Wednesday, February 01, 2017

February 2017 wines - 11 tasted of 12

Foggy Niagara Town
Cutting the Cable…

There continues to be a discussion about streaming data -- Movies, TV Shows, News, Sports,... possibly every recording from the start of celluloid --  directly from the Internet without using the services of a Cable Company. One term coined for this is ‘Cutting the Cable’  . The following is one person’s point of view…

Some users have questioned the value of Cable TV providers although these same Companies have invested heavily leading to many advances in the private and commercial use of the Internet. I’m thinking of the miles of high bandwidth fibre and satellite towers that bring Cable customers faster and higher quality viewing. The big negative to this however has been the accompanying assumption that access and any revenues it brings belong to the few Cable Companies – i.e. other ‘solutions’ should butt out. ‘Cutting the Cable’ shouldn’t prevent Internet users from benefitting from the technical advancements contributed by other technology leaders. In fact, by including options such as OnDemand and Speciality channels Cable TV is packaging user friendly interfaces to ‘sell’  recorded and live events. What’s the problem then?

I have a Basic Cable package totalling, including one purchased channel, just over twenty channels. The price, including tax, is a little over $100 and includes Internet access. The TV portion of the price includes the usual News and Public service channels: BBC (+$4), WNED, CBC, CHUM, TVO. YesTV and CHCH. We frequent, more or less, eleven channels for local and international news. The Public service channels offer some interesting dramas and most episodes are Ad-free except for five to ten minutes when, at certain times of the year, they solicit donations. The remaining channels we seldom find of interest. Other, I’d call them ‘obligatory channels’ in our package contain commercials to an extreme. Ads tend to coincide across Channels so they’re difficult to avoid.

The content obtained from the Cable Company’s OnDemand and Speciality channels has a price tag, from ~$3 an episode to ~$40+ a season and I’ve heard that Sports events are at a premium. A crime series, part of the Basic, I had planned to follow was front ended with so many Ads then followed by a synopsis of previous episodes and character profiles followed by another group of Ads before resuming the normal sequence of main story segments and Ads. I not only lost interest in the episode I had intended to view I gave up on the series. Call me impatient, call me stubborn… call me a candidate for ‘Cutting the Cable’.  Today’s Cable is not so much offering entertainment but manipulating the viewer into watching to excess (my view) Ads. Forgetting the repetition , the banality and irrelevance, the viewing content has entertainment value for the right audience. Unfortunately we're not into horror, gratuitous sex, survivor, baking, game shows, talk shows nor do we have young children to view the inventive cartoons - we’re just the wrong audience!

A few months ago Commercial flashes started appearing in the corners of the screen. My viewing partner occasionally interrupts “Hey Hon! Did you see that… a 60inch TV for $850” Yep! Being distracted I missed the tying score in overtime and Nope! We’re not in the market for a TV.

Back to ‘Cutting’

As I said at the beginning: Technical gurus worldwide have assembled libraries of streaming sources.  These libraries have been implemented such they can be accessed by any Internet user that installs the necessary core software ... as well as a few AddOns for ‘Searching’, ‘Sorting’, retrieving Story line and Casting info, Movie trailers, lists of TV seasons and episodes. I believe it's time for Cable TV to give more of what enjoys and less of what annoys. It's more than annoying when Ads make one (with some technical patience) consider 'cutting the cord'. Perhaps it's time to at least supplement the cord? My opinion, Ww 

PS> . I should note - the resolution upgrade offered by Bell Fibe is excellent!

Now back to tasting...

