Monday, November 02, 2015

Looking for Value - 2015

Whale watch cancelled

Kaikoura NZ, Seal Watch Apr '03
During the period January through October I've purchased 109 wines in the $16.00 and under price range. Of the 109 wines there were fifty-one wines rated 85+ with thirty of those rated 88+ including ten 90+The rest ranged from 82 to 87 with forty-six having some objectionable character (rated 83 and below). Fourteen were below 80 and could not be recommended - some were discarded.

Forty-one wines above $16.00 ($18.00 to $26.00) were also purchased and in retrospect formed a reference point for all of the wines. Of the 41 twenty-six were rated good to outstanding (88 to 92) - none were exceptional (above 93) nor were any below 82. A conclusion I've drawn is that picking wines randomly below $16 exposes the customer to buying less favorable wines (plonk) over 50% half of the time. It would appear that purchases $20 and above are less prone.

There's one born every minute!
In the short term I have focused my personal purchases on 26 wines priced below $16 and rated 88+ . These are listed below with a link to the Ontario inventory and store location. Prices may vary as well as availability... and vintage may change with new stock.

Hope this helps in some way...

My opinion, Ww


  1. Root: 1 Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2012,  92-3  --  G, Donihue, Chile, #350546  $12.80
  2. Casa LaPostolle Gran Seleccion Carmènere 2012,  92-3  --  G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #168740   $14.90  n/a
  3. Charles & Charles Red Blend 2013, 92-3  -- G, Washington State, USA, #363838 $15.95
  4. Tempus Two 'Limestone Coast' Cabernet Merlot 2011, 91-3  --  G, Pokolbin, New South Wales, #308197  $8.75  n/a
  5. Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 91-3  --  G,  Modesto, California,  #392647  $14.95
  6. Casa Castillo Monastrell 2012, 91- 2  --  G, Jumilla, Spain, #165621  $14.95
  7. Oatley Tic Tok Pocketwatch Central Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2011,  90-2  --  G, New South Wales, Australia, #187179   $12.85* n/a
  8. Root:1 Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2013,  89-2  --  G,  Donihue, Chile, #350546,  $12.95
  9. Casas del Bosque Reserva Carmenère 2013,  89-2  --  V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #205872  $14.95
  10. ZOLO Classic Bonarda 2013,  88-1  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #398271   $13.95     
  11. Velletri Terrae de Volsci Riserva DOP 2009,  88-1  --  G,  Lazio, Italy, #175141  $14.85
  12. CRIOS Dominio del Plata Limited Edition Red Blend 2013,  88-1  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #366146  $14.95
  13. Leone de Castris Maiana Salice Salentino 2013,  88-1  --  G, Puglia, Italy, #717959  $14.95
  14. Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012, 88a-1  --  V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #272682  $12.75
  15. CRIOS Dominio del Plata Malbec 2013, 88a-1 --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #162529 $14.95
  16. Zuccardi Santa Julia Magna 2012, 88-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #093799 $13.45


  1. Colomé Torrontés 2013, 91-3  --  V,  Valle Calchaqui, Argentina, #357913  $13.95
  2. CRIOS de Susana Balboa Torrontés 2013,  91-3  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #001834  $13.95
  3. Pietro Marini Torrontés 2013, 90-2  --  V, Calchaqui Valley, Argentina, #408443  $12.95
  4. L'Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier 2013,  89-2  -- G, Côtes de Thongue, France, #348904  $12.70
  5. Casas del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014,  89-2  --  V,  Casablanca Valley, Chile, #974717  $13.95
  6. Humberto Canale Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013,  89-2  --  V, Patagonia, Argentina, #384321  $14.95
  7. Toasted Head Chardonnay, Barrel Aged 2013,  89-2  -- V, Acampo, California, #594341  $15.95  now $18.95
  8. Pilliteri Canadian Gothic Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012,  88-2  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #395624  $12.95 
  9. UMA Coleccion Torrontés 2013, 88a-2  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #276626 $6.45   n/a
  10. Domaine de Pellehaut 'Harmonie de Cascogne' Blanc 2013, 88-2  --  G,  Sichel, France, #319665   $9.95 n/a
not available - when last checked


November 2015 Wines - 14 Tasted of 15

Inn on the Twenty, Jordan, Ontario

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites and bubblies)
  • Gnarly Head Petite Sirah 2013, 92-3  --  V, Manteca, California, #427450  $17.95
  • Vieni Briganti Reserve 2012 VQA Ontario,  90-2  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #419440  $18.95
  • Apothic Dark Red Blend 2014, 89a-1  --  G, Modesto, California, #392654  $16.15
  • Ca' Momi Zinfandel 2013,  88  --  V, Napa, California, #396168  $21.95
  • Apothic Red Winemakers Blend 2013,  84  --  G, Modesto, California,  #234369 $16.15 
  • Vieni Briganti Red 2012 VQA Ontario, 83  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #435792  $12.95 
  • Terra d'Oro Zinfandel 2012, 82  --  V, Amador County, California, #429225  $21.95 
  • Copper Moon 'Moonlight Harvest' Merlot NV,  80  --  Kelowna, BC, #173526  $9.45
  • Rocca Alata Leggermente Appassito Rosso Veneto 2013,  r-v  --   G, Veneto, Italy, #398057  $13.60 
  • Kellermeister Barossa Vineyards Chardonnay 2011,  87-1  --  G, Lyndoch, South Australia, #400424  $15.10  
  • 'Arenberg The Stump Jump White 2014, 85  -- V, McLaren Vale, South Australia, #922203 $14.95   
  • Domaine Saint Paul Viognier Pays d'Oc 2013,  84  --  V, Meursault, France, #414490 $13.95
  • Domaine Bousquet Cameleon Chardonnay 2014, 81  --  V, Tupungato Valley, Argentina,  #408450 $13.95 
  • Apothic White Winemakers Blend 2013, 80  --  G, Modesto, California, #419978 $16.15 
  • Vieni Momenti Sparkling Wines Extra Brut 2013 VQA Ontario, 85-1  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #435784  $13.95 
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


