Tuesday, December 01, 2015

December 2015 Wines - 14 Tasted of 14

Holiday 2015
Have you picked up your copy of the Holiday 2015 issue of LCBO's Food & Drink? A hundred pages more than a 'normal' seasonal publication. That's just over two hundred and fifty pages crowded with suggestions for cosmetics, women's fashions, travel, liquor-ware, enumerable glamorous dining-ware. (If there's a captive audience why not exploit them? - similar to Cable TV) Of course these are in addition to a wide range, prices that is, of wines and liquors some in glistening packages.

If I were to pick one example reflecting the theme of this edition it would follow the description of the family get together on pg. 256: 

  • The question begins, "What's in your home fridge that we might find surprising?"  has a 'surprising' answer,  "... For a wild game family dinner ... I had a beaver and a giant moose heart in my fridge."  And I can't explain my reaction to "...the gents move outdoors to smoke cigars, drink Scotch and barbecue some Tomahawk steaks or venison loin...etc."  I can only picture dialogue such as this as from a Victorian Romance or a Renaissance Royal celebration.
My conclusion:  I'm shopping in the wrong store. But then since it`s the only store I have to take a different approach. Not able to settle with the saying 'bad wine is better than no wine' I`ll be tempering future purchases on fewer wines but more selective and hopefully, more rewarding. 

Now 'back to the slots'.


Wishing you and yours every good thing this Holiday Season!
THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites then bubblies)

  • Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Lodi 2013, 88-1  --   V, Manteca, California, #678698  $17.95
  • Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 86  --   G, Manteca, California, #068924  $14.95
  • Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet 2013, 84 --  G, Livermore, California, #260851  $12.95*   
  • Gnarly Head Pinot Noir 2013, 84  --  G, Manteca, California, #358911  $14.95
  • Sterling Vintner's Collection Pinot Noir 2014, 83  --  G, Sonoma, California, #226571  $15.95 
  • Gérard Bertrand Fitou Grenache/Carignan 2011, 81  -- V,  Narbonne, France, #403683  $16.95

  • ZOLO Torrontés 2014,  91-2  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #183913  $14.95
  • Casas del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014, 89-2  --  V, Casablanca Valley, Chile,  #974717  $13.95
  • Rosewood Sussreserve Riesling 2014 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 84  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #258806  $12.25     
  • Pillitteri Estates Winery Protagonist 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84  --  V,  Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario,  #294025  $13.25
  • House of Mandela Sauvignon Blanc 2014, 83 --  G, Paarl, South Africa,  #407882 $12.85   
  • Calamus Estate Riesling 2013 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 83  --  V,  Jordan, Ontario, #158642  $13.75

  • Santa Alicia Tierra Sur Sparkling 2013, 89-1  --  V, Bio Bio Valley, Chile, #404103 $17.95  
  • Foss Marai Extra Dry Prosecco NV, 85  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #729392  $17.95*
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended) 


ZOLO TORRONTÉS 2014, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.8%  D 7g/L, #183913  $14.95  (Tasted December 13, 2015)

Released by Vintages on October 17, 2015.  My notes: Other grapes from ZOLO recorded in this blog were the Bonarda (88-1) in March this year and the Malbec (88a-1) and Chardonnay (89-1) in December 2013  . The colour is a yellow gold and clear as crystal. Catch the delicate pear and apple fragrance on opening - fades then recovers with a second pour. A moderate film separates into a few fast tears from a ragged rim. A smooth first sip with natural fruit and tangy edge stays for a long sumptuous finish - perfect for a buffet. The dry ending suits as a complement with white fish filets seared and seasoned with a slight heat or a shellfish assortment in a creamy herbal sauce. A drink now or short term on the shelf. Buy in for guests over the holidays. 91

GÉRARD BERTRAND FITOU GRENACHE/CARIGNAN 2011, Narbonne, France, 14.0%  XD  9g/L,  #403683  $16.95  (Tasted December 29, 2015)

Released by Vintages on November 14, 2015.  Rated 91 by Lauren Buzzeo, Wine Enthusiast (August 2014).  My notes: A muddy ruby colour and a delicate floral accented cranberry/blackberry fragrance. A swirl leaves a firm film laying a contiguous rim that quickly drops long slow legs. The first flavour impression is of a soft texture, a mix of herbal/berry with a chalky mouthfeel not that appealing to sip. A brightness comes forward through a long woody finish. Adequate when paired with grilled or roasted lamb, beef or venison - not pork. Not to be served as a sipper to close friends - past cellaring.  81

ROSEWOOD SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING 2014 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Beamsville, Ontario, 9.9%  M 34g/L, #258806  $12.25  (Tasted January 3, 2016) 

Released by Vintages on August 8, 2015.  My notes: Served chilled to 10oC there's a touch of sweet, a touch of tart and a touch of chalk to begin a pleasing first sip. The colour is a fragile blond. A metallic whiff, initially with little discernible fruit then building to a cool honeydew melon while a swirl spreads a quickly fragmenting film. A quaff leads to a long unctuous finish. We paired with local fish and chips where it refreshed the battered halibut while not being distracted by the chips. A social sipper with or without a mixed cheese tray or with a shrimp ring and seafood sauce. 84

