March Vintages Release 2004
By Natalie MacLean
Sweet and Fortified Dessert Wines: March 6
919332 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT, $21.95, Btld 2003, Matured in wood, 750 mL (H. & C. J. Feist - Vinhos): dried fruit and caramel goodness, lovely after-dinner sipper on its own or with nuts, blue cheese or coffee cake. Score: 91/100.
White Wines: March 6
489062 'FIFTH LEG' WHITE 2002, $19.95, Western Australia, (Devil's Lair): Great light quaffable wine with tropical tree and citrus fruit. Great with cream sauce dishes. Score: 89/100
991737 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2003, $20.95, 'New Dog', Marlborough, South Island (Goldwater Estate): One of my favourite SBs: zippy, refreshing and herbal. 'New Dog' is Goldwater's renamed 'Dog Point'. What's new? The closure. Hats off to this winery for sealing the bottle with a screwcap to prevent that stinky old cork taint. Terrific with seafood. Score 89/100
927525 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002 $21.95, Marlborough, South Island (Nautilus Estate): A gorgeous SB with lovely floral, herbal notes. Not aggressively grassy. Nicely balanced. Great with shellfish. Score 93/100
933424 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002 $18.95, WO Stellenbosch, (Mulderbosch): More grassy and herbal, like canned peas. Had this one at Disney's Jiko restaurant and fell in love with it. Went perfectly with the spicy and exotic flavours there (Thai, Asian etc would work). Score: 88/100.
950527 CHABLIS 2001 $20.95, AC, 'Domaine Sainte-Claire', Burgundy, France (Jean-Marc Brocard): A fantastic value for white burgundy! Balanced, tree fruit, oaked but not heavy and buttery. Gorgeous with buttered anything, maybe lobster. (Clearly, I need some sort of seafood chowder to get past this seafood obsession.) Score 90/100
919449 RIESLING KABINETT 2002 $13.95, QmP, Geschwister Simon, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany (Ayler Kupp): A good mouth-watering attack wakes up the palate and gets it ready for creamy or spicy foods. Lovely floral aromas. Needs food. Score: 89/100.
924738 PINOT BIANCO 2002 $15.95, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy (Az. Agr. La Tunella): A versatile crowd pleaser that works as a party sipper or an accompaniment to a simple meal of past with tomato sauce. Score 85/100
Red Wines: March 6
626416 MERLOT 2001 $17.95, VQA Okanogan Valley, B.C., (Nk'Mip Cellars): From the vintages catalogue: Nk'Mip (pronounced 'inkameep') is North America's first aboriginal owned and operated winery. It is a joint venture between the Osoyoos Indian band and Vincor International. My note: smooth and supple with red plums. Great with steak and hamburger. Score 89/100
434605 ZINFANDEL 2001 $19.95, 'Sonoma Heritage Vines', Sonoma County, California, (Prod. & Btld. Rancho Zabaco): Groovy, purply, tobacco notes, delicious! The ultimate wine for pizza. Score: 88/100
927640 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1999 $44.95, 'Individual Selection', 'No. 26', Langhorne Creek, South Australia, (John's Blend Pty. Ltd.): Gorgeous, dark, deep, rich and ripe. Score 92/100.
948893 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1999 $24.95, 'Tintara', South Australia, (Thomas Hardy & Sons): Mouth-watering, lovely delicious ripe blackberries and plums. Perfect with kangaroo. Score 89/100
512103 'FIFTH LEG' RED 2001 $23.95, Margaret River, Western Australia (Devil's Lair): I've also recommended their white wine in this release. Very smooth texture with a back kick of power. Loads of blackcurrant and plum. Score: 89/100.
927657 'MARGARETE'S' SHIRAZ 2000 $44.95, 'No. 6', South Australia (John's Blend Pty. Ltd.): Note from the Vintages catalogue: The fruit for this wine is 75% from Langhorne Creek and 25% from McLaren Vale. This is the sixth vintage of this wine, hence 'No. 6'. Absolutely stunning. Not a fruit-bomb, but lots of depth, layers and ripe black fruit. Don't eat, just drink. Score: 95/100.
919589 'THE EDGE' 2001 $22.95, Cabernet/Merlot, King Valley, Victoria, Australia, (Nugan Estate): Big and beautiful, with plum and cassis notes. Score 90/100.
922237 'KADETTE' 1999 $15.95, 'Estate Wine', WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, South Africa, (Kanonkop): Ripe fruit with a pleasing grip. Fruit: 60% pinotage with cabernet and merlot. Score: 89/100.
