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Vintages Release February 28, 2009

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Dessert Wine

Quinta do Crasto Vintage Port 2004, D.O.C. Douro, Portugal: Deep and rich with black plums, cassis and blackberry liqueur. Full-bodied. A lovely after-dinner drink. This port was bottled in 2004. Food pairings: cheddar and blue cheese, toasted almonds, walnuts, coffee cake. 80598 19% S 750 mL $59.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Favorite Dessert Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Angove Family Winemakers Premium Vintage Fortified Shiraz Shiraz 2005, South Australia, Australia: Vintages Wine Panel: Made from 100% Shiraz grapes grown in Angove’s Nanya vineyard, this Aussie sticky is an exceptional value. Expect aromas of chocolate, candied berries and smoked meat. Rich and soft, it makes an excellent finish to a fine meal or match it with Stilton cheese. We recommend decanting before serving. My note: Here’s an interesting twist on Vintage Port: It may not have the same complexity or depth but it’s very tasty with black plums and cassis. Extremely affordable and a little goes a long way since all you need is a few ounces per glass. Full-bodied warmth and loaded with layers of flavor. Shiraz food pairings: raspberry-chocolate cake, cherries jubilee, almonds, blue cheese. 141697 18% S 750 mL $18.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Best Value Dessert Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Red Wine

Domaine Cazes L'excellence De Triniac, Latour De France Carignan Syrah Grenache 2005, A.C. Côtes Du Roussillon-Villages, Midi, France: Vintages Wine Panel: A Gold Medal winner at the 2007 Concours Général Agricole in Paris, France. A wine that shows just how good Carignan-based wine can be when the producer uses fruit from old vines. This blend of old vine Carignan, Syrah and Grenache is filled with aromas of blackberry, violet, underbrush, pie crust and coffee. Made in a very modern style with the fruit supported by gentle acids and moderate tannins. This medium- to full-bodied wine will reward 2-3 years in a cellar, or try it tonight with roast beef and root vegetables. My note: Rich, warm and plummy like a soft blanket or a warm embrace ... or both. Deep plush damson plums wrapped in gorgeous smoky goodness. Full-bodied and supple. Start a fire, pour a glass. Carignan Syrah Grenache food pairings: Steak, stew, shepherd's pie, sausages. Drink: 2008 - 2014 103689 13% D 750 mL $16.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Domaine De Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem, M. Chapoutier 2006, A.C. Côtes Du Roussillon-Villages, Midi, France: Vintages Wine Panel: Garrigue is the fragrance of lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme and lemon verbena—the scent that pervades the air of the Midi and Provence and is sometimes expressed in the aromas and flavors of its better wines. My note: Michel Chapoutier is more famous for his Rhone wines but this one from southern France is terrific. Beautifully concentrated with extracted black cherry liqueur aromas followed by smoke and anise that make this a tasty number. Love the Braille label. Food pairings: steak and kidney pie, cassoulet, lamb chops. 643239 14% XD 750 mL $19.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Sileni Estates Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2008, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand: Vintages Wine Panel: This is a classic lighter-style Pinot that’s perfect when you’d like to serve red wine with fish. Light ruby in color, it displays fresh aromas of strawberry and raspberry with a hint of underbrush and earth. Dry, light-bodied and refreshing with fresh fruit flavors and a long strawberry infused finish. Try it lightly chilled. My note: A rich, soft, plush red with aromas of black cherry, raspberry and red currants. Lovely silky texture and length. Pinot Noir food pairings: meaty pasta, lamb, grilled salmon, roast chicken, turkey, duck breast. 