ROCCA ALATA LEGGERMENTE APPASSITO ROSSO VENETO 2013, Veneto, Italy, 13.5%  D  xg/L, #398057  $13.60  (Tasted tbd)

A General listing.  My notes: 

TERRA D'ORO ZINFANDEL 2012, Amador County, California, 14.5%  D 9g/L,  #429225  $21.95  (Tasted November 16, 2015)

A Vintages release on October 3, 2015. A Sutter Home winery and rated 90 by Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast, April 2015.  My notes:  A see-through ruby and a raspberry aroma with a whiff of herb (oregano?) forms the first impression. A moderate film sticks then sheds a ring of quick tears. The first sip is sweetens the palate while retaining a thin fruit and a light drying tannin. The herbal accent continues through a long unappealing finish. Perhaps past peak. 82

GNARLY HEAD PETITE SIRAH 2013, Manteca, California, 14.5% D  10g/L,  #427450  $17.95  (Tasted November 19, 2015)

A Vintages release on September 19, 2015.  A Delicato Family Vineyards wine.  My notes: A blue tint to a ruby colour distinguishes this grape from others and an appealing sweet touch to the aroma adds to a full fruit profile. A firm film sticks then separates as it slowly fades from a rippled rim. Aerating may soften an already pleasing nip to a velvet texture of blueberry fruit but not needed in my view - the appeal is the same. For a deeper sensuous texture fuller sips are a temptation as fruit, acid and tannin combine into a long palate drying experience. Alcohol warming doesn't become a factor. Buy in for sipping, beef/lamb dining occasions or short term cellaring. 92

VIENI MOMENTI SPARKLING WINE 2013 VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.0%  XD 15g/L, #435784  $13.95  (Tasted November 10, 2015)

A General listing. My notes:  A cool shade of light yellow opening with a burst of small bubbles continue as lively streams. A balanced blending of Pinot Grigio and Vidal with a suspicion of natural sweetness. A mild apple aroma combines with refreshing effervescence when served chilled. Light-bodied with the taste of green apple, tart and drying to the palate that fits as a toasting starter, with saucy creamed chicken or as an after dinner aperitif. We successfully combined with Stefano's Lemon and Capers Chicken Scaloppine with Broccolini. A drink now to two more years. 85

VIENI BRIGANTI RED 2012 VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0% XD 4g/L, #435792  $12.95  (Tasted November 1, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes: A product of Vieni Estates Inc. made from Maréchal Foch grapes and is a VQA Ontario (grapes from within Ontario) wine. The colour is a blackened ruby and having an earth toned purple plum and raspberry aroma increasing slightly as the glass sits. The first sip is extra dry adding a bright acid to mid-bodied black cherry. Aerating mellows somewhat tho' not enough to avoid a penetrating bitterness - better as a meal red. Pair with flank steak slices or well seasoned Osso Buco. A drink now. 83

VIENI BRIGANTI RESERVE 2012 VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0%  XD 7g/L, #419440  $18.95  (Tasted November 11, 2015) 

Released by Vintages on July 25, 2015. My notes: A blend of Maréchal Foch and Baco Noir. A deep ruby with a soft plum and black cherry aroma. The tang is pleasing from the first sniff. A swirl leaves a thin film with enough stick to release fast tears draining until there's a fine lacework. Half way to being light-bodied, smooth and bright on the swallow with a balanced dark fruit flavour increasingly appealing into a long finish. Xdry and tight as a sipper or serve with pigs in a blanket, lamb stew, beef burgers or pepperoni pizza. I'd try cellaring a few more years to see where it wants to go. 90

CA' MOMI  ZINFANDEL 2013,  Napa, California, 13.9% D  8g/L, #396168  $21.95  (Tasted November 25, 2015)

Released by Vintages on August 22, 2015. My notes: A muddy ruby with a charcoal tone to view and a pleasing aroma of chocolate, blackberry and muted cigar wrap to sniff. A thin film leaves a krinkly rim before dropping as a lacy sheet and a few tears. Fine tannins plate the palate along with a warmth in the throat with bright remnants of the initial flavours then ending dry. Was a match with precooked honey coated ribs and would pair adequately with The Keg rare steaks. A drink now to short term cellaring. 88

APOTHIC RED WINEMAKERS BLEND 2013, Modesto, California,  13.5% D  17g/L,  #234369 $16.15  (Tasted November 22, 2015)

A General listing. An E. & J. Gallo Wine and a blend including Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. My notes:  The Apothic website offers little blending information instead has a commercial focus. The sugar content claimed by the LCBO contradicts a `D` classification with the first sip showing a noticeable sweetness adding to a moderate acid with wild berries and hint of vanilla. The finish is long, smooth and increasingly woody ending with a whiff of cedar.  Serve as a sweet social sipper or an adequate red with burgers, pigs in a blanket, meaty entrées, eg. bbq'd ribs, stroganoff, tomato pastas. Cellar short term.  84

APOTHIC WHITE WINEMAKERS BLEND 2013, Modesto, California, 12.0%  M  19g/L, #419978  $16.15  (Tasted November 16, 2015)

