Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April 2015 Wines - 18 Tasted of 18

Hanging up the corkscrew?

Over the years I have progressed from Blue Nun and Baby Duck, white and red juices pressed offshore ready to ferment, filter, bottle and mature(?) in my closet. For many of the years I followed Opimians monthly wine selections with Ken Christie's (1973 -  20xx)  expanded notes. More recently orders on wine agencies have been complemented by purchases from the BCLB (British Columbia) and LCBO (Ontario) and trips through a dozen North American and New Zealand wine districts. I enjoyed the imaginative blending and the unique preparation of grape varieties with their regional signature.

Over this period I've also discovered there is such a thing as 'crap' - wines that exude a smell and taste of lacquer... of farm field putrification... some so thin their labels hide truth with poetical descriptors... and some that have replaced 'somewhereness' with 'nowhereness'... and there's some very drinkable wines priced well beyond their enjoyment value, not 'crap' - just not worth it.

British India
Lately I've noticed a real push on commercial labels. Business entities rather than wineries resulting from acquisitions, mergers and takeovers as independents decide there's an easier way to make a dollar: sell the business and position their experience as a Corporate Executive. In parallel an affiliated industry of chemical additives, some good some not so, has been spawned.

Art Deco
My focus isn't on expensive wines although each price point has its share of 'crap'. At the higher end there's a double whammy of poorer value and simulated product. Wine is a beverage turned into status symbols for the well heeled. I find I'm needing to use more discretion when buying from either Vintages or the General shelves. In my January and February blogs I tasted thirty-three low price point wines, most being Discontinued or On-Sale. Of the thirty-three wines, nineteen were rated 'not a value' including two that were discarded.

I've decided to change my approach. I enjoy pulling out corks and twisting screwtops so I'm not giving up my corkscrew. I'll be looking for 'psychic responses'. I'll look at the rows, close my eyes and let the glass mosaic speak to me. Better yet, the set below was selected by my spouse.

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP:  (reds, whites and bubblies)

  • Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 89-2**  (91-3)  --  G,  Modesto, California,  #392647  $14.95* 
  • Harewood Shiraz 2011, 89-1 --  V, Denmark, Australia, #401380  $19.95
  • Akarua Rua Pinot Noir 2012, 89-1  --  V, Central Otago, New Zealand, #295592  $24.95 
  • Chloe Red No. 249 2012, 86  --  G, Livermore, California,  #392589  $16.95* 
  • MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, 85a  --  G,  Santiago, Chile, #619205  $12.05 
  • Domaine Les Yeuses Les Épices Syrah 2012, 85  --  V, Midi, France, #177584  $15.95
  • Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Riserva 2010, 83  --  V,  Siena, Italy, #111641  $15.95 
  • Lionel Osmin & Cie Reserve Malbec 2011, 83a  --  V, Cénac, France,  #328641  $13.95 

  • Pilliteri Canadian Gothic Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012, 88-2  --  G, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #395624  $12.95
  • Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2013, 88-1  --  G, Livermore Valley, California, #175430  $17.75 
  • Ziraldo Riesling 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 88-1  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, #357640  $19.95 
  • Ormarine Carte Noire Picpoul de Pinet 2013, 86-1  --  V,  Pinet, France, #525287  $12.95   
  • San Raffaele Monte Tabor Soave 2013, 86-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #277392  $13.95
  • Jean Biecher & Fils Reserve Riesling 2012, 84  --  V, Alsace, France, #403105  $14.95
  • Chloe Chardonnay Sonoma County 2012, 84  -- G, Livermore, California, #392597  $17.95
  • Jean Geiler Réserve Particulière Riesling 2013,  83  --  V,  Haut-Rhin, France, #408237  $14.95
  • Rabl Löss Gruner Veltliner 2013, 83  --  V, Kamptal, Austria,  #295709  $14.95

  • Bisol Desiderio Jeio Colmei Extra Dry Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV, 88-1  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #030601  $16.95  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


CHLOE RED NO. 249 2012 , Livermore, California, 13.5% D  10g/L,  #392589  $16.95*  (Tasted April 7, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $17.95.  My notes:  A deep ruby colour, very smooth on the glass with a film dropping quickly until slow tears form an unbroken rim. A crushed raspberry and plum aroma, subtly tart with a suspicion of sweetness that comes forward from the first sip then steps back as the fruit is replaced by a chalk dry finish and a soft woodiness. Sampling 249 wine lots as stated in the winery's notes, seems a stretch but the combination in this recipe produces a social sipper and satisfying complement to a variety of meaty meals.  86

CHLOE CHARDONNAY 2012 , Livermore, California, 13.5% D 8g/L, #392597  $17.95  (Tasted April 20, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:A clear mid yellow swirls a thin film hanging from a lacy rim. The nose is a blend of lemon and fresh cut honey dew - no sign of sweet yet. The first sip brings a more than a touch of sugar balancing the tartness nicely then a lining of chalk, a repeat of honey dew and suspicion of vanilla.  Flexible as a creamy sipper or a seafood white: filets of artic char, tilapia or Cuban cod. Finishes long and dry. To me it comes off as a put together chardonnay - the winemaker's choice. 84

WENTE MORNING FOG CHARDONNAY 2013 ,  Livermore Valley, California, 13.5%  D  7g/L, #175430  $17.75  (Tasted April 14, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  A crystal clear mid yellow with a sharp aroma of yellow plums and slight vanilla. The film is thin leaving a fragmented rim then a ring of tiny tears. The first sip penetrates politely while the first swallow cleanses the palate. A taint of banana blended with lemon shows a pleasing silky texture and ends with a patch of plaster. Keep a few chilled for unexpected guests or bridge party.  A commercial drink now. Serve with pineapple chicken or a Bento box. We had with Ricardo's Pork Loin with White Button  Mushrooms in a butter sauce . 88

HAREWOOD SHIRAZ 2011, Denmark, Australia, 15.0%  XD  7g/L, #401380  $19.95  (Tasted March 28, 2015)

A Vintages released on March 7, 2015 rated 93 by James Halliday  (July 11, 2013).  My notes:  WineAlign rates this 2.5 .  The colour is a dense, coal hued ruby. A biting acid fills the first sip along with a coating of fine tannin, enough for a velvet texture to flavours of crushed dark fruit. A swirl leaves a firm film topped by a tight rim eventually shedding long slow legs. Full-bodied, bold with an intense finish and, for me, a sipper. Have with roast ribs, short, long, back, beef or pork - slow cooked with The Keg seasoning. Great with meat lovers pizza.  A Shiraz fortified by process. Could age several years without change.  89-1

ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI RISERVA 2010,  Siena, Italy, 13.5%  XD  xg/L,  #111641  $15.95  (Tasted April 8, 2015)

A Vintages release on December 1, 2014. My notes:  WineAlign  rates this vintage 3 of 5. On the other hand,  James Suckling rated it 91 (November 6, 2013). A deep ruby colour spreads a viscous film on the glass that settles to form a thin rim shedding tiny tears. Best to allow this to breathe 20 minutes or aerate for release of extra dry crushed red cherry aroma and tart woody flavours that, with a thin body, continue through a long finish. Not a sipper - a red to match spicy tomato sauces - if it's Italian it'll be a match. A drink now and not a value. 83

