Wine Picks October 14, 2006

By Natalie MacLean Print this page   Send this page to a friend

Australian Red Wine

CAPE MENTELLE CABERNET/MERLOT 2004 Margaret River, Western Australia: Aromas of mint, dark chocolate and black fruit. Full-bodied and brooding. Great price. Drink with hearty meat dishes and muscular men. 452508 (XD) 750 mL $21.95 Score: 90/100.

VASSE FELIX CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2003 Margaret River, Western Australia: The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 3% Merlot, and 3% Shiraz. This wine spent 18 months in French, American and Hungarian oak. It has gorgeous layers of juicy ripe red fruit. Full-bodied. Drink 2006-2012. 686543 (XD) 750 mL $34.95 Score: 90/100.

New Zealand White Wine

'KOTARE' SAUVIGNON 2005 Marlborough, South Island (Riversleigh Estate) VC: Kotare (pronounced ko-tar-ee) is the local name for New Zealand's indigenous kingfisher bird. Kotare is also the name for Riversleigh Estate's single estate line of wines. Expect classic Marlborough aromas of gooseberry and passion fruit with hints of nettle and fresh herbs. A great match for crab legs or grilled prawns. My note: Great value for this herbal, refreshing wine. Ideal partners for salads, chicken, vegetarian dishes and pasta in cream sauce. 687780 (XD) 750 mL $15.95 Score: 88/100.

French White Wine

JEAN CHARTRON PULIGNY-MONTRACHET 2004 AC Burgundy, Vieilles Vignes VC: Lifted aromas of peach, apricot, tropical fruit, butter and a hint of floral are all on display here. It is dry, intense, round, yet well-balanced and youthful (may age 2-4 years). This full-bodied, long finishing wine is an excellent choice for grilled salmon or other flavorful fish. My note: If you love oaky, blousy, full-bodied chardonnay that went to an Old World finishing school, this is the one for you. 525097 (XD) 750 mL $62.95 Score: 90/100. Favorite White Wine

French Red Wine

'LES TERRES BLEUES' CÔTE DE BROUILLY 2005 AC Beaujolais (Collin-Bourisset) VC: A food-friendly Gamay with aromas of violets, gladioli, table grapes and cherry blossoms. It is dry, smooth, easy-drinking and nicely balanced by an acid crispness. The flavors are fairly intense and it has a substantial finish. Serve with a baked cloved ham. My note: Light-bodied and happy. Perfect for cold chicken and pate. 590521 (D) 750 mL $15.95

DOMAINE CHEVALIER CÔTE DE NUITS-VILLAGES 2002 AC Burgundy VC: A Pinot Noir with classic aromas of cherry (sour and glazed) and beet root. It is dry, silky, medium-bodied with a solid tannic grip (suggesting 3-4 years in a cellar). It may also be enjoyed today with grilled quail, calf's liver or veal tenderloin. My note: Aromas of pleasant sour cherries, with a medium-bodied silky texture. Very slippery wine: goes down faster than you'd expect. Drink during acts of seduction. 006817 (XD) 750 mL $29.95 Score: 90/100. Favorite Red Wine

AC Burgundy VC: A cherry/berry dominated Pinot Noir with hints of almond and earth. It is dry, supple and approachable. Light- to medium-bodied with a lingering finish, it would be fine match for a tourtiere, rabbit or beef bourguignon. My note: Good value for this mouth-awakening wine... lively acidity that makes it perfect for salmon and pate. 727966 (XD) 750 mL $19.95 Score: 88/100.

DOMAINE BASSAC MERLOT 2004 Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue (Delhon-Frères, Vitic.) VC: This wine is certified organic by ECOCERT. The Quality Assurance laboratory has determined that this wine contains 25 mg/l of free sulphur. A cheerful, jammy, cherry/caramel and floral aroma-centric wine. It is a dry, soft, round, easy-drinking, sipping wine. My note: Juicy and purply; a simple, lip-smacking good wine. 730978 (D) 750 mL $12.95 Score: 87/100. Best Value Red Wine

MAS DES BRESSADES CABERNET/SYRAH 2004 Vin de Pays du Gard Rhone: Good value. Syrupy, dense cherry aromas; very concentrated and full-bodied. 712174 (D) 750 mL $16.95 Score: 89/100.

MAS DE BOISLAUZON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2003 AC Rhone (Chaussy Monique et Daniel, Vign-Récolt.): Aromas of cherries, cedar and dense red fruit. 004333 (XD) 750 mL $39.95 Score: 89/100.

CHÂTEAU LE RAZ 'CUVÉE GRAND CHÊNE 2000 AC Côtes de Bergerac southwest France (Vign. Barde) VC: A pleasing blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromas suggest currant, cured tobacco and new leather. It is dry, elegant and supple with resolved tannins. This long-finishing wine is a good choice with grilled turkey breast or roasted leg of lamb. My note: Fantastic value. Full-bodied goodness of red-black ripe fruit. Drink with meaty dishes and discussions. 718932 (XD) 750 mL $17.95 Score: 89/100.

German White Wine

GESCHWISTER SIMON RIESLING KABINETT 2005 QmP Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Ayler Kupp, Estate Btld. VC: The 2005 vintage in Germany is being widely hailed as a classic with many winemakers claiming it as the best they have ever seen. Riesling fans will want to grab all they can from this spectacular year, especially when wines like this lime, slate and floral-scented Kabinett from the Saar region offer such incredible value. You can try this very lively wine in its youth as an aperitif or with baked trout, or cellar for 5-10 years. My note: Fantastic value! Off dry, with fragrant aromas of peaches and summers gone. Drink with Asian dishes, light curries and seafood. 919449 (MD) 750 mL $13.95 Score: 89/100. Best Value White Wine

Nat Decants 100-Point Scale

95-100 Brilliant, Exceptional
90-94 Excellent, Superb
89.5 Hovering on the doorstep of excellence, better than very good
85-89 Very Good
80-84 Good (still worth buying and drinking)
79 and below Average to poor (I don't include these in the newsletter due to space constraints)

Favorite Wines: This isn't necessarily the wine with the highest score, as high scores go to the wines that best typify their region and style. Rather my favorite wines are just that: the ones that appeal to me most personally and to my own taste.

Best Value Wines: Not necessarily the cheapest wine, but the one that maximizes the price-quality ratio. (Although I don't always go by strict mathematical ratios on this either, but rather what seems to me to represent tremendous value.)

For more details on how I do my wine reviews and tips on how to find these wines click here.

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