Good Value Wines February 2006

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White Wines

2004 Goundrey Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 621631 $11.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. West Australia: Zesty aromas of grapefruit and cut grass, but not too herbal. No oak. Cool climate mouth-watering acidity that makes it a refreshing aperitif or an ideal partner to Caesar salad, seafood, shellfish and salmon. Terrific price. Score: 85/100.

2003 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay 468728 $15.10 12.8% Alcohol/Vol. South Australia VC: Medium straw; passion fruit and other tropical aromas overlaid with spicy, smoky oak; dry, crisp with peach and apple flavors, oaky finish. Serve with smoked turkey, lobster gratin. My note: I am impressed with how consistently good this producer is. Alluring aromas of peaches, butter and oak, yet balanced. Made from grapes grown in terra rosa (red) topsoil over limestone. Creamy and elegant. Score: 89/100. Best Value White Wine

2003 Santa Helena Reserve Chardonnay 554162 $14.70 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Central Valley, Chile: Simple, very oaky and buttery. Toasty aromas. Drink with chicken, lobster and corn. Score: 82/100.

2004 Gehringer Brothers Classic Riesling V.Q.A. 171488 $12.00 12.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 2 Okanagan Valley, British Columbia VC: Straw color; fresh lime and apple aromas with floral notes; off-dry with citrusy/apple flavors; citrusy-mandarin fruit in the finish. Serve with lobster or shrimp with coriander. My note: A soft and simple white with no perceptible acidity. Light-bodied and quaffable. Fragrant and floral. Score: 83/100.

2003 Malivoire Chardonnay Moira Vineyard, Niagara Peninsula $36: The best Canadian chard I've tasted so far. This is unctuous and opulent, with Old World finesse and New World power. Available from the winery only. Score: 90/100. Favorite White Wine

Red Wines

2003 Peter Lehmann Barossa Cabernet Merlot 621615 $15.95 14.3% Alcohol/Vol. Australia VC: Deep ruby red color; aromas of sweet mixed berry compote and vanilla; dry, full bodied, moderate tannins, flavors of dark fruit with a hint of herbs on finish. Serving Suggestion: Rare beef or lamb. My note: Terrific richness and layers of dark berry flavors. Barossa is a cool climate in Australia so the wine has a lovely balancing acidity. The bonus is that it's closed with the screwcap. Pair this robust wine with roast chicken. Score: 90/100. Best Value Red Wine

2003 Carmen Grande Vidure Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 439166 $17 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Maipo Valley, Chile VC: Deep purple ruby color with violet hue; intense nose of cassis, licorice, violets, smoky oak, green pepper and herbs with toasty notes; dry. Match with: leg of lamb, roast or grilled beef, burgers, or a firm, hearty cheese. My note: This wine spent 10 months in French and American oak and another six months aging in the bottle before being released. This medium- to full-bodied wine has rich aromas of ripe red fruit and berries with supple tannins. Score: 87/100.

2003 Vina Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 358309 $16.95 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Maipo Valley, Chile VC: Deep red/violet color; aromas of plum, black cherry fruit, leather, vanilla with hints of cedar, smoke & coffee; dry, well balanced, with moderate tannins, ripe blackcurrant, blackberry & mint flavors; long sweet berry fruit finish. Pair with lamb, roast duck and other rich poultry dishes. My note: A little lighter than its cousin wine above, but still medium- to full-bodied. Aromas of blackberries and plums. Juicy, mouth-watering goodness. Score: 85/100.

2004 Vina Carmen Reserve Merlot 620690 $16.95 14.7% Alcohol/Vol. Casablanca Valley, Chile VC: Deep ruby red color; aromas of cherry, oak with earthy notes; dry, medium bodied, with ripe fruit flavors and notes of almond, coffee and plum. Pair with steak with fried mushrooms or lamb. My note: Rich aromas of plums and prunes. Almost jammy and purply in its richness. Plush in texture. This wine spent 10 months in French and American oak. Score: 84/100.

2003 Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 390872 $30.10 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 McLaren Vale, Australia VC: Deep ruby red color; huge sweet, spicy, smoky, blackberry, chocolate/coffee aromas; dry, rich, jammy/minty, black cherry compote fruit flavors, soft balanced ripe fruit tannins; long finish. Pair it with pepper steak, rosemary roasted lamb, BBQ meats, tandoori chicken or Cajun fare. My note: Seriously good wine. These folks are making extraordinary bottles at the high end that are worth every penny. This full-bodied wine was aged in French and American oak for 18 months. It is opulent, plush and has layers of rich dark fruit aromas. Score: 90/100.

2004 Amity Vineyards Pinot Noir 124594 $24.95 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Willamette Valley, Oregon VC: Pale ruby/garnet; light cranberry, strawberry aromas and flavor with a hint of cinnamon and an earthy note in the finish; dry and light-medium bodied with good acidity, soft tannins, moderate length. Drink with grilled salmon or tuna; game birds; mushroom dishes. My note: Aromas of black cherries and sweet fruit. Lively mouth-watering acidity. This wine spent 11 months in neutral (meaning used so much it doesn't impart oaky flavors) French oak. The grapes were grown on hillside vines. Score: 87/100.

2003 Rancho Zabacho Dancing Bull Zinfandel E. & J. Gallo Winery669499 $13.95 14.2% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Lodi, California: Purply and juicy with black cherries and raspberries. Simple and delicious. Drink with BBQ steaks. Score: 85/100.

