Great Value Wines October 2005
By Natalie MacLean
2004 Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc, Rapel Valley, Chile (269597; $8.95): Crisp aromas of grapefruit and other citrus fruit. Pair with seafood, salads and vegetarian dishes. Score: 85/100.
2005 Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Chile (275677; $12.95): A refreshing, crisp white with herbal and grapefruit aromas. Pair with salads, seafood, chicken. Score: 85/100.
2004 Santa Carolina Chardonnay, Rapel Valley, Chile (259192; $9.95): A round, lightly buttery chard with a nice dose of oak, vanillin and smoke. Aromas of ripe pears. Pair with corn dishes and chicken. Score: 85/100.
2004 Carmen Nativa Chardonnay, Maipo Valley, Chile (975219; $17.95) (D = dry) ViŮa Carmen: Lovely chard with aromas of ripe peaches, melon and pineapple. No artificial pesticides or fertilizers were used, only wild yeast. Not too heavy on the oak, with 8 months in French oak. Medium- to full-bodied. Score: 87/100.
2004 Secret Stone Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 12.5% alcohol, dry (661967; $22.95): This winery is located at the top of the island and experienced a longer than usual growing season in 2004. This translated into ripe and refreshing grapefruit, citrus and herbal aromas. Pair it with seafood, shellfish, salads, vegetarian dishes, chicken and pasta in cream sauce. (To be released in the LCBO Nov 26/05; although itís also available in wine stores in other regions.) Score: 89/100.
2004 House of Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand dry (554444; $15.40): A zippy white with tangy aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit and peaches. Pair it with pasta, smoked salmon, shellfish and chicken. A double gold medal winner at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Several generations of the family have been making wine for 300 years. Score: 88/100.
2003 Ch‚teau des Charmes Riesling, Estate Bottled VQA, Niagara, Ontario (277228; $15.95): This estate grown wine has vibrant aromas of lemon, lime and other citrus fruits that pair so well with pasta in cream sauce as well as soft cheeses and roasted nuts. This wine won a gold medal in the Ontario Wine Awards. 905-262-4219; www.chateaudescharmes.com Score: 88/100.
2000 Cave Spring Cellars Chardonnay VQA, Beamsville Bench, Ontario 13.5% alcohol (529941; $30): One of my favorite chardonnays from Niagara. Grown on limestone soil, which gives the wine a lovely minerality under its ripe aromas of peaches. Score: 89/100.
2004 Jackson-Triggs Proprietorís Reserve Dry Riesling VQA, Okanagan, B.C. 13.2% alcohol, dry (543835; $11.99): Zesty aromas of lemon and green apples that would complement pasta in cream sauce, seafood, sushi, roast pork, ham and light- to medium curries and spicy Asian dishes. An elegant and subtle wine which was cold fermented to extract the riesling character and preserve the freshness of the fruit. 250-498-4981; www.jacksontriggswinery.com Score: 86/100.
2003 Sandhill Pinot Blanc Burrowing Owl Vineyard VQA, Okanagan, B.C. 14% alcohol, dry (541185; $15.99): A medium-bodied, mouth-filling wine from vintner Howard Soon. Lovely aromas of ripe pears, melons and peaches and subtle oak in the background that will pair with white fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes. 250-762-3332; www.sandhillwines.ca Score: 88/100.
2003 Calona Vineyards Pinot Blanc Artist Series No. 6 VQA, Okanagan, B.C. 13% alcohol, dry (261024; $12.99): A mouth-watering wine with food-friendly crispness. Aromas of pineapple, lemon and mandarin and a touch of oak. Pair it with sushi, seafood and salads. Be sure not to serve over-chilled: if you can see your fingerprints on the bottleís condensation, itís too cold to detect these lovely aromas. 604-267-9463; www.calonavineyards.ca Score: 87/100.
2004 NKíMip Inkameep Cellars Pinot Blanc VQA, Okanagan, B.C. 13% alcohol, dry (626432; $14.49): The name of this winery means where the creek joins the lake. This wine has a classic pinot blanc signature of lemon and grapefruit. Its refreshing zestiness will pair well with seafood, shellfish, salads and vegetarian dishes. 250-495-2985; www.nkmipcellars.com Score: 87/100.
2003 Caliterra Merlot, Chile (466482; $9.95): This smooth, velvet texture with aromas of plush plums was produced by a gravity-flow winery, meaning the fruit and juice were handled gently. Fall into it and lose yourself. Drink it with roast pork and chicken. Score: 87/100.
2004 Gato Negro Merlot (San Pedro), Lontuť Valley, Chile ($8.85): Medium-bodied, smooth red fruit. Simple and tasty. Score: 85/100.
