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Wine Picks March 24, 2009

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Note: This batch of wine reviews is not part of the bi-weekly Vintages Releases. Instead, it's a collection of wines outisde the Vintages section in store (general list) or wines sent to me directly from wineries that may not yet be available in liquor stores. Click on the Winery or Wine Agency link to get more info.

Dessert Wine

Pillitteri Estates Winery Chardonnay Icewine 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Golden hue, with gorgeous notes of overripe apricot, peaches and honey and some hazelnut back notes. Luscious texture yet there's a refreshing amount of acidity. Available from the winery. Chardonnay Icewine food pairings: cheesecake, almonds, baked apples, almond-based desserts. 12% S 750 mL $35.00 Score: 93/100. March 2009. Favorite Dessert Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Sanson Estate Vidal Icewine 2001, V.Q.A. Lake Erie, Ontario, Canada: A nectared dessert wine with lovely rich notes of apricot and honey. Perfect after dinner with a variety of desserts. Vidal Icewine food pairings: blue cheese, stilton cheese, almonds, Oreos, spicecake. 8% S 750 mL $25.00 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Reif Estate Winery Vidal Select Late Harvest 2006, V.Q.A. Ontario, Canada: Lovely notes of overripe peach, apricot and passionfruit with terrific balancing acidity. Revel in its plush depths. Vidal Select Late Harvest food pairings: creamy cheeses, trifle, peach melba, chocolate cake. 282855 13% S 375 mL $19.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Best Value Dessert Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Reif Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2006, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Notes of overripe tropical fruit, peach, passionfruit, fig, toffee. Great acidity is the perfect balance to this luscious sweetness. A wine to celebrate! Vidal Icewine food pairings: fruit fondue, blue cheeses, baked pears, cheesecake. 10% S 750 mL $46.95 Score: 91/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Red Wine

Marcus James Malbec 2007, Mendoza, Argentina: Alluring black pepper and plums on the nose. Full-bodied richness on the palate. Malbec food pairings: barbecued beef ribs, beef stew, steak and kidney pie, cheddar cheese, bittersweet chocolate. 518431 13.5% 750 mL $9.25 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Best Value Red Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Marcus James Merlot 2006, Mendoza, Argentina: A soft, plush sipper with ripe plums and black cherries. Full-bodied. A mellow-fellow from the Andes mountains range. Merlot food pairings: beef with stout, grilled mushrooms, rustic bread, turkey with trimmings, duck. 336008 12% 750 mL $9.30 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Tapena Tempranillo 2007, Tierra De Castilla, Spain: Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes. The quintessential red wine grape of Spain, Tempranillo (temp-rah-NEE-yo) is a perfect blend of fruit, earth and structure, rounded out by a deliciously soft mouthfeel. Tempranillo is Pinot Noir in blue jeans. Intense ruby red color with violet-blue undertones characteristic of young red wines. A plush, luscious wine that rolls with ripe black plum flavor. Lovely notes of dark chocolate on the end. Full-bodied Tempranillo food pairings: grilled fish, vegetables, pizza, pasta, grilled lamb skewers, garlic prawns, broiled salmon, paella. 72942 12.8% 750 mL $13.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Robert Mondavi Winery Woodbridge Robert Mondavi Merlot 2007, California, United States: A rich wine with sweetly ripe cherries and lush red currants. Voluptuous, mouth-filling texture and pleasing full-bodied weight. A comfy blue jeans kind of wine. Merlot food pairings: veal stuffed with sausage, quesadillas, brisket, tacos, chili dog. 494492 13.5% 750 mL $13.50 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Sonoma Vineyards Merlot 2005, Sonoma County, California, United States: This Merlot was 85% barrel aged in a combination of American and French oak. During the grape growing season, the same fog that blankets Sonoma County each night collects in the needles of the coastal redwoods, and drips down to their root zone. Essential for grape quality, fog is equally essential to these redwoods, which are found only on the California coast, and measure as the tallest trees on the planet, growing easily over 300 feet and living as long as 2000 years. A warm embrace of wine with sweet cherries, plums and vanilla richness. Full-bodied with a mocha-infused finish. Closed with a screwcap. Merlot food pairings: cheeseburgers, prime rib steak, parmesan cheese, chicken stir-fry, lamb chops. 