Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 2015 wines - 11 Tasted of 11

Wine and Art


Absentminded on a-nothing-to-do day a question came into mind. Can Wine be compared to Art? Are there genres/styles/levels of wine produced that are equivalent to techniques/media/methods of Art? Could one find an equivalent to the Group of Seven, the European Masters or Modernists and Impressionists, not of Art but of Wine? ... and are there winemakers with the dedication, the perseverance for perfection, an interpretation of grapes relative to each variety and blending, to attain a sense of a wine's place in a venue or on a menu? Of winemakers is there a range from a literary master capturing history and landscapes to a cartoonist colourfully imaging opinions as well as the spray can vandal scarring downtown architecture? Can such parallels be drawn across the spectrum of craft and commercial winemaking?

Certainly a range from famous to infamous reflects the wine industry today. The message is if there's money to be made there's a producer ready to bottle it. Rich to poor, connoisseur to novice, there's a budget and attitude to buy anything put on the shelf. At the lower price point often it's 'Drink up! There's more plonk where that came from!'

How does one avoid encouraging the unscrupulous wine merchant? You say wine critics are the answer! Here's where it gets tricky. There's also a full range of critics. From those providing prose for the endless bottles of put together crap and the ones being silent on what only they know is unworthy of positive comment. There's those walking a fine line unwilling to offend a generous owner.  With one exception I haven't read a wine critique that says plonk with clarity when they find a bad label.

The worth of both art and wine is established by talk - have a tasting, a seminar, a wine blog or record chatty trips to wineries and vineyards. Talk it up among colleagues, among consumers, collectors and investors. 'Talk' energizes the market but not the products within it. Critics don't have a role enforcing integrity (other than their own). Buying from a gallery or buying a case it's the buyer's call. No one else can identify the garbage - buyers have no voice. 

The Lagoon Plate XIX
Getting back to Wine vs Art... recently (close to a month now) I viewed a Charlie Rose TV show featuring a discussion of Matisse paper cutouts that amazed, no, startled me as a scholarly critic concluded values for these works of art. Evaluations were expressed in ethereal terms then on to dollars. Flowing lines, colour and shadings, suggestions of form sounding as a sonnet. An elixir of prose converging toward uniform persuasion of worth.

How many professional wine critics follow a similar eloquent approach. How we interpret words into value can be a leap. There's no intermediary - no, lets put it another way, there's so many expounding the qualities of wine that you and I can be easily distracted from our own judgment. 

'Invest' is part of both investigate and investment. For Wine, it's time to put more of ourselves into the conversation.

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP: (reds, whites)
  • Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 92-2  --  V, Puente Alto, Chile, #337238 $21.95 
  • Cono Sur Bicicleta Shiraz 2013, 86-1  --  G, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #064295  $10.00
  • Wynn's Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 86  --  V,  Coonawarra, Australia, #084996 $24.95*
  • Nederburg Winemaker's Reserve Shiraz 2013, 85-1  --  G, Western Cape, South Africa, #527457 $9.95   
  • Vina Real Plata Crianza 2010, 82  --  V, Rioja, Spain, #657411 $18.95
  • P|K|N|T Reserve Carmenère 2013, 81c  --  G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #191858  $9.95
  • Undurraga Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2013, 81a  --  G, Maipo Valley, Chile, #358945  $10.00 
  • Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2013, 79-NR  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #222281 $10.95*  

  • Errazuriz Estate Series Chardonnay 2013,  84  --  G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #318741 $10.95*
  • Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2014, 78  --  G, Victoria, Australia,  #668947  $10.95 
  • Hardys Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer 2013, NR  --  G, South Eastern Australia, #448548 $9.90  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended) 


VIÑA REAL PLATA CRIANZA 2010, Rioja, Spain, 13.5%  D  5g/L, #657411 $18.95  (Tasted February 19, 2015)