2004 Santa Rita 120 Merlot, Rapel Valley, Chile 13.5% alcohol, dry ($9.95): Simple and robust with aromas of blackberries. Pair with hearty meat dishes and barbecue. Score: 85/100.
2004 Calama Merlot, Chile 14% alcohol, dry (612440; $9.40): Aromas of dark chocolate, dark red fruit and spice. Pair with rare steak and peppercorn dishes. A touch tannic. Drink 2005-2007. Score: 87/100.
2003 Santa Carolina Merlot Reserve, Colchagua Valley, Chile 13.5% alcohol, dry ($12.95): Made from vineyards at the foothills of the Andes. This wine spent nine months in oak. Rich, deep layers of mocha, dark plums and smoky oak. Long, elegant finish. Score: 87/100.
2003 Vina Carmen Grande Vidure Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($16.95): Elegant, balanced and smooth. Rich aromas of black plums and blackberries. Drink with stews, roasts and steaks. Score: 88/100.
2003 Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rapel Valley, Chile ($9.95): Classic aromas of blackcurrant, cassis and leather. Rich and robust. Spent four months in oak. Drink with steak. A touch tannic. Drink 2005-2007. Score: 87/100.
2003 Santa Digna Cabernet Miguel Torres, Chile 14% alcohol, dry (177451; $13.95): Juicy red with bright red fruit. Spent six months in American oak. Pair with barbecue and grilled meats. Drink 2005-2007. Vintages Essentials. Score: 87/100.
2003 Santa Carolina Cabernet Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile 13.5% alcohol, dry (275925; $12.95): Elegant Bordeaux-style red with vibrant New World fruit. Aromas of dark plums, mocha and smoke. Long finish. Score: 88/100.
2002 Carmen Nativa Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile (D = dry) ViŮa Carmen (975359; $18.95): VC: Organic wines, such as this one, are becoming increasingly popular in the market place as more and more people embrace healthy lifestyles. Our Quality Assurance laboratory has determined that this wine contains 10 ppm of free sulfur. My note: Very full-bodied, almost liqueur-like in its jammy red fruit. Aged in French oak for 10 months. Supple texture and full-bodied. Score: 87/100.
2003 Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 212993 $14.80 12.5% Alcohol/Vol., Sugar Content: 1, Chile: The winery that the British wine writer Hugh Johnson dubbed "The First Growth of Chile. This is an awesome wine and value that I've recommended several times. Lovely rich cassis, plums and currants. Score: 88/100.
2003 Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Aconcagua Valley, Chile (335174; $17.90): A gorgeous, rich red with aromas of mocha, black cherries and blackberries. This wine spent 15 months in French and American oak. Fascinating! Full-bodied. Score: 90/100.
2002 Tarapaca Merlot Maipo Valley, Chile (5588668; $12.95): Richly concentrated wine with aromas of dried herbs, black plums and a spicy finish. Elegant, balanced and full-bodied. Pair with steaks, meats and game. Score: 89/100.
2003 Santa Alicia Gran Reserva Merlot Maipo Valley, Chile 13.5% alcohol ($12): Gold medal winner at the 2002 Vinexpo Japan. A ripe and powerful wine with delicious dark aromas of prunes and chocolate. Drink with Italian dishes and meats. Score: 89/100.
2003 Carmen Reserve Merlot, Casablanca Valley, Chile (620690; $16.95): This wine comes from the Casablanca Valley, a cool climate region now considered one of Chileís best. Bursting with ripe dark plums, blackberries, dried herbs and spices. It was aged 10 months in French and American oak. Pair this full-bodied wine with steak and stew. Drink 2005-2009. Score: 90/100.
2004 Casillero del Diablo Carmenere, Chile (620666; $11.95): Plush and generous wine with rich aromas of plums, blackberries and violets. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Score: 89/100.
2002 Santa Rita Shiraz, Maipo Valley, Chile ($12.95): A surprisingly vibrant wine with bright purple plums, berries and a plush texture. Full-bodied. Score: 89/100.
1999 Hoya de Candenas Reserva Tempranillo DO Spain 12.5% alcohol (889781; $10.65): Aged 12 months in oak. A generous and smooth wine with dark red fruit aromas. Drink with grilled meats and when you want out of your cabernet rut. Score: 86/100.
2003 Ravenswood Vintnerís Blend Zinfandel, California 13.5% alcohol (359257; $19.95): A wine that I recommend year after year, because it is as consistent as the tides, as lovely as a sunset. (Geez.) Bursting with berry goodness. One of my favorite zins. Aged 12 months in oak. Drink it with most meat dishes, including barbecue and grilled meats. Score: 90/100.
