April Vintages Release 2004
By Natalie MacLean
White Wines: April 3
957399 OLD VINES CHARDONNAY 2000 $23.95, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Angels Gate Winery: Just opened in June 2002 and already making wonderfully concentrated wines. This bog, bold, buttery chardonnay has spicy ripe pears folded in a warm oak embrace. Score: 92/100.
286377 RIESLING RESERVE 2002 $15.95 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Cave Spring Cellars: Vibrant acidity makes this a great wine for many dishes such as cream sauces and seafood. Lovely floral and ripe melon notes. Score: 89/100
580134 VIDAL ICEWINE 2001 $29.95, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 375 mL half bottle, Birchwood Estate Wines: This lovely dessert wine has citrus and toffee aromas and a rich, luscious palate. Score 91/100
403188 'ALLUVIUM BLANC' 2000 $29.95 Knights Valley, Beringer Vineyards, California: Fascinating and exotic fig, lychee and butter aromas. Score 93/100.
994459 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2001 $22.95 'Limited Selection', Santa Ynez Valley, The Gainey Vineyard, California: Here's the strange thing: this is my favourite white wine, but I love it for being a chardonnay, or perhaps I should say a sauvignon blanc in drag. It has a marvelous balance and concentration of ripe fruit, especially that gorgeous spicy pear, with a several kisses of oak. Score: 94/100. Favourite White Wine
954701 LATE HARVEST MUSCAT 2003 $14.95 'Lily Farm', Barossa Valley, South Australia, Grant Burge Wines: Very pleasant after-dinner sipper on its own (slightly sweet) or with a fruit flan or not-too-sweet dessert. Score 89/100.
328559 CHARDONNAY 2002 $12.95 'Cathedral Cellar', WO Coastal Region, South Africa: An amazing value for this rich, full-bodied chard that's not too oaky. Has lemon, nuts and toffee aromas. Score: 89/100.
996025 CHARDONNAY RESERVA 2001 $15.95 Mendoza, '1067 Metres', Bodega Terrazas de Los Andes, Argentina: Another great value for a buttery, full-bodied, oaky chard. Score 89/100.
119222 SAUVIGNON 2002 $10.95 VDQS Haut-Poitou, S.A. Cave du Haut-Poitou, France: A staggering value, especially if you buy it by the case, which I advise for all those summer parties you have planned. Grassy and herbal like a refreshing New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Score: 87/100. Best Value White
711176 VOUVRAY SEC 1998 $18.95 AC, Domaine du Viking, Gauthier-Lhomme, Loire Valley, France: Mouth-watering and exotically different from most whites. This chenin blanc has lovely melon and honey aromas and would pair well with many dishes such as game, chicken and pasta with veggies. Score: 89/100.
599274 'DR. L' RIESLING 2002 $12.95 QbA Weingut Dr. Loosen, Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: Another great value for one of the world's most food-friendly of wines: riesling, ah, lovely riesling. Let me count the dishes that you pair with. Nice balance between sweetness and acidity. Score: 87/100.
924621 RIESLING KABINETT 2002 $21.95 QmP, Scharzhofberg, Gutsabfüllung, Weingut von Hövel, Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: Gotta love these indecipherable labels (at least to anglos): they're like cloaking devices that hide the good stuff from all the other folks. Gorgeous wine with intoxicating floral and mineral notes. Score: 94/100.
927756 RIESLING KABINETT 2002 $19.95 QmP, Ürziger Würzgarten, Erzeugerabfüllung, Weingut Dr. Loosen, Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: Lovely balance between sweetness and acidity with green apple, pear and floral aromas. Score: 90/100.
701557 RIESLING KABINETT 2001 $19.95 QmP, Eitelsbacher Marienholz, Erzeugerabfüllung, Bischöflichen Weingüter, Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: More lovely citrus and floral notes. Score: 92/100.
995985 RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2002 $22.95 QmP, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Gusabfüllung, Weingut Studert-Prüm, Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: One of my favourite German reislings that I recommend year after year. Exotic pear, lychee and apple notes. Score: 95/100.
927749 RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2001 $15.95 Qmp, Lieserer Schlossberg, Erzeugerabfüllung, Porta Nigra, Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: A finish as long as the Rhine. Concentrated tree fruit. Score: 91/100.
928861 RIESLING KABINETT 2001 $21.95 Erbacher Marcobrunn, Gutsabfüllung, Weingut Schloss Schönborn, Germany, Rheingau: A delicate floral riesling, milder and more subtle than the others. Lovely for sipping and thinking about which riesling you want to drink next. Score: 91/100.
Red Wines: April 3
919571 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $22.95 'The Black Swamp', Currency Creek, South Australia, Currency Creek Estate Wines: Gorgeous, juicy, mouth-watering red with mocha and ripe plums. Score 90/100
995456 CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 1998 $49.95 Coonawarra, South Australia, Burton Premium Wines: Yep, it's pricey but worth it if you want to splurge. Happy days are here again! Deep brooding ripe blackberries and black plums. Score: 94/100
738203 SHIRAZ 2000 $17.95 Reserve Selection, Western Australia, Goundrey Wines: Delicious wine with spicy, peppery notes and ripe red fruit. Score 89/100.
723890 'THE STEADING' 2001 $41.95 Barossa Valley, South Australia, Torbreck Vintners: Exotic nose, good acidity, great balance and a long finish. Score 90/100.