60632 13.6% 750 mL $16.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Banrock Station Shiraz Mataro 2007, South Eastern Australia, Australia: The fruit for this wine was sourced from grape growing regions of South Eastern Australia, and was both hand-picked and machine-harvested and pressed using the screw press method. The juice was fermented in stainless steel fermenters and was matured in stainless steel tanks. Terrific value! Plush purple plums with sweet black cherries, and a kiss of oak. Full-bodied with terrific berry intensity. Immediately quaffable. Closed with a screwcap. Shiraz Mataro food pairings: red meats, tomato-based pasta dishes, prime rib with a red wine reduction, lasagna. 555771 13% 750 mL $10.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Cellier Des Dauphins Grenache Syrah Cinsault 2006, A.C. Cotes Du Rhone, France: The name Cellier des Dauphins is derived from its vineyards which once belonged to the son of the King of France, or the Dauphin. The vineyards are north of the Vaucluse, south of the Drome area where the soil is chalky-clay. A blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 10% Cinsault. An incredible wine for the money! Enticing notes of cedar, hickory, cassis, blackberry and sage. Plush but great acidity and balance. Wow! Grenache Syrah Cinsault food pairings: game, steak with grilled mushrooms, bison burgers, roast beef, strong cheeses. 110197 14% 750 mL $10.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Cellier Des Dauphins Grenache Syrah 2006, A.C. Cotes Du Rhone, France: The name Cellier des Dauphins is derived from its vineyards which once belonged to the son of the King of France, or the Dauphin. The vineyards are north of the Vaucluse, south of the Drome area where the soil is chalky-clay. A blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah. A pleasant blackberry-ripe sipper with notes of cedar, garrigue and smoke. Peppery top notes keep it lively and provide a nice contrast to the plush fruit. Grenache Syrah food pairings: game, gourmet bison burgers, ribs, steak, mature cheeses. 464669 13.5% 250 mL $13.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Jaboulet Parallele 45 Syrah Blend 2006, Cotes Du Rhone, France: Exuberant, hedonistic aromas of cedar and black cherry in this full-bodied red. Perfect for casual weeknight meals and potluck gatherings. This winery has been a vineyard owner in the Rhone valley since 1834. (Translation: They know what they're doing.) Syrah Blend food pairings: barbecued meats, turkey with traditional trimmings, fruit chutneys, brisket, steak fajitas. 332304 13% 750 mL $15.80 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Georges Duboeuf Gamay 2007, Brouilly, Beaujolais, France: A playful light red with fresh notes of ripe red cherries, raspberries and strawberries. Good mouth-awakening acidity gives the wine extra vibrancy. This is a terrific wine for those who find many reds too heavy or alcoholic. I won't promise that you won't get a hangover if you overindulge, but it's a lovely sipper throughout an evening and will pair with both light meat dishes and meaty fish dishes. Gamay food pairings: Korean food, cold meats, fried chicken, smoked salmon sandwiches. 70540 12.7% 750 mL $16.90 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Chateau Des Laurets Merlot Blend 2005, Saint-Emillion, Bordeaux, France: The terrific 2005 vintage for power and depth shows in even the most affordable Bordeaux wines like this one. This wine is an incredibly good value with notes of blackberry, black plum, cassis. An excellent wine to serve at a dinner party or when you're trying to impress a first date. It's tannic so decant for 1-2 hours if you're not going to age it. Merlot Blend food pairings: mushrooms, cheddar cheese, goose, cornish hen, sourdough bread. Drink: 2008 - 2014 371401 13% 750 mL $19.90 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Vista TN Touriga Nacional Reserva 2005, Beiras, Portugal: A dark, plummy, mocha-rich wonder with a full-bodied core of black fruit. Smokin! It's tannic so decant 1-2 hours. This wine was matured in French oak barrels for 12 months. It delivers mouth-filling, concentrated flavors and aromas. Touriga Nacional Reserva food pairings: grilled meats, meaty casseroles, prime rib steak, veal. 613919 14% 750 mL $13.05 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Marques De Riscal Reserva Tempranillo Graciano Mazuelo 2004, Rioja, Spain: This winery was founded in 1858 and all the vines are 15 years or older. Picking is done by hand and the wine is aged for 26 months in American oak barrels. Dollops of dark fleshy red berries, cedar and smoke. It's tannic so decant 1-2 hours. Riojas are a wonderful change from the usual all-fruit full-bodied reds of the New