ZIRALDO RIESLING 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 12.1% D 13g/L, #357640  $19.95  (Tasted April 8, 2015) 

A Vintages release on February 1, 2014.  My notes: Grapes from the Victoria vineyard. Natalie McLean rates this 88 of 100 . There's a bronze tint to the crystal liquid and a subtle mineral aroma edged with lime. A ragged rim takes time to accumulate a ring of falling tears and leave a lacy reminder. Lip-smacking, a bright acid and a sweet lining then a tart chalk finish provides polite interest as a sipper. Pair with seafood, mussels in a wine sauce with a light garlic or fresh arugula and avocado slices. A drink now. 88

LIONEL OSMIN & CIE LA RÉSERVE MALBEC 2011, Cénac, France,  13.0%  XD 6g/L,  #328641  $13.95  (Tasted April 10, 2015) 

A Vintages release on March 21, 2015.  My notes: Wine-Searcher gives a rating of 87/100. An average 3 of 5 of 277 ratings on the vivino website . The colour is a deep ruby with a black cherry, see-through meniscus. A thin film adheres well leaving a lacy rim. The nose has a spicy plum core complemented with a red cherry brightness. Bold and tangy then a tad metallic on the first swallow - best to aerate. A woody aspect carries red cherries through a moderate, extra dry finish. A quencher at an outside bbq of ribs, T-bones or burgers. A drink now. The empty bottle weight is an eco-unfriendly 1.5lbs. 83a

SAN RAFFAELE MONTE TABOR SOAVE 2013, Veneto, Italy, 12.5%  XD  5g/L, #277392  $13.95  (Tasted April 9, 2015)

A Vintages release on February 7, 2015. My notes:  A green hued mid yellow with an aroma of grassy lemon plus a delicate stone fruit with an acid balance. The film is thin and lays motionless until long tears drain through slow legs and fragmented lace. Chalky mineral, tart lemon leaves the palate extra dry and clean. Have with broiled pork chops, cod on Cuban risotto or tomato pizza with anchovies or smoked salmon slices. A sipper if you prefer dddrrryyy and mineral biased lemon but makes an interesting seafood white. Serve chilled. 86-1    

PILLITTERI CANADIAN GOTHIC CHARDONNAY VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 13.0%  D  6g/L, #395624   $12.95  (Tasted April 12, 2015) 

A General listing. My notes:  WineAlign  rates this vintage 2.5 of 5 .  My notes: The colour is a bright mid yellow and, at a serving temperature of 10oC, a delicate stone fruit nose. Silky on the lips and well balanced stone and fruit, faint pineapple and apple flavour followed by a modest fullness with tart lemon. An evolving mineral builds a long, pleasing finish given time to appreciate. Have with mild fish dishes, breaded or with a white wine sauce. A drink now and a solid value. 88  

RABL LÖSS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013, Kamptal, Austria,  12.0%  XD  5g/L, #295709  $14.95  (Tasted April 24, 2015)

Released by Vintages on March 21, 2015. Beppi Crosariol gave this 91 of 100 in his G&M March  26th article. My notes: A shallow yellow in colour lays a thin film that gradually etches a lacy rim with each swirl. A slight floral and tangy fragrance titillates the nose persuading a first sip. Served chilled there's a subtle apple and dry mineral along with a tart finish that has some appeal as a social sipper. OK with broiled white fish on butter rice or with puréed cauliflower - a tad short for savoury seafood and chicken. A drink now - not for cellaring.  83

DOMAINE LES YEUSES LES ÉPICES SYRAH 2012, Pays d'Oc Midi, France, 13.5%  XD  4g/L, #177584  $15.95  (Tasted April 3, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 6, 2014.  My notes:  A flat charcoal stained ruby that leaves a thin film hanging from a lace edged rim until draining as fragments. The nose is a lightly spiced delicate plum and black cherry not pushing itself as a sipper nor a meal red while accommodating both. Finishes with ripe dark fruit long and dry on the palate. Spice is well managed. Have with grilled chops, lamb or pork, or with slow cooked short ribs and savoury osso bucco. A drink now - short term cellaring. 85

JEAN BIECHER & FILS RESERVE RIESLING 2012 , Alsace, France, 12.0% D 10g/L, #403105  $14.95  (Tasted April 23, 2015)

Released by Vintages on February 21, 2015. Rated 90 by Alison Napjus  (2013).  My notes: A clear light yellow colour with the tartness of fresh lemon to brighten the first sip and begs at least a tray of soft cheeses as counterpoint. A swirl leaves a thin film shedding light tears from a ragged rim. Serve chilled. As a flavour, this has its own blend of lemon muted by grapefruit and soft melon - couldn't tasted 'ginger'. The texture is smooth having a dryness that lasts through a long stony finish. A light bodied white to pair with white fish filets breaded and grilled. Try before if  buying to cellar.  84

ORMARINE CARTE NOIRE PICPOUL DE PINET 2013, Pinet, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L,  #525287  $12.95  (Tasted April 16, 2015)

Released by Vintages on January 24, 2015 and a gold medal winner at the 2014 Concours Général Agricole in Paris.  My notes:  67 ratings on the vivino website averaged 3.9 of 5. Beppi Crosariol gave it 87 of 100 in his March 26th G&M article.  The colour is a mid yellow with a fine clarity in the glass. The film is thin gradually separating into islands draining from a fragmenting rim. A slight aroma of field grass and a soft texture is a welcomed first sip, some lemon and apricot finishing extra dry primarily mineral and a suspicion of fruit. Serve well chilled for a sipper. Better as a house white with seafood: red snapper or tilapia with a white wine and butter sauce. 86

BISOL DESIDERIO JEIO COLMEI EXTRA DRY VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% D 15g/L, #030601  $16.95  (Tasted April 6, 2015)

Released by Vintages on March 7, 2015.  My notes: Serve at 8oC. Serve at 8oC. Pours with a full spritz and an aroma of subtly tangy tangerine. Some subtly sweet apple and mineral are included as a sip brings more character to the surface. The colour is a light straw, crystal clear, showing fine bubbles that persist. Smooth, a touch of chalk for texture and noticeable fresh fruit. Plan for summer festivities and sunny weather on the deck, marine or otherwise. A reasonable value that should cellar for a few years. Have with morning pancakes, sausage drizzles with maple syrup. 88

AKARUA RUA PINOT NOIR 2012, Central Otago, New Zealand, 14.0%  XD  5g/L,  #295592  $24.95  (Tasted April 14, 2015)

Released by Vintages on August 2, 2014 and rated 4 of 5 by Michael Cooper (Buyer's Guide to NZ Wines, 2014).  My notes:  A deep plum shading from the meniscus to an almost see through centre. A moderate film that leaves a rough rim to drain through slow tears. The nose is delicate with a touch of anise on black cherry, just discernible. Then a burst of fresh cherry, dark chocolate and tart spice nicely balanced to let the fruit predominate. A delicious blend that fades evenly into a extra long dry finish. Could serve as an interesting sipper for a wine crowd or as a fruit addition to roast chicken, duck or with a buffet of bacon wrapped asparagus, pigs in a blanket etc. Cellaring a few years may justify the price. 89

