November Release Recommendations
By Natalie MacLean
Nov 2: Highly Recommended White & Sweet Wines
965285 Pillitteri Chardonnay Ice Wine 2001, Niagara $29.95: There's a big ice wine release this month -- stock up now on this winter elixir for the holidays (I only got to taste two though) -- this one is appley and honeyed, lovely.
447441 Cave Spring Cellars Riesling Ice Wine 2001, Niagara $59.95: Gorgeous balance between luscious sweetness and the natural acidity that riesling provides, which is why I think riesling makes the best base for ice wine -- there are a number of riesling ice wines in this release.
537522 Willow Heights Auxerrois 2000, Niagara $11.95: the most coveted designation I can bestow on a wine is the "cheapo party wine" designation. Why? Because it means that the wine is low-priced yet passes itself off as a much higher priced wine, sometimes double -- and so you can stock your holiday entertaining table with this wine without blowing the budget or your reputation. This wine is lemony and zesty, a little more floral than say a sauvignon blanc.
993345 Featherstone Chardonnay 2000, Niagara $14.95: Last release, I effervesced about their riesling -- several of you told me that it sold out within hours at stores locally. Now here they are again with a lovely chard: buttery, big, but balanced -- and again, nicely priced. (Makes me wonder: Is the winemaker independently wealthy and is making gorgeous, low-priced wines for fun, or what?)
966820 Forrest Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2001, New Zealand $19.70: Another lawnmower classic: herbal, zesty acidity, great food wine.
971945 Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc 2001, South Africa $15.45: Not as aggressive with the herbal zest as the one above -- in fact, I think South Africa produces the best value sauvignon blancs on the market.
731042 Cousino-Macul Riesling 2000, Chile $10.10: Another lovely party wine, lightly floral, nice acidity.
942961 Fournier Pere & Files, Grand Cuvee Fournier Pouilly-Fume 2000, Loire, France $31.40: This is classic Old World sauvignon blanc: elegant, balanced floral notes, lemon and honey (not sweet though)
732396 Giribaldi Moscato d'Asti 2001, Italy $16.75: If you haven't tried moscato d'asti, you owe yourself a bottle of this delightful slightly sweet, slightly fizzy wine that is wonderful to sip on its own or paired with a fruit dessert that's not too sweet (cream brulee would be terrific too)
Nov 2: Highly Recommended Red Wines
586305 Inniskillin Merlot Schuele Vineyard 1999, Niagara $24.95: Who needs ultra-pricey wines when we've got blockbusters like this in our own backyard?! Magnificent wine with dark fruit, mocha, and cedar.
932400 Frog's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, California $57.30: OK so this is pricier but it's lovely -- elegant with surprising finesse that you don't see a lot in California fruit bombs which this isn't. Black cherry and currants.
343996 Gallo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, California $79.95: Why not contradict myself -- only the tedious people are completely consistent! Yep this is expensive, and personally, I don't think it should get pricier than this -- it's a lovely wine and still cheaper than it's competitors, but they're in la-la land with their pricing. Super-ripe dark plum, blackberry and spice.
438697 Mondavi Pinot Noir 1997, California $39.95: Pinot noir is always expensive (that's why they call it the heartbreak grape -- actually it's called that because of its low yields and thus high prices). This one is superbly styled with balance and elegance, cherry smoke and earth (unusual for California -- more Old World).
388918 Rosemount Balmoral Syrah 1999, Australia $59.00: Another blockbuster wine, big black fruit (BBF) that critics recommend drinking between 2004-2014.
944256 Chateau Duluc 1996, Bordeaux $52.75: This is an expensive release isn't it? Still you'll find values hidden between these big trees. This wine is actually well-priced for the sky-rocketing Bordeaux: Old World finesse, balance, velvet texture, not huge in-your-face fruit but ample.
945212 Chateau Suau 1999, Bordeaux $18.65: A steal for Bordeaux! I've bought this one in previous vintages -- a consistently good performer. Surprisingly generous fruit for the Old World -- loads of black cherry and leather.