694901 12.5% D 750 mL $15.00 Score: 88/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Riserva Sangiovese 2005, D.O.C.G. Tuscany, Italy: Vintages Wine Panel: This is an exceptional value for Chianti! The aromas are intense, showing black cherry, dried mixed berries, forest floor, new leather, sweet spices and licorice notes. It’s dry, medium-bodied and very well balanced, with good fruit intensity and hints of pencil shavings leading to a medium-long, toasty finish. Extremely food-friendly, it will make a fine match for roasts, homemade meatballs, meatloaf or gourmet pizzas. My note: Mocha, black cherry goodness. Terrific wine for the money. Rich, warm, smooth layers of blackberry and black plum with a coffee-tinged finish. More New World cabernet than Chianti to me, but heck it’s good wine so let’s not quibble. Sangiovese food pairings: sausages, lasanga, pizza. 111641 13.9% XD 750 mL $15.00 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Rouge, Marie-Therese Et Dominique Gibert Syrah Grenache Noir Cinsault 2006, A.C. Corbières, Midi, France: This organic wine, a blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir, and Cinsault, has just 6 mg/l of free sulphur. My note: I delicious, full-bodied wine with rustic simplicity. Notes of underbrush, cedar, dark berries and smoke. Syrah Grenache Noir Cinsault food pairings: meatloaf, roast beef, romano cheese, ostrich, lamp shank. 711671 14% D 750 mL $13.95 Score: 87/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Clos Bagatelle Cuvée Tradition Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan 2007, A.C. Saint-Chinian, Estate Btld., Midi, France: Vintages Wine Panel: Classic Midi blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan. This food-friendly wine is dominated by aromas of cherry, fig, dark chocolate, vanilla and plum. At first, it is dry and fruity with a pleasant ripeness, but by the mid-palate, tannins and acids come forward giving the wine a fine structure. Fairly long finish on a good frame. My note: Lifted notes of cherry liqueur, black plums and spice box. Full-bodied, supple and smooth. Delicious and straight-forward. Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan food pairings: game meats, gourmet sausages, roast beef, lamb. 103655 13% D 750 mL $14.95 Score: 87/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Camplazens Syrah 2006, Vin De Pays D'oc, Midi, France: Vintages Wine Panel: French Syrah character. Vanilla, garrigue, blackberry, pepper and nettle leaves. Dry, scrumptious with plenty of rich black fruit and spice replayed on the palate. A nice marriage of New World fruit and European character. Very drinkable tonight with pepper steak or lamb kebabs, but can be cellared 1-3 years. My note: Smoky mocha goodness with fleshy black plums and berries. Fantastic value. Syrah food pairings: pork tenderloin, wild boar, herbed tomato sauce dishes and mushroom-based dishes. 104752 13.5% D 750 mL $14.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Best Value Red Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Abbaye De Sylva Plana La Closeraie Carignan Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre 2005, A.C. Faugères, Midi, France: Vintages Wine Panel: Another fine example of what old-vines Carignan can bring to a blend (the other partners are Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre). Deep purple in color. Aromas are a mélange of cassis, vanilla bean, garrigue, plum, and cured meats. Dry, balanced, fresh, and impeccably made with very good structure. Lots of berry and garrigue flavors on the palate. Enjoy this medium full-bodied wine with grilled lamb with sage. My note: Rich and voluptuous with seductively fleshy black fruit. Mocha, cassis and blackberry mingle on the palate. Full-bodied and smooth with a good finish. Carignan Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre food pairings: roast pork, black bean dishes, cold meats. 104737 14% XD 750 mL $19.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Feudo Montoni Nero D'avola 2005, I.G.T. Sicilia, Italy: Vintages Wine Panel: Situated at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Sicily is steeped in a winemaking history that dates back to the ancient Greeks. The island has near-perfect grape-growing conditions, with its warm and dry climate and a mountainous landscape for cooler site selection. Both indigenous and classic international varieties thrive here, producing a full range of wines from rich, flavorful reds to crisp, dry whites to dessert wines. Local producers have been adapting and modernizing their winemaking and viticulture techniques with exciting results. Sicilian winemakers are now, more than ever, creating wines that clearly express the island’s distinct character and terroir. Here’s your chance to discover Sicily’s unique and thoroughly enchanting wines. My note: Rich cherry liqueur on the nose with a black heart through the palate. Full-bodied and brooding, with black raspberry and dark prune notes. A wine looking for a fight but not with your food. Nero D'avola food pairings: prime rib, brisket, leg of lamb. 111286 13% D 750 mL $37.