JEAN GEILER RÉSERVE PARTICULIÈRE RIESLING 2013, Haut-Rhin, France, 11.5%  D  8g/L, #408237  $14.95  (Tasted April 18, 2015)

Released by Vintages on April 4, 2015.  My notes:  A pale yellow with aromas of lemon lime softened by light grapefruit. A swirl casts a thin film quickly disintegrating from a lacy rim. There's a silk texture and tight acid on the first sip that changes rapidly to chalk that parches the mouth - as in 'licking plaster board'. A sipper if served with finger food or with raw oysters, seafood crepes or sunny-up eggs on syrupy pancakes. Unique for its extremely dry, pucker finish - try blind tasting with two or three other Rieslings or sample first.  83 

CARNIVOR CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Modesto, California, 14.0%  D  15g/L,  #392647  $14.95*  (Tasted April 19, 2015)

A General listing - price* reduced from $16.95 until April 26, 2015.  My notes:  A deep ruby with an attractive beet edging and an aroma blend that includes soft plum, a touch of sharp pepper and pencil shavings. Swirling leaves a substantial film that quickly sheds long legs. A smooth and full first sip fills in a profile with fine tannin, bright berry fruit finishing velvet smooth, a tad woolly. A pleasing sipper and a complement with burgers, slow cooked ribs or beef cobbler. Buy to imbibe now rather than cellar - but should keep a few years.  89** **Rating upgraded when paired with Stephano's Beef Cobbler - smoothness complimented by Conivar's fullness with the reserved red wine sauce of the Cobbler - perfect, add 2 for a 91-3 rating.
MONTGRAS CAB SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2013, Santiago, Chile, 13.5%  D 8g/L, #619205  $12.05  (Tasted April 22, 2015)

 A General listing.  My notes: The vivino website gives an average rating from 204 reviewers a 3.3 . WineAlign's rating is 3.0 of 5. The colour is a deep ruby and a swirl leaves a firm film that sticks to the glass until tears/legs cascade from a building rim. The nose has a brambly rawness not enticing as a sipper and the first sip carries the aroma into a dull flavour and dry finish - a touch of sweet cherry shows after airing. Serve with beef burgers,  grilled strip sirloin or lamb souvlakis. Decant and air forty minutes or aerate to add 2 for an 85a. 

5  Stars         It’s hard to imagine better quality (94-100 points).
4 ½  Stars    Excellent quality (90-93 points). 
4 Stars         Very good quality (87-89 points).
3 ½ Stars     Good quality (85-86 points).
3 Stars         Well-made wine but without distinction (82-84 points).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 2015 Wines - 6 Tasted of 6

What is this Generation coming too?

Somewhere in this mix of 'art' (see previous blog entry) are the labels released by younger generations going through a cycle of running the family business. I.e. that phase when the offspring of winery owners have left their teenage years and are now ambitious entrepreneurs. The parents have given free reign to the imagination of a new age grown tolerant of ripening grapes vintage after vintage and the acrid smell of fermentation.

Some will have the maturity to adopt century's of wine processes, styles and the pairing of earth to vine and styles to market - others will follow in the family's footsteps not because they have an understanding but of a trust there will be a transfer of something rewarding resulting from their energetic direction. Meanwhile parents winter at their seasonal homes saying 'the kids will look after things'.

This can also be the age easily intrigued by streamlined production equipment spewing wine as if creating money in a bottle.

Mindsets aren't necessarily passed from one generation to the next. The ambitious with a few hectares planted with this and that soon realize producing wine is more difficult than planting, picking and packaging. Now, being tenants of a craft winery, these newbies are susceptible to the tales spun by Conglomerates. The advantages of volume production with an offer to merge with a collection of wineries. Often retaining their individual labels along with their staff they rely on a Corporation to exceed previous profits or possibly bring the winery back on track. Modern upgrades installed as necessities: a chem lab, automated pickers, crushers then bottling lines, centralizing/expansion of docking and warehousing, all supporting modern techniques from preparing the earth to squeezing grapes.

The family name is imprinted on stylish blends of volume plonk or, if lucky, new generation labels of higher priced 'estate' wines. Hidden in the detail is a Corporate name bartering for shelf and print space ghost writing every tasting note. A wine to match new age consumers encouraged to pledge local loyalty... at least for the first release or the first sip.

My opinion, Ww 

Canoes at Harura Falls, NZ

THE LINEUP:  (reds and whites)

  • Buried Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,  North Coast California,  91-1  --  G,  North Coast, California, #356113 $19.95
  • Chateau Timberlay Bordeaux Superieur Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 89-1  -- G, Bordeaux, France, #030072  $16.45
  • ZOLO Classic Bonarda 2013, 88-1  --  V,  Mendoza, Argentina, #398271   $13.95
  • Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2013,  80  --  G, Barossa, South Australia, #665471 $14.95*  

  • Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2014, 81  --  G, Stellenbosch, South Africa, #340380  $10.25
  • Voga Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2013,  NR  --  G, Veneto, Italy, #669226  $15.30 
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)

BURIED HOPE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010,  North Coast California,  14.2% D  xg/L, #356113 $19.95  (Tasted March 18, 2015)

 A General listing. Made in California, USA by Pernod Ricard Winemakers Ltd.  My notes: A blend of blackberries and soft black currant offers a start for the sniffer while a balanced flavouring of bright fruit and lasting dryness partners well with bbq'd meats and tomato sauced pasta dishes or meat lovers pizzas. A swirl drops long legs from a fragmenting rim. There's an unexpected smoothness that becomes more prominent as the finish develops. Could cellar a few more years but sample regularly. 91 

ZOLO CLASSIC BONARDA 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.8%  XD  7g/L, #398271   $13.95  (March 22, 2015)

A Vintages release - date not given. Sustainably farmed. My notes: The winery's website excludes the Bonarda label. Almost black although the meniscus shines with deep ruby purple in candlelight. The viscous produces slow legs dropping from a well rounded rim and there's a silky smoothness to the first sip. Heavy tannins leave a fine chalk texture to a soft blackberry flavour with bright acid and a natural impression. The finish is long but fairly flat making pairing limited, try veal Scaloppini or slow grilled calves liver with a onion and mushroom sauce. At peak now with a few more years of cautious cellaring. 88

JACOB'S CREEK RESERVE SHIRAZ 2013, Barossa, South Australia, 14.5%  XD  6g/L,  #665471 $14.95*  (Tasted March 31. 2015)

A General listing *reduced from $16.95 produced by Wyndham Estate Wines Ltd.  My notes:  The 2004 and 2006 vintages were previously tasted with ratings of 79 and 81 respectively. This vintage has an attractive opaque violet ruby colour spreading smooth with a rim that fragments into long legs and lacework. The nose has an assertive tang balancing light aromas of tannic berries warmed by the sun. The first sip is bitter discouraging an invitation to sip then is flat and woody with an extra dry finish. Further sips have little appeal unless with the right savoury meal. Pair with meat lovers pizzas or grilled ribs. A 'serve with discretion’ shiraz that’s not likely to support further cellaring. 80 