A General listing and product of E. & J. Gallo Winery.  My notes:  A mid golden colour leaving a thin film with a lacy rim on the glass. The nose has a delicate floral fragrance unexpected from a blend of chardonnay, riesling and pinot grigio - refreshing as a light-bodied sipper tho' not appealing for my taste. There's a definite sweetness to partner with mild acid and light chalk, elements that start a moderate finish ending Stevia sweet and dry. OK with lemon chicken and a vegetable stir fry. A commercial white to match a warmer climate and flexible fare. Adding a squeeze of lemon may temper the sweet balancing with a natural tartness.  80

APOTHIC DARK RED BLEND 2014, Modesto, California,  14.0%  D  13g/L,  #392654  $16.15  (Tasted November 21, 2015) 

A General listing and product of E. & J. Gallo Winery.  My notes: I had difficulty finding meaningful info for the Gallo wines on the Apothic website. A rich red deep up to a blue tinted see-through rim. The film sticks and builds up a rounded rim that drops a dozen slow tears. A clean lacquer layers a spicy black cherry/raspberry, well balanced flavour persistent as a long and warm sipper starting with a hint of sweetness. Aerating smoothes an early sharpness and is recommended. An excellent steak companion... or roasted lamb soaked in a savoury sauce. Should do well with several years in the cellar.  89a

KELLERMEISTER BAROSSA VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2011,  Lyndoch, South Australia, 12.0% XD  2g/L, #400424  $15.10  (Tasted November 12, 2015)

A General listing. My notes: A light yellow, crystal clear in the glass. A swirl leaves a firm film accumulating slowly from a krinkled rim then falling uniformly until the glass is clear. Earthy aromas of zesty citrus, tart lime and gooseberry. Penetrating citrus shows no sweetness leaving the palate extra dry and a tad tingly. Serve chilled and sip for an invigorating acid cooling over a long finish or pair with lemon chicken, arctic char/salmon, a Chinese buffet or Japanese Bento Box: tempura veggies and thumb sized shrimp. 87

DOMAINE BOUSQUET CAMELEON CHARDONNAY 2014, Tupungato Valley, Argentina,  12.5%  XD  4g/L, #408450 $13.95  (Tasted November 5,

Released by Vintages on August 8, 2015.  My notes:  There's a subtle bronze hue to a mid yellow colour in the glass - charming. Served at 10oC the nose stays closed until enough warmth releases a peach lemon apple aroma with a soft tang. A thin film spreads with a swirl topped by a krinkled rim then disintegrates into lacy nodules. For those having an acquired taste for a chalk dryness, a fading melon tinged with cool cardboard finishing on a prolonged sour note. A meal white not to be served solo - pair with seasoned pork chop, roast chicken or a Chinese buffet. A drink now when shared with appetizers or mains. 81

DOMAINE SAINT PAUL VIOGNIER PAYS D'OC 2013, Meursault, France, 13.0%  XD  4g/L, #414490 $13.95  (Tasted November 3, 2015)

Released by Vintages on July 25, 2015. The label's Organic Claim is not recognized by Canada.  My notes: A clean mid yellow that swirls a thin film with a krinkled rim that drains quickly. The nose is a mild floral, honeysuckle rather than fruit: pleasing as a sipper, just noticeable with chicken cacciatore but refreshing. Pair with light seafood or sweet and sour pork. The first sip reveals a tang, a touch of warmth and a drying, peach stone/light lemon layer with a long xdry finish. A drink now. 84  

D'ARENBERG THE STUMP JUMP WHITE 2014, McLaren Vale, South Australia, 113.8% D 7g/L,  #922203 $14.95  (Tasted November 6, 2015)

Released by Vintages on July 25, 2015. A Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne blend. My notes: A platinum blond on pouring with a mild aroma for sniffing: soft and dry, a touch of lemon and pear without sweetness. A dry tartness comes with the first sip, thin-bodied just enough to pair with seared scallops on bird's nest pasta, tempura shrimp or a sushi/sashimi combos.  A seam of sweet backgrounds an ascetic bite although not staying long as a dry finish settles in. A drink now. 85

COPPER MOON ‘MOONLIGHT HARVEST’ MERLOT NV, Kelowna, BC, 12.5% D, #173526  $9.45  (Tasted November 5, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A product of Roundpetal Wines (Andres Wines) of Kelowna, British Columbia. Not tasted since August 2010 when it was rated 80. A swirl brings a sticky film dropping slow tears. The colour is a deep ruby and a sniff of raspberry jam edged with a brightening tang. The first sip is thin and sharp, instantly drying with flavours of light raspberry touched by thyme and ending with a coating of fine tannin. Serve with stuffed mushrooms, pigs-in-a-blanket or bacon wrapped asparagus - something with natural oils and herb flavoured. A drink now. 80


Thursday, October 01, 2015

October 2015 Wines - 15 Tasted of 15

With gratitude to the unknown source

I'm a coffee drinker - not an addict but one that appreciates the morning wake-up call a single cup of java provides. The aroma, the scintillating freshening shift from drowsiness to wakefulness, the biting warmth, soft and fulfilling, the comfort of a tender caress of a rewarding companion. However I have often refused, in whatever context it may take at the time, what I consider to be  `bad coffee'. If that makes me a coffee snob then so be it!  But that`s not the point here.