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Spadina Nero D’Avola 2006, I.G.T. Sicilia, Italy: Vintages Wine Panel: Nero d’Avola is thought to be a distant relative of Southern France’s Syrah and often displays similar berry and spicy elements in its makeup. It is known for its intense color, high sugar levels and firm acidity. An interesting aspect of this variety is how sensitive it is to the type of soil it is grown in and the way in which it picks up the flavors of its terroir. This wine has an opaque core and a ruby rim. The glass brims with rich floral, berry, plum and earthy notes. Dry, soft, very full and fruity with a zippy acidity and a medium-long finish. Have it with a meaty pasta dish. My note: Juicy with black fruit and a mocha-coffee finish. Lovely balance and great quaffability. Silky and smooth: goes down slippery fast. Nero D’Avola food pairings: carbonara sauce, meats in wine marinades. 92932 13% D 750 mL $16.95 Score: 88/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Ajello Majus Nero D'avola 2006, I.G.T. Sicilia, Italy: Vintages Wine Panel: Deep ruby with clear aromas of ripe black plums, bittersweet chocolate, and earthy herbal layers mixed in. Dry, with very lively fruit and acidity, and pleasant chocolate replays on the finish. Enjoy it tonight with sausages or grilled lamb marinated in rosemary and garlic. My note: Generous and juicy, loaded with fleshy black raspberries and blackberries. Smooth and generous with a satisfyingly long finish. Nero D'avola food pairings: peppercorn steak, rare roast beef, bison. 100545 14% D 750 mL $16.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Cusumano Benuara Nero D’Avola Syrah 2007, I.G.T. Sicilia, Italy: Cusumano’s Benuara is a blend of the local favorite Nero d’Avola (70%) and Syrah (30%). Mocha, black spice on the nose with fleshy black fruit on the palate. Full-bodied and rich. Nero D’Avola Syrah food pairings: black pudding, casserole, beef stew. 597138 13.5% D 750 mL $17.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2005, V.Q.A. Okanagan Valley, Bc, Canada: Classic Bordeaux lines with New World energy and fruit. Lovely dark rich fruit with pepper and dark spice. Full-bodied, generous and supple with a long finish. Cabernet Sauvignon Blend food pairings: chateaubriand, braised lamb shanks, sausages. 626325 13.5% XD 750 mL $42.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Bridlewood Estate Winery Reserve Syrah 2004, Central Coast, California, United States: Plush texture with layers of warm dark fruit flavor and ground pepper on the nose. Some smoke and cigar with lovely supple tannins. Full-bodied. Syrah food pairings: fajitas, venison stew, shepherd's pie. 90084 14% D 750 mL $27.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Crios De Susana Balbo Syrah Bonarda 2006, Mendoza, Argentina: Purple plums, licorice and juicy goodness. Full-bodied and smooth. Syrah Bonarda food pairings: hamburgers, pizza, brisket, chilli. 657619 14% XD 750 mL $15.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Alamos Catena Pinot Noir 2007, Mendoza, Argentina: Produced by Argentina’s Catena family from two high-altitude vineyards in Mendoza. Gorgeous sweet, ripe cherries and strawberries. Silky, polished tannins with a soft caress of a medium-bodied wine. Not earthy but fruit-forward and juicy. Pinot Noir food pairings: grilled salmon, roast chicken, turkey, seared tuna. 507822 14% D 750 mL $14.00 Score: 88/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Maipe Proviva Malbec 2007, Mendoza, Argentina: According to legend, Maipe was the ancient Andean Indian god of the winds. These vineyards are 3,000 feet above sea level. Simple purple plum goodness: juicy and delicious but not complex so forget analysis (unless you want to share it with your shrink who probably prefers Bordeaux anyway). Full-bodied, soft tannins. Malbec food pairings: cheeseburgers, Tex-Mex, lamb kabobs. 93823 14% XD 750 mL $14.95 Score: 87/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Pascula Toso Reserve Las Barrancas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Maipu, Mendoza, Argentina: A delicious, full-bodied red with rich notes of ripe black cherries and raspberries with a vanilla oak backdrop. This wine was aged for a year in new barrels: 80% American and 20% French. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: pepperoni pizza, ratatouille, sausages. 83337 13.9% D 750 mL $20.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Bodega Catena Zapata Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Mendoza, Argentina: Catena Zapata is one of the best-known Argentina wineries for producing top quality wines. A magnificently rich, concentrated and plush wine without a trace of heaviness. Redolent of fleshy blackberries, cherries, fig and cassis. Excellent structure and balance with an incredibly long, coffee-tinged finish. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: lamb with rosemary or mint, brisket, prime rib. 959965 14% XD 750 mL $56.00 Score: 94/100. February 2009. Favorite Red Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Trumpeter Rutini Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Mendoza, Argentina: Vintages Wine Panel: A superb value year in and year out, this big, dense Cab is ready to harmonize with marinated steaks hot off the grill, beef stew or rare roast beef. Packed with dark black fruit and spicy characteristics, this wine over-delivers with its surprising complexity and balance. My note: Simple and delicious with full-bodied notes of black fruit, mocha and smoky oak. Good mouth-watering acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: beef wellngton, parmesan, dark chocolate, mildly spicy dishes. 723288 14% XD 750 mL $13.95 Score: 87/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Aresti Reserva Carménère 2006, Curicó Valley, Chile: Vintages Wine Panel: A Silver Medal winner at the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in 2008. Made with hand-harvested and -sorted grapes, this Reserva displays classic Carmenère aromas of blackberries with notes of spice, vanilla and cacao. The complex aromas ring clearly on the well-balanced palate and linger awhile on the finish. Try it with a medium-rare peppercorn steak, braised duck breast with a Bing cherry sauce, or an aged firm cheese like Gruyère. My note: A full-bodied red with alluring notes of black plum and blackberry. Polished tannins and a smooth texture. Nice, warm finish for such an incredibly affordable wine. Reserva Carménère food pairings: Irish stew, bison, black pudding, hamburgers. 93773 13.5% D 750 mL $14.95 Score: 88/100. February 2009. Best Value Red Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Gracia De Chile Reserva Superior, Eventual Estate Vineyards, Viñedos Y Bodegas Corpora Pinot Noir 2007, Bío Bío Valley, Chile: Vintages Wine Panel: The Bío Bío Valley is Chile’s southernmost wine region. The region’s latitude combined With the ocean influence makes it one of the country’s coolest appellations, which is ideal for Pinot Noir. This ready-to-drink Pinot is quite exuberant with bright cherry and plum aromas and flavors, as well as some delicate floral notes. Fresh, juicy and well balanced, it would be a great match for grilled veal chops or roasted chicken in a mushroom sauce. My note: Minty-vanilla notes up front with ripe cherries and raspberries to follow. Sweet fruit, velvet texture and medium body. Juicy and mouth-watering. Pinot Noir food pairings: mushroom and truffle dishes, coq au vin (chicken cooked in red wine), beef bourguignonne (beef cooked in red wine). 90027 14% D 750 mL $16.95 Score: 87/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2004, Barossa, South Australia, Australia: Bordeaux balance and structure with New World concentration of fruit flavor and energy. Mint and blackberry on the nose with classic cassis, blackberry and plum on the palate. Full-bodied and luscious. This wine is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon and 46% Shiraz that was matured for 22 months in French, Hungarian and American oak, half of which was new. Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz food pairings: osso buco, leg of lamb, venison. 