LINEUP: Reds, whites and bubblies:

  • Trivento Amado sur Malbec/Bonardi/Syrah 2014,  92-2  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #037036    $16.95
  • Maycas del Limari Reserva Especial Pinot Noir 2014, 90-1  --  V,  Limari Valley, Chile, #469213  $19.95
  • L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2013,  88-2  --  V,  Guadalupe Valley, Baja California, #983742 $12.95
  • Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2014,  86  --  G,  California, USA, #272393  $14.95
  • G. Marquis The Red Line Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 VQA Niagara Peninsula 2015,  84 --  G, Niagara, Ontario,  #473090  $11.95*

  • Elephant Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013,  91-2  --  V, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, #361238  $18.25   
  • Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2015,  89  --  V,  Angaston, South Australia, #460972 $16.95
  • Zenato San Benedetto Lugana 2015,  88-1 --  V, Veneto, Italy, #707158   $17.95
  • Frogpond Farm Organic Vidal 2014 VQA Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake,  86  --  V, Ontario, #469429  $14.00 
  • Cupcake Vineyards Chardonnay 2016, 84  --  G,  California, USA,  #230821  $13.10*
  • Hogue Gewurztraminer 2014, 83  --  V, Washington, USA, #461137  $14.95

  • Fantinel One and Only Single Vineyard Brut Prosecco 2015, r-v  --  V, Fruili, Italy, #390617 $18.95

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


L.A. CETTO PETITE SIRAH 2013, Guadalupe Vally, Baja California, 14.5%  D  2g/L, #983742  $12.95    (Tasted February 4, 2017)

Released by Vintages on December 10, 2016.  My notes: A slight whiff of barnyard that dissipates quickly on opening the cork - air 30 minutes or aerate. An attractive deep regal ruby with a bright tang to the nose and swirling a firm film slowly collecting ample to run long turtle paced tears. Dry tannins parch the palate while a medium-bodied velvet and deep warmth attracts attention. Excellent with grilled beef or Italian chorizo slices on a tomato and olive pizza. Rather than sip solo pair with buffet nibbles. Likely past cellaring but still a bargain. PS. Beautiful with herb marinated pork tenderlon!  86 - add 2 for an 88.

G. MARQUIS THE RED LINE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 13.3% XD  2g/L,  #473090  $11.95*   (February 7, 2017)

A Magnotta Winery product. Reduced in price from $13.95 until end of January 2017.  My notes: A crushed raspberry colour and a raspberry edged cranberry for aroma and flavour.  Quickly settles as an extra dry meal red - Italian style giving brightness as a complement to tomato pastas, chicken cacciatore and similar dishes. Flavours build intensity and lead to a penetrating finish. Decanting/aerating relieves some roughness expanding an already acquired taste and is recommended – two years cellaring may help as well. 84

ZENATO SAN BENEDETTO LUGANA 2015, Veneto, Italy, 13.0%  D  6g/L, #707158   $17.95  (Tasted February 6, 2017)

Released by Vintages on December 10, 2016.  My notes: Made from the Verdicchio grape and rated 89 by Kerin O’Keefe, Wine Enthusiast, July 2016. A pale yellow with a thin film gradually dropping leaving a trace of tears until halted as if by exhaustion. Still a palate brightener. Everything about this is bright until the finish, a flat chalk that continues ‘til the next sip. A clear lemon posing as sweet mellowed by a pleasing warmth and soft almond. Pair with seafood with my choice being seared scallops wrapped in bacon with a few drops of fresh lemon. With Valentine’s on the horizon grilled Lobster, or napkin sized crab, could be an alternative. Short term cellaring could take advantage of the price.  88

FROGPOND FARM ORGANIC VIDAL 2014 VQA Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 11.8%  XD 2g/L,  #469429  $14.00  (Tasted February 19, 2017)

Released by Vintages on September 3, 2016. My notes: A deep yellow with the clarity of a sapphire gemstone .  The strong scent of dried apricot or clementine peel fades slowly before leaving an extra dry and slightly herb finish. A jagged rim hangs a moderate film to drain until only beads remain. The first sip has a soft texture and a penetrating tang. The flavour hangs on to its initial citrus roots. My first experience with ‘organic Vidal’ and ‘subtle’ isn’t a word I’d use from start to finish – interesting for sure. Pair with grilled haddock lain on a bed of onions and broccolini with butter sauce, seared cherry tomatoes and capers. Cellar a few more years to see where it's going. 86 

