January Release Recommendations
By Natalie MacLean
Jan 11: Highly Recommended White Wines
453472 Chateau des Charmes Gewürztraminer 2000, Niagara $14.95: If you like gewurz, this is an excellent example: lychee nuts and mineral notes.
712794 Katnook Estate Riddoch Chardonnay 2000, Australia $14.90: Lovely, balanced, buttery chard. Comes in the half bottle too (plan ahead for those nights on your own now).
954354 Heathfield Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2000, Australia $15.95: Terrific herbal zest and classic SB acidity. Great with food. My Top Value White Wine
988873 Firstland Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2001, New Zealand $22.35: Another classic SB with gooseberry and asparagus (this is a good thing).
727032 Egon Muller Riesling 2001, Germany $15.80: The first one of those lovely rieslings I mentioned up top: good acidity, and a nice touch of sweetness. (Everyone talks dry, but likes a touch sweet -- don't worry, it doesn't mean you're less evolved -- this sweetness has nothing to do with those baby animal labels you drank in college.)
726521 Weingut Schumann-Nagler Riesling Kabinett 2001, Germany $16.85: Another zippy riesling but completely dry tasting with floral and peach notes.
Jan 11: Highly Recommended Red Wines
733758 Cline Cellars Syrah 2000, California $18.50: Huge with dark fruit, great price for this full-bodied wine.
990507 Ridge Vineyards Petite Syrah 1999, California $45.95: Hey, who are you callin' petite buddy? Nothing small about this palate-whopper: more dark fruit, etc.
263418 Columbia Crest Merlot 1999, Washington $19.95: One of the best value wines around -- this winery somehow squeezes more flavour into the bottle per dollar than most others. Rich dark fruit, smooth drinking, full-bodied.
590471 Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Australia $29.00: I think at this point, we should agree on an acronym for big dark fruit (BDF) -- OK with you? Plus you get some plums dipped in chocolate fondue with this one.
567917 Hamilton Wine Group Cabernet Sauvignon Hut Block 2000, Australia $22.80: Maybe you think acidity in red wine is just weird, but I like it -- balanced with the fruit and tannin, of course. It makes a wine mouth-watering and juicy. This medium-bodied wine also has lovely ripe red fruit.
489021 Tollana TR16 Shiraz 1999, Australia $21.50: Solid, all-round good drinking wine, balanced.
945147 Chateau Hanteillan 1999, Bordeaux $18.85: Looking for that classic Old World aromas and palate, but don't have an Old World inheritance to pay for it? This wine does a superb job for the price: a light to medium-bodied wine, a touch tannic, cedar, currant. Won't age though, drink now.
722009 Chateau la Fleur Chaigneau 2000, Bordeaux $31.45: Old World again but much richer, deeper and full-bodied than the one above. This one should age -- it has riper fruit in the balance.
550640 Chateau la Garde 1998, Bordeaux $42.65: Old World, touch tannic, smoky, dark fruit. Parker gave it 87.
942607 G. Ricasoli Firidolfi Chianti Classico 1998, Tuscany $43.45: Mamma mia, you should eat more darling -- look how thin you're getting! And drink this too -- it will make you feel better. Love this chianti -- classic mouth-watering sour cherries. Send pasta fast. My Favourite Red Wine (Tied)
709527 Castelli del Grevepesa Chianti Classico Riserva 1995, Tuscany $26.30: You want mamma to worry? Then eat already! Another wonderful chianti.
716050 Az. Agric. Brigaldara Amarone 1998, Italy $38.95: A sledge-hammer of a wine -- HUGE, but gorgeous. 15.5% alcohol (!)
Jan 25: Highly Recommended White Wines
607200 Cedar Creek Chardonnay 2000, BC $21.30: Lovely, buttery balanced chard.
988519 Grand Cru Vineyards Chardonnay 2000, California $15.35: Big, bold and beautiful buttery chard.
985994 West Brook Sauvignon Brook 2002, New Zealand $13.95: Pure lawn-mower (John Deere, I think): herbal, fresh-cut grass -- great value!
956219 Delheim Chardonnay 2001, South Africa $14.65: Big, buttery chard.
723411 Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Spatlese 1989, Germany $21.75: Perfect! Good acidity, tree fruit, touch of sweetness -- please try it, for me? My Favourite White Wine
950212 Weingut Kurt Darting Riesling Kabinett 2001, Germany $13.20: Very pleasant, a bit diesel (that's good), mineral, melon.
Jan 25: Highly Recommended Red Wines
585760 Quail's Gate Pinot Noir 2000, BC $18.90: Very good all-round, balanced PN.
932541 Erath Pinot Noir 2000, Oregon $23.95: Very good PN, ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit, silky texture and finish.
363291 Hogue Cellars Johannisberg Riesling 2001, Washington $12.70: I always thought of Washington as producing warm-climate merlot and cabernet, but they make awesome rieslings too (cold nights give the acidity, warm days, the fruit ripeness). This is a very good value for riesling -- excellent party wine.
950295 Gordon Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Washington $35.45: Smooth, elegant with lots of body, dark fruit.
949651 Chateau Ste Michelle Syrah 2000, Washington $19.55: The next big red from this state is syrah -- gorgeous aromas, dark fruit and finish.
226662 Rosemount Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Show Reserve 1999, Australia $28.95: Over-the-top delicious, chocolate a faint whiff of mint. Mmmmmmm. (Yes, that's a wine writer's technical term that combines several adjectives.) My Favourite Red Wine (Tied)
492835 B. Seppelt Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Australia $21.35: Juicy, ripe cassis and blackberry.
584722 Lindemans Padthaway Cabernet/Merlot 1998, Australia $15.95: Fabulous for the price, big dark fruit (I forget that acronym now).
422782 Penfolds Kalima Shiraz 1999, Australia $29.95: Excellent, ripe plums, supple.
509919 Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 1999, Australia $29.95: Lovely dark juicy fruit. James Halliday (Australia critic) gave it 90.
955708 Beaumont Ariane 2001, South Africa $17.60: Mouth-watering red blend with spice, dark fruit and a kiss of oak.
711705 Trumpeter Malbec 2000, Argentina $12.95: Never though malbec on its own could taste this good! Rich chocolate, dark fruit, spice. My Best Value Red Wine
727354 Bodegas y Vinedos Crotta Malbec 1999, Argentina $12.80: Not quite as great as the one above, but very good. Cherry and plum.
960807 Vina San Pedro Reserva Carmenere 2000, Chile $13.55: Balanced, easy-drinking wine with juicy acidity and fruit.
731380 Chateau Rousset Grande Reserve 1999, Bordeaux $14.95: Excellent value for Bordeaux. Currant and cherry, touch tannic.
707984 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent 2000, Beaujolais $19.75: Lovely light-bodied wine, ripe red cherries.
738237 Les Jamelles Mouvedre 2000, Midi, France $9.95: Terrific value, plumy, juicy.
959288 Les Domaine Charles Frederic Syrah 1999, Midi $13.30: Fabulous wine! Currents, plums and earth.
716266 San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva 1998, Tuscany $25.95: Classic chianti -- mamma is smiling now.
718999 Bodegas Castano Hecula 2000, Spain $12.80: Wonderful value for an Old World, cedary, dark fruit wine. Parker gave it a 90 -- exceptional.