May Vintages Release 2004

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Sweet Dessert and Fortified Wines: May 8

314682 VIDAL ICEWINE 1999 $34.95 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Stoney Ridge: Gorgeous apricot and honey notes make this sweet elixir a wonderful dessert on its own or with a fruit flan. Score: 91/100.

972109 'SOLERA 1847' $15.95, Spain, Oloroso Dulce, González Byass: Every time I drink sherry, I think, why don't I drink sherry more often? This is a wonderful nutty after-drink drink that would be lovely with nuts and cheeses. Score: 90/100.

From the Vintages catalogue: 'Solera 1847' means that this wine's Solera system was first established in 1847. The Solera system is often literally a pyramid of barrels. On the bottom is the oldest stock, on the top is the newest. As you fill the 'bottles' from the bottom barrel, you replenish it with the product from the row above and onwards upwards. The top row of barrels is filled with the newest Sherries. This system allows producers to create non-vintage products that, theoretically, taste the same year in and year out. It is believed there are always a few drops of the original 1847 Sherry in every bottle of this product.

White Wines: May 8

626382 VIOGNIER 2002 $19.95 Servos Vineyard, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Inniskillin Wines: A lovely aromatic wine, with floral aromas. A medium-bodied sipper for summer. This wine was fermented and aged ten months in French oak barrels. Score: 89/100.

317131 CHARDONNAY 2002 $24.95, 'California Selection', Sonoma County, St. Francis Winery & Vineyard: A beautiful buttery, round chard with nicely-balanced oak and ripe tree fruit. Score: 92/100

727024 CHARDONNAY 2002 $19.95, Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand, Te Kairanga Wines: I've been a fan of this NZ winery ever since we first tried it from the innovative wine list at Juniper's restaurant in Ottawa. I especially like their pinot noir, recommended further down. This chard is heavily-oaked and very full-bodied. Score 89/100

991463 CHARDONNAY 2002 $ 19.95, 'Roseland', Marlborough, South Island, Goldwater Wine: Gorgeous chard with marvelous balance of ripe tree fruit, body and oak. Score 93/100.

927491 CHENIN BLANC 2003 $ 12.95, Walker Bay, South Africa, Beaumont Wine: Terrific value for this easy-drinking white with medium body, ripe pears and a refreshing change from chardonnay. A good one to buy for parties. Score: 87/100.

971945 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003 $13.95, Stellenbosch, South Africa, Ken Forrester Wines: According to the Vintages brochure: This was chosen by Nelson Mandela's family as the wine to be served at his 85th birthday bash. This is another simple but delicious, mouth-watering white for summer. Not too grassy like some SBs, just refreshingly herbal making it a great companion to seafood, salads and other warm weather fare. Score 87/100.

927509 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003 $12.95, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, South Africa, Delheim Wines: There's no shortage of reasonably-priced whites in this release. This one is really mouth-watering, zippy and herbal. Buy it by the case for those backyard barbecues. Score: 87/100.

928424 TORRONTES 2002 $11.95, 'Tango Blanco', Mendoza, Argentina, Domingo Hnos: A highly aromatic, almost perfumed nose of orange blossoms. Perfect salad wine. Score 85/100.

733956 MÂCON-UCHIZY 2002 $15.95, Burgundy, France, Paul & Mallory Talmard, Prop.-Récolt.: A nicely balanced Old World chardonnay with medium body, good oak and ripe pears. Score: 88/100.

987503 CHARDONNAY 2002 $12.95, 'Barricato 40', 'Bollini', DOC Trentino, Italy, Empson & Co.: Great value for this wine redolent of green apples. Score: 87/100.

Red Wines: May 8

226944 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $24.95, Sonoma County, California, Rodney Strong: This label is one of those safe bets when you see it on the shelf or restaurant list: a reliable producer of ripe, fruit-forward wines at reasonable prices. This one is plush with ripe plums. Score 88/100

969519 MERLOT 2002 $18.95, 'Oak Barrel Selection', California, Forest Glen Winery: Brooding dark berries, mocha notes and luscious black plums. Score: 92/100.

