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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s January 24th Release Notes

The wines of Spain take centre stage for the January 24th release. Spanish wines are usually fairly priced in the LCBO and many of these wines offer the consumer great wines at reasonable prices. Lots to buy so please read on……

Wines of Spain

392522 FINCA LOS ALIJARES GRACIANO 2009 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla $17.95
Very concentrated, laden with dark fruit, sweet rhubarb, caramel and nutmeg; plenty of blackcurrant flavours, with a touch of cherry, mineral, aggressive tannins and a touch of heat. Give it time. Find this wine

393140 DOMINIO DOSTARES ESTAY PRIETO PICUDO 2011 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León $15.95
Dark fruit, Fry’s chocolate cream bar, a touch of mocha and mint; juicy plum flavours, earthy, great acidity and gentle tannins. Find this wine

391896 VINESSENS SEIN 2011 Alicante $17.95
Sweet blackberry and currant, dark chocolate, thyme and Herbes de Provence; sweet chewy fruit, pings of anise and cardamom, good acidity and a decent finish. Find this wine

$17.95 SUEÑO TEMPRANILLO 2011 DO Ribera del Júcar $18.95
A lovely combination of blackberry, cherry and plum, mostly fruit focused nose, but the touch of lavender is pleasing; luscious chewy palate, good structure, some spice and mocha cream on the finish. Find this wine

392993 MACHO MAN MONASTRELL 2012 Jumilla $18.95
Chunky and clumsy, jammy black fruit, sweet oak and sandalwood; low acidity, sweet chewy texture, little hint of spice and an overly sweet finish. Find this wine

398685 BURÓ DE PEÑALOSA CRIANZA 2009 Ribera del Duero $23.95
A forceful mix of French and American oak, plenty of dark fruit, blueberry, tar, fresh flowers and coal dust; nicely balanced palate, some anise and bay leaf and a touch of heat on the finish, but overall a very good wine. Find this wine

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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s January 10th Release Notes

It’s January, things are a little less hectic, the holiday haste is done and life is supposedly back to some sense of normality. Cellars tend to get depleted over the jovial season and if that is the case, one can stock up with a few of the wines from Vintages “Smart Buys” release.

WINES OF THE MONTH

256693 CONCHA Y TORO SERIE RIBERAS GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Marchigue, Central Valley, Chile $17.95
Blasts out aromas of Cassis, Ribena, polished wood, Asian spice, anise and bay leaf; strange soapy/cardamom taste, dark fruit does come through, with good structure and gentle tannins. Find this wine

657411 VIÑA REAL PLATA CRIANZA 2010 Rioja, Spain $18.95
Lots of mocha, dried flowers, black raspberry, bitter chocolate, black tea, and forest floor, but a musty note interrupts. Good chewy dark fruit, but the musty note hits on the finish. A bad bottle perhaps. Find this wine

SMART BUYS LISTINGS

234518 LAMADRID SINGLE VINEYARD RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina $15.95
Very tight; some sweet spice, red fruit and raspberry start to show, light palate, with some currant flavours and low tannins. Just a simple wine. Find this wine

123489 CHÂTEAU HAUCHAT 2011 AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France $15.95
Mushroom and a little earthy beet, with plenty of ripe dark plum fruit; low acid palate, where blackcurrant shines, with some grip and spice on finish. Find this wine

395053 12 E MEZZO PRIMITIVO DEL SALENTO 2012 Puglia, Italy $13.95
Juicy dark fruit, cough candy medicinal notes, black sweet licorice, dusty, pleasing sweet berry flavours; good acidity, a little cloying on finish. Find this wine

124883 CLOS DU BOIS MERLOT 2012 North Coast, California $16.95
Dark with some mineral notes, black cherry, chocolate shavings; palate shows black raspberry and dark fruit. Simple structure, gentle tannins. Find this wine

171025 PUIG-PARAHY CUVÉE GEORGES 2011 Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France $16.95
Maltesers, creamy coffee crisp bar, Asian spice, tar and black fruit. The disappointing palate shows light in comparison to its nose; dark fruit is there, but pales and the finish is rather light. Find this wine