HOGUE GEWURZTRAMINER 2014, Washington, USA, 12.5%  D  12g/L,  #461137  $14.95   (Tasted February 16, 2017)

Released by Vintages on August 6, 2016. A Constellation Corp. brand.  My notes: There’s no mention of Constellation wines on the website   but of a family centered around vineyards of the Washington State area. A clear pale blond colour is an attractive starter. The texture is smooth and comes with a sweet nuttiness and a hint of grapefruit. A swirl shows a prominent film that quickly fragments into a dozen long legged tears. The nose displays a hint of walnut surrounded by a moderate honeydew. Sipping with hard cheese slices on salty crackers could balance the prominent honey if one is looking for a summer cooler. I’d recommend adding crushed ice and a cherry or a cubed pineapple ring. Also try pairing with coconut shrimp on a lettuce bed. A style intended for a specific market.  83  

ELEPHANT HILL RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, 13.0%  D  4g/L,  #361238  $18.25  (Tasted February 2, 2017)

Released by Vintages on October 17, 2015 and a Silver Medal winner at the 2014 International Wine & Spirit Competition.  My notes: A New Zealand SB with a texture twist, background acidity and a hint of Hawkes Bay herbal. The first sip has a sense of luscious settling as a chalky start to a long green gooseberry finish. The thin film quickly disperses with no observable tears. The faded yellow has a delicate green with a near lime scent to add interest. Pair with mussels in a mild tomato sauce or garlic & wine sauce with ample breads. Sip solo for inner subtleties or quaff for full tang and chalk. Short term cellaring a possibility.  91

YALUMBA Y SERIES UNWOODED CHARDONNAY 2015,  Angaston, South Australia, 13.0%  XD  2g/L, #460972  $16.95  (Tasted January 18, 2017)

Released by Vintages on September 17, 2016.   My notes: A pale yellow clear and bright, a mild sniff of butterscotch and vanilla masked with the coolness served at 12oC. A tilt of the glass immediately runs long tears against a thin film leaving it in fragments. A sip is close to bitter, sharp although having a smooth going into a long grassy edged finish needing a finny seafood complement. Its flavour and bite went well with chicken cacciatore. Cellar a few years for further development and a softer style or drink now for its near luscious brightness. 89     

SMOKING LOON  OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2014, California, USA, 14.0%  XD 5g/L,  #272393   $14.95  (Tasted January 29, 2017)

A General listing was priced down from $14.95 now back to normal.  My notes: The colour of crushed blackberries brightened by blueberries. A slight flatness highlighted by a perceptible sweetness riding on fruit makes an interesting sipper that, with or without nibbles, is enjoyable although better quaffed. A shade shy of full- this medium-bodied red avoids the overpowering attraction of cabernet but provides everything for light food pairing. The film sticks showing a rounded crescent on the glass then fragments running a rim of flowing tears. Serve cooled with breaded veal or pork, or lean beef/turkey sausage sliced with linguine in a stewed red pepper, basil and tomato sauce. May cellar several years. No longer in the 'value' zone, but close. Finish is extra dry, smooth and fruity. 86    

MAYCAS DEL LIMARI RESERVA ESPECIAL PINOT NOIR 2014, Limari Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD 2g/L,  #469213  $19.95  (Tasted February 15, 2017)

Released by Vintages on November 12, 2016.  My notes: When opened there’s a delicate floral nose akin to light raspberries and fennel. A moderate film leaves a rim that fragments into slow tears with a colour a see-thru raspberry providing the taster with an appealing package. The first sip is sharp on the swallow with flavours that add dimension - to a cheese tray, to a light pasta entrée or a buttery bowl of mussels in a lightly garlic’d sauce. An assortment of french accents combine with slight silk and subdued berries over a long finish. Serve to those ready for diversity. Short term cellaring is a possibility. 90