World: you can explore more subtle and mature aromas like leather and cigar box in this wine. Tempranillo Graciano Mazuelo food pairings: mature cheeses, stew, cooked legumes, roast, grilled meats. Drink: 2008 - 2012 32656 14% 750 mL $24.70 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Cantine V Terre Dei Volsci Sangiovese Cesanese Montepulciano Merlot 2003, D.O.C. Velletri, Italy: Delicious, muscular, mouth-filling blend of dark cherries, plums and mocha. Rich and round with a lovely velvet texture. This wine is perfect for many Italian dishes and Italian lovers, including Juan, Marco and Julio. Sangiovese Cesanese Montepulciano Merlot food pairings: wild game, bison burgers, barbecued ribs, grilled asparagus. 175141 13.5% 750 mL $14.00 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Yarden Mount Herman Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc 2007, Galilee, Israel: A deep, rich, full-bodied with aromas of dark red berries, purple plums and smoke. A seductively smooth texture. This wine is Kosher Lamehadrin and Kosher for Passover. Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc food pairings: roasted eggplant, beef bourguignonne, meatloaf, tongue, romano cheese, ostrich. 611293 14% 750 mL $19.90 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Trentacinquesiomo Parallelo Zinfandel 2006, D.O.C. Manduria Puglia, Italy: This simple, full-bodied wine that won't break the bank and invites you to just loosen up. No analysis required and don't even think of making tasting notes. Delicious flavors of black fruit, a little smoke and a lot of savings. Smooth texture. Zinfandel food pairings: blue cheese, shepherds pie, chili, game meats, goulash. 612754 14% 750 mL $9.60 Score: 83/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

De Bortoli Vat 10 Pinot Noir 2006, South Eastern Australia, Australia: Vibrant, mouth-watering acidity with fleshy, ripe cherries and raspberries. Some smoky notes. Vat numbers come from the early days when the winemaker marked chalk numbers on the vats to keep track of the batches. Some spice and cinnamon. Closed with a screwcap. Pinot Noir food pairings: grilled tuna, salmon, pasta with tomato, ravioli in a cream sauce. 61622 12.5% 750 mL $15.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Penmara The Five Families Shiraz 2006, New South Wales, Australia: Loaded with purple plums, blackberries, spice and smoke. Here's your 5 p.m. transitional wine to slow down and savor the evening. Closed with a screwcap. Shiraz food pairings: prime rib steak with a red wine reduction sauce, blue cheese stuffed pork tenderloin, dark chocolate, mature cheeses. 565929 13% 750 mL $12.50 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Casillero Del Diablo Reserva Carmenere 2007, Rapel Valley, Chile: Laced with dark chocolate, coffee and mocha up front with black raspberries and purple plums on the palate. Lip-smacking delicious! Hamurgers never had it so good. Carmenere food pairings: beef stew, gourmet hamburgers, grilled meats, meatloaf, ribs. 620666 13.5% 750 mL $12.95 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Errazuriz Carmenere 2008, Aconcagua Valley, Chile: Rich, round and full-bodied, a warm embrance of fleshy dark fruit. Mocha, coffee. Aged seven months in French and American oak. This wine will have its way with you. Closed with a screwcap. Carmenere food pairings: game, venison, bison steak, mature cheeses. 16238 13.5% 750 mL $13.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Montes Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Fleshy full-bodied goodness. Black plums and blackberries with a smooth texture and a long finish. This wine will transport you to a sun-dappled porch and a slow-moving rocking chair. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: grilled vegetables, turkey burger, beef bourguignonne, stuffed pork tenderloin, lasagna. 322586 14% 750 mL $21.95 Score: 90/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Beaulieu Vineyard Zinfandel 2005, Napa Valley, United States: Fleshy dark berries, brambleberry, medium- to full-bodied and smooth texture. I'd serve this wine at a book club gathering if we were reading something dark and racy. Zinfandel food pairings: chili, barbecued ribs, goat cheese stuffed pork tenderloin, Korean dishes. 80242 15% 750 mL $25.95 Score: 91/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Black Anvil Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, California, United States: A simple, full-bodied red with sweet ripe blackberries and plums. Round and smooth. A wine that hits the nail on the head (sorry, had to). Closed with a screwcap. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: rib roast, corned beef, kidneys, meat fondue, zucchini, kangaroo. 