Thursday, November 12, 2009

Saturday November 21, 2009 - Vintages Release

I have gone to a stars rating system which appears at the end of each review; here’s the key to those 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.

Today’s release focuses on the high end wines you all know and love, wines from houses like Moet & Chandon, Chateau Montelena, Krug, Antinori, Opus One and plenty more. I figure you’re gonna buy the big names anyway so my recommendation isn’t gonna make or break the sales of those wines; but what I will be telling you about are those more obscure wine and ones under the $50 mark …

Premium Products for the Holiday …
I’ll start with this beauty of a Chardonnay from La Crema, 2007 Russian River ($38.95 - #0067231), great balance and wonderful mouth feel here, a mix of fruit and oak with a nice lengthy finish; it’s a Chardonnay that puts a smile on your face (****½). Another good Chardonnay is this one from New Zealand: Craggy Range 2007 Single Vineyard Chardonnay ($41.95 - #0132043), good balance, pretty yet ballsy, with butterscotch and oak notes that mingle with pear, kiwi and quince; on the finish, plus there’s some buttery-vanilla length (****1/2). That’s it for the whites, so we turn out attention to the reds. We start right here at home with the Tawse 2007 Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc ($29.95 - #0130997). Next up, it’s the Francis Ford Diamond Collection 2007 Blue Label Merlot ($25.95 - #0595686), a very fruit forward Merlot with firm black fruit and a nice tannin backbone (****). Off to Veneto, Italy for the Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella ($44.95 - #0134528), a nice wine with plum, black cherry and dark chocolate; rich, deep and delicious (****). The real bargain of this premium product release can be found in Spain: Atalaya 2007 Almansa ($21.95 - #0132605) the nose is cherry fruit and blackberry, the palate is very appealing with spice, plumy, juicy fruit and nice tannins, the price is incredibly appealing too (*****).

Argentina – Red …
Chakana Yaguarete Collection 2009 Malbec ($12.95 - #0003509) – juicy black fruit on both the nose and palate all at a great price, an extra half mark for value. (****½)
Kaiken 2006 Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #0135202) – what Kaiken did with their Ultra Malbec they’ve done with Cab Sauv, this wine is a real pleasure to drink with lots of chocolate and black fruit, big alcohol – 14.5%. (*****)

Canada – Red …
(British Columbia)
Mission Hill 2007 SLC Syrah ($36.95 - #0068379) – huge chocolate smells with plenty of tannin heartiness on the palate along with black pepper and blackberries. (****)
Stonechurch 2007 Reserve Syrah ($19.95 - #0131300)

Chile – Red …
Santa Carolina 2007 Reserva de Familia Carmenere ($19.95 - #0034942) – minty black fruit, creamy in the mouth with nice spice on the finish. (****)

France – Red …
Les Vignerons de Roquemaure Lirac 2007 ($16.95 - #0142737) – smooth blackberry with enough tannins to make them noticeable but not overpowering. (****)
Perrin & Fils 2007 Cotes du Rhone-Villages L’Andeol Rasteau ($19.95 - #0976845) – this wine will last 10 or so years so buying it now will seem like a bargain in years to come; raspberry, strawberry and cherry with chocolate and some nifty tannins. Half mark for its value to ageabiltiy ratio. (****½)
Chateau de Gaudon Tradition Cahors 2006 ($13.95 - #0104935) – the nose is licorice and smoky; the flavours are smoky blackberry and cassis all quite juicy, which is surprising for a region known for big tannins; but the value is still there. (****½)

France – White …
Gilles Blanchet 2008 Fouilly-Fume ($21.95 - #0141747) – light and delicate with floral and orange blossom. (****)

Germany – White …
Kurt Darting 2007 Riesling Kabinett ($16.95 - #0950212) – peach and dried apricot with wild flower honey notes on the nose; honeyed apricots on the palate with pear nectar and a hint of sweetness that wraps it all together nicely – good length on the finish. (****½)

Italy – Red …
Surani Costarossa 2007 Primitivo di Manduria ($19.95 - #0134593) – plumy, chocolaty, red fruit, vanilla, a touch of spice and good weight in the mouth, this one’s a treat for Zinfandel fans. (****)
Argiano NC Non Confunditur 2006 ($24.95 - #0072397) – fresh and fruity with nice heft from those tannins; it opens fruity, ends ballsy and the middle is where this wine shines with plum, cherry and smoke. The observant amongst you will notice this is a screwcap wine, from Tuscany; the world is a-changin’. (****½)
Santa Margherita 2006 Chianti Classico ($19.95 - #0091694) – good flavour, very commercial with herbs, sour cherry and cranberry notes, there’s a delicate use of oak here. (****)
Selvapiana 2006 Chianti Rufina ($24.95 - #0121202) – juicy red cranberries and sour cherries, herbs and spice all mingle with cocoa powder dryness. (****)
Masi 2004 Grandarella ($28.95 – 0606921) – a unique blend of Refosco and Carmenere made in the Amarone style of drying the grapes. Big, black and spicy with vanilla and leathery flavours on the finish. (****)

