Wine Picks for June 10, 2006

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Argentinean White Wine

CASA DE CAMPO 'CEPAS PRIVADAS' CHARDONNAY 2004 VC: Bodegas Santa Ana, one of Argentina's oldest and most popular producers, in recent years, has made a name for itself internationally. The winery boasts some of the finest vineyards in the Cuyo region of Mendoza. This fruit-forward Chardonnay is an excellent value and would be terrific with grilled pork and pineapple shish kebabs. My note: Big, oaky and blousy with round, buttery notes. Drink with corn dishes and lobster. Fantastic price. Product number = 683946 (D = dry) 750 mL $11.95 Score: 86/100.

Australian Red Wine

ANGOVE'S 'RED BELLY BLACK' SHIRAZ 2003 South Australia VC: This wine is named for the dangerous Red Bellied Black snake that is indigenous to Southeastern Australia. Expect ripe black fruit characteristics with notes of pepper, coffee, vanilla and eucalyptus. Perfect for barbecued lamb chops. My note: Awesome wine for the money. Deep, rich and black-hearted. A great wine to give to a bad boyfriend or girlfriend with whom you've just split... it sends the perfect mixed message of "you're a reptile" and "you've just lost a person with exceptional taste." Product number = 566877 (XD = extra dry) 750 mL $16.95 Score: 90/100. Best Value Red Wine

JUNIPER CROSSING CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT 2003 Margaret River, Western Australia Juniper Estate VC: This scrumptious 'second label' from Juniper Estate is comprised of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. My note: Gorgeous aromas of black plums and dried herbs. Dry with some tannins so decant for an hour first. Drink with hearty meat dishes. 684019 (XD) 750 mL $15.95 Score: 89.5/100.

RICHARD HAMILTON 'GUMPRS' SHIRAZ 2002 McLaren Vale, South Australia: Juicy and plummy, lip-smacking delicious. 600122 (XD) 750 mL $19.95 Score: 87/100.

RICHARD HAMILTON 'HUT BLOCK' CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2002 McLaren Vale, South Australia VC: Named after the picker's hut at the front of the property, the 'hut block' vineyard possesses free-draining soil, a cool southerly aspect and low yielding vines that produce intensely flavored fruit. Expect this medium-bodied Cab to have layers of blackberry and prune fruit, hints of mint and green pepper and some oaky notes from the 15 months in a barrel. Enjoy with braised ribs or rare steak. My note: Big bruiser of a wine to wallop your palate. 567917 (XD) 750 mL $19.95 Score: 89/100.

South African Red Wine

STEENBERG MERLOT 2003 WO Constantia VC: Food match: rosemary/garlic encrusted leg of lamb. My note: Lovely, with herbs, black plums and exotic layers of flavors. Full-bodied. Drink with steak and stew. 673970 (D) 750 mL $19.95 Score: 90/100.

French Wine

PIERRE SPARR GEWURZTRAMINER MAMBOURG Alsace, France: Classic gewurz: lychee, rose petal and orange peel. Lovely rich layers and complexity. Drink with Asian and other spicy dishes and aged hard cheeses. (MD) 750 mL bottle Score: 90/100. Favorite White Wine

CLOS DE L`ORATOIRE 2003 'Comtes de Neipperg', AC St-Émilion Grand Cru VC: As is sometimes the case in Bordeaux, this wine was purchased from several different négociants. For this reason, each parcel has a different LCBO number. The price is the same for all lots. In stores, ask for this wine by name. My note: Aromas of dark chocolate, spice and currants. Balance, depth and richness. Full-bodied. Drink 2008-2015. 590919 (D) 750 mL $69.95 Score: 90/100. Favorite Red Wine

German White Wine

LOOSEN BROTHERS 'DR. L' RIESLING 2004 QbA Mosel-Saar-Ruwer VC: Ernst Loosen's delicious entry-level 'Dr. L' makes a great introduction to Riesling. My note: Fantastic wine for the money. Floral and ripe peach notes. Drink with Asian and medium spice dishes. 599274 (MD = medium dry, meaning a touch of divine sweetness) 750 mL $13.95 Score: 88/100. Best Value White Wine

VON OTHEGRAVEN RIESLING KABINETT 2004 QmP, Ockfen Bockstein, Estate Btld. VC: Classic Mosel-Saar-Ruwer aromas of slate, floral and lime zest. The nose also displays the unmistakably lovely aroma of shallots and mushroom, suggesting the use of wild yeast. Medium dry, light and lively, this is a stylish Riesling. A perfect summer sipper. My note: Floral and mineral notes. Lots of length on the finish. Drink with shellfish, seafood and salads. 685354 (MD) 750 mL $18.95 Score: 89.5/100.

Italian Red Wine
'I CASTEI' VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE RIPASSO 'COSTAMARAN' 2003 DOC (Michele Castellani) VC: Deep ruby color with intense aromas of cooked fruit, Cherries Jubilee and raisins. It is dry, very ripe, intense and sweet centered. This medium-bodied wine has a lingering finish. It will match nicely to barbecued backribs with a rich sauce. My note: Dry cherries and spice. Perfect for pasta in tomato sauce and pizza. 972406 (D) 750 mL $17.95 Score: 88/100.

Canadian Wine

2004 Flat Rock Cellars Rusty Shed Chardonnay VQA (1552, $29.95) 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Niagara, Ontario VC: After months of postponing the painting of a rusty old shed in the middle of their premier Chardonnay vineyard, the folks at Flat Rock decided to name their top-tier Chardonnay after it. Guess they won't bother painting it now. My note: An exotic and intriguing wine from a new five-level gravity flow winery that practices organic farming. Richly layered aromas of green apples, melon, vanilla and hazelnuts. Heaven. Drink with roast chicken, lobster, corn dishes. Score: 90/100.

2005 Flat Rock Cellars Twisted White VQA (1578, $18.95) 12.0% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1 Niagara, Ontario VC: A fruit-driven, aromatic blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Chardonnay that would match freshwater fish or a chicken briani. Aromas suggest lime, grapefruit, peach, ripe apple and a hint of spice. Slightly off-dry, it comes across as fairly dry on the finish due to nice acid core. Medium-bodied with a lingering finish. My note: A blend of gewürztraminer, Riesling and chardonnay that creates alluring aromas of lychees, rose petals and orange blossoms. Spectacular with Asian dishes, medium spicy fare, pork, roast chicken. Score: 89/100.

2004 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir VQA (1560, $29.95) 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Niagara, Ontario: A gorgeous pinot from a new five-level gravity flow winery that practices organic farming. The best of the New World with its layers of cherry fruit and earth and the Old World with its balance and elegance. Drink with salmon, pâté, pork and chicken. Score: 90/100.

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