Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saturday January 17, 2009 - Vintages Release

A week after the LCBO showed you their softer side by giving you the Smart Buys break, they now have you looking deeper into your wallet, staring at the dusty bunnies within and pulling out the pocket lint you have left, to see if they can ring more money out of you with yet another Vintages release. Yes it’s that odd time of year where the releases come fast and furious (after all, the LCBO’s Vintages department has been quiet for almost a month - since December 6th - so they have to validate their existence). This time out they celebrate Robbie Burns Day - not being a Scotch fan I will let others advise you there … I will however help you through the Argentinean release and the other wines from around the world. We’ll start off in Argentina then move into selections from the rest of the world … as is often the case full reviews for Ontario wines can be found on my website (www.ontariowinereview.com) - just click on the link. Time to dig deep into that stash of money grandma gave you for Christmas; nobody said your wine obsession was gonna come cheap.

Argentina …
I love Argentinean wine. One reason is that they have taken over the value void vacated by some Chilean wines that have raised their price because of popularity. Argentina makes great wine at affordable prices - though in this LCBO release I did not find many wines that really turned me on, there seemed to be a lot of sameness, it’s as if the LCBO buyer found one type of wine and bought all he could find in that profile. I was able to put five on my list of must gets that give you a little something special; here they are (in no particular order): J&F Lurton Flor de Torrontes 2007 ($13.95 - #0055475) which was refreshing and floral, very Gewurztraminer like. One of my perennial favourites, Clos de los Siete, 2007 ($23.95 - #0622571), black fruit grips the nose along with an appealing spiciness, plum and black cherry grab the tongue and hang on for a long ride on the finish. Las Moras 2005 Black Label Shiraz ($15.95 - #0081125) is nicely jammy with spices, blackberries and herbs. Luna Benegas 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.95 - #0107730) is a lovely drink now wine with minty undertones, black and red cherries, dark chocolate, blueberries, herbs and spices and some real bite on the tongue … be sure to notice that dark colour too. Finally, there’s the Santa Ana 2006 La Mascota Malbec ($15.95 - #0093880) smells juicy and tastes the same; lots of fruit, namely black cherry and blackberry along with some spices and herbs - interesting and ultimately appealing.

Ontario … Red …
Angels Gate 2006 Pinot Noir ($18.95 - #0090779)

Australia … Red …
Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz 2006 ($18.95 - #0090266) - juicy blackberry along with the bite of pepper - good flavour nice easy finish.
McPherson Basilisk Cabernet Balzac 2005 ($17.95 - #0077859) - eucalyptus and red berry on the nose, black fruit flavours, spices and herbs, good price for this very easy going wine; but watch out, it packs a punch at 14.5% alcohol.
Mount Langi Ghiran 2005 Billi Billi Shiraz ($17.95 - #0719575) - chocolate, blackberry and pepper, very ready now though can sit a few years.

Australia … White …
X&Y Chardonnay ($17.95 - #0048561) - vanilla, honeysuckle, a touch of honeydew melon and a splash of citrus - sound good? It is.

France … Red …
Domaine Pardon Fleurie 2006 ($20.95 - #0085001) - great colour, bright ripe cherries in the forefront, raspberry mid-palate and a strawberry finish; this is a red fruit bowl with a sprinkled pepper finish.

Chateau la Chandelliere 2005 ($26.95 - #0091314) - big spice, herbs and black fruit all rolled into one, full tannin compliment here so you’ll want to sit it for a bit.

Domaine Latour-Giraud Maranges la Fussiere 2005 ($30.95 - #0086967) - mainly cherry with big tannins, great holding potential here, and there’s a lovely cinnamon finish.
Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure Beaune 2006 ($34.95 - #0091082) - sour cherry and rhubarb which follows through on the palate along with some cinnamon and spice; the finish is strawberry, earthy, and very long.

Chateau de Treviac 2007 ($16.95 - #0670505) - this one’s got it all, big red fruit, spices, mocha, strawberries and cinnamon; good price too.

Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2006 ($18.95 - #0566844) - this one is very intense in the mouth, yet manages to be quite smooth. Black fruit dominates with herbs and cinnamon spice; there’s an easy drink ability but still with plenty of tannins for holding-power.

France … Sparkling …
Bailly-Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne 2005 Chardonnay ($21.95 - #0680686) - nose is soft apple and citrus, crisp and clean in the mouth with a nice peachy-apple taste.

Germany … White …
Bernhard Mehrlein Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2007 ($17.95- #0089581) - racy, fruity (read: peachy), citrus, tart green apple with a hint of sweetness.

Italy … Red …
Castello di Nieve Barbaresco 2005 ($23.95 - #0674044) - sour cherry nose, sweet dried cherries on the palate, nice.

Angio Archeo Primitivo 2006 ($12.95 - #0101410) - this one’s not going to set the world on fire but it is a wonderful quaffing wine at a good price. Plums and light red fruit dominate.

Castiglioni 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese ($23.95 - #0974394) - lively dried fruit, cherry, chocolate nuances and good acidity.

Italy … White …
Patrizi 2007 Moscato D’Asti ($14.95 - #0101766) - nice to see this style of wine at an affordable price. Very typical, grapy and peachy, no surprises here.

New Zealand … White …
Fairhall Downs 2008 Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($19.95 - #0990580) - good price for this quality; big on grapefruit and grass, nice follow through on the palate, this is a summery wine, now all we need is the warm sunshine.

South Africa …. Red …
Bergwater Vineyards 2005 Reserve Merlot ($16.95 - #0079475) - sweet herbs, nice black fruit, plums and chocolate … quite a nice wine.

Spain … Red …
Bodegas Victoria Pardina 2005 ($17.95 - #0082453) - fresh black fruit and spice, peppery pleasing palate, very boring label but a lovely wine.

USA … Red …
Chalone Vineyard 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.95 - #0104190) - nice balance and plenty of fruit, blackberry leads the way in this appealing wine.
Liberty School 2006 Zinfandel ($17.95 - #0041095) - jammy and plumy with rum and cherry, herbs and cola notes; alcohol is under control at 13.5%.

USA … White …
Paul Dolan 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($18.95 - #0046334) - lime and lemon with tropical and apple notes backing it up, refreshing, tasty and good acidity on the finish.