CUPCAKE VINEYARDS RED VELVET 2013, Livermore, California, 13.5% M  18g/L,  #260851  $12.95*  (Tasted December 15, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $14.95 until November 29, 2015.  My notes:  An opaque ruby laying a medium film that separates quickly into a lacy curtain. A mix of black-, blue- and raspberries then red currants complete with tang. The first sip has several components: a weighty smoothness, a penetrating warmth, glycerine on the lips and dark chocolate almost masked by a full berry blend. A long finish. This could be a pleasing sipper for a crowd and paired with seared and grilled lamb chops, a T-bone with The Keg rub or a savoury set oven baked ribs. I suspect the prominent sweetness may separate out the conventional, dry wine drinkers. A commercial red. 84

GNARLY HEAD PINOT NOIR 2013, Manteca, California, 13.5%  D  8g/L, #358911  $14.95  (Tasted December 3, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Clear with  a see-through ruby colour in the glass. The film is light leaving a lacy rim quickly forming scattered droplets - a tilt leaves a sheet of running tears. A light aroma of raspberries and strawberries entices further sipping to find a satisfying balance of woody spice, fruit and dry tannins. Medium-bodied with wood and spice remnants being the main components going into a long finish. Serve with mild fish or fowl: arctic char, chicken cordon bleu or a light buffet spread.  Likely on the down side of cellaring. An adequate social sipper waiting for a fuller alternative for the meal. 84
STERLING VINTNER'S COLLECTION PINOT NOIR  2014, Sonoma, California, 13.5%  D  9g/L, #226571  $15.95  (Tasted December 8, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:   The see through ruby has a charcoal cast and a swirl leaves a sticky film separating at the rim and falling as a lacy cascade. A sniff senses flat cocoa, cherry and faint oregano for an unusual sipper along with a penetrating acid and drying tannin. Not a solo sipper - try with Seasonal sweets: cherry slices, chocolate squares or mince tarts - not shortbreads. A metallic edge masks thin fruit for the start of a short finish. No change with aerating. For a meal try with beer can chicken, saucy verging on hot chicken wings or flattened Cornish hens.  83

GNARLY HEAD OLD VINE ZIN LODI 2013, Manteca, California, 14.5%  D  10g/L,  #678698  $17.95  (Tasted December 12, 2015) 

A Vintages release on August 8, 2015.  My notes:  A moderate film that quickly sheds a dozen tears from a disintegrating rim. The nose has a polite tang to a subdued rasp/blackberry aroma and the colour has a regal ruby hue. Aerating retains the base aroma while softening the tang to give more prominence to a younger fruit. However the change would be unnoticeable in a social setting - decant a short time before serving. An appealing fruit level with tang and tannin is carried through a long finish. A refreshing flavourful sipper as well as a match with savoury beef or lamb main course. Has short term cellaring potential but essentially a commercial drink now.  88

GNARLY HEAD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Manteca, California, 14.5%  D  9g/L,  #068924  $14.95  (Tasted December 5, 2015) 

A General listing.  My notes:   A muddy deep ruby with a film that sticks then separates as a patterned lacework. A tilt shows a swelling rim that recedes slowly. A nutty fragrance adds to a slight plum and smoke giving some depth to a sniff. Well balanced with clean acids, tannins and cherry blackberry closing a sip then carrying into a long dry finish. Aerating offers no change. Medium-bodied at peak with no more to offer with cellaring - drink now or serve with rare beef medium to well seasoned. A value if discounted $1 - $2. 86

FOSS MARAÏ EXTRA DRY PROSECCO NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% D  15g/L, #729392  $17.95* (Tasted December 21, 2015)

Released by Vintages on April 1, 2015.  Reduced from $19.95 until November 29th.  My notes: Tasted several times - Jan 1, 2012, Aug 2008, Feb 2007, May 2006 -  and enjoyed each time. January 2012 rating was 86 and August 2008 an 88 with aromas of apple pie and butterscotch, spritzy with a long ‘unctuous’ finish.  The artificial cork comes easily then a slight pfizz releases the initial pressure. Bubbles subside quickly with only miniscule streams left to climb to the top. There's an aroma of fresh fruit subtle enough to escape notice. Soft and bright, a touch of sweetness and round with a touch of dry texture. The long finish ends with a slight tang and offers pleasurable sipping. Have as a summer cooler with or without nibbles or start a seafood appetizer continued with shellfish, cod, halibut or haddock. We had with haddock simmered in a shallot/tomato/lemon peel/thyme/pepper corns olive oil fry for extra flavour. At the reduced price keep a few on hand for unexpected guests - otherwise wait for another sale.  B50 C4 N12 F&F15 P0 T4 85

SANTA ALICIA TIERRA SUR BRUT SPARKLING 2013, Bio Bio Valley, Chile, 12.0%  XD  7g/L,  #404103 $17.95  (Tasted December 12, 2015)

Released by Vintages on June 13, 2015. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  My notes:  Has the colour of a the flesh of a Bartlett pear and the delicate fragrance of distant honeysuckle/apple. The cork fractured on the first twist so I resorted to a cork puller to withdraw the remaining stub. Not quite like Old Faithful of Yellowstone Park but close demonstrating an internal pressure possibly warranting the two lb. bottle, the heaviest encountered in this blog. A biting spritz continued subsiding slowly as the glass was drained. Pleasantly drying with minor fruit and a fine chalkiness continuing into a long refreshing finish. The fragility of the cork, if remaining bottles are consistent, would make a wedding planner hesitate selecting this as an option, however there's sufficient originality in taste, texture and freshness for this to be a social choice. 89