919597 SHIRAZ 2001 $20.90, 'Golden Triangle', WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (Stellenzicht): Smoky tobacco, red fruit, powerful, very alcoholic (14.5%). Score: 89/100.
478727 MALBEC 2001 $ 19.95, Mendoza, Argentina, (Bodega Catena Zapata): When you're ready for something new and delicious try this one with lots of juicy blackberry flavours. Score: 89/100.
467951 MALBEC 2001 $12.95, 'Alamos', Mendoza, Argentina, (Bodega Catena Zapata): Another one to try when you want to branch out and experiment. An amazing value: stock up for large gatherings. Score: 88/100.
994178 CHÂTEAU FAURIE DE SOUCHARD 1998 $59.95, AC Saint-Émilion, Grand Cru Classé, Bordeaux, France (Jabiol-Sciard, Prop.): Big and rich with Old World elegance and finesse. Could age 3-5 years. Great with stew and game. Score: 91/100.
913806 CHÂTEAU DE L'HORTE 2001 $14.95, 'Cuvée Marquis de St Felix' Midi, France, (Jean-Pierre Biard & Johanna van der Spek, Prop.-Récolt.): Black pepper, cassis, sweet fruit (though it's a dry wine). Great with pepper steak, hamburger and spicy meats. Terrific value. Score: 87/100.
718932 CHÂTEAU LE RAZ 1999 $16.95, 'Cuvée Grand Chçne', AC Cétes de Bergerac, Southwest France, (Vign. Barde, Prop.-Récolt.): If you like your wines heavily oaked with dark fruit, try this one. Score: 86/100.
998567 'PROMIS' 2001 $45.95, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy, (Ca'Marcanda/Gaja): Rich, alcoholic, hot, ripe red fruit and tar. Score: 91/100.
730804 CHIANTI CLASSICO 1997 $28.95, DOCG, 'Lamole', Tuscany, Italy(Castelli del Grevepesa): A great year for chianti. This one is juicy, mouth-watering, with sour cherries and earthy notes. Perfect match for pasta in tomato sauce or for finding yourself Under the Tuscan Sun. Score: 90/100
926865 MERLOT 2002 $19.95, IGT Umbria, Italy (Az. Vinic. Falesco): Ripe plums and a smooth texture. Great with jazz. Score: 89/100.
914853 RECIOTO DELLA VALPOLICELLA 2000 $49.95, DOC, 'Campo Casalin I Castei', Veneto, Italy, 500 mL, (Az. Agr. Michele Castellani): A slightly sweet wine with gorgeous dried fruit. Lovely after dinner or with coffee cake. Score: 92/100.
905638 CABERNET SAUVIGNON REZERVA 2000 $9.95, 'Carlevana', Chisinau County, Moldova (formerly part of the USSR), (JSC Dionysos Mereni): Fantastic value and not just a one-note sipper that you might expect for something under $10: this is a nifty woodwind ensemble. Buy it by the case. Score: 88/100. Best Value Red Wine
947309 'CONDE DE VALDEMAR' RESERVA 1998 $20.95, DOC Rioja, Spain, (Bodegas Martinez Bujanda): Another wine for when you want to try something new and different from New World wines. Menthol, plum and spice. Score: 89/100.
177345 'MUGA' RESERVA 1999 $23.95, DOC Rioja, Spain (Bodegas Muga, S.A.). Also comes in the half bottle (375 ml): 917831, $12.95: Aged in oak for two years plus one year in bottle. Fruit: 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha and 10% between Mazuelo and Graciano. A balanced wine with toasty oak, dried red fruit. Great with most red meats and poultry. Score: 87/100.
White Wines: March 20
363291 JOHANNISBERG RIESLING 2002 $12.95, Columbia Valley, Washington, (Prod. & Btld. Hogue Cellars ): One of the most food-friendly of white wines, this delightful riesling is packed with lemony-lime refreshment. Fantastic value, load up. Score: 88/100.
742866 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002 $22.95, 'Whalesback', Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand, (Koura Bay Wines): Another SB that I recommend year after year. Always delivers mouth-watering refreshment with herbal notes that aren't aggressive. Great with so many dishes: seafood, shellfish, cream sauces, chicken, etc. Score: 90/100.
303628 CHARDONNAY 2002 $16.95, 'Medalla Real', Valle de Casablanca, Chile, (Viña Santa Rita): A great mouth-watering chard that's not too heavy and buttery. Lots of ripe tree fruit. Great with chicken and pate. Score: 89/100.