The message behind the signboard, perhaps based on coffee's benefits, could be 'Is a bad coffee better than no coffee?'. My point is a possible parallel. Is 'bad wine better than no wine?'  Are there sufficient health benefits to compensate for your complicity in perpetuating retailing of unacceptable wines? Then I ponder the consequence of everyone returning their latest bottle of plonk? Call it an 'I'm not going to take it any more!' event.

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites, rosés and bubblies)

  • RompeSedas 2006, 92-2  --  V, Toro, Spain, #425868  $19.95
  • Root:1 Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2013, 89-2  --  G,  Donihue, Chile, #350546,  $12.95
  • Bodega Paiman Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 89  --  V,  Chanarmuyo Valley, Argentina, #423186 $19.95 
  • Fat Bastard Syrah Pays d'Oc 2013, 84  --  G, Pay d'Oc, France, #563122 $14.95
  • Fat Bastard Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d'Oc 2013, 83  --  G, Pay d'Doc, France, #028506 $14.95 
  • McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 83  --  V, Ripon, California, #212126  $19.95
  • Ogier Heritages Côtes du Rhône 2013, 82  --  G, Rhône, France, #535849 $14.95
  • Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso Veneto Toscano IGT 2013, 81  --   G, Tuscany, Italy,  #361501  $16.05
  • Fat Bastard Merlot VDP Pays d'Oc 2013, 79/NR  --  G, Pay d'Doc, France, #610857 $14.95 

  • Pietro Marini Torrontés 2013, 90-2  --  V, Calchaqui Valley, Argentina, #408443  $12.95
  • Bollini Pinot Grigio 2014, 87-1  --  V, Trentino, Italy, #951319  $16.95
  • Cheval-Quancard Reserve Bordeaux Blanc 2013, 86-1  --  G, Bordeaux, France, #401604  $13.90
  • Gorgo San Michelin Custoza 2014, 84  --   V, Custoza, Italy, #428045  $14.95 
  • Duca Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio 2014, 83  --   V, Friuli, Italy, #120782  $14.95
  • Fat Bastard Chardonnay Pays d'Oc 2013, 79/NR  --  G, Pay d'Doc, France, #563130 $14.95   

(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


OGIER HERITAGES CÔTES DU RHÔNE AOC 2013, Rhône, France, 14.0% D 6g/L, #535849 $14.95  (Tasted October 6, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A black cherry colour with a soft fragrance of raspberry, vanilla and spice, a neutral enticement. The first sip has a mild nip, a balance of dry and tart with a fine tannin going into a long, extra dry finish. A take it or leave sipper, more of a meal red with pork, lamb entrees with mild sauces - OK with veal scaloppini. Not a wine that would keep me at the party. 82

FAT BASTARD SYRAH PAYS D'OC 2013, Pay d'Oc, France, 13.5%  D  8g/L, #563122 $14.95  (Tasted October 1, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Berry fruit aromas dissipate quickly on pouring - still fresh although subtle at first sip. A swirl shows a thin film fragmenting at the rim and forming a lacy network. A lightish med-bodied red with a deep ruby hue showing off long fast tears when tilted. Fresh to the taste, a soft spice shifting to a teeth lining tang. Would go well with a party buffet: dry crackers, hard cheese and sliced Italian meats or chorizo sausage. The finish hides any sweetness with an ascetic reminder of berries and fine tannin. Serve with grilled, barbecued or roasted red meats.  A commercial red.  84 

FAT BASTARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON PAYS D'OC 2013, Pay d'Oc, France, 13.0%  D 6g/L, #028506  $14.95  (Tasted October 20, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  The colour is a deep charcoal hued ruby and there's a spicy tang to an penetrating aroma of vanilla tainted blackberries. A swirl leaves a moderate film to descend slowly from a krinkled rim. Aerating softened the tang a tad for a first sip that left a warm tannin throughout.  The tang recedes while woody fruit remnants remain along with a chalky dryness. A dry sipper for an open bar beverage better served with hard cheeses and buffet nibbles - adequate with Greek Lamb burgers, better with spicy steaks A drink now.  83

FAT BASTARD CHARDONNAY PAYS D'OC 2013, Pay d'Oc, France, 12.5% XD 4g/L, #563130 $14.95  (Tasted October 18, 2015)

A General listing. My notes: There's a touch of sombre in a crisp and clear mid gold colour. The nose has a flat banana lemon aroma touched by vanilla and spice. Swirling leaves a film that recedes slowly clearing the glass. The first sip is bitter and introduces an unappealing mineral flavour going into a long extra dry finish. Serve with a tray of hard cheeses or pair with grilled pork - we had with a sweet and sour stir fry. Perhaps an acquired taste. 79

FAT BASTARD MERLOT VDP PAYS D'OC 2013, Pay d'Oc, France, 13.5%  D  9g/L, #610857 $14.95  (Tasted October 16, 2015)

A General listing. My notes:  A charcoal tinted ruby with a swirl setting a fine film with a lightly krinkled rim and a few legs. A thin veil remains to drain the glass. There's a soft aroma of crushed white cherries and a hint of tang to prelude a first sip. A soft texture and woody thin cherry flavour contrasts with a firm tannin and unyielding sourness. The sweetness level attempts unsuccessfully to balance the sour seam over a long finish that ends chalk dry - no change with aerating. Not a sipper and difficult to imagine this contributing to a meal - try with hamburgers, corn beef on rye or polish sausage with sauerkraut and mustard. 79/NR

BODEGA PAIMAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, Chanarmuyo Valley, Argentina, 14.5% XD 7g/L, #423186 $19.95  (Tasted October 1, 2015)