528356 14.5% XD 750 mL $49.95 Score: 94/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Grant Burge Nebuchadnezzar Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Barossa, South Australia, Australia: Vintages Wine Panel: This 50/50 blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from Grant Burge is a serious example of what the Aussies can achieve by combining these two titans. The fruit is sourced from estate vineyards on the Barossa Valley floor as well as vineyards high in the Eden Valley. Aged in French oak, it’s intense and complex, featuring rich raspberry, red currant, spice, chocolate, earth and toasted oak characteristics balanced by refined tannins and medium acidity. My note: Tangy, mouth-wateringly ripe tart cherries and plums with some dark spices and cedar box. Full-bodied and plush. Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: breaded veal cutlets, corned beef, grilled meats. 5934 13.5% D 750 mL $33.95 Score: 92/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Vasse Felix Shiraz 2003, West Australia, Australia: Vintages Wine Panel: Vasse Felix helped put Western Australia’s Margaret River on the wine world map. It was the first winery built in Margaret River and the estate lays claim to the first vineyard planted in the region. This richly fruited Shiraz boasts intense blackberry, spice, polished oak and meaty notes. Dry, medium full-bodied and rich, it would be an exquisite match for venison. My note: Hugely extracted with black plums, currants and cassis. Full-bodied and plush with a long, warm finish. Shiraz food pairings: beef cooked in red wine, rib roast, beef fajitas. 686550 14% XD 750 mL $39.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Kilikanoon Covenant Shiraz 2006, Clare Valley, South Australia, Australia: Vintages Wine Panel: This top-flight Shiraz from brilliant winemaker Kevin Mitchell is a complex and elegant wine that is nurtured to reflect the distinctive character of the Clare Valley. Unfined, unfiltered and aged for 22 months in a combination of American and French oak, this opulent Shiraz is typically layered with flavors of blackberry, spices, white pepper, roasted meat and subtle oak notes. Should mature beautifully over the next 5-15 years. My note: A smooth, supple, seductive Shiraz with blackberry and blueberry notes. Lovely full-bodied depth and a satisfying finish. Shiraz food pairings: kangaroo, lamp chops, pepper steak. 674747 14.5% XD 750 mL $49.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

The Colonial Estate Explorateur Old Vine Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia: Tangy black berries and cherries with some anise, licorice and mocha on the back. Full-bodied and lush with a pleasant finish. Old Vine Shiraz food pairings: haggis, meat fondue, grilled or spiced chicken. 18648 14.5% D 750 mL $29.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Elderton Friends Vineyard Series Shiraz 2006, Barossa And Eden Valley, South Australia, Australia: Wines designated Barossa can be made with either or both Barossa Valley and Eden Valley fruit. A plush, easy-drinking quaffer that’s the soft jazz of wine (translation: Merlot with a little more kick). Shiraz food pairings: roast beef, hamburgers, grilled chicken. 660480 14% XD 750 mL $18.95 Score: 88/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Stellenrust Shiraz 2005, W.O. Stellenbosch, South Africa: Vintages Wine Panel: A Silver Medal winner at the prestigious Michelangelo International Wine Awards in 2007. There’s plenty of jammy pepper spice on the nose, and the palate is creamy with well-rounded tannins, a generous mouth feel and a lingering finish. This is an elegantly styled Shiraz that features New World fruit delivered with Old World grace and charm. Delicious with roast leg of lamb. My note: Amazing balance and juicy, mouth-watering goodness. Fleshy black cherries and plush black plums. Generous and silky but full-bodied on the palate. Shiraz food pairings: meat casserole, kidney, duck. 96552 14% XD 750 mL $16.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Château Du Mignon Baron De Monfort, Prop. Merlot Blend 2004, A.C. St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France: Vintages Wine Panel: 2004 is widely recognized as a classic vintage for the Right Bank. This wine won a Silver Medal at the 2005 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Showing lots of new oak character with attractive vanilla and toast aromas. Dry with toast and red fruit replayed on the palate, balanced acidity and good length. Enjoy it now with grilled pork. My note: A beautifully styled wine with good bones and structure. Enticing notes of cassis, blackcurrant and blackberry wrapped in smoky oak and tobacco leaves. Full-bodied and complex with a long finish. Incredible price for such a good Bordeaux. Merlot Blend food pairings: lamb with rosemary or mint, pepper steak, liver. 