45575 13.5% 750 mL $14.65 Score: 85/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Robert Mondavi Winery Woodbridge Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Lodi, California, United States: A supple, full-bodied red with classic cassis and blackberry. Good structure for this modest wine. More Frank Sinatra than Billy Joel. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: grilled meats, roast beef, lamb ragout with roasted sweet peppers, creamed onions. 48611 13.5% 750 mL $13.45 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Francis Ford Coppola Francis Ford Coppola Presents Shiraz 2006, California, United States: Mocha, coffe, smoke notes. Full-bodied, round and smooth. Perfect for watching The Godfather and other Coppola movies. Shiraz food pairings: peppercorn steak, roast goose, ostrich, bacon, lamb kabobs. 57034 13.4% 750 mL $17.55 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Sangiovese 2005, D.O.C. Chianti Classico, Italy: A solid red with full-bodied flavor and excellent structure. Notes of black cherry, beetroot and raspberry. A warm-hearted wine that bottles a little Tuscan sun. Aged for a minimum of two years in oak. Ruby red. Sangiovese food pairings: salami toscana, grilled cheese sandwich, turkey scallopini, truffles. 45195 13% 750 mL $25.80 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Obikwa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Western Cape, South Africa: Big oak and mocha on the nose followed by simple, full-bodied black fruit on the palate. Could be your new best friend. Closed with a screwcap. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: lamb shanks, grilled eggplant, succotash, seared tuna with a pepper crust. 665323 13% 750 mL $8.95 Score: 85/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Sandbanks Estate Winery Baco Noir 2007, V.Q.A. Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada: Alluring notes of chocolate, mocha, coffee and black fruit on the nose. Full-bodied richness and smooth layers of flavor. Sometimes I find Baco Noir quite a strange wine with too much purple plum but that's not the case here: it's all delicious fruit flavor and good balance. Baco Noir food pairings: spicy dishes, curries, Asian dishes, dark chocolate. 110049 12% 750 mL $14.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Montecillo Reserva Tempranillo 2003, D.O.C. Rioja, Spain: Founded in 1874, this winery ages its wines in oak for a minimum of three years with at least 18 months in French oak barrels. Full-bodied, chunky and hulking with black raspberries, smoke. It's tannic so decant for 1-2 hours. A little pricey but you get those alluring mature notes of leather and cigar box that are so suited to lazy evenings dozing by the fire. Tempranillo food pairings: grilled steak, duck, Mexican dishes, eggplant parmigiana, green peppers. 621003 13.5% 750 mL $19.00 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Farnese Sangiovese Abruzzo 2007, Abruzzo, Italy: Opens with dark rich notes of black cherry, sun-dried tomato, tobacco and fresh-turned earth. This medium-bodied, supple wine has vibrant acidity and a plummy heart. Sangiovese Abruzzo food pairings: antipasti, appetizers, veal parmiggiana, pizza, tomato-based pasta, hard aged cheeses. 512327 12.5% 750 mL $7.55 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Cline Cellars Zinfandel 2007, California, United States: This full-bodied wonder delivers hedonistically rich aromas of fleshy black raspberries, brambleberries, blackberries, dark spices and pepper. The palate is richly layered, smooth and mouth-filling Zinfandel food pairings: Cajun chicken, pork ribs, roasted duck breast in raspberry jus, hamburgers, grilled meats. 489278 14% 750 mL $14.75 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Viña Tarapacá Reserva Carmenere 2006, Chile, Chile: Enticing notes of black plums, mocha, coffee and smoky raspberries on the nose. This full-bodied, supple red was aged in French and American oak. Carmenere food pairings: grilled and roasted meat, pastas with rich sauces and strong cheeses. 64436 13.8% 750 mL $12.85 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Trapiche Reserve Series Malbec 2006, Argentina, Argentina: Copious layers of jammy-ripe raspberries and cherries, with delicious layers of purple plums and hickory smoke. The vines for this wine grow at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. This full-bodied, juicy, mouth-watering red has a velvet texture and a toasty finish. Malbec food pairings: poultry, pork chops, steak fajitas, liver, peppercorn steak, meatballs. 501551 13.5% 750 mL $8.65 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Tawse Winery Inc. Meritage 2006, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Rich deep aromas of blueberry, blackberry, cassis and black plum. Meritage food pairings: sausages, steak with a mustard and soy sauce, grilled cheddar cheese sandwich, roasted turkey. Drink: 2008 - 2015 111963 13.5% XD 750 mL $48.20 Score: 90/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