TRIVENTO AMADO SUR MALBEC/BONARDA/SYRAH 2014, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D  2g/L, #037036   $16.95   (Tasted February 13, 2017)

Released by Vintages on  January 7, 2017. A blend of Malbec (79%), Bonarda (11%) and Syrah (10%).  Rated 93 by James Suckling  (May 20, 2016).  My notes: Gold medals in 2009, 2010, 2011 from Wine Spectator for previous vintages. Natalie MacLean rated the 2014 so let me give my opinion (8-).  This has a firm film with tears showing quickly then running slowly. The colour has the depth of raspberry touched by a charcoal ember, warmth included. Penetrating, plentiful and consistent over a long, balanced finish. Possibly there’s a hint of cedar lingering when aerated. Both end extra dry leaving a prominent chalk touch. I’d go with decanting rather than aerating for a sense of freshness in the former. Definitely a meal red when paired with lean beef cuts - salted and sat ten minutes before grilling to your liking. I’d risk cellaring several years – taste yearly. 92

CUPCAKE Cupcake Vineyards CHARDONNAY 2015,  California,  13.5% D 7g/L, #230821  $15.10  (Tasted January 16, 2017)

A General listing.  My notes: A softer shade of yellow with a swirl that leaves a moderate film sticking then releasing a dozen slow tears from a fragmenting rim. A mild sniff of pie dough and lemon, a touch of silk pleasingly tart to match a rising warmth and dryness.  The ending is soft although retaining most of its initial brightness -  enough to share with hard cheeses, sliced prosciutto/salami/pepperoni on salted crackers or could pair nicely with veal parmigiana or stuffed chicken breast. A drink now and a social mixer.  84

FANTINEL ONE AND ONLY SINGLE VINEYARD BRUT PROSECCO 2015,  Fruili, Italy, 12.0%  D  6g/L,  #390617 $18.95  (Tasted tbd)

Released by Vintages on November 26, 2016.  My notes:

Sunday, January 01, 2017

January 2017 wines - 12 Tasted of 12

A Prelude to technology:

Do you ever get the feeling that computer technology’s goal is now geared to helping you acquire new friends…helping you become part of a new society - not one a natural outgrowth of your childhood nor of your workplace? It’s like FaceBlink (a pseudonym) pushing with ‘Do you know Pamarabi Isjgamabee?  No, I don’t know Pamarabi Isjgamabee (also fictitious) who for all I know runs a brothel in South Podunk! Nor do I know any of the six individuals FB asked me about yesterday nor will I know those suggested tomorrow. Out of a planet of several billion what’s the chance? What you could do FaceBlink, or whoever’s brainless idea this was ‘Tell me how to shut this feature off''. Apple has Siri and Home, Windows10 has their own automaton. I actually admire Apple’s iPhone6+ but please let me get use to the initial setup before you ask me to ‘pair’ with my Home appliances. I'm not that kinda guy! This is me… living alone in a one bedroom walkup (not really!).

Sometimes Windows10 autocorrects - to American - my English. No, I don’t know when – just at random. It also freezes the screen randomly. Perhaps to update a backup copy of what I’m typing? If I want a backup I’ll do it thankyou! This morning in the middle of scheduling next month’s Bank payments I was flagged via a Messenger ‘notification’ to invite me to chat with others.  This App, not being installed entered by way of FB . Now comes the Marketing pitch encouraging me to install Messenger as it is 'the best for community chats'.

Sometimes spurious interruptions are helpful. Not this time! What is not wanted ever is interruptions during my ‘banking hours’. This time I do 'Blame The Messenger'. 

Another annoying ‘help’ is when I size the three documents I’m editing so they all fit on my 23” screen. That’s why I have a large screen. Windows10, sensing my mouse nearby, decides to automatically maximize one document covering the remaining two. And have I told you about the extra warning messages while attempting to save my in-process work?!  It’s asif I have staff distributed across Canada all contributing to these three documents. PLEASE! For my use it’s not useful advice re: “PROTECT< INSPECT< and MANAGE” every time I save a document. Save my screen space for my use.