928598 CHARDONNAY RESERVA 2001 $15.95, Casablanca Valley, Chile(Viña Tarapaca): Stunning all-round buttery, fat and full chard. Great with butter and cream dishes. Score: 95/100. Best Value White Wine
747600 GEWURZTRAMINER RÉSERVE 2001 $18.95, AC Alsace, France, (Pierre Sparr et Fils): Lovely sipper with those classic exotic lychee nut, rose and grapefruit aromas. Score: 87/100.
913848 RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2002 $18.95, QmP, Niersteiner Rehbach, Gutsabfüllung, Rheinhessen, Germany, (Weingut Louis Guntrum): Love it! Once you enter the world of German riesling, you'll never go back. Don't be put off by slight sweetness, it just makes the wine even more delicious and able to pair better with spicy Asian food. Ripe pineapples and mango. Score: 90/100. Favourite White Wine
936476 'BUDAI CUVÉE' 2002 $11.95, Chardonnay/Irsai Olivér, Buda Region, Hungary, (Pince Nyakas): Great party wine that will appeal to most palates. Floral and apple notes. Amazing value. Score: 86/100.
Red Wines: March 20
714816 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $19.95, California, (Prod. & Btld. Blackstone Winery): A crowd pleaser. Cassis and currants. Score: 88/100.
997429 MERLOT 2001 $29.95, Napa Valley, California, (Prod. & Btld. Blackstone Winery): A stunning wine from the same producer. Voted (I believe) the most popular wine in American restaurants. Rick, thick, deep and dark. Layers of black plums and cassis. Score: 95/100.
923565 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001 $29.95, 'Leston', Margaret River, Western Australia, (Howard Park Wines): Gorgeous, mouth-watering ripeness. Score: 93/100.
961219 PINOT NOIR 2000 $22.95, Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia, (Pfeiffer Wines): Power pinot but not nearly as turbo as shiraz. Loads of black plums and cherries and some cocoa. Score: 90/100.
925453 'SETTLERS' SHIRAZ 2001 $18.95, 'Killerman's Run', South Australia, (Kilikanoon Wines): Lovely, rich ripe red fruit, balanced. Score: 91/100.
328567 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1999 $16.95, 'Cathedral Cellar', WO Coastal Region, South Africa, (KWV International): I've liked what this winery produces for a long time. Bordeaux breeding, New World power and fruit. Score: 93/100.
966473 CHÂTEAU DE CRUZEAU 2000 $27.95, AC Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France, (Andre Lurton, Vitic.): Classic Bordeaux structure, finesse and finish. Cigar and leather. The vintage was a great one even for the small chateaux. Score: 90/100.
982942 SANCERRE ROUGE 2001 $34.95, AC, Loire, France, (Domaine Vacheron, Vign.): Lovely stinky old pinot with sour cherries and earth. Score: 94/100.
910885 GRENACHE/SYRAH 2001 $14.95, Vin de Pays des Coteaux du Libron, Midi, France, (Domaine la Colombette/F. Pugibet): Dark, rich and juicy with ripe blackberries. Terrific value. Great with barbecued meats. Score: 88/100.
910570 'SOL DE LANDOC' ROUGE 2002 $20.95, Vin de Pays de l'Hérault, Midi, France, (Moulin de Gassac): A blend of syrah and grenache. Spicy and peppery with ripe black cherries. Great with barbecued meats and chicken. Score: 89/100.
928754 BARBERA D'ALBA 2001 $20.95, DOC, Piedmont, Italy, (Prunotto): Lovely ripe plums, cassis and currants. Lively, mouth-watering wine that would be wonderful with pasta in tomato sauce, pizza. Score: 91/100.
730937 'NOTARPANARO' ROSSO 1997 $21.95, IGT Salento, Puglia, Italy, (Az. Agr. Cosimo Taurino): Prunes and plums with spicy concentration. Score: 90/100.
956391 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 1997 $56.95, DOCG, Tuscany, Italy, (Castiglion del Bosco): A bruiser of a wine that will age 5-10 years. Dried plums, alcoholic, miles of depth. Score: 94/100.
909234 CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 1998 $24.95, DOCG, Tuscany, Italy, (Castello di Meleto/Viticola Toscana): Smooth-drinking wine with ripe cherries and plums. Great with pasta. Score: 89/100.
928226 'CREARO DELLA CONCA D'ORO' 2000 $28.95, IGT Rosso del Veronese, Veneto, Italy, (Tommasi Vitic.): Gorgeous layers of fruit with smoke and oak. Score: 97/100. Favourite Red Wine
958868 'BARON DE LEY' RESERVA 1998 $21.95, DOC Rioja, Spain, (Baron de Ley): Delicious ripe red fruit and a kiss of oak. Score: 92/100.