E. & J. Gallo Winery Napa Valley Vineyard Merlot Reserve 2003, California, United States: A delicious and very smooth Merlot with notes of plum and black currant. Merlot Reserve food pairings: chili dog, meatballs, barbecued beef ribs, cornish hen, macaroni and cheese. 29983 13.6% 750 mL $17.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Penascal Tempranillo 2005, Rueda, Spain: A dark rustic colored red with cherry and smoke notes. Tempranillo food pairings: beef tenderloin with a mushroom sauce, steak, grilled asparagus, lamb chops. 343434 12.5% 750 mL $8.95 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Santa Valley Velvet Carmenere 2007, Rapel Valley, Chile: Aged 8 months in oak. A vibrant red with intense mocha notes. Layers of fresh cherry and plum notes. Carmenere food pairings: venison, bison steak, barbecued ribs, ostrich, partridge. 57133 14% 750 mL $12.95 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Peter Lehmann Wines Shiraz 2005, Barossa, Australia: Incredibly rich with dark, fleshy dark plum and berry notes. A kiss of oak that’s beautifully integrated with a smooth texture. Shiraz food pairings: beef wellington, pot roast, beef daube, tongue, sausages. Drink: 2008 - 2012 572875 14.5% 750 mL $19.90 Score: 90/100. March 2009. Favorite Red Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Robert Mondavi Winery Woodbridge Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Lodi, California, United States: The grapes came from the cool-climate Central Coast. One hundred percent of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation while 50% aged in French oak (20% new) for 14 months. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petite Sirah. Notes of mint, blackberry, cassis, smoke and blackberry. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: roasts, grilled steak, roast duck, lasagna, spare ribs, flavorful hard cheeses. 392225 13.5% 750 mL $18.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Castillo De Monseran Carinena Garnacha 2007, Aragon, Spain: Bottled within one year of production and designed to drink young. Herbal black plum and black cherry notes. Vines for the wine grow in the heart of Aragon, Spain on mountain Vineyards. Garnacha food pairings: tomato-based pasta dishes, cold cut platters, mixed tapas. 73395 12.9% 750 mL $8.95 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

J.P. Chenet Vin De Pays Cabernet Syrah 2008, Languedoc-Roussilon, France: Has a charmingly odd-shaped bottle with a dent on the side. Smooth and full-bodied with notes of cherry, blackcurrant, green peppers, liquorice and dark spices. Smooth tannins. Cabernet Syrah food pairings: red meat, grilled steak, cold cuts, salad, cheeses, beef tartare. 90472 12.5% 750 mL $9.95 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Pere & Fils Patriarche Pinot Noir 2006, Burgundy, France: Patriarche Pere et Fils, established in Beaune in the former convent of the Nuns of Visitation which dates form the 17th century, matures its Burgundian wines in its vaulted cellars. Aromas of ripe strawberry and nutmeg spice. Medium-bodied. Pinot Noir food pairings: cold cuts, veal, poultry, mushrooms, salmon, pate, chicken. 23903 12% 750 mL $14.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

J.P. Chenet Reserve Series Merlot Cabernet 2008, Languedoc-Roussilon, France: Blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Full-bodied red with notes of mocha and ripe dark plums. Merlot Cabernet food pairings: red meat, cold cuts, hard cheeses, beef daube, ostrich, game. 621995 12.5% 750 mL $11.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

FishEye Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Central Valley, California, United States: The wine is called after the nickname for fisherman who has an especially good catch; it is said that they have the "fish eye." Juicy, straight-up quaffer with smooth ripe red fruit and black currant notes. Medium-bodied. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: Irish stew, rack of lamb, fajitas, wild boar, game dishes. 614297 12.7% 750 mL $8.95 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Beringer Stone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, California, United States: These vineyards benefit from a temperate coastal climate and warm sunny days with cool nights. Half the wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for eight months. At blending, Petite Syrah was added to give the wine more color, and a firm backbone of tannins. A medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of mocha, coffee, cassis, blackberry and pepper. Balanced with a smooth texture. