March Release Recommendations
By Natalie MacLean
March 8: Highly Recommended Fortified and Sweet Wines
721902 Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Amontillado Sherry, Spain $19.70: No, I'm not 70 years old, and no, sherry isn't just for your grandmother. There is a lovely, nutty, sweet wine that would be heaven after dinner with toasted almonds or crème brulee.
726885 Quinta de la Rosa Late Bottled Vintage Port 1996, Portugal $24.95: Excellent value, rich flavours, but not as heavy as vintage ports.
459560 Domaine de Beaumalric Muscat de Beaumises-de-Venise 2001, Rhone $14.40 (375 ml half bottle): A ray of happiness in the dark corridor of winter. Silky tangerines.
728402 Puddicombe Vidal Icewine 1998, Niagara $19.95 (200 ml): Perfect for a glass each after dinner.
March 8: Highly Recommended White Wines
302059 Cave Spring Gewurztraminer 2000, Niagara $14.95: Lovely lychee nuts and flowers. Surprising just how well Niagara (and Cave Spring) can make wine from this grape.
733105 Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc 2000, Stags Leap, California $35.90: Pricey but beautifully-made: crisp, herbal, passion fruit and peas.
304469 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2002, New Zealand $28.95: One of my favourite SBs in the world: gorgeous acidity and herbal notes. Alas, it is creeping up in price.
933085 Robertson Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2001, South Africa $11.70: Deal of the century -- buy a case for your spring entertaining. Mouth-filling, herbal, zesty. Best Value White Wine
992636 Domaine Huet Vouvray 1997, Loire $37.95: Exotic aromas of flowers, honey and tropical fruit. Pricey but worth it.
940866 Selbach/Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 2001, Germany $17.80: Used to be Selbach-Oster. Great food wine: great acidity, touch of sweetness, mineral and floral.
March 8: Highly Recommended Red Wines
592261 Peninsula Ridge Merlot 2000, Niagara $21.95: Medium-bodied, smooth-drinking, more Old World style (finesse and structure) than fruit-bomb.
724658 Haselgrove Shiraz 1999, South Australia $19.85: Big and juicy and ripe. What's more, it comes from the region Wrattonbully which is lots of fun to say out loud over and over again as you drink this wine.
959767 Heathfield Shiraz 1999, South Australia $19.50: Another consistently great producer: more minty than the one above, but less full-bodied with dark ripe fruit.
723577 Libera Barbera d'Asti 1999, Italy $17.70: Experiment, try a new grape. This one is juicy black cherries with smoke and coffee. Favourite Red Wine
444448 Dievole Chianti Classico 1999, Italy $20.95: Great example of chianti (forget those macramaed bottles): sour cherry and earth -- great with tomato sauce dishes.
708297 Maculan Brentino Rosso Merlot/Cab 2000, Italy $19.75: Gorgeous black plums and new oak.
961730 Colli Eugeanei Scaranto Riserva 1998, Italy $25.55: Spice, cedar, dark plums, full-bodied.
March 22: Highly Recommended Fortified and Sweet Wines
633099 Graham Vintage Port 2000, Portugal $89.95: Let me add to the frenzy: Parker 94.
633057 Dow's Vintage Port 2000, Portugal $77.60: Parker 94
633115 Symmington's Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port 2000, Portugal $89: Wine Spectator 95
March 22: Highly Recommended White Wines
Burrowing Owl Sandhill Chardonnay 2001, British Columbia $15: Round, buttery, just the right amount of oak, great balance.
961649 Heathfield Chardonnay 1999, South Australia $17.40: Mango, pineapple but mostly oak.
394908 Wolf Blass Chardonnay Premium Selection 2001, South Australia $19.95: Distinguished concentration, good acidity, tropical tree fruit.
977306 Rustenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2002, South Africa $13.45: Passion fruit, gooseberry, citrus.
365023 Domaine Laroche Chablis 2001, Burgundy $24.70: Decent price for Old World chardonnay, green apple, mineral.
740894 Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Saint-Aubin 1er Cru 2000, Burgundy $36.90: Yum! Ample, rich ripe tree fruit. Favourite White Wine
March 22: Highly Recommended Red Wines
325779 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, California $38.95: Actually worth the price, currants, mocha.
942599 Ravenswood Zinfandel 1999, Lodi, California $26.95: Zingy with plums, blackberries, touch of oak.
930321 Columbia Valley Cab/Merlot 1999, Washington $16.95: Perfectly calibrated and balanced, spice and currant, medium to full-bodied. Great price. Best Value Red
510628 Reynell Shiraz 2000, South Australia $27.90: Big, bold and beautiful.
965095 Browns Shiraz 1999, South Australia $17.85: Blackberry, spice and oak.
746933 Brancott Reserve Pinot Noir 2000, New Zealand $22.75: Wild cherry, strawberry, lovely medium body.
971820 Hugel Pinot Noir 2000, Alsace $19.95: Perfect pinot: light, flavourful and great with food.
955070 Chateau de Jau 2000, Midi, France $13.95: Cedary, cherry, Old World, terrific value!
961086 Masi Grandarella Amarone 1999, Italy $28.55: Huge wine, big black fruit, will age for 5 years.
974402 Provolo Valpolicella 1998, Italy $19.80: Cherries, spice, medium- to full-bodied.
737197 Fonseca Vinya 2000, Portugal $14.90: Great acidity and fruit -- sulphur free and organic.