Released by Vintages on September 19, 2015.  My notes: Allowing this wine to breathe twenty minutes before serving is worth the wait. My initial impression was of a thin bodied red with delicate flavours and aroma. However there's a crush of blackberry tinting the deep ruby and an aroma of fresh berries uniquely blended to please. Aerating - or waiting - smoothes an already silk texture for sipping. A fine tannin further enhances the fruit as a penetrating acid dries the mouth. The finish is long and includes a pleasing warmth that pulls everything together. Serve with beef steaks and savoury sauces - or just sip. 89

DUCA CATEMARIO COLLEZIONE PRIVATA PINOT GRIGIO 2014, Friuli, Italy, 12.5% D 7g/L, #120782  $14.95  (Tasted October 14, 2015)

Released by Vintages on October 3, 2015.  My notes: A pale yellow and aromas of citrus with a mineral and Granny Smith apple focus. A swirl leaves a firm film with a krinkly rim slowly draining - a few legs. A small sip accentuates the sting of lemon with a fuller, liquid aroma - not a solo sipper. Pair with seafood courses with caper or dill sauce. We had with mini 3 cheese pizzas topped with artichoke heart and smoked salmon spread with a fresh dill sauce. Medium-full bodied, with a long, extra dry, sour fruit finish - a drink now. 83

PIETRO MARINI TORRONTÉS 2013, Calchaqui Valley, Argentina, 13.2% XD 4g/L, #408443  $12.95  (Tasted October 20, 2015)

Released by Vintages on July 25, 2015. My notes:  Natalie MacLean rates this vintage 4.5 of 5.  A  mid yellow reflecting a golden hue and  just perceptible floral when served chilled at 10oC  warming to 16oC. A firm film gradually settles flowing a rim of slow tears.  The texture shows a pleasing fullness plus a dryness that continues into a long scrumptious finish. Not high on aroma and distinct flavours however the roundness, the warmth and touch of tangy spice makes for an enjoyable sipper. Pair with seafood: clams, oysters, mussels in their appropriate sauces. Uncertain re cellaring but likely another year minimum. A value table white.  90-2

CHEVAL-QUANCARD RÉSERVE BORDEAUX BLANC 2013, Bordeaux, France, 12.0% XD  xg/L, #401604  $13.90  (Tasted October 26, 2015)

A General listing. A blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon. Rated 91 by the Wine Spectator and the Best Buy for 2014.  My notes: A mid gold colour including a hint of tarnish - a good thing. A swirl leaves a krinkled rim topping a thin film that sticks then drops slowly draining the glass. A sniff reveals a subtle aroma of lemon and pear combined - more detectable as the glass warms - serve at 14oC. The first sip is tart and chalky with a pleasing fullness - a lime tang adds to the base then continues through an evolving finish. A white to have with warmed pigs in a blanket, tempura veggies with an off-dry dipping sauce or crab/lobster pieces. Cellaring may fade fruit leaving tart and chalk so a drink now. 86-1

CARPINETO DOGAJOLO ROSSO TOSCANO IGT 2013, Tuscany, Italy,   13.5%  XD 4g/L, #361501  $16.05  (Tasted October 6, 2015)

A General listing. My notes: 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon tries to increase the profile of thin cherry fruit. A tanned leather aroma with a light sting and a charcoal stained ruby colour forms the first impression. A swirl leaves a thin film separating then falling as a lacy curtain. A woody warmth starts a finish quickly losing the fruit and ending with an ascetic, dustiness. Pair with buffet selections or serve as a pizza red or with pasta with chorizo rounds in a basil tomato sauce. A drink now. 81

GORGO SAN MICHELIN CUSTOZA 2014, Custoza, Italy, 12.5%  XD 13g/L, #428045  $14.95  (Tasted October 23, 2015)

A Vintages release on October 3, 2015.  My notes:  A blend of Cortese with Tocai, Trebbiano Toscano and Garganega grapes colouring the bowl a crystal clear mid yellow with a subtle floral and lemon skin nose and swirling a film that sticks motionless before dropping slowly from a krinkled rim. A hint of crabapple and biting lemon juice dries the palate. As the tang fades a hint of mineral comes forward going into a long finish. Pair with Chinese fare, sweet and sour pork or stir fry on basmati rice or risotto. Needs a bit of sweet - did not pair with grilled salmon. A sipper only if you prefer a drying bite. 84

ROOT:1 CARMENÈRE COLCHAGUA VALLEY 2013, Donihue, Chile, 13.5%  D  8g/L,  #350546,  $12.95  (Tasted October 9, 2015) 

A General listing.  My notes: The 2012 vintage, shown in the taller bottle with a foil wrap, was rated 92 in January this year . The 2013, in a shorter bottle with screwtop, has a milder, less spicy nose and a swirl shows a slightly lower viscosity. Both are ruby charcoal stained colour. Tasting also revealed minute differences with the 2013 being more tart and drier compared with the 2012 which has a smoother texture and a just discernible sweetness - neither noticeably different until tasted side by side. The 2013 although not a solo sipper would be pleasurable served with a cheese assortment, stuffed mushrooms, bacon wrapped asparagus or paired with a beef stir fry.  89

BOLLINI PINOT GRIGIO 2014, Trentino, Italy,  13.0% XD  xg/L, #951319  $16.95  (Tasted October 18, 2015)  

Released by Vintages on April 1, 2015.  My notes: A bright gold swirling a thin film with a krinkled rim that falls immediately as a screen of fine drops. A sniff reveals a soft indiscernible aroma, perhaps apple and pear. The first sip shows slight roundness with a nip and more defined apple crossed with pear. The flavour is more prominent going into a comfortable warm finish balancing an ascetic bite. An interesting sipper to pair with social conversation or a family dinner of mussels in a creamy pasta or a crab legs/lobster pieces and veggie combo. A drink now. 87