HOUSE OF MANDELA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Paarl, South Africa, 13.0%  XD  2g/L,  #407882 $12.85  (Tasted December 28, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes: Approaches a mid gold, clear and bright. The film is thin leaving a wrinkled rim to quickly recede as a field of ragged nodules. Poured at 11oC the first impression is of sharp bite and lemon tainted with tropical fruit. Silky if the tartness is ignored, and the drying crispness. Fuller and more palatable at (15oC). The nose is of tropical fruit just detectable and carries into a long extra dry finish. A sipper if you prefer tart. More of a seafood white - or with a buffet of grilled cheese/chicken/artichoke breads, pigs in a blanket or bacon wrapped salmon with capers and dill sauce. Cellaring is a question - I'd say not. 83

CALAMUS ESTATE RIESLING 2013 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Jordan, Ontario, 11.6%  M 13g/L,  #158642  $13.75  (Tasted December 8, 2015)

A Vintages release on May 2, 2015. Priced $16.95 on the winery's website.  My notes: A crystal clear light yellow with an aroma of fresh green eating grapes including a whiff of sweetness. Served at 10oC first comes a refreshing acid combined with a just noticeable sugar for a balanced fruity sipper. A chalk/mineral layer stays on the lips as delicate flavours fade over a short finish. We paired with bacon wrapped Atlantic salmon with an Asian vegetable stir fry both lightly drizzled with honey - not a match. An Ontario style Riesling and a social sipper with a buffet selection. 83

CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Casablanca Valley, Chile,  13.5%  XD  6g/L,  #974717  $13.95  (Tasted December 31, 2015)

A Vintages release on November 28, 2015.  Scored 3.5 out of 5 by Julie Stock  (June 22, 2015).  My notes: A delicate yellow, clear and shining with an aroma of tangerine tart to the nose with a clean metallic edge. A swirl leaves a thin film and ragged rim that recedes shedding just a few slow tears. The first sip has a pleasing roundness, warming and very dry to start a long finish before fading. Let breathe twenty minutes to establish a delicate lemon/sour apple flavour - not a Kiwi SB but still sharp. Went well with grilled pork with a soya/honey sauce. This may cellar a few years - try one then go from there. 89  

PILLITTERI ESTATES WINERY PROTAGONIST 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.0%  M  16g/L,  #294025  $13.25  (Tasted December 15, 2015)

A Vintages release on January 10, 2015.  My notes:Chilled to 10oC this has a lime tang combined with a sugary sweetness and rounded body suitable for summer sipping. The colour is a scrubbed light lemon, crystal clear and leaving a thin film with a jagged edge. A light chalk edges flavours of lime/lemon and pear and is sustained part way into the finish. A delicate aroma matches the flavour and fades from that luscious first sip. This terroir,  perhaps the winemaker's blending of several vineyards is a social pleaser with a Viognier balance. Pair with a fruit salad of grapefruit, pear, cocktail cherries. avocado slices, feta and a lime squeeze.  A drink now.  84

Monday, November 02, 2015

Looking for Value - 2015

Whale watch cancelled

Kaikoura NZ, Seal Watch Apr '03
During the period January through October I've purchased 109 wines in the $16.00 and under price range. Of the 109 wines there were fifty-one wines rated 85+ with thirty of those rated 88+ including ten 90+The rest ranged from 82 to 87 with forty-six having some objectionable character (rated 83 and below). Fourteen were below 80 and could not be recommended - some were discarded.

Forty-one wines above $16.00 ($18.00 to $26.00) were also purchased and in retrospect formed a reference point for all of the wines. Of the 41 twenty-six were rated good to outstanding (88 to 92) - none were exceptional (above 93) nor were any below 82. A conclusion I've drawn is that picking wines randomly below $16 exposes the customer to buying less favorable wines (plonk) over 50% half of the time. It would appear that purchases $20 and above are less prone.

There's one born every minute!
In the short term I have focused my personal purchases on 26 wines priced below $16 and rated 88+ . These are listed below with a link to the Ontario inventory and store location. Prices may vary as well as availability... and vintage may change with new stock.

Hope this helps in some way...

My opinion, Ww


  1. Root: 1 Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2012,  92-3  --  G, Donihue, Chile, #350546  $12.80  (new vintage)
  2. Casa LaPostolle Gran Seleccion Carmènere 2012,  92-3  --  G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #168740   $14.90  (# not found)
  3. Charles & Charles Red Blend 2013, 92-3  -- G, Washington State, USA, #363838 $15.95
  4. Tempus Two 'Limestone Coast' Cabernet Merlot 2011, 91-3  --  G, Pokolbin, New South Wales, #308197  $8.75  n/a (# not found)
  5. Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 91-3  --  G,  Modesto, California,  #392647  $14.95 now $16.95
  6. Casa Castillo Monastrell 2012, 91- 2  --  G, Jumilla, Spain, #165621  $14.95
  7. Oatley Tic Tok Pocketwatch Central Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2011,  90-2  --  G, New South Wales, Australia, #187179   $12.85* n/a
  8. Root:1 Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2013,  89-2  --  G,  Donihue, Chile, #350546,  $12.95
  9. Casas del Bosque Reserva Carmenère 2013,  89-2  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #205872  $14.95
  10. ZOLO Classic Bonarda 2013,  88-1  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #398271   $13.95     
  11. Velletri Terrae de Volsci Riserva DOP 2009,  88-1  --  G,  Lazio, Italy, #175141  $14.85
  12. CRIOS Dominio del Plata Limited Edition Red Blend 2013,  88-1  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #366146  $14.95
  13. Leone de Castris Maiana Salice Salentino 2013,  88-1  --  G, Puglia, Italy, #717959  $14.95
  14. Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012, 88a-1  --  V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #272682  $12.75
  15. CRIOS Dominio del Plata Malbec 2013, 88a-1 --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #162529 $14.95
  16. Zuccardi Santa Julia Magna 2012, 88-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #093799 $13.45