TWO OCEANS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 12.0%  XD  7g/L,  #340380  $10.25 (Tasted March 31, 2015)

A General listing by Distillers Corporation Ltd.  My notes: The 2014 vintage fact sheet isn't as yet available on the website . There's a green tint to a mid yellow colour and a swirl leaves a thin film separating at the rim into lace and falling slowly. The aroma is delicate releasing a blend of dry tang and fumes of withered grass. The first sip at 12oC is bright, shows a slight gooseberry lime taste for an instant then goes into a long drying finish. Has a balanced start to herbaceous finish and a general appeal. Pair with barbecued chicken, mushroom or shepherds pie. A commercial drink now.  81

VOGA PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2013, Veneto, Italy, 12.0%  D  10g/L, #669226  $15.30  (Tasted March 30, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Snooth (link above) has it priced just under $9CAD with the last review saying 'tastes like stinky cheese, really acidic...'. The nose has a dry tartness of lemons without the aroma. A thin film falls slowly from a jagged rim leaving a clean surface - the colour, a pale lemon juice. Tart and chalky on the lips then to the palate - a subtle sugar softens a long dry finish. I didn't recognize a grape and other fruit was undetected. Could pass in a crowded social setting where there's focus on conversation and a seafood buffet. I used part in a Cuban Cod recipe tried to pair with the meal but didn't work, not enough there - discarded the remainder. NR

CHATEAU TIMBERLAY BORDEAUX SUPERIEUR MERLOT - CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, Bordeaux, France, 13.0%  D  6g/L, #030072  $16.45  (Tasted March 23, 2015)

A General listing.  My notes:  Several vintages of this wine were tasted in previous years with somewhat inconsistent results. The colour is a dark ruby still brightly edged.  The nose has a floral touch to spicy raspberry plum aromas. A stiff tannin lays a background for a dry, woody, raspberry with the fruit fading quickly letting the tannins support the wood - a long and extra dry finish. A value with grilled beef or lamb and bbq'd ribs. At peak with a few years left. A drink now. 89


Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 2015 wines - 11 Tasted of 11

Wine and Art


Absentminded on a-nothing-to-do day a question came into mind. Can Wine be compared to Art? Are there genres/styles/levels of wine produced that are equivalent to techniques/media/methods of Art? Could one find an equivalent to the Group of Seven, the European Masters or Modernists and Impressionists, not of Art but of Wine? ... and are there winemakers with the dedication, the perseverance for perfection, an interpretation of grapes relative to each variety and blending, to attain a sense of a wine's place in a venue or on a menu? Of winemakers is there a range from a literary master capturing history and landscapes to a cartoonist colourfully imaging opinions as well as the spray can vandal scarring downtown architecture? Can such parallels be drawn across the spectrum of craft and commercial winemaking?

Certainly a range from famous to infamous reflects the wine industry today. The message is if there's money to be made there's a producer ready to bottle it. Rich to poor, connoisseur to novice, there's a budget and attitude to buy anything put on the shelf. At the lower price point often it's 'Drink up! There's more plonk where that came from!'

How does one avoid encouraging the unscrupulous wine merchant? You say wine critics are the answer! Here's where it gets tricky. There's also a full range of critics. From those providing prose for the endless bottles of put together crap and the ones being silent on what only they know is unworthy of positive comment. There's those walking a fine line unwilling to offend a generous owner.  With one exception I haven't read a wine critique that says plonk with clarity when they find a bad label.

The worth of both art and wine is established by talk - have a tasting, a seminar, a wine blog or record chatty trips to wineries and vineyards. Talk it up among colleagues, among consumers, collectors and investors. 'Talk' energizes the market but not the products within it. Critics don't have a role enforcing integrity (other than their own). Buying from a gallery or buying a case it's the buyer's call. No one else can identify the garbage - buyers have no voice. 

The Lagoon Plate XIX
Getting back to Wine vs Art... recently (close to a month now) I viewed a Charlie Rose TV show featuring a discussion of Matisse paper cutouts that amazed, no, startled me as a scholarly critic concluded values for these works of art. Evaluations were expressed in ethereal terms then on to dollars. Flowing lines, colour and shadings, suggestions of form sounding as a sonnet. An elixir of prose converging toward uniform persuasion of worth.

How many professional wine critics follow a similar eloquent approach. How we interpret words into value can be a leap. There's no intermediary - no, lets put it another way, there's so many expounding the qualities of wine that you and I can be easily distracted from our own judgment. 

'Invest' is part of both investigate and investment. For Wine, it's time to put more of ourselves into the conversation.

My opinion, Ww

THE LINEUP: (reds, whites)
  • Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 92-2  --  V, Puente Alto, Chile, #337238 $21.95 
  • Cono Sur Bicicleta Shiraz 2013, 86-1  --  G, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #064295  $10.00
  • Wynn's Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 86  --  V,  Coonawarra, Australia, #084996 $24.95*
  • Nederburg Winemaker's Reserve Shiraz 2013, 85-1  --  G, Western Cape, South Africa, #527457 $9.95   
  • Vina Real Plata Crianza 2010, 82  --  V, Rioja, Spain, #657411 $18.95
  • P|K|N|T Reserve Carmenère 2013, 81c  --  G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #191858  $9.95
  • Undurraga Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2013, 81a  --  G, Maipo Valley, Chile, #358945  $10.00 
  • Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2013, 79-NR  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #222281 $10.95*  

  • Errazuriz Estate Series Chardonnay 2013,  84  --  G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #318741 $10.95*
  • Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2014, 78  --  G, Victoria, Australia,  #668947  $10.95 
  • Hardys Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer 2013, NR  --  G, South Eastern Australia, #448548 $9.90  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended) 


VIÑA REAL PLATA CRIANZA 2010, Rioja, Spain, 13.5%  D  5g/L, #657411 $18.95  (Tasted February 19, 2015)

Released by Vintages on January 10, 2015. Rated 91 by Luis Gutierrez (December 2013).  My notes:  A soft berry nose, not much penetration and not that much fruit. A swirl coats the glass with a light film, a ragged rim and tears that quickly develop and fall. A sip gives a silk texture and light-body coating the palate with a fine tannin and a mild acid. A dull red currant, a flat blackberry and smoke forms a polite flavour profile - not much to please nor to object as the flavour drops and the finish dries the palate. Past peak and not a value.  Drink now. 82

NEDERBURG WINEMAKER'S RESERVE SHIRAZ 2013,  Western Cape, South Africa, 14.5% D 8g/L, #527457 $9.95*  (Tasted February 26, 2015)

A General listing *reduced from $11.95.  My notes: The tasting notes are not available of the winery website - perhaps a special bottling for the LCBO? WineAlign gave it 2.5 stars. The colour is a charcoal hued ruby. The nose has a peppery edge to a dark chocolate and blackberry fruit, subtle except for the spice. The first sip has a pleasing bite flowing with fine tannin, a silky texture and medium-bodied density. A viscous film sticks then quickly flows a ring of fast legs. Finishing is half way to bold with a long smoky ending. Pair with grilled steaks, long ribs, pot roast or just sip. At this price social sipping would be appropriate or offer with a buffet of bacon wrapped asparagus, pigs in a blanket, etc. Should keep awhile properly cellared. 85