ROMPESEDAS 2006, Toro, Spain, 15.0% XD 6g/L, #425868  $19.95  (Tasted October 24, 2015)

Released by Vintages on September 19, 2015. Produced from Tempranillo grapes selected from 50 to 100 year old vines. Rated 91 by Jay Miller  (April 2010).  My notes:  A true ruby colour and releasing fumes of fresh varnish over mahogany. A swirl leaves a thin film that sticks to the glass then slides down on a sheet of slooowww tears. The first sip is full, has a velvet touch, a penetrating bite and the softness of wild blueberries. The long finish consists of subdued velvet, receding fruit and a balanced dryness. This would be an interesting sipper to pair with thoughtful conversation. Have with saucy sirloin, pulled pork or rubbed back ribs. Still has a few years potential. Bottle weight is just under 1.5 lbs.  92

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014, Ripon, California, 13.5% XD 9g/L, #212126  $19.95  (Tasted October 14, 2015)

A Vintages release on April 1, 2015.  My notes: The 2011 and 2013 vintages were tasted previously with ratings of 92 and 91 respectively.   A dark blackberry colour in the glass and a swirl lays a thin film with a fine rim shedding tears that quickly recede. Smoky liquorice taints a delicate blackberry - no signs of sweetness on the first sniff. An abrupt sting accompanies a blend of blackberry and blueberry flavours before a thin lining of tannin dries the palate.  The finish is mostly a woody remnant of berry layered with fine chalk. The 2014 isn't as much of a drink now as were previous vintages and may not contribute much - try pairing with T-bones, calves liver or lamb chops. 83

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

September 2015 Wines - 16 Tasted of 16

Sheridan creek at Lushes Ave, August '15
Since limiting my budget to $16/bottle (approx) I don't think I've ever had so much 'bad' wine. There's some horrid stuff on LCBO shelves that, according to the Vintage tasting notes, sounds good but when the cork is popped the best/polite recommendation is, for a red, 'pair with a spicy or highly flavoured meal' and for a white, 'delicate with an acquired terroir'. However, I tend to blog what I think regardless and, after all is said, I'm only one of many Ontario consumers, however, it's unfathomable that so much plonk* is on Outlet shelves. (*for clarity anything below a rating of 85 I consider as increasing degrees of 'plonk'. You may pick a different level.)

Perhaps I expect too much from our monopoly. Their staff include buyers, sommeliers and consultants with considerable experience. And the mark up on every wine surely allows these experts the time and tools to weed out the bad. Wouldn't you think that with all their expertise every bottle would be value priced? Personally I sense their mission is to make money and not to provide good value to customers.  

Wine retailing at the low end (perhaps from top to bottom) is a balance of subterfuge and double-speak. Is the LCBO multi headed like Hydra? One Department sources without discipline and another Department is charged with getting rid of the stuff. Another is a Collection Agency for the Government. Each time I enter an outlet full of bottles staring back I'm reminded of a Florida everglade with 'gator eyes staring from the reeds. Wine is in rigid packaging often camouflaged by heavy, darkened glass and decorative labels, medals all aglow. Is it coincidental that when I ask for recommendations we head for the higher priced racks? 

Unless I take precautions I know most of what I'm about to purchase is plonk. We've lived with the system so long it's not going to change. Each Ontario Premier ignores public feedback -  but how does one disassemble a bureaucracy perpetuated from an archaic era and there's no Heracles around?

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites, rosés and bubblies)
  • BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 92-2  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #232637  $18.95
  • Pasqua Passimento Rosso IGT 2013, 89-2  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #141952  $13.95 
  • Velletri Terrae de Volsci Riserva DOP 2009, 88-1  --  G,  Lazio, Italy, #175141  $14.85
  • Dominio del Plata Crios Limited Edition Red Blend 2013, 88-1  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #366146  $14.95
  • Catena Zapata Family Malbec 2013,  88-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina,  #478727 $17.95*  
  • Torres Cordillera de Los Andes Carignan 2010, 87a-1  --  V,  Maule Valley, Chile,  #389692  $16.00*
  • Chapillon Siendra 2011,  83  --  V, Calatayud, Spain, #417675 $14.95   
  • Celler Cercavins Lo Virol 2014, 82  --  V, Costers del Segre, Spain, #425702 $14.95

  • l'Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier 2014, 90-2  --  G, Thongue, France, #348904  $12.15
  • Cave Spring Riesling 2013 VQA Niagara Penninsula, 82  --  G,  Jordan, Ontario, #234583  $14.95
  • Beringer Founders' Estate Pinot Grigio, 81  -- G, California, USA, #045641 $16.95
  • Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2015, 80  --  G, Chile, #064287  $9.95 
  • J.P. Chenet Chardonnay Reserve Pays d'Doc 2014, 80  --  G, France,  #255885 $11.95* 
  • Cono Sur Reserva Chardonnay 2014,  79  --  G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #270066 $12.95

Sheridan Creek at Jack Darling Memorial Park, May '12
  • Château Val Joanis Tradition Rosé 2014, 87-1  --  V,  Rhône, France, #707281  $15.95

  •  Aurora Pinot Noir Espumante Natural Brut Procedencias NV, 90-2  --  V, Brazil, #412536  $15.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar,
NR - Not Recommended)


