Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday April 11, 2009 - Vintages Release

This LCBO’s Vintages release focuses on Easter Entertaining and Eco-Friendly wines. I understand how you get the “Eco” designation but there does not seem to be rhyme or reason as to how you get on the Easter list. As an aside to this release, there is a plug for the Somewhereness event that happens in the Spring - that’s where some of Ontario high-end, eco-friendly wineries get together for a tasting (Norman Hardie, Flat Rock Cellars, Stratus, Malivoire and Tawse) … unfortunately the LCBO tasting lab did not have these wines out for sampling so you’ll just have to wait for my Somewhereness report in the coming months. This year Somewhereness is taking place at Artscape Wychwood Barns (on Christie Street in Toronto), April 21, 2009.

And now let’s roll out the wines for April … Starting with those Eco-Friendly numbers, then the Easter hunt for good wine is on. From there is on to Ontario, where I’ll give you the links back to my website ( for full reviews of those chosen wines. The rest of the world follows in alphabetical order.

You’ll notice I have gone to a stars rating system at the end of each review. Top score for an outstanding wine is 5-stars, followed by excellent (4.5), very good (4), good (3.5) and average (3). As always I am looking for good values and I’m not afraid to give or take away a half mark for it.

Eco-Friendly Wines …
There has been so much written about Eco-Friendly, Organic and Bio-Dynamic wines that I will forego the pre-amble here and just get right into the wines you should buy, but I will say this: just because it says Eco-Friendly doesn’t mean it’s better, in fact some folks can’t stomach these wines, myself, I look at them like Kosher wines - many are god-awful but when you find one that’s good, it’s incredibly good, which makes me think that done right these wines have a good future - some of the best I have tried have come from France who has been using these techniques for longer than most. Enough … I said no pre-amble and now I’m preaching … let’s get to the wine:

Natura 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($15.95 - #0093914) - green apple, citrus and lots of grassy-grapefruit on the palate, big mouthfeel with a long persistent finish (****).
Domaine du Pre Baron Sauvignon Touraine 2007 ($15.95 - #0107128) - subtle flavours and smells, hints of grapefruit, gooseberry, and grass; great long finish … pleasant and all at a good price (*****).
Bonterra 2007 Zinfandel ($18.95 - #0530139) - cherry, vanilla, plum, cola, vanilla bean and all with a subtle sweetness from the 14.5% alcohol, though it finishes quite dry (****½).
Temple Bruer Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot 2001 ($23.95 - #0090316) - eucalyptus, blackberry on the nose, big juicy palate with blackberry, blueberry and chocolate (****½).
Domaine de la Sauveuse Cuvee Carolle Rosé 2008 ($17.95 - #0117341) - beautiful raspberry/strawberry nose that follows on the palate with just the merest hint of sweetness because of all that fruit, but there is no doubt this one’s dry. Great red fruit finish (****½).

Easter Entertaining …
I once had a friend explain Easter to me thusly: Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, his followers took his body off the cross and put it in a cave, and then on Easter Sunday he arose and emerged from the cave … and if he saw his shadow there would be six more weeks of winter. Now, I think he was pulling my leg with that one, but if you’re looking for some fun come Easter time you could tell that story or serve these wines - on the other hand, if enough wine is consumed that story just might make sense. Anyway, here’s what the LCBO deems as Easter-type wines:

Dufouleur Pere & Fils Cremant de Bourgogne Brut 2005 ($21.95 - #0047421) - yeasty, toasty apples, lots of fizz with peach, melon and citrus … a great way to kick off the party (****).
Konzelmann 2006 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal ($19.95 - #0409474 - 375ml) - a great wine to end the evening with.