395236 LAFAGE CÔTÉ SUD 2012 Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France $14.95
60% Syrah and 40% Grenache, showing lovely floral aromas; layers of dark fruit and tar, blackberry and currant flavours are ripe and chewy, with a silky texture sweet spice on the finish. Find this wine

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Three from Cornerstone Oregon

Now that Christmas and New Years Eve/Day have come and gone, it occurred to me that I really should report on the wines we indulged in on Thanksgiving. (That’s right, no flies on me, folks.) Dinner was enjoyed at the home of our dear friends Brian and Anne Klump. It was traditional holiday fare, and deliciously so, which created what seemed to me to be the perfect opportunity to open two wines that were sent to us for review by our friends at Cornerstone Cellars. Our previous experiences with samples from Cornerstone’s Oregon operation had been positive, and these turned out to be every bit as good as their predecessors. After a glass or two of a tasty Delamotte Champagne Anne poured us, we moved on to the Chardonnay. (Click images to enlarge.)

2012 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Chardonnay, 13.5 % alc., $40.00: Clean medium straw in color, with a nice little spicy touch from the oak that is the driving force for the wine’s personality at this point; otherwise, the fruit is somewhat under-ripe and austere, but in a good way. Brian commented on a note of pinewood, adding that he finds it very “fall-y,” as in autumn-like. Lean and crisp, this opens nicely as it warms in the glass, and I found it more to my liking than the Morey Chassagne-Montrechet that Anne opened. Nice with appetizers and dinner now, and it should drink well for at least the next few years. Find this wine

Once we sat down to dinner, it was time for some Pinot Noir.
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A Six Pack of Le Cigare

Recently, we had the opportunity to taste through 6 wines from Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Le Cigare range. The reds, designated “Le Cigare Volant,” are probably better known than the whites, “Le Cigare Blanc,“ but whether pale or dark, the wines in this series are some of the finest, and most underrated, produced anywhere on the Left Coast, in my not-so-humble opinion. They are also some of the most Euro-styled wines produced anywhere in North America, not surprising when one considers Doon head honcho-winemaker Randall Grahm’s vinous preferences.

We tried both regular and reserve bottlings of the 2011 Le Cigare Blanc , and likewise for both the 2009 and 2010 vintages of Le Cigare Volant. We started with the two whites, on one of the last comfortable evenings that we could still comfortably grill and dine out on the back deck.
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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s December 6th Release Notes

I am happy to write that this release is full of some very good wines at more affordable prices than the previous two I reported on. Rarely do we see good quality Beaujolais in this part of the world, but there are a couple that caught my interest and several Spanish wines show particularly well too. There is only a single release this month, but it is a big one, thus there will be a lot of wines on the shelf to sort through. Notes are brief, but to the point. Please read on, buy some good stuff for your stockings and have a great holiday season.

WINES FROM THE UNCORK THE FESTIVITIES RELEASE

130195 13TH STREET SANDSTONE GAMAY NOIR 2011 Niagara Peninsula $29.95
Lots of dried currant, licorice root, elderberry, dark cherry and a tar/smoky note, with good concentration and acidity; plum and red currant flavours, toffee and pure fruit on finish with a touch of peppery spice. Find this wine

276477 GEORGES DUBŒUF DOMAINE MONT CHAVY MORGON 2013 $21.95
Ripe, full of damson, sweet plum , pepper, a lovely hit of flowers and some juicy plum. Quite a fleshy palate, some tannins, but non offensive. Find this wine

643239 DOMAINE DE BILA-HAUT OCCULTUM LAPIDEM 2012 Côtes de Roussillon-Villages $24.95
A bold fruit driven wine, showing blueberry, blackberry, red licorice and sweet oak; the palate has a chewy texture, tight, creamy, silky tannins. A complex fruit bomb. Find this wine

298612 CHÂTEAU DE LA GARDINE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 $39.95
Plenty of sweet spice, cigar leaf, barnyard, Dutch licorice and pure blackberry aromas. Chunky and creamy palate, a little disjointed now, but acids are perfect, tannins and serious, as is the level of fruit. Not to be rushed, needs much time. Find this wine