Italy – White …
Cantina Tollo Aldiano Trebbiano D’Abruzzo 2008 ($14.95 - #0134502) – this one starts with nice acidity and builds from there, pretty floral and apple notes with a touch of lemonade on the medium length finish. (****)

New Zealand – Red …
Torlesse 2008 Pinot Noir ($20.95 - #0699330) – blackberry and black cherry nose; dark fruit palate with good acidity and oak. (****)

New Zealand – White …
Mount Riley 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($15.95 - #0981670) – bright fruit aromas with gooseberry, grassy all over but not the usual slap in the olfactories that is typical New Zealand Sauv Blanc, this one shows delicious restraint, still with good acidity and all at a good price. (****½)

Portugal – Dessert …
Messias 2004 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($16.95 - #0140863) – this one takes a few sips to get into but once there it’s delicious. Cherry marmalade on the nose with a plethora of flavours including black cherry, chocolate, spice, raisins, dried cherries and much more. (****)

Portugal – Red …
Sogrape 2003 Reserva Douro ($10.75 - #0335208) – this wine tastes as fresh as any wine, and it’s already 6 years old. Plumy, strawberry, very fruity and very sippable; this one gets an extra value mark for sure, $10.75, this is one you should have on hand for the holidays. (****½)

Portugal – White …
Aveleda Follies Vinho Verde Alvarinho 2008 ($15.95 - #0059048) – lemon-lime on the nose, good citrus notes with tropical and tangerine and grapefruit cocktail in the mouth. (****)

Spain – Red …
Cuatro Pasos Mencia 2007 ($16.95 - #0039313) – every year I wanna like this wine (cause I love animals – there’s a big paw print on the label) and every year it falls short of expectations – this year it finally delivers: smoky, blackberry, cassis with a dusty fruit finale; finally this wine comes into the fold of the recommendable. (****)
Palacios Remondo La Vendimia 2008 ($15.95 - #0674564) – plums, cherries, chocolate with a very attractive nose; the palate is sweet on fruit with vanilla and a mixture of red and black cherries. (****½)

United States – Red …
Hahn Estates 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.95 - #0057877) – great value in a Cali-cab: black fruit, spice, plum, vanilla and cinnamon, nice complexity at a good price point. (****)
Kenwood 2007 Pinot Noir ($21.95 - #0943225) – a new world style Pinot with fresh dark frut, black cherry, cranberry and tannins on the palate; dry and quite hefty on the tongue. (****)

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on November 21, 2009:
Atalaya 2007 Almansa ($21.95 - #0132605) – Spain
Kaiken 2006 Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #0135202) – Argentina
Sogrape 2003 Reserva Douro ($10.75 - #0335208) – Portugal

Happy Shopping.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday November 7, 2009 - Vintages Release

I have gone to a stars rating system which appears at the end of each review; here’s the key to those 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.

This is the annual “Affordable Party Wines” edition of the LCBO’s Vintages release … I think some of the best values aren’t part of the focus. But let’s take a look …

Affordable Party Wines …
Well boys and girls, when I hear the word affordable I think of wines under $20 that taste far beyond their price point. I found four that deliver in that department, 2 whites and 2 reds: Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Chardonnay ($16.95 - #0681247) … Louis Hauller 2008 Gewurztraminer ($16.95 - #0141754) from Alsace with its light rose petal nose and palate with just a touch of sweetness and a mandarin orange finish (****). In reds, we look to one of the best value regions, Chile: the Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($19.95 - #0322586) is smooth blackberry jam at its core; its mint, chocolate, juicy and jammy (****). The best value in the spotlight is from the Rhone (France), Les Vignerons du Castelas 2007 Cotes du Rhone ($13.95 - #0142125) red licorice, black cherry, juicy red and black fruits with easy tannins, give it two years in bottle to settle and it’ll be even better – and the best part is the price, buy a bunch (****½).