919548 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2000 $19.95, Coonawarra, South Australia, Mildara Wines: A well-structured, agable dry wine (3-5 years), with a pleasant bitter chocolate finish and a firm grip. Score: 90/100.

985416 SHIRAZ 1999 $19.95, Limestone Coast/McLaren Vale, South Australia, Woodstock Winery & Coterie: A whopper of a wine with huge dark red fruit. Score: 90/100.

744946 PINOT NOIR 2002 $28.95, Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand, Te Kairanga Wines: Fantastic! Black cherries, dense, dark, stormy like Heathcliff. Drink and succumb. Score 91/100.

917922 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $12.95, 'Las Lomas', Maule Valley, Chile, Viña Lomas de Cauquenes: Your party red wine. Ripe red fruit, slight grip, delicious. An organic wine. Score 86/100.

998617 CHÂTEAU BRILLETTE 2000 $39.95, Bordeaux, 'Comte du Périer de Larson', AC Moulis Cru Bourgeois: There have always been amazing deals among the cru bourgeois of Bordeaux, but with the magnificent 2000 vintage, these wines are even better gems. If you like the finesse, structure and aging potential (3-5 years) of these wines, scoop them up now before they disappear. Score: 90/100.

995647 CHÂTEAU DE MALLERET 2000 $34.95, AC Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux: lovely Bordeaux, this one with enticing aromas of leather, cigar box and smoke. Age 3-5 years. Drinks well with graduate of the Sorbonne. Score: 93/100. Favorite Red Wine

984427 CHÂTEAU DU TAILLAN 2000 $22.95, 'Cuvée des Dames', AC Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux: Beautiful wine: there's nothing like the elegance and stealth of an Old World wine that creeps up on your senses and expands them. More leather and cigar box and you can't beat the price for his kind of wine! Score 90/100.

747808 CHÂTEAU LAVILLE BERTROU 2000 $19.95, 'Cuvée Limitée', AC Minervois La Livinière, Midi, France, Gerard Bertrand: Round, plush wine with berries and spice. Great with cold meats. Score: 89/100.

958629 'CUVÉE MATHILDE' 2001 $12.95, AC Minervois, Midi, France, Château de Gourgazaud: A simple peppery wine ideal for steaks and barbecue food. Score: 85/100.

748814 'LES GARRIGUES' 2001 $16.95, AC Coteaux du Languedoc, Midi, France, Domaine Pierre Clavel: A blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 20% Carignan. This spicy, peppery wine with dark fruit would also be great with steak and barbecue. I'm getting hungry, are you? Score: 89/100.

724674 PRIMITIVO 1998 $11.95, DOC Gioia del Colle, 'Peucetico', Puglia, Italy, Coppi: Oh happy coincidence! One of the more delicious wines that also happens to one of the cheapest. Sometimes, life just works out. This one has ripe red fruit and medium to full body. Perfect for a wide range foods. Primitivo is what they call zinfandel in Italy. Go get it! Score: 88/100. Best Value Red Wine

977447 'CONDESA DE LEGANZA' CRIANZA 1999 $11.95, DO La Mancha, Spain, Bodegas Leganza: Another great value. A simple, juicy wine with red fruit. Score: 85/100.

White Wines: May 22

977306 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003 $14.95, 'Brampton', WO Coastal Region, South Africa, Rustenberg Wines: Amazing value! Herbal and mouth-watering, great companion to seafood and salad. Score: 88/100.

955872 PINOT BLANC 2002 $11.95, 'Réserve Spéciale', AC Alsace, France, W. Gisselbrecht: Even better value! Delicious summer sipper with ripe notes of melon and pear. Score: 88/100. Best Value White Wine

365023 CHABLIS 2002 $22.95, AC, Burgundy, France, 'Saint Martin', Domaine Laroche: I'm a fan of these Old World chardonnays that aren't over-oaked yet have exotic spice and pear notes. Terrific with chicken and cream pasta dishes. Also comes in the half bottle for $13.95. Score: 90/100.

