Vintages Release April 2005

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April 2: Sparkling Wines

592956 CHANDON RICHE $24.95 California (MD = medium dry): Lovely ripe fruit, crisp and toasty, yet the faintest touch of sweetness makes it even more delicious. Perfect for cold and roast chicken, shellfish, seafood and salads. Score: 87/100.

April 2: White Wines

981225 'VERSE 1' SEMILLON/SAUVIGNON 2004 $19.95 Margaret River, Western Australia (XD = extra dry) Brookland Valley Vineyard: Vintages catalogue (VC): A full-size bronze statue of the Greek god Pan stands amidst the vineyards at Brookland Valley. Farmers worshiped him in ancient times as the god of fertility but he was also closely associated with 'the good life'. One sip of this fresh, flavorful, food-friendly white makes it clear that Pan is adept at multi-tasking. My note: A herbal, mouth-watering white that would be perfect with seafood, salads and cream-sauce pasta and chicken. Drink now. Score: 90/100.

734095 CLIFFORD BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004 $16.95 Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (XD): Terrific value! Mouth-watering and refreshing with zippy acidity. Aromas of grapefruit and other citrus fruit. Drink with salads, shellfish and snappish dinner guests. Drink now. Score: 89/100.

933424 MULDERBOSCH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004 $19.95 WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (XD) Mulderbosch: One of my favorite SBs from South Africa. This one is refreshing, with racy herbal notes. Food match: salads, shellfish, seafood. Drink now. Score: 89/100.

977306 'BRAMPTON' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004 $13.95 WO Western Cape, South Africa (D) Rustenberg Wines: Simple and refreshing. Excellent value. Drink now. Score: 86/100. Best Value White Wine

WO Constantia, South Africa (D) Groot Constantia: Simple and refreshing. Did I already say that? Excellent value. Drink now. Score: 86/100.

680637 DOMAINE DE RÉGUSSE VIOGNIER 2003 $13.95 Vin de Pays, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France (D): VC: Classic viognier with vibrant aromas and flavors of floral, peach and spice tones. The ripe acids make this into one incredibly refreshing wine. Food match: spiced shrimp dishes, rich seafood. Drink now. My score: 85/100.

596601 DR. PAULY-BERGWEILER RIESLING 2003 $14.95 QbA, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany Est. Btld. (MD) VC: A lively, elegant, off-dry Riesling with classic mineral, honey and peach aromas. It is light-bodied, making it an excellent aperitif wine or one to be enjoyed with lightly spiced seafood dishes. The fresh finish is quite lengthy. My note: One of the best food wines available, marries well with chicken, pasta and meats. Drink now. Score: 89/100.

642447 VON SIMMERN RIESLING 2002 $17.95 QbA Rheingau, Germany (MD) Langwerth von Simmern: Gorgeous rich aromas of peach, apricot and honey. Just a touch of sweetness means that it marries well with spicy and Asian dishes as well as food with a touch of sweetness, such as glazed ham. Remember you aren't less evolved if you like slightly sweet wines. (Most folks talk dry, but drink sweet anyway.) Drink now. Score: 90/100. Favorite White Wine

April 2: Red Wines

733758 CLINE SYRAH $17.95 California (D = dry): Dark fruit, leather and smoky oak. Full-bodied. Drink with pepper steak, barbecued meats and Brad Pitt if you can wrench him away from Angelina. Cad. Score: 87/100.

359257 RAVENSWOOD ZINFANDEL $19.95 'Vintners Blend', California (D): Juicy, mouth-watering red with ripe berries and spice. Full-bodied. Food match: steak, pizza, sausage. Drink now. Score: 87/100.

284653 ROSENBLUM ZINFANDEL $19.95 California (D): More zin, zin, zin! Black raspberries with a racy spiciness. Yum. Food matches: pepper steak, hamburgers. Drink now. Score: 88/100.

308999 CA' DEL SOLO BIG HOUSE RED 2002 $18.95 California (D) Bonny Doon Vineyard: A beautifully balanced wine that will marry with a wide variety of dishes, from simply roast chicken to pasta and steak. Medium to full-bodied. Drink now. Score: 87/100.

976423 ELDERTON CSM 2000 $36.95 Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot, Barossa Valley, South Australia (D): Full-bodied, rich and juicy with ripe blackberries and currants. Lip-smacking great. Food match: steak, hamburgers. Drink 2005-2009. Score: 89/100.