Released by Vintages on January 10, 2015. Rated 91 by Luis Gutierrez (December 2013).  My notes:  A soft berry nose, not much penetration and not that much fruit. A swirl coats the glass with a light film, a ragged rim and tears that quickly develop and fall. A sip gives a silk texture and light-body coating the palate with a fine tannin and a mild acid. A dull red currant, a flat blackberry and smoke forms a polite flavour profile - not much to please nor to object as the flavour drops and the finish dries the palate. Past peak and not a value.  Drink now. 82

NEDERBURG WINEMAKER'S RESERVE SHIRAZ 2013,  Western Cape, South Africa, 14.5% D 8g/L, #527457 $9.95*  (Tasted February 26, 2015)

A General listing *reduced from $11.95.  My notes: The tasting notes are not available of the winery website - perhaps a special bottling for the LCBO? WineAlign gave it 2.5 stars. The colour is a charcoal hued ruby. The nose has a peppery edge to a dark chocolate and blackberry fruit, subtle except for the spice. The first sip has a pleasing bite flowing with fine tannin, a silky texture and medium-bodied density. A viscous film sticks then quickly flows a ring of fast legs. Finishing is half way to bold with a long smoky ending. Pair with grilled steaks, long ribs, pot roast or just sip. At this price social sipping would be appropriate or offer with a buffet of bacon wrapped asparagus, pigs in a blanket, etc. Should keep awhile properly cellared. 85

ERRAZURIZ ESTATE SERIES CHARDONNAY 2013, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.5%  XD  4g/L,  #318741 $10.95*  (Tasted February 19, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $12.95*.  My notes:  The 2008 vintage was tasted in 2009, rated 81 with the comment 'a white looking for a grape'. This in contrast to an interesting 2007 vintage rated 94. Both were regularly priced $10.95. The crisp and clear mid yellow of the 2013 shines from the glass. Although subdued the nose has both fruit and a mild spice: mostly orange zest and vanilla tinged mango. The coolness on serving (10oC) retains the flavourings briefly then finishes dry, light-bodied with a touch of chalk and light tang. The body opens as the chill wanes (14oC) showing a pleasing texture. The film is moderate leaving a ragged rim and a few fast legs. Serve chilled with crab cakes, steamed lobster in a light tomato sauce or grilled scallops. A drink now.  84

UNDURRAGA ESTATE GROWN PINOT NOIR 2013, Maipo Valley, Chile, 13.5%  XD 6g/L,  #358945  $10.00  (Tasted February 23, 2015)

A General listing. My notes:  Beppi Crosariol rated this vintage of Chilean Pinot Noir 87. Ratings for other vintages are shown at WineEnthusiast however the Maipo Pinot Noir is not shown on the Undurraga website. An objectionable touch of BRETT shows in the first sniff along with bright red cherry flavours. The colour is a see-through ruby giving a light-bodied appearance borne out by a thin film fragmenting at the rim then quickly receding. A possible sipper after aerating but more of a meal red. Pair with grilled salmon steak or chicken pieces. A drink now. 81a

P|K|N|T RESERVE CARMENERE 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile,  13.5% D  5g/L, #191858  $9.95*  (Tasted February 22, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $10.95*.  My notes: Selected from an Outlet's on-sale bin. WineAlign rated this red a 2.  A 90/10 blend of carmenère and cabernet sauvignon from the Bronco Wine Company  of California. The colour is a charming, deep purple ruby that leaves a firm film with full rim shedding long fast legs. The first sip has a surprising sting, followed by drying tannins and a woody, lightly flavoured berry rough on the palate and lasting through a fading finish. A rough sipper needing buffet pastries or pairing with Texas chili, hamburgers with mustard and relish or a spicy crock pot stew. Not a drink now - I`d skip this vintage or try cellaring two to five years if already purchased. Our bottle was discarded. 81