Now here’s what to serve in-between:
Ironstone Vineyards 2007 Obsession Symphony ($14.95 - #0355784) - this makes for a nice light aperitif wine with its sweet floral and honeyed nose, this follows on the taste, if you’re a fan of Catawba wines or Muscat wines you’ll enjoy this one. This is one that plenty of women have swooned over. As a wine it rates 3-stars, but as panty remover (as a buddy of mine called it) it’s a 4-star wine … you decide what to do with it.
Stella Bella 2007 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc ($18.95 - #0048546) - lots of grapefruit and gooseberry with hints of vanilla that linger on the finish; there’s even a little honeydew here (***½).
Kaiken 2007 Malbec ($14.95 - #0058339) - this wine has so much going for it, blueberry, black raspberry, spices galore, chocolate, sweet fruit, touch of oak - delicious. A 4½-star wine that’s a 5-star value.
Mastroleo Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva 2004 ($15.95 - #0121632) - a nose of cranberry, sour cherry and herbs; dried red fruit appears on the tongue, an easy sipper with sweet herbs on the finish (***½).
Malivoire 2008 Ladybug Rosé ($15.95 - #0559088)
Domaine Maby 2008 La Forcadiere Tavel ($18.95 - #0701318) - dried sour cherry on the nose, cranberry, sour cherry and a nice dry finish. This is one of those rosés that people site as one of the best, not the sweet syrupy mess you usually think of when you see pink (****).

Argentina - White …
Viniterra Terra 2008 Viognier ($14.95 - #0057919) - vanilla and very tropical, great mouthfeel. (****)

Australia – Red …
Bremerton Matilda Plains 2007 Cabernet/Shiraz ($14.95 - #0020515) – juicy cherry, blackberry, vanilla, sweet spices on the nose with a great cherry-vanilla-cola in the mouth t an amazing price. (****½)

Australia – White …
Wakefield 2007 Chardonnay ($15.95 - #0711556) - creamy oak, caramel, vanilla and butter are the smells and what you’ll taste; there’s also tropical fruit that takes it from over-oaked to very pleasant.. (***½)

Chile - Red …
G7 Gran Reserve 2005 ($18.95 - #0094136) – great juicy blackberries and cherries; mint and lots of fruit with silky tannins, simply lovely, good with food or on its own. This is a BBQ season wine. (*****)

Chile - White …
Gracia de Chile 2007 Reserve Chardonnay ($14.95 - #0093765) - nice citrus and tropical nose with delicate notes of apple, citrus, tropical fruit and melon. (****)

France – Red …
Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2006 ($49.95 - #0070888) – a nose loaded with pepper, herbs, spices and black cherry; the spices and herbs follow in the mouth with a mix of red and black fruit and a very long finish with tough tannins. This is a big wine. (****½)

France – Sparkling …
Jacquart Extra Brut Champagne ($49.95 - #0092817) - baked and toasted apple on the nose, hints of sweet apple on the palate with a crisp citrus lingering finish. (****½)

France - White …
Andre Blanck et ses Fils Clos Schwendi Pinot Gris 2007 ($19.95 - #0686311) - a sweet entry to the mouth leads to melon rind and a long finish. (****)
Domaine Roger Luquet Terroir Pouilly-Fuisse 2007 ($29.95 - #0907931) - nice mineral, citrus and fresh fruit with a minimalist use of wood which adds a dusting of vanilla on the finish … full of elegance and finesse. (****½)
Domaine de Gourgazaud 2007 Viognier ($15.95 - #0734533) - nice crisp white with vanilla, tropical notes and a slight butteryness. (****)

Italy - Red …
La Vigna Vecchia Barbera D’Asti 2005 ($15.95 - #0106278) – herbs and spices run throughout this one, the finish delivers plums and cherries; wonderful flavour at a wonderful price, a half star added for value. (*****)
Castellani Vignetti di Campomaggio Rosso 2003 ($22.95 - #0072371) – smells of berries and black pepper; a peppery palate loaded with cherry, berries and plums. The aftertaste left a long spicy tannic finish. (****½)
Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 ($26.95 - #0930966) – dried fruit, spiced plum, hot cocoa, herbs with an undertone of prunes and plums; sweet spice makes up the finish. (****½)

New Zealand – Red …
Brancott 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir ($29.95 - #0093708) – earthy, sour cherry, cinnamon, vanilla with a good mix of herbs and spices. (****½)

Portugal – Red …
Burmester Red Douro 2006 ($16.95 - #0114413) – aromas of blackberry, blueberry and chocolate with the same flavours in the mouth; delicious and silky smooth. (****)
Cortes de Cima Chamine 2007 ($16.95 - #0650291) – sweet mouthfeel, plums, chocolate and juicy cherry. (****)

United States - Red …
Tangley Oaks 2005 Merlot ($21.95 - #0068155) – a cherry-mocha-spice nose which found its way onto the palate … very tasty. (****½)

