Good Value Wines February 2004
By Natalie MacLean
Sweet and Fortified Dessert Wines
586537 Gonzalezbyas Elegante Amontillado Medium Dry Sherry, Gonzalez Byass & Co, Fortified Wine, 17.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content : 4, Jerez, Spain $9.15: A pleasant nutty, sweet finish to a meal or a day. Heaven with roasted almond, walnuts or hard cheeses. Score: 84/100.
416909 Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery Damson Plum, Fortified Fruit Dessert Wine, 11.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 3, Ontario $14.95: A ray of spring sunshine in a long corridor of winter. Pure purple plums, like a plum pie. Score: 82/100.
416875 Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery Spiced Apple, Fortified Fruit Dessert Wine, 12.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 5, Ontario, Canada $14.95: I can smell Grammy's apple pie now wafting through the kitchen out to the front yard. Lovely baked apple, cloves and cinnamon notes. Food matches: coffee or angel cake. Score: 85/100.
206508 Graham's 10-Year-Old Tawny Port, Fortified Wine, 20.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 10, Douro, Portugal $27.95: Gorgeous caramel, almond and dried fruit flavours. Rich and smooth on the palate. Food matches: hard cheeses (especially blue), nuts. Score: 89/100.
142893 Sumac Ridge Estate Winery Gewurztraminer 1999, 13.0% Alcohol/Vol., British Columbia, $12.95: If you love this style, you'll love this wine. Redolent of lychee nuts and rose petals. A touch of sweetness softens the wine making it a lovely sipper for those first spring days sitting out on the veranda. Food matches: cold chicken, pasta. Score: 83/100
545004 Mission Hill Chardonnay 2001, BC $17.95: A well-balanced, round and supple chardonnay with toasty, buttery aromas. Score 85/100
234583 Cave Spring Off Dry Riesling, Niagara 2002 $11.95: Terrific acidity to cleanse the palate and just a touch of sweetness make this wine a delicious companion to oysters. Score 84/100
175430 Wente Chardonnay 2001, Livermore Valley, California $15.15: A lovely balanced wine that complements a wide range of dishes from pasta and chicken to lobster in a butter sauce. Score: 86/100.
957407 Coopers Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2002, New Zealand $17.95: A classic New Zealand sauvignon blanc, with strong herbal and grassy notes. Great with shellfish. Score 86/100
527713 Stoneleigh Marlborough Riesling 2002, 13.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1, New Zealand $12.10: Lovely sipper on its own or terrific with a range of dishes, from pasta to seafood. A light acidity makes it refreshing with peach and pear notes. Food matches: seafood, shellfish, salads, cold cuts, aperitif.
616243 Konrad & Conrad Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand 2003 $16.20: An excellent value for this marvelous white with a lovely balance and zest. It would pair well with meatier fish such as tuna. Score 87/100
542548 Sancerre Les Baronnes 2002, France $25.95: Lovely lemon and lime notes in this sauvignon blanc would go perfectly with shellfish. Score 85/100
136523 Domaine des Malandes Chablis 2002, Burgundy, France $19.35: A lovely, lightly-oaked chardonnay, with ripe tree fruit aromas. Perfect for lobster in butter sauce. Score 84/100
589127 Cuvee Clemence Quancard 2002, Entre-Deux-Mers AOC, 12.5% Alcohol/Vol., Bordeaux, France $12.90: Terrific summer white that won't offend anyone, much like a pastel dress at a second wedding. Ripe fruit, balanced. Score: 83/100.
81463 Dopff & Irion Gewurztraminer 2002, 13.1% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1, Alsace, France $16.20: If you like the gewürztraminer style, you'll also like this wine. Lychee nuts and floral aromas make another appearance. Food matches: cold chicken, smoked salmon. Score: 82/100.
589085 Malesan 2002, William Pitters International, Bordeaux AOC, 12.0% Alcohol/Vol., $11.50: When they say "aged in oak" on the label, they're not kidding. This one was stewed in oak. But there are plenty of folks who like a good glass of wood, chateau two by four. Tastes more like chardonnay than the traditional white grape of Bordeaux, sauvignon blanc.
489278 Cline Zinfandel 2001, Cline Cellars 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1, California $15.35: Absolute masters at making great value, delicious zinfandels. Intense brambleberry and plum aromas. Not as heavily extracted and heavy as in past years, which makes this vintage wonderful. I've recommended this wine for three years in a row now. Food matches: hamburgers, spicy chicken. Score 88/100
301507 Wente Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Livermore Valley, California $14.95: Another balanced, food-friendly wine from this California producer. Ripe red fruit and a kiss of oak. Score: 86/100
627182 Grant Burge Barossa Merlot 2001, Grant Burge Wines, 13.5% Alcohol/Vol., South Australia, Australia $15.95: Bursting with aromas of red plums, berries and mocha. Some good acidity, which makes it even more food-friendly and less of a fruit bomb than some Aussie reds. Food matches: lamb or game. Score 87/100.