92122 13.6% XD 750 mL $29.95 Score: 91/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Château Listran Cuvée Prestige, Cru Bourgeois, S.C. Crété, Prop. Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2005, A.C. Médoc, Bordeaux, France: This is a delicious, straight-forward red with a mocha-dark chocolate nose followed by blackberries and cassis on the palate. A little overpriced but a very good wine. Owned by the Spanish Crété family. Cabernet Sauvignon Blend food pairings: hamburgers, venison, lasanga. Drink: 2008 - 2012 91389 13.8% XD 750 mL $23.95 Score: 88/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Domaine Berthet-Rayne Syrah Blend 2005, A.C., Châteauneuf-Du-Pape, Rhône, France: Cherry-menthal on the nose with black cherry liqueur, cedar and dark spices on the palate. Delicious and full-bodied with layers of warmth and a long finish. Syrah Blend food pairings: meats in wine reduction sauces, roast veal, prime rib. Drink: 2008 - 2014 78741 14% XD 750 mL $40.00 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Perrin Perrin & Fils Les Christins Syrah Blend 2006, A.C., Vacqueyras, Rhône, France: Robust notes of blackberry, dark spice, pepper and black fruit on the nose. Strange but good iron-tinged finish. Syrah Blend food pairings: meatloaf, roast duck, well-hung game birds. Drink: 2008 - 2014 973453 14% D 750 mL $23.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Flam Winery Classico Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2006, Israel, Israel: A classic Bordeaux nose with matching structure and long finish. What a super wine. Aromas of cassis and blackcurrant. This wine, an equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, was aged in French and American oak for six months. Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot food pairings: osso buco, brisket, romano cheese. 35105 14.5% D 750 mL $37.95 Score: 91/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Viña Albali Gran Reserva Bodegas Felix Solis Tempranillo 2001, D.O. Valdepeñas, Spain: Vintages Wine Panel: Selection and patience are the keys to this award winning Gran Reserva’s success. First there’s the fruit selection in the vineyard, where only the best Tempranillo grapes are picked. Then with the crush, only the best free-run juice is used to make the final wine. Patience is required for the long ageing process: at least two years in American oak and then a further three-to-six years in bottle before release. The result is a beautifully balanced, soft-textured red that’s delicious with a lamb casserole, chorizo sausage or roast chicken. My note: Mocha, blackberry nose with smooth texture and full-bodied warmth. Good mouth-prickling acidity and a satisfying finish. Tempranillo food pairings: Babaganoush, game birds. 9621 13% D 750 mL $19.95 Score: 88/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Trius Winery at Hillebrand Hillebrand Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot Petit Verdot Malbec 2006, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Canada: Vintages Wine Panel: Meritage is composed exclusively of those grape varietals made famous in Bordeaux, and is styled after this famed region’s classic blended reds and whites. According to the Vintners Quality Alliance of Ontario rules, a red Meritage must contain “a blend of two or more of the following grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, or Malbec.” Getting your tongue around Meritage is easy - once you realize that it is not a French word but one conceived on this side of the pond. It’s a combination of the words ‘merit’ and ‘heritage’, and rhymes with the latter. The first word evokes the quality of the wines and the second salutes Bordeaux’s winemaking heritage and age-old tradition of blending. Ontario’s Meritage makers, like their peers in Bordeaux, take full advantage of this wine style’s blending possibilities. Working in a generally cool climate, like that of Bordeaux, and a relatively short growing season, definitely requires a flexible approach. Not surprisingly, of the grapes used in an Ontario red Meritage, early-ripening Merlot and winter-hardy Cabernet Franc tend to face fewer challenges than late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. A Meritage’s final blend, then, is a reflection of how each varietal fared