Good Value Wines March 2006

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Sparkling Wine

2002 Sumac Ridge Steller's Jay Brut Okanagan, B.C. $24.99: A full-bodied and robust sparkler with lovely aromas of green apples and toast. Made using the classic champagne method with a blend of pinot blanc, pinot noir and chardonnay. Aged three years. Perfect for oysters and other shellfish. Score 88/100.

White Wines

2005 Rosemount Estate Traminer Riesling, Australia 244301 $12.10 11.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 3: A blend of gewürztraminer and riesling produces a lovely floral wine with citrus notes. Makes a wonderful aperitif on a warm spring afternoon on the deck, or drink it with seafood, salad or shellfish. Score: 85/100.

2005 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc 340208 $15.95 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: D California: Lovely aromas of ripe melons, citrus fruit and lemongrass. Not too herbal or green. Refreshing as an aperitif or drink it with seafood, chicken and salads. To be released in Vintages in June 2006. Score: 88/100.

2004 Mount Vernon Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $21.25: A delicious and refreshing SB, with classic herbal and grapefruit aromas. Perfect for salad, seafood and chicken. Available from the Opimian Society. Score: 88/100.

2004 Sumac Ridge White Meritage 434977 $11.60 British Columbia: A blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon from the Black Sage and Naramata vineyards. Luscious texture with rich, ripe apricots and apples and a smoky overlay. An incredible price. Tastes more like chardonnay. Drink with seafood and chicken. Score: 88/100.

2004 Fielding Estate Gewurztraminer Niagara $14: A lovely and evocative gewurz, with aromas of rose petals and lychee nuts. Medium-bodied. Perfect for Asian dishes. Available only from the winery at Score: 90/100.

2004 Hartenberg Estate Weisser Riesling South Africa $14.35: A zippy and vibrant riesling with ripe aromas of lemon and citrus zest. Perfact for seafood, shellfish and salads. Available from the Toronto wine agency Hobbs Wines, which has an excellent selection, at Score: 87/100.

Red Wines

2004 Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Shiraz Cabernet 214270 $13.20 14.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Australia VC: Ruby red color; raspberry and red currant aroma, with pepper and spice; sweet plum flavor; smooth finish. Serving suggestion: Grilled meats, prime rib or pepper steak. My note: Cabernet gives the wine structure and depth, while shiraz delivers the juicy goodness of ripe red fruit. Score: 87/100.

2003 Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz, Australia 572875 $19.95: A gorgeous wine for the money. Deep, rich and full-bodied with layers of black plums and raspberries. Aged 12 months in French and America oak. Drink with beef and other hearty meat dishes plus cheddar cheese. Score: 90/100.

2003 Casa Nueva Carmenere Chile $13.08: A lovely round and plummy carmenere, the grape that is a specialty for Chile. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Available from the Opimian Society. Score: 88/100.

2001 Casa Nueva Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Reserva Chile $17.25: A classic cabernet with aromas of cassis and blackcurrants. Rich, round and full-bodied. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Available from the Opimian Society. Score: 88/100.

2004 Vina Carmen Reserve Merlot 620690 $16.95 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 and 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 Beringer Stone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 606798 $13.90 California VC: Bright ruby color; full aroma of sweet dark fruit, chocolate, vanilla and cedar; dry palate with good acidity and a very fruity, rich, long finish, well balanced. Serving suggestion: Firm cheeses, grilled meat or roast pork with fruit sauce. My note: A simple, medium-bodied wine with bright red berries. Smooth and pleasing. About 40% of this wine was aged in barrel to round it out without imparting a heavy oaky flavor. Score: 87/100.

2003 Chateau St. Germain Calvet & Cie 152587 $13.95 Bordeaux, France VC: Deep ruby red color; black cherry, cranberry, mineral and dried herb aromas; dry, with a flavorful finish. Serving suggestion: Herbed crusted lamb, grilled veal or poultry. My note: Full-bodied and balanced with enticing aromas of chocolate, violets and blackberries. Delicious. A remarkable price for Bordeaux. Score: 87/100.

2002 Calvet Reserve 44032 $13.95 Bordeaux, France VC: Bright ruby/red; aromas and flavors are bursting with cassis, plummy fruit and earthy undertones; dry, med-bodied, with ripe fruit supported by moderate tannins, balanced acidity and a vanilla/oaky backbone; light coffee/smoke on finish; good length. Serving suggestion: Prime rib; venison; lamb dishes. My note: Solid, everyday claret with mouth-watering acidity and aromas of cherries. Simple with an Old World nose. Medium-bodied and balanced. Score: 86/100.

2004 Chateau de Treviac Corbieres 670505 $13.95 14.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Midi, France: I love this wine! It's bursting with ripe red cherries, plums and the scent of fresh cedar. The winemaker, Arnaud Sie, just 32, took over the family vineyard of 20 hectares on rocky limestone-clay soil in the south of France in 2000. The vineyards lie on an altitude of 200 to 350 meters above sea and are surrounded by garrigue (low-growing bushy plants such as juniper, rosemary, thyme and lavender that often infuse the grapes with their essences). This full-bodied wine is perfect for hearty meat dishes, sausages and spaghetti with meatballs. It's available both in the liquor store and from the Opimian Society. Score: 89/100.

2003 Mission Hill Five Vineyards Merlot V.Q.A. 496109 $15.95 British Columbia VC: Ruby red color; spicy red berry fruit with vanilla & leather notes; ripe fruit core, soft, supple oaky finish. Serving suggestion: Penne and meat sauce; spicy pizza; sausage. My note: Smooth, simple and plummy. Medium- to full-bodied. Score: 84/100.

2003 Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Red Meritage Grand Reserve Okanagan Valley, B.C. $24.99: Full-bodied and well-structured. Aromas of cassis and blackcurrant. A touch tannic so decant for a 1-2 hours. Available in BC and Alberta and from the winery at Score: 88/100.

2003 Nk'Mip Cellars Merlot Qwam Qwmt Okanagan Valley, B.C. $24.99: Gorgeous example of merlot with aromas of plums, black cherries and mocha. A fresh and long-lasting merlot. Available in BC and from the winery at Score: 90/100.

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)

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