Vintages Release November 2004
By Natalie MacLean
November 6: Recommended Fortified and Dessert Wines
208405 GRAHAM'S 'SIX GRAPES' PORT $18.95 Reserve, Unfiltered (S = sweet) W. & J. Graham & Co., Portugal: Yummy! Have a glass when you don't want to open an whole bottle of wine, especially since port, a fortified sweet wine, keeps a lot longer (weeks to maybe a month or two) than table wine. You need something to get you through the arsenic hour, don't you? (That would be 5-6 p.m. when all the darlings get home from work and school.) Ripe black fruit and licorice. Score: 89.5/100.
652149 RIESLING ICEWINE 2002 $35 Andrew Peller Signature Series, VQA Niagara Peninsula (S) 375 mL Peller Estates: A gold medal winner in the 2003 American Wine Society International Competition. Marvelous balance with the ripe pears over a lovely lace of acidity. Don't just give it as a gift, drink it! Why should everyone else have all the fun? Score: 90/100.
413724 RIESLING ICEWINE 2000 $59.95 Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, VQA Niagara Peninsula (S) 375 mL Château des Charmes: Many gold medals later, this one is still waiting for you to try it. Most excellent with nuts and cheeses. Floral, honey ambrosia. Score: 93/100.
544791 VIDAL ICEWINE 2000 $24.95 VQA Niagara Peninsula, with Gift Box (S) 200 mL Reif Estate Winery: Another winter elixir, with sweet peaches and apricots. Score: 88/100.
565861 VIDAL ICEWINE 2000 $24.95 VQA Niagara Peninsula (S) 200 mL
Château des Charmes: Excellent balance and ripe pears. Try it with crème brulee. Score: 90/100.
476192 VIDAL ICEWINE 2000 $44.45 VQA Niagara Peninsula (S) 375 mL
Konzelmann Estate Winery: Vintages Catalogue (VC): Heady aromas lead into an elegant, layered palate of bergamot, candied ginger and lemon. An effortlessly long finish caps off a truly delectable experience. Christmas pudding would do the trick here. My score: 92/100.
November 6: Recommended White Wines
714295 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003 $19.95 Nelson, South Island, New Zealand (XD) Waimea Estates: Vintages Catalogue (VC): The owners of Waimea Estates, Trevor and Robyn Bolitho, have been growing grapes on Nelson's Waimea Plains since 1993. The first vintage release was a trophy-winning Sauvignon Blanc in 1997. There are now over 65 hectares of grapes planted in five vineyards. Moderating maritime influences and a protective phalanx of hills, plus the combination of free-draining alluvial soils, plenty of sunshine hours, and a long ripening season, provide the perfect 'terroir' for growing quality grapes. My notes: Pleasant herbal notes and refreshing acidity. Great with salads and seafood. Score: 87/100.
350827 MEURSAULT 2002 $49.95 AC, Burgundy, France (XD) 750 mL
Charton & Trébuchet: Pricey but worth it. Lots of mineral depth and layers along with ripe pears and tree fruit. Oak is a supporting cast member, not the protagonist. Great with most chicken dishes (except spicy) and creamy pastas. Score: 91/100.
960500 RIESLING SPÄTLESE 1997 $22.95 QmP, Rheingau, Germany, Erbacher Marcobrunn (M) Domänenweingut Schloss Schönborn: Medium body with a touch of sweetness blends perfectly with the aromas of peaches and citrus. Terrific with seafood, salads, creamy pastas. Score: 90/100.
642082 'VIÑAS DEL VERO' BLANCE 2003 $11.95 DO Somontano, Spain (D) Viñas del Vero: Oaky, smooth and simple. A nice price. Score: 84/100.
November 6: Recommended Red Wines
256834 PINOT NOIR 2000 $16.95 Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula (XD) Château des Charmes: This pinot rocks! Great value and taste for the price. Medium-bodied, with lots of ripe red cherries and spice, but is no fruit bomb. Perfect with salmon, pate and cold meats. Score: 88/100.
448241 'BIN 61' SHIRAZ 2001 $24.95 Clare Valley, South Australia (XD) Leasingham Wine: You like oak? Here you go. Though this is no chateau two by four. This full-bodied wine also got spice and black plums. Goes well with heated conversations. Score: 88/100.
