Alan’s March 2003 Vintages Release
Release dates March
8th & 22nd,
surviving the sheer hell of this brutal and frigid winter, it was a
pleasure to taste March’s double-edged release. This month traditionally
brings hope of warmer weather and I am happy to say it offers many great
wines too. I managed to get a full ninety minutes tasting time, including
the 2000 ports, which were cracked earlier in the day. I didn’t taste a
single white all afternoon but from what I understand, with the exception
of a few, I missed little. However, I did hear good things about the 304469
SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002 $ 28.95, Marlborough, South Island, Cloudy Bay,
but that is nothing new really. Cloudy Bay is only to be available in
select Vintages locations, which, with the exception of one store in
London, are located where the countries politicians either work or reside.
Yep you guessed it Toronto and Ottawa! Oh well I wasn’t planning on
getting any anyway, as my money will be going on several of the wonderful
reds I sampled and maybe just maybe a port or two to tuck away for a rainy
March 8 Release
316943 CABERNET/MERLOT 1999 $
18.95, Niagara Peninsula, Cave Spring Cellars.
I liked this last November when the board first released it and I still
feel the same way tasting it again. In fact I think the rich cassis,
raspberry ripple, coffee and chocolate tones have intensified. There was
still plenty of tannin too to carry for a while longer.
591404 PINOT NOIR 2001 $ 19.95,
Niagara Peninsula, Lailey Vineyards.
Although this held a light and somewhat faded
ruby colour, its flavour profile was quite pretty. The nose is slightly
spicy, fragrant, full of perfume and violet finishing with a nice layer of
strawberry and raspberry. Good varietal character. Not big by any means;
in fact the nose out shone the palate. Some noticeable acidity on the
finish makes it a good food wine.
MERLOT 2000 $ 21.95, Niagara Peninsula, Peninsula Ridge.
Not a typical Canadian Merlot, lots of big black
raspberry, blueberry, whiffs of coffee, smoked meat, cola and dried
tangerine peel. It was quite spicy too on the nose and the mid palate was
mostly fruit focused. Some astringency on the finish but nothing a year or
two of sleep won’t soften.
421990 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1999
$ 29.95, Sonoma County, St. Francis.
A so-so wine at a not so so-so price!
979252 CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 2000 $
51.80, Alain Hudelot-Noellat .
I was excited when the sweet nose of strawberry, cherry and stewed rhubarb
arose from my glass. The mid palate was pleasing but came across as being
acidic, which equated to sour cherry on the finish. It seemed like it was
holding back on releasing its true potential and could be much better in a
few years. I would really hope so given the steep price tag.
748814 'LES GARRIGUES' 2000 $
14.95, 'Terroir de la Méjanelle', Coteaux du Languedoc, Domaine Clavel.
This Mini Me rendition of Copa Santa, its bigger brother due for parole on
March 22nd, was a powerhouse of a wine especially considering the price.
Layers of sweet mouth coating blueberry, black fruit and dusty chocolate
tannin. Underneath the fruit were traces of lead pencil and other expected
Southern French basics but nothing compared to what I remember from the
1999 $ 34.85, Château Mont-Redon.
After coming down from a Copa Santa fix, this was not the easiest wine to
taste. Initially I thought it to be light and lackluster but it soon
developed nicely in the glass. It was floral, showing a sweet tone of
cough candy, coffee, blackberry and red fruit. Mid palate was attractive
and showed great structure. An alluring hint of earth coupled with red
fruit and chocolate made the finish a winner. Drinking really well in its
BAROLO 1997 $ 69.95, Estate Vineyard, Marchesi di Barolo.
Holy Toledo Batman, just when I thought I was getting to understand
Piedmontese wines, this Barolo appears in my glass. The light rust colour
fooled me into believing it was old or even over the hill. The nose was
intense, brimming with aniseed balls, dried apricots, red berries, cherry,
cardamom seed, tobacco but no sign of tannin. Palate was lovely echoing
many of the aromas plus a lovely streak of red currant with toffee and
liquorish. The tannins awoke on the finish but they were gentle and still
quite sleepy. I wish this were cheaper as I did like it a lot.
939397 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
1997 $ 79.95, Fattoria dei Barbi.
