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Sunday, April 18, 2010

New wine products tasted April 2010

1. Passion Malbec (Valentin Bianchi) 2008 Argentina, +163188, $8.95:
Typical Modal Varietal Character, with plumy tones, vanilla and other
wood organoleptics. Party wine or sip or first course as an entry wine.
Twist top, 14% ABV.
2. Mike Weir Chardonnay 2008 Niagara, +26 Vintages Essential, $15.95:
expect a combo of cool climate fruit (apple, pear) with some creamy and
vanilla tropicality from resolved grape sugar and wood aging. Limes on
the nose. Six months in French oak, 13% ABV. Don't overchill, best with
3. Closson Chase has been making wines since before 2001. Although
making wine in Prince Edward County, they use both PEC and Niagara
fruit. Their impressive Chardonnay is derived from their own Aberdeen
vineyard and the Steve Kocsis vineyard – both in Niagara.
So – Closson Chase Chardonnay 2001 (mature, 13.8% ABV, not available
anymore; three stars), 2004 (definitely Burgundian in style, $75; three
and a half stars), 2005 (nutty tropicality, now drinking well, $48;
four stars), 2006 (over-the-top caramel-orange, $42; four stars), and
two treats from the storied 2007 vintage – one from the Aberdeen
Vineyard ($44.95, three and a half stars), and one from the S. Kocsis
Vineyard ($44.95, four stars because of its longer finish). These
Beamsville Chardonnay vines are now twenty years old.
4. Featherstone Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Niagara, +89011, Fall 2010
Vintages release (summer at the winery), $16.95: exceedingly refreshing
at this early stage, green apples and lemon zest, great with summer
first courses, but a bit nervy right now for just sipping. Some
botrytis tones (5% of crop). Hand picked, partial barrel fermentation.
250 cases, 12.5% ABV. Twist top.
5. Featherstone Estate Black Sheep Riesling 2009 Niagara, +80234, April
3 Vintages, $16.95: named after the sheep that eat grape leaves,
exposing the grapes to more sun. 13-yar old vines, ripe notes with 26.5
g/L natural residual sugar. Good Riesling grip. 750 cases, 10% ABV,
twist top.
6. Featherstone Estate Rose 2009 Niagara, +117861, May 15, 2010
Vintages, $14.95: blend of 52% cabernet franc, 39% gamay, and 9%
merlot. With some botrytis notes, this is a rocking rose, great with
veggies or fish. Light red fruit tones, residual sugar 15 g/L. 500
cases, 12.5% ABV, twist top.
7. Featherstone Estate Cabernet Franc 2008 Twenty Mile Bench Vineland,
Vintages April 17, 2010, $16.95: Hand picked and hand sorted, brimming
with red fruit and herbs, some coconut tones from the US oak. Great
with Mediterranean foods or anything herby. 681 cases, 12.5% ABV, twist
8. Featherstone Estate Red Tail Merlot Twenty Mile Bench Vineland,
Vintages August 7, 2010, +131540, $19.95: Owner Louise Engel is a
falconer, and uses falconry to control nuisance grape-eating birds. Red
Tail is a hawk commonly seen over the Niagara area. Expect red fruit on
the front palate, black fruit on the mid-palate, and softness on the
finish. Merlot character dominates, of course, and this is a good
Ontario example. 570 cases, 12.5% ABV, twist top.
9. Tyrone Estate DeVine Shiraz 2007 Riverland South Australia, $20 from Organic grapes and "biodynamic principles" are
used, twist top, 14% ABV, but "produced with egg products" so it is
non-vegan. On the nose, expect spice, anise, some underbrush, and ripe
fruit tones. The taste has leathery syrah with a shiraz hit of
plumminess, toasty US oak influences (think coconut). Finish is long
and lingering. This is a rich wine with mounds of flavour, makes me
long for cheeses as a food partner.
10. Two Hands "The Lucky Country" Shiraz 2008 McLaren Vale and Barossa,
$15.25 LCBO +145276: a charmer on the General List, with berries and
smoke, some mint, plumy, some anise, longer finish. 14 months in French
and US oaks. 14.9% ABV, twist top.
11. Vina Teillery Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah/Merlot 2006 Reserve Maipo,
$14.95 from Made from organic grapes in Chile,
13.9% ABV, unfiltered, one year in French oak (lends it some elegance).
A real mix of red and black fruits from the CSSM blend, hard to pin
down a varietal character at this price point, but there are pronounced
spices, toast and vanilla components as per usual.
12. Tres Sabores Porque No? Napa Valley Rutherford, $29.95 from Made with organic grapes. This is a combo of 75%
zinfandel (110-year old vines), 12% cabernet sauvignon, balance of
petit verdot and petite sirah. Each grape contributes something,
although the zin dominates, with cabernet showing up on the mid-palate.
Black fruit tones, come complexity from the older US barrels. I liked
an earlier vintage at the Napa show in Toronto last fall. 14.5% ABV,
hand harvested, both US and French oaks used, 1200 cases made.
13. Az. Agr. Durante Le Spinee Cabernet Piave DOC 2008 Veneto, $10 US
dollars, probably more here ( This is mostly
cabernet franc with some sauvignon, as is usually the case with Piave
DOC. Organic grapes are used, very Italianate in complexity, slight
sourness in fruit-finish. Vegetative herbiness is useful for roasts and
grilled meats. Red fruits dominate palate. The tannic finish needs some
time, but the wine is useful (and youthful) at this price. 12.5% ABV.
14. Az. Agr. Di Tuccio Raffaele Antica Enotria Falu Rosso IGT 2007
Puglia, $15 in US money, probably more here (
This is 100% organic Montepulciano grapes, from 15-year old vines with
mature ripe fruit. It is also unoaked, which may please some people.
Micro-oxygenation has been employed to help push the wine along without
the oak. 1250 cases.
15. Xabregas Shiraz 2008 Mt. Barker Western Australia, about $25, from
Amethyst Wine Agency. Uses the "metodo ganimede", which emphasizes
dynamic skin contact and post-fermentation maceration, plus some micro-
oxygenation. Extremely rich and plumy wine, but dry. Best with food,
needs another year, 15% ABV. The wine has character. Twist top.
16. Warner Glen Estate Frog Belly Shiraz Cabernet 2009 Margaret River,
about $25, From Amethyst Wine Agency. 80% shiraz, 20 % cabernet
sauvignon, from Western Australia. 14% ABV. Great black fruit nose,
long length, some tannins, best after a year or more. Definitely a food
wine, finishes dry.

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