658351 CANTINE DUE PALME PRIMITIVO 2012 Salento $15.95
Sweet, zinberry aromas, black toffee, tar, maple syrup and blueberry; juicy and spicy, fruit laden great acidity and lovely creamy chocolate on the finish. Note to self-buy lots. Find this wine

388678 CASTELLO DI SPALTENNA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 $19.95
Earthy, eggshell aromas, raisins coffee grounds, balsa, solid red fruit, some plum and cherry aromas. Plenty of fruit on the palate, a note of anise and dried cherry on finish. Find this wine

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A Tasty Riesling From Tawse

We spent last weekend back on Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, hanging out with our partner in crime, Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan. As you might imagine, there was a lot of good food and wine consumed, and I plan on filing a report in the very near future. The one wine that I simply can’t wait to talk about here, however, is the very first that Alan poured for us on Saturday. Tawse Winery, located in Vineland, is on our very short list of favorite Niagara producers, and we never miss the chance to stop in and taste when we’re in the neighborhood. Chef Kerr has followed them from the very beginning, and always opens at least one Tawse something or another when we’re at Gang Central Niagara. This time, he greeted us with glasses of the following. (Click image to enlarge.)

2011 Tawse Riesling VQA Twenty Mile Bench Wismer Vineyard Foxcroft Block, 10% alc., $24.95 Can.: Clean pale-to-medium color, with a nice note of petrol that drives the aromatics and carries over onto the palate, where it mingles with pure, rich and lovely Riesling fruit, which registers somewhere between off-dry and semi-sweet. Medium bodied, with excellent acids, nice underlying minerality and a long, lingering finish, this is utterly delicious and delightful.

We produce some very fine Riesling here in Michigan, but I’ve never had one that’s as good this; come to think of it, I’ve had precious few from California this good (only some from Chateau Montelena come to mind), and none from Oregon, Washington or New York, though my experience with the variety from those four states is admittedly somewhat limited. True to our usual m. o., we visited the Tawse facility the day after trying this, and purchased a few bottles to bring back with us; unfortunately, it was the 2012 vintage, as the ’11 is sold out. If you’re touring Niagara, be sure to stop in and taste the wines. We think you’ll be glad you did, and tell them that Gang of Pour sent you. Find this wine

Reporting from Day-twah,
geo t.

Red Wings and a Red Rhône QPR All Star

2012 Caves Saint-Pierre Vacqueyras, 11-14% alc., $12.99: I was quite impressed with the 2011 version of this wine when I happened upon it at our local Trader Joe’s last spring, so when I saw this one, I didn’t hesitate in picking a few up and bringing them home. I’m not sure that this new vintage is the better of the two, but I certainly can testify to the fact that it’s the brighter, more immediately accessible. Showing deep, dark color, it offers up nice, earthy black plum, black currant and blackberry on the nose, shaded with a little leather. There’s plenty more of the same on the palate, along with a good dose of iron-like minerality. This delivers pleasurable drinking right from the get-go, and gets better as it opens in the glass. Full bodied and structured for several years of cellaring, yet so good already, it’s hard to keep hands off. It’s a great choice to pair with all the usual culinary suspects, including grilled red meats, especially of the lamb variety, and a good hearty cassoulet, and, bottles we’ve enjoyed have also made for some excellent Red Wings and Red Rhônes mojo. At $12.99, it’s a QPR All Star, to be sure. (Click image to enlarge.) Find this wine

Imported by Latitude Wines, Inc., Danville, CA

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s November 22nd Release Notes

Yet another high end release is on the books for this Saturday’s Vintages “Uncork The Finest”. This coupled with the amount of snow in the area means it must be Christmas after all. Several good to very good wines, but the board was in a bit of Scrooge mood as they were not as generous with the amount of wines sent for tasting as they were for the last release.

