Alan’s December 2001 Vintages Release
date December 1, 2001
Last month I was disappointed, having
missed the pre release tasting; all I heard was rave reviews about all the
wonderful stuff I missed. Unfortunately, the general feeling about
December’s release was that it seemed lackluster in comparison to
November’s. Quite a few of the premium wines were missing from the line
up and from what was available, there really was not too much to get
excited about. There were a few wines that I would classify as really good
stuff but sadly there were several that really should not be made
available to the unsuspecting public.
Best wines? Well I thoroughly enjoyed, the 1997 Ch. Souverain
for it’s luscious, rich and well balanced texture. It was loaded with
sweet ripe blackberry fruit, cassis, plum, coffee and tongue teasing
creamy dark chocolate.
Another wine I enjoyed was Guigal’s 98 Chateauneuf du Pape
Initially I did not see what all the hype over this wine was all about,
especially after reading Parker’s glowing reviews. However tasting
several times, I found some of the expansiveness and concentration of
flavours that elated the eminent Mr. P so much. It displayed lots of funky
tarry elements, really polished fruit, heaps of pepper and masses of
tannin. It will need time to come together and soften.
533315 CHARDONNAY 1998 $ 17.95, ‘Triomphe’ Niagara Peninsula,
A rich and voluptuous wine showing vibrant aromas of butterscotch,
toast and canned pineapples. Creamy texture in the mouth. Lots of polished
apple and pear flavours that move into a long finish of pineapple juice
and acid. An interesting style of wine that would be fun to slip into a
322057 CHARDONNAY 1999 $ 23.50, ‘Pinnacles’, Monterey, Prod.
& Btld. Estancia
With this I expected an overblown Chardonnay that would reek of oak
and nothing else. Well fortunately I was wrong. It displayed good solid
varietal fruit, focused well-integrated oak and well focused balance.
Lovely flavours of sweet apple and tart honeydew melon that lingered long.
The downside of this is I have purchased this wine south of the border for
less than ten bucks.
722686 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2000 $ 10.90, 375 ml, Sonoma County,
The parent-sized version of this mini me wine was released last
October. I like it now as much as I did back then. It is convenient have a
few infant sized bottles of decent wine around to crack at lunch or as an
aperitif before dinner.
709246 CHENIN BLANC 2000 $ 13.95, Tintookie Vineyards, McLaren Vale,
South Australia (Dowie Doole)
This was noticeably different from the rest of the pack. It’s
initial floral, leafy, and vegetal aromas blew off to reveal those of
Asian pear and grape juice. The balance was fine-tuned, the finish long,
quite full and grapey! The solid flavours and the perceptible sweetness
will make this a prime candidate to quaff with some Thai food. A very fair
742783 PINOT GRIS 2000 $ 13.60, Marlborough, South Island, Babich
In all a very clean, sound and silky smooth wine. There were
noticeable earthy mineral tones Pleasant tree fruit aromas and clean
flavours of apple and pear. Again I hit a touch of residual sugar in the
957761 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2000 $ 16.95, ‘White Label’, Hawkes Bay,
North Island, Morton Estate, N.Z.
If you don’t like cats, this may not be for you as the litter box
factor was initially pretty overwhelming. There were plenty of other
things here to get the taste buds salivating however, including a healthy
dose of limejuice and citrus peel aromas. High acid, most refreshing, good
length, a good wine that maybe needs food!
562900 CHARDONNAY 1999 $ 26.95, ‘Terrunyo’, Casablanca Valley,
Viña Concha y Toro, Chile
‘Terrunyo’ is Concha y Toro’s high-end wine. I was surprised as
I expected, judging from the bright yellow gold colour this wine had taken
on, a wine full of buttery oak and tropical fruit. Not at all, it
displayed aromas of gentle oak, ripe melon, cooked pear and a trace of
steely pineapple. Plenty of citrus acid and Northern spy apple flavours.
It was full bodied and enjoyable but I have drank better Chilean
Chardonnay at much lower prices.