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: shepherd's pie, grilled cheese sandwich, turkey, bittersweet chocolate, rich pates. 606798 13% 750 mL $13.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Banrock Station Shiraz 2007, South Eastern Australia, Australia: Supple and plush on the palate. An extremely robust red with ripe purple plum, black cherry notes with spicy oak. You can relinquish any qualms or outmoded snobbery about TetraPaks. Shiraz food pairings: fajitas, Mexican dishes, pot roast, ratatouille, rich meat casseroles. 668962 13.5% 1000 mL $13.95 Score: 86/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Trius Winery at Hillebrand Clark Farm Pinot Noir 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: The winemaker, Darryl Brooter, was conscious of the challenge in a hot vintage to pick the grapes with good natural acidity and maintain varietal character. After hand picking in the early morning of September 21, 2007 the grapes were hand sorted for a further 9 hours before being gently crushed. Enticing aromas of beetroot, fresh earth and pleasantly tart cherries. Not fruit forward but absolutely delicious. Great balance, structure and length. Available at Hillebrand Winery. Pinot Noir food pairings: frankfurters, beef stew, goulash, chambertin cheese, pizza, pork with a hoisin and honey sauce. Drink: 2010 - 2012 14% 750 mL $35.00 Score: 90/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Trius Winery at Hillebrand Trius Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: The 2007 vintage was the hottest season on record and the vineyards were healthy, combined with very low crop so they didn’t need. After spending an average of 13 months in barrels the individual lots were blended together for bottling. A blend of 365 barrels (out of possible, 1,500 were barrels) of 44% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot. Trius red uses fruit from all over the Peninsula. However, in 2007 over 80% of the blend came from the winery's own vineyards and 93% of the blend came from within the Niagara-on-the-lake appellation. Excellent balance and structure with full-bodied aromas of cassis, blackcurrant and spicy oak. Available at Hillebrand Winery. Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot food pairings: roasted eggplant, barbecued beef ribs, beef wellington, mature hard cheese, kidneys, tongue. Drink: 2008 - 2012 14% 750 mL $21.95 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Creekside Estate Winery Pinot Noir Reserve 2006, V.Q.A. St. David's Bench, Niagara, Canada: Sweet cherry-berry aromas and flavors with some beetroot and red licorice underneath. Silky, polished tannins in an approachable New World style. Good mouth-watering acidity. Needs time. Available at the winery. Pinot Noir Reserve food pairings: light grilled fish, spicy Asian dishes, steamed mussels, vegetarian pizza. Drink: 2010 - 2015 12% 750 mL $29.95 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Creekside Estate Winery Cabernet 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: The wine was aged in 50% new American oak barrels and 50% seasoned French barrels. After the final blend was created, the wine was bottled under Stelvin closure. Great price for the classically built Cabernet. Alluring notes of black raspberry, black currant, mocha and cigar box. Full-bodied but supple with a lovely finish. Closed with a screwcap. Available at the winery. Cabernet food pairings: grilled beef, tomato based pasta, medium to sharp cheeses, roasted pork dishes. 13% 750 mL $13.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Creekside Estate Winery Shiraz 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: The final Cuvee was a blend of 80% American, 20% French oak with 30% of the barrels being new wood. Bottled under Stelvin closure. Lots of warm vanilla, oak and black plums on the nose. A core of fleshy ripe black fruit and ground pepper on the palate. Satisfying full-bodied without being to alcoholic. A great quaffer. Closed with a screwcap. Available at the winery. Shiraz food pairings: osso bucco, meat ragout, grilled beef, tuscan-style pizza. 12% 750 mL $15.