Vintages Release July 2005

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June 25 Release Wines

White Wines

930362 ALLIMANT-LAUGNER MUSCAT 2003 $17.95 AC Alsace, France (D = dry): Vintages catalogue (VC): Muscat is an aromatic wonder that, according to legend, got its name from the French word used to describe the wine's aroma, 'musqué' or musk-like. It is also common to find aromas and flavors that recall grapefruit peel, exotic fruit and even a whiff of green table grape. Muscats can be excellent sipping wines, but really shine when paired with equally flavorful food, such as rich seafood or spicy Asian dishes. My note: An exotic white for when you're ready to try something different. Aromas of lychee nuts, orange zest and grapefruit. Score: 87/100.

412585 SOGRAPE RESERVA DOURO WHITE 2003 $16.95 DOC Douro, Portugal (D): VC: Sogrape's Reserva range is designed to reflect the diversity and potential of the key Portuguese appellations; Douro, Dão and Bairrada. This white wine from the Douro, made with the indigenous, crisp Viosinho (vee-oh-ZEEN-yo) and aromatic Malvasia Fina grapes, is rich, creamy, flavorful and balanced. My note: Another fascinatingly different white: perfumed with wild white flowers and lanolin. Score: 88/100.

929992 CONUNDRUM 2003 $33.95 California (MD = medium dry): VC: A fascinating off-dry wonder that brilliantly blends together Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Viognier and Muscat Canelli. Enjoy this wine with spicy Asian food. My note: A long-time favorite of mine and they've held the line on price for such a finely-crafted white. Aromas of lychee nuts and muscat. Not oaky. Score: 91/100.

599944 JEAN PERRIER ABYMES 'CUVÉE GASTRONOMIE' 2004 $12.95 (XD = extra dry) AC Vin de Savoie, France: VC: Abymes is the famous Savoie cru (vineyard) that is permitted to append its name to the Vin de Savoie AC. The wines are exclusively made with the local Jacquère grape. Both the region and the grape are virtually unknown outside of this mountainous eastern France appellation, making this an ideal wine for the adventurous types out there. Jacquère-based wines are crisply refreshing and lightly aromatic. They are superb wines to accompany great conversation and simple summertime meals. My note: Notes of lemon and citrus. Simple, juicy and mouth-watering. Medium-bodied. Not much oak. Score: 84/100.

680595 CHÂTEAU LAULERIE MONTRAVEL SEC 2003 $11.95 AC Southwest France (XD) Dubard Frère et Soeur, Vign.: VC: Montravel, a mainly dry white wine appellation, is located right up against Bordeaux's eastern border near Bergerac. Sémillon, one of the great white grapes of Bordeaux, is the principal, and frequently the only, white grape used. Sémillon can make a lightly crisp wine with aromas that recall melon, lemon, green apple and even a touch of fresh fig. Expect a zippy acidity as well. Enjoy it as an aperitif after a long, hot day at the cottage. My note: Crisp lemon aromas. A simple wine at a terrific price. Score: 84/100.

Fruit & Dessert Wine

535419 ROSSIGNOL CRANBERRY DELIGHT 2003 $15.95 Prince Edward Island (MS = medium sweet): VC: Rossignol Estates, located on the south shore of P.E.I., was the first commercial winery in the province. Each label features original Island artwork painted by neighboring folk artist Nancy Perkins and winery owner John Rossignol. Medium-sweet with lots of obvious fresh cranberry as well as luscious strawberry characteristics and an attractive candied note. My note: This wine makes me homesick for my Maritime roots. It reminds me of eating fresh pie on the beach. Summer in a glass. Score: 89/100.