938712 RULLY BLANC 2001 $29.95, AC, Burgundy, France, Joseph Drouhin: Divine. Simply divine. Spicy pear, kiss of oak, looooong finish into the night. Score: 94/100.

960138 RIESLING SPÄTLESE 1995 $17.95, QmP, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany, Sonnenhofberger, Estate Bottled, Weingut Dr. Zenzen: Nothing beats the intensity and flavor of the best-made German rieslings. Stunning green apple, pear and orange peel with a whisper of sweetness. Aren't you glad that you read down this far? Score: 96/100. Favorite White Wine

951319 PINOT GRIGIO 2003 $15.95, DOC Trentino, Italy, 'Bollini', Empson & Co: Typical of this wildly popular white wine that's now elbowing out chardonnay. Refreshing, zippy, with melon fruit. Score: 90/100.

999367 MOSCATO D'ASTI 2003 $18.95, DOCG, Piedmont, Italy, 'Bricco Quaglia', Az. Agr. La Spinetta/G. Rivetti, Vitic.: A lightly frizzy, lightly sweet summer white. If you haven't tried moscato d'asti, you owe yourself one experience at least. Think sandals, deck chairs, tinkling moorings in the distance. Score: 90/100.

Red Wines: May 22

994533 MERLOT 2001 $15.95, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, Diamond Ridge: Lovely, balanced, smooth-as-silk red with plush ripe fruit. Score: 89/100.

937276 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $21.95, Cameron Vale, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Grant Burge: Well-made, classic cassis and mint aromas with a touch of oak. Score: 89/100.

938050 MERLOT 2001 $20.95, 'Lot 148', Richard Hamilton, McLaren Vale, Australia, Hamilton Wine Group: Very juicy red fruit, easy drinking. Score: 89/100.

738567 SHIRAZ 2002 $16.95, 'Barossa Vines', Barossa Valley, South Australia, Grant Burge: Big shiraz with cocoa and dark fruit aromas. Excellent price. Score: 88/100.

954156 CHÂTEAU VILLEMAURINE 2000 $49.95 AC St-Émilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France: One for the cellar, at least five years. Full-bodied, well-structured with classic cassis aromas. Score: 91/100.

996223 MONTHELIE 1999 $28.95, AC, Burgundy, France, 'Les Villages de Jaffelin', Jaffelin: Lovely light to medium-bodied wine with ripe cherries. Good well with salmon. Score: 88/100.

964049 CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2000 $31.95, AC, Rhone, France, 'Domaine Pontifical', Vign. François Laget-Royer: Red cherries, plums and cedar notes. Gorgeous. Score: 91/100.

728451 VACQUEYRAS 2000 $21.95, AC, Rhone, France, 'Montirius', Christine et Eric Saurel, Prop.-Récolt.: Darh red fruit and cedar notes. Good grip on the palate. Age 3-4 years. Score: 88/100.

460410 PINOT NOIR 2001 $15.95, QbA, Baden, Germany, Trocken, Königschaffhauser Steingrüble, Erzg. Abf. Coop Königschaffhausen: David Churchill describes it perfectly in the Vintages catalogue: Pale to medium ruby color with true Pinot Noir varietal aromas including, sour cherry, beet root and a hint of dry strawberry. Dry and fruity with very good acid support. Light to medium-bodied with a surprisingly long, elegant finish. Score: 88/100.

717306 MERLOT 2001 $13.95, DOC Trentino, Italy, 'Bollini', Empson & Co.: Medium-bodied and smooth. A simple but delicious wine with ripe red fruit. Score: 87/100.

922039 BAROLO VIGNA BROGLIO 1997 $59.95, DOCG, Piedmont, Italy, Estate Bottled, Palladino & C.: A huge wine with dried herb and leather. A pleasant bitter finish. Drink now or age for 5 years. Score: 91/100.