  1. Colomé Torrontés 2013, 91-3  --  V,  Valle Calchaqui, Argentina, #357913  $13.95 (not found)
  2. CRIOS de Susana Balboa Torrontés 2013,  91-3  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #001834  $13.95
  3. Pietro Marini Torrontés 2013, 90-2  --  V, Calchaqui Valley, Argentina, #408443  $12.95
  4. L'Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier 2013,  89-2  -- G, Côtes de Thongue, France, #348904  $12.70
  5. Casas del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014,  89-2  --  V,  Casablanca Valley, Chile, #974717  $13.95
  6. Humberto Canale Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013,  89-2  --  V, Patagonia, Argentina, #384321  $14.95
  7. Toasted Head Chardonnay, Barrel Aged 2013,  89-2  -- V, Acampo, California, #594341  $15.95  (now $18.95)
  8. Pilliteri Canadian Gothic Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012,  88-2  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #395624  $12.95 
  9. UMA Coleccion Torrontés 2013, 88a-2  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #276626 $6.45   n/a
  10. Domaine de Pellehaut 'Harmonie de Cascogne' Blanc 2013, 88-2  --  G,  Sichel, France, #319665   $9.95 n/a
not available - when last checked


November 2015 Wines - 15 Tasted of 15

Inn on the Twenty, Jordan, Ontario

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites and bubblies)
  • Gnarly Head Petite Sirah 2013, 92-3  --  V, Manteca, California, #427450  $17.95
  • Vieni Briganti Reserve 2012 VQA Ontario,  90-2  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #419440  $18.95
  • Apothic Dark Red Blend 2014, 89a-1  --  G, Modesto, California, #392654  $16.15
  • Ca' Momi Zinfandel 2013,  88  --  V, Napa, California, #396168  $21.95
  • Apothic Red Winemakers Blend 2013,  84  --  G, Modesto, California,  #234369 $16.15 
  • Vieni Briganti Red 2012 VQA Ontario, 83  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #435792  $12.95 
  • Rocca Alata Leggermente Appassito Rosso Veneto 2013, 83  --   G, Veneto, Italy, #398057  $13.60  
  • Terra d'Oro Zinfandel 2012, 82  --  V, Amador County, California, #429225  $21.95 
  • Copper Moon 'Moonlight Harvest' Merlot NV,  80  --  Kelowna, BC, #173526  $9.45
  • Kellermeister Barossa Vineyards Chardonnay 2011,  87-1  --  G, Lyndoch, South Australia, #400424  $15.10  
  • 'Arenberg The Stump Jump White 2014, 85  -- V, McLaren Vale, South Australia, #922203 $14.95   
  • Domaine Saint Paul Viognier Pays d'Oc 2013,  84  --  V, Meursault, France, #414490 $13.95
  • Domaine Bousquet Cameleon Chardonnay 2014, 81  --  V, Tupungato Valley, Argentina,  #408450 $13.95 
  • Apothic White Winemakers Blend 2013, 80  --  G, Modesto, California, #419978 $16.15 
  • Vieni Momenti Sparkling Wines Extra Brut 2013 VQA Ontario, 85-1  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #435784  $13.95 
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


ROCCA ALATA LEGGERMENTE APPASSITO ROSSO VENETO 2013, Veneto, Italy, 13.5%  D  xg/L, #398057  $13.60  (Tasted November 27, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes: A deep ruby and a film, when tilted, leaves a dozen or so slow legs - a swirl leaves a firm film gradually lacing from the rim. A dark plum aroma blended with cranberry fragrance and refreshing tartness fills the bowl. The first sip coats the mouth with a dryyyy fuzz lasting as a rough finish needing a mellowing appetizer or two. Aerating helps tame a metallic edge leaving only an ascetic bite to endure. Not a solo sipper. Have with steaks and other savoury or spice rubbed meats. Past cellaring. 83

TERRA D'ORO ZINFANDEL 2012, Amador County, California, 14.5%  D 9g/L,  #429225  $21.95  (Tasted November 16, 2015)

A Vintages release on October 3, 2015. A Sutter Home winery and rated 90 by Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast, April 2015.  My notes:  A see-through ruby and a raspberry aroma with a whiff of herb (oregano?) forms the first impression. A moderate film sticks then sheds a ring of quick tears. The first sip is sweetens the palate while retaining a thin fruit and a light drying tannin. The herbal accent continues through a long unappealing finish. Perhaps past peak. 82

GNARLY HEAD PETITE SIRAH 2013, Manteca, California, 14.5% D  10g/L,  #427450  $17.95  (Tasted November 19, 2015)

A Vintages release on September 19, 2015.  A Delicato Family Vineyards wine.  My notes: A blue tint to a ruby colour distinguishes this grape from others and an appealing sweet touch to the aroma adds to a full fruit profile. A firm film sticks then separates as it slowly fades from a rippled rim. Aerating may soften an already pleasing nip to a velvet texture of blueberry fruit but not needed in my view - the appeal is the same. For a deeper sensuous texture fuller sips are a temptation as fruit, acid and tannin combine into a long palate drying experience. Alcohol warming doesn't become a factor. Buy in for sipping, beef/lamb dining occasions or short term cellaring. 92