Ports and Sherries …
Sandeman Armada Rich Cream Oloroso Sherry ($18.95 - #0962126) - spices and almonds on the nose, marmalade, spices and a nuttiness on the palate; the finish has considerable length with almond being the dominant remaining flavour.
Baraode Vilar Colheita Port 1998 ($31.95 - #0087510) - big wood tannins, high acidity and big cherry flavour.
Cockburn 2003 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($16.95 - #0088278) - best value in an LBV in a long time. Cherries, chocolate, spice, great flavour, good acidity, long finish with some cinnamon sweetness.

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on January 17, 2009:
Cockburn 2003 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($16.95 - #0088278) - Portugal
Clos de los Siete 2007 ($23.95 - #0622571) - Argentina
Bodegas Victoria Pardina 2005 ($17.95 - #0082453) – Spain

Happy Shopping.

Saturday January 10, 2009 - Vintages Release

For the first release of 2009 the LCBO shows a little class, a little care, and a little concern. They know you’re just getting over the holiday season, they know your budget is probably a little tight, they know that they can’t get blood from a stone, so the wines they are presenting are those value wines you wish they had last month, which means they were kinda holding out on you … proving that the LCBO giveth and the the LCBO taketh away. These are the wines that are deemed “Smart Buys“; and to follow are my recommendations as to which ones really are. After that we’ll get into the selections from the rest of the world … when we get there you’ll find that as per usual full reviews for Ontario wines can be found on my website (www.ontariowinereview.com) - just click on the link. Now here we go, with whatever money you have left here’s what to buy.

Smart Buys …
Plenty of “smart buys” from plenty of countries in this release, we’ll start with Argentina: the Alamos 2007 Chardonnay ($13.95 - #0801571), this is a big Chard for not a lot of dough; tropical fruit along with apple, pineapple and banana, and what’s more there’s a lovely finish. From Australia there’s the D’Arenberg 2007 Stump Jump White ($14.95 - #0922203) a blend of 5 grapes where Riesling takes the lion’s share (62%) of the workload - the typical Riesling flavours really come through while the other grapes soften it up but there’s also a good seam of acidity here. Two reds from Australia also make my Smart Buys picks, including the Kilikanoon ‘The Lackey’ Shiraz ($17.95 - #0005199) with its peppery, chocolate and blackberry smoothness; and Pillar Box 2006 Red, a big 15% red monster that’s sweet and juicy on the palate with pepper, blackberry, sweet cherry and strawberry, along with black fruit and firm tannins.

Another white in the smart buy section comes to us via France, Henri de Villamont 2006 Bourgogne Chardonnay ($19.95 - #0525121) with it’s good mouthfeel, nice finish, ripe apples and good toastiness. Staying in France for some reds you’ll find the Chateau Pesquie Terrasses 2006 ($15.95 - #0652313) to be an excellent value with a long spicy finish - but it’s the peppered cherries and smoked licorice that’ll drag you in long before the finish takes hold. The Chateau Pesquie Terrasses 2006Delas Freres Cotes du Rhone Saint-Esprit 2006 ($15.95 - #0729962) is also good value from the old country with its nice dark fruit, cinnamon and white pepper influences.

It’s all reds from here on in. From Canada we get the Konzelmann 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($13.70 - #0112946) with its spices and herbs, blueberries and tart finish. Mark West 2006 Pinot Noir ($23.95 - #0083329), from California, is considered a smart buy by the LCBO - its over $20 so a bit of a hardship at this time of year (with all those Christmas bills soon coming due) but it’s a lovely wine with lots of black cherry, earthiness, nice pepper notes and good tannins. The home of the good buys, Chile, delivers two in the Smart Buy category: Montes 2007 Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere ($14.95 - #0016071) - with pepper, blackberry and mint on both the nose and palate and an exquisite finish of blackberry, white pepper and sweet strawberries. The other wine is a straight Carmenere (Vina Tarapaca 2007 Gran Reserva $15.00 - #0057513) with mint, blackberry, spices, herbs and predominance of pepper.

My last three Smart Buys come from the old world, two from Italy and one from Spain. Italy delivers the Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2006 ($14.95 - #0328997) which is a nice blend of red and black fruit along with pepper, spice and a good tannins backbone … this should be on your list for a multiple purchase, because there is also good ageability here. Something a little simpler from the land shaped like a boot is Il Passo di Sabina Rosso Veronese 2006 ($14.95 - #0101402) it’s plumy with nice black fruit. Finally, Spain is always good for at least one low priced delicious wine per release. This time it’s the Salinas Mo Monastrell 2006 ($16.95 - #0095133) - peppery black fruit and a sweet mid-palate will have you screaming out, “Give me some Mo.”

Ontario … Red …
Konzelmann 2006 Shiraz ($13.20 - #0085118)
Malivoire 2006 Gamay ($17.00 -#0591313)

Ontario … White …
Konzelmann 2006 Reserve Riesling ($15.20 - #0200527)

Argentina … White …
Cristobal 1492 Verdelho 2008 ($14.95 - 0081182) - green apple, white fruit and a touch of citrus.

Australia … Red …
Marquee Classic Artisan Wines 2006 GSM ($18.95 - #0075010) - big alcohol (14.9%) with an array of smells and flavours that wowed me from start to finish. Black fruit, plum, spice, herbs - I really liked this wine but it defied explanation as to why - all I know is that it was very tasty.
Zonte’s Footstep 2006 Shiraz/Viognier ($14.95 - #0072975) - floral, black fruit and white pepper, pleasant and ultimately shippable. Great price too.

France … Red …
Chateau L’Escart 2001 Cuvee Prestige ($22.95 - #0091363) - peppery, black fruit, woodsy, still with plenty of life left in it; can be held another 3 years or so but drinks very well right now.

Domaine des Aspes 2005 Merlot ($14.95 - #0951665) - pretty nose, good fruit, easy drinking, good value.

Germany … White …
Moselland Insignum Riesling Kabinett 2005 ($13.95 - #0072355) - bit of sweetness, floral, peach and petrol is beginning to emerge. There’s also rusty apple and a touch of honey. The finish is long and lingering.

Italy … Red …
Marchesi di Barolo Maraia Barbera Monferrato 2006 ($18.95 - #0748277) - lovely perfumed nose, light red plum and cherry with a slightly herbal quality - nice.

Lebanon … Red …
Chateau Ksara 2006 Reserve du Couvent ($12.95 - 0443721) - very nice spice and blackberry … sweet start with a dry finish, good light tannins.