United States - White …
Calera 2006 Viognier ($26.95 - #0090217) - apple and pear on the nose, great sweet taste in the mouth comes from all that fruitiness. Tropical, vanilla and those apples and pears from the nose. (****½)
Jocelyn Lonen 2006 Chardonnay ($39.95 - #0090076) - this one’s all wood with caramel, vanilla, toffee on both the nose and taste; there’s very little fruit at this time but I liked this full-bodied beauty. (****)

Take a Chance on Me …
Here’s a wine from Moldova, I know not exactly the wine capital of the world, but this one was very good. Bostavan 2005 Pinot Noir ($13.95 - #0109041) with earth, sour and black cherry, the price is good so that taking a risk doesn’t break the bank. And it’s an easy to spot bottle – you’ll see what I mean.

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on April 11, 2009:
Domaine de la Sauveuse Cuvee Carolle Rose 2008 ($17.95 - #0117341) - France
G7 Gran Reserve 2005 ($18.95 - #0094136) - Chile
La Vigna Vecchia Barbera D’Asti 2005 ($15.95 - #0106278) - Italy

Happy Shopping.

Saturday March 28, 2009 - Vintages Release

Another two-fer from LCBO headquarters … this time out we’ll be visiting Burgundy and Spain. Those fans of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes know they pay big bucks for the best, I’ll see what I can do to save you a few shekels on a couple of the good ones - I‘ll try to point you in the right direction anyway. Fans of Spain know that Spanish wines are offering up some of the best bargains today, this is the main focus of this release, so expect to see good values and good wines to stock the cellar, and I’ll let you in on the best.

So let’s get started. I’ll begin in Spain, move to Burgundy and move on to the rest of the world in alphabetical order.

You’ll notice I have gone to a stars rating system at the end of each review. Top score for an outstanding wine is 5-stars, followed by excellent (4.5), very good (4), good (3.5) and average (3). As always I am looking for good values and I’m not afraid to give or take away a half mark for it.

Spain …
No Spanish whites make the release this time out but there is a neat-o Sherry you should know about. Not officially part of the release, but it is from Spain. Mom always told me that no dessert until you finished the main, but in this case I am going to make an exception: Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez Dulce Sherry ($18.95 - #0087577) is the kind of sweet experience that life was meant to be. Thick raisin pie, toffee, molasses, caramel - you name the sweet and it’s probably in there, absolutely fabulous. Don’t expect to have a lot, a little goes a long way to curb your sweet tooth (*****).

My Spanish red choices range in price from $15.95 - $64.95 … We’ll start with a $34.95, 4½ star number: Finca Allende Allende 2005 (#0954560) - delicious black fruit, cinnamon/nutmeg with a tasty black and plum fruit finish. Reasonable best describes the Jean Leon Terrasole 2005 Tempranillo/Monastrell Crianza ($16.95- #0114298), dark fruit, dusty tannins, quite smoky with coffee notes (***½). The Marques de Velilla Crianza 2003 ($24.95 - #0103515) offers up sweet vanilla-plum on the nose with a delicious palate that has black fruit, plum and sweet spices (****½). Ontanon Reserva 2001 ($24.95 - #0725895) is another beauty that’s complex and tasty; cocoa, dried blackberry, cinnamon and spice with a smooth silky tannin finish (****½). How about this very Zin-like Palacios Remondo La Vendima 2007 ($15.95 - #0674564), lots of plum, cherry-cola and vanilla sweetness that comes across as pleasant and easy drinking (****). The big gun is the Pintia 2005 ($64.95 - #0022954), 100% Tempranillo done in French and American oak. It’s a smooth, lush beauty - chocolate, black fruit, smoky and big on tannins …it’s a cellar dweller for sure; the price tag stops it from being 5-star, but it’s an easy 4½ recommend. I’ll end the tour of Spanish wines the way I began, going off the radar and recommending something not being highlighted, but from the highlight country: Luna Beberide Mencia 2006 ($17.95 - #0095554) - black fruit, juicy plum, and vanilla - very tasty (****).

