Monday, August 2, 2010

Saturday August 21, 2010 - Vintages Release

I am using a 5-star rating system, which appears at the end of each review; here’s the key to the stars:
5 = Outstanding … 4.5 = Excellent … 4 = Very Good … 3.5 = Good … 3 = Average
I’m always looking for good value and I’m not afraid to give or take away a half mark for it – I’ll let you know when I’ve done so.

We’ve got “Signature Wines” and German wines on the menu this week at Vintages, let’s take a taste …

Signature Wines …
Not sure what constitutes a “signature” wine in this release – if they mean the wine you are most noted for I think they are off the mark with this first offering from Ontario: Wildass 2008 Riesling ($19.95 - #0129700), Wildass is brought to you by Stratus and this certainly isn’t their signature wine, it’s very good but definitely not signature.  From the U.S. comes Hess Estate 2008 Chardonnay ($19.95 - #0181578) a nice mix of fruit and oak, butter, toffee, with some under-ripe apple and peach; creamy in the mouth (****).  This makes more sense in the signature department, Mount Riley 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($14.95 - #0981670), this one is mellow for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, though it still has nice flavours: grapefruit and passionfruit lead the charge here with a long pleasing finish, price makes this one a steal (****½).  Going to California means Zinfandel, and Howling Moon 2007 Old Vines Zinfandel ($18.95 - #0057356) is a pretty good rendition of what this grape can do, plum-cherry smoothness with some vanilla adding charm (****).  From Australia is the Woop Woop 2008 Shiraz ($14.95 - #0180174) good blue and black berry with peppery chocolate undertones (****).  South Africa started their own signature grape with Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, not a wine that’s popular with everyone but this version just might change a few minds: Lammershoek 2007 Pinotage ($18.95 - #0954594).  Full of flavour with coffee and mocha notes, cherry, plum and smooth tannins, I was rightfully impressed here (****½).

German Wines …
Becker-Steinhauer 2008 Riesling Kabinett ($15.95 - #0161786) – fresh and lively Riesling with good acidity, mineral and apple-peach fruit notes (****).   
Balthasar Ress 1997 Riesling Spatlese ($21.95 - #0160762) – another week and another wine from the ‘look what we found’ department.  This is a 13 year old sweet Riesling that has stood the test of time: petrol, honey, violets, dried pear and mineral all make up this damn fine wine. (****)

Argentina – Red …
Alamos 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($13.95 - #0467944) – juicy blackberry and cherry with a satisfyingly pepper and spice finish – great price for this wine. (****) 

Argentina – White …
Accuro 2009 Torrentes ($14.95 - #0179416) – if you haven’t tried Argentina’s signature white wine, it’s time. This has a pretty Gewurztraminer-like nose with the g-wine like flavours; there’s a hint of sweetness and lovely fruit; give it a try and be ready to be impressed. (****)

Australia – Red …
Heartland 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #0058099) – supple, rich and black; I know some women who are looking for that combination … of course I meant in their wine. (****)
Two Hands 2008 Brave Face Shiraz/Grenache/Mataro ($24.95 - #0660035) – this is always a wine with face melting alcohol (15.3%) but it’s lovely and quaffable at the same time: plum, coffee, blackberry are all in plentiful supply, there is also some very nice spice on the finish. (****½) 

Canada – White …
- Click on wine name for full review

Chile – Red …
Los Rosales 2008 Chapel Vineyard Reserva Carmenere ($12.95 - #0169490) – black currant and blackberry lead the way, plum and black raspberry follow; good acidity and nice spice round it all off. (****)

France – Red …
Chateau Roquetaillade La Grange Vieilles Vignes 2006 ($21.95 - #0125666) – this one’s got the goods: good black fruit, good cedar, good spice and good backbone. (****)
Chateau Auzias Petits Messieurs Cabardes 2008 ($14.95 - #0177592) – nice black fruit, spice, licorice root, vanilla and plum; there’s some holding power here so buy some for the cellar too. (****)
Chateau de Beaucastel 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($84.95 - #0711317) – chocolate, lovely sweet fruit, this wine is absolutely delicious – and it’s priced like it knows that. (****½)
Le Ferme du Mont 2007 Le Ponnant Cotes du Rhone-Villages ($17.95 - #0171371) – funny wine here, tried two bottles, one was brilliant that other barely passable, look for the one with the winery name stacked on the label, not the words all in a row. Juicy and intense with lots of black fruit and licorice. (****)
Perrin & Fils 2007 L’Andeol Rasteau ($19.95 - #0976845) – this one is just what the doctored ordered for BBQ night: juicy red fruit, mineral, pepper, good tannins backbone, nice acidity along with a cocoa laced cherry finish. (****½) 

France – Sparkling …
Domaine Alimant-Laugner Brut Cremant d’Alsace ($17.95 - #0030593) – pleasant creamy lemon and apple flavour with a touch of sweetness. (****)
Louis Bouillot Perle D’Ivoire Brut Blanc de Blancs ($18.95 - #0048801) – a charming little bubbly with crisp apple and a nice limeade note. (****)