VIENI MOMENTI SPARKLING WINE 2013 VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.0%  XD 15g/L, #435784  $13.95  (Tasted November 10, 2015)

A General listing. My notes:  A cool shade of light yellow opening with a burst of small bubbles continue as lively streams. A balanced blending of Pinot Grigio and Vidal with a suspicion of natural sweetness. A mild apple aroma combines with refreshing effervescence when served chilled. Light-bodied with the taste of green apple, tart and drying to the palate that fits as a toasting starter, with saucy creamed chicken or as an after dinner aperitif. We successfully combined with Stefano's Lemon and Capers Chicken Scaloppine with Broccolini. A drink now to two more years. 85

VIENI BRIGANTI RED 2012 VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0% XD 4g/L, #435792  $12.95  (Tasted November 1, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes: A product of Vieni Estates Inc. made from Maréchal Foch grapes and is a VQA Ontario (grapes from within Ontario) wine. The colour is a blackened ruby and having an earth toned purple plum and raspberry aroma increasing slightly as the glass sits. The first sip is extra dry adding a bright acid to mid-bodied black cherry. Aerating mellows somewhat tho' not enough to avoid a penetrating bitterness - better as a meal red. Pair with flank steak slices or well seasoned Osso Buco. A drink now. 83

VIENI BRIGANTI RESERVE 2012 VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0%  XD 7g/L, #419440  $18.95  (Tasted November 11, 2015) 

Released by Vintages on July 25, 2015. My notes: A blend of Maréchal Foch and Baco Noir. A deep ruby with a soft plum and black cherry aroma. The tang is pleasing from the first sniff. A swirl leaves a thin film with enough stick to release fast tears draining until there's a fine lacework. Half way to being light-bodied, smooth and bright on the swallow with a balanced dark fruit flavour increasingly appealing into a long finish. Xdry and tight as a sipper or serve with pigs in a blanket, lamb stew, beef burgers or pepperoni pizza. I'd try cellaring a few more years to see where it wants to go. 90

CA' MOMI  ZINFANDEL 2013,  Napa, California, 13.9% D  8g/L, #396168  $21.95  (Tasted November 25, 2015)

Released by Vintages on August 22, 2015. My notes: A muddy ruby with a charcoal tone to view and a pleasing aroma of chocolate, blackberry and muted cigar wrap to sniff. A thin film leaves a krinkly rim before dropping as a lacy sheet and a few tears. Fine tannins plate the palate along with a warmth in the throat with bright remnants of the initial flavours then ending dry. Was a match with precooked honey coated ribs and would pair adequately with The Keg rare steaks. A drink now to short term cellaring. 88

APOTHIC RED WINEMAKERS BLEND 2013, Modesto, California,  13.5% D  17g/L,  #234369 $16.15  (Tasted November 22, 2015)

A General listing. An E. & J. Gallo Wine and a blend including Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. My notes:  The Apothic website offers little blending information instead has a commercial focus. The sugar content claimed by the LCBO contradicts a `D` classification with the first sip showing a noticeable sweetness adding to a moderate acid with wild berries and hint of vanilla. The finish is long, smooth and increasingly woody ending with a whiff of cedar.  Serve as a sweet social sipper or an adequate red with burgers, pigs in a blanket, meaty entrées, eg. bbq'd ribs, stroganoff, tomato pastas. Cellar short term.  84

APOTHIC WHITE WINEMAKERS BLEND 2013, Modesto, California, 12.0%  M  19g/L, #419978  $16.15  (Tasted November 16, 2015)

A General listing and product of E. & J. Gallo Winery.  My notes:  A mid golden colour leaving a thin film with a lacy rim on the glass. The nose has a delicate floral fragrance unexpected from a blend of chardonnay, riesling and pinot grigio - refreshing as a light-bodied sipper tho' not appealing for my taste. There's a definite sweetness to partner with mild acid and light chalk, elements that start a moderate finish ending Stevia sweet and dry. OK with lemon chicken and a vegetable stir fry. A commercial white to match a warmer climate and flexible fare. Adding a squeeze of lemon may temper the sweet balancing with a natural tartness.  80

APOTHIC DARK RED BLEND 2014, Modesto, California,  14.0%  D  13g/L,  #392654  $16.15  (Tasted November 21, 2015) 

A General listing and product of E. & J. Gallo Winery.  My notes: I had difficulty finding meaningful info for the Gallo wines on the Apothic website. A rich red deep up to a blue tinted see-through rim. The film sticks and builds up a rounded rim that drops a dozen slow tears. A clean lacquer layers a spicy black cherry/raspberry, well balanced flavour persistent as a long and warm sipper starting with a hint of sweetness. Aerating smoothes an early sharpness and is recommended. An excellent steak companion... or roasted lamb soaked in a savoury sauce. Should do well with several years in the cellar.  89a

KELLERMEISTER BAROSSA VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2011,  Lyndoch, South Australia, 12.0% XD  2g/L, #400424  $15.10  (Tasted November 12, 2015)

A General listing. My notes: A light yellow, crystal clear in the glass. A swirl leaves a firm film accumulating slowly from a krinkled rim then falling uniformly until the glass is clear. Earthy aromas of zesty citrus, tart lime and gooseberry. Penetrating citrus shows no sweetness leaving the palate extra dry and a tad tingly. Serve chilled and sip for an invigorating acid cooling over a long finish or pair with lemon chicken, arctic char/salmon, a Chinese buffet or Japanese Bento Box: tempura veggies and thumb sized shrimp. 87