TRAPICHE RESERVE SYRAH 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D 9g/L,  #222281 $10.95*  (Tasted February 27, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $11.95*. My notes: The 2011 vintage was tasted in March 2013, rated 84 saying "a pleasing mix of textures, a satin feel and drying tannins..." .  Rated 3.5 by WineAlign the 2013 is much the same as previous vintages however there's a sharpness along with strong tannins that eliminate it as a 'sipper' for most. The film is less firm with a rim that fragments while leaving fast legs. Thin, sharp and  woody on the palate replaces the 'satin feel' but retaining miniscule plum and red cherry for a long dry finish. Pair with duck, a savoury stew, rubbed ribs or a  T-bone. Not for cellaring. 79-NR

HARDYS STAMP SERIES RIESLING GEWURZTRAMINER 2013, South Eastern Australia, 11.5%  M  24g/L,  #448548 $9.90  (Tasted February 17, 2015)

A General listing produced by a Constellation Wines company.  My notes: The 2012 and 2007 vintages tasted previously were rated in the 70's and, this one being a gift, was an 'opportunity' to sample without the expense of a purchase. The colour is a crisp light yellow with a soft floral aroma and a touch of spice. A swirl sheds a thin layer and ragged rim that  slowly recedes. The first sip has a noticeable sweetness, a mild spice and flavour I found incompatible. The sweetness persists along with a dry edge and becoming cloying with continued sips. Serve with buffet nibbles (our guest blended with Diet Sprite) or serve with an M&M shrimp ring or seared scallops - with a plain/white wine sauce. A drink now and not recommended.  NR 

LINDEMANS BIN 85 PINOT GRIGIO 2014, Victoria, Australia,  12.5%  D  7g/L, #668947  $10.95  (Tasted February 25, 2015)

A General listing and a Southcorp Wines company.  My notes:  A mid to pale yellow, bright and shiny.  A shallow grapefruit nose with a light tang and subtle floral scent. Leaves a fragmented rim with fast tears. The first sip reveals a smooth lemon drop melting in the mouth followed by a balanced acid, a hollow aftertaste and a smoothness on the lips. A social sipper at an open bar enticing guests to look for an alternate. Pair with delicate seafood: breaded tilapia, cod or haddock. Serve off-chill for more flavour. A commercial drink now. 78

CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Puente Alto, Chile,  14.5%  XD 7g/L,  #337238 $21.95  (Tasted February 22, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014. The Book lists the 2012 vintage with a rating of 5. My notes: A viscous film on the glass with a veil of slow tears adds depth to the deep ruby colour. A sniff reveals a bitter edge to a penetrating tang with red currant starting a blanket of dense tannins and smoky black cherry. Full-bodied, smooth textured but initially throat grabbing makes this an interesting sipper. The intensity would complement savoury entrées: grilled, bbq'd or slow roasted - no subtlety here - a good partner. Cellar five years or more to soften some of the 'grip' or drink now. Packaged in a non eco-friendly 1.5lb bottle.  92

CONO SUR  BICICLETA SHIRAZ 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 13.0% D 8g/L,  #064295  $10.00  (Tasted February 24, 2015)

A General listing. My notes:  A deep ruby colour with the slightest whiff of warm smoky edged berries. The film is lightly viscous leaving a fragmented rim falling as a ring of tears. There's a pleasing brightness in the first sip with an increasing presence of fine tannins, young berry fruit, a tad jammy, shifting to a dry finish and subtle sweetness. Light in body and texture this is a polite sipper and would pair with grilled pork and beef. A commercial drink now. 86

WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE BLACK LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012,  Coonawarra, Australia, 13.5%  XD 5g/L,  #084996 $24.95*  (Tasted March 2, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014 and reduced from $27.95. 
My notes:  A purchase by my spouse along with another red above. A purple hued ruby, with a moderate film that hangs slow legs from a fragmented rim turning lacy. The nose exuded warm plum and spice aromas then settled to a soft spicy cherry. Softness continues from the first sip with an even fruit discreetly offering a long dry finish. A pleasing but overly dry sipper without a complementing tray of soft cheeses and Italian sliced meats. Have with lamb chops, souvlakis or slow cooked pot roast. Drink now - fades quickly. It may have a second life - but don't think so.  86