432930 CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES LATE HARVEST RIESLING 2000 $17.95 Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula (M) 375 mL half bottle: VC: A well-balanced, rich and delicate dessert wine that's delicious on its own, but would also be well-suited to soft cheeses or a fruit platter at a summer garden party. Gold-medal winner at the 2005 Ontario Wine Awards. My note: I love late harvest wines which aren't quite as sweet and thick as icewines (though don't get me wrong, I love icewines too). Riesling-based sweet wines have a balancing backbone that prevents them from being a gloopy sweet concoction, much like someone who compliments you with a sense of humor. Score: 92/100.

Ontario Red Wine

989269 JACKSON-TRIGGS 'DELAINE VINEYARD' CABERNET/MERLOT 2002 $29.95 VQA Niagara Peninsula (XD): VC: Jackson-Triggs co-founder Don Triggs and his wife Elaine developed the Delaine Vineyard with the goal of growing the highest quality grapes possible. Made with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc, it scored 90 points and a Silver Medal at the 2005 Ontario Wine Awards. My note: Full-bodied and robust with big oak and black ripe fruit. Pow! Score: 90/100.

French Sweet Wine

592626 CHÂTEAU HAUT-MAYNE 2002 $24.95 AC Sauternes, Bordeaux (S = sweet) 375 mL Roumazeilles, Prop.: VC: extremely impressive Sauternes. The aromas are classic, including peach, honey, mandarin orange, lanolin and a subtle wild note from the botrytized berries. Sweet and full-flavored, it is terrifically balanced by a seam of acidity. Long, long finish. My note: No one has "enough" Sauternes in the cellar, let alone drinks it often enough. Commune with Bacchus when you drink this honeyed elixir. Skip dessert and head straight to nirvana. Score: 94/100.

French Red Wine

981175 DOMAINE DE LA MADONE BEAUJOLAIS 'LE PERREON' 2003 $13.95 AC Beaujolais-Villages (D) Jean Bererd et Fils: VC: This youthful Gamay is an ideal summer sipper. Its light body and bright fruit core really shine when lightly chilled. My note: Lovely, simple. Like skipping down a garden path in a gingham dress. Light-bodied. Perfect with pate, salmon, cold meats and simple chicken. Score: 87/100.

586859 RENÉ BOUVIER MARSANNAY LONGEROIS 2002 $44.95 AC Burgundy (D): VC: A terrific Marsannay Pinot Noir. The deep color leads to a nose of black cherry, black raspberry, beetroot, chocolate and smoky wood tones. Dry, rich, ample and ripe. A truly tremendous wine. Full-bodied, long finish. Best with rich beef or wild mushroom dishes. My note: Lovely plush texture. Medium-bodied. A touch tannic. Drink 2006-2010. Score: 91/100.

586826 FREDERIC MAGNIEN NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES 2002 $49.95 AC Burgundy, Vieilles Vignes (XD): VC: A definite cellar-dweller, this is tight and tannic now, but there is vibrant fruit waiting to reveal itself. A Burgundy for the very patient, this wine will richly reward 4-5 years in the cellar. My note: Tannic and full-bodied. Aromas of dark red fruit and chocolate. Drink 2007-2012. Score: 92/100. Favorite Red Wine

982587 DOMAINE TERRES BLANCHES ROUGE 2001 $18.95 AC Les Baux de Provence (D): VC: This winery was first certified organic by the Qualité-France organization in 1970. Our Quality Assurance laboratory has determined that this blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre contains 8 mg/L of free sulfur. A velvety, rich, ripe and very flavorful wine that would be perfect for your next backyard barbecue. My note: Peppery with black plums. Intense and full-bodied. Score: 87/100.

926626 PERRIN & FILS CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 'LES SINARDS' 2002 $39.95 AC Rhone Valley (D): VC: This 'baby Beaucastel' was also a hit at our Tour de France event in February 2005. The wine, made with grapes from the exceptional seven ha 'Les Sinards' vineyard, is a blend of 70% Grenache and 10% each of Mourvèdre, Syrah and Counoise. This is an abundant and beautifully structured wine that uses fruit from the same vineyard as the nearby, legendary Château Beaucastel. Food match: braised beef dishes. My note: Beautifully balanced with spice and red fruit notes. Long finish. Medium- to full-bodied. Score: 90/100.

