Wednesday, August 31, 2011

September 3rd Vintages Release- Blends, an Anniversary, and some Sake

Various Grape Blends, the 150th Anniversary celebration of Italy combined with Sake make for another forgettable Vintages release. Have we reached the dog days of the Vintages releases? It seems so.  The last two have been in a word, weak.  Next week's mini release of Ontario wines promises more of the same. For  this week's, I might take a pass altogether or buy just one or two bottles out of  all those listed below.
Ah well, Let’s start with the blends. $23.95 seems like a good place to start:
Lavau Gigondas at $23.95, a 2009 this one will benefit from a year or two in a cool dark place or open early and decant it. Good price for a Gigondas from a terrific vintage.
The Inniskillen Dark Horse Meritage 2007 from the Okanagen will be nice with beef or lamb. Luv the Okanagen, especially heads up against the green, vegetable reds from Ontario. Make special note though, the 2011 could be the rare Vintage that Ontario smokes BC in the all Canadian wine awards. It has been a bad spring and summer out there so far.
The three South African blends are all good but go for the price and take the Lammershoek Roulette 2006. It should be ready to drink and is well priced also at $23.95. If you want to spring for something upscale you could do far worse than either the De Toren Z or the Ruste en Vrede 2007 Estate blend, but they are expensive. The best South African might be the Mullineux Shiraz at $28.95. Fire up your food processor - a Moulinex of course - and make something special to go with it...a Mullineux Moulinex masterpiece perhaps. Say that 10 times fast! 
From OZ, go for the Musician Cab / Shiraz 2009 at $19.95, Gotham Shiraz 2009 or the Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2009 at $17.95.  All three under $20 will be good.
In keeping with the past $15.00 releases of the LAN Crianza and the Perrin Vinsobres, there is another good looking bargain this month at $15.00. The 2008 Single Vineyard Malbec from LaMadrid should be able to hold its own with $18 to $20 buck Malbecs but might need a bit of time to settle in. Not a case worthy buy, but OK.
Looking for something different from Italy? Try the Aglianico del Vulture. Terrific value at $14.95, this one might be worth considering buying a few but try one first to be sure it matches your palate.
Want a sparkler? Go for the Cremant de Loire Rose at $16.95. I'm liking examples of these Cremants from the Loire and Burgogne more and more.
Whites? Loooking for a Chardonnay? Try the MOMO 2009 at $18.95 from New Zealand or either of the age worthy reislings from Germany should be great now and for many years to come. Best of all, both of them are less than $22.

The Vintages August 20 Release - Better late than never, I suppose.

California’s lesser known regions share the spotlight with the wines of Southern France in the Aug.20  Vintages release. Having been away in BC for the week prior to this release, I’m a little late  reviewing this one  but there weren’t  many  to tempt my palate anyway so I’ll use this as an opportunity to save you some money.

Chateau des Flaugergues Sommeliere 2007 – Well priced at $17.95, this wine exhibits black fruit on the nose with hints of herbs and olive. The big sniff is followed by raspberry ganache/ black cherry on the fore palate with hints of smoke and olive tapenade bringing up the rear. WS had it at #50 in their Top 100. It’s a very nice wine, well priced and ready to consume now or over the next 3 or 4  years. Best of all, there is still some around even today!
Ampelos Gamma Syrah  2006 – From the makers of one of the few Pinot Noirs that I have enjoyed, I expect this to be a big mouthful of sophisticated flavours. A tad pricey at $27.95, but a good bottle from the Santa Rita Hills of California.
Pirramimma  Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – Could this be the answer to Doug’s quest for an affordable, sophisticated Aussie Cab? I think it might, if $24.95 is not too high a price. Terrific producer across the board.
Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – as good a price as you’ll find for a quality Napa cab. $29.95 for currants, smoke  and cedar hints.
Les Celettes 2009 – A gold medal winner, this Cotes du Rhone is well priced at $13.95
Domaine de Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem 2008. The ’07 release of this wine was very highly rated by most reviewers but  was lost on me. I expect more of the same here –  I will  avoid it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 6th - Where is this summer going? This week, to Chile and BC!

The August 6th  vintages release from your local Ontario government sponsored purveyor of distilled spirits has a Chilean focus. Good news because that means one of our favourite product lines, the Terrunyo line from Concha Y Toro is represented. I think Terrunyo translates to terroir but perhaps terroir viewed from a uniquely South American perspective. Not so much what the earth gives the wine but rather how the earth shapes the people themselves. Or maybe that’s unique to Argentina.  Anyhow, to me, the Concha Y Toro  Terrunyo Cab is the best $30 Cab Sauv going and I would put it up against any at twice the price. Got your hopes up? Good, now I send them crashing on the rocks of despair! The Cab is not in this release. However, the 2007 Terrunyo Carmenère is. This is a terrific wine -  smoky, spicy, choclatey, ample tannins yet fruit laden. The 2006 was fantastic. The ’07 might be even better and it may be something new for many of you to try. Think Mercabec. Hints of merlot, a soupcon of cabernets  and a dash of malbec, all in one terrific but not cheap wine. Yes I will be buying some.  Terrunyo Block 27 is the standard by which I measure all carmenères.
Also in the release are some BC beauties. They are expensive, but to my palate better than an equivalently priced Ontario offering. There is something to be said for growing grapes in a desert.
My red picks, in order,
LES VIGNERONS DE VISAN VISAN CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2007 $ 12.95 – a named village, under $13. Last ‘07 Visan I had was as good as either of the two Gigondas that followed it and they were 2 to 2 and a half times the price! Oh, and they were very good too!
PETER LEHMANN LAYERS RED 2008 $ 17.95 – A Rhone blend from OZ with an added touch of tempranillo – so let’s call him Pedro Lehmann this week!
SANTA EMA RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008  A bit coarse, tannin wise, but black fruit and loamy $ 16.95
TERRA D'ALIGI TATONE MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2007  $ 15.95 – always very good.
ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI RISERVA 2006 $ 15.95 – I’m not sure if the wine matches the review in the Vintages book. Buyer beware, do your own DD.
2008 KARMA CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES $ 15.95 – Paso Robles doesn’t have the cachet or the big buck prices of Napa but the wines are very good.
Five Chardonnays! OMG, Blame it on the heat!
GLEN CARLOU CHARDONNAY 2008 $ 17.95 – South Africa – my pick as the best Chard in the release.
2009 VASSE FELIX CHARDONNAY $ 19.95 –OZ – My pick as the other best chard in the release.
MONTES ALPHA CHARDONNAY 2007  $ 19.95 –Chile – not quite up to the previous two, but close.
BURROWING OWL CHARDONNAY 2008 $ 32.95 – Love the winery, like the wine, hate the price.
Big Bucks
SIGNORELLO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 $ 59.95 – Perennially this is a year end top pick by  Anthony Gismondi. Either he knows the owners or it’s really, really good. I don’t know the owners and past  bottles I’ve had were in the really, really good category.
MONTES PURPLE ANGEL 2007  $ 49.95 – ready to drink according to the review, this is a blend of Carmenère and Petit Verdot. Should be everything that the Terrunyo is plus a bit more with the addition of licorice hints from the Petit Verdot. Superb wine but big $$’s too.  94 points from Parker if it matters to you.