in a given vintage, with the riper, juicier grapes leading the way. With options like these, producers are able to consistently make wines of high quality year after year. Hillebrand’s Trius Red was among Niagara’s first Meritage wines and year after year it demonstrates the strength of blending Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A consistently delicious wine, this medium-bodied red displays complex aromas of cedar, blackcurrant and tobacco leading to a clean, juicy, medium-long finish. My note: I've recommended this wine for a number of vintages now because it's extremely consistent and delicious. Great structure and balance with classic aromas of blackberry, cassis and black plum. Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot Petit Verdot Malbec food pairings: pan-fried sirloin strips and mixed bell peppers, semi-hard cheeses. 303800 12.5% D 750 mL $19.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Corte Giara Amarone Della Valpolicella Corvina Molinara Rondinella 2005, D.O.C., Veneto, Italy: Generous and big like a loud cousin whom you come to love when he tells his rambling stories. Big, fleshy and muscular with jammy black plums, tobacco and kirsch notes. Long finish. Corvina Molinara Rondinella food pairings: venison, beef daube, casseroles, stews, Mexican Mole. 86124 15.3% D 750 mL $45.00 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2006, Mclaren Vale, South Australia, Australia: Hugh extraction of black fruit with smoky oak: lots of everything if you love excess. Full-bodied goes without saying doesn’t it? Shiraz food pairings: pepper steak, spicy sausages, blood pudding. 981183 14.5% XD 750 mL $55.95 Score: 91/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Château de Beaucastel Vignobles Pierre Perrin Syrah Blend 2006, A.C., Châteauneuf-Du-Pape, Rhône, France: Generous and juicy with real weight behind it. Stylish winemaking with classic lines … meaning: this has lots of rich flavor without being heavy. Great balance with lovely blackcurrant and spice notes. Syrah Blend food pairings: pepperoni pizza, bison, meatballs. 711317 14.5% XD 750 mL $89.95 Score: 94/100. February 2009. Favorite Red Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

White Wine

Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2007, Vin De Pays D'oc, Midi, France: Vintages Wine Panel: Viognier has come storming out of the northern Rhône to make a huge impact throughout the wine world. In the Midi, it has found a very happy home as this example demonstrates. It features aromas of floral, fresh marjoram, apricot/peach and spice. Dry, refreshing, and full bodied with juicy/fruity tones. A wine that will beautifully complement mildly spiced shrimp or prawn dishes. My note: Very pretty white floral notes, melon and lychee. Terrific minerality. Medium-bodied with balanced acidity. Viognier food pairings: Thai coconut shrimp, lamb tangine, smoked ham, mild spices and curries. 673236 13.5% D 750 mL $17.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Ajello Majus Grillo Catarratto 2007, I.G.T. Sicilia, Italy: Vintages Wine Panel: A 50/50 blend of the local grapes Grillo and Catarratto. Grillo is known for its full body, while Catarratto, when in the right hands, can produce fine, crisp and character filled wines. Together, it is a near perfect partnership. The result is a full bodied, fresh and crisp wine with citrus, yellow plum, pear, peach and sweet herb notes. Enjoy this lively wine with pan-fried fish or Cioppino (the Italian version of bouillabaisse). Catarratto is grown all over Sicily, and was once the principal grape of the sweet fortified wine, Marsala. This workhorse grape is now being called upon for its more refined qualities. It has a wide range of expressions depending on where it is grown, from crisp and refreshing versions with citrus and mineral tones to rich, full-bodied versions with more of a Chardonnay-like character. Grillo is a versatile, full-flavored white grape that is capable of producing aromatic and exceptional dry whites with a distinctly citrus character. Grillo makes a fine blending partner as well, adding dimension to a variety of other grapes. My note: A light, refreshing white that’s very Pinot Grigio-like. Aromas of white melon and pink grapefruit. Medium-bodied. Grillo Catarratto food pairings: pesto, ham and melon, shrimp cocktail. 