ERRAZURIZ ESTATE SERIES CHARDONNAY 2013, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.5%  XD  4g/L,  #318741 $10.95*  (Tasted February 19, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $12.95*.  My notes:  The 2008 vintage was tasted in 2009, rated 81 with the comment 'a white looking for a grape'. This in contrast to an interesting 2007 vintage rated 94. Both were regularly priced $10.95. The crisp and clear mid yellow of the 2013 shines from the glass. Although subdued the nose has both fruit and a mild spice: mostly orange zest and vanilla tinged mango. The coolness on serving (10oC) retains the flavourings briefly then finishes dry, light-bodied with a touch of chalk and light tang. The body opens as the chill wanes (14oC) showing a pleasing texture. The film is moderate leaving a ragged rim and a few fast legs. Serve chilled with crab cakes, steamed lobster in a light tomato sauce or grilled scallops. A drink now.  84

UNDURRAGA ESTATE GROWN PINOT NOIR 2013, Maipo Valley, Chile, 13.5%  XD 6g/L,  #358945  $10.00  (Tasted February 23, 2015)

A General listing. My notes:  Beppi Crosariol rated this vintage of Chilean Pinot Noir 87. Ratings for other vintages are shown at WineEnthusiast however the Maipo Pinot Noir is not shown on the Undurraga website. An objectionable touch of BRETT shows in the first sniff along with bright red cherry flavours. The colour is a see-through ruby giving a light-bodied appearance borne out by a thin film fragmenting at the rim then quickly receding. A possible sipper after aerating but more of a meal red. Pair with grilled salmon steak or chicken pieces. A drink now. 81a

P|K|N|T RESERVE CARMENERE 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile,  13.5% D  5g/L, #191858  $9.95*  (Tasted February 22, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $10.95*.  My notes: Selected from an Outlet's on-sale bin. WineAlign rated this red a 2.  A 90/10 blend of carmenère and cabernet sauvignon from the Bronco Wine Company  of California. The colour is a charming, deep purple ruby that leaves a firm film with full rim shedding long fast legs. The first sip has a surprising sting, followed by drying tannins and a woody, lightly flavoured berry rough on the palate and lasting through a fading finish. A rough sipper needing buffet pastries or pairing with Texas chili, hamburgers with mustard and relish or a spicy crock pot stew. Not a drink now - I`d skip this vintage or try cellaring two to five years if already purchased. Our bottle was discarded. 81

TRAPICHE RESERVE SYRAH 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D 9g/L,  #222281 $10.95*  (Tasted February 27, 2015)

A General listing reduced from $11.95*. My notes: The 2011 vintage was tasted in March 2013, rated 84 saying "a pleasing mix of textures, a satin feel and drying tannins..." .  Rated 3.5 by WineAlign the 2013 is much the same as previous vintages however there's a sharpness along with strong tannins that eliminate it as a 'sipper' for most. The film is less firm with a rim that fragments while leaving fast legs. Thin, sharp and  woody on the palate replaces the 'satin feel' but retaining miniscule plum and red cherry for a long dry finish. Pair with duck, a savoury stew, rubbed ribs or a  T-bone. Not for cellaring. 79-NR

HARDYS STAMP SERIES RIESLING GEWURZTRAMINER 2013, South Eastern Australia, 11.5%  M  24g/L,  #448548 $9.90  (Tasted February 17, 2015)

A General listing produced by a Constellation Wines company.  My notes: The 2012 and 2007 vintages tasted previously were rated in the 70's and, this one being a gift, was an 'opportunity' to sample without the expense of a purchase. The colour is a crisp light yellow with a soft floral aroma and a touch of spice. A swirl sheds a thin layer and ragged rim that  slowly recedes. The first sip has a noticeable sweetness, a mild spice and flavour I found incompatible. The sweetness persists along with a dry edge and becoming cloying with continued sips. Serve with buffet nibbles (our guest blended with Diet Sprite) or serve with an M&M shrimp ring or seared scallops - with a plain/white wine sauce. A drink now and not recommended.  NR 

LINDEMANS BIN 85 PINOT GRIGIO 2014, Victoria, Australia,  12.5%  D  7g/L, #668947  $10.95  (Tasted February 25, 2015)

A General listing and a Southcorp Wines company.  My notes:  A mid to pale yellow, bright and shiny.  A shallow grapefruit nose with a light tang and subtle floral scent. Leaves a fragmented rim with fast tears. The first sip reveals a smooth lemon drop melting in the mouth followed by a balanced acid, a hollow aftertaste and a smoothness on the lips. A social sipper at an open bar enticing guests to look for an alternate. Pair with delicate seafood: breaded tilapia, cod or haddock. Serve off-chill for more flavour. A commercial drink now. 78

CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Puente Alto, Chile,  14.5%  XD 7g/L,  #337238 $21.95  (Tasted February 22, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014. The Book lists the 2012 vintage with a rating of 5. My notes: A viscous film on the glass with a veil of slow tears adds depth to the deep ruby colour. A sniff reveals a bitter edge to a penetrating tang with red currant starting a blanket of dense tannins and smoky black cherry. Full-bodied, smooth textured but initially throat grabbing makes this an interesting sipper. The intensity would complement savoury entrées: grilled, bbq'd or slow roasted - no subtlety here - a good partner. Cellar five years or more to soften some of the 'grip' or drink now. Packaged in a non eco-friendly 1.5lb bottle.  92

CONO SUR  BICICLETA SHIRAZ 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 13.0% D 8g/L,  #064295  $10.00  (Tasted February 24, 2015)

A General listing. My notes:  A deep ruby colour with the slightest whiff of warm smoky edged berries. The film is lightly viscous leaving a fragmented rim falling as a ring of tears. There's a pleasing brightness in the first sip with an increasing presence of fine tannins, young berry fruit, a tad jammy, shifting to a dry finish and subtle sweetness. Light in body and texture this is a polite sipper and would pair with grilled pork and beef. A commercial drink now. 86

WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE BLACK LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012,  Coonawarra, Australia, 13.5%  XD 5g/L,  #084996 $24.95*  (Tasted March 2, 2015)

Released by Vintages on December 1, 2014 and reduced from $27.95. 
My notes:  A purchase by my spouse along with another red above. A purple hued ruby, with a moderate film that hangs slow legs from a fragmented rim turning lacy. The nose exuded warm plum and spice aromas then settled to a soft spicy cherry. Softness continues from the first sip with an even fruit discreetly offering a long dry finish. A pleasing but overly dry sipper without a complementing tray of soft cheeses and Italian sliced meats. Have with lamb chops, souvlakis or slow cooked pot roast. Drink now - fades quickly. It may have a second life - but don't think so.  86 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO 2015, Part 2 - 22 Tasted of 22

This is a followup to The 500 Best-Value Wines 2015 7th Edition by  Rod Phillips. In this entry I intend to purchase some 'new' wines from the 500+ wines listed in the Book.  The selections will be shown in THE LINEUP below with my TASTINGS to follow. Pick up the Book for the complete wine list indexed by source (Country, Province or State) and the author's tasting notes. This may be an opportunity to change your current plonk to something new and still stay within your budget.