New Zealand … White …
Distant Land 2007 Gewurztraminer ($19.95 - #0075549) - rose and floral nose there’s an oily yet refreshing mouthfeel with the floral continuing in there too.

South Africa …. Red …
Blue Cove 2006 Winemaker’s Choice Cabernet Sauvignon ($13.95 - #0088823) - sweet cherry, plum and chocolate, very drinkable right now; can be held for further ageing.

USA … Red …
Cline 2006 Ancient Vines Mourvedre ($23.95 - #0066084) - sweet spiced plum, black cherry and chocolate notes.
Zig Zag Zin 2005 Zinfandel ($18.95 - #0039982) - cherry, plum, rum, cola, chocolate, red fruit … very fruit oriented.

USA … White …
Lockwood Vineyard 2006 Chardonnay ($18.95 - #0673731) - vanilla and apple with a cinnamon tinge.

Ports and Sherries …
Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos ($19.95 - #0671115 - Sherry) - very nutty with orange marmalade and an almond finish.
Croft 2003 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($18.95 - #0087601) - rich and fruity, cherries, plums, chocolate and spicy … delicious.

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on January 10, 2009:
Croft 2003 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($18.95 - 0087601) - Portugal
Marquee Classic Artisan Wines 2006 GSM ($18.95 - #0075010) - Australia
Domaine des Aspes 2005 Merlot ($14.95 - #0951665) – Chile

Happy Shopping.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Saturday December 6, 2008 - Vintages Release

Last release Vintages had their “Premium Product” selection, this time out they raise the bar even further with the Icons release – wines every wine lover or casual wine drinker would have heard of (or heard whispers about). Wines with big price tags and make exceptional gifts; there’s also a bunch of sparkling wines and Champagne’s for the holidays.

This is the LCBO’s last Vintages release of the year and it’s a big one. I missed the regular media tasting a few weeks back so I had to sit in with the in-store consultants and because of the enormity, and limited amount of time, I had to pick and chose my way through the room (over 140 wines alone). Below you’ll find my selections from the ‘So Fine’ section of the catalogue, including the bubbly and Niagara Stars. As usual full reviews for Ontario wines can be found on my website (www.ontariowinereview.com) - just click on the link. What comes next is not for the feint of heart when it comes to wine prices. Now, on with the show:

So Fine – Sparkling Wine …
There are plenty of bubbles to choose from, 13 in total, including a fizzy icewine from Inniskillin (2006 Sparkling Icewine - $69.95 – #086884); but if you’re looking for something bubbly from the region that made it famous there’s the Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Reserve Champagne Brut 1999 ($82.95 - #989137), you don’t see a lot of vintage Champagne’s because they’re only made in the really good years and this is really good, with a slightly sweet note and lengthy finish - crisp citrus, apple and quite the buttered toast note … great for, you know, toasting the moment.

As you can see, paging through the LCBO guide, Champagne can get incredibly pricey, why not go for the local alternative with the always impressive and delicious Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catharine Sparkling Brut ($29.95 - #616441).

So Fine – Niagara …
The LCBO has chosen to recognize Niagara as a fine wine producer, and good for them, shining the light where it rightfully belongs, in our own backyard. Some of the wines the LCBO chose to highlight (and that I agree with) are:
Chateau des Charmes 2005 Equuleus ($40.00 – #319525)
Fielding Estate 2005 Meritage ($35.20 - #085050)
Inniskillin 2007 Riesling Icewine ($69.95 - #558288)
Le Clos Jordanne 2006 Village Reserve Chardonnay ($30.00 - #033936)
Le Clos Jordanne 2006 Village Reserve Pinot Noir ($30 - #033894)
Tawse 2006 Pinot Noir ($32.20 - #054809)

So Fine – The Icons …

These are the labels you long for:
Shafer “One Point Five” 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($77.95 - #045476) – big spicy nose, sweet licorice and blackberries on the palate.
Far Niente 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($140 - #539098) – sweet nose, lush palate, big price.

Elderton “Command” Single Vineyard Shiraz 2004 ($96.95 - #716142) – sweet fruit, cherries and chocolate, this one’s lush and lovely and meant to age.

Ornellaia 2005 ($158.95 - #722470) – great wine… peppery, herby, spicy, black fruit oriented, smooth and silky with tons of time ahead of it.
Masi 2003 Serego Alighieri Vaio Amaron ($77.95 - #462812) – of the three Amarone this one had it all, for less … smooth chocolate and black fruit with lots of cherry.

Ontario … White …
Malivoire 2006 Gewurztraminer ($26.00 - #542522)

Australia … Red …
Kilikanoon 2006 Killerman’s Run Shiraz/Grenache ($20.95 - #009225) – peppery on the nose, sweet fruit on the palate.
Taltarni 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.95 - #940692) – very black fruit oriented, juicy and tasty.
Wallace by Ben Glaetzer 2006 Shiraz/Grenache ($26.95 - #047605) – the LCBO breaks the under-twenty ceiling with this “Wine of the Month”. This big (15.8%) alcohol wine keeps the alcohol smell at bay. Look ahead to the Fess Parker (USA) in this report; I think their taste profiles are similar but this one is scaled back and less in your face, and at half the price that’s okay.

Chile … Red …
Estampa 2004 Gold ($17.95 - #047522) – the nose has heavy mint notes with blackberry and strawberry backing it up; on the palate it’s mostly black fruit while the tannins are silky and smooth.
Vina Tarapaca 2005 Gran Reserve Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #081190) – juicy fruits with minty notes on both the smell and taste.

France … Red …
Chateau D’Aiguilhe 2005 ($47.95 - #501205) – a real treat of herbs, spice and blackberries, this one tastes fresh and lively with tannins that’ll last 10 years plus.

Ortas Rasteau Tradition 2007 ($16.95 - #998716) – Red fruit and light nose, raspberry taste with a touch of tannins and licorice.

Germany … White …
Wegeler 2007 Riesling Spatlese ($33.95 - #087452) – fresh and sweet.
Schloss Schonborn 2001 Riesling ($15.95 - #081836) – big on petrol and talc on the nose with peach and apricot in the mouth.

Italy … Red …
Bertani Villa Novare Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2005 ($25.95 - #095810) – plum, chocolate and blackberry with good tannins and a lingering finish.
Zonin 2005 Amarone Della Valpolicella ($54.95 - #086207) – plum and chocolate with a black cherry liqueur note; great on the palate.