650887 WAYNE THOMAS PETIT VERDOT 2003 $35.95 McLaren Vale, South Australia (D): A lovely example of how delicious wine from this grape can be. Full-bodied with dark ripe fruit and spice. Drink 2005-2010. Food match: steak, stew. Score: 88/100.

467944 'ALAMOS' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003 $13.95 Mendoza, Argentina (XD) Bodega Catena Zapata: One of the country's best producers of consistently well-made wines at great prices. This one is big and oaky and needs heart-flavored food, such as steak, stew and casserole. Drink now. Score: 84/100.

595298 'ALBAMAR' GRAND RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $16.95 Colchagua Valley, Chile (XD) William Cole Vineyard: Terrific medium to full-bodied red that's easy-drinking and supple with dark red fruit. Drink between 9:30 am and noon on April 3. (OK, you can wait until the evening.) Score: 87/100.

590521 COLLIN-BOURISSET 'LES TERRES BLEUES' CÔTE DE BROUILLY 2003 $18.95 Beaujolais, France AC (D): VC: The wine is called 'Les Terres Bleues' (the blue land) because the vineyard, located on the steep slopes of Mount Brouilly, is planted on volcanic stone that is tinged with blue. The soil helps to give the wine a richness not found in other parts of Côte de Brouilly. My note: A lovely light-bodied wine with bright cherries that would be perfect with salmon, pate, cold meats and roast chicken. Score: 86/100.

654590 CHÂTEAU DES ERLES 2002 $49.95 AC Fitou, France (D) Jacques & François Lurton: Pricey but worth it! A stunning wine of incredible depth and richness. Black plums and spice. Food match: Roasts and stews. Drink 2006-2010. Score: 93/100. Favorite Red Wine

654558 DOMAINE DU MINISTRE 2001 $15.95 AC Saint-Chinian, France (D) Jacques & François Lurton: VC: Grown on clay and limestone in the foothills of the Black Mountains, these grapes benefit from a cooler climate than is found in the other Midi regions. Though the wine is plentifully fruity, the acids and tannins play an important role, creating balance and structure. My note: spicy red fruit and pepper notes. Perfect with tomato-sauce pasta, sausage and pizza. Score: 88/100.

992800 MAS JANEIL 2001 $15.95 AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France (D) Jacques & François Lurton: Dark berries and spice. Food match: pepper steak, grilled meat. Score: 88/100.

919068 'EPICUREA' DE CHÂTEAU MARTINAT 2002 $34.95 AC Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux, France (XD): VC: Epicurea is Château Martinat's flagship wine. It is made from fruit sourced from their oldest vineyards. The wines are matured separately and then blended together. It is an unusual blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Malbec that is matured in new French oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered. My note: Gorgeous aromas of mocha and leather. Rich and round, like Enron executives used to be. Drink 2007-2012. Score: 88/100.

680736 LES GONDATS DE MARQUIS-DE-TERME 2000 $39.95 AC Margaux, Bordeaux Second Wine of Château Marquis-de-Terme (XD): Classic Old World styling and finesse. A beautifully balanced wine that's a touch tannic and needs aging. Drink 2007-2010. Score: 89/100.

651661 'LES COURS DES PAPES' CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2000 $37.95 AC Rhone Valley, France (D) Les Grandes Serres: VC: This wine's grenache-dominated aromas suggest spice, berry, cherry jam, leather and chicory. It is warm and opulent with a medium full-body and a long, lingering finish. Food match: grilled steak. My score: 90/100.

592618 GIACOSA BUSSIA BARBERA D'ALBA 2001 $16.95 Piedmont, Italy DOC (XD): A juicy full-bodied wine with aromas of smoke, leather and ripe cherries. Perfect for a wide range of dishes, from tomato-sauce pasta and pizza to veal and chicken. Score: 89/100.

April 2: Fortified and Dessert Wines

738948 'MASTER OF PORT' SPECIAL RESERVE TAWNY PORT $17.95 (S = sweet) Osborne & Ca., Portugal: VC: In 1988, Osborne created an award called the 'Osborne Master of Port'. It was to be given to the sommelier who exhibited the greatest knowledge of Port. They have since crafted this delicious aged Tawny Port as a tribute to the spirit of that competition. Food match: berry cheesecake, fruit flan. My note: An unbelievable value and one to stock as your house after-dinner drink. My score: 90/100.

April 16: White Wines

650911 CRANEFORD CHARDONNAY 2002 $15.95 Adelaide Hills, South Australia (D): Lovely chard at a great price. Full-bodied but balanced... not too oaky or heavy. Score: 87/100.

