Vintages Jackpot for Shiraz Fans
whopping 102 new items are hitting the Vintages shelves today for
February’s second release. Having had the opportunity tasting most of
these wines at least twice, I was moved by the serious progress made by BC
wineries. Starting off with the whites, Inniskillin
Okanagan Vineyards 2002 Dark Horse Estate Vineyard Chardonnay
(590372) at $17.95 shines. Look for a gently spicy, honeyed nose with red
apple, melon and dried pear fruit. It is pleasingly crisp on the palate
with spicy, ripe pear flavours and a bright hint of toast on the finish.
lusting for the best shouldn’t miss Barossa
Valley Estate 2001 Chardonnay Ebenezer
at $29.95, which is certainly worth the extra investment. It sports a much
deeper yellow colour and very attractive, complex, toasty, ripe pear purée
nose. Solid and medium-full bodied, this well structured beauty exudes
ripe pear purée flavours and has a lingering, hazelnut torte finish.
While capable of aging for another year, it is the perfect match to
poultry and white meats, such as a rack of lamb.
Germany continues to impress with some utterly delicious values. Not to be
missed is Wegeler
2002 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
at $19.95 with its vibrant, honeyed, ripe lime purée nose. With only 8.5%
alcohol, this Mosel wonder has lovely, just off dry, honeyed, ripe
apricot-pear-lime flavours with a refreshing finish. It is quite
sensational by itself, assuming you like just a hint of sweetness, and
shows great versatility. Only 50 cases are available.
but not least is a bargain-priced, very spicy, gently sweetish, Hungarian
effort that will marry perfectly with winter warming curries or Thai
Donatus 2003 Lellei Muscat Ottonel
(608497) at $10.95 comes from Lake Balaton region, which is 78 km long and
is the largest lake in continental Europe. The nose has intense,
attractive, spicy, Muscat-lychee aromas. The taste is faintly sweet and
honeyed and spicy with intense lychee flavours.
on to the reds, from Ontario check out the robust Thomas
& Vaughan 2002 Marechal Foch
(585968) at $14.95. This is the grape that put Inniskillin on the map way
back in 1974 and this rendition is very much in the classic tradition with
an unusually high 13.5% alcohol. This “Best Red Hybrid” from the 2004
Cuvée has an extremely deep purple colour with a complex, spicy,
sandalwood and sweet plum nose. On the palate it is gently peppery with
plumy, chocolate flavours and a lingering leathery finish. Try with a lamb
three 2002 British Colombia reds are above average. Of the two from Quails
Gate (both with a staggering 15% alcohol) I preferred another French
hybrid - the cedary, cherry-driven Old
at $19.95 over the very extracty, also cedary, Gamay
(590679) at $29.95.
the pack, however, is an inexpensive, sleeper. At only $15.95, the
surprisingly tasty Gray
Monk Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir
(251835) is what many Sideways movie-fans might well opt for vs. the
oppressively expensive selections appearing in the film. It only has 12.2%
alcohol and is medium deep red in colour – obviously a bit shy on both
fronts. However, when it comes to pleasing the palate, it’s right on.
The nose has attractive ripe strawberry fruit. Bright and medium-light
bodied, the plumy-strawberry flavours finish up with a refreshing
While Pinot Noir may have new fashionability, this Vintages release has definite disappointments. From Australia, both bottles of Coldstream Hills 2002 ($29.95) were decidedly peppery and herbal. Meanwhile, both Oregon selections of Amity Pinot Noir ($22.95 and $43.95) missed the mark. Only the rather light, cherry-grapefruit flavoured Firesteed Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir (361782) might be worth trying at $18.95.
best reds come from Australia where a half dozen truly excellent Shiraz
await your lips. For basic good value, it is going to be hard to beat the
lively, juicy Clarence
Hill 1999 Shiraz
(599811) at $17.95 with its spicy, ripe strawberry nose and
ready-to-drink, creamy, ripe black cherry purée flavours.
up a notch, there’s the very well made, juicy Kirrihill
(595454) at $23.95 from the Clare Valley. At one dollar more, the
remarkable, smokey, complex Pirramimma
2001 Shiraz Reserve
(987784) from South Australia’s McLaren Vale is definitely worthy of a
detour with solid, cassis, plum and juicy black cherry flavours.
the pinnacle are the two highest scoring reds of the release – both
scoring a maximum three stars. The biggest is the rich
raspberry-cherry-cassis flavoured Thomas
Hardy 2000 Tintara Reserve Shiraz
at $43.95. Although not quite as hefty, when it comes to value, Chateau
Reynella 2001 Basket Pressed Shiraz
(510628) at only $29.95 is a revelation. Deep intense purple in colour,
the nose is smoke tinged with lime-purée and ripe black cherry notes.
Harmonious, dry but not austere, ripe black cherry and vanilla-lime
custard flavours go on and on.
week’s white website exclusive is the Esk
Valley Estate 2003 Black Label Chardonnay
(595538) at $19.95. This screwcap closure effort comes from the Hawkes Bay
region in the North Island and has a spicy, honeyed, buttered toast nose
with hints of lemon meringue pie. On the palate you will find it very dry
and quite well structured with still somewhat peppery, youthful, toasty,
dried Anjou pear flavours with fine finish.
week’s red website exclusive is Santa
Margherita 2002 Merlot Versato (933333)
at $14.95 from Italy’s Veneto. This is a 50/50 blend of Merlot aged in
stainless steel (adding the fruitiness) and barrique (adding complexity
and structure). As Merlot is disallowed under Veneto’s DOC appellation
rules, it is sold under the IGT designation. Deep intense purple colour,
the nose shows fine ripe plums, chocolate and warm chestnut purée. It is
well-structured, dry, and harmonious with earthy, ripe plum and black
XO Calvados Update
week’s column, it appears that the February 5th release of my *** Best
Calvados Pays d’Auge XO
(960773) at $64.95 still sits in the warehouse - it never made it to the
stores! Apparently it has something to do with the fact that it has 43%
alcohol and the label says 40% - so all the bottles have to have special
stickers put on before being sold!
& AirMile Offers
This is the
last week to take advantage of the LTO (limited time offers) and AirMiles
bonuses (to February 27). General List wine highlights include Mouton
(2527) at $12.40 with 4 bonus AirMiles; Mouton
(943) at $13.40 with 4 bonus AirMiles; Duboeuf
(110122) at $12.95 with 4 AirMiles; Duboeuf
(212480) at $11.95 with 4 AirMiles.
Tasting Note Database
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