Burgundy …
A couple of whites and a single red caught my palate this time out; considering there are 5 whites and only three reds so I think that’s an okay ratio. The Chartron & Trebuchet Saint-Romain Blanc 2006 ($24.95 - #0110296) has lots of white tree fruit with vanilla nuances and a nice lemon drop finish (***½). The Chateau de Maligny le Carre de Cesar Chablis 2007 ($22.95 - #0708339) is apple, vanilla with a crisp seam of minerality in an easy drinking style (***½). Finally, I was impressed with the middle ground Pinot here: Nicolas Potel Morey-Saint-Denis Vieilles Vignes 2005 ($49.95 - #0110403), earthy, red berry and gritty dry tannins (***½). For those looking to spend a little extra cash on a really-nice Chardonnay should check out the Domaine Michel Caillot Meursault la Barre Dessus-Clos Marguerite 2005 ($59.95 - #0020545): big wood, sweet butter on the palate with smoked-toffee notes, quite the mouth full (****).

Argentina – Red …
Graffgna Centenario Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($15.95 - #0093716) - blackberries and sweet red fruit on the nose; mocha-cocoa, cassis and blackberries on the tongue. (****)
Humberto Canale Estate Merlot 2007 ($15.95 - #0094326) - a confectioners dream: mint, red licorice and chocolate, yum. (****½)

Australia – Red …
Bremerton Tamblyn 2006 ($18.95 - #0108050) - a blend of Cab, Shiraz, Malbec and Merlot that has a nice cool entry with sweet fruit, blackberries, white pepper and a slight, yet appealing jamminess. (****1/2)
De Bortoli Windy Peak 2008 Pinot Noir ($18.95 - #0048587) - nice cherry, strawberry fruit, good tannins, a touch earthy, quite pleasant and good value. (****½)
Piping Shrike 2006 Shiraz ($18.95 - #0048504) - peppery, black fruit, mocha, smooth with bit of a jammy quality, yet very drinkable without being all sweet fruit. (****)
The Hedonist 2005 Shiraz ($19.95 - #0090191) - smooth with sweet chocolate, blackberry, plum, and pepper - a typical Shiraz, but nice. (****)
Wakefield 2007 Merlot ($16.95 - #0683201) - Chocolate, blackberry and other sweet fruit. Very enjoyable. (***½)

Australia – White …
Benwarin 2006 Semillon ($17.95 - #0683235) - this one’s bizarre but in a good way. Soft and gentle on the palate, mineral and lemonade with vanilla nuances; very tasty almost elegant and, here’s the interesting/bizarre part, it has only 9.5% alcohol. (***1/2)
Wits End Free Settler & The Convict 2007 Chardonnay/Viognier ($13.95 - #0090928) - full in the mouth, dried pear, peach and dried apple rings, lots of fruit on the palate and a medium length finish. (****)

Chile - Red …
Botalcura La Porfia Grand Reserve Cabernet Franc ($22.95 - #0083717) - big mint and black fruit on both the nose and palate. (****)

Chile - White …
Casa Lapostolle 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($13.95 - #0396994) - melon and gooseberry, crisp, clean and refreshing; the palate and price are just right. (***1/2)

France – Red …
Domaine des Graves D’Ardonneau Cuvee Prestige 2004 ($24.95 - #0091405) - smooth cedary and dried blackberries, this one seems to be maturing quickly so drink up now. (***½)
Cuvee du Vatican Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2006 ($37.95 - #0719120) - sweet red and black fruit, pleasant palate with drying tannins and a mocha cedar finish. (****½)
Perrin & Fils Cairanne Peyre Blanche 2006 ($18.95 - #0650960) - black raspberry, vanilla oak, gritty tannins but with a smoothness on the finish. (****)

France – Sparkling …
Dopff au Moulin Cremant D’Alsace Cuvee Julien Brut ($18.95 - #0641365) - sweet fruit, juicy and apple-y … great fun in a bubbly, and I love the price. (****)

Italy - Red …
Luce Della Vite la Vite Lucente 2006 ($39.95 - #0747030) - big cedar, black fruit, spicy, herbs, dark dark fruit … you’ll have to wait on this one, it’s a 4-star now on it’s way to 4½ or higher. (****)

Italy - White …
Torre Varano Taburno Falanghina 2007 ($16.95 - #0106351) - flinty flavour with green apple acidity; this one has a bite you back quality. (***½)

South Africa -White …
Kleine Zalze Barrel Fermented Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2008 ($18.95 - #0096495) - this wine is defined by what it is not: not too oaky, not too vanilla-y, not overly fruity; it’s a “baby bear” wine: just right. Palate finishes dry and leaves you wanting more. (****½)
Kleine Zalze 2008 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc ($16.95 - #0096255) - grapefruit, gooseberry and lime zest. (***½)