USA … Red …
Fess Parker 2004 The Big Easy Syrah ($40.95 - #083212) – you can smell the alcohol coming from this one (15.9%) and also the pepper, which accosts the nose head on; follows up in the mouth with some big and bold fruit flavours a surprising chocolate mid-palate and smooth finish.
Ridge 2006 Three Valley ($29.95 - #652875) – easy on the palate with plums and juicy blackberries.
Silverado Vineyards 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ($50.95 - #111880) – big juicy blackberries with chocolate, plums and herbs.
St. Francis 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.95 - #671164) – good value for this juicy black fruit number, which also has good vanilla notes.

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on December 6, 2008:
Fess Parker 2004 The Big Easy Syrah ($40.95 - #083212) – USA, California
Wallace by Ben Glaetzer 2006 Shiraz/Grenache ($26.95 - #047605) - Australia
Vina Tarapaca 2005 Gran Reserve Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #081190) – Chile

If I had the money –without a doubt:
Ornellaia 2005 ($158.95 - #722470)

Happy Shopping.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Nouveaus - Thursday November 20, 2008

Yes boys and girls, it is that time of year again - the time when the French celebrate the season and bring us the first fermented juice of the crop. This year the LCBO is bringing in 5 Beaujolais Nouveaus and 3 other nouveau-style wines, two from Italy and one from the Languedoc region of France. I was at the LCBO 2 hours ago (Tuesday November 18, 2008 - 2:00pm) tasting these wines and the first thing I will say about them is that they were warm, very warm, like sitting on the heater type warm ... Beaujolais is meant to be served chilled - forget what you heard about red wines being servered at room temperature, when it comes to Beaujolais serve them chilled. Okay, so I got that off my chest, now on to the reviews - the following is my top 3 selection from this year's crop ... I was looking for value as well and drinkability.

Albert Bichot 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau ($13.45 - #112409) - of the 5 Beaujolais this was most certainly the best and most drinkable. The nose and taste are very similar, containing an element of candied cherries and red licorice as well as some good acidity. Pricier than some, less pricier than others, but if you're looking for that fresh sweet fruit this one's got it.

Negrar Novello del Veneto 2008 ($9.95 - #899955) - from the Veneto region of Italy where they make Valpolicella, so are we to assume that this is made from the Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes? This one is smooth with good cherry/raspberry flavours and there is a hint of red licorice on this one too ... good candied fruit. Good price.

Jean Jean 2008 Syrah Primeur ($9.95 - #899948) - the first thing you'll notice is the electric neon pink colour of this wine, the bubblegum nuances from my first taste of this wine a week ago have subsided, but there is still plenty of raspberry and cherry on the nose and a pleasant sweetness on the mid-palate. The finish is most definitely raspberry.

Drink these wines now and over the next few months.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Saturday November 22, 2008 - Vintages Release

The holidays must be around the corner, because the LCBO is parading out their “Premium Products” – those products that you’ll want to buy for folks as gifts … folks you really, really like because with premium products come premium prices … below is a list of those that I liked and seem worth the money.

From there we’ll move on to my recommendations from the rest of the world. As usual full Ontario reviews are linked back to my website (www.ontariowinereview.com), they appear first – then the rest of the world is alphabetized.

Premium Products …
I’ll start with a collection of Taylor Fladgate 2005 Vintage Ports ($82.95 - #0088195) – these two 375ml bottles come from different estates (Vargellas and Feita) and are incredibly juicy and completely different … Vargellas is very smooth and fruit driven, while Feita is more spice driven. If you like Port these are worth your money to try and buy. It’s nice to see a homegrown product amongst the premiums, Cave Spring 2006 CSV Riesling ($29.95 - #0566026). Looking for a fine Burgundian Chardonnay? This is it: Bouchard Pere & Fils 2006 Meaursault Les Clous ($52.95 - #0661322), great fruit, great wood, nice vanilla and it’s got some heft and power for longevity.

Now It’s time to look at the premium reds, and there are quite a bit more of these, so stay with me. From California, home of many cult-wineries, comes Duckhorn 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($78.95 - #0024190), big blackberry, cassis and licorice – right now it’s pretty tannic but the potential for juiciness in later life is there. Argentina is making some great wines and this Catena Alta 2005 Malbec ($60.95 - #0982355) is loaded with violets and blackberry on the nose, lots of herbs and ripe tannins in the mouth. Also from Argentina comes this Masi (yes the Italian Masi) Tunpungato Corbec Covina/Malbec Appassimento 2006 ($29.95 - #0079095), this wine is so tasty it should be illegal. Blackberries and plums, cherries and licorice, allspice, cinnamon, cedar with firm tannins and an ageing potential of 5-plus years. Australia is no stranger to premium wines, the Hazyblur 2005 Shiraz ($77.95 - # 0076141) has enough alcohol to make your night a hazy blur, but it’s also loaded with spices, plum, cherry, blueberry and chocolate while it ends with a nice spicy finish.

France is where you expect these high-priced premiums to come from, and Burgundy especially. Domaine de la Vougeraie 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin La Justice ($61.95 - #0088740) is an old world wine in a new world style. Soft fruit, raspberry, cherry, cranberry with silkier than expected tannins. Domaine de la Vougeraie 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin Les Evovelles ($63.95 - #0088732) has violets on the nose, and a sour cherry-cranberry cocktail in the mouth there’s also a silky smooth roundness to it. And Domaine Taupenot-Merme 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin ($66.95 – #0087023) has a nice cherry and cedar nose with big tannins – there’s also a complexity here that is quite inviting: spice, herbs sour cherry and woody tannins. All three of these wines are holders and keepers. Sticking with the old world we go into Italy for another four wines: Cordero di Montezemolo 2004 Barolo Manfalleletto ($51.95 - #0707364) with good fruit and mouthfeel – nice spices and herbs with plenty of acidity. Isole E Olena 2004 Cepparello ($78.95 - #025650) a wonderful Sangiovese with sweet fruit of cherry and blueberry, chocolate covered cherries in liqueur and a nice balance of alcohol-tannins and acidity. Brigaldara 2005 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ($50.95 - #0716050) big plum, chocolate and cherry notes, big 16% alcohol that doesn’t overpower and an ageing potential that makes it seem it would last forever. Masi 2005 Serego Aligheri Valpolicella Dell’Anniversario 650 ($31.95 - #0661306) has sweet cherry and blackfruit with a bittersweet chocolate finish. Finishing off the old world premiums with two from Spain, the Alion 2004 ($80.95 - #0707166) with some dried cherry and cranberry along with a touch of chocolate. Finally, Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos 2006 ($25.95 - #0675207), an economical premium, nice fruit and floral notes, good flavours of both red and black fruit along with a spicy finish that zaps the tongue.