Some statistics:

I've used the LCBO Website to find the status of new and discontinued wines. The Cornwall and Trafalgar outlet had 16 of the selected wines at the time of this entry. 
  • Excluding Rosés, Sparkling and Sweet there are 445 'Best-Value' reds and whites. Ten (2 whites, 8 reds) were not available as of this entry (according to the LCBO website). Among the 445 there are 91 (31 whites and 60 reds) marked as 'new'.  Earlier vintages of twenty-four (8 whites and 16 reds) of the 91 were tasted previously in this blog.  
  •  Of the 445 there are 168 Best-Value whites rated 5, 4½ or 4 (100 to 87) from 18 sources (Country, Province or State).
  •  Of the 168 Best-Value whites there are twelve 5s (94-100), fifty-seven 4½s  (90-93) and ninety-nine 4s (87-89). 
  • The leading sources for 'Best-Value' whites are Ontario (38), France (30), California (21), Italy (16), Australia (14), New Zealand (13) and Chile (10). Of 31 'new' whites there are no 5s.
  • Of the 445 there are 277 reds rated 5, 4½ or 4 Stars (100 to 87) from 16 sources (Country, Province or State).
  • Of the 277 there are thirty 5s (94-100), ninety-three 4½s  (90-93) and one hundred and fifty-four 4s (87-89).
  • The leading sources for reds are Italy (55), California (42), France (39), Chile (25), Ontario (23) and Spain (14). Of 60 'new' reds there are five 5s.
  • Of the 277 reds the book lists 60 that are 'new' with most of these from Italy (12), France and Ontario (each with 11) and California (8). Tastings of earlier vintages of fifteen of the 60 'new' wines had been entered in this blog prior to this year. 

I hope this contributes to an understanding of LCBO's sourcing and retailing of wines in Ontario.

PS. Jan 31 '15: Perhaps premature but at this point I'm inclined to sample each General Listed wine that is 'discontinued' as a possible source of excellent values.

Cheers, Ww  

THE LINEUP:  Reds and Whites

  • Root: 1 Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2012,  92-3  --  G, Donihue, Chile, #350546  $12.80 
  • Casa LaPostolle Gran Seleccion Carmenère 2012, 92-3  --  G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #168740   $14.90
  • Charles & Charles Red Blend 2013, 92-3  -- G, Washington State, USA, #363838 $15.95 
  • Tempus Two 'Limestone Coast' Cabernet Merlot 2011, 91-3  --  G, Pokolbin, New South Wales, #308197  $8.75
  • Oatley Tic Tok Pocketwatch Central Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 90-2  --  G, New South Wales, Australia, #187179   $12.85* 
  • 35° South Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Organic 2013, 87-1  --  G, Molina, Chile, #218859  $12.95
  • Bodega Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2013, 84-1  --  G,  Rapel Valley, Chile,  #350553  $10.95
  • La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 83  --  G,  Mendoza, Argentina, #292110  $13.95  
  • Michel Lynch Merlot Gran Vin de Bordeaux 2011, 83  --  G, Bordeaux, France, #361550  $17.05
  • Fowles Wine 'Are You Game?' Shiraz 2012, 82  --  G, Victoria, Australia, #327320  $17.05
  • Villa Ponciago Grand Vins Beaujolais-Villages 2012, 80  --  G, Fleurie, France, #325134  $14.95

  • L'Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier 2013, 89-2  -- G, Côtes de Thongue, France, #348904  $12.20 
  • UMA Coleccion Torrontés 2013, 88a-2  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #276626 $6.45  
  • Domaine de Pellehaut 'Harmonie de Cascogne' Blanc 2013, 88-2  --  G,  Sichel, France, #319665  $9.95 
  • Kate Radburnd Sun Kissed Pinot Gris 2013, 87-1  --  G, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, #359000  $15.95
  • Willy Gisselbrecht Riesling Selection 2012, 85-1  -- G, Alsace, France, #315309  $9.95 
  • Douglas Green Sauvignon Blanc 2014, 84  --  G, Wellington, S. Africa, #367821 $10.80
  • Guy Saget Sancerre 2013, 82  --  G, Loire, France, #319657  $21.95*
  • Sterling 'Vintner's Collection' Central Coast Chardonnay 2013, 81  --  G, Sonoma, California, #669242  $15.95
  • Fowles Wine 'Are You Game?' Chardonnay 2013, 80  --  G, Victoria, Australia, #359984  $15.95 
  • McWilliam's 'Hanwood Estate' Moscato NV,  n-r  --  G,  South Eastern Australia, #212696  $14.40 
  • Oatley Tic Tok Pocketwatch Central Ranges Chardonnay 2013, NR  --  G, NSW, Australia, #187104  $14.95     

  r-v - rating and value, n-r - not rated, NR - Not Recommended


MCWILLIAM'S HANWOOD ESTATE MOSCATO NV*,  South Eastern Australia, 7.5%  S  116g/L,  #212696  $14.40*  (Tasted February 8, 2015)

A General listing. *The Book shows the vintage as 2012, a price of $13.95 and a rating of 4.  My notes:  A mid yellow, crisp and clear and with a scattering of spritz on the glass a well as a jagged film receding quickly. A sniff reveals a delicate floral and honey scent accompanying a tart honey coated apple enveloping the palate. The sweetness lasts through a long finish balanced by refreshing acid. Have before or after a meal or snack, nothing hot or spicy just to enjoy. The low alcohol encourages quaffing that intensifies the fruit, body and texture as a nicely packaged appetizer or dessert wine. Perhaps an economical alternative to ice wine or Late Harvest?

FOWLES WINE 'ARE YOU GAME?' CHARDONNAY 2013, Victoria, Australia, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #359984  $15.95  (Tasted February 3, 2015)

A General listing. *The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4½. Also, the website shows a different label? My notes: The film recedes moderately from a ragged rim ending without a trace. The colour is a light yellow with an aroma of chilled lemon pith. A first sip shows a drier lemon pith, a penetrating tartness and then a just perceptible vanilla flavouring fading into a long dry finish. A lasting intensity permeates the palate although without appeal. Paired with Roasted Flattened Chicken and Herbs (drop the chili flakes) was refreshing but without complementing. Likely better with whitefish: grilled haddock, cod or tilapia and vegetables. A commercial white and a drink now. 80
OATLEY TIC TOK POCKETWATCH CENTRAL RANGES CHARDONNAY 2013*,  NSW, Australia, 12.5%  D  8g/L,  #187104  $14.95  (Tasted January 27, 2015)

A General listing produced by Robert Oatley Vineyards Pty Ltd.  The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4½.  My notes: *The vintage in the Book is 2012.  The 2009 vintage at the same price was tasted on June 15, 2012 with a rating of 82.  The 2013 vintage, on the shelf at the LCBO, is almost void of colour and aroma. The flavour is mild apple fading on the palate as it continues through a long fresh finish. The aftertaste has a mineral accent with  a touch of acid but lacking varietal  character. If you have a bottle serve with seafood, grilled chicken breast or other flavoured entrée. Not recommended (NR)