Rosé Wines

319376 MAS CHICHET ROSÉ 2004 $12.95 Vin de Pays de Côtes Catalanes, Midi (D) Jacques Chichet: VC: Mas Chichet is located right against the border with Spain near Banyuls and Collioure. Collioure is a major fishing port, so it is not surprising that this rosé matches well with grilled seafood, pan-fried freshwater fish or bouillabaisse. My note: Vibrant aromas of strawberries and roses. Score: 86/100.

680934 BAJOZ ROSADO 2004 $10.95 DO Toro Portugal (D): Lovely dry rosé with strawberry aromas. Be sure to chill it. Score: 87/100.

Italian Red Wine

719294 TEDESCHI 'CAPITEL SAN ROCCO' RIPASSO 2001 $18.95 IGT Rosso del Veronese (XD): VC: In the 'Ripasso' process the skins of grapes used in the production of Amarone are added to finished Valpolicella wines causing a second fermentation. The resulting wine is higher in alcohol and fuller in flavor and structure than a typical Valpol. This long-finishing wine will reward mid-term (3-6 years) ageing. My note: Full-bodied with juicy dark red fruit. Intense. Score: 89/100.

July 9 Release Wines

California Wines

657585 ARTESA CHARDONNAY 2001 $31.95 Carneros, Napa Valley (XD): VC: The word 'artesa' means 'craftsman' in Catalan. This Napa Chardonnay is medium-bodied and fruit forward in style, definitely not one of the heavily oaked versions often associated with the region. My note: I've just discovered my new favorite California winemaker! Expressive, oaky, buttery and full-bodied. Delish. Score: 90/100.

658534 ARTESA MERLOT 2000 $31.95 Sonoma Valley (D): VC: Artesa was formerly known as Codorníu Napa and specialized in sparkling wines until expanding and shifting focus to premium still wines in 1999. My note: a merlot to make Miles (from the movie Sideways) change his mind. Dark rich plummy depth. Score: 90/100.

Argentinean White Wine

925743 'ALAMOS' CHARDONNAY 2004 $13.95 Mendoza (D) Bodega Catena Zapata: VC: A crisp, bright and youthful effort from winemaker José Galante who creates fruit-forward 'Alamos' range. My note: Terrific value! Juicy, oaky, buttery. Score: 89/100. Best Value White Wine

Chilean Red Wine

976787 VIÑA MONTGRAS CABERNET SAUVIGNON/ SYRAH RESERVA 2003 $11.95 Colchagua Valley (XD): VC: Niagara-trained Hernan Gras returned to his native Chile to establish, with the help of his brother Eduardo and friend Christián Hartwig, a state-of-the-art winery. The result is excellent quality wines at very attractive prices. Enjoy this beauty with gourmet burgers or spicy, grilled sausages. My note: Fantastic value! (There is life after Cono Sur.) Black fruit, full-bodied and a touch tannic. Drink 2006-2009. Score: 89.5/100. Best Value Red Wine

Australian Wines

283671 YALUMBA 'OXFORD LANDING' CHARDONNAY 2003 $11.95 South Australia (D): VC: Food match: veggie kebabs, barbecued chicken, grilled veal chops. My note: Excellent value for this simple, oaky chard. A basket of green apples. Score: 86/100.

585869 BECKETT'S FLAT SHIRAZ 2001 $26.95 Margaret River, Western Australia (XD): VC: Beckett's Flat is a small, family owned, boutique winery located at the warmer end of the Margaret River wine region. As a result, they can produce Shirazes that are both fruit-driven and perfectly balanced. My note: A black, brooding wine. Soccer player shiraz (read: kick ass!) Husky and good-natured. Score: 91/100.