United States - Red …
Ridge Lytton Springs 2006 ($58.95 - #0982413) - with 80% Zinfandel in the blend this one has it all for Zin-fans: red fruit, plum, cola, cherry, cinnamon and some cedar-vanilla ... lovely smoothness. (****½)

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on March 14, 2009:
Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez Dulce Sherry ($18.95 - #0087577) - Spain
Humberto Canale Estate Merlot 2007 ($15.95 - #0094326) - Argentina
Cuvee du Vatican Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2006 ($37.95 - #0719120) - France

Happy Shopping.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saturday March 14, 2009 - Vintages Release

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching the LCBO parades out the Whiskeys. In all the years I’ve enjoyed alcoholic beverages I have never been fond of whiskey – and this year is no exception … so if you’re looking for whiskey reviews best go elsewhere, I’m not your guy. Check back next year, maybe I’ll have acquired the taste by then, not likely but you never know.

The other focus is Ontario whites … I’m glad to see the LCBO embracing their province, I just wish they would do it more often, and learn to stock shelves properly, but that’s a different topic for another day. Oh, and there is a tiny Kosher release, I have to admit I make your choice even tinier – Kosher wines have never been known for their value and good taste - at the same time is almost unheard of.

Full Ontario reviews can be found on my website ( - the rest can be fond right here – starting with the focuses: Ontario, Kosher and then the rest of the world in alphabetical order.

You’ll notice I have gone to a stars rating system at the end of each review. Top score for an outstanding wine is 5-stars, followed by excellent (4.5), very good (4), good (3.5) and average (3). As always I am looking for good values and I’m not afraid to give or take away a half mark for it.

Ontario Whites …
Cave Spring 2007 Estate Riesling ($17.95 - #0286377) - Weekly Wine Note 03/10/09
Colio 2006 CEV Sauvignon Blanc ($15.95 - #0500462)
Daniel Lenko 2006 Unoaked Chardonnay ($19.95 - #0091173)
Featherstone 2007 Old Vines Riesling ($18.95 - #0064584)
Fielding Estate 2006 Dry Riesling ($16.00 - #0090993)
Hillebrand 2007 Trius White ($18.95 - #0054957)
Jackson-Triggs 2007 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve White Meritage ($24.95 - #0109371) – Weekly Wine Note 03/17/2009
Kacaba Vineyards 2006 Horizon Ridge Sur Lie Chardonnay ($15.95 – 0116392)
Malivoire 2006 Chardonnay ($22.00 - #0573147)

Kosher …
Hold onto your kippas folks I might have found your Passover wine. Those looking to keep costs low and still have a decent glass of the Kosher stuff might want to look into the Beckett’s Flat range of Kosher wines called Five Stones. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon ($18.95 - #0108001) has a crisp start and a full finish with lime, grapefruit and plenty of other citrus notes. Smooth and refreshing (***1/2). Those looking for something red will want to try the 2007 Cabernet/Shiraz ($19.95 - #0058693) with blackberry and sweet spices (***1/2). Both wines are under twenty-bucks and will make sure Elijahu stops by for a visit, cause he too likes the good dry stuff over the sweet Mad Dog (Manechewitz).

Two Israeli reds that find the Kosher mark are also being released – but don’t expect to pay a value price for them: Ella Valley Vineyards Merlot 2004 ($43.95 - #0058891), with plum, blackberries, spice, herbs, chocolate and a nice fruit and spice finish; despite it’s price it still rates 4-and-a-half stars. While the Yarden 2004 Pinot Noir ($36.95 - #0060756) has big drying tannins with an earthy, strawberry/raspberry component – heavy on the dirt. (****)

Argentina – Red …
Caitec 2006 Pinot Noir ($15.95 - #0109025) – soft palate with strawberry, black cherry, spice and some cinnamon. (***1/2)

Australia – Red …
Elderton Ode to Lorraine 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot ($37.95 - #0976423) – plum, chocolate, spice, herbs, cherry, strawberry with a good plum-cinnamon finish. (****1/2)
Grant Burge 2006 Cameron Vale Cabernet Sauvignon ($20.95 - #0937276) – elegant and easy drinking, lots of white pepper and blackberry. (****)
Wakefield 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15.95 - #0744235) – if something can smell smooth this one does with a very pleasant blackberry smell and taste, good value. (****)
Water Wheel 2006 Shiraz ($18.95 - #0700815) – here’s another well priced wine; good fruit (black), good pepper (white and black) with a plum back up. (****)