651356 'STARVEDOG LANE' CHARDONNAY 2001 $25.95 Adelaide Hills, South Australia (D): Enticing aromas of grapefruit and citrus fruit. Balanced and full-bodied. Terrific with simple chicken and pasta dishes. Score: 88/100.

925420 WITHER HILLS CHARDONNAY 2002 $24.95 Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (XD): This should be in the Chicken Hall of Fame (for wine matches). I've recommended this wine for several vintages now, so I guess that makes it a consistently good producer. Full-bodied with spicy balance. Drink now. Score: 88/100.

303628 SANTA RITA 'MEDALLA REAL' CHARDONNAY 2003 $16.95 Casablanca Valley, Chile (D): An oaky, buttery chard that would be great with lobster in a butter sauce or a corn dish. Score: 85/100.

709790 MARTIN STEIMER GEWURZTRAMINER 2002 $16.95 AC Alsace, France (D): VC: Classic, intense Gewurz aromas and flavors including honey, lychee, dried apricot and paraffin. It is dry, ripe, round, plush and very full-bodied. Food match: rich seafood dishes. My note: great example of this aromatic wine, which would also drink well with Asian dishes. My score: 88/100.

680660 LOUIS BERNARD SAINT-PÉRAY 2002 $17.95 AC Rhone Valley, France (XD): Rhone whites are still an area where you can get some excellent values. This one has enticing spicy pear notes which would be divine with pasta and chicken. Score: 88/100.

653535 SCHÖNBORN RIESLING 2003 $15.95 QbA, Estate Rheingau, Germany (D): A magnificent white with refreshing acidity and gorgeous peach aromas. Would complement a wide range of dishes, such as seafood, shellfish, salads, simple chicken and pasta. Please send this one for my birthday. Score: 89/100.

April 16: Red Wines

593657 'MOCULTA' CABERNET MERLOT 2001 $19.95 Barossa Valley, South Australia (XD): VC: Moculta's name is inspired by a nearby village. The wines are renowned for their ready-to-drink, fruit-flavored goodness. Food match: rich meat pasta sauce, Irish stew. My note: Good mouth-watering acidity that needs food. Rich dark fruit. My score: 88/100.

590380 D'ARENBERG 'THE BONSAI VINE' GRENACHE/SHRAZ/MOURVEDRE 2001 $25.95 McLaren Vale, South Australia (XD): VC: D'Arenberg grows the grapes for this blend of old vines Mourvedre and Syrah atop a wind swept hill. Each vine is grown in the 'bush vine' method, meaning each plant grows alone without trellising. The gnarled and twisted trunks look like 'bigature' bonsai plants, thus this wine's name. My note: A more reasonably priced wine than the other offered from this winery in this release. This one has lovely ripe plum and cassis aromas. It would be wonderful with a steak or roast. My score: 87/100.

693879 'VERSE 1' SHIRAZ 2002 $22.95 Margaret River, Western Australia (XD) Brookland Valley Vineyard: For those who like a big, ripe, juicy shiraz, this is it! You'll need a fork to drink it. Score: 89/100.

987453 GRANT BURGE 'FILSELL' OLD VINE SHIRAZ 2001 $27.95 Barossa, South Australia (XD): VC: The grapes for this wine come from 80 year old vines in Filsell's Vineyard located within the Lyndoch Valley. My note: A fine spicy character with a backbone that stands and delivers the flavor to your palate. My score: 89/100.

594903 SEPPELT 'CHALAMBAR' SHIRAZ 2000 $24.95 Victoria, Australia (XD): A very pleasant, full-bodied shiraz with ripe blackberry aromas. Score: 89/100.

677112 CURRENCY CREEK 'OSTRICH HILL' SHIRAZ 2002 $22.95 South Australia (XD): Juicy wine with mouth-watering acidity that needs food. Try matching the rich dark fruit in this with steak, stew or roasts. Score: 88/100.

651521 GLEN CARLOU 'GRAND CLASSIQUE' 2001 $21.95 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, WO Paarl, South Africa (XD) Walter and David Finlayson: Yummy mocha aromas and finish. A warm, embracing wine with a full-bodied, deep-throated finish. Drink 2006-09. Score: 88/100.

640490 ALTOS LAS HORMIGAS MALBEC 2002 $13.95 Mendoza, Argentina (XD): If you're looking for wines of exceptional value to stretch your wine budget, look at Argentine malbec. It's not Napa and it's not cabernet... that's why it's not $30. This one has aromas of dark berries and spice. A slight tannic touch on the palate. Score: 84/100.