670844 13% XD 750 mL $16.95 Score: 88/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Folie À Deux Ménage À Trois White Chardonnay Moscato Chenin Blanc 2007, California, United States: Vintages Wine Panel: Ménage à Trois demonstrates what happens when you put three attractive grapes in one exquisite bottle. Chardonnay makes the wine rich and firm, the Moscato is an exotic exhibitionist, and the Chenin Blanc soft and supportive. Together they make the perfect threesome. My note: Incredibly floral with lychee undernotes. Reminds me of Gewurztraminer even though that grape isn’t in the blend. Lovely and refreshing. Chardonnay Moscato Chenin Blanc food pairings: clam chowder, roast vegetables, Indian dishes. 665166 13.5% D 750 mL $19.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio 2007, San Juan, Argentina: A light, mild white with faint lychee, white peach and rose petal notes. Very refreshing. Pinot Grigio food pairings: turkey, sashimi, suishi. 93732 13.5% XD 750 mL $14.95 Score: 86/100. February 2009. Best Value White Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Leyda Single Vineyard Garuma Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2006, Leyda Valley, Chile: Refreshingly vibrant with bright notes of zesty limes, grass, and chives. Not too grassy though, just right. Terrific acidity and energy. Wow! Closed with a screw cap. Sauvignon Blanc food pairings: smoked ham, caraway-seasoned dishes, turducken. 99309 13.5% D 750 mL $18.95 Score: 91/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Berton Vineyards The White Viognier 2007, South Eastern Australia, Australia: Vintages Wine Panel: Berton Vineyards’ ‘Black & White’ tier features just two wines, The Black Shiraz and The White Viognier. Viognier is making a name for itself in Australia, and it’s easy to see why with this attractive version featuring the variety’s typical apricot, peach and orange blossom aromas. Dry, full-bodied with juicy peach, citrus and tropical fruit flavors, it would pair well with mildly spicy dishes or a creamy pasta primavera. Awarded a Silver Medal at the 2008 Sélections Mondiales des Vins in Quebec City. My note: A terrific simple sipper with delicious notes of rose petal, white peach and lychee. Medium-bodied. The White Viognier food pairings: baked squash, chicken in orange or ginger sauce, seared tuna. 93435 14% D 750 mL $14.95 Score: 87/100. February 2009. Best Value White Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Composite Winegrowers Of Ara Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Loaded with lemons, lemons, fresh-cut grass and dried herbs. Refreshing and vibrant. Medium-bodied. Screwcap. Sauvignon Blanc food pairings: salads, quiche, spring rolls. 96693 13% D 750 mL $19.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Wegeler Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett 2004, Q.M.P., Rheingau, Germany: Great ripe peaches with a silver seam of acidity that gives the backbone and refresh bone. Incredibly great. Flavor without weight. Awesome. Riesling Kabinett food pairings: glazed ham, sweet potatoes, smoked or grilled fish. 378083 7.5% M 750 mL $23.95 Score: 94/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Oremus Mandolás Tokaji Furmint Dry 2005, Hungary, Hungary: An exotically different wine for when you want out of your Chardonnay rut. This is a dry Tokaji made Furmint grapes, Hungary’s leading varietal. Notes of dried herbs, hazelnut and mature peaches. Tokaji Furmint Dry food pairings: Cajun shrimp dishes, chicken paprika, steamed mussels, lobster thermidor. 959817 13.3% XD 750 mL $25.95 Score: 89/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Sogevinus Fine Wines Divinica White Malvasia Fina Gouveio Rabigato 2007, D.O.C. Douro, Portugal: Vintages Wine Panel: Sogevinus is another Port producer that is finding new success by crafting unique dry wines in the Douro. Divinica is a blend of the local varieties Malvasia Fina, Gouveio and Rabigato. Expressive with juicy citrus and fresh floral aromas, this dry, medium full-bodied white is elegant and beautifully balanced. My note: A delicious, robust and round white that’s Chardonnay-like without too much oak. Ripe pear and peach with vanilla smoke. Malvasia Fina Gouveio Rabigato food pairings: lobster rolls, baked cod fillets seasoned with garlic and lemon juice, lamb tangine. 94904 12.5% D 750 mL $15.95 Score: 90/100. February 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart


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