Australia – White …
Richard Hamilton 2008 Almond Grove Chardonnay ($16.95 - #0741009) – slight hint of almond on the palate with vanilla, butter, toffee/butterscotch – juicy tree fruit and pineapple/tropical notes … all at an excellent price. (****1/2)

Chile - Red …
Mayu Reserva Carmenere 2005 ($17.95 - #0090035) – minty black fruit nose; smooth on the palate with blackberries, plum and hints of herbs. (****)
Tricyclo 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc ($15.95 - #0027474) – pleasant and nice, cherries, tobacco, chocolate with a plethora of other red berries and a touch of herbs. (****1/2)

Chile - White …
Kankura Fleurs Blanches Chardonnay 2007 ($12.95 - #0096297) – there’s a hint of sweetness on this Chardonnay, and it seems to mimic Sauvignon Blanc in the flavour with lots of citrus in the back with apple up front. (***1/2)

France – Red …
Laurent Mabileau St-Nicolas-de-Bourgeil 2006 ($15.95 - #0061192) – tasty, with tobacco and raspberry dominating; good cedar with herbs and spice. (****)
Castel Oualou Cotes du Rhone 2007 ($13.95 - #0104893) cherry aromas and flavours, lots of plum and very, very good value. (****1/2)
Domaine de la Pequelette Cuvee Emile 2005 ($17.95 - #0104950) – licorice, plum and blackberry on the nose; chocolate on the palate with an amazing smoothness. (****)
Chateau St Didier Parnac Prestige 2005 ($16.95 - #0303529) – another Cahors biggie here; spicy, black fruit, licorice, leather and spicy. Good price for a 10 year cellar dweller. (****1/2)

France – Sparkling …
G.H. Martel & Co. Prestige Brut Champagne ($47.95 - #0087485) – pleasant and toasty with apple-y yeasty notes; there’s even a touch of sweetness on the finish. (****)
Bailly Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne Reserve Brut ($19.95 - #0991562) – crisp, pleasant citrus and dry – there’s a bit of biting acidity too. Nice price for a good bubbly. (****)

France – White …
Domaine Saint-Remy Vieilles Vignes Gewurztraminer 2007 ($19.95 - #0106872) – spicy orangey with a little oiliness on the spicy palate, there’s a hint of sweetness and a long finish. (****1/2)
Pierre Sparr 2006 Pinot Gris Reserve ($18.95 - #0983395) – this is a ready for spring wine with a great nose and good palate. (****)
Chateau de Tracy Mademoiselle de T Pouilly-Fume 2007 ($25.95 - #0106773) – great Sauvignon Blanc nose and the palate follows right along; nice lingering citrus/grapefruit finish makes this wine last an extra long time. (***1/2)

Italy - Red …
Santa Margherita 2006 Chianti Classico ($19.95 - #0091694) – pleasant and easy drinking with herbs, spice and dried red fruit. (****)

New Zealand – White …
Soljans Estate 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($17.95 - #0091223) – this ones is typical Savvy B from New Zealand, but at a very affordable price, lots of citrus and gooseberry on both the nose and palate. (***1/2)

Portugal – White …
Varanda do Conde Alvarinho/Trajadura 2007 ($14.95 - #0966663) – crisp lemon/lime and a good mineral quality – there also seemed to be a little bit of banana chip in there. (***1/2)

Spain – Red …
Bodegas Ateca Atteca Old Vines 2006 ($22.95 - #0103473) – minty, plum and black fruit (mainly cherry) with a great smoothness on the palate. (****1/2)
Les Mines Priorat 2005 ($25.95 - #0103481) – rich with red and black fruit, robust and lush – plush in the mouth, dry with tons of spice. (****)

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on March 14, 2009:
Castel Oualou Cotes du Rhone 2007 ($13.95 - #0104893) - France
Tricyclo 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc ($15.95 - #0027474) - Chile
Richard Hamilton 2008 Almond Grove Chardonnay ($16.95 - #0741009) – Australia

Happy Shopping.