That wraps up my look at the wine spotlight for this release, if you have any money left, here we go with the rest of the world:

Ontario … Red …
Mike Weir 2006 Pinot Noir ($22.20 - #0000075)
Stratus 2005 Red ($44.00 - #0085092)
Wildass 2005 Red ($19.00 - #0086363)

Ontario … White …
Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Nadja Vineyard Riesling ($19.95 - #0578625)
Stratus 2005 White ($44.00 - #0660704)
Wildass 2005 White ($19.00 - #0085100)

Australia … Red …
Virgana Wines 2004 Shiraz ($29.95 - #0072991) – pepper and spice, juicy black fruits with interesting and appealing flavours. Good balance.

Chile … White …
Montes Alpha 2006 Chardonnay ($21.95 - #0390203) – vanilla, butterscotch, apple, white tree fruit with a nice Bosc pear in light syrup finish.

France … Red …
(Bordeaux) – Many of the Bordeaux reds were not even close to being ready. Great potential for the future though, especially the 2005’s (they were all 2005).

(Beaujolais) – Dame de Briante Brouilly 2006 ($19.95 - #0087429) – sweet cherry and raspberry, a bit of tannin keeps this one dry in the mouth and a little staying power, 2-3 years.

(Rhone) – Patrick Lesec Selections Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pierres Dorees 2005 ($46.95 - #0079749) – this is a tasty wine with lots going for it: blackberry, black cherry, licorice, all-spice and a touch earthy on the finish.
(Rhone) – Vignerons D’Estezargues la Granacha Signargues 2006 ($21.95 - #0082560) – great value with sweet fruit, most notable plum along with cedar and chocolate notes.

France … White …
(Alsace) – Louis Sipp 2005 Pinot Gris ($19.95 - #0731471) – nice pear, pineapple, peach and tropical nuances – sweetish in the mouth with a creamy texture.
(Alsace) – Rene Mure 2006 Gewurztraminer ($16.95 - #0061218) – pretty rose petal nose, oily and flowery in the mouth, very tasty with a medium length finish, there’s also a touch of peach.

Germany … White …
Lingenfelder 2007 Riesling Kabinett ($18.95 - #0087593) – lovely palate with a touch of sweetness, your typical appealing German Riesling nose.

Italy … Red …
(Tuscany) – Campomaggio 2004 Chianti Classico ($21.95 - #0085027) – cherry and raspberry, a little dirty strawberry and cedar … on the palate you can pick up some dried fruit too.
(Tuscany) – La Colombina 2003 Brunello di Montalcino ($61.95 - #0085506) – dried cranberry and cherry, cedar and cinnamon, good tannin structure, nice acidity.
(Tuscany) – La Vite Lucente 2005 ($39.95 - #0747030) – licorice, cedar and blackberry … tannins are big and thick.
(Veneto) – Torre del Falasco 2006 Valpolicella Ripasso ($18.95 - #064242) – ripe cherries with chocolate, plum and firm yet approachable tannins.

Italy … Sparkling …
Foss Marai Prosecco Extra Dry 2007 ($21.95 - #0729392) – dry and crisp with a sweet apple beginning and Granny Smith finish – comes in a pretty blue bottle.

Italy … White …
(Veneto) – Anselmi Capitel Croce 2005 ($25.95 - #0966655) – I had no idea the Italians were such big Bad Bad Leroy Brown fans, but seriously, this wine is all tropical fruit with a hint of pear – rich, thick and full in the mouth.

Spain … Red …
Juan Gil 2006 Monastrell ($16.95 - #0013656) – one of my favourite Spanish producers comes out with this bargain. Cherry, plum, chocolate, along with rum and cola notes – there almost seems to be a Zin-like flavour to this wine and there’s also a raspberry finish.
Montecastro Llanahermosa 2005 ($43.95 - #0015016) – big black jammy fruit with a hint of floral on the nose.

USA … Red …
(California) – Van Ruiten 2006 Old Vines Zinfandel ($18.95 - #0058685) – typical but tasty Zin, vanilla, cherry, sweet fruit, plum, rum and lots of yum. This is a Zin lovers Zin.

USA … White …
(California) – Simi 2006 Chardonnay ($23.95 - #0673806) – more fruit than expected on the nose, more wood than expect on the palate … a little catch-22 of a wine here: do you like ti for the fruit or do you like it for the wood?

Ports and Sherries …
Fonseca 2003 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($22.95 - #0087551) – smooth cherries, licorice and spice, bittersweet chocolate, plum, black and red fruits, ripe tannins that will smooth when opened for a week or more … this is the complete Late-Bottled package at a decent price for what you get.

Take a Chance on Me …
You have got to try this if you like cherries: Cherry Marnier Liqueur ($47.95 - #0047894). Loaded with cherry and chocolate taste with hints of orange and maple syrup. Not exactly cheap, but something that should win you lots of friends over the holidays.

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on November 22, 2008:
Masi Tunpungato Corbec Covina/Malbec Appassimento 2006 ($29.95 - #0079095) - Argentina
Van Ruiten 2006 Old Vines Zinfandel ($18.95 - #0058685) – USA, California
Juan Gil 2006 Monastrell ($16.95 - #0013656) – Spain

Happy Shopping.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vintages Essential Collection - Fall 2008

Once a year wine writers get a chance to wander into the LCBO tasting lab and check out the latest available wines that are part of the Essentials Collection. “Essentials” are wines/spirits/etc. that are available all year round through Vintages; the LCBO deems these wines as "fundamental, indispensable - something you can count on." Wines like Toasted Head Chardonnay, Rodney Strong Pinot Noir, Taylor Fladgate 20-year-old Tawny and Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine. Here's a list of some of the best wines available from the program.

To me the essentials aren't just a always there, they represent good everyday value that you can rely on, let’s call it “bang-for-the-buck” – all my wines in my ‘ best value’ categories offer just that.

