ON THE NAME
Some believe that nothing in life is better than being a wine taster. All one has to do is taste and say whether it's good or bad. I often see well-know tasters speeding their way through a hundred wines in just over an hour. Was it only that easy. In fact, laudatory evaluations based on just a few seconds on the palate can be erroneous. It is impossible to be consistently right on a single try.
Few bother to retaste to make sure the initial impression is correct. Every Vintages wine I recommend in this column is tasted twice from two individual bottles on two separate occasions. As a result, over 40% of my notes are modified and improved. Occassionally when time permits, I will even do a third tasting - especially when one bottle is good and another bad.
As for today's November 10th Vintages release entitled Burgundy's "Miracle Vintage", it features a miserly ten selections. Hosannas praising the 2005 vintage by offshore wine gurus are splattered throughout the Catalogue. This is a good thing, because after the dismal 2004 reds unloaded here last year, it's great to find something you can sip without wincing. However, even in 2005, it is fool hearty to expect every Burgundy to be great.
Starting with whites, the best buy is an astonishingly tasty Bourgogne at only $18.95. In contrast to its usual rather everyday style, Champy 2005 Bourgogne Signature Chardonnay (43455) has lovely ripe melon-lemon-pear fruit on the nose. These fine fruit flavours carry over on the palate, which is dry, harmonious and ready to drink. Move quickly, however, as only 200 cases are available. For store availability you may have to call the infoline at 416-365-5900 as Vintages does not always post this critical info on their website. When checking on Thursday, nothing was posted. By Friday, the numbers had appeared.
Moving up the quality scale is the even better Champy 2005 Pernand-Vergelesses (8151) at $29.95. Compared to the Bourgogne above, this commune produces Chardonnays with more intensity and greater complexity. Flavours are focused on delicious ripe lemon and key lime pie. Named after a small village in the Côte de Beaune, kudos to Maison Champy for both these outstanding efforts.
If Chablis is on your horizon, two first growths are available. I suggest that you pass on the Vaillons; the one to buy is William Fèvre 2005 Chablis Montmains (977587) at $32.95. Compared to the Cote d'Or, some very decent wines were made in Chablis in both 2004 and 2005. This Montmains is a winner with well-structured, fine ripe lemon flavours and a lingering, toasty-nutty finish.
Moving on to the five red Burgundies, Champy 2005 Bourgogne Rouge, while well-priced at under $20, is on the peppery-kirsch side of the equation. After this, there is nothing under $40! Best bet: the solid Bouchard Pere & Fils 2005 Beaune du Château (901199) at $41.95. Its still youthful, albeit with plummy, dried red cherry flavours that are fairly approachable.
WEBSITE EXCLUSIVE: From Australia, Shiraz fans will want to consider Elderton 2004 Shiraz (713024) at $29.95 from Barossa. It has a deep intense purple colour and complex, spicy, plummy black cherry purée nose with some licorice and sandalwood notes. Solid, dry, medium-full bodied, juicy, black cherry purée flavours with a long, lively finish.
WEBSITE EXCLUSIVE: A best buy Bordeaux is the rich earthy Château La Cardonne 2000 (980417 ) at $26.95. This blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc has a deep purple red colour and a cedary, stewed lime and baked ripe plum nose with hints of sun dried tomato. Solid, very dry, medium-full bodied, extracty cassis, ripe black cherry flavours with good length. It is surprisingly ready to drink.
WEBSITE EXCLUSIVE: If you haven't tried it, I strongly recommend Frescobaldi 2005 Remole (105429) which is on the General List. The $1.50 LTO ends tomorrow making this wine a steal at only $10.90. From the Tuscan home of Chianti, this special blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon has a fruit packed nose: baked plums, cherries and black currants with hints of sandalwood and violets. It is dry, bright and tangy with plenty of freshness on the palate. Medium to medium-light in body with harmonious ripe plum, cherry and strawberry flavours, it's a perfect autumn pleaser - perfect with tomato based pastas, pizza and grilled meats. Try it, you will like it!
Moving on to other release best buys, in Vintages "Size Matters" promotion, the best buy is the 375 ml of Cattier Chigny-Les-Roses Premier Cru Champagne Brut (919456) at $19.95. It is dry and well balanced with ripe lemon-apple flavours and a pleasant crisp finish. It also comes in a regular bottle (919456) at $37.95.
Finally, a serious dessert taste treat from California is Quady 2006 Elysium (276840) at $13.95 / 375 ml with its delicious, sweet, vibrant, juicy, black cherry flavours. A perfect after-dinner sipper.
Attention Cognac fans: Be the first of a select few to taste Courvoisier Succession JS Cognac a $4,500 elixir highlighting a fundraising Courvoisier dinner for the Ontario Association of Food Banks at Bymark Restaurant on November 21st - for details click here
Finally, here are the details on the upcoming Vintages/General
List Sale beginning Monday, November 12: for the list of 78
General List products click
here, for the list of 41 Vintages products click
- 2007 Tasting Note Database
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