606624 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $19.95 Margaret River, Western Australia (XD) Ringbolt: Vintages Catalogue (VC): Defined by the Indian and Southern oceans, the Margaret River wine region enjoys a temperate, maritime climate providing wonderful conditions for the growing of superior Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery is named for the ship called 'Ringbolt' which sunk in the late 1800s off this region's southern coast. Tasting note: Deep red in color with loads of cassis, blackberry and cocoa on the nose. Medium- to full-bodied, this luxurious Cabernet sports plum and mulberry flavors with a subtle hint of oak. Well-balanced with medium-firm tannins, this wine can be enjoyed now or cellared for three to five years. My two cents: Terrific with tomato-sauce pasta as it has a lovely backbone of acidity. Score: 89/100.
713040 'THE CUSTODIAN' GRENACHE 2000 $20.95 McLaren Vale, South Australia (D) d'Arenberg: Terrific wine. Full-bodied like shiraz but with an interesting kicker: notes of pepper, jammy cherries and blackberries. Score: 90/100.
315176 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2000 $49.95 'Don Melchor Private Reserve', Puente Alto Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (XD) Viña Concha y Toro: This wine shows the finesse and elegance that high-end Chilean wines are capable of. A powerful wine with Bordeaux breeding and balance. Big black fruit. Ideally drink 2005-2008. Score: 91/100.
640987 CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2002 $14.95 'Terrarum' Maipo Valley, Chile (XD) Viña Morandé S.A.: VC: For two decades, Pablo Morandé was one of the leaders of the team making wines at Concha y Toro. Among his many achievements are Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, which placed 12th on the Wine Spectator's 1997 list of Top 100 Wines. This was the first Chilean winery to obtain a rating of over 90 points for one of its wines. Pablo is currently considered to be one of the best three wine-growers in Chile. My note: Awesome value! Mocha notes and round dark fruit. Great with roast and grilled beef. Score: 89.5/100 Best Value Red Wine
971341 'LES GRANDS AUGUSTINS' 2003 $18.95 Vin de Pays d'Oc, Midi, France (XD) Tardieu-Laurent: Delicious with a pleasant bitter chocolate finish that goes on and on. Dark berries and plums. Luscious texture. Score: 88/100.
959999 CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2001 $37.95 AC, 'Cuvée du Baron', Château Fortia, Rhone, France (XD) Baron le Roy de Boiseaumarié, Prop.: Ripe plums and cedar, classic Rhone style. A big wine but not too heavy and dense. Perfect with roasts and stews. Also comes in the handy half bottle size: product number 640482 for $18.95. Score: 89/100.
974394 'CASTIGLIONI' 2001 $19.95 Cabernet Sauvignon , IGT Tuscany, Italy (XD) Marchesi de'Frescobaldi: More mocha warmth and black fruit goodness. Drink 2006-2006. Score: 89/100.
716050 AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA 2000 $53.95 DOC, Veneto, Italy (D) Brigaldara: For those who like the extra full-bodied palate whack of amarone (supersize me!). Almost cherry-liqueur-like in its density and richness. Also comes in the half bottle size for $27.95. Score: 90/100.
479766 VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2001 $23.95 DOC, Veneto, Italy 'Ripassa' (XD) Zenato: I've recommended this wine several years in a row now. Excellent value. Has all the elements in balance: good ripe red fruit, integrated oak, long finish. Full-bodied but not too dense. Score: 89/100.
November 20: Recommended Fortified and Dessert Wines
533364 'DOW'S' LBV 1998 $18.95 Late Bottled Vintage, Portugal Btld. 2004 (S) Silva & Cosens: VC: These wines come from the same vineyards that, in a year when a Vintage is "declared", produce Vintage Port. However, as they are bottled between the fourth and sixth year after the harvest, they mature more quickly and are ready to drink much sooner. My note: Incredible value for this rich, full-bodied after-dinner wine. Score: 89/100
641811 SELECT LATE HARVEST VIDAL 1999 $19.95 VQA Niagara Peninsula (S) 375 mL Stoney Ridge Estate Winery: Beautiful balance for this dessert wine! Not too sweet or cloying. Lovely pineapple and apricot on the nose. Drink it with nuts and cheeses. Score: 89/100.