375790 SANTA RITA MERLOT RESERVA 2003 $12.95 Maipo Valley, Chile (XD): A hit out of the park for value. Rich, dark fruit. A touch tannic. Drink 2006-08. Score: 88/100. Best Value Red Wine

651133 CHÂTEAU CLOS DE LA TOUR RÉSERVE DU CHÂTEAU 2002 $12.95 AC Bordeaux Supérieur, France (XD) 375 mL (half bottle): VC: Château de la Tour is a history book in itself. There is a ruined castle which gives the winery its name on the property. In the late 13th century, Bertrand de Got, Archbishop of Bordeaux and lover of fine wine, owned the estate. He would go on to become Pope Clement V. My note: I'm going to stock on this wine big time. It's superb, fantastic value, especially for Bordeaux and comes in the half bottle size so I don't have to feel guilty about not finishing a whole bottle on a weeknight when I'm alone and feeling sorry for myself. Rich dark fruit, elegant and balanced. I suggest you decant for an hour or two if you drink so it'll smooth out. Drink 2005-2009. My score: 88/100.

641712 DOMAINE WARDY 'LES TERROIRS' ROUGE 2001 $11.95 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon (XD) Domaine Wardy: VC: This wine is a unique blend of Cabernet Franc, Cinsault and the little known grapes Marselan (a man-made cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache) and Arinarnoa (a cross between Merlot and Petit Verdot). Enjoy it with lamb dishes. My note: Simple, easy-drinking red that's medium to full-bodied. Score: 85/100.

680520 MEZZACORONA MARZEMINO 2003 $12.95 DOC Trentino, Italy (D): VC: Marzemino is another of those little-known Italian varieties with a long history at home that is deserving of much more attention worldwide. It creates wines that are deeply colored, exhibiting lively fruit aromas and flavors. Mozart wrote of the grape's virtues in his opera Don Giovanni: "Versa il vino. Eccelente Marzimino!" My note: Very simple, easy-drinking red with dark fruit. Great with tomato sauce pasta and pizza. Score: 84/100.

592899 CASTELLO DI NEIVE 'MATTARELLO' BARBERA D'ALBA 2000 $21.95 DOC Piedmont, Italy (XD): Dark brooding fruit with mouth-watering acidity. Perfect for pasta, pizza and spicy sausage. Score: 89/100.

597534 LEONE DE CASTRIS SALICE SALENTINO ROSSO RISERVA 2001 $17.95 DOC Puglia, Italy (XD): Also comes in the handy half bottle size for $9.95... another one I'm stocking up on. Fantastic value for the money. This is the ultimate pizza, pasta and sausage wine. Rich ripe fruit. Score: 90/100.

909275 'CELLOLE' CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2001 $34.95 DOCG Tuscany, Italy (XD) Az. Agr. San Fabiano Calcinaia: Forget wicker-wrapped bottles, chianti is back in town baby! This ultra-modern, delicious wine has mocha notes and black cherries. A touch tannic. Drink 2006-2010. Score: 90/100.

922161 'FALASCO' AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA 2000 $49.95 DOC Veneto, Italy (D) Cantina Valpantena: An exceptional wine. Not as heavy as typical amarones even though it's a whopping 15% alcohol. It tastes balanced and would drink well throughout a meal of heart meats or a stew. A Joseph Conrad wine. Drink 2005-2012. Score: 91/100.

982298 'TINTO ARROYO' CRIANZA 1998 $17.95 DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (XD) Bodega S. Arroyo: Delicious dark wine with smoky oak and black fruit. Full-bodied. Food match: pepper steak. Score: 88/100.

368290 ARAGONESAS 'MOSEN CLETO' 2001 $10.95 DO Campo de Borja, Spain (D): I've recommended this wine of stupendous value for several years now. The encrusted bottle is a bonus for that instant old look. Mouth-watering red plums. Drink with barbecued meats and hamburgers. Score: 84/100.

597880 'PROPIEDAD H. REMONDO' 2001 $39.95 DOC Rioja, Spain (XD) Bodegas Palacios Remondo: Lovely leather and dark cherry aromas. Full-bodied. Great with hefty meat dishes. Score: 90/100.

April 16: Dessert Wines

959031 ROYAL TOKAJI COMPANY TOKAJI ASZU 1999 Hungary $29.95 5 Puttonyos, 'Red Label' (S) 500 mL: Gorgeous dessert, full of rich honeyed splendor. Considered the "king of wines." Perfect for a fruit flan or on it's own after dinner. Score: 92/100.