Best Values – Sweet …

Starting with the sweet category, I’d bypass most of the ones in the catalogue and jump right to the poor man's Icewine: Cave Spring 2006 Indian Summer Riesling ($24.95 – 415901 - 375 ml) all the flavors and smells of Icewine with half the sugar and, more importantly, half the price.

Best Value – Whites …

There are four whites in the best value category, starting with the Henry of Pelham 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($14.95 – 430546); it offers up refreshment in an easy drinking style for under $15.00 and it’s from right here in Ontario. California's Toasted Head Chardonnay ($17.95 – 594341) is what you'd expect from a Chardonnay from the oak loving state: butter, vanilla and caramel - if this is what you like in your Chard that is just what you get. Then there are two bargains from New Zealand Cooper's Creek 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($17.95 - 957407), this has everything you'd want in a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: grassy, grapefruit and gooseberry along with that citrusy /big acid finish; it's about a buck lower than the other New Zealand Savvy B’s on offer, and I would say the best of the lot. Also from the Kiwi's is the Oyster Bay 2007 Chardonnay ($18.95 – 326728); Oyster Bay made a name from themselves with their Sauvignon Blancs, but I think it's their Chardonnay that rises above the fray these days – full in the mouth, very tropical with melon, peach and hint of spice and vanilla ...very appealing with a restrained use of wood.

Best Value – Reds ...

Hands down, this category is ruled by the Cline 2007 Syrah ($13.95 – 733758), though it was an even better deal a few months ago when it was a buck cheaper. Cherry, herbs, pepper and blackberries on the nose and taste ... totally enjoyable and well under $15.00 - this one will never embarrass you if you show up to a party with it under your arm. Other good values include the Duque De Viseu Red 2004 ($13.95 – 546309) from Spain; it’s plumy, cherry, and cocoa with nice wood nuances. Tannins are firm, so don't be afraid to lie this one down for a few years ... or chill it if serving it now. There are also two from Chile that offer up good bang-for-a-buck-more: the Miguel Torres Santa Digna 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($14.95 – 177451) with cherry, mint and juicy blackberries … nice tannins that go well with a juicy steak; and Perez Cruz 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($14.95 – 694208) adds more alcohol (14.5%), some herds and a smokiness to the Digna profile above. For lovers of California reds the Bonterra 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #342428) has really raised it’s quality level over the years – I was never a big fan of this organic wine, but this year is has great black fruit like cassis, blackberries and black cherries and is incredibly juicy in the mouth. Finally, those looking for robust, rich reds will like the Tedeschi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2004 ($44.95 – 433417), sweet cherries, plum, chocolate and lots and lots of spice ... for an Amarone this is a good price - trust me.

Other Recommendable Essentials …

Taylor Fladgate 10-year-old Tawny Port ($34.95 – 121749) - Portugal
Taylor Fladgate 20-year-old Tawny Port ($68.95 – 149047) - Portugal
Graham's 10-year-old Tawny Port ($27.95 - 206508) - Portugal
Henry of Pelham 2006 Riesling Icewine ($54.95 – 430561 – 375ml) - Ontario
Inniskillin 2006 Vidal Icewine ($64.95 – 551085 – 375ml) - Ontario
Kittling Ridge 2005 Vidal Icewine ($43.95 – 563247 – 375ml) - Ontario
Stratus 2007 Icewine Red ($39.95 – 56689 – 200ml) - Ontario

Cave Spring 2006 Estate Riesling ($18.25 – 286377) - Ontario
Mission Hill 2006 Chardonnay Reserve ($21.95 – 545004) - British Columbia
Henri Bourgeois 2007 Sancerre Les Baronnes ($24.95 – 542548) - France
Conundrum 2007 ($26.95 – 694653) - California

Red :
Flat Rock 2007 Pinot Noir ($19.95 – 1545) - Ontario
Rosenblum 2006 Zinfandel ($17.95 – 284653) - California
D’Arenberg D’Arry Original ($19.95 – 942904) - Australia
Kilikanoon “Killerman’s Run” Shiraz ($19.95 – 925453) - Australia
Chanson Pere & Fils 2006 Le Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($19.95 – 50575) - France
Perrin & Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Sinards ($38.95 – 926626) - France
Rocca Della Macie 2006 Chianti Classico ($18.95 – 741769) – Italy
Zenato 2006 Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa ($24.95 – 479766) – Italy
Esporao 2005 Reserve Red ($24.95 – 606590) - Spain
Torres Gran Coronas 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva ($18.95 – 386483) - Spain

Sparkling / Champagne:
Dom Perignon 2000 ($219.95 – 280461) - France
Veuve Clicquot Champagne Vintage 2002 ($92.95 – 508614) - France

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saturday November 8, 2008 - Vintages Release

This release the LCBO focuses on Bordeaux and Premium Spirits – well I admit I am not much of a spirits guy … whether we’re talking about believing in them or drinking them … so I’ll look at Bordeaux and then at the rest of the world. As usual full reviews of Ontario wines are linked back to my website (www.ontariowinereview.com). And from there I’ll look at the rest of the world in alphabetical order.

Bordeaux …
Nothing really too interesting in the two Bordeaux whites so we’ll move immediately to the reds. Chateau de L’Estang 2004 ($21.95 - #0092809) which is pleasant on the nose and good on the palate – full of cranberry and currant with a bit of bell pepper on the finish. When it comes to the Chateau de Roques 2005 Merlot ($17.95 - #0087726) simple never tasted so good; red fruit with a touch of chocolate, oak and plum – this one is really juicy, look for the little dog on the label. Chateau Lilian Ladouys 2003 ($35.95 - #0086827), a beautiful inviting nose with a cherry-driven finish of some length. Chateau Tour Haut Vignoble 2005 ($25.95 - #0087742) is quite complex in both flavours and smells. Blackberry, black cherry, herbs, light spices, good tannins … the palate follows the nose. Christian Moueix 2005 Saint-Emilion ($22.95 - #0979955) is a bargain, cherry-cranberry cocktail with cherry-vanilla-tobacco on the finish. La Dame de Malescot 2005 ($51.95 - #0079269), this one’s juicy right now with lovely blackberries and other black fruit, but there is also a decade of holdability here.