DOMAINE BOUSQUET CAMELEON CHARDONNAY 2014, Tupungato Valley, Argentina,  12.5%  XD  4g/L, #408450 $13.95  (Tasted November 5,

Released by Vintages on August 8, 2015.  My notes:  There's a subtle bronze hue to a mid yellow colour in the glass - charming. Served at 10oC the nose stays closed until enough warmth releases a peach lemon apple aroma with a soft tang. A thin film spreads with a swirl topped by a krinkled rim then disintegrates into lacy nodules. For those having an acquired taste for a chalk dryness, a fading melon tinged with cool cardboard finishing on a prolonged sour note. A meal white not to be served solo - pair with seasoned pork chop, roast chicken or a Chinese buffet. A drink now when shared with appetizers or mains. 81

DOMAINE SAINT PAUL VIOGNIER PAYS D'OC 2013, Meursault, France, 13.0%  XD  4g/L, #414490 $13.95  (Tasted November 3, 2015)

Released by Vintages on July 25, 2015. The label's Organic Claim is not recognized by Canada.  My notes: A clean mid yellow that swirls a thin film with a krinkled rim that drains quickly. The nose is a mild floral, honeysuckle rather than fruit: pleasing as a sipper, just noticeable with chicken cacciatore but refreshing. Pair with light seafood or sweet and sour pork. The first sip reveals a tang, a touch of warmth and a drying, peach stone/light lemon layer with a long xdry finish. A drink now. 84  

D'ARENBERG THE STUMP JUMP WHITE 2014, McLaren Vale, South Australia, 113.8% D 7g/L,  #922203 $14.95  (Tasted November 6, 2015)

Released by Vintages on July 25, 2015. A Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne blend. My notes: A platinum blond on pouring with a mild aroma for sniffing: soft and dry, a touch of lemon and pear without sweetness. A dry tartness comes with the first sip, thin-bodied just enough to pair with seared scallops on bird's nest pasta, tempura shrimp or a sushi/sashimi combos.  A seam of sweet backgrounds an ascetic bite although not staying long as a dry finish settles in. A drink now. 85

COPPER MOON ‘MOONLIGHT HARVEST’ MERLOT NV, Kelowna, BC, 12.5% D, #173526  $9.45  (Tasted November 5, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A product of Roundpetal Wines (Andres Wines) of Kelowna, British Columbia. Not tasted since August 2010 when it was rated 80. A swirl brings a sticky film dropping slow tears. The colour is a deep ruby and a sniff of raspberry jam edged with a brightening tang. The first sip is thin and sharp, instantly drying with flavours of light raspberry touched by thyme and ending with a coating of fine tannin. Serve with stuffed mushrooms, pigs-in-a-blanket or bacon wrapped asparagus - something with natural oils and herb flavoured. A drink now. 80


Thursday, October 01, 2015

October 2015 Wines - 15 Tasted of 15

With gratitude to the unknown source

I'm a coffee drinker - not an addict but one that appreciates the morning wake-up call a single cup of java provides. The aroma, the scintillating freshening shift from drowsiness to wakefulness, the biting warmth, soft and fulfilling, the comfort of a tender caress of a rewarding companion. However I have often refused, in whatever context it may take at the time, what I consider to be  `bad coffee'. If that makes me a coffee snob then so be it!  But that`s not the point here.

The message behind the signboard, perhaps based on coffee's benefits, could be 'Is a bad coffee better than no coffee?'. My point is a possible parallel. Is 'bad wine better than no wine?'  Are there sufficient health benefits to compensate for your complicity in perpetuating retailing of unacceptable wines? Then I ponder the consequence of everyone returning their latest bottle of plonk? Call it an 'I'm not going to take it any more!' event.

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites, rosés and bubblies)

  • RompeSedas 2006, 92-2  --  V, Toro, Spain, #425868  $19.95
  • Root:1 Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2013, 89-2  --  G,  Donihue, Chile, #350546,  $12.95
  • Bodega Paiman Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 89  --  V,  Chanarmuyo Valley, Argentina, #423186 $19.95 
  • Fat Bastard Syrah Pays d'Oc 2013, 84  --  G, Pay d'Oc, France, #563122 $14.95
  • Fat Bastard Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d'Oc 2013, 83  --  G, Pay d'Doc, France, #028506 $14.95 
  • McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 83  --  V, Ripon, California, #212126  $19.95
  • Ogier Heritages Côtes du Rhône 2013, 82  --  G, Rhône, France, #535849 $14.95
  • Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso Veneto Toscano IGT 2013, 81  --   G, Tuscany, Italy,  #361501  $16.05
  • Fat Bastard Merlot VDP Pays d'Oc 2013, 79/NR  --  G, Pay d'Doc, France, #610857 $14.95 

  • Pietro Marini Torrontés 2013, 90-2  --  V, Calchaqui Valley, Argentina, #408443  $12.95
  • Bollini Pinot Grigio 2014, 87-1  --  V, Trentino, Italy, #951319  $16.95
  • Cheval-Quancard Reserve Bordeaux Blanc 2013, 86-1  --  G, Bordeaux, France, #401604  $13.90
  • Gorgo San Michelin Custoza 2014, 84  --   V, Custoza, Italy, #428045  $14.95 
  • Duca Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio 2014, 83  --   V, Friuli, Italy, #120782  $14.95
  • Fat Bastard Chardonnay Pays d'Oc 2013, 79/NR  --  G, Pay d'Doc, France, #563130 $14.95   

