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