Italy – Red …
Rendola 2004 Brunello di Montalcino ($36.95 - #0181412) – earthy, smoky and dried plum with good acidity; the label is a direct Penfolds knock off, and it’s tasty too. (****)
A Amarone della Valpolicella 2007 ($31.95 - #0179366) – plumy, chocolaty, good acidity and well-priced for an amarone. (****)
Antiche Terre Ripasso Valpolicella 2008 ($14.95 - #0178459) – chocolate and black cherry, a hint of sundried tomato with good spice, this is a steal at that price. (****½)

Italy – Sparkling …
Banfi 2009 Rosa Regale Acqui ($14.95 / 375ml - #0179358) – lovely strawberry-raspberry bubbly along the lines of a Moscato with its 7% alcohol, light floral note makes this a delicate, feminine and delicious dessert sipper. (****)

Italy – White …
Clivus Soave 2009 Classico ($13.95 - #0181180) – light and refreshing with lemon peel and juicy mac apple. (****)

New Zealand – Red …
Babich 2008 Pinot Noir ($19.95 - #0000216) – nice bit of Pinot wine making here with sour black cherry, spice, pepper and just the right amount of acidity on the finish. (****)

Portugal – Dessert …
H.M. Borges Medium Sweet Aged 3 Years Madeira ($17.95 - #0169482) – a fine Madeira my dear with orange spice, caramel and orange peel through and through. (****)
Vinzelo Ruby Port ($12.95 - #0169623) – this is a real beauty of a ruby: ripe cherry, chocolate, spice, really delicious; with and attractive label and an attractive taste, this is the complete package. (****½)

Spain – Red …
Etim 2007 Seleccion ($15.00 - #0681346) – a value priced red with red fruit, mineral, a hint of black fruit and a little chocolate thrown in for good measure. (****)

Ukraine – Dessert …
Massandra South Coast Red Dessert Wine 2005 ($14.95 - #0013920) – looking for something different to serve after the meal, this might just do the trick; enjoyably spicy with red plums; for port fans looking to expand their horizons. (****)

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on August 21, 2010:
Vinzelo Ruby Port ($12.95 - #0169623) – Portugal 
Heartland 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #0058099) – Australia
Lammershoek 2007 Pinotage ($18.95 - #0954594) – South Africa

Happy Shopping.

Saturday August 7, 2010 - Vintages Release

I am using a 5-star rating system, which appears at the end of each review; here’s the key to the stars:
5 = Outstanding … 4.5 = Excellent … 4 = Very Good … 3.5 = Good … 3 = Average
I’m always looking for good value and I’m not afraid to give or take away a half mark for it – I’ll let you know when I’ve done so.

Two themes take the spotlight in this week’s release: the Italians (most notably South Central Italy) and Summer Sippers from all over, let’s take a taste …

Summer Sippers …
Starting off those Summer Sippers is this bubbly from South Africa: Graham Beck Brut Rosé ($17.95 - #0175588), it’s quite the fizzy summer drink with the backing of nice strawberry and fresh raspberry – this one is full of flavour and fun (****).  In the white department there’s the Chateau de L’Ecochere 2008 Muscadet Sur Lie ($13.95 - #0169649) with it’s Sauvignon Blanc nose and classy S.B. flavours with nice acidity that’s brings it all together (****).  Italy brings in the Ricossa 2009 Moscato D’Asti ($14.95 - #0072272) and nothing says summer like Moscato, light in alcohol and long on fresh taste: a bit of spritz carrying it through on the taste buds with its ginger ale and grapey flavours; this one even has a bit of an orange note for added fun (****).  Finally, one of my favourite Ontario Rosés comes out in the 2009 version: Malivoire 2009 Ladybug Rosé ($15.95 - #0559088).  That concludes the summer sippers I was impressed with, there are plenty more great wines for summer below.

South-Central Italy …
Kicking off our trip to South-Central Italy is this Marchetti Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2008 ($12.95 - #0104869), this is a character based Verdicchio with nice mineral-stoniness and lemon rind, good length on the finish (****).  The Bisceglia di Vulcano Aglianico del Vulture ($14.95 - #0106302) is a juicy black fruit number with hints of spiced rum and sweet tea (****).  There’s the Apollonio 2004 Copertino Rosso ($16.95 - #0023226) with its flavours of dark fruit sprinkled with cocoa, a hint of leather and a finish with a spicy nature (****).  The rustic scented Francesco Minini Terre Avare Primitivo di Manduria 2008 ($12.95 - #0180307) with its plumy, sweet fruit palate that returns to its rustic roots on the finish (****).  And finally, the Francesco Minini Corte dei Mori Nero d’Avola ($13.95 - #0180281), this one has some real zip and zing behind it: plum, red fruit with a touch of spice, cinnamon and sweet chocolate – very juicy and very enjoyable (****½)

