Vintages Release August 2005

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Greek Wines

642454 DOMAINE DERESKOS CHARDONNAY 2004 $13.95 Regional Wine of Messinia (D = dry): Vintages catalogue (VC): This Chardonnay comes from Domaine Dereskos' warm Peloponnesian vineyard. Matured in French oak, the wine's ripe fruit ably supports the toasty oak tones. Enjoy with lobster and other richer fish or seafood. My note: A must try for chardonnay lovers looking for something different. This has an almost exotic almond-nutty, biscotti aroma. Score: 86/100.

641464 DOMAINE SPIROPOULOS 'MELIASTO' ROSÉ 2004 $12.95 Regional Wine Of Peloponnese (XD = extra dry) Arkas S.A.: VC: Moschofilero, the grape used here, is a variety known as a blanc de gris, meaning that the skin color can range from light pink to deep purple. Producers make a rosé, such as this, by allowing the juice extended contact with the grape skins. Moschofilero's aromas are similar to the intense Muscat variety. Enjoy this chilled with lightly spiced seafood or chicken dishes. This organic wine contains 21 mg/l of free sulphur. My note: A light and simple rose with bright strawberry aromas. Serve lightly chilled and drink with pate, salmon and cold chicken. Score: 85/100.

921577 CHÂTEAU PORTO CARRAS 2000 $24.95 AOHQ Côtes de Meliton (XD): VC: This wine is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon supported by Cabernet Franc, Merlot and the local Limnio. A complex, beautifully structured wine that presents a unique Greek take on the Bordeaux blend. Aromas suggest dried berry, leather, cassis, tobacco and cedar tones. It is medium-bodied with a long, lingering finish. Enjoy with roast leg of lamb. My note: A elegant and balanced red wine. A touch tannic. Drink 2006-2009. Score: 88/100.

Chilean Red Wine

655209 VIÑA LA ROSA 'LA CAPITANA' MERLOT 2003 $14.95 Estate Grown, Barrel Reserve, Cachapoal Valley (XD): VC: This luscious merlot won a Gold Medal at Decanter's 2004 World Wine Awards. It's medium full-bodied with a silky and seductive mouth feel and more ripe fruit flavors including some light currant notes and a touch of oak. My note: Warm aromas of chocolate and ripe plums. Smooth and full-bodied. Terrific price. Score: 89.5/100.

Australian Wine

651380 BALDIVIS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2001 $14.95 Western Australia (D) Margaret River Wine Production: A generous, rich white with aromas of spicy pears and smoky oak. Score: 89.5/100. Best Value White Wine
566877 ANGOVE'S 'RED BELLY BLACK' SHIRAZ 2002 $16.95 South Australia (XD): VC: This wine is named in honor of the red-bellied black snake that is indigenous to south-eastern Australia where, for over a century, the Angove family has crafted fine quality wines. My note: Loads of dark ripe fruit, aromas of mint. Full-bodied and delicious. Score: 88/100.

656637 WATER WHEEL 'MEMSIE' SHIRAZ/CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MALBEC 2003 $15.95 Bendigo, Victoria (XD): Lovely, lip-smacking sipper. Full-bodied. Aromas of ripe plums. Yea for the screw top! Score: 88/100.

New Zealand Wine

677450 DOG POINT VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004 $19.95 Marlborough, South Island (XD): Classic NZ SB: herbal and refreshing. This zippy white will complement many summer dishes including salads, seafood, shellfish and pasta. Score: 90/100. Favorite White Wine
692343 OYSTER BAY MERLOT 2004 $18.95 Hawkes Bay, North Island (XD): VC: This Merlot, is from one of New Zealand's most respected producers. Oyster Bay has combined the bright berry/cherry fruit for which Merlot is known with a fine tannin structure that makes it an ideal companion for a variety of meat and pasta dishes. My note: A luscious wine with rich chocolate and red/black ripe berries. Score: 88/100.

South African Red Wine

922211 'TUMARA TITAN' 2002 $16.95 WO Bottelary Stellenbosch (XD) Bellevue Estate Winery: VC: A classic blend of Bordeaux's 'titans', Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot. My note: Rich dark blackberries with a classic Bordeaux nose (which bizarrely always reminds me of bandaids even though I love it!) Drink 2005-2009. Pair with steak and hearty dishes. Score: 89/100.

August 6 Release Wines

Californian Red Wines

567453 BERINGER ZINFANDEL 2003 $15.95 Premiere Vineyard Selection, California (D): VC: A thoroughly modern, fruit-forward, ready-to-drink Zin from Napa's oldest continuously operating winery. An excellent value, it's a perfect fit for grilled hamburgers, barbecued ribs, or chicken with a zingy tomato sauce. My note: Lovely ripe berries. Medium- to full-bodied. Score: 89/100.

658104 MCMANIS FAMILY SYRAH 2003 $19.95 California (XD) The McManis Family vineyards is a relatively new label started by grape growers Ron and Jamie McManis. Located at the confluence of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers, they are responsible for establishing 'River Junction' as one of the newest American Viticultural Areas. For those unfamiliar, this is a great introduction to Californian Syrah. My note: Warm, round ripe dark red fruit. Full-bodied. Score: 88/100.