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Creekside Estate Winery Shiraz 2006, V.Q.A. St. David's Bench, Niagara, Ontario, Canada: A blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier. The Viognier and Shiraz were co-fermented in small bins, followed by full malolactic fermentation in barrel. The wine was then put in to barrel and aged for 21 months. The final cuvee was a blend of 100% French oak. Bottled September 8th 2008. A cedar-cherry rich wine with a velvet texture. Medium- to full-bodied. Some cranberry, black raspberry and spice notes. Available at the winery. Shiraz food pairings: cornish game hen, grilled lamb, Tuscan-style pizza. Drink: 2009 - 2014 12% 750 mL $39.95 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Creekside Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, V.Q.A. St. David's Bench, Niagara, Ontario, Canada: Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon havested from two vineyards in St. David's Bench appellation. The grapes udnerwent a small batch fermentation with twice daily manual punch-down of the caps. The wine was then aged in both French and American oak barrels (new and older wood) over a period of 30 months. A mocha rich red wine with dark fruit on the nose. Good grip on the palate with notes of vanilla, smoke and cassis. Full-bodied. Decant for 1-2 hours. Available at the winery. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: grilled duck, steak, game meats, ragu, wild fowl, hard mature cheeses. Drink: 2009 - 2014 12% 750 mL $34.95 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Lailey Vineyard Lailey Vineyard Cabernet Merlot 2006, V.Q.A. St. David's Bench, Niagara, Ontario, Canada: A blend of 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc. All grapes were fermented in small batches and were punched down by hand during fermentation 2-3 times daily. After fermentation, the wine was run off into small barrels where it was aged for 16 months before being bottled. Black cherry-berry ripe with fine silky tannins and a luscious mouth-feel. Medium-bodied with a lovely spice-infused finsih. 591420 13.5% XD 750 mL $14.00 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Ravenswood Zinfandel 2006, California, United States: Lip-smacking delicious cherry-berry flavor with excellent concentration and length. Full-bodied with polished tannins. I love this winery's motto: "No wimpy wines." Zinfandel food pairings: gourmet hamburgers, prime rib, goat cheese stuffed pork tenderloin, beef tenderloin with a cherry sauce. Drink: 2009 - 2013 359257 13.6% D 750 mL $17.95 Score: 90/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

White Wine

Peller Estates Private Reserve Riesling 2007, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Canada: A zippy, lemon-fresh quaffer with notes of white peach, melon and pink grapefruit. Mouth-watering and tasty without a splinter of wood. Perfect as an aperitif, particularly around 6 pm when you're ready to relax. In my Drinks Matcher (www.nataliemaclean.com/matcher), I pair it with a wide range of dishes, from seafood and salads, to chicken and pork. Riesling food pairings: soft cheeses, roast chicken, pork chops, vegetarian dishes and lively conversation. Drink: 2009 - 2011 641969 11% D 750 mL $15.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand: Monkey Bay wines take their name from a small bay on the coast of Marlborough in the South Island. A legendary monkey was once believed to inhabit this secluded spot. Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from vineyards throughout the Marlborough region, including the Rarangi vineyard, just south of Monkey Bay. New Zealand enjoyed a particularly long, dry summer in 2008. Vibrant, zesty aromas of lime, chives, grass, lemongrass and green apples. Medium-bodied. Closed with a screwcap. Sauvignon Blanc food pairings: fried chicken, roast turkey, caesar salad, grilled swordfish, turkey burger. 620062 11.5% 750 mL $14.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Creekside Estate Winery Viognier Reserve 2007, V.Q.A. St. David's Bench, Niagara, Ontario, Canada: The juice from these grapes was pressed into stainless steel tanks and 2 and 1 year old French barrels. A portion of the wine was barrel-fermented aged to increase complexity while maintain fruit profile and structural balance. The stainless steel component balanced the wood character and provided fresh acidity. Wine was aged 10 months on the lees. An opulent, viscous wine with layers of rich flavor. Redolent of honeysuckle, orange, zest, lime, apricot and almond. Lovely wine. Viognier Reserve food pairings: seafood paella, curried chicken, blackened whitefish, medium to heavy cheeses, Asian dishes, Indian curries. 13% 750 mL $24.95 Score: 91/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Creekside Estate Winery Riesling 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Rather than focus on creating a dry or off-dry style, Creekside makes use of a traditional German nomenclature: "feinherb", to define its Riesling style. Not legally ascribed to any particular sugar level, feinherb instead refers to a balance between sugar, acidity and fruit intensity. A pretty sipper on its own or with a variety of dishes. Light but flavorful. Aromas of white peach, jasmine, lime, field flowers and green apples. Available at the winery. Riesling food pairings: light grilled fish, spicy Asian dishes, steamed mussels, vegetarian pizza. 