561142 SHIRAZ 2000 $16.95 'Cathedral Cellar', WO Western Cape, South Africa: Wonderful aromas of leather, red fruit and oak. Spent two years in French and American oak. Will age 2-4 years but you can drink now. Score: 90/100.
712224 BEAUNE 1ER CRU 2001 $59.95 AC, 'Champs Pimont', Domaine Jacques Prieur, Burgundy: Here's a wine to line up for early Saturday morning... and a wine to drink late that same night. Perfect Old World style pinot noir with ripe cherries, earthy goodness and wild mushrooms. Score: 96/100. Favourite Red Wine
707869 GAMAY 2002 $11.95 VDQS Haut-Poitou, S.A. Cave du Haut-Poitou, France: Marvelous, simple country wine. Ideal for picnics and big parties. Peppery with ripe red fruit. Score 84/100. Best Value Red Wine
956359 'ORATORIO' 2000 $35.95, AC Gigondas, Caves des Papes, Rhone Valley, France: Awesome! Rich, bursting with ripe red fruit and cedary notes, some grip. Age 2-3 years for best results. Score: 93/100.
976092 'BROLO DI CAMPOFIORIN' 1998 $29.95 IGT Rosso del Veronese, Masi, Veneto, Italy: According to the Vintages catalogue: 'Brolo' is the Italian equivalent of the French word 'clos', meaning walled vineyard. 'Brolo di Campofiorin' is a special selection of Masi's famous Campofiorin. Mine: this wine has lovely ripe cherries and mocha notes. Score: 90/100.
994368 CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 1997 $25.95 'Pago', DO Penedès, Jean León, S.L., Spain: Very modern style with clean ripe red fruit, juicy. Score: 89/100.
368290 'MÓSEN CLETO' CRIANZA 1998 $10.95 DO Campo de Borja, Bodegas Aragonesas, S.A., Spain: Amazing value! Delicious, ripe fruit. You'll recognize the bottle with its "instant old" look of cellar dust. You don't have to pay extra for it. Score: 88/100.
733758 SYRAH 2001 $17.95 Cline Cellars, California: Part of the Vintages Essentials stock which means it's usually in selected LCBO stores year-round and widely available elsewhere (so you don't have to line up Saturday morning to get this one). Terrific dark concentrated fruit. Score: 89/100.
White Wines: April 17
927541 'WOODCUTTER'S WHITE' SEMILLION 2002 $19.95 Barossa Valley, South Australia, Torbreck Vintners: Exotic and alluring lanolin, lemon and lime aromas. Plush baby. Score: 88/100.
926444 CHÂTEAU ROUMIEU 2001 $21.95 AC Sauternes, Catherine Craveia-Goyaud, Prop., Bordeaux, France: Vintages catalogue: Roumieu occupies a privileged geographical situation in Sauternes because it lies within the noble clay-limestone lands of Barsac. This microclimate gives the wines a distinct personality not found in other Barsac-based wines of the region. Mine: Gorgeous sweet wine for foie gras.
Red Wines: April 17
925727 PINOT NOIR 2001 $37.95 Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Belle Glos, California: Silky cherries, rich and complex. No California fruit bomb, this. A pleasantly long finish. Score: 88/100.
980631 'FAITH' SHIRAZ 2001 $22.95 Barossa Valley, South Australia, St. Hallett Wines: Berry smooth, velvet actually. Jammy, plumy, yummy. Score: 89/100.
928309 MERLOT RESERVE 2001 $15.95 'Albamar', Casablanca Valley, Estate Bottled, William Cole Vineyards, Chile: Kenny G wine: smooth like a saxophone, with surprising notes occasionally. Rich plums. Score: 88/100.
704486 'ONYX' SHIRAZ 2000 $17.95 WO Groenekloof, Darling Cellars, South Africa: Dark red fruit, spice notes and a kiss of oak. Lovely. Score: 91/100.
978270 POMMARD 1999 $49.95 AC, 'Les Vignots', Domaine & SARL Vincent Girardin, Burgundy: Another wine to set the alarm clock for. Good attack (balanced acidity for food). Deep rich fruit. Age it 4-6 years, or 4-6 hours in a decanter if you simply can't wait. Score: 91/100.
910695 'TERRASSES DE GUILHEM' 2002 $11.95 Vin de Pays de l'Hérault, S.A.S. Moulin de Gassac, Midi, France: The bargain hunters have to happy with this release. Squirrel it away now. Not much on the nose here but a delightful quaffing wine for the barbecue. Score: 83/100.
927954 CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE 2002 $13.95 AC Château des Quatre Filles, Rhone Valley, France: Then again for two bucks more you get a lot more: lovely cedar and ripe red fruit aromas for this organic wine. Medium-bodied. Score: 89/100.
963702 KÉKFRANKOS 2002 $13.95 Villányi, Tamás Gere & Zsolt, Hungary: Another great value. Peppery and simple. Ideal for barbecue meats. Score: 87/100.
985804 AMARONE 1997 $64.95 della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Ca' de Loi, Boscaini, Umbria, Italy: One of my favourite all-time amarones. It's a whopper: hot, heavy and alcoholic but loaded with flavour and depth. Score: 92/100.
940965 'BERONIA' GRAN RESERVA 1994 $32.95 DOC Rioja, Bodegas Beronia, S.A., Spain: A grand old wine with leather and cigar box aromas, dried red fruit. Score: 93/100.