July Release Recommendations
By Natalie MacLean
July 6: Highly Recommended White & Sweet Wines
958975 Mer Soleil Chardonnay 1999, California $59.95: it's worth the big pricetag -- exotic pear and tree fruit aromas with just the right amount of balanced oak, rich and mouth-filling without being too heavy, a gorgeous wine (please bring this one if you come to my house OK?)
971929 Lanzerac Chardonnay 1999, South Africa $15.85: good, solid oaky chard
711812 Rully 2000 (Chardonnay), Burgundy $24.95: Rully, rully good chard (couldn't resist) -- lovely exotic spicy tree fruit -- and bonus, it comes in the half size for $13.95 (711952) -- think ahead to those summer evenings on your own and you only need a half bottle
July 6: Highly Recommended Red Wines
714816 Blackstone Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, California $22.95: smooth medium-full-bodied cab, dark fruit, not tons of oak, a touch bitter on the finish (nice bitter not bitter bitter)
732503 Ravenswood Zinfandel 1999, California $28.40: One of California's best zin producers (remember the Three Rs: Ravenswood, Ridge and Rosenblum), mouth-watering and juicy with medium body and loads of fruit -- a great red for summer because it's not too heavy (nor is it wimpy)
598128 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2000, Australia $16.95: very yummy and plummy, all-round delicious, medium to full-bodied shiraz
949206 Kies Family Shiraz Lyndoch Hills 2000, Australia $24.70: better than the shiraz above, a little more minty too, dark plums.
981183 D'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 1999, Australia $39.95: If you like your shiraz huge and I mean HUGE -- lots of alcohol and black fruit that gives you a kangaroo kick in the palate, then this is the bruiser for you.
746651 Vina Casa del Bosque Merlot Reserve 2000, Chile $16.75: very smooth and luscious -- generally I find Chilean wines cheap disappointments, but this one is a pleasant surprise.
420869 Chateau Musar 1993, Lebanon $44.80: This is one of my favourite wines in great years, but I have the 1993 in my cellar and I find it to be not one of the better vintages -- keep trying this wine though, it's worth it when you hit a great year.
July 20: Highly Recommended White & Sweet Wines
729921 Rush Creek Spiced Apple, Ontario $11.70: If you like apple cinnamon crumble, that you have to try this -- it's so delicious... pie-in-a-glass... it's like spicy, hard cider but more refined.
726216 Archibald Orchards Sweet Apple/Black Currant, Ontario $14.95: The apple makes the currant flavour less dark and more balanced -- another lovely dessert wine that would go beautifully well with a fruit flan.
708255 Voyager Estate Chardonnay 1999, Australia $24.90: This winery is starting to pop up on my vinous radar screen consistently -- I've recommended reds from them in the past, and whadaya know, they make good whites too? This lovely chard has just the right amount of acidity to balance the fruit and full-bodied texture of the wine.
931212 Domaine des Cassagnoles 2001, France $8.50: Here's your cheap-wine-in-disguise party vino -- mouth-watering, fresh fruit and pleasant aromas.
972323 Mecsekaljai Rizlingszilvani 2000, Hungary $8.95: Don't ask me to pronounce that, it took me ten minutes just to write it down. Another beautifully cheap wine that doesn't taste cheap. Lovely floral, melon and citrus notes.
July 20: Highly Recommended Red Wines
955617 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, Washington $32.75: What a gorgeous red -- perfectly balanced, lush fruit, light kiss of oak, and a finish that is 47 minutes long.
931600 Coriole Vineyards Shiraz 1999, Australia $21.65: Hands-down the winner of the MacLean Monthly Shiraz Award. Big, without being heavy, dark fruit, lip-smacking good.
743377 Chateau les Cabannes 1999, Bordeaux $24.70: Some of you have asked for a glass of oak -- this is it... so many trees, so little time.
728097 Domaine Paul Mas Que Sera Sirah 1999, Midi France $11.60: Here's your cheap red party wine, good for the cottage too. Good punch, great fruit.
976308 Co-op Agr Santa Barbara Squinzano 1998, Italy $9.90: Another excllent cheap choice fo summer barbecues, etc.
985093 Castillo Perelada 1998, Spain $15.95: Mouth-watering, sour cherries, Old World style.
These wines are in the LCBO's regular list, meaning they're on the shelves year-round except during occasional stock-outs. While they're may not match the best of the monthly Vintages release wines, they hold their own, particularly on a value basis. If you feel you're in an Australian or Californian rut, why not broaden your capacity for pleasure and try some wines from the Old World?
165316 Vina Esmeralda 2000 $11.45: Light, floral, refreshing.
610089 Marques de Ballestar Macabeo 2000 $7.12: Terrific value, floral, light and refreshing for summer
550723 Berrberana Dragon Tempranillo $8.95: Easy-drinking red.
356089 Martinez Bujanda Tempranillo 1998 $13.95: Deep, dark, rich wine. One of my favourites of this tasting.
610188 Osborne Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, $9.45: Solid, easy-drinking red.
32656 Marques de Riscal Reserva $19.95: Full-bodied, dark fruit, lush.
Some of you have become end note junkies -- you were the kids who dumped the cereal box just to find the toy at the bottom weren't you? Anyway, here's your trinket: In the New Yorker magazine there's a cartoon showing a drunk sitting up against a wall on the sidewalk. A tuxedoed server with white napkin stands over him and pours wine into his paper cup. The caption underneath reads: Sommeliers without borders.