Saturday, April 16, 2016


Released by Vintages on October 31, 2015.  Rated 16 out of 20 by Jancis Robinson, February 18, 2015. (Reference: Wine Searcher )

POV 1 - Outside the Bottle:  What makes this carmenére special? From outside the bottle it's difficult to say. An opaque glass weighty enough to give an impression of 'quality'. A stylish tapered label tells a brief outline of Valle de Elqui, the most northern Valley of Chile offering long dry (arid) summers where day and night breezes often stress the vines. Accordingly all grapes used were planted in a single vineyard with consistent soil with planned drainage. Grapes were allowed to dry on the vine for an appassimento style producing density and richness and perhaps encouraging fresh and fruity, ripe and bold - even warm and penetrating. I'll guess it's pleasing to sip with a long penetrating smoke plush with dark chocolate. Ready for several years cellaring achieving a smoother companion for grilled and savoury beef or game. 

POV 2 - Inside the Bottle:  I, as a consumer, now have to decide whether to purchase this red based on the anticipation of PVO 1. If I'm fortunate to have read a critics opinion and if that critic has a taste similar to mine I may luck out.  

FALERNIA RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2013, Valle de Elqui , Chile, 15%  D  14g/L,  #269175  $19.95  (Tasted April 16, 2016)

My Tasting notes:  From the bottle this red has a mild cranberry edged with a light rhubarb. The colour is a rich ruby opaque to view and a swirl lays a fine film crinkled at the rim then receding quickly.  Smooth on the lips with cherry aromas and a light tang. A soft ripeness suggests silky vanilla and a very warm swallow fades quickly leaving only the fruit and soft reminder. A pleasing sipper that earns a quaff at times. A medium-bodied companion to lamb, beef or duck. Three years cellared and a few more to go before this starts its decline possibly losing some of its brightness /freshness. A flexible house red and no need to aerate. 

Rating:  B50 C5 N12 F&F16 P2 T5 90
Value  1 

(see side panel for more details)

96-100 Extraordinary
90 - 95 Outstanding
86 - 89 Interesting to Excellent
80 - 85 Drinkable to Enjoyable
70 - 79 Uninteresting to Simple
60 - 69 Unpleasant
50 - 59 Unacceptable 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


Released by Vintages on March 5, 2016.  Produced by Chateau Ste Michelle from 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot grapes. (Reference: Wine Searcher )
POV 1 - Outside the Bottle:

The 2012 retains the distinctive Crest of the previous vintage. Bottle shape as well shows a mature styling although bottle weight abuses eco interests. The small (2%) percentage Merlot will have taken the edge off a bold Cabernet Sauvignon suggesting this to be a great beef match as well as a rich, full-bodied sipper in the quiet time post dining. A touch of sweet typical of full West Coast reds adds rounding for a long woody finish. Grapes are from the same vineyards as the highly rated Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills red tasted in August 2015 . Aged four years I'd expect this to be at peak with an additional four years to mellow - a value purchase at the current price. 

POV 2 - Inside the Bottle:

COLUMBIA CREST GRAND ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 , Columbia Valley, Washington, 13.5% D 5.6g/L, #
240093  $17.95  (Tasted April 6, 2016)

Tasting notes: A crushed blackberry colour with a full meniscus tilting a circle of long legs. A swirl adheres to the glass momentarily before dropping in a slow motion cascade. A tangy and penetrating aroma anticipates a spicy first sip that doesn't disappoint. Silky, dry and slightly warming as berry juice spreads across the palate. Have with cheese crackers of the salty kind to cleanse before the next sip or have with beef, lamb or Texas chili, brighter than expected. At peak now with a few more years to build on a sturdy backbone.

B50 C5 N13 F&F16 P2 T5 91
Value  2 
(see side panel for details) 

96-100 Extraordinary
90 - 95 Outstanding
86 - 89 Interesting to Excellent
80 - 85 Drinkable to Enjoyable
70 - 79 Uninteresting to Simple
60 - 69 Unpleasant
50 - 59 Unacceptable

Friday, April 01, 2016

April 2016 Wines - 12 Tasted of 12

Spring's Frosty Canopy


LINEUP:  Reds, Whites, Rosés and Bubblies:

  • Terrazas de Los Andes Reserva Malbec 2013,  90-2  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #029280   $18.95
  • Vieni Briganti Red 2012 VQA Ontario, 85  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #435792  $ 12.95
  • Xavier 100% Cotes du Rhone 2012 vins d'Experts, 84  --  V, Rhône, France, #437079   $17.00
  • Vieni Bruce Trail Red 2011 VQA Ontario, 82  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #452169  $ 12.95 
  • Carmen Premier Reserva Carmenere 2015, NR*  --  O, Valle de Colchagua, Chile,  #Gift  $xx.xx