Enough Said !

Highfield Estate (NZ) 2003
Cheers, Ww

Back to wine:  From April 2 to May 4, 2003 we travelled from the top of New Zealand, 90 Mile Beach, to the fjords just southwest of Queenstown in the South Island then back to Auckland. Our objective was to visit as many wineries, taste as many wines and Kiwi food within reason as well as take in the generous sociability of the peoples as we could.

The weather was excellent. The roads were easily navigable. The people were honestly amiable. The wines were natural and, for the most part, pre-commercial. Over 5900km (3600km North Island and 2300km South Island) allowed us to see volcanic pools, smoking cones, sea lions, Maori culture and much more. We stayed at the Highfield Estate in Marlborough country (wine not tobacco) well before it merged with Terravin Ltd.  Not to demean any location during the trip, it and Copthorne were high points during our trip. The number of wineries in the area doubled the total we visited both South and North Islands. A three day stayover in Sydney gave us two days of an Aussie experience. Wonderful!!

LINEUP: Reds and Whites
  • Wakefield Shiraz 2014, 92-2  --  V,  Auburn, South Australia 
    --  #943787 $18.95
  • Robert Oatley Signature Series Shiraz 2014,  91-2  --  V, Australia,  #327387  $19.95
  • Le Cirque Grenache Noir/Carignan/Syrah 2013, 90  --  V,  Midi, France, #277079 $16.95
    Highfield Estate Vineyards '03
  • Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2013, 89-1  -- V,  Delicato Vineyards, California, #678698  17.95
  • SEIN 2011, 86 -- V, Alicante, Spain, #391896 $17.00
  • Niepoort Dão RÓTULO Red 2013, 82 -- V, Dão, Portugal, #452722 $18.95

  • Copthorne Palms
    Okiwa Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014,  90-2  --  V,  Marlborough, New Zealand,  #459156  $19.95
  • Terre Bianche Alghero 2014, 86 – V, Sicily, Italy, #968537  $16.95
  • Dirty Laundry Not So Naughty Chardonnay 2014 VQA Okanagan Valley, 86  --  V, British Columbia, Canada,  #353144 $19.95
  • Toasted Head Chardonnay 2014,  85  --  V,  Acampo, California,  #594341  $16.95*
  • Organized Crime Chardonnay 2013 VQA Beamsville Bench,  84  --  V, Niagara, Ontario,  #408435  $18.95

  • Segura Vuidas Brut Reserva Cava Sparkling NV,  87-1  --  G,  Torrelavit, Spain, 12.0%  xx  7g/L,  #216960  $14.95  

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


ROBERT OATLEY SIGNATURE SERIES SHIRAZ 2014, Auburn, South Australia, 14.0%  XD  2g/L, #327387 $19.95  (Tasted January 1, 2017)

Released by Vintages on November 26, 2016 and rated 93 by James Halliday, (August 11, 2016). My notes: A rich ruby, dark but not brooding, warm and spicy to sniff, not sharp. A swirl leaves a firm film swelling at the rim until a ring of tears slowly flow. Soon a smooth bite starts a spicy finish fading until only the initial brightness on a parched lining exists. Pair with grilled beef in a savoury mushroom and onion sauce. Extra dry as a solo sipper. 91

TOASTED HEAD CHARDONNAY 2014,  Acampo, California, 14.0%  D  5g/L,  #594341  $16.95*  (Tasted January 12, 2017)

