a smooth film that starts to build a rim but slowly falls as a curtain separating into long legs. A mild scent of cinnamon adds to that of smoky young berries. The first sip, aerated, brightens the berries adding fine tannins and a touch of flat spice for a finish. The second sip, non-aerated, is more of the same with any difference undetectable. Light-bodied (thin), smooth and bright when quaffed with an appealing tartness - complement with a hamburger or pepperoni (no cheese) pizza. Drink now. 82

TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE RIESLING SPARKLING WINE 2012 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Vineland, Ontario, 11.5%  D  11g/L, #370361 $19.95  (Tasted November 18, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014. Rated 89 by Sarah d'Amato (April 2014). My notes: Tasted in May this year I was impressed with the delicate tree fruit flavours balanced with texture and depth. Only a few months now to see if anything has changed. A profusion of bubbles on pouring covering the surface with a layer of white. This quickly subsides but continues to effervesce tickling the nose on that premature first sip. A citric sharpness slows the pace with some pear but overall less fruit in the nose as remembered - a puckering dryness, XD, and a long mineral finish. More Spanish than French... perhaps it'll turn the corner in the next year.  Have with chilled oysters, a Tempura filled Bento box or Teriyaki chicken slices on rice risotto. A drink now to several years cellaring.  91-2