993352 GEWURZTRAMINER 1999 $ 34.75, Herrenweg, Domaine
Oh my god, this was one of the most exotic and harmonious wines as I
have tasted in a while. It was a classic and a joy to sample. I really
wanted to grab it, sit down in a corner and keep it all to myself! The
toasty fresh baked shortbread aroma was memorizing. Loads of super sweet
lychee fruit, roasted almonds and cinnamon were also evident. It was sweet
without being cloying. Acids were soft and perfectly balanced. Finish was
not as full as I hoped for but it was elegant with a kiss that keeps one
wanting more. Wow!
733030 CHABLIS 1ER CRU 1999 $ 23.80, ‘Les Fourneaux’,
Robert Nicolle, Prop.-Récolt
This contained all the usual elements of really good Chablis and them
some. For a premier cru wine, this is reasonable price to pay. The chalky
mineral aromas combined nicely with the crisp biscuit, marzipan and
hazelnut tones that hung around in the background. A little richer in
colour, pale yellow green, than other Chablis I have crossed paths with
but I guess that is part of the being a Premier status wine. I would
certainly take this in place of the Concha Y Toro given it’s price is
three bucks less.
938399 SANTENAY 1ER CRU 1998 $ 35.45, ‘Clos de
Beauregard’, Domaine Vincent Girardin
The Burgundies just kept getting better and better. This one had a
butteriness with some flinty notes underneath, a strong whack of vanilla,
but not enough to be annoying. Loaded with rich ultra ripe Bartlet pear,
banana peels, creamy, toffee, honey and baking spice aromas. It was full
bodied and its flavours echoed all the aromas found in the nose. There was
a slightly oily, chardonnay feel, in the mouth that gave an impression of
a slight bitterness in the finish. The nice crisp acidity, solid fruit and
flinty undertones did last longer in the finish and masked the minimal
722041 EDESHEIMER ROSENGARTEN 1999 $ 13.75, Siegerrebe
Spätlese, Gutsabfüllung, Weingut Werner Anselmann
I think this may be my first tasting note on a German wine. Amazing is
one word that really came to mind when I inhaled the rich scent that
protruded from the glass. This was thick, full bodied and loaded with
flavours of peaches, nectarines, honey, raisins and grapefruit all bound
together by a bond of super smooth acidity. A bargoon at this price I
would have to say.
977132 VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO 2000 $ 13.95, ‘Tradizionale’
Sono Montenidoli, DOCG, Elisabetta Fagiuoli
The deliberate omission of oak in the production was noticeable as the
earthy mineral elements of this Tuscan village are the focus of the wine.
Acid is high but some pleasing flavours of furry tree fruit skins and
citrus make it interesting.
724138 CONDE DE VALDEMAR 1999 $ 15.40, Fermentado en Barrica, Alto
de Cantabria, Rioja DO, Bodegas Martinez Bujanda S.A.
Not being overly familiar with the Viura grape, I had no idea what
exactly to expect. I found it to be ripe and quite toasty until the
raisiny almost oxidized taste over powered my entire palate!
551036 OLD VINES FOCH 1999 $ 19.95, Ontario, Malivoire
The vines for this Maréchal Foch, having just enjoyed their twenty
fourth birthday, have been producing some dynamic wines for years. The
multidimensional nose reeled me in and teased me with an array of smoky
cured meats, proscuitto, espresso and cocoa beans. Beneath all this lay
solid fruit flavours of plum, blackberry some Dutch black licorice and
sweet chocolate. This is a winner.
943076 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1997 $ 29.95, Estate Bottled, Mendocino
County, Brutocao Vineyards
Given the asking price of this wine, I was disappointed. There was
some nice slim cabernet fruit that emerged but for the most part all I
could taste was an herbal and plum character. Even the finish was mostly
stewed rhubarb and a faint hint of sour cherry. An ok wine but with little
depth and a touch to acidic for my tastes.
301218 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1997 $ 36.85, Alexander Valley, Chateau
This rocked. What else do I need to say?
