Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April 2015 Wines - 18 Tasted of 18

Hanging up the corkscrew?

Over the years I have progressed from Blue Nun and Baby Duck, white and red juices pressed offshore ready to ferment, filter, bottle and mature(?) in my closet. For many of the years I followed Opimians monthly wine selections with Ken Christie's (1973 -  20xx)  expanded notes. More recently orders on wine agencies have been complemented by purchases from the BCLB (British Columbia) and LCBO (Ontario) and trips through a dozen North American and New Zealand wine districts. I enjoyed the imaginative blending and the unique preparation of grape varieties with their regional signature.

Over this period I've also discovered there is such a thing as 'crap' - wines that exude a smell and taste of lacquer... of farm field putrification... some so thin their labels hide truth with poetical descriptors... and some that have replaced 'somewhereness' with 'nowhereness'... and there's some very drinkable wines priced well beyond their enjoyment value, not 'crap' - just not worth it.

British India
Lately I've noticed a real push on commercial labels. Business entities rather than wineries resulting from acquisitions, mergers and takeovers as independents decide there's an easier way to make a dollar: sell the business and position their experience as a Corporate Executive. In parallel an affiliated industry of chemical additives, some good some not so, has been spawned.

Art Deco
My focus isn't on expensive wines although each price point has its share of 'crap'. At the higher end there's a double whammy of poorer value and simulated product. Wine is a beverage turned into status symbols for the well heeled. I find I'm needing to use more discretion when buying from either Vintages or the General shelves. In my January and February blogs I tasted thirty-three low price point wines, most being Discontinued or On-Sale. Of the thirty-three wines, nineteen were rated 'not a value' including two that were discarded.

I've decided to change my approach. I enjoy pulling out corks and twisting screwtops so I'm not giving up my corkscrew. I'll be looking for 'psychic responses'. I'll look at the rows, close my eyes and let the glass mosaic speak to me. Better yet, the set below was selected by my spouse.

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites and bubblies)

  • Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 89-2**  (91-3)  --  G,  Modesto, California,  #392647  $14.95* 
  • Harewood Shiraz 2011, 89-1 --  V, Denmark, Australia, #401380  $19.95
  • Akarua Rua Pinot Noir 2012, 89-1  --  V, Central Otago, New Zealand, #295592  $24.95 
  • Chloe Red No. 249 2012, 86  --  G, Livermore, California,  #392589  $16.95* 
  • MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, 85a  --  G,  Santiago, Chile, #619205  $12.05 
  • Domaine Les Yeuses Les Épices Syrah 2012, 85  --  V, Midi, France, #177584  $15.95
  • Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Riserva 2010, 83  --  V,  Siena, Italy, #111641  $15.95 
  • Lionel Osmin & Cie Reserve Malbec 2011, 83a  --  V, Cénac, France,  #328641  $13.95 

  • Pilliteri Canadian Gothic Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012, 88-2  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #395624  $12.95
  • Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2013, 88-1  --  G, Livermore Valley, California, #175430  $17.75 
  • Ziraldo Riesling 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 88-1  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #357640  $19.95 
  • Ormarine Carte Noire Picpoul de Pinet 2013, 86-1  --  V,  Pinet, France, #525287  $12.95   
  • San Raffaele Monte Tabor Soave 2013, 86-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #277392  $13.95
  • Jean Biecher & Fils Reserve Riesling 2012, 84  --  V, Alsace, France, #403105  $14.95
  • Chloe Chardonnay Sonoma County 2012, 84  -- G, Livermore, California, #392597  $17.95
  • Jean Geiler Réserve Particulière Riesling 2013,  83  --  V,  Haut-Rhin, France, #408237  $14.95
  • Rabl Löss Gruner Veltliner 2013, 83  --  V, Kamptal, Austria,  #295709  $14.95

  • Bisol Desiderio Jeio Colmei Extra Dry Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV, 88-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #030601  $16.95  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


CHLOE RED NO. 249 2012 , Livermore, California, 13.5% D  10g/L,  #392589  $16.95*  (Tasted April 7, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $17.95.  My notes:  A deep ruby colour, very smooth on the glass with a film dropping quickly until slow tears form an unbroken rim. A crushed raspberry and plum aroma, subtly tart with a suspicion of sweetness that comes forward from the first sip then steps back as the fruit is replaced by a chalk dry finish and a soft woodiness. Sampling 249 wine lots as stated in the winery's notes, seems a stretch but the combination in this recipe produces a social sipper and satisfying complement to a variety of meaty meals.  86