378257 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 1996, Italy $51.95: Are you one of those rare people who ages wines? Then this one if for you if you can wait 3-5 years: plum, violets, tobacco, mamma mia
988634 Bodega Pirineos Merlot/Cabernet 2000, Spain $17.75: A big walloping cab/mer blend for a very decent price. Cherry, oak smoke and cedar.
Nov 16: Highly Recommended White & Sweet Wines
573154 Malivoire Chardonnay Moira Vineyard 2000, Niagara $36.00: As perfectly balanced a chardonnay as I've tasted inn a long, long time. Not too much of anything, yet just the right amount of everything: fruit, oak, acidity, attitude. Tropical fruit and mineral notes -- a chard with dignity as opposed to those blousy floozies.
960138 Weingut Dr Zenzen Riesling Spatlese 1995, Germany $13.80: Promise not to buy all of these before I do? My goodness I love this wine! A touch of sweetness which makes it more food friendly (forget those silly sugary things of your youth, this is grown-up sweetness) and low alcohol so you don't feel bombed after sharing a bottle -- apricot, apples and flowers. Trust me, try this one OK? I know German labels are difficult to read, but there's no excuse I'm telling you this is good dear.
Nov 16: Highly Recommended Red Wines
316943 Cave Spring Cabernet/Merlot 1999, Niagara $18.95: Lovely smoky tobacco, a beautiful blend of Old and New World finesse plus fruit.
329466 Blue Mountain Pinot Noir 2000, BC $21.95: I didn't get to taste this one, but wanted to point it out because this is fast becoming one of Canada's cult wines -- the Vintages booklet says it's Burgundian in style with sour cherry, cedar, cocoa and wild mushrooms.
465021 Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon Barelli Creek 1996, California $39.95: Ah here we are with more reasonable pricing, for California that is, on a wonderful wine -- the fruit is more vibrant in this one than the other, less elegance sure, but more fun. Blackberry, anise, tar -- pave your driveway -- not wait, that would be a waste, get someone else to pave your driveway and then drink this while you watch it dry.
960682 EOS Petite Sirah Reserve 1999, California $29.90: Texas tea: black heart honey that'll tip a ten-gallon hat to tex-mex and other spicy food -- black peppers and gold buckles. Yee-haw!
715268 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Shea Vineyards 2000, Oregon $44.95: Didn't get to taste this one but all the wines from this winery were fabulous when I tasted them this summer at the pinot noir festival.
614800 Rosemount Hill of Gold Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Australia $23.90: Usually a sell-out wine (not to the establishment, to customers)... didn't get to taste it, but the Vintages booklet says it has cassis, mint, cashew nuts and briar patch (they're smokin something in that tasting lab)
510875 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz, Australia $46.80: Creeping out another inch on the fragile limb of credibility, I shall suggest one more wine that I haven't tried this year. Loved this wine last year and Australia, like California, doesn't really have "bad years." Some famous wine critic guy I don't know rates it a 90, and describes it as fleshy and sumptuous (sounds as though he's intimate with this wine), black plum, chocolate, and leather (definitely intimate).
977496 Wine Supply Touchwood Shiraz 1999, Australia $15.95: Here's your clobber-your-palate shiraz -- many folks seem to be fans of these bat-wielding, huge fruit/alcohol shirazes these days -- perhaps they need to anesthetize the world -- perhaps needing a shiraz such as this is a sign of deeper unmet needs? Oh never mind, drink up and relax.
944389 Chateau Bernadotte 1999, Bordeaux $32.95: Big, rich, slightly tannic Old World cab blend. Age it 5-7 years. 87 from Robert Parker.
944785 Chateau Grange-Neuve 1998, Bordeaux $47.40 Lovely balance, cedar, fruit, coffee.
721621 Domaine du Chateau de Mersault Savigny-Peuillets 1er Cru 1999, Burgundy $32.90: Lovely price for a stylist Old World pinot noir with strawberry and black cherry.
981175 Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais le Perreon 2001, Beaujolais $12.75: Want a light, fruity, easy-drinking wine that's not simple-minded? Plum, light spice, nice.
719864 Fattoria Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 1998, $29.75: Do these folks sell televisions too? Probably not. Anyway, lovely, true-to-type chianti with ripe, spicy cherries and plums.