Vintages June 2004 Release
By Natalie MacLean
Recommended Fortified Wines June 12
260091 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT $25.95, 'Baron of Forrester,' Offley/Forrester & Ca., Portugal: Excellent value! From the Vintages catalogue: Vibrant aromas of light toffee, prunes and coffee follow through to a medium body, with ripe fruit and a peppery finish. A bit young in style, but clean and delicious. My score: 87/100.
Recommended White Wines June 12
453472 GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2002 $16.95, St. David's Bench Vineyard, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Château des Charmes: Gorgeous wine. Floral and lychee nut aromas with a grapefruit finish. Sign me up! Complements spicy and Thai food.
948737 MALVASIA BIANCA 2003 $19.75, Monterey County, California, Ca' del
Solo: This off-dry wine, made from several Italian grapes by Randall Graham, has soul: exotic fruit flavors, minerality, depth and great acidity for food. Great with seafood, shell fish and medium spicy dishes. And now, I'll apply a soulless number to it: 94/100.
928259 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003 $12.95, Rawsonville, WO Goudini, Du Preez Estate, South Africa: A serviceable, easy-drinking white with good balanced acidity and an herbal character. Score: 86/100.
925743 CHARDONNAY 2003 $12.95, 'Alamos', Mendoza, Argentina, Bodega Catena
Zapata: Looking for a good-value, oaky, buttery, round chard? This is it. There's some ripe tree fruit in there somewhere. Score: 86/100.
926931 GEWURZTRAMINER RÉSERVE 2002 $19.95, Alsace, Lucien Albrecht: Lovely style gewurz. From the Vintages catalogue: This wine has classic Gewurz aromas that suggest lychee, nutmeg and peach. It is dry, balanced and beautifully low key; this is especially important if you have just discovered the world of Gewurztraminer, because it introduces you to the varietal with finesse and style. My score: 87/100.
995746 RIESLING 2002 $13.95, QbA, Weingut St. Urbans-Hof, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer,
Germany: Lovely citrus and pear aromas with racy, exiting acidity for food. Incredible value. Score: 89.76/100.
627042 PINOT GRIGIO 2003 $14.95, 'Le Meridiane', DOC Trentino, Vigneti delle Meridiane, Italy: Great wine for this style. Ripe pears and an elegant petrol finish. Score: 87/100.
512376 CERVARO DELLA SALA 2001 $52.95, IGT Umbria, Italy, Marchesi Antinori: One of the richest, densest chards I've tasted. Vintages catalogue: Lovely apple, caramel, honey and pineapple character follows through to a full-bodied palate with a rich, almost exotic character and a long finish. Consistently outstanding Italian white. Chardonnay and Grechetto. My score: 95/100.
995753 SAUVIGNON 2002 $15.95, DOC Lison-Pramaggiore, Valentino Paladin, Veneto, Italy: Beautifully balanced white with lovely herbal, gooseberry and grassy aromas. Aw summer! Score: 88/100.
Recommended Red Wines June 12
970863 'PASTICHE' 2001 $24.95, California, Joseph Phelps Vineyards: Delicious blend of Old World finesse and New World vitality. Spicy with lots of ripe red fruit. Vintages catalogue: If their 'Le Mistral' is a tribute to Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondase of southern Rhône, then their 'Pastiche' is a tip of the hat to the region's vibrantly quaffable Côtes-du-Rhône wines. Phelps is careful to include a touch of California fruit (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) to make it distinct. The blend consists of 33% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 19% Syrah, 6% Merlot, 5% Carignane, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Alicante Bouschet. My score: 92/100.
671156 'LE MISTRAL' 2000 $39.95, California, Joseph Phelps Vineyards: Huge and jammy and concentrated. Drink now or age 3-5 years. But how about now? How about tonight? Pass me a corkscrew please. Score: 94/100.
537597 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $17.95, Sierra Foothills, California, Ironstone Vineyards: Delicious, fruity, touch of mocha, medium-bodied, not too heavy. Vintages catalogue: I recommend it with moderately rich cheeses, grilled beef or lamb roasts rubbed in subtle spices, and pasta dishes served in tomato based sauces. My score: 90/100.