CHLOE CHARDONNAY 2012 , Livermore, California, 13.5% D 8g/L, #392597  $17.95  (Tasted April 20, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:A clear mid yellow swirls a thin film hanging from a lacy rim. The nose is a blend of lemon and fresh cut honey dew - no sign of sweet yet. The first sip brings a more than a touch of sugar balancing the tartness nicely then a lining of chalk, a repeat of honey dew and suspicion of vanilla.  Flexible as a creamy sipper or a seafood white: filets of artic char, tilapia or Cuban cod. Finishes long and dry. To me it comes off as a put together chardonnay - the winemaker's choice. 84

WENTE MORNING FOG CHARDONNAY 2013 ,  Livermore Valley, California, 13.5%  D  7g/L, #175430  $17.75  (Tasted April 14, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A crystal clear mid yellow with a sharp aroma of yellow plums and slight vanilla. The film is thin leaving a fragmented rim then a ring of tiny tears. The first sip penetrates politely while the first swallow cleanses the palate. A taint of banana blended with lemon shows a pleasing silky texture and ends with a patch of plaster. Keep a few chilled for unexpected guests or bridge party.  A commercial drink now. Serve with pineapple chicken or a Bento box. We had with Ricardo's Pork Loin with White Button  Mushrooms in a butter sauce . 88

HAREWOOD SHIRAZ 2011, Denmark, Australia, 15.0%  XD  7g/L, #401380  $19.95  (Tasted March 28, 2015)

A Vintages released on March 7, 2015 rated 93 by James Halliday  (July 11, 2013).  My notes:  WineAlign rates this 2.5 .  The colour is a dense, coal hued ruby. A biting acid fills the first sip along with a coating of fine tannin, enough for a velvet texture to flavours of crushed dark fruit. A swirl leaves a firm film topped by a tight rim eventually shedding long slow legs. Full-bodied, bold with an intense finish and, for me, a sipper. Have with roast ribs, short, long, back, beef or pork - slow cooked with The Keg seasoning. Great with meat lovers pizza.  A Shiraz fortified by process. Could age several years without change.  89-1

ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI RISERVA 2010,  Siena, Italy, 13.5%  XD  xg/L,  #111641  $15.95  (Tasted April 8, 2015)

A Vintages release on December 1, 2014. My notes:  WineAlign  rates this vintage 3 of 5. On the other hand,  James Suckling rated it 91 (November 6, 2013). A deep ruby colour spreads a viscous film on the glass that settles to form a thin rim shedding tiny tears. Best to allow this to breathe 20 minutes or aerate for release of extra dry crushed red cherry aroma and tart woody flavours that, with a thin body, continue through a long finish. Not a sipper - a red to match spicy tomato sauces - if it's Italian it'll be a match. A drink now and not a value. 83

ZIRALDO RIESLING 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.1% D 13g/L, #357640  $19.95  (Tasted April 8, 2015) 

A Vintages release on February 1, 2014.  My notes: Grapes from the Victoria vineyard. Natalie McLean rates this 88 of 100 . There's a bronze tint to the crystal liquid and a subtle mineral aroma edged with lime. A ragged rim takes time to accumulate a ring of falling tears and leave a lacy reminder. Lip-smacking, a bright acid and a sweet lining then a tart chalk finish provides polite interest as a sipper. Pair with seafood, mussels in a wine sauce with a light garlic or fresh arugula and avocado slices. A drink now. 88

LIONEL OSMIN & CIE LA RÉSERVE MALBEC 2011, Cénac, France,  13.0%  XD 6g/L,  #328641  $13.95  (Tasted April 10, 2015) 

A Vintages release on March 21, 2015.  My notes: Wine-Searcher gives a rating of 87/100. An average 3 of 5 of 277 ratings on the vivino website . The colour is a deep ruby with a black cherry, see-through meniscus. A thin film adheres well leaving a lacy rim. The nose has a spicy plum core complemented with a red cherry brightness. Bold and tangy then a tad metallic on the first swallow - best to aerate. A woody aspect carries red cherries through a moderate, extra dry finish. A quencher at an outside bbq of ribs, T-bones or burgers. A drink now. The empty bottle weight is an eco-unfriendly 1.5lbs. 83a