657577 STONEHEDGE MERLOT 2001 $12.95 California (XD): VC: Expect ripe fruit aromas of cherries and blueberries as well as some vanilla, spice and smoky notes. And Druids, please note, it is from Stonehedge not Stonehenge but you can still serve it with heartier vegetarian fare the next time you have friends over to toss the ten-sided dice. My note: Stock up for your summer parties with this incredible value. Score: 87/100. Best Value Red Wine

Australian Red Wine

606236 D'ARENBERG 'The STUMP JUMP' GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MOURVÈDRE 2004 $12.95 McLaren Vale, South Australia (D): VC: What sets it apart from other producers' 'value wines' is that rather than being a simple affair, it's rich, savory and brimming with flavor. The 2004 blend is comprised of 50% Grenache, 26% Shiraz and 24% Mourvèdre. My note: A fantastic value that I've recommended for several vintages now. A touch tannic. Full-bodied with dark fruit. Score: 88/100.

595306 THORN-CLARKE 'TERRA BAROSSA' SHIRAZ 2003 $15.95 Barossa Valley, South Australia (XD): Aromas of mint, dark chocolate and black fruit. Full-bodied bruiser. Love it! Score: 90/100.

Chilean Red Wines

595298 'ALBAMAR' GRAND RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $16.95 Colchagua Valley (XD) William Cole Vineyards: A balanced red with dark fruit. Full-bodied. Drink 2005-2008. Score: 89.5/100.

177451 Miguel Torres Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $13.95: Part of the Vintages Essentials Collection. A cherry-liqueur-like fruit that's jammy and rich. Spicy blackcurrants. Big alcohol gives it a full-bodied feel. The Torres family has cultivated grapes since the seventeenth century and is one of the most respected producers in the country. This wine was aged six months in American oak and was bottled unfiltered. Drink 2005-2008. Pair with game dishes and barbecue. Score: 87/100.

694208 PEREZ CRUZ CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2003 $13.95 Maipo Valley (XD): VC: New to the VINTAGES Essentials Collection – Always available. Those already familiar with this rich and delicious Cabernet know that it's a real steal. It's a perfect wine for barbecue season so be sure to stock up. My note: Full-bodied with dark plums. Score: 88/100.

432971 VIÑA MONTGRAS CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2003 $13.95 Colchagua Valley (D): VC: Winemaker Hernan Gras trained in Niagara before moving back to his native Chile to co-found Viña Montgras with his brother Eduardo and friend Christián Hartwig. He consistently creates well-balanced, flavorful Cabernets. You can expect a full-bodied, bold and fruity wine that embodies the warmth of the Chilean sun. My note: A touch tannic. Great price. Blackberries. Full-bodied. Score: 88/100.

928309 'ALBAMAR' RESERVE MERLOT 2003 $14.95 Casablanca Valley (XD) William Cole Vineyards: VC: An ideal companion for the summer barbecue, this Merlot's aromas recall plum, raspberry, cherry, toast and tobacco. It is dry, however sweet raspberry flavors play across the palate, finishing with a hint of cherry and plum. Medium-bodied, medium finish. Will work with grilled steaks or vegetables. My note: A stunning wine for the money. Medium- to full-bodied, bright red fruit and a smooth texture. Score: 90/100.

655233 ERRAZURIZ ESTATE SHIRAZ ROSÉ 2004 $11.95 Central Valley (D): VC: Previous vintages of this bright and juicy rosé were known as 'Syrah', but the name was changed in 2004 presumably to catch the interest of the innumerable fans of this grape variety under its Aussie moniker: Shiraz. Expect flavors and aromas of raspberry and strawberry with hints of wild herbs and pepper. Serve with spicy grilled chicken salad, tapas or antipasto. My score: 85/100.

New Zealand Wine

963124 JACKSON ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004 $19.95 Marlborough, South Island (XD): Classic herbal, refreshing NZ SB. Yea for a screw cap! Score: 89.5/100.

586099 SHEPHERDS RIDGE PINOT NOIR 2002 $24.95 Marlborough, South Island (D): VC: Owned by Wither Hills, this 2002 vintage is the debut for this wine. My note: Very full-bodied and fruit-forward New World-style pinot. Plums. Score: 90/100.

Argentine Red Wine

467951 'ALAMOS' MALBEC 2004 $13.95 Mendoza (XD): VC: Catena Zapata's 'Alamos' range always offers astounding value and this Malbec is a real highlight. Expect a very approachable wine that exudes dark fruit character, with a rich mouthfeel and velvety tannins. It's ready to drink now or over the next 2-5 years. My score: 88/100.

478727 CATENA MALBEC 2002 $19.95 Mendoza (XD) Bodegas Catena Zapata: Lovely. See what malbec is capable of. Rich and full-bodied with dark red fruit. Drink 2005-2009. Score: 91/100. Favorite Red Wine
677559 FAMIGLIA BIANCHI MALBEC 2002 $15.95 San Rafael, Mendoza (XD): Dense and thick. Black fruit. Score: 90/100.

Bordeaux Red Wine

597450 CHÂTEAU LAUBARIT 2002 $16.95 AC Bordeaux (XD) Simoneau et Fils, Prop.: VC: Our Quality Assurance laboratory has determined that this cherry/spicy, supple, crowd-pleasing organic wine contains 12 mg/L of free sulphur. Enjoy with grilled vegetables or organically-raised beef or lamb. My note: Medium-bodied wine. Balanced with a pleasant bitter finish. Score: 86/100.

German White Wine

566778 SELBACH-OSTER RIESLING KABINETT 2002 $23.95 QmP, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Estate Btld. (M = medium): Ripe pears with wonderful mouthwatering acidity. Perfect for a range of dishes including Asian, curry, chicken and pork. Score: 88/100.

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Copyright © 2005 by Natalie MacLean. All rights reserved. Please ask permission of the author before copying or using this material.