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


OGIER HERITAGES CÔTES DU RHÔNE AOC 2013, Rhône, France, 14.0% D 6g/L, #535849 $14.95  (Tasted October 6, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A black cherry colour with a soft fragrance of raspberry, vanilla and spice, a neutral enticement. The first sip has a mild nip, a balance of dry and tart with a fine tannin going into a long, extra dry finish. A take it or leave sipper, more of a meal red with pork, lamb entrees with mild sauces - OK with veal scaloppini. Not a wine that would keep me at the party. 82

FAT BASTARD SYRAH PAYS D'OC 2013, Pay d'Oc, France, 13.5%  D  8g/L, #563122 $14.95  (Tasted October 1, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Berry fruit aromas dissipate quickly on pouring - still fresh although subtle at first sip. A swirl shows a thin film fragmenting at the rim and forming a lacy network. A lightish med-bodied red with a deep ruby hue showing off long fast tears when tilted. Fresh to the taste, a soft spice shifting to a teeth lining tang. Would go well with a party buffet: dry crackers, hard cheese and sliced Italian meats or chorizo sausage. The finish hides any sweetness with an ascetic reminder of berries and fine tannin. Serve with grilled, barbecued or roasted red meats.  A commercial red.  84 

FAT BASTARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON PAYS D'OC 2013, Pay d'Oc, France, 13.0%  D 6g/L, #028506  $14.95  (Tasted October 20, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  The colour is a deep charcoal hued ruby and there's a spicy tang to an penetrating aroma of vanilla tainted blackberries. A swirl leaves a moderate film to descend slowly from a krinkled rim. Aerating softened the tang a tad for a first sip that left a warm tannin throughout.  The tang recedes while woody fruit remnants remain along with a chalky dryness. A dry sipper for an open bar beverage better served with hard cheeses and buffet nibbles - adequate with Greek Lamb burgers, better with spicy steaks A drink now.  83

FAT BASTARD CHARDONNAY PAYS D'OC 2013, Pay d'Oc, France, 12.5% XD 4g/L, #563130 $14.95  (Tasted October 18, 2015)

A General listing. My notes: There's a touch of sombre in a crisp and clear mid gold colour. The nose has a flat banana lemon aroma touched by vanilla and spice. Swirling leaves a film that recedes slowly clearing the glass. The first sip is bitter and introduces an unappealing mineral flavour going into a long extra dry finish. Serve with a tray of hard cheeses or pair with grilled pork - we had with a sweet and sour stir fry. Perhaps an acquired taste. 79

FAT BASTARD MERLOT VDP PAYS D'OC 2013, Pay d'Oc, France, 13.5%  D  9g/L, #610857 $14.95  (Tasted October 16, 2015)

A General listing. My notes:  A charcoal tinted ruby with a swirl setting a fine film with a lightly krinkled rim and a few legs. A thin veil remains to drain the glass. There's a soft aroma of crushed white cherries and a hint of tang to prelude a first sip. A soft texture and woody thin cherry flavour contrasts with a firm tannin and unyielding sourness. The sweetness level attempts unsuccessfully to balance the sour seam over a long finish that ends chalk dry - no change with aerating. Not a sipper and difficult to imagine this contributing to a meal - try with hamburgers, corn beef on rye or polish sausage with sauerkraut and mustard. 79/NR

BODEGA PAIMAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, Chanarmuyo Valley, Argentina, 14.5% XD 7g/L, #423186 $19.95  (Tasted October 1, 2015)

Released by Vintages on September 19, 2015.  My notes: Allowing this wine to breathe twenty minutes before serving is worth the wait. My initial impression was of a thin bodied red with delicate flavours and aroma. However there's a crush of blackberry tinting the deep ruby and an aroma of fresh berries uniquely blended to please. Aerating - or waiting - smoothes an already silk texture for sipping. A fine tannin further enhances the fruit as a penetrating acid dries the mouth. The finish is long and includes a pleasing warmth that pulls everything together. Serve with beef steaks and savoury sauces - or just sip. 89

DUCA CATEMARIO COLLEZIONE PRIVATA PINOT GRIGIO 2014, Friuli, Italy, 12.5% D 7g/L, #120782  $14.95  (Tasted October 14, 2015)

Released by Vintages on October 3, 2015.  My notes: A pale yellow and aromas of citrus with a mineral and Granny Smith apple focus. A swirl leaves a firm film with a krinkly rim slowly draining - a few legs. A small sip accentuates the sting of lemon with a fuller, liquid aroma - not a solo sipper. Pair with seafood courses with caper or dill sauce. We had with mini 3 cheese pizzas topped with artichoke heart and smoked salmon spread with a fresh dill sauce. Medium-full bodied, with a long, extra dry, sour fruit finish - a drink now. 83

PIETRO MARINI TORRONTÉS 2013, Calchaqui Valley, Argentina, 13.2% XD 4g/L, #408443  $12.95  (Tasted October 20, 2015)

Released by Vintages on July 25, 2015. My notes:  Natalie MacLean rates this vintage 4.5 of 5.  A  mid yellow reflecting a golden hue and  just perceptible floral when served chilled at 10oC  warming to 16oC. A firm film gradually settles flowing a rim of slow tears.  The texture shows a pleasing fullness plus a dryness that continues into a long scrumptious finish. Not high on aroma and distinct flavours however the roundness, the warmth and touch of tangy spice makes for an enjoyable sipper. Pair with seafood: clams, oysters, mussels in their appropriate sauces. Uncertain re cellaring but likely another year minimum. A value table white.  90-2

