Good Value Wines December 2006

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White Wine

2005 Tokaji Furmint dry (Puklus), Hungary product number = 608505, $12.95: Looking for something different? Try this exotic wine that's redolent of rose petals, green apples and citrus notes. Serve slightly chilled. Pair it with light curries and Asian dishes. Score: 87/100.

2004 Moselland Divinum Riesling Spatlese, Germany 619676, $11.95: Floral and citrus notes. Light- to medium-bodied. Wonderful. Drink with soft cheeses and seafood. Score: 88/100. Best Value White Wine

2006 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 293043, $14.95: Full-bodied with herbal, grapefruit, lime and gooseberry notes. Drink with salads, seafood and vegetarian dishes. Score: 88/100.

2006 Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 620062, $14.50: Aromas of lime zest and guava fruit. Refreshing and simple. Score: 87/100.

2006 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 426601, $16.15: Intensely aromatic with a long finish. One of the most consistently good, value-priced NZ SBs. Aromas of gooseberry and grass. Drink with chicken, pork, fish and salads. Score: 89/100. Favorite White Wine

2004 McWilliams Hanwood Estate Chardonnay, South East Australia $13.95: Nice oaky, round chard with buttery and apple notes. Drink with grilled salmon, lobster and corn dishes. Score: 87/100.

2005 Carmen Nativa Chardonnay, Chile 975219, $17.95: The organic wine has wonderful aromas of peaches, smoke and oak. Round and full-bodied. It drinks well with roast chicken. Score: 89/100.

2003 Tawse Chardonnay, Niagara, Ontario $42: Concentrated with incredible pear and peach fruit. An exotic nose and a long finish. Oaky but balanced. Great structure. Order from the winery: 905-562-9500. Score: 91/100.

Red Wine

2004 De Bortoli Deen Vat 8 Shiraz, Australia 621649, $15: Simple, delicious and full-bodied. Great quaffer for hamburgers and pizza. Aromas of ripe berry fruit. Score: 86/100.

2003 Matua Valley Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, New Zealand 610964, $15.95: Medium- to full-bodied with delicious plum and berry aromas. Sealed with a screwcap... yay! Score: 87/100.

2004 Sacred Hill Merlot, New Zealand 610980, $14.40: Vibrant acidity gives it a refreshing character and the ability to pair with tomato sauce, and other zesty dishes. Ripe aromas of red fruit. Layers of supple fruit and goodness. Yay for a screwcap. Drink with roasts and poultry. Score: 88/100.

2004 Ubuntu Shiraz, South Africa 665281, $10.95: Aromas of chocolate and plums. Full-bodied. Drink with a rich roast. Score: 88/100. Best Value Red Wine

2002 Sinai Hegyi Cabernet Sauvignon, Hungary 687160, $15.95: A well-balanced and delicious wine. Smooth and medium-bodied with dark red fruit aromas. Drink with roasts and meat dishes. Score: 87/100.

2004 Domaine de Champ de Cour Mommessin Moulin-a-Vent, Beaujolais, France 430876, $19.95: A lovely medium-bodied wine that's nothing like beaujolais nouveau. Ripe aromas of raspberries and plums. Drink with roasts, turkey and game meats. Score: 88/100.

2004 French Roots Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, France 665414, $13.90: An incredible price for a smooth, robust wine with dark fruit aromas, cedar and Old World essence. Drink with roast beef and lamb. Score: 88/100.

2003 Chateau Bonnet, Bordeaux, France 99044, $16.90: Notes of smoke, tar, oak and black fruit. Robust and brooding. Love it, especially for the price. Decant for 1-2 hours first. Drink with steak, stew or lamb. Score: 87/100.

2003 Secco Bertani Valpolicella, Italy 12443, $14.15: Medium-bodied with ripe red fruit aromas. Ideal for tomato in pasta sauce, pizza, and lasagna. Score: 87/100.

2005 Farnese Montepulciano Casale Vecchio, Italy 612788, $12.25: Notes of chocolate and dark plums. Delicious! Full-bodied and dry. Score: 89.5/100.

2003 Cantina di Negrar Amarone Della Valpoicella, Italy 44784, $28.95: Full-bodied but not over-extracted (not too much alcohol and flavor, etc). Ripe aromas of black fruit. Drink with game, roasts and hearty meat dishes. Score: 90/100. Favorite Red Wine

2004 Riscal Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain 620898, $11.60: Notes of dark plums and raspberries. Good acidity, which would make it ideal for pasta in tomato sauce, lasagna and sausage. Long finish. Incredible value. Score: 88/100.

2005 Peller Estates Reserve Cabernet Franc, Niagara, Ontario 128850, $18.99: A rich, balanced wine with black fruit aromas, smoke and oak. Drink with hard cheeses and lamb. Score: 88/100.

Dessert Wines and Liqueurs

Starbucks Cream Liqueur 20669, $29.95: Baileys to the extreme: richer and better made. Silky texture. Drink it on the rocks or slightly chilled and it'll be a white Christmas despite global warming. Score: 90/100.

Innsikillin Vidal Icewine, Okanagan, BC $45: A lush, opulent wine from the Plut Vineyard. Ripe tropical and peach notes. Score: 91/100.

2004 Peller Estate Private Reserve Vidal-Riesling-Ehrenfelser Icewine, Okanagan, BC $45: A honeyed dessert wine with notes of marmalade and lychee nuts. Not much acidity and therefore not as complex as the pure riesling-based icewines, but nonetheless delightful. Score: 90/100.

2005 Nk'Mip Cellars Riesling Icewine, Okanagan, BC $45: Honey and apricots with a luscious texture. Score: 90/100.

2004 Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine, Niagara, Ontario $55: Lovely aromas of apples, peaches and apricots. Score: 90/100.

2005 Jackson Triggs Riesling Icewine, Okanagan, BC $55: Aromas of honey, apples and pears. Rich and elegant. Drink with poached pears and blue cheese. Score: 91/100.

2005 Inniskillin Dark Horse Estate Vineyard Riesling, Okanagan, BC $55: Peaches, apricots and pears. Gorgeous with a fruit flan or biscotti. Score: 92/100.

2005 Jackson Triggs Sparkling Riesling Icewine, Okanagan, BC $65: Rich and sweet but gorgeously balanced. It's like two wines in one: dessert and bubbly. Ripe aromas of peach and mango. Drink with pate, fois gras and fruit desserts. Score: 93/100.

Nat Decants 100-Point Scale

95-100 Brilliant, Exceptional
90-94 Excellent, Superb
89.5 Hovering on the doorstep of excellence, better than very good
85-89 Very Good
80-84 Good (still worth buying and drinking)
79 and below Average to poor (I don't include these in the newsletter due to space constraints)

Favorite Wines: This isn't necessarily the wine with the highest score, as high scores go to the wines that best typify their region and style. Rather my favorite wines are just that: the ones that appeal to me most personally and to my own taste.

Best Value Wines: Not necessarily the cheapest wine, but the one that maximizes the price-quality ratio. (Although I don't always go by strict mathematical ratios on this either, but rather what seems to me to represent tremendous value.)

For more details on how I do my wine reviews and tips on how to find these wines click here. To find dishes to match these wines, click here.

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Copyright 2006 by Natalie MacLean. All rights reserved. Please ask permission of the author before copying or using this material.