2003 Baron Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (K/P) 898692 $38.50 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. VC Alexander Valley, California: This is a Kosher product. Opaque ruby color. Cedar and cassis and very ripe fruit aromas with a hint of mint. Full-bodied with a silky mouth-feel. Some tannins in the long finish. Serve with red meats, grilled lamb chops or ripe cheese. My note: A brilliantly balanced wine with lovely structure. Aged 18 months in new American oak and unfiltered. Classic aromas of blackberry and cassis. Score: 90/100.

2003 Eshkol Shiraz 699108 $20.40 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. South Africa VC: Deep ruby color; aromas of earth, cooked berry and leather; dry, medium bodied, soft textured on palate. This is a Kosher product. Serve with Kosher deli. My note: Aged 70% in American oak and 30% in French oak. Lovely aromas of chocolate and toast. A simple, delicious wine. Score: 84/100.

2003 Montalto Nero d'Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 621151 $8.95 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Sicily, Italy: Aromas of mocha, cherries and oak. Mouth-watering and full-bodied. Pair with grilled meat, roast tomato dishes and tomato-sauce pasta. Score: 86/100.

2003 Pasqua Nero d'Avola Sicilia 565952 $10.00 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Sicily, Italy VC: Ruby red color; earthy, herbal, plumy fruit; ripe, jammy fruit, forward style; round, smooth finish. Full-flavored pasta or Cajun catfish. My note: Leather and smoke, very enticing nose. Old World style. Score: 88/100.

2002 Le Roselle Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore Cantine di Negrar 620831 $13.95 13.1% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Veneto, Italy VC: Dark ruby red color; aromas of vanilla, black berry, black licorice and mint; dry, balanced structure, with rich berry fruit centre and a long finish. Pair with mousaka and meat dishes, especially those with tomato sauce. My note: Full-bodied and rich. Good bones/structure. Intense aromas of red berries and a lovely spice. Score: 86/100.

2004 Feudo Aranci Syrah 621730 $11.95 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Sicily, Italy VC: Medium ruby red color; complex aromas of bramble and black berry, chocolate and anise; dry, sweet fruit centre, well balanced, with a medium long finish. Drink with BBQ strip loin, empanadas and medium cheese. My note: Ripe red fruit and mocha notes. Simple and full-bodied. Score: 82/100.

2004 Caves des Papes Heritage Cotes-du-Rhone 535849 $15.20 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Rhone, France VC: Medium ruby garnet color; raspberry, tobacco leaf, plum and vanillin aromas and flavors. Soft and dry. Drink with stuffed peppers or eggplant; burgers; rack of lamb. My note: Simple, rustic and medium-bodied. A touch tannic. Aromas of cherries and cedar. A blend of grenache and syrah grapes. Score: 84/100.

2002 Campo Viejo Reserva 137810 $17.95 13% Alcohol/Vol. Rioja, Spain VC: Medium red violet; aromas of vanilla, sweet spice and red cherries; dry, medium bodied, with cherry fruit flavors and cedar wood notes; a well balanced structure. Try with cheese, light red meats, poultry such as chicken breast stuffed with spinach, herb and feta cheese. My note: Mature aromas of leather and spice. A juicy wine with stewed red fruit. Medium-bodied. Score: 86/100.

2000 Campo Viejo Crianza 620997 $13.95 13% Alcohol/Vol. Rioja, Spain: Full-bodied and hot with deep aromas of leather, smoke and a juicy, mouth-watering acidity that will make it ideal for roasts and steak. Old World structure. Score: 85/100.

2003 Messias Selection Douro Red 620815 $9.10 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Portugal VC: Medium red color; aromas of blueberry, leather with earth notes; dry, quite forward fruit, well rounded on palate, with moderate tannins, good acid balance; easy-drinking style. Try with barbecue fare. My note: This colheita (meaning wine from a single vineyard) is simple and rustic yet delicious. It's a touch tannic so give it some breathing time as it doesn't really have the structure to age for years and smooth out. Good balance and medium-body. It was made from grapes grown on hillsides and the wine was not filtered. Score: 84/100.

2002 J.P. Vinhos Tinto Da Anfora 227256 $12.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Alentejo, Portugal VC: Ruby red with purple hues; cassis, anise, spice and red fruit on the nose; cassis, tar, spice and ripe berry fruit flavors; medium-bodied; medium finish. Pair with burgers, grilled steak or vegetable ragout. My note: A simple, rustic wine made from a blend of five grapes. This wine spent 12 months in oak. It has an Old World style, meaning that the fruit doesn't dominate, but rather aromas of leather and earthiness. Score: 82/100.

2003 Tsantali Mount Athos Grenache/Limnio 598987 $8.90 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Macedonia, Greece VC: Deep ruby/violet; aromas and flavors of leather, plum, tar and sour cherry; xdry, with crisp acidity and dusty tannins. Pair with BBQ meats; mousaka; picnic fare. My note: Aromas of red berries. Medium-bodied and a touch tannic. Made in the monastic community of Mount Athos. Drink with rare steak. Score: 83/100.

2003 Malivoire Gamay, Niagara Peninsula $25: Takes gamay to a new level. This one is rich, balanced and medium-bodied. Aromas of plums and raspberries. Pair it with prime rib or t-bone steak. Available from the winery only. Score: 88/100.

2002 Thomas & Vaughn Cabernet Franc VQA, Niagara Peninsula $15: Spicy, dark red fruit, cloves and cedar. Full-bodied and mouth-watering. Available from the winery only. Score: 88/100.

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