2002 Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz, Australia (189415; $15.95): Delicious jammy red fruit with cool mint aroma. Full-bodied and robust. Drink with hearty meat dishes. Score: 88/100.
2002 Black Opal Shiraz, Australia (474163; $14.95): A simple and juicy red with sweet aromas of ripe plums and mint. Full-bodied. Score: 86/100.
2003 Peter Lehmann Shiraz Grenache, Barossa Valley, Australia 14.5% alcohol, dry (610725; $14.95): Terrific value for this rich, generous and robust red. Aromas of black cherries and plums. Pair it with steak, sausages and other hearty dishes. Great for the barbecue. The added bonus is the screw cap. (I love it when I donít have to risk buying tainted wine.) Score: 88/100.
2001 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia (502039; $19.95): Sue Hodder is as consistent at making wine as Nadia Comaneci was on the parallel bars. She is spotless in her execution and in her delivery of taste and value. She nails it every vintage, it seems. This wine is rich, round and balanced. Aromas of blackcurrant, mocha and practice. Score: 88/100.
2002 Black Opal Shiraz, South Eastern Australia (474163; $14.95): A simple, juicy red with aromas of blackberries and black pepper. Drink wearing a casual black outfit or maybe plaid. Score: 86/100.
2004 Little Penguin Merlot, Australia (598912; $11.95): A juicy, delicious, simple wine with aromas of sweet berries and innocence. Score: 86/100.
2002 Katnook Founderís Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia ($17.95): Terrific value for this robust wine with aromas of fragrant red fruit such as plums and berries. A generous wine with a vanillin oak polish. Drink 2005-2009. Pair with red meats, game dishes and hearty dishes. The added bonus is the screw cap closure. (I love it when I donít have to risk buying tainted wine.) To be released in the LCBO Oct 29/05; although itís also available in wine stores in other regions. Score: 89/100.
2002 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, Australia 14.5% alcohol, dry (309625; $35.95): A well-balanced and elegant wine with good structure. Full-bodied with aromas of mocha, black plums, spicy oak and slight mint. Drink 2005-2010. Score: 90/100.
2003 Fassati Le Gaggiole Chianti, Tuscany, Italy (620765; $12.95): Looking for all-purpose but delicious Italian red to go with pasta, lasagna, pizza and sausage? Well, here you go then. This medium-bodied and balanced red goes down as easy as the Tuscan sun. Aromas of bright red cherries with a hint of happiness. Score: 87/100.
1997 Los Molinos Gran Reserva, Valdepenas, Spain dry (620971; $13.95): The wine, made from the traditional tempranillo grape of Spain, offers surprising elegance and maturity for the money. Itís drinking beautifully now; no need to age it and yet you get the benefit of some serious cellar time. The vines are grown on chalky soil in a temperate climate. Aromas of smoke, leather, dried plums and figs. This full-bodied wine is perfect for roasts, grilled meat, steak, stew and other hearty dishes. Score: 88/100.
2003 Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Franc VQA, Okanagan, B.C. 14.4% alcohol, dry (593038; $16.99): Deep and ripe aromas of plums and blackberries. Full-bodied and robust, with layers of warmth for cold winter evenings. 250-494-0451; www.sumacridge.com Pair it with hearty meat dishes and good conversation. Score: 87/100.
2002 Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Merlot VQA, Okanagan, B.C. 14.8% alcohol, dry (593053; $19.99): A round and simple wine with a velvet-smooth texture. Ripe plums and berries. Pair with medium or well-done steak, roasts and grilled meats. 250-494-0451; www.sumacridge.com Score: 85/100.
2002 Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon VQA, Okanagan, B.C. 14.5% alcohol, dry (593095; $19.99): A rich and deep red with a terrific structure and balance. Lovely aromas of dark red fruit, pepper and spice. Pair with red meat, stews and hearty dishes. 250-494-0451; www.sumacridge.com Score: 88/100.
2003 De Bortoli Noble One, Australia 375 ml half bottle, sweet (917252; $27.95): This luscious wine is bursting with ripe pears and peaches. It has a texture of unctuous richness. Itís perfect on its own or with fruit-based desserts. Score: 90/100.
Please note: Many of the B.C. wines recommended here are sold only in that province. This is why I've included their phone numbers and web sites so that you can contact the winery to find out if there's a local retailer or whether the winery will ship the product to you.
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Copyright © 2005 by Natalie MacLean. All rights reserved. Please ask permission of the author before copying or using this material.