Argentina – Red …
Bodega Francois Lurton 2007 Reserva Malbec ($17.95 - #0903153) – here’s a well made Malbec, black fruit, smoky, touch of spice and white pepper. (****)
Vina Cobos Felino 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #0132365) – blackberry, chocolate, lots of juiciness here, rich and supple, succulent in the mouth. (****½)

Australia – Red …
Gemtree Vineyards 2008 Bloodstone Shiraz-Viognier ($17.95 - #0022111) – nice minerality with vanilla, violet and spice. (****)
Grant Burge 2007 Filsell Old Vine Shiraz ($29.95 - #0987453) – sweet smells while the palate is black fruited with mineral notes. (****)
Thorn-Clarke 2007 Shotfire Quartage ($23.95 - #0024091) – black licorice, tootsie roll, sweet vanilla and black fruit, chocolate with big alcohol (14.5%), the palate is full of sweet fruit and quite juicy. (****½)
Thorn-Clarke 2007 Terra Barossa Cuvee ($14.95 - #0684357) – black fruit and white pepper nose, black fruit and pepper on the palate with a nice acid-tannin balance, easy drinking, delicious and great price, this is a multiple purchase wine. (****½)

Austria – White …
Loimer 2007 Gruner Veltliner ($16.95- 0142240) – full of fresh lime notes and some real finesse; if you have never tried a Gruner here’s a good one to get you going, without breaking the bank. (****)

Canada – Red …
Wildass 2006 Red ($19.95 - #0086363)
Canada – White …
Malivoire 2008 Gewurztraminer ($24.95 - #0542522)

Chile – Red …
Concha Y Toro 2007 Winemaker’s Lot 115 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.95 - #0030965) – minty blackfruit and juicy blackberries. (****)

France – Red …
Ailes de Paloumey 2005 ($26.95 - #0138826) – black fruit nose, nice flavours of black licorice, smoke and spice, good tannins. (****)
Chateau de Fontenelles 2007 Cuvee Notre Dame ($16.95 - #0106518) – sweet plum nose with a touch of raspberry, the palate is juicy with gritty bits of black raspberry and black cherry; a nice spice, herb and tannin blend on the finish. (****)
Chateau Val Joanis Tradition Syrah 2006 ($15.95 - #0965616) – plum, violet and black cherry, tasty and pleasant wine at a very good price. (****)
Pierre Amadieu 2007 La Grangeliere Vacqueyras ($21.95 - #0076398) – a black and red fruit mix on the nose, graphite, red fruit, berries and a hint of chocolate; very juicy, a great sipper and lots of fun. (****½)

France – White …
Jean-Michel Sorbe Quincy 2008 ($18.95 - #0608877) – lots of new world grapefruit, gooseberry and grassiness, totally delicious ... one to enjoy in your motor home outside the hospital where you work (****½)
Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2008 ($16.95 - #0673236) – a Viognier with subtle signs of Sauvignon Blanc. Grapefruit, vanilla, citrus, honey and floral – this wine is light and lively on the palate with a nice white fruit finish. (****½)

France – Sparkling …
Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Champagne ($79.95 – 0384529) – toasted almond, crisp apple, yeasty and slightly sweet with a nice finish. (****½)

Italy – Red …
Antinori 2004 Pian Delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino ($67.95 - #0651141) – lots of black fruit, most notably black cherry, big tannins, big wine, big price, with plenty of time for a lie down; there’s a reason you’ll find this wine in the cellar of many collectors. (****)
La Braccesca Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 ($27.95 - #0566216) – dark fruit, graphite and herbs, tannins are bold, fruit is big and black – lots of heft for ageing. (****)
Renzo Masi Chianti 2007 ($13.95 - #0134767) – Nice soft red fruit notes; lots of juicy fruit here, easy drinking quaffer, great price, extra mark for value. (****½)

Portugal – Dessert …
Offley 2004 Late Bottled Vintage Port (18.95 - #0070086) – LBV is one of the great values in the Port world and a great way to introduce someone to Port. Black cherry, chocolate, nice acidity and tannins structure, delicious. LBV always offers great value especially for under $20 (****½)

Spain – Red …
Castell Del Remei Gotim Bru 2006 ($19.95 - #0982736) – there’s a sweetness to the fruit on the palate: cherry, milk chocolate with hints of caramel. This wine is delicious and easy drinking, muted nose but delicious in the mouth. The back palate is where this wine really shines with good acidity and tannin balance. (*****)
Escondido 2006 Tempranillo ($14.95 -#0132597) – lots of black fruit and subtle spice on both the nose and flavours. (****)
Marques de Valcarlos Reserva 2000 Tempranillo – Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.95 #0928853) – Nice black fruit/red fruit combo held together by tannins and herbs. (****)

United States – White …
Rutherford Ranch 2008 Chardonnay ($19.95 - #0136382) – vibrant fruit nose, lemony, apple, pear, quite juicy with nice acidity, the only drawback in the medium finish, I wanted this one to last longer. (****½)

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on November 7, 2009:
Castell Del Remei Gotim Bru 2006 ($19.95 - #0982736) – Spain
Thorn-Clarke 2007 Shotfire Quartage ($23.95 - #0024091) – Australia
Les Vignerons du Castelas 2007 Cotes du Rhone ($13.95 - #0142125) – France

Happy Shopping.