315200 HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2009 Traditional Method, Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $44.95
Not presented at the tasting, but having the good fortune to taste this on a recent visit to the winery I can say to anyone wanting to pop a bottle of domestic bubby for the New Year, this will not disappoint. It has all the yeasty, straw and toasty aromas of a fine quality Champagne. The palate is dry, has superb acidity, with plenty of pear, mineral and bready flavours. Find this wine

361758 UNION FORTÉ 2007 Niagara Peninsula, Ontario 500 mL $16.95
One of a couple of Port style wines up for grabs and this is really quite tasty. It oozes aromas of sweet plum, black toffee, sweet cherry and apple skin. It is a Tawny style wine made from a blend of Cabernet and Merlot from the region’s excellent vintage of 2007. It’s chewy on a palate and benefits from the explosion of blueberry fruit, and creamy dark toffee texture. Find this wine

548677 MASI CAMPOLONGO DI TORBE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2007 Veneto, $101.95
Quite lovely, enticing aromas of marzipan, chocolate egg, cardamom, root beer, mocha and cappuccino abound. Quite dense on the palate, great fruit flavours, slightly sweeter than its cousin below, with damson, blackberry and plum, somewhat spicy, finishing with dried blueberry and dusty tannins. Find this wine

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Red Wings and Red Rhône Rangers

While preparing this report, the following thought occurred to me; man, I’ve been doing these Red Wings-Red Rhônes for quite a while now! Sure enough, a quick check on the old site shows that our very first RW-RR was posted in October of 1997, 17 years ago. Here is the premise as originally stated at that time: “Come October, this taster’s thoughts turn to Red Wings hockey and big red wines from France’s Rhone Valley. While I never mind the Wings’ season extending into June, as it did this past summer, the same can’t be said for the enjoyment of the heavy traditional winemaking styles that are typical of the southern Rhone. There’s something almost oppressive about these wines, for me, when consumed between the bookend holidays of Memorial and Labor Days. With the first inkling of autumn, however, a magical change seems to occur, when they regain all of their considerable charm and appeal.” (Click image to enlarge.)
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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s November 8th Release – Tasting Notes

Tis the season to be jolly and Vintages is releasing some of their finest in the annual “Uncork the Season” release. As always there are good wines and not so good wines. Hopefully I can take the guess work out of some of them for you.

A selection of my opinions from the “Uncork” release.

266551 ANTICA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Atlas Peak District, Napa Valley $53.95
Brimming with bursts of red jelly candy, cocoa, dried blackcurrant, licorice, tree bark, clove, anise and tar with luscious chewy fruit, featuring blueberry, plum and a touch of chocolate, well balanced, but firm tannins suggest time. Find this wine

652883 BELLE GLOS CLARK & TELEPHONE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2013 Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County $44.95
Aromas of ripe red fruit, damson, black raspberry, rose petal, creamy cappuccino, Fry’s cholate cream and cheap dollar store style sweet licorice. The palate is forceful, punching out blackberry and Asian spice flavours to no end. Great wine, but, fans of silky fined tuned Pinot beware, this is the anti-Christ of Pinots. Find this wine

246629 MOLLYDOOKER THE MAITRE D’ CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 McLaren Vale, South Australia $29.95 $29.95
I must confess to not enjoying Australian wines as much as I used to, but if they were all made like this, I would be a born again Ozzie- ite. This is a monster, but a gentle giant that oozes with aromas of iron, currant, mineral, dusty pine and eucalyptus. Its palate is powerful, but impeccably balanced, boasting flavours of currant, blackberry, Moroccan spice and Mocha. Think this is good; wait until the next release for my notes on its way bigger and brawny brother. Find this wine

104299 THE PRISONER 2012 Napa Valley $49.95
Murky, showing notes of dried leaves, hazelnut, sweet oak and dark red fruit, this vintage is toned down from last year’s rendition, but the sweetness and the 15 plus level of alcohol both make their way to the surface . The blend of 46% Zinfandel, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petite Sirah, 12% Syrah, and a small amount of Charbono could be a fun wine to drink, but sadly the palate is globby and chewy with a finish of candy syrup and heat. Find this wine

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