New Zealand White Wine

606848 FRAMINGHAM SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004 $19.95 Marlborough, South Island (XD): A crisp white I've recommended for several vintages. Herbal and grassy and all the good things that mouth-watering, food-friendly NZ SB is! Score: 90/100.

South African White Wine

63 ZEVENWACHT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004 $16.95 WO Stellenbosch (XD): VC: Situated on the Stellenbosch wine route, Zevenwacht is a gorgeous winery known for its hospitality and history. Of the 04 vintage, winemaker Karl Labour singled out this white in particular claiming it was "the best Sauvignon grapes I've worked with!" My note: Simple and crisp. Herbal like New Zealand. Score: 88/100.

French White Wines

594853 DOMAINE DES DEUX ROCHES 'RIVES DE LONGSAULT' SAINT-VÉRAN 2003 $25.95 AC Burgundy (D): VC: A ripe, tropical Chardonnay with layers of apple and caramel too. Medium full-bodied with a long, rounded finish. Food match: rich seafood, spicy Thai food. My note: Great value. Aromas of pears and spice. Round and plush. Score: 90/100.

680611 DOMAINE LAFAGE CHARDONNAY 2003 $17.95 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes, Midi (D): VC: Bring on the shrimp, haul out the salmon steaks or prepare the vegetables and start grilling, because this crisp and fruity Chard is a perfect barbecue companion. My note: An oaky, buttery New World style. Aromas of apples and pears. Score: 89/100.

359349 LOUIS LATOUR 'GRAND ARDÈCHE' CHARDONNAY 2002 $16.95 Vin de Pays des Coteaux de l'Archèche, Rhone Valley (XD): VC: A rare Chardonnay from the Rhône Valley, Louis Latour has proven vintage after vintage that this grape can be successful in this region. The winery uses the more general Vin de Pays designation for this wine since Chardonnay is not a recognized grape variety under the Rhône AC (Appellation Contrôlée) system. Food match: grilled herbed chicken, pasta with white sauce. My note: Chardonnay with soul. Not heavy or oaky. Full-bodied with ripe pears. Balanced. Score: 89/100.

French Red Wines

655100 CHÂTEAU DE FONBEL 2000 $42.95 AC Saint Émilion Grand Cru (XD) Famille Vauthier, Prop.: VC: Aromas suggest black plum, game, mocha, spice and cassis. Dry, flavorful with lively tannins surrounding all the fruit. Enjoyable now with rare cuts of meat, or ageable 2-4 years. My score: 90/100.

903492 DOMAINE PARENT POMMARD 'LA CROIX BLANCHE' 2002 $48.95 Burgundy AC (XD): VC: An excellent candidate for your cellar (6+ years), this Pinot Noir shows classic aromas and flavors, such as black fruit, perfume, beetroot and cedar tones. Dry, quite assertive and tannic, but under it are incredible layers of fruit just waiting for the right time to come to the fore. My note: Dark fruit, well structured and robust. A real "dirt wine." Score: 93/100.

748814 DOMAINE CLAVEL 'LES GARRIGUES' 2002 $ 16.95 'Terroir de la Mejanelle', AC Coteaux du Languedoc (D): VC: Pierre Clavel is at the forefront of a group of winemakers who are leading the charge to create quality wines in the Midi. 'Les Garrigues' is a blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 20% Carignan. This is a terrifically structured wine that balances the fruit, tannin and acid almost perfectly. Enjoy it with gently-salted beef tenderloin barbecued rare. My note: Purply-plummy, juicy and medium- to full-bodied. Great price. Score: 88/100.

652313 CHÂTEAU PESQUIÉ 'LES TERRASSES' 2002 $14.95 Rhone Valley AC Côtes du Ventoux (D): VC: A ripe, round flattering wine with a lovely berry/spice/floral nose. An excellent companion around the barbecue pit, enjoy this wine with hamburgers, back ribs, grilled vegetables or medium rare steaks. My note: Terrific value! Lovely pepper and red plum notes. Score: 87/100.