J.P. CHENET CHARDONNAY RESERVE PAYS d'DOC 2014,  Pays d'Doc, France,  13.0%  D  8g/L,  #255885 $11.95*  (Tasted September 17, 2015)

A General listing. *Price reduced from $12.95 until August 16, 2015.  My notes: This has a strained lemon juice colour of a light-bodied, faux chardonnay. A swirl lays a thin film that quickly separates leaving only a few nodules on the bowl. A fresh crab apple scent promises a refreshing sip - refreshing? yes... appealing? no...  As the fruit fades an ascetic taste pushes forward then softens to shallow cardboard. Pair with white fish, grilled or roasted on a bed of spinach orzo and zucchini slices.  80NR

CONO SUR RESERVA CHARDONNAY 2014, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.5%  XD 6g/L, #270066 $12.95  (Tasted September 28, 2015)

A General listing. My notes: A pale yellow colour with a delicate scent of vanilla tainted kiwi, slightly perfumed as a sniffer. Serve chilled. A thin film with krinkly rim falls quickly leaving a lacy veil while the first sip has a stronger presence - crabapple sharp with a modest roundness that drops off quickly becoming warm in the throat and bland on the palate. Needs support from a buffet of soft cheeses and cold meats, crab or lobster pieces. An entrée of white fish and shellfish would work. 79 NR

CONO SUR BICICLETA VIOGNIER 2015, Chile, 13.5%  XD  4g/L,  #064287  $9.95  (Tasted September 14, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A Carbon Neutral Delivered product.A mid yellow with a thin film receding with a delicate rim. The nose has a tart lemon punch that quickly wakens the taste buds - on the verge of bitterness. Personally a lack of varietal aroma and the strength of acid disqualifies this as a sipper. Possibly from young vines and still young in the bottle. Serve well chilled with fried/roasted chicken, Rainbow Trout with spinach & Parmesan risotto. Behind the tart lemon and possible pear note there is a slight silk. The finish carries an acid seam then ends chalk dry. Cellar several years and watch for possible change - not optimistic. 80NR

CATENA ZAPATA FAMILY MALBEC 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5%  D  5g/L, #478727 $17.95*  (Tasted September 12, 2015)

Released by Vintages on April 1, 2015. Price reduced from $19.95 until July 19, 2015.  My notes: A swirl spreads a viscous film hanging long tears in columns like the falling embers of a sky display on a long weekend. A dense colour hiding the smooth front for a blackberry scent masked by warmth and extra dry taste of sun dried berries. A long soft finish partially fruit driven at the start then fading to a surface berry. Have with anything beefy or sip solo on a cool evening patio. Two years young with some years to go.  88

TORRES CORDILLERA de LOS ANDES CARIGNAN 2010,  Maule Valley, Chile,  14.0%  XD  8g/L,  #389692  $16.00*  (Tasted September 14, 2015)

Released by Vintages on November 22, 2014.  Price reduced from $19.95 - perhaps past peak?  My notes: An eco- unfriendly bottle (~1.5lbs) for a wine with a dense purple tinged ruby colour. A slight nose of crushed raspberries, red cherries, a mellow earthiness and a spicy edged for brightness. The film is well seated dropping long fast legs and there's a balance of acid, warm fruit and thick tannin offering enough to think about from the first sip. The warmth and tannin carries through to a long finish. Aerating brings out the nose and softens the acid and is recommended. A rough table red to serve with hamburgers, tomato chorizo pasta or a rich lamb shank. 87a   

CHAPILLON SIENDRA 2011, Calatayud, Spain, 14.5% XD 7g/L, #417675 $14.95  (Tasted September 18, 2015)

Released by Vintages on July 11, 2015. A blend of Garnacha (80%), Syrah (7%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%) and Merlot (6%).  My notes:  A deep dense ruby in the glass. There's a subtle scent of woody blackcurrant blended with red currant bringing a slight bright tang. A sip has a fine tannin basis as an extra dry layer predominating modest fruit going into a long flat finish. A swirl spreads a thin film with a fragmenting rim flowing several fast legs. A sipper if you like DRY. For me, a meal red to match grilled sirloin, T-bone or prime rib and past cellaring. 83

CHÂTEAU VAL JOANIS TRADITION ROSÉ 2014,  Rhône, France, 13.0% XD  4g/L,  #707281  $15.95  (Tasted September 5, 2015)

Released by Vintages on August 8, 2015. Rated 92 of 100 by Beppi Crosariol  in his newsletter August 14, 2015.  My notes: A pale powder puff peach with a delicate fuzzy floral nose. The film has substance leaving a fragmenting layer followed by a veil of fast legs vanishing into a few nodules. A bright tartness contrasts with its delicacy while adding a dusting of chalk. Give ten minutes to develop a smooth texture with some depth as the finish grows then fades. An extra dry rosé to pair with grilled white fish, tilapia, shellfish or to sip with soft cheeses. We'll try with grilled pickerel, linguini and a cherry tomato/caper sauce. A delicate drink now. 87
L'ARJOLLE SAUVIGNON BLANC-VIOGNIER 2014, Thongue, France, 12.0% D 10g/L, #348904  $12.15  (Tasted September 11, 2015)

A General listing. Rated 88 of 100 by Beppi Crosariol  in his newsletter on August 14, 2015. My notes: The 2013 vintage was tasted in January this year and rated 89 with a Value of 2 (buy multiples). The 2014's colour is a shining yellow, crisp and clear. A swirl lays a modest film to drop in unison from a thin rim along with a few tears. A soft first sip has the crispness of tart apple and the sweet of a yellow plum. The nose has an aroma of plums carried into a long luscious finish against a veil of impartial wax. An enjoyable sipper and a competent complement with many versions of grilled, fried, oven baked, saucy chicken. Buy a case! (make sure it's 2014)  90

