Vintages Release March 18, 2006

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Bulgarian Red Wine

DOMAINE BOYAR 'ROYAL RESERVE' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2000 Iambol VC: Mid-ruby in color. Currant, leather, oak, cassis and sweet cherry mingle on the nose. Medium-bodied, supple, round and open knit in texture. Modern style. Would go well with a roast of beef. Product number: 608810 (D = dry) 750 mL $12.95. My note: A simple, one-note wine that's very pleasant. Good for large parties. Score: 83/100.

Australian Red Wine

HOWARD PARK 'SCOTSDALE' SHIRAZ 2002 Great Southern, Western Australia 923557 (XD = extra dry) 750 mL $24.95. A full-bodied, juicy wine bursting with ripe raspberries and plums. Some spiciness that adds interest. Score: 90/100.

JIP JIP ROCKS SHIRAZ 2004 Limestone Coast, South Australia 673897 (XD) 750 mL $18.95. A robust and delicious wine with aromas of dark red fruit and chocolate. A touch tannic, so decant for 1-2 hours first. Score: 89/100.

TORBRECK 'CUVÉE JUVENILES' 2004 Barossa Valley, South Australia 723940 (XD) 750 mL $31.95. There were 6,000 cases made of the wine, which is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, and 20% Shiraz. One of the best-made shirazes that comes to our shores. Terrific structure and balance with lip-smacking dark red fruit and full-bodied goodness. Score: 90/100.

New Zealand White Wine

CLIFFORD BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005 Marlborough, South Island VC: Since launching their first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc in 1997, Clifford Bay Estate has been racking up awards. Sourcing premium grapes from Marlborough's Awatere Valley, winemaker Glenn Thomas crafts classic, crisp and full-bodied Sauvignons that burst with floral aromas and ripe tropical fruit, balanced with racy acidity. 734095 (XD) 750 mL $18.95. My note: Herbal and grassy with notes of grapefruit. Perfect for salads, shellfish and seafood as well as vegetarian dishes. Score: 89.5/100. Favorite White Wine

New Zealand Red Wine

TORLESSE PINOT NOIR 2004 Canterbury, South Island 699330 (D) 750 mL $21.95. A vibrant wine with mouth-watering acidity that makes it an ideal partner to chicken, salmon, pork and pasta. Dancing red cherries do the can-can across your palate in a celebration of flavor. Medium- to full-bodied. Yay for the screwcap. Score: 89/100.

French Red Wine

SAINT-BENOIT 'GRANDE GARDE' CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2003 Rhône Valley AC 424226 (D) 750 mL $36.95. Full-bodied and dense, almost liqueur-like, with flavors of cassis, plums and cherries. Drink 2008-2015. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Score: 91/100.

German White Wine

AUGUST KESSELER 'R' RIESLING 2004 Qualitätswein 674002 (MD = medium dry) 750 mL $16.95. Refreshing and mouth-watering, with a lovely touch of sweetness that widens its range of food matches from seafood and medium-spiced dishes and Asian fare. Ripe aromas of pears and peaches. Score: 89/100.

BALTHASAR RESS RIESLING TROCKEN 2004 QbA, Estate Bottled VC: Look for fresh floral, lime and citrus aromas and a ripe juicy fruity palate with mineral notes. Enjoy with oysters on the half-shell or mild curry dishes. 681882 (D) 750 mL $12.95. My note: A stunning value. Loads of flavor, minerality and food friendliness. Score: 88/100. Best Value White Wine

Italian Red Wine

ABBADIA ARDENGA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 1999 DOCG 672337 (XD) 750 mL $43.95. A haunting and mature wine that's knitted together for a smooth and complex drink. A lovely faded mahogany color. Ready to drink now. Score: 90/100.

LUIGI RIGHETTI VALPOLICELLA 'CAMPOLIETI' 2003 DOC VC: This offering from the always-reliable Luigi Righetti is mild-ruby in color with complex scents of dried berry, floral, spice, paraffin, oak and sundried tomato. Light- to medium-bodied, it's crafted in a round, easy-drinking style with lots of flavor and good length. Very versatile, it can go with everything from salmon to roast beef. 695890 (D) 750 mL $16.95. My note: A stunning wine with aromas of leather and chocolate. Nicely woven together. Terrific price. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Score: 90/100. Best Value Red Wine

GATTAVECCHI VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2001 Tuscany, Italy VC: This modern approach to a traditional wine displays aromas of cocoa bean, black plum, berries, vanilla, pine resin. It's medium-bodied with a fruit-dominated fleshy centre and a long oaky finish. Perfect with pork tenderloin. 672642 750 mL (XD) $22.95. My note: A friendly and delicious red with juicy ripe red fruit. Full-bodied. Drink with tomato-sauce pasta and lasagna. Score: 90/100.

Portuguese Red Wine

VINHOS SOGRAPE RESERVA DOURO RED 2001 DOC Douro VC: Enjoy this blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca with roast pork. 335208 (XD) 750 mL $17.95. My note: Solid and full-bodied. A touch tannic so decant for 1-2 hours. Great structure and delicious dark red fruit. Drink 2006-2010. Score: 89/100.

Spanish Red Wine

ETIM SELECTION Syrah 2003 Penedes 681346 750 mL $34.95. Ripe red fruit, with an astonishing freshness on the palate. Lovely overall impression. Score: 93/100. Favorite Red Wine

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