11% 750 mL $15.95 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Trius Winery at Hillebrand Oliveira Vineyard Showcase Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2007, V.Q.A. Beamsville, Ontario, Canada: The winemaker Darryl Brooter put the entire vineyard through a 'wild' fermentation in French Oak barrels. After filling the barrels right to the top, he placed in the solid bung and let the wild yeast 'do their thing'. He decided not to put the wine through malolactic fermentation as the vineyard has amazing minerality which is the true character of the wine. This would be masked by MLF and he believes the true vineyard character needs to be seen. Exotic aromas of hazelnut, ripe peach and apricot with stunning mineral depths and a long finish. Available at the Hillebrand Winery. Chardonnay food pairings: chicken with creamy sauces, Asian dishes with black bean sauces, stir-fried veggies, camembert with calvados. Drink: 2008 - 2015 14% 750 mL $35.00 Score: 90/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Inniskillin Niagara Estate Brae Blanc Reserve Series 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: The Brae Blanc name reflects Inniskillin's history in Niagara on the Lake; the Inniskillin winery resides on the Brae Burn Estate with the historic barn profiled on the label being called the Brae Burn Barn. Brae Burn is Gaelic for "hill stream" reflecting the Niagara Escarpment as the "hill" and the Niagara River as the "stream". A blend of Gerwurztraminer, Riesling and Chardonnay. Lovely floral and lychee notes. Quite exotic and aromatic with ripe peach, apricot and honeysuckle. Medium bodied. Available from the winery. Brae Blanc Reserve Series food pairings: spicy Asian dishes, Caribbean dishes, Mexican cuisine, seafood, shellfish, curries. 981381 12% 750 mL $14.95 Score: 89/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Riesling 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Canada: A simple, light wine for carefree quaffing. Ripe peaches and pears. Mouth-watering acidity softened by a touch of sweetness. Terrific as an aperitif or with a wide variety of dishes from salads to seafood. A summer poolside wine. Riesling food pairings: cheese fondue, apple fritters, foie gras, tuna tartare, crab mousse. 3037157 12% 750 mL $10.95 Score: 84/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Georges Duboeuf Chardonnay 2007, Macon-Villages, France: A simple, medium- to full-bodied chard without too much oak. Aromas of ripe pears and green apples. This subtle and balanced wine is ideal for those who like Chardonnay but not heavy, over-oaked ones. Chardonnay food pairings: turkey sausage, veal marsala, ceasar salad, pickles, stir-fried veggies, brie cheese. 110122 12.5% 750 mL $13.90 Score: 83/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Marlborough, New Zealand: An expressive, vibrant white with fresh-cut grass, lemon, lime, chives and herbal notes. Great mouth-watering acidity. Don't blame me if you don't want to drink other whites after this one! Closed with a screwcap. Sauvignon Blanc food pairings: gouda cheese, chicken with creamy sauces, chicken and feta tostades, beef carpaccio, corned beef with cabbage. 1289528 12% 750 mL $14.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Best Value White Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand: Lovely notes of fresh-cut grass, chives, limes, passionfruit and green apples on the nose. This medium-bodied white has a crisp, vibrant mouth-feel with a zingy, gooseberry-tinged finish. Sauvignon Blanc food pairings: smoked salmon, asparagus risotto, herbed chicken, spicy sausages, Thai shrimp. 293043 13% 750 mL $16.95 Score: 88/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Tawse Winery Inc. Quarry Road Vineyard Chardonnay 2006, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Grapes are grown on the upper slopes of the Vinemount Ridge in clay and limestone soils. A full-bodied Chardonnay with ripe notes of apricots, lime and mineral. Chardonnay food pairings: baked ricotta on toast, duck a l'orange, turkey burgers, camembert with calvados, Thai dishes. 111989 13% XD 750 mL $35.20 Score: 90/100. March 2009. Favorite White Wine Full Review Add to Shopping Cart

Pillitteri Estates Winery Fusion Gewurztraminer Riesling 2007, V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Delicious notes of rose petal, lychee, white peach and honeysuckle. Great mouth-wakening acidity makes this a wonderful aperitif. Gewurztraminer Riesling food pairings: peking duck, lightly spiced curries, Chinese dishes, sweet pastries, lychee fruit, peaches. 349126 11.5% 750 mL $12.95 Score: 87/100. March 2009. Full Review Add to Shopping Cart


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