That wraps up my look at the wine spotlight for this release and here we go with the rest of the world:

Ontario … Red …
Cave Spring Cellars Estate 2005 Cabernet Franc ($29.95 - #0072751)
Inniskillin 2004 Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir ($24.95 - #0997353)
Jackson-Triggs 2005 Delaine Vineyard Syrah ($29.95 - #0086553)

Ontario … White …
Fielding Estate 2007 Riesling ($16.00 - #0036202)

Argentina … Red …
Amancaya 2007 Gran Reserva Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.95 - #0016097) – good fruit, long finish, easy drinking, and there’s also some holdability here.

Australia … Red …
Pirramimma 2005 Petit Verdot ($23.95 - #0986752) – chocolate, herbs, juicy blackberry, good mouthfeel.
Torbreck 2005 The Steading ($48.95 - #0723890) – plums and sweet spice, cherry and chocolate liqueur, this is a tasty (though expensive) wine.

Chile … Red …
Casa Lapostolle 2006 Cuvee Alexandre Merlot ($34.95 - #0459206) – minty, dark chocolate, blackberry, cassis, big alcohol 15% and lots of tannins for holdability.

France … Red …
(Burgundy) – Antonin Rodet 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin ($42.95 - #0084558) – elegant and lingers on the finish, raspberries, herbs and lots of sweet red fruit.

(Rhone) – Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge 2006 ($30.95 - #0048884) – cherry and plum, ripe rich fruit, sweet palate with a bit of chocolate.
Domaine Chante Cigale 2005 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($41.95 - #0043026) – soft red and black fruit, white pepper and fine tannins.

France … Sparkling …
(Champagne) – Cattier Premier Cru Champagne Brut ($42.95 - #0919464) – creamy texture in the mouth with apples and citrus on the nose and apple-peach in the mouth.
Taittinger 2002 Champagne Brut ($87.95 - #0989905) – this one’s bready with good citrus bite; a real fruit driven beauty … not just all fuzz and bubble.

France … White …
(Burgundy) – Antonin Rodet 2006 Pugligny-Montrachet (#53.95 - #0084541) – sweet tropical nuances, vanilla extract, almond and lemon on the finish.

Greece … Red …
Amethystos Red 2005 ($23.95 - #0724831) – blackberries and a big dose of cinnamon.

Italy … Red …
(Piedmont) – Terre da Vino Barolo Essenze 2003 ($44.95 - #0092460) – great nose full of sweet fruit, dried cherry, plum, nutty and orange flavours, even more fun is the cinnamon, nutmeg and baking spice you’ll find in this one.

(Tuscany) – Marchesi de’Frescobaldi Mormoreto Castello di Nipozzano 2005 ($59.95 - #095210) – a nose of plums and candied cherries, the palate is loaded with plums, cherries and spiced-vanilla, soft and yummy.

New Zealand … White …
Astrolabe 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($20.95 - #0010421) – this one lacks the robust biting acidity of most New Zealand Savvy B but it has the grapefruit and gooseberry, soft citrus and a touch of sweetness – ends with a good long finish.

Portugal … White …
Quinta da Alorna 2006 Reserva Arinto/Chardonnay ($17.95 - #0081505) – tropical and crisp, pineapple core and apple blossom with a medium-short finish.

Spain … Red …
Prima 2006 ($24.95 - #0080762) – rich plums, floral, raspberry, juicy; shows little to no tannins, so drink now.

USA … Red …
(California) – 7 Deadly Zins 2006 ($24.95 - #0059311) – smoky notes with the taste of Montreal Smoked meat and a dash of pepper.
Calera 2006 Pinot Noir ($29.95 - #0933044) – sweet cherry, raspberry and a bit of smoke – and it all follows through on the palate.
J. Lohr 2006 Los Osos Merlot ($19.95 - #0027516) – cherries and herbs, repeats in the mouth with the addition of dark chocolate.
Kenwood 2006 Zinfandel ($19.95 - #0983577) – sweet cherry, chocolate, rum and cola along with a nice plumyness.

Ports and Sherries …
Osborne Oloroso Medium Sherry 10RF ($16.95 - #0087536) – sherry fans should love this one, orange peel, nutty, toasted almonds, hazelnuts, lovely sipper with just a touch of sweetness.

Take a Chance on Me …
It’s in the spirits release, it’s from Scotland and it’s not whiskey … what it is is a really good dessert alternative, Moniack Mead ($21.95 - #0987263); it’s a honey wine that tastes awesome. Sweet honeyed taste, floral notes and a bit nutty. Surprisingly delicious.

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on November 8, 2008:
Osborne Oloroso Medium Sherry 10RF ($16.95 - #0087536) – Spain
Moniack Mead ($21.95 - #0987263) – Scotland
Chateau Tour Haut Vignoble 2005 ($25.95 - #0087742) – France, Bordeaux

Happy Shopping.

Saturday October 25, 2008 - Vintages Release

Another two-fer release at the LCBO this Saturday (October 25). The annual “Party Wines” or “Entertaining” release, which gets you ready for the upcoming holiday season – and speaking of something to celebrate, there’s a bunch of Amarones and Ripassos (Italy – Veneto) coming in – and some of them are too darn tasty for words

Following the spotlights I’ll look at the other parts of the globe starting with Ontario and then I’ll go alphabetically from there. As usual the full review of Ontario wines are linked back to my website (www.ontariowinereview.com).

Entertaining …
I don’t always agree with the wines that the LCBO call their “Party Wines”, because in this release alone I could pick you out at least 3 wines that aren’t part of the spotlight and yet I would definitely serve them at a party. But it’s the LCBO’s party so will let them pick what they want to.

White wines for you party start in the USA (California) with the Ferrari-Carano 2005 Chardonnay ($38.95 - #0295055) with its peachy, appley, vanilla and some oak flavours; though nothing overpowering in the oak department, I found this one really very pleasant and mouth-filling … pretty big alcohol too at 14.4%. New Zealand is not just a nation of sheep, they too have their share of party animals, like this Dog Point Vineyard 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($21.95 - #0677450), it’s lively, and what I’d call typical for a Kiwi Savvy B right down to the cat peeing in your mouth – and that’s a good thing when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc. Wrapping up the whites is the Michel Delorme 2006 Pouilly-Fuisse sur la Roche ($29.95 - #0087460), this one’s all minerally and dry with a touch of fruit, rounded and very balanced in the acidity department. You’ll also find it to be a little stony with a touch of apple core on the finish.