SAN RAFFAELE MONTE TABOR SOAVE 2013, Veneto, Italy, 12.5%  XD  5g/L, #277392  $13.95  (Tasted April 9, 2015)

A Vintages release on February 7, 2015. My notes:  A green hued mid yellow with an aroma of grassy lemon plus a delicate stone fruit with an acid balance. The film is thin and lays motionless until long tears drain through slow legs and fragmented lace. Chalky mineral, tart lemon leaves the palate extra dry and clean. Have with broiled pork chops, cod on Cuban risotto or tomato pizza with anchovies or smoked salmon slices. A sipper if you prefer dddrrryyy and mineral biased lemon but makes an interesting seafood white. Serve chilled. 86-1    

PILLITTERI CANADIAN GOTHIC CHARDONNAY VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.0%  D  6g/L, #395624   $12.95  (Tasted April 12, 2015) 

A General listing. My notes:  WineAlign  rates this vintage 2.5 of 5 .  My notes: The colour is a bright mid yellow and, at a serving temperature of 10oC, a delicate stone fruit nose. Silky on the lips and well balanced stone and fruit, faint pineapple and apple flavour followed by a modest fullness with tart lemon. An evolving mineral builds a long, pleasing finish given time to appreciate. Have with mild fish dishes, breaded or with a white wine sauce. A drink now and a solid value. 88  

RABL LÖSS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013, Kamptal, Austria,  12.0%  XD  5g/L, #295709  $14.95  (Tasted April 24, 2015)

Released by Vintages on March 21, 2015. Beppi Crosariol gave this 91 of 100 in his G&M March  26th article. My notes: A shallow yellow in colour lays a thin film that gradually etches a lacy rim with each swirl. A slight floral and tangy fragrance titillates the nose persuading a first sip. Served chilled there's a subtle apple and dry mineral along with a tart finish that has some appeal as a social sipper. OK with broiled white fish on butter rice or with puréed cauliflower - a tad short for savoury seafood and chicken. A drink now - not for cellaring.  83

DOMAINE LES YEUSES LES ÉPICES SYRAH 2012, Pays d'Oc Midi, France, 13.5%  XD  4g/L, #177584  $15.95  (Tasted April 3, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 6, 2014.  My notes:  A flat charcoal stained ruby that leaves a thin film hanging from a lace edged rim until draining as fragments. The nose is a lightly spiced delicate plum and black cherry not pushing itself as a sipper nor a meal red while accommodating both. Finishes with ripe dark fruit long and dry on the palate. Spice is well managed. Have with grilled chops, lamb or pork, or with slow cooked short ribs and savoury osso bucco. A drink now - short term cellaring. 85

JEAN BIECHER & FILS RESERVE RIESLING 2012 , Alsace, France, 12.0% D 10g/L, #403105  $14.95  (Tasted April 23, 2015)

Released by Vintages on February 21, 2015. Rated 90 by Alison Napjus  (2013).  My notes: A clear light yellow colour with the tartness of fresh lemon to brighten the first sip and begs at least a tray of soft cheeses as counterpoint. A swirl leaves a thin film shedding light tears from a ragged rim. Serve chilled. As a flavour, this has its own blend of lemon muted by grapefruit and soft melon - couldn't tasted 'ginger'. The texture is smooth having a dryness that lasts through a long stony finish. A light bodied white to pair with white fish filets breaded and grilled. Try before if  buying to cellar.  84

ORMARINE CARTE NOIRE PICPOUL DE PINET 2013, Pinet, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L,  #525287  $12.95  (Tasted April 16, 2015)

Released by Vintages on January 24, 2015 and a gold medal winner at the 2014 Concours Général Agricole in Paris.  My notes:  67 ratings on the vivino website averaged 3.9 of 5. Beppi Crosariol gave it 87 of 100 in his March 26th G&M article.  The colour is a mid yellow with a fine clarity in the glass. The film is thin gradually separating into islands draining from a fragmenting rim. A slight aroma of field grass and a soft texture is a welcomed first sip, some lemon and apricot finishing extra dry primarily mineral and a suspicion of fruit. Serve well chilled for a sipper. Better as a house white with seafood: red snapper or tilapia with a white wine and butter sauce. 86