982413 LYTTON SPRINGS 1999 $ 49.90, California, Ridge Vineyards
The board for some reason decided not to include this wine in the
tasting. Having consumed this on as many occasions as I could in
California last summer, I say swallow the price ( if you can finds it
south of the border, expect to pay $33.00-$35.00 US) and buy as much as
you possibly can. Rumor says Paul Draper claims this wine to be one of the
finest Lytton Springs he has ever made. From what I remember it was laden
with ripe blackberry, black raspberry with excellent balance, lots of
glycerin, super concentration and ultra smooth tannin. I have regrettably
drank every damn bottle I bought back with me but I will be sure to get
some more as enjoyable as this wine is now, it is a keeper!
720243 MERLOT 1997 $ 39.90, Estate Grown, Napa Valley, Ballentine
A big full-bodied and slightly sweet wine that upfront, was medicinal
and herbaceous. There were lots of fruit flavours lurking mostly red
currant, after dinner candy and sweet cranberry. Not really my style.
502336 ZINFANDEL 1999 $ 34.95, Rockpile Road Vineyard, Dry Creek
Valley, Sonoma, Rosenblum Cellars
I happen to love these fleshy, somewhat sweet styles of Zinfandel and
this was no exception. Floating around in the mix of heady aromas were
raspberry, black cherry, blueberry and red fruit. The finish had good
crisp acidity a tangy blend of fruit and a creamy mouth feel of Basset’s
liquorish allsorts and spice.
232793 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1997 $ 23.95, Columbia Valley, Château
At first all this offered was tannin and earth. However there soon
appeared lots of black cherry, spice and plum. It did finish spicy and
quite hard. Not sure about this one as it was so tightly wound when tasted
930321 CABERNET/MERLOT 1998 $ 16.95, Columbia Valley, Snoqualmie
This too was deeply coloured and contained more tannin than I expected
for a blend with Merlot as a component. It was a little herbaceous at
first but there was plenty of fruit lurking in the background. Good value
and worth trying at this price.
431999 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1999 $ 11.95, ‘Southeastern’
Australia, Milburn Park Wines
Many people find this wine to be very good especially given the price.
I found it to be one dimensional, slightly sweet and unexciting.
575092 SHIRAZ 1999 $ 22.95, Limestone Coast, South Australia, Greg
I would stick to playing golf.
741439 SHIRAZ 1999 $ 17.80, McLaren Vale, South Australia,
This was an elegant Shiraz that offered more than just a face full of
fruit. There was some juniper berry, plum and Thai basil in the nose. A
good solid core of fruit flavours with a kiss of spice in the finish.
700815 SHIRAZ 1999 $ 19.95, Bendigo, Victoria, Water Wheel Vineyards
Again, a trifle sweet for me but it was brimming with fruit, mostly
plum and cherry with a good long pleasing finish that teased with a hint
971606 SHIRAZ 1998 $ 16.00, Australia, Geoff Merrill
This was my pick for the best of the Oz category this month and I was
surprised to see that it was one of the cheaper offerings available. It
excelled with lovely ripe red fruit, a touch of lavender, eucalyptus, and
violet candy in the finish. Well worth trying.
727495 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1998 $ 15.95, Laura Hartwig’, Colchagua
Valley, Santa Laura S.A.
This was interesting to say the least. The nose was heady and
overpowered by its eagerness to display the degree of local terrior. It
was dense in flavours of plum, cassis and finish strong with dusty tannin
and silky chocolate
562892 CARMENÈRE 1999 $ 31.95, ‘Terrunyo’, Peumo Valley, Viña
Concha y Toro
This wine was the densest I had all day. It will need time for all the
funk, lead pencil, mushroom and forest flavours to settle down and come to
some agreement on which will become the prominent flavour. I liked it but
I did question the fruit component, as I couldn’t really detect any!