Argentina – Red …
Familia Cassone Finca la Florencia Malbec 2008 ($13.95 - #0063545) – go for the mid range priced Malbec this release it’s worth the dollar or so more; you get raspberry, strawberry and chocolate with herb notes and plenty of taste on the tongue. (****) 

Argentina – White …
Chakana 2009 Yaguarete Collection Sauvignon Blanc ($12.95 - #0178111) – apply what you know about Sauv Blanc and Argentina and you get the picture of the quality and value in this wine.  Lots of white fruit with hints of grass and passionfruit. (****)

Australia – Red …
Grant Burge 2008 Barossa Shiraz ($16.95 - #0738567) – nice black fruit, plum, dark chocolate with a smooth finish; this one is nicely spiced and richly seductive on the palate. (****½)

Austria – White …
Stadt Krems Lossterrassen Gruner Veltliner 2009 ($14.95 - #0180778) – I trust by now you have tried a Gruner, summer is the perfect time for this refreshing white that won’t break the bank.  Apple throughout with a touch of lemon and some grassiness. (****)

Canada – Red …
Legends Estates 2002 Reserve Cabernet/Merlot ($17.95 - #0675066) – for those lovers of aged Ontario this one is for you. (****)

Canada – White …
(British Columbia)
Gray Monk 2008 Pinot Gris ($19.95 - #0118638) – lovely little sip with tastes of fresh peach, baked apple and wildflower honey. (****)
Southbrook 2009 Fresh White ($16.95 - #0185462) - click wine name for full review.

Chile – Red …
Santa Laura 2007 Laura Hartwig Reserva Merlot ($13.95 - #0640946) – minty-blackberry with currants and a sweet-fruited palate, there’s also a nice spiced/herbed finish. (****)

Chile – White …
Emiliana Novas 2008 Limited Selection Chardonnay ($14.95 - #00004515) – buttered nuts, caramel apple and tasty fruit, all at a price that’s very appealing. (****)

France – Red …
Chateau Laborie 2005 ($13.95 - #0171116) – lots of dark fruit and spice, very well priced. (****)
Domaine de la Madone Le Perreon Beaujolais-Villages 2009 ($13.95 - #0981175) – black cherry and licorice, a touch of cedar on the back palate, this one is a well seasoned drink-now kinda wine. (****)
Clos de L’Oratoire des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007 ($39.95 - #0993279) – big, bold and tasty, big fruit, big tannins and the alcohol is 14.5%, so that’s pretty big too. (****)

France – White …
Buisse Cuvee Prestige Sauvignon Touraine ($11.95 - #0169714) – it has the nose of Sauvignon Blanc, the palate to back it up and the price for a multiple purchase, so pick it up. (****)
Sauvion Les Bosquets Vouvray 2008 ($13.95 - #0169698) – sure it’s medium dry but it has so much going for it that it is worth you picking up half a dozen of this puppy: nice baking spice, wildflower honey, grapefruit rind, beeswax, lots of complexity and what’s more, it’s delicious.  A great balance between the sweetness and the acidity makes this wine an easy recommend – you’d think it finishes sweet but there is a beautiful tart/dry finish - surprise. (*****)

New Zealand – White …
Steve Bird 2008 Old Schoolhouse Sauvignon Blanc ($17.95 - #0178319) – this is a nice Sauv Blanc with grassy and herby notes, a tasty wine that will hold your interest. (****)

Portugal – Dessert …
Ferreira Branco Lagrima Port ($13.95 - #0980136) – this is a sweet white port with peach, cinnamon and toffee notes all with a touch of spice on the finish; and at that price it’s worth a taste, even if you say you don’t like white port. (****½)

Spain – Red …
Senorio de Unuela Edicion Limitada Reserva 2001 ($16.95 - #0172536) – look at the date of this wine, you’ll quickly know that you aren’t dealing in fresh fruit flavours, but for a 9 year old wine this one is still quite tasty.  Mature fruit flavours with spice and dried blackberries, drink now and over the next 2-3 years. (****)

United States – Red …
Ravenswood 2007 Vintners Blend Petite Sirah ($17.95 - #0161554) – deeply coloured red with lots of dark fruit and a touch of white pepper on the finish. (****)
Shafer One Point Five 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($84.95 - #0045476) – this here is a real collectors’ wine, you know you’re going to buy it with or without my say so; there is good age-ability in this bottle. (****)
Tandem Peloton 2007 ($19.95 - #0686261) – this wine is flavourful without being odd, and that’s a surprise for this 8 grape blend (5 red / 3 white), if nothing else it’s worth a purchase just to bring it out at a get together as a discussion piece, before and after you pull the cork. (****) 

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on August 7, 2010:
Sauvion Les Bosquets Vouvray 2008 ($13.95 - #0169698) – France 
Grant Burge 2008 Barossa Shiraz ($16.95 - #0738567) – Australia
Francesco Minini Corte dei Mori Nero d’Avola ($13.95 - #0180281) – Italy

Happy Shopping.