972836 TOKAJI ASZU 1999 $22.95 5 Puttonyos, 'Blue Label' (S) 250 mL Royal Tokaji Wine Co., Hungary: VC: The Tokaj region is the source for one of the world's most seductive sweet wines. As in the production of Sauternes, 'noble rot' sets on the grapes, in the case Furmint, Hárslevelü and Muscat, draws out water and leaves concentrated, raisin-like berries. These grapes are made into a paste called Aszú. The aromas and flavors of the finished wine range from raisins and apricot marmalade to honey and tropical fruit. A real treat after dinner with blue cheese or butter tarts. Serve chilled at 12-15° C. My score: 90/100.
November 20: Recommended White Wines
650317 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003 $11.95 WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (D) Uitkyk Estate: Simple, quaffable and easy-drinking. Great for holiday parties. Score: 84/100. Best Value White Wine
724922 RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2002 $34.95 QmP, Nackenheimer Rothenberg, Rheinhessen, Germany (M) Weingut Gunderloch: My favorite white wines are German. This would be one of my stranded-on-a-dessert-island wines. Lovely pear fruit, mineral depth and a touch of sweetness that allows it to pair beautifully with slightly sweet dishes such as glazed ham or pork with apple sauce. The Gault Millau German Wine Guide (2004) named this wine the Best 2002 German Spätlese. Score: 92/100. Favorite White Wine
November 20: Recommended Red Wines
995480 CABERNET FRANC RESERVE 2002 $29.95 Wismer Vineyards, VQA Niagara Peninsula (D) Stoney Ridge Estate Winery: A stunning wine. Old World elegance and New World concentration. Lots of depth, richness and ripe dark red fruit. Drink 2005-2008. Score: 91/100.
590661 MERLOT 2001 $19.95 'Limited Release', VQA Okanagan Valley (XD) Quails' Gate Estate Winery: VC: This vintage of Quails' Gate's Merlot is a multi award winner. Produced exclusively from their own vineyards, 50% of the wine was barrel-fermented in American and French barrels. My note: Delicious, easy-drinking red with dark plums. Great with grilled meats and game dishes. Score: 88/100.
903245 'CARDINAL ZIN' 2002 $26.95 'Beastly Old Vines', California (D) Bonny Doon: Buy it for the witty label; drink it for the great wine. Vibrant, balanced and witty. Ripe cherries, lovely structure, long finish. Yea from screw caps! Would go with many dishes, from tomato-sauce pasta to meats and chicken. Score: 89/100.
510875 'ST. HENRI' SHIRAZ 2000 $49.95 South Australia (XD) Penfolds: I've loved this wine for many years. Terrific value. VC: Deep ruby color with a hint of brick. The complex aromas suggest plum, smoked meat, wood char and blackcurrant jam. It is dry with superior fruit flavors surrounded by ripe yet still firm tannins. Full-bodied with a very long finish. Enjoyable now with rare cuts of meat, but will definitely reward 3-5+ years in a cellar. Superb. My score: 90/100.
604009 CHÂTEAU FERRAND-LARTIGUE 1999 $53.95 AC St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (XD): Gorgeous wine with dark red fruit, leather, tar. Full-bodied but balanced. Score: 91/100. Favorite Red Wine
608802 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $14.95 Regional Wine of Trifilia, Greece (XD) Domaine Dereskos: A simple but robust wine with smoky oak and red fruit. Score: 86/100.
986786 TIGNANELLO 2000 $ 89.95 IGT Tuscany, Italy (XD) Marchesi Antinori: Since some folks collect this Super Tuscan, I thought I'd comment, even though I think it's over-priced. Still, a gorgeous wine with exotic aromas of herbs, cassis and black plums. Mouth-watering. Great with hearty meat dishes. Drink 2005-2010. Score: 90/100.
608471 'CASA DE SANTAR' TINTO SUPERIOR 2001 $15.95 DOC Dao, Portugal (XD) Soc. Agr. de Santar: A simple, full-bodied, peppery wine that would divine with a pepper steak or grilled meats. Score: 87/100.
726679 PERIQUITA CLASSICO 1995 $26.95 Vinho Regional Terras do Sado (D) José Maria da Fonseca: A vibrant, densely-packed wine with dark red fruit and a slight grip. Great with meat dishes. Drink 2005-2008. Score: 88/100.