567453 ZINFANDEL 2002 $15.95, 'Premier Vineyard Selection', California, Beringer Wine Estates: Not sure how they keep producing delicious, lip-smacking wines at great prices, but let's not waste time pondering the question. Loads of ripe brambleberries (whatever they are); a happy wine that goes swimmingly well with barbecue and poolside fare. Score: 93/100.
942581 ZINFANDEL 2001 $25.95, 'Sierra Series', Sierra Foothills, California,
Renwood: Terrific medium-bodied juicy wine with ripe berries and sunshine.
984021 'THE FOOTBOLT' SHIRAZ 2001 $19.95, McLaren Vale, South Australia, d'Arenberg Wines: Yum! That's a technical term. Very plummy, juicy and ripe yet this wine doesn't whack you over the head. Score: 96/100.
977819 PINOTAGE 2001 $16.95, Devon Valley, WO Stellenbosch, South Africa, Middelvlei Estate: I'm not a huge fan of pinotage, but this is one of the best examples of the wine I've tasted. Balanced, ripe red fruit, and smoke.
938720 CARMENÈRE RESERVE 2002 $ 14.95, 'Terrarum', Maipo Valley, Chile, Viña
Morandé: Great value! Rich and full-bodied with a good grip. Age 2-3 years.
430876 DOMAINE DE CHAMP DE COUR 2002 $18.95, AC Moulin-à-Vent, Vins et Domaines Mommessin, Beaujolais: Now don't turn up your nose just because you saw Beaujolais. The region is making some lovely rich and complex wines apart from the nouveau stuff each November. This one is spicy and medium-bodied. Barbecue alert! Score: 92/100.
927889 'TERRE LATINE' 2000 $12.95, AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Les Vignerons Catalans, Midi, France: Most excellent value. Raspberry jam, spice and smooth on the palate. Loverly. Score: 89/100.
937474 SAINT-JOSEPH 2001 $29.95, AC, 'Offerus', J.L. Chave Selection, Rhone,
France: Cedar forest and pine needles with delicious ripe red fruit. Score: 90/100.
933333 'VERSATO' 2001 $16.95, Merlot, IGT Veneto, Italy, Santa Margherita: Magnificent wine for the price. Far more interesting than paint-by-number wines. Smooth, ripe red fruit with great balance. Score: 89.5/100.
627224 'COLLEJA' RESERVA 2001 $16.95, DOC Douro, Portugal, Vinhos do Douro
Superior: Portugal, it's not just Port, you know. Some fabulous, under-priced dry table wines are coming out of this country. This one has mocha notes, spice and juicy goodness. Great with lots of dishes. Score: 90/100.
Recommended Rose Wines June 12
999821 CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2003 $12.95, WO Stellenbosch, South Africa, Mulderbosch Vineyards: May I admit a bias up front? I went into this tasting thinking that roses are wines with training wheels. But I came out a changed
woman: my road to Damascus experience, clearly. This rose has an almost herbal sauvignon blanc intensity (not surprising given that this winery makes staggeringly great SBs). Very refreshing. Score: 85/100.
707018 'VIN GRIS DE CIGARE' ROSÉ 2003 $15.75, California, Bonny Doon
Vineyard: Great tasty rose, big mega strawberries. Score: 89/100.
319384 'CARTE NOIRE' 2003 $13.95, AC Côtes de Provence, France, Les Maîtres Vign. de la Presqu'île de St-Tropez: A loaf of bread and thou or if thou is busy, this rose. Generous sipper... perfect for picnics. Score: 89/100.
950576 MAS DES BRESSADES ROSÉ 2003 $10.95, 'Cuvée Tradition', AC Costières de Nîmes, Rhone, France, Cyril Marés, Prop.-Recolt.: Pleasant, soft, plush picnic wine with dry strawberries. Score: 87/100.
319368 TAVEL ROSÉ 2003 $17.95, AC, Rhone, France, Château d'Aqueria: The Old Master of roses. This is one of the best: ripe red fruit, singingly happy, long finish, big blanket, endless blue skies. Score: 90/100.