French Rosé Wines

219840 CHÂTEAU BELLEVUE LA FORET ROSÉ 2004 $12.95 AC Côtes du Frontonnais Southwest France (D): VC: Rosé represents 30% of all wines produced by Château Bellevue la Foret. They use 50% Negrette, 30% Syrah and 17% Gamay. Made in a slightly off-dry style, a small amount of the residual sugar is allowed to remain to give the wine a fruit lift. A balancing acid keeps everything in line. Enjoy with summer salads or lightly spiced fish dishes. My note: Strawberry and raspberry aromas. Succulent and dry. Score: 88/100.

German White Wines

958140 MARKUS MOLITOR RIESLING KABINETT HALBTROCKEN 2000 $19.95 QmP, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Estate Btld. Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (MD): VC: A beautiful full yellow gold with a classic peach, petrol, mineral, pear and lemon zest nose. Its light to medium body is ideal for these hot summer days. Its off-dry nature makes it a superb match for sipping or even barbecued poultry, vegetables, fish or seafood. My note: Stunningly depth and minerality. Mouth-watering acidity makes it a wonderful food companion. Aromas of ripe citrus fruit and peaches. Score: 92/100. Favorite White Wine

651976 LOUIS GUNTRUM RIESLING KABINETT HALBTROCKEN 2002 $15.95 QmP, Niersteiner Heiligenbaum, Estate Btld. Rheinshessen (MD): VC: A tangy, fresh wine with scrumptious aromatics and flavors, including apricot, peach, lime and white flowers. Medium dry with a superb balancing acidity. Medium body with a lingering finish. Food match: pan-fried freshwater fish. My note: Great attack on the palate. Pears, peaches and petrol. Score: 91/100.

Italian White Wine

999367 LA SPINETTA 'BRICCO QUAGLIA' MOSCATO D'ASTI 2004 $19.95 DOCG (M): VC: The honey-laced, perfumed aromas of Moscato (Muscat), its light effervescence and touch of balanced sweetness, plus low alcohol by volume (5.5 %), make this perhaps the perfect white wine to serve at a summer garden party or outdoor wedding reception. My note: Love it! Perfect for fruit flan on a summer night. Score: 89/100.

Italian Red Wine

732610 MASSERIA MONACI 'ELOQUENZIA' COPERTINO 2000 $12.95 DOC (XD): VC: Copertino is a DOC located just south of the Salice Salentino region. Made principally with Negroamaro, the resulting wines have a reputation for being smooth, ripe and flavorful and are excellent companions for richer barbecued meats. My note: Simple juicy red fruit (sour cherries) that would be ideal with tomato-sauce pasta and pizza. Score: 86/100.

Portuguese Red Wine

559526 CASA FERREIRINHA VINHA GRANDE 2000 $16.95 DOC Douro (D) A.A. Ferreira: VC: An incredibly deep-colored wine with equally intense aromas of blueberry, plum, clay, mint, granite and hint of oak. Dry with an excellent balance of acid, fruit and tannins. This complex, flavorful wine would be an excellent partner for a leg of lamb, or a mess of back ribs off the barbecue. My note: Juicy with plums and blueberries. A touch tannic. Drink 2006-2009. Score: 89/100.

Spanish White Wine

958736 MUGA BLANCO 2003 $15.95 Barrel Fermented, DOC Rioja (D): Mouth-watering, full-bodied and oaky. Round, ripe aromas of baked apples. Score: 90/100.

Spanish Red Wine

725762 LURTON 'BARRICAS' 'EL ALBAR' 2001 $23.95 DO Toro (XD): VC: Aged for one year in American and French oak barriques, 'El Albar' is 100% Tempranillo. Not filtered before bottling, so even in its youth it may throw a bit of sediment. We recommend it be decanted. Try this rich, ripe, intensely fruity wine with richer beef dishes. My note: Round with chocolate notes. A touch tannic. Drink 2006-2010. Score: 89/100.

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