DOMINIO DEL PLATA CRIOS LIMITED EDITION RED BLEND 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.5%  D  7g/L, #366146  $14.95  (Tasted September 11, 2015) 

Release by Vintages on July 11, 2015.  My notes: Produced by Susana Balboa - a blend of Malbec, Bonarda, Tannat plus 'dash of' Syrah. A royal purple tinge to a deep ruby a firm swirl showing its glow. The film sticks then runs a dozen fast legs from a well endowed rim. The nose is evident but too polite, a soft spice and faint cherry/blackberry showing. Sharp but soft with a warm swallow provides some entertainment as a sipper. The bite starts a long dry finish. Have with anything beefy, or a saucy lamb shank. This is an economical house red for before or during. Cellar a few to see where it goes. 88

BENMARCO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  XD  7g/L, #232637  $18.95  (Tasted September 16, 2015)

Released by Vintages on August 8, 2015.  My notes: A product of Susana Balboa - unfined and unfiltered.    The primary colour is deep ruby with tones of earth and plum. Shows a tight film that sets a full rim shedding columns of slow tears. A sniff reveals a well balanced blueberry/black current and slight raspberry aroma, smoothly penetrating going into a long warm, dry finish. As a sipper the warmth pulls everything together into an appealing swallow. A complement with anything beefy, a roast leg of lamb or a pulled pork dish. Has a few more years. 92

CAVE SPRING RIESLING 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Jordan, Ontario,  11.0%  D  17g/L,  #234583  $14.95  (Tasted September 6, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A VQA wine.  The 2007 was tasted September 2008 with an 87 rating. Five years later the 2013 retains a pale shade of blond and casts a thin film that rapidly fragments into a few nodules on the glass. An aroma of a green apple and a first sip chilled to 12oC having a dry just perceptible citrus and sweet burst of melon flavour with some depth but not enough to satisfy ie. a light bodied white with a take it or leave it attitude. Have with soft cheeses, hummus or tuna fish on white bread appies. Not for cellaring - a drink now.  82

AURORA PINOT NOIR ESPUMANTE NATURAL BRUT PROCEDENCIAS, Brazil, 12.0%  D  12g/L, #412536  $15.95  (Tasted September 22, 2015)

A Vintages release on June 27, 2015. From the Serra Gaucha region.  My notes:  This could be the first wine from Brazil I've tasted - at least there's no memory of one. The colour is a rich lemon showing off through a burst then a continued spritz of fine bubbles on pouring. Lemon zest softened with a touch of banana, lively in scent and fruit borne out by the first sip. Leaves the palate with a fine chalk more noticeable as the fruit and flavours fade into a soft finish. Worth stocking up for a party of friends or special nuptials. Sip by itself, with crisp bacon strips or serve well chilled as an aperitif stimulating conversation as well appetite. At this price cellar several.  90-2

CELLER CERCAVINS LO VIROL 2014, Costers del Segre, Spain, 14.0%  D  4g/L, #425702 $14.95  (Tasted September 2, 2015)

Released by Vintages on August, 2015. A Merlot blend.  My notes:  A blackened dusty dark plum shade in the glass and a subtle blackberry aroma - prompting me to aerate - but not yet.  The first sip is warm and extra dry showing a thin tannin on a flat taste of berry. A swirl lays a thin film quick to drop legs flowing to leave a lacy rim. Sip if you prefer an astringent going on bitter red with a smooth finish. A drink now to pair with well seasoned meat dishes. No change when aerated. 81NR

BERINGER FOUNDERS' ESTATE PINOT GRIGIO, California, USA, 13.0% D 7g/L, #045641 $16.95  (Tasted
September 30, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A pale green tinged platinum blond with a light apple pear nose, delicately but oddly perfumed. The first sip, well chilled, is tart and dry confirming the nose. Better served with a buffet of treats, cheeses and crackers, asparagus wrapped with side bacon strips - or whitefish filets or shell fish. We had with scallops with linguine in a lemon/vodka sauce. Flavours fade going into an extra dry,  tart finish better masked with nibbles. A drink now. 81NR

VELLETRI TERRAE DI VOLSCI RISERVA DOP 2009, Lazio, Italy, 13.5% XD  5g/L, #175141  $14.85  (Tasted September 6, 2015)

A General listing. A blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and Cesanese.  My notes:  The film lays evenly and stays accumulating volume then draining invisibly. The nose is a cherry soaked smoky cedar, pleasing to sniff, while the colour is a deep ruby adding visual interest. On the light side of medium bodied with full tannins covering bright cherry berry flavours. The finish carries the smoke along with a taste of dried cherry skins and a touch of bitter. Needs a meal to be complete. Pair with pepperoni pizza and tomato pastas, chorizo included. A drink now - past peak? 88 

PASQUA PASSIMENTO ROSSO IGT 2013, Veneto, Italy, 14.0% D 16g/L, #141952  $13.95  (Tasted September 28, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  An attractive ruby shines on pouring and a clean cranberry aroma on a sniff. A swirl spreads a thin film quickly separating from the rim into a see through veil. Smooth textured, bright acid warm, light tannin starting from a sip and gradually filling the senses with an intense vanilla tainted cherry liqueur. Light bodied compensated by a long flavourful finish - a touch of sweet for lip smacking flexibility. May improve with cellaring a few more years - less intensity but broader profile. 89