  • Gray Monk Pinot Auxerrois 2014 VQA Okanagan Valley, 91-2  --  V, Kelowna, BC, #BC096222,  $14.79
  • Vieni Estates Chardonnay 2012 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 91-2  --  V,  Beamsville, Ontario,  #388371  $18.25
  • Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2014 VQA Okanagan Valley, 89-1  --  V, Oliver, BC, #BC530683, $17.49 
  • Vieni Sauvignon Blanc 2013 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 88  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $19.95
  • Vieni Pinot Grigio 2013 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 84  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery  $14.95
  • Mauro Chardonnay 2014 IGT,  81  --  G, Puglia, Italy, #404491   $12.30 
  • Vieni Bruce Trail Rosé Sparkling NV VQA Ontario,  85  --  G,  Beamsville, Ontario, #452276  $ 15.95

Cheers, Ww


VIENI ESTATES CHARDONNAY 2012 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Beamsville, Ontario,  14.0%  XD  7g/L.  #388371  $18.25  (Tasted April 6, 2016)

Release by Vintages not listed. My notes: A golden hue gives a luxurious appearance to this Chard. A spicy caramel adds to the intro while a burnt butter combines with an extra dry texture and appealing tang to expand the sipping experience. A long mineral finish adds an extra element when paired with Thai stir fry and West Coast prawns - or ginger bean sprouts and seared mussels. Add to your Wine List for its 'difference'. A drink now. 91

VIENI BRUCE TRAIL RED 2011 VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% D  xg/L, #452169 D  xg/L  $ 12.95  (Tasted April 19, 2016)

A General listing. My notes: There's a touch of charcoal to this ruby red and a swirl leaves a film that sticks then drops a dozen fast tears. The nose has a noticeable tang to restrained plum and sweet cherry aromas and the first sip has a penetrating bitterness that carries into a long extra dry finish. I aerated at this point - there's less of a bite in the nose as well as the sip however a penetrating sharpness lingers for a long finish. Light bodied. Not a sipper but could pair with beef burgers with mustard, tomato and a slice of red onion, a Polish sausage with same toppings or a spicy pizza. We added sweet potato fries smothered in ketchup. A tad milder when left open overnight.  82

VIENI BRIGANTI RED 2012 VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0%  D  4g/L, #435792  $ 12.95  (Tasted April 24, 2016)

Release by Vintages not listed. My notes: A blend of Foch, Baco and a lesser known North American hybrid DeChaunac.  This medium-bodied blend is a black ruby that lays a firm but thin film to accumulate then drop a continuous rim of slow tears. The nose is soft black cherry wrinkled by the sun and releasing an aroma of warm plums. A sip casts tannin that lasts  through a long chalk dry finish showing prominent sweet jam, pleasant when quaffed, cloying when sipped. Cooling slightly (12-18oC) made an enjoyable sipper. Match with soft cheeses, Texas chili or savoury beef stew. 85

VIENI SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% xx  xg/L, #Winery  $19.95  (Tasted April 4, 2016)

Purchased at the Winery on March 16, 2016:  My notes: Serve well chilled (8-10oC) for a balanced body, dry and smooth texture and the flavour of tangy citrus. A faint yellow tints an otherwise untouched canvas. There's a mystery aroma that creeps from the chill expressing itself as subdued papaya or passion fruit. The finish is long with a predominant limestone edge and a touch of warmth. A drink now and pleasing as a solo sipper for a social setting, better with a cheese tray or mild seafood dishes - great with garlic shrimp and linguine. 88

VIENI PINOT GRIGIO 2013 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% D  xxg/L, #Winery  $14.95  (Tasted March 31, 2016)

Purchased at the Winery on March 16, 2016:  My notes:  Poured at 10oC the nose is faint and a thin film fragments from a circular rim then gradually falls. The colour is a clear, crisp golden. The first sip is dry and has a suspicion of sweet melon. A fragrance of mild apricot edges forward as the temperature rises to 15oC, my preference. A long finish combines the dry texture, slight warmth and flavours for an interesting sipper altho' could be masked depending on the main course - pair with grilled sole, cod or shrimp. A unique drink now.  84

Valle de Colchagua, Chile, 13.5%  xx  xg/L,  #Winery  $xx.xx  (Tasted April 12, 2016)

Purchased at the Vieni Winery.  My notes:  A dense ruby showing a film flowing a curtain of slow tears. An aroma of crushed blackberries drying in the sun tangy with a suspicion of sweet jam, smooth with a dry texture. Discarded as a sipper better with a grilled strip beef marinade. As flavour settles most fruit fades leaving a long finish of bramble and smoky black liquorice - better to pair with spicy pizza, savoury meat stew, or rubbed ribs. Aerating was not helpful. Try cellaring five years or skip. NR (*Much improved left open two days).      

TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES RESERVA MALBEC 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.5%  D  7g/L,  #029280   $18.95   (Tasted April 26, 2016)

Released by Vintages on January 23, 2016.  Rated 92 by James Suckling  (June 2, 2015).  My notes:  The colour is a clear deep ruby. The film sticks eventually releasing a rim of tears - a tearful arch when tilted. Soft berries, a subtle black or reserved rasp- start from a smooth sip. Some brightness and a penetrating warmth builds in the second sip - a blueberry edge creeps in for a long quiet finish. The aroma is subtle contributing a mild mineral focus. Could be an alternative red to cabernet sauvignon or Rhône blend on a social occasion. Match with a buffet of cold meats: rare strip steak on Panini bun - or stuffed mushrooms. Could cellar a few years. 90-2        

XAVIER 100% CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 VINS D'EXPERTS, Rhône, France, 14.5%  XD  xg/L,  #437079   $17.00   (Tasted April 23, 2016)

Released by Vintages on March 5, 2016. Rated 91 by Jeb Dunnuck  (October 2014).  My notes:  A blend of 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 25% Cinsault, Carignan and Marselan. Quite a blend of backbone builders, a balance of traditional flavours with dusty spices. If there's a dining hall of tasters mired in wine heritage this red would find a healthy list of admirers. But what of tasters having experienced the breadth of new world styles? A focus on balance from start to finish with smoothness and an interesting bite? A fruity freshness that carries across a long sumptuous finish. Flavours that standout and are able to pair with modern cuisine? Personally I think it's time to bring ratings into this century. 84

GRAY MONK PINOT AUXERROIS 2014 VQA Okanagan Valley, Kelowna, BC, #BC096222, 11.5%  XD 5.8g/L,   $14.79  (Tasted April 15, 2016)

Purchased in Burnaby in March 2016.  My notes:  A light lemon colour crystal clear in the glass displaying a thin film and wrinkled rim dropping in unison. The nose is pleasing initially subtle before adding a slight warmth. Full, fruity, dry and modestly tangy leads the first sip sensation that develops on the palate and stays for a long luscious finish. Enough chalk to encourage pairing with a tray of soft cheeses and spicy sausage slices - or meals of mussels, coconut shrimp, grilled halibut or a deep fried (then drained) fish and chip dinner. Cellaring may enhance fragrance. 91

TINHORN CREEK PINOT GRIS 2014 VQA Okanagan Valley, Oliver, BC,  #BC530683, 13.5%  XD  5.7g/L, $17.49  (Tasted
April 13, 2016)

Purchased in Burnaby in March 2016.  My notes: Poured at 10oC so the chill captures the fresh apple, quince and faint honeysuckle aroma. A crinkled rim releases fast tears unloading enough volume to remain as a stubborn film. Soft from the first sip belying a mild acid then a brief warmth leaving an extra dry mineral coating the palate. This matched nicely our microwaved roast chicken leftover from the evening before: breast, legs/thighs, backbone and wrinkled skin. Kept chilled (below 14oC) flavours and body complemented the added lingonberry. A drink now or several years in the cellar sampling now and then.  A North American PG. 89

VIENI BRUCE TRAIL ROSÉ SPARKLING NV VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% M  xg/L,  #452276  $ 15.95  (Tasted April 21, 2016)

A General listing. My notes: The LCBO classes the sweetness level as Medium.  The LCBO classes the sweetness level as Medium. A touch of salmon to a coquettish pink gives visual appeal. Bubbles are subdued although continue as tiny streams throughout early sips into the finish. The aroma has a suspicion of cherry and strawberry both subtle. A fine spritz is sustained during sips and continue to appeal as a bright soft tang comprises a long finish. Pair with vanilla layered cake, white icing and strawberry filling. Avoid unctious in the cake so rosé can cleanse and take prominence.  Serve well chilled, say 6-8oC. 85

MAURO CHARDONNAY 2014 IGT, Puglia, Italy, 13.0%  XD  5g/L, #404491   $12.30  (Tasted April 8, 2016)
 A General listing tasted by Beppi Crosariol in his G&M column April 1, 2016.  My notes:  A swirl cascades slow tears from a minutely rippled rim. The colour is a lemon juice yellow and there's a barely discernible unripe melon aroma combined with a refreshing tang. The first flavour to arrive is an unappealing mineral more suitable with shellfish than as a solo sipper: clams in a white wine sauce, raw oyster or mussels in a garlic sauce where the chosen flavours can predominate the meal. I preferred sipping at 15oC at which the texture smoothens and aroma and flavours settle. 81  

(see side panel for value ratings)

96-100 Extraordinary
90 - 95 Outstanding
86 - 89 Interesting to Excellent
80 - 85 Drinkable to Enjoyable
70 - 79 Uninteresting to Simple
60 - 69 Unpleasant
50 - 59 Unacceptable