Released by Vintages on April 1, 2016. Price reduced from $18.95 until January 1, 2017.  My notes: A clear lemon bright in the glass and rolling a moderate film that quickly tears, as in ‘rents’, a fragmented path top to bottom. A sip turns into a penetrating tang politely stinging and starting a long finish. Silky, leaving a slight caramel butter taste until the lips smack of smoothness and a grapefruit edging. Not appealing as a sipper but a match with grilled seafood or lemon cod and a herb'd broccolini side. Air twenty minutes minimum or aerate to mellow penetration peaks. Cellaring several years may bring out more butter and lessen bitter edge. 85

DIRTY LAUNDRY NOT SO NAUGHTY CHARDONNAY 2014 VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada,  12.9%  D  4g/L, #353144  $19.95  (Tasted January 9, 2017)

Released by Vintages on December 10, 2016.  My notes: A titillating title for a crystal clear chardonnay. The nose is a pear/melon combination ending with an abundant of austere crab apple. Full going into a long finish carrying the chalkiness of the first sip and adding a whimper of sweet but not enough to balance the tang. Have with a buffet of finger foods: Italian sausage sliced, smooth lime mousse, or lemon meringue. Not having a buffet nearby plan with grilled tilapia and capers or breaded halibut and onion rings. A drink now. 86

VQA Beamsville Bench , Niagara, Ontario, 12.5%  XD  2g/L,  #408435  $18.95  (Tasted January 3, 2017)

Released by Vintages on December 10, 2016. Ross Wise of New Zealand's Central Otago region consulted on this Chardonnay. My notes: A delicate touch of blond shines crystal clear in the bowl. Served at 11oC the nose is also delicate with a slight butter but little sense of fruit or flower on initial sniffs - improves as glass warms. There's a slight silk and a light vegetative tang to start a short finish that fills out as temp nears 14oC.  Pair with light seafood entrées or buffet selections - OK with grilled Atlantic salmon and scalloped potatoes - overall is difficult to match. Your guests reaction in a sample tasting would be interesting.  84    
Highfield Vineyards '03

WAKEFIELD CLARE VALLEY SHIRAZ 2014, Auburn, South Australia, 14.0%  D  xg/L,  #943787  $18.95  (Tasted January 6, 2017)

Released by Vintages on April 1, 2016.  My notes: With ten gold medals (International, USA, Australia) on the label this Shiraz has a pedigree to be admired. Harvest and vintage conditions for each year are available on the Wakefield website - and on YouTube there’s a personal guide to a wine’s tasting temperature for best enjoyment. The colour is a charcoal tinted ruby and a swirl lays a viscous film showing a swollen rim dropping slow tears. A polite tang supports spicy, blackberry flavours on top of a warm, drying tannin and remnants of a balanced a penetrating texture that prompts the next sip. Perfect paired with lamb, grilled beef or herbal stews. You can tell by their website this family’s priority shows in their wines. 92

OKIWA BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand, 12.5%  XD  3g/L,  #459156  $19.95  (Tasted January 6, 2017)

Seal Watch
Released by Vintages on December 10, 2016.  My notes: A delicate blond with an intriguing aroma: aka a pile of seashells after husking with a sweet edge, warm vapors cooled to 12oC - one sip leaves a clay touch to the inside cheeks covered by a luscious tang. Pair with a mix of berries: raspberry, strawberry and sliced peaches to balance dryness while complementing the tang. Try with chicken thighs broiled in a spicy peanut sauce and a stir fry of red peppers and green beans. More sips lead to quaffs of penetrating kiwi fruit and a luscious finish. A drink now with another few years in the cellar. Enjoy!  90  

SEGURA VIUDAS BRUT RESERVA CAVA SPARKLING NV,  Torrelavit, Spain, 12.0%  xx  7g/L,  #216960  $14.95  (Tasted January 1, 2017)

A General listing. My notes: This is a bright Spanish sparkler rated 88 by WineAlign tasters. A blend of 50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada and 15% Xarello grapes. Extra dry on the first sip with tingles from continuous trails of fine bubbles adding to a short span and early spritz. A stark blond with a vegetable scent in the bowl having a tart edge and lasting throughout a long finish. Serve and keep well chilled. Pair with mild cheddar popcorn  - we had with M&Ms bacon wrapped scallops - seafood appetizers or pasta and scallops well buttered and light garlic. Cellaring will not change or spoil this popular sipper.  87