STERLING 'VINTNER'S COLLECTION' CENTRAL COAST CHARDONNAY 2013, Sonoma, California, 13.5%  D  6g/L, #669242  $15.95  (Tasted January 20, 2015)

A General listing. The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4.  My notes:  The 2010 vintage with a price of $14.95 was tasted on May 1, 2012 and rated 82. A faint scent of burnt straw and lemon comes first while a swirl leaves a thin film swelling at the rim then quickly receding from a hilly edge. Chilled to 12oC a sip is dry with a subtle acid and lemon/honey dew flavour accentuated by more sips. Texture is smooth with a slight sweetness. A social sipper for an afternoon bridge party with light nibbles. Went well with spinach and feta stuffed Atlantic salmon . A pale straw colour matches the body and flavour. A commercial drink now. 81

WILLY GISSELBRECHT RIESLING SELECTION 2012, Alsace, France, 12.0%  XD  6g/L, #315309  $9.95  (Tasted January 31, 2015)

A General listing.  The Book shows the 2011 vintage and a rating of 4. The LCBO shows this as Discontinued.   My notes: A mid yellow colour, clean and crisp. A scent of dry lemon tainted with orange on the first sip, very dry and medium-bodied. A long fresh finish finely textured with a metallic edge lasting awhile. The film is thin fragmenting from a frail rim. No petrol but leaving a touch of glycerine on the lips detectable when sipping. Save for a quiet patio gathering with selections from a charcuterie of sliced rounds and soft cheeses... or with raw oysters, freshly grilled seafood, a bento box or curried vegetable dish. A drink now. 85

L'ARJOLLE SAUVIGNON BLANC-VIOGNIER 2013, Côtes de Thongue, France, 12.0%  D  10g/L, #348904  $12.20  (Tasted January 27, 2015)

A General listing. The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4½.  My notes: A crisp, clean mid yellow with a fleeting aroma of apricot brightened by lemon. The film hangs from a jagged rim accumulating then dropping as a seamless layer. Serving chilled (10oC) mellows an acid bite while showing a dry texture and light apple flavour. A sweet edge combines for a long luscious finish with a light lanolin touch - end with a buffet selection. An aperitif leading into fresh oysters and an ice bucket white paired with delicate seafood entrées. A white to pause over for its differences. 89

KATE RADBURND SUN KISSED PINOT GRIS 2013, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, 13.0%  XD  3g/L, #359000  $15.95  (Tasted January 23, 2015)

A General listing. The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4½. Produced by the C.J.Pask Winery Ltd.  My notes:  There's a touch of auburn in this crystal clear mid yellow and the nose isn't except for a subtle acid. A light viscosity holds against the glass breaking free from a crinkly rim. Smooth, chalky, bright, a blend of Bosc pear and Myers lemon offers a different, flavourful, version of pinot gris. A few sips brings out a faint sweetness and a long querky finish. Have with seafood, finny or shell. Personally I would prefer with some fruit: pineapple, strawberries or mixed, if served as a sipper. A drink now.  87

DOUGLAS GREEN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Wellington, S. Africa, 12.5% D  4g/L, #367821 $10.80¸ (Tasted January 20, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. WineAlign  rates this wine as 2½.  My notes:  A green tint to a subtle yellow for colour along with fine bubbles on the glass. A minor sweetness to a lemon/green apple nose. Then comes a refreshing tartness with a taste of melon and green apple and filling the palate with a flavour vapour and a long finish. Set up a tasting table with varied sauvignon blancs for an interesting comparison - definitely a different flavour profile from that of a Kiwi. Pair with Asian sweet & sour, sushi or serve as a refreshing summer patio sipper - combined with pineapple, strawberry or melon pieces. A drink now. 84

GUY SAGET SANCERRE 2013, Loire, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L, #319657  $21.95*  (Tasted February 9, 2015)

A General listing. The Book lists as 2012 vintage and rated 4½  by Rod Phillips. My notes: The Canadian agent, Churchill Cellars, described this product on their webpage . The colour is a crystal clear mid yellow and the aroma is green pea with the scent and tartness of gooseberry added. The film is smooth and moderate leaving a rounded rim that slowly recedes. Chalk and straw continue into a long finish building with each sip.  Have with a tray of soft cheeses or seafood entrees. We're pairing it with a shrimp casserole by Derf. The finish is long extra dry needing a suitable accompaniment - ie. a meal white.  82

DOMAINE DE PELLEHAUT 'HARMONIE DE CASCOGNE' BLANC 2013, Sichel, France, 11.5%  D  8g/L,  #319665   *$9.95  (Tasted January 26, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. The LCBO indicates this wine has been discontinued. Original price *$12.95 - suggested purchase price is 5-7€.  My notes:  A staple white and a blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and folle blanche" balanced each vintage. The colour is a crystal clear mid yellow and has a fresh aroma of vines before blossoming. A swirl gave a thin film receding quickly from a crinkly rim. A crisp bite leaves the palate dry with light herbal notes, not identifiable to me but appealing. A meal white to pair with fresh seafood grilled in a lemon butter sauce and rice side, or bento box of tempura pieces. I'm serving with pecan crusted baked haddock and puréed parsnip/cauliflower side. The winery website says of the 2014 vintage "to be drunk young, within 24 months of the harvest" which should apply to each vintage. 88 

UMA COLECCIÓN TORRONTÉS 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0%  D  8g/L, #276626 $6.45  (Tasted January 29, 2015) 

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips.  My notes: The only Argentinan white marked 'new' - 'Discontinued' according to the LCBO.  A clean, crisp mid yellow colour with a indistinct herbal and almost negligible floral nose slowly released on pouring - air on ice or, my preference, is aerating. The film is moderate receding cleanly from a rippled rim. The first sip (12-14oC) bursts with indistinct, subtly sweet, intense flavours and leaves the palate dry and grassy. A complex character, medium-bodied and with a taste that's, once acquired, interesting as a sipper. Pair with grilled seafood, fin or shell. Buy a dozen in for a social event.  88a

35° SOUTH CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT ORGANIC 2013, Molina, Chile, 14.0% D 6g/L, #218859  $12.95  (Tasted January 19, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. WineAlign  rates it 2.5. Made by Vina San Pedro.  My notes: A deep charcoal tinted ruby that leaves a smooth film with a slight rim flowing a group of slow legs. There's a pleasing tartness to a woody fruit aroma giving this appeal as a sipper. A hint of sweet adds to the wood, tobacco and berry jam blend starting the first sip and continuing through a lonnnggg finish ending warm with a tannin lining. Perfect with a seven hour lamb leg roasted with navy beans.  A meal red or at least sipper with buffet nibbles to soften the ending. 87

FOWLES WINE 'ARE YOU GAME?' SHIRAZ 2012, Victoria, Australia, 13.7%  XD 4g/L, #327320  $17.05  (Tasted January 20, 2015)