358309 CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 1998 $ 15.50, Unfiltered, Valle
del Maipo, Viña Carmen
This was a fun wine. I picked up aromas of grilled steak, peppercorn,
plum stewed almost jam like black fruit, tobacco and vanilla. If you
believe the smorgasbord of foods the Vintage’s catalogue suggests it
could be consumed with, it will pair well with almost anything. I would
stick to simple grilled meats.
726760 MERLOT RESERVA 1999 $ 13.00, Rio Claro, Curico Valley, Aresti
This was very good considering the relatively low price. A little
funky initially but there was lots of red fruit, briar, tobacco, cherry
and plum to keep it in tune. Very plush and silky in the mouth with a
decent finish of chocolate and spice. Good stuff.
516385 DINGAC 1998 $ 17.80, Dalmatie Central AC, Vinarija Dingac
Whoops, in a blind tasting I might pick this as an over ripe and
fleshy Zin until the barrage of tannins emerged. They quickly stuck the
inside of my cheeks together and adhered my tongue to the roof of my
mouth. Time for a major rinse.
717223 CHÂTEAU LAROSE-TRINTAUDON 1996 $ 32.80, Haut-Médoc
Full of sweet jammy flavours, mostly blackcurrant and cherry, a touch
of smoke and some heavy chocolate centred tannins. I remember paying so
much less for this wine a few years back, it is hard to get excited when I
see today’s price.
990937 ‘HAUTE COUTUME’ 1998 $ 17.95, Calcaires d’Estagel’
Tautavel, Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Vignerons Catalans
This crept up out of nowhere to grab the title for best QPR wine of
the release. It expressed aromas of dark couvature chocolate, cola, plums
and red berries. It holds a strong cloak of tea based tannin and it is
pretty tightly wound at the moment. However underneath all the structure
those massive fruit flavours are just waiting to come forward.
727503 CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 1998 $ 38.85, E. Guigal
Really good stuff. However, I am concerned about making an acquisition
as I have had some wonderful C.N.P’s, from the same vintage, priced in
the mid twenties, that have given me equal enjoyment!
972281 CROZES-HERMITAGE 1999 $ 21.45, Les Meysonniers, M. Chapoutier
This forward medium bodied Rhone had a wonderful blend of terroir and
fruit. Hints of blueberry, raspberry and plum peeped from the glass. The
explosion of chocolate, raspberry flavours were tamed by a grind or two of
white peppercorn noticeable in the finish
711077 BAROLO ‘SORANO’ 1996 $ 34.85, Podere di Sorano, di
Serralunga d’Alba, Cantine Giacomo Ascheri
Tasting this I realize I have much
to learn about the wines of Barolo. To me it appeared dry, austere and
gamy. There was a suggestion of cherry fruit but it was masked by the
leathery texture and unappealing dryness.
579862 ‘ALTANO’ 1999 $ 10.45, Douro, Silva & Cosens,
A little heavy on the fresh ground pepper here but there were some
interesting flavours of mint, slate, cassis and star anise. At the price
it is worth buying at least a bottle or two.
237834 ‘COSME PALACIO Y HERMANOS’ 1998 $ 17.80, Rioja, Bod.
Some very clean and simple flavours of chocolate, raspberry, plum and
323345 ‘PESQUERA’ RESERVA 1997 $ 39.95, Ribera del Duero,
Bodegas Alejandro Fernández
Really closed down even after being open for several hours. It smelt
rich and meaty with a solid concentration of blackcurrant, cherry, black
olives and forest floor. This is a dense wine nicely structured and worth
958413 ‘MILLESIMATO TALENTO’ BRUT 1996 $ 14.60, Metodo Classico,
Veneto, Italy, Carpené Malvolti
Good grief, this was the most unusual wine I have "nosed" in
a long time. It was redolent of vegetation, mushroom soy, spent yeast and
dank potato peelings. Needless to say I did not go any further!
725747 ALIANÇA RESERVA BRUTO 1998 $ 13.80, Método Clássico,
Bairrada, Portugal, Caves Aliança
A fairly full-bodied racy wine that offered pear and apple flavours.
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