Recommended Champagnes and Sparkling Wines June 12
96685 BRUT CHARDONNAY 1996 $65.95, Pol Roger, Champagne, France: Tasty citrus and toast aromas. The Wine Spectator gives it a 90; I agree.
729392 PROSECCO EXTRA DRY $ 15.95, 'Blue Bottle', Veneto, Italy, Foss Marai: Awesome value for weddings, reunions and anniversaries this summer. Citrus notes and a gorgeous smoky finish. Score: 88/100.
Recommended White Wines June 26
544841 CHARDONNAY 2001 $14.95, Barrel Fermented, California, Stonehedge
Winery: Terrific value for a nicely balanced oaky, buttery chard that's not too extracted. Score: 87/100.
304469 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003 $31.95, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand, Cloudy Bay: The Old Master of SB; this winery put New Zealand on the map. This wine is gorgeous with citrus goodness. Less herbal and not very grassy as in the past. Score: 90/100.
919530 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002 $26.95, Te Muna Vineyard, Block II, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand, Craggy Range Winery: Pure lawnmower dude: grassy, herbal and refreshing. Perfect for summer, shellfish, seafood and salads.
933085 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003 $11.95, 'Retreat', WO Robertson, South Africa, Robertson Wine: Awesome value. Buy it by the case for summer parties. Refreshing zippy character. Score: 88/100.
924613 RIESLING 2002 $14.95, QbA, Mülheimer Sonnenlay, 'Graf Zeppelin', Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany: Lovely, soft off-dry riesling, with orange blossom notes. Perfect for long summer twilight and deciding between a walk and a nap. Score: 89/100.
572206 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002 $14.95, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Creekside Estate
Winery: A white to please most people. Not too oaky or heavy yet full of ripe tree fruit and easy-drinking amiability. Score: 87/100.
Recommended Red Wines June 26
942151 ZINFANDEL 2001 $27.95, Sonoma County, California, Seghesio: Give zin a chance! In many ways, this wine is more interesting than cabernet: it has more diverse and riper flavors that are more food friendly. Score: 90/100.
943134 MERLOT RESERVE 2002 $14.95, 'Terrarum', Maipo Valley, Chile, Viña
Morandé: Exotic, not your typical merlot; far more interesting. Lovely, spicy and ripe red fruit that I can't name but love. Score: 88/100.
957738 CHÂTEAU HAUT BRETON LARIGAUDIÈRE 2000 $37.00, AC Margaux, Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux, France: Dark mocha notes and a Old World elegance. Smoky oak and leather. Score: 90/100.
955070 CHÂTEAU DE JAU ROUGE 2000 $14.95, AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Midi, France, Vign. Jean & Bernard Daure: A barbecue beauty! Red fruit, peppery. Perfect for steak and hamburgers. Score: 89/100.
942847 GIGONDAS 2000 $29.95, AC, Rhone, France, Montirius: This organic wine has fascinating aromas of spicy black fruit and a long finish. Score: 90/100.
717256 CLOS TRIGUEDINA 2000 $26.00, AC Cahors, France, SARL Jean-Luc Baldès,
Triguedina: Heart of Darkness wine: black as night, as mysterious and brooding too. Black raspberries and cherries. A big wine. Score: 88/100.
994616 MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2000 $14.95, DOC, Abruzzi, Italy, 'Tatone', Az. Agr. Terra d'Aligi: Good attack with dark red fruit and a good grip.
411892 SALICE SALENTINO RISERVA 1999 $15.95, DOC, Taurino, Puglia, Italy: Delicious, plush wine with big red fruit. Another one for the barbie or tomato-sauce pasta dishes. Score: 88/100.
995936 QUINTA DO ENCONTRO 2001 $10.95, Colheita Seleccionada, DOC Bairrada, Bairrada Sul-Sociedade Vitivinícola, Portugal: Wowa! This is your reward for reading til the end: this is the best darn value in the entire lot! Buy it by the case for summer parties. Heck, buy it for winter too. Rich, ripe red fruit, mocha notes, smooth palate. Score 89/100.