A General listing and rated 5 by Rod Phillips.  My notes: A sniff, a sip and I aerated. Very sharp and full of white pepper ready to attack your buds. Aerating takes away the initial intense bite leaving a tasty blend of immature berries. Ruby deepened by smoky soot and leaving a viscous film to slowly build a rounded rim dropping a veil of tears. The first sip separates bright fruit from forest floor with drying tannins lasting through a long bitter finish. Quaff for intensity or slurp for part red currant with touch of chokecherry. Not a sipper so much as a red to match Texas chile or spice rubbed back ribs. Possibly cellar for five years to help mellow intensity. Overpowered a seven hour leg of lamb. Save for a beefy sauce. 82

CHARLES & CHARLES RED BLEND 2013, Washington State, USA,  13.9%  D  8g/L,  #363838 $15.95  (Tasted January 25, 2015)

A General listing.  The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4.  My notes: A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon and 32% Syrah. A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon and 32% Syrah. The colour is deep purplish ruby. A faint black cherry is prominent on the first sniff. A scent of  blueberry comes next, some white pepper for brightness and soft blackberry in between, a balance that makes for a pleasing sipper. Also there's an appealing velvet touch, dry tannins and a warmth to carry the total through a long finish. Can be paired with a broad spectrum of flavourful meat entrees. My choice would be Beef Wellington or a Roast with Yorkshire Pudding with lots of gravy. Cellar several years staying at present peak or even improve with soft chocolate tones. With an empty bottle at 1.5 lbs so much for the eco system.  92

OATLEY TIC TOK POCKETWATCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON CENTRAL RANGES 2011, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0%  D  8g/L, #187179   $12.85*  (Tasted January 28, 2015)

A General listing and rated 5 by Rod Phillips. *Price reduced from $16.00. The LCBO shows this wine as Discontinued.  My notes:  A deep purple colour with a smooth film that leaves a rounded rim quickly showing a ring of tears. Full-bodied, tart with a blueberry blackberry flavour dense and bright touching the palate and continuing as a long, sweet berry finish. Moderate not major warmth. Moderate tannins that balance savoury grapes. Sip solo or with pigs-in-a-blanket, ie. buffet fare. Serve with steaks, lamb kebobs or beefburgers - very flexible. Should keep for several years gaining a point or two.  90

ROOT: 1 CARMENERE COLCHAGUA VALLEY 2012, Donihue, Chile, 13.5%  D  7g/L, #350546  $12.80  (Tasted January 17, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. Produced by Vina Ventisquero Ltda. My notes: The roots of the vines planted were unaffected by disease of the early years in Chile. The colour is a purple tinted ruby, opaque to view. A swirl leaves a medium film with a ragged rim flowing wide slow legs. A sniff reveals a background of ripened blackberries but polite, shows a tartness to the nose and palate as well as subtle smoky liquorice. Full with a centre part muted where freshness could be although there's a breadth to the taste with an acid high and a smoky low. A different sipper that would complement savoury steaks, barbecued ribs and hamburgers. If preferred, cellaring for several years could level peaks. I found it a super drink-now consequently an excellent value. 92
VILLA PONCIAGO GRAND VINS BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES 2012, Fleurie, France, 12.0% XD  4g/L,  #325134  $14.95  (Tasted January 22, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips.  My notes:  A clear deep ruby colour leaving a thin film to drain slowly from a lace edge. A dusty light cherry scent almost negligible and the first sip has a fine tannin balanced by a moderate acid followed by a thin cherry. The finish is short on body ending with  a layer of dry dust and faint fruit. Past peak (if there was one). Have with grilled chicken or Cornish hen.  80

CASA LAPOSTOLLE GRAN SELECCION CARMENERE 2012, Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5%  D  7g/L,  #168740   $14.90  (Tasted January 23, 2015)

A General listing and rated 5 by Rod Phillips. The LCBO shows this as Discontinued.  My notes:  The 2008 vintage was tasted on November 22, 2010 with an 89 rating - price $15.95. The 2012 vintage is a deep purple almost black with a viscous layer flowing a ring of slow tears. The nose has a softness matching its full blackberry and plum scent beautifully balanced with black pepper that develops from the first sip until a bit brash. If you lean toward a dense full-bodied red, quaff. If you prefer a meal red with tannins and acid to complement a rare beef roast or T-bone, sip more moderately. The finish has a full dryness undisturbed by latent bright fruit. Cellaring five years should quell the beast. 92

MICHEL LYNCH MERLOT GRAN  VIN DE BORDEAUX 2011, Bordeaux, France,  13.0%  XD  4g/L, #361550  $17.05  (Tasted January 29, 2015)

A General listing and rated 41/2 by Rod Phillips.  My notes:  There's a bitter side to a lightly flavoured first sip that encouraged aerating - but not yet. There's a purple tint to the dense ruby and the thin film runs tears quickly from a smooth rim. Fine tannins, very dry and a light red cherry flavour starts a moderate finish. On the rough side of Merlot, minimum finesse, perhaps past peak. Aeration removes some of the bite but bramble shows. Overall aeration is not recommended. Have with meat lovers pizza - was good with lamb burgers.  83

BODEGA VOLCANES DE CHILE SUMMIT RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON SYRAH  2013, Rapel Valley, Chile,  14.0% D  xG/L,  #350553  $10.95  (Tasted February 2, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. My notes:  A rocking motion leaves a viscous film with an ebbing ring of tears. A swirl coats the glass then slowly forms a rim draining through long legs. The colour is  charcoal ruby. A sniff notes a subtle scent of black cherries tainted by vanilla and a delicate tang. Not much fruit in the first sip although a fine tannin, a light acid and dark fruit combination is an OK introduction. Finishing dry with a woody flat blackberry and lasting long in the mouth could make this an adequate sipper but I'd say more of a grilled or broiled red meat dinner wine.  A drink-now.  84

TEMPUS TWO 'LIMESTONE COAST' CABERNET MERLOT 2011 , Pokolbin, New South Wales, 13.5% D  7g/L, #308197  $8.75*  (Tasted February 1, 2015) 

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. Discontinued by the LCBO.  My notes: The same vintage of this wine (priced $16.95) was tasted in May 2014 and rated 90. There's a deep ruby red with a cardinal glint waiting to be sipped. The film lays still while accumulating at a rounded rim then drop a few slow tears - a tilt rains a ring of slow legs. A woody soft oak aroma on a ripe cherry base is inviting as a late night solo sipper. Luscious, velvety with fine tannins describe a first impression then adds ripe raspberry cherry to flavour a smoky smooth finish. Serve with lamb chops, lamb souvlaki or savoury seven hour leg of lamb. Ageing has mellowed earlier acids and balanced now's tannins with soft fruit for lip licking appeal.  91   

LA MASCOTA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012,  Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D  7g/L, #292110  $13.95  (Tasted February 4, 2015) 

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. WineAlign rates this vintage 2.5.  My notes:  An opaque to view ruby with  film that sticks forever before receding leaving a lacy rim and set in concrete tears. The first sip is silky, viscous on the lips and drying tannins throughout the mouth. A flavour of flat blackberries and a light acid, full-bodied, penetrating going into a long unexciting finish. Leave judging for several sips so fullness can express itself - not as warm as expected, a quiet smoky sipper to have with a grilled assortment, a buffet of soft cheeses and fatty appies, or serve with beef ribs and T-bones. Too late to cellar.  PS. And an eco-unfriendly 1.5lb bottle. 83