CHEVAL-QUANCARD RÉSERVE BORDEAUX BLANC 2013, Bordeaux, France, 12.0% XD  xg/L, #401604  $13.90  (Tasted October 26, 2015)

A General listing. A blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon. Rated 91 by the Wine Spectator and the Best Buy for 2014.  My notes: A mid gold colour including a hint of tarnish - a good thing. A swirl leaves a krinkled rim topping a thin film that sticks then drops slowly draining the glass. A sniff reveals a subtle aroma of lemon and pear combined - more detectable as the glass warms - serve at 14oC. The first sip is tart and chalky with a pleasing fullness - a lime tang adds to the base then continues through an evolving finish. A white to have with warmed pigs in a blanket, tempura veggies with an off-dry dipping sauce or crab/lobster pieces. Cellaring may fade fruit leaving tart and chalk so a drink now. 86-1

CARPINETO DOGAJOLO ROSSO TOSCANO IGT 2013, Tuscany, Italy,   13.5%  XD 4g/L, #361501  $16.05  (Tasted October 6, 2015)

A General listing. My notes: 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon tries to increase the profile of thin cherry fruit. A tanned leather aroma with a light sting and a charcoal stained ruby colour forms the first impression. A swirl leaves a thin film separating then falling as a lacy curtain. A woody warmth starts a finish quickly losing the fruit and ending with an ascetic, dustiness. Pair with buffet selections or serve as a pizza red or with pasta with chorizo rounds in a basil tomato sauce. A drink now. 81

GORGO SAN MICHELIN CUSTOZA 2014, Custoza, Italy, 12.5%  XD 13g/L, #428045  $14.95  (Tasted October 23, 2015)

A Vintages release on October 3, 2015.  My notes:  A blend of Cortese with Tocai, Trebbiano Toscano and Garganega grapes colouring the bowl a crystal clear mid yellow with a subtle floral and lemon skin nose and swirling a film that sticks motionless before dropping slowly from a krinkled rim. A hint of crabapple and biting lemon juice dries the palate. As the tang fades a hint of mineral comes forward going into a long finish. Pair with Chinese fare, sweet and sour pork or stir fry on basmati rice or risotto. Needs a bit of sweet - did not pair with grilled salmon. A sipper only if you prefer a drying bite. 84

ROOT:1 CARMENÈRE COLCHAGUA VALLEY 2013, Donihue, Chile, 13.5%  D  8g/L,  #350546,  $12.95  (Tasted October 9, 2015) 

A General listing.  My notes: The 2012 vintage, shown in the taller bottle with a foil wrap, was rated 92 in January this year . The 2013, in a shorter bottle with screwtop, has a milder, less spicy nose and a swirl shows a slightly lower viscosity. Both are ruby charcoal stained colour. Tasting also revealed minute differences with the 2013 being more tart and drier compared with the 2012 which has a smoother texture and a just discernible sweetness - neither noticeably different until tasted side by side. The 2013 although not a solo sipper would be pleasurable served with a cheese assortment, stuffed mushrooms, bacon wrapped asparagus or paired with a beef stir fry.  89

BOLLINI PINOT GRIGIO 2014, Trentino, Italy,  13.0% XD  xg/L, #951319  $16.95  (Tasted October 18, 2015)  

Released by Vintages on April 1, 2015.  My notes: A bright gold swirling a thin film with a krinkled rim that falls immediately as a screen of fine drops. A sniff reveals a soft indiscernible aroma, perhaps apple and pear. The first sip shows slight roundness with a nip and more defined apple crossed with pear. The flavour is more prominent going into a comfortable warm finish balancing an ascetic bite. An interesting sipper to pair with social conversation or a family dinner of mussels in a creamy pasta or a crab legs/lobster pieces and veggie combo. A drink now. 87

ROMPESEDAS 2006, Toro, Spain, 15.0% XD 6g/L, #425868  $19.95  (Tasted October 24, 2015)

Released by Vintages on September 19, 2015. Produced from Tempranillo grapes selected from 50 to 100 year old vines. Rated 91 by Jay Miller  (April 2010).  My notes:  A true ruby colour and releasing fumes of fresh varnish over mahogany. A swirl leaves a thin film that sticks to the glass then slides down on a sheet of slooowww tears. The first sip is full, has a velvet touch, a penetrating bite and the softness of wild blueberries. The long finish consists of subdued velvet, receding fruit and a balanced dryness. This would be an interesting sipper to pair with thoughtful conversation. Have with saucy sirloin, pulled pork or rubbed back ribs. Still has a few years potential. Bottle weight is just under 1.5 lbs.  92

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014, Ripon, California, 13.5% XD 9g/L, #212126  $19.95  (Tasted October 14, 2015)

A Vintages release on April 1, 2015.  My notes: The 2011 and 2013 vintages were tasted previously with ratings of 92 and 91 respectively.   A dark blackberry colour in the glass and a swirl lays a thin film with a fine rim shedding tears that quickly recede. Smoky liquorice taints a delicate blackberry - no signs of sweetness on the first sniff. An abrupt sting accompanies a blend of blackberry and blueberry flavours before a thin lining of tannin dries the palate.  The finish is mostly a woody remnant of berry layered with fine chalk. The 2014 isn't as much of a drink now as were previous vintages and may not contribute much - try pairing with T-bones, calves liver or lamb chops. 83