124594 Amity Vineyards Pinot Noir 2001, 12.5% Alcohol/Vol., Oregon, $17: Ripe raspberry and strawberry aromas, light-bodied with good acidity. Food matches: salmon or tuna, cold chicken, pate. Score 85/100
606335 Fetzer Zinfandel Shiraz 2003, 14.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1, California $13.10: Sweet plums and berries. Full-bodied and supple. Score: 84/100.
502039 Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, 14.1% Alcohol/Vol., South Australia, $18.95: Perfectly balanced and elegant, medium-bodied, with ripe dark fruit but not "fruit-forward." A gorgeous nose and a silky palate that won't overwhelm food. Food matches: stew, red meat. Score: 85/100.
550590 Sutter Home Syrah 2000, California $9.95: A simple wine for when you don't want to do calculus. An alcoholic bowl of berries and plums, but isn't that just what you want sometimes? Quite pleasant. (Says Shiraz in the LCBO database but Syrah on the bottle.) Score 83/100.
624494 Yalumba Y Series Shiraz 2001, 13.5% Alcohol/Vol., South Australia $13.95: What Cline is to zinfandel, Yalumba is to shiraz: a maker of great value, delicious wine that's not over-the-top. This one has ripe plums and mocha. If you've been a fan of Wolf Blass Yellow Label, try this. Food matches: who needs to eat? OK chicken of any sort other than really spicy, meats etc. Score: 86/100.
335174 Errazuriz Don Maximiano Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, 13.9% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content : 1, Chile $17.95: Pleasant, easy-drinking, balanced wine with black fruit and smoky notes. Food matches: roast beef, pepper steak. Score: 82/100.
482299 Lindemans Padthaway Reserve Shiraz 2002, 13.5% Alcohol/Vol., South Australia $13.95: An alcoholic bowl of berries and plums. Score: 83/100.
594176 Mondavi Woodbridge Syrah 2001, 13.4% Alcohol/Vol, California $13.95: Terrific price for this elegant, balanced syrah (another name for shiraz). Ripe plums, smoke and a long finish. Score: 87/100.
137810 Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 1997, 12.4% Alcohol/Vol., Rioja, Spain $17: Leather, oak and spice and everything nice about the Old World with some maturity. Score: 85/100.
630533 Deinhard Vintage Dornfelder/Pinot Noir 2001, 11.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1, Rhine Rheinhessen, Germany $11.40: Sweet cherry fruit, simple, medium-bodied, silky, spring afternoon wine when you want a break from heavy-sweater shiraz. Score: 82/100.
321539 Chapoutier Cote du Rhone Villages 2002, France, $14.95: Cedar and ripe plums. Score: 84/100.
259721 Guigal Cote du Rhone 2000, $17.15: An extraordinary ripe berry and cedar taste with that Old World finesse, but at a fraction of the cost. Score: 83/100
363457 Perrin Reserve 2001, Cote du Rhone $13.95: Excellent value, cedary, Old World style, ripe red fruit. Score: 86/100.
578757 Latour de France 2002, Cotes Roussillon Villages, 13.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1, Roussillon, France $9.95: No this isn't a fire sale of the first-growth Bordeaux but it's a darn great value. This lovely wine is cedary, plumy, medium-bodied. Score" 84/100.
99044 Chateau Bonnet 2000, 12.3% Alcohol/Vol., Bordeaux, France $16.30: Even petit chateaux made very good wine in the 2000 vintage. This one has classic Bordeaux aromas of leather, smoke and cassis. Some Old World finesse without the Old World inheritance required to buy it. Score: 84/100.
107276 Frescolbaldi Nipozzano Chianti Reserva 2000, 13.0% Alcohol/Vol., Tuscany, Italy $17.85: Black cherries, berries and mocha aromas. A slight tannic grip. Could age 2-3 years or decant now for 2 hours. Good acidity for tomato-based sauces and pasta dishes. Score: 84/100.
565762 DFJ Vinhos Pedras Do Monte Castelao 2000, 12.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1, Setubal, Portugal $9.25: A fantastic value. Delicious, happy wine bursting with ripe red fruit. Smooth texture. Terrific for parties. Score: 86/100.