I found less to be festive about in the LCBO’s selection of reds, the only two of interest were the following: Beaulieu Vineyard 2005 Zinfandel ($25.95 - #0080242) one of those textbook Zins with everything you expect, black and red fruit, plum and chocolate. Speaking of textbook, the Two Hands 2006 Lucky Country Shiraz ($17.95 - #0077883) is just what you’d expect from an Aussie Shiraz, minty/eucalyptus, chocolate, pepper, blackberry and a touch of black cherry.

Amarone and Ripasso …
Amarone is expensive, but oh-so good, so if you wanna get a taste of what this Italian icon wine is all about here’s the one to get: Zenato 2004 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico ($52.95 - #0413179), great chocolate, blackberry, plum, black cherry and dried cranberries … fantastic, best of the lot.

As for the Ripassos, they offer great taste and great value – the flavours and smells of Amarone without the hefty price tag. Starting with the Corte Majoli Valpolicella Superiore 2003 ($19.95 - #0084061) – cherries, plums and a touch of pepperiness. Ripe round mouthfeel that’s dry and delicious. Stefano Accordini 2005 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Acinatico Ripasso ($28.95 - #0085159) with its sweet red fruit, plum and cherry, smooth and enjoyable. Tedeschi Capitel Dei Nicalo Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2006 ($18.95 - #0984997) more cherries and black fruit, good mouthfeel and excellent finish. Tezza 2005 Ripasso Valpolicella la ma Roat ($17.95 - #0084053) another beauty with dried black cherries, dark chocolate and rough tannins that will smooth with some time. Finally, for my money the Zonin 2006 Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore ($19.95 - #0084798) is the deal in this category; it brings everything above altogether in a delicious package: cherries, plum and chocolate, stunningly shippable, sweet mouthfeel, yet a pleasantly dry finish – this one’s got it all for under $20.

That wraps up my look at the spotlights for this release and here we go with the rest of the world:

Ontario … Dessert …
Chateau des Charmes 2006 Vidal Icewine ($25.95 - #0565861 – 200ml)
Coyote’s Run 2006 Riesling Icewine ($55.00 - #0012658 – 375ml)
Wayne Gretzky Estate No.99 2006 Shiraz Icewine ($54.95 - #0086348 – 375ml)

Ontario … Reds …
Jackson-Triggs 2005 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Meritage ($24.95 - #0594002)
Mike Weir Estate 2005 Cabernet Shiraz ($25.20 - #0081638)

Argentina … Red …
Lurton 2006 Reserva Malbec ($13.95 - #0903153) – cheap as chips, easy drinking, chocolate notes … what more is there to say.

Australia … Dessert …
Lillypilly 2006 Noble Blend ($24.95 - #0015255 – 375ml) – I bought a few of the previous vintage, this is a beautiful sweetie with honeyed tropical fruit and sweet delicious apples – it will age 10 years or more.

Australia … Red …
Wakefield 2006 Shiraz ($18.95 - #0943787) – an easy going Shiraz with spice and pepper, good black fruit too.

Chile … Red …
Casa Silva 2006 Reserva Carmenere ($14.95 - #0024679) – spices, herbs and black fruit with a little mint and dark chocolate – best Carm of the release.
Santa Ema 2005 Amplus Cabernet Sauvignon ($22.95 - #0076307) – robust with big black fruit, chocolate, spices, herbs and cinnamon.

France … Red …
(Beaujolais) – Colin-Bouriset 2006 Cote de Brouilly les Terres Bleues ($17.95 - #0590521) – very cherry, and very chillable.

(Rhone) – Chateau la Nerthe 2005 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($59.95 - #0735407) – a wine with a well deserved reputation, good fruit, robust and complex.

(Southwest) – Chapelle 2003 Lenclos Madiran ($25.95 - #0076356) – sweet cherry, licorice, smoky, and blueberries with a dry tannic finish.
Chateau Pineraie 2005 Cahors ($17.95 - #0078725) – dark, almost violet in colour rich fruit, plums, black cherry and medium tannins, a 5+ year cellar dweller.

France … Sparkling …
Louis Bouillot Perle Divoire Blanc de Blanc Brut ($19.95 - #0048801) – with a pleasant nose and taste this wine is an excellent deal for a bubbly; touch of tart, citrus and a creamy mouthfeel.

France … White …
(Alsace) – Domaine Fernand Engel 2005 Gewurztraminer Reserve ($22.95 - #0080481) – peachy and exotic with sweet taste and pleasantly smooth.

Italy … Red …
(Tuscany) – Le Serre Nuovo Dell’Ornellaia 2006 ($59.95 - #0606194) – chocolate, black cherry, tobacco and pepper.

New Zealand … Red …
Sileni 2006 The Triangle Merlot ($18.95 - #0586081) – this one’s very cherry: choke, dried, and sour, with a complement of vanilla-spice on the palate.

Spain … Red …
Capcanes 2005 Costers del Gravet ($25.95 - #0707059) – dusty, plum and cherries … nice smoothness through the mouth.

USA … Red …
(California) - Bonterra 2005 Zinfandel ($19.95 - #0530139) – this bio-dynamic wine is getting a lot of good press and I can taste why: cherry-cola, pepper, ripe plum, a bit jammy; succulent in the mouth, almost sweet-like.

Edward Sellers 2005 Vertigo ($38.95 - #0077875) – this is a “wow” wine with big fruit and big alcohol and great flavours – looking for chocolate and black fruit, this is your wine.

Red Truck 2006 ($16.95 - #0693903) – this is one of your for sure party wines with red and black fruit with chocolate notes on the finish.

Seghesio 2006 Zinfandel ($24.95 - #0942151) – a big 15.4% alcohol, lots of plum, black cherry, licorice and raspberry jam, there’s even a little spice on the tongue.

(Washington) – Hedges Cellars 2006 CMS ($17.95 - #0948992) – this Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah blend is a smooth easy going wine that has an aging potential of about 7 years. Black fruit, nice spice, lightly herbed, chocolate and berries. Lovely.

Take a Chance on Me …
Made from the Alicante grape this Portuguese wine – Grand’Arte 2005 Alicante Bousche ($14.95 - #0080614) – is worth its minimal price tag. Full and fruity with ballsy tannins that dry out the tongue … give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on October 25, 2008:
Edward Sellers 2005 Vertigo ($38.95 - #0077875) – USA, California
Hedges Cellars 2006 CMS ($17.95 - #0948992) – USA, Washington
Zonin 2006 Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore ($19.95 - #0084798) – Italy - Veneto

Happy Shopping.