BISOL DESIDERIO JEIO COLMEI EXTRA DRY VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% D 15g/L, #030601  $16.95  (Tasted April 6, 2015)

Released by Vintages on March 7, 2015.  My notes: Serve at 8oC. Serve at 8oC. Pours with a full spritz and an aroma of subtly tangy tangerine. Some subtly sweet apple and mineral are included as a sip brings more character to the surface. The colour is a light straw, crystal clear, showing fine bubbles that persist. Smooth, a touch of chalk for texture and noticeable fresh fruit. Plan for summer festivities and sunny weather on the deck, marine or otherwise. A reasonable value that should cellar for a few years. Have with morning pancakes, sausage drizzles with maple syrup. 88

AKARUA RUA PINOT NOIR 2012, Central Otago, New Zealand, 14.0%  XD  5g/L,  #295592  $24.95  (Tasted April 14, 2015)

Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014 and rated 4 of 5 by Michael Cooper (Buyer's Guide to NZ Wines, 2014).  My notes:  A deep plum shading from the meniscus to an almost see through centre. A moderate film that leaves a rough rim to drain through slow tears. The nose is delicate with a touch of anise on black cherry, just discernible. Then a burst of fresh cherry, dark chocolate and tart spice nicely balanced to let the fruit predominate. A delicious blend that fades evenly into a extra long dry finish. Could serve as an interesting sipper for a wine crowd or as a fruit addition to roast chicken, duck or with a buffet of bacon wrapped asparagus, pigs in a blanket etc. Cellaring a few years may justify the price. 89

JEAN GEILER RÉSERVE PARTICULIÈRE RIESLING 2013, Haut-Rhin, France, 11.5%  D  8g/L, #408237  $14.95  (Tasted April 18, 2015)

Released by Vintages on April 4, 2015.  My notes:  A pale yellow with aromas of lemon lime softened by light grapefruit. A swirl casts a thin film quickly disintegrating from a lacy rim. There's a silk texture and tight acid on the first sip that changes rapidly to chalk that parches the mouth - as in 'licking plaster board'. A sipper if served with finger food or with raw oysters, seafood crepes or sunny-up eggs on syrupy pancakes. Unique for its extremely dry, pucker finish - try blind tasting with two or three other Rieslings or sample first.  83 

CARNIVOR CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Modesto, California, 14.0%  D  15g/L,  #392647  $14.95*  (Tasted April 19, 2015)

A General listing - price* reduced from $16.95 until April 26, 2015.  My notes:  A deep ruby with an attractive beet edging and an aroma blend that includes soft plum, a touch of sharp pepper and pencil shavings. Swirling leaves a substantial film that quickly sheds long legs. A smooth and full first sip fills in a profile with fine tannin, bright berry fruit finishing velvet smooth, a tad woolly. A pleasing sipper and a complement with burgers, slow cooked ribs or beef cobbler. Buy to imbibe now rather than cellar - but should keep a few years.  89** **Rating upgraded when paired with Stephano's Beef Cobbler - smoothness complimented by Conivar's fullness with the reserved red wine sauce of the Cobbler - perfect, add 2 for a 91-3 rating.
MONTGRAS CAB SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2013, Santiago, Chile, 13.5%  D 8g/L, #619205  $12.05  (Tasted April 22, 2015)

 A General listing.  My notes: The vivino website gives an average rating from 204 reviewers a 3.3 . WineAlign's rating is 3.0 of 5. The colour is a deep ruby and a swirl leaves a firm film that sticks to the glass until tears/legs cascade from a building rim. The nose has a brambly rawness not enticing as a sipper and the first sip carries the aroma into a dull flavour and dry finish - a touch of sweet cherry shows after airing. Serve with beef burgers,  grilled strip sirloin or lamb souvlakis. Decant and air forty minutes or aerate to add 2 for an 85a. 

5  Stars         It’s hard to imagine better quality (94-100 points).
4 ½  Stars    Excellent quality (90-93 points). 
4 Stars         Very good quality (87-89 points).
3 ½ Stars     Good quality (85-86 points).
3 Stars         Well-made wine but without distinction (82-84 points).