GNARLY HEAD OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2013, Delicato Vineyards, California, 14.5% D 11g/L, #678698 $17.75   (Tasted January 3, 2017)

Now! Where did she go!
Released by Vintages on April 1, 2016. My notes:  The colour is a purple tinged deep ruby –  Zinfandel's expected on the first sip. Medium film and a bold tang shows it’s heritage with a touch of sweet to mellow the tang. Penetrating, warm, bright with a blackberry flavour and luscious finish. The film now has a few rounded arches. Share beside a toasty fire with a niche crowd that may prefer rough reds or have with Osso Buco with a lemon & capers. Meant as a drink now this vintage developed well even left opened from a day before serving.  89

LE CIRQUE GRENACHE NOIR/CARIGNAN/SYRAH 2013, Midi, France,  14.5% XD  4g/L,  #277079 $16.95  (Tasted January 12, 2017)

Released by Vintages on September 17, 2016.  Rated 91 by Jeb Dunnuck  (September 17, 2013). My notes: A charcoal stained ruby somewhat brooding in the glass. Swirls a moderate film showing fragmenting tears from a slightly jagged rim. There’s a shag rug texture with a balanced blackberry, strawberry flavour adding a suspicion of red cherry. Different than GSM with the differences easily observed. The nose is moderate but clean. The first sip is smooth ending bright showing the flavours then return to brushed velvet – a swallow still bright but finally trailing off - not a sipper. Have with anything meaty and savoury – not pork tenderloin. 90

NIEPOORT DÃO RÓTULO RED 2013, Dão, Portugal, 12.5% XD 2g/L, #452722  $18.95  (January 22, 2017)

Release by Vintages on October 29, 2016. My notes: Coarse and thin from the first sip so was aerated for a tamer tannin and milder blend. Tears break off from the film leaving a rounded arch when swirled.  Strawberry is the main fruit with a touch of cherry then a lesser hint of oregano going forward to a long shy finish. Nose has a light presence matching an overall light fruit. Colour is a shallow ruby. Maintain at 14oC and drinking soon after aerating for an enjoyable body. Have with salty crackers, tacos, tortillas and stewed red pepper salsa. Past cellaring.  82

SEIN 2011, Alicante, Spain, 15.0% XD 5g/L, #391896  $17.00  (Tasted January 20, 2017)

Released by Vintages on January 7, 2017. Rated 92 by Luis Gutierrez (October 30, 2013). My notes: Ratings vary widely as this source notes . A blend of Monastrell (Mourvèdre) (60%) and Syrah (40%). Chalky from the start but velvet smooth with a touch of sweet adds appeal as a sipper. The dryness continues endlessly with crushed blackberry juice to add polite tang and flavour. The colour is a dense charcoal ruby. I recommend a slight chill until the entrée is served then let the blending of roast beef or lamb stew entice with added savoury. A swirl leaves a firm film running long tears from a full rim. Aerate or air before serving. 84 

TERRE BIANCHE ALGHERO 2014, Sicily, Italy, 12.5%  XD  2g/L,  #968537  $16.95  (Tasted January 15, 2017)

Released by Vintages on November 12, 2016. Rated 91 by Kerin O’Keefe Wine Enthusiast (October 2015).  My notes: There’s a touch of bronze to this sipper and a sniff of apple to the lemon of the nose. The film is firm sliding down slowly from an evenly fragmented rim. Sip by itself for a tangy dry cleanser – my preference is to pair sips with bacon wrapped scallops to even out the tang while adding a butter texture. Shellfish and grilled Mediterranean seafood are natural partners. Served at 11oC then opens up at 13oC for an extra dry finish. Could develop nicely if cellared. 86