A very dense wine. Although rough and hard as nails beneath the tough
exterior I found a rich and ripe layer of chewy fruit and flavours of a
wet damp forest floor. The finish offered up solid plum and mineral
flavours along with some seriously gripping tannins. Should be lovely but
who knows when.
978056 CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA
1999 $ 34.65, Podere Olmo.
Another classic, sweet aromas of coffee, truffle and violets married with
dusty tannin and chocolate. All the latter teased the taste buds assisted
nicely by the layer of “really ripe” red fruit.
'CALLEJO' CRIANZA 1999 $ 22.70, 'Cosecha Especial', Ribera del Duero,
Bodegas Felix Callejo, S.A.
Absolutely stunning. A leathery nose of blackberry, oven baked blueberry
pie and dark bitter chocolate. Underneath the rich fruit I hit aromas of
boot polish, suntan coconut oil, and cola. The fabulous balance finish
echoed the black fruit, mineral and chocolate. One solidly constructed
March 22 Release
325779 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1998
$ 38.65, Napa Valley, Clos du Val Wines.
Nothing to jump up and down or get too excited about with this wine. I
actually got some funky muddy stagnant water on the nose that I did not
like at all. It was also quite dusty showing a little lead pencil, currant
943191 PINOT NOIR 2000 $ 24.80,
Estate, Santa Maria Valley, Cambria Estate.
Lots of leafy, tobacco, some red fruit and cedar on the nose. Good
weight, sweet fruit, flat cola and a plastic feel on the finish.
711051 ZINFANDEL 2000 $ 37.80,
Rustridge Vineyard, Napa Valley, Rosenblum.
One great wine, deep ruby garnet colour with a sweet plush fruit laden
nose full of ripe fleshy plum, blackberry, mushroom and eucalyptus. Just
the right amount of oak and enough tannin to let it rest for a few years.
Mouth coating but not over the top like I find some Rosenblum’s can be.
942599 ZINFANDEL 1999 $ 26.95,
Lodi, Ravenswood Winery.
Clean, simple and nicely constructed Zin. Little hot a first but there was
ample blackberry fruit to mask the heat. A tough wine to pour after the
555599 ZINFANDEL 1999 $ 37.90,
Frei Ranch, Dry Creek Valley, E. & J. Gallo.
Not impressed at all, seemed quite disjointed; layers of cedar and lead
pencil masked the plumy fruit. Quite tannic and tight on the finish.
510628 SHIRAZ 2000 $ 27.90, 'Reynell',
'Basket Pressed' McLaren Vale, Australia.
I rescued a quick sip of this just as it was
making its way to the sink. A well balanced and most agreeable fruit bomb
with hints of floral and earth tones.
715045 CÔTE DE NUITS-VILLAGES
2000 $28.65, 'Le Vaucrain' Domaine Daniel Rion.
Lovely perfume, violet, cake spice and lavender
led the way to a palate of bright cherry and plum.
'COPA SANTA' 2000 $ 23.85, 'Terroir de la Mejanelle', Coteaux du Languedoc.
This was really heavy upfront on the vanilla bean and what I perceived to
be young oak. It expressed little terroir, or maybe the monster black
fruit preserve aromas just masked everything else. This was not the style
of Copa Santa I was expecting but I did like it and will buy whatever I
can find. The huge finish offered up pepper, toffee, hints of liquorish,
fruit and pure vanilla extract. I truly think this “Californian”
styled wine will need time to round out.
961086 'GRANDARELLA' 1999 $
28.55, Appassimento, Masi.
Possibly the most enjoyable Masi wine I have ever drunk. It was very
different and simply delicious. The nose was that of ripe blueberry, moss,
chocolate wild mushroom and black raspberry puree. The palate was equally
exciting. I think I may have to make room for more Italian wines in my
700872 AMARONE 1997 $ 46.65,
della Valpolicella, Az. Agr. Le Ragose.
Wow, dried cherry and cranberry fruit, dark couvature chocolate, Xmas pud
spice, hazel nut, rich ripe fruit and a wonderful blend of sweet fruit and
silky cocoa on the finish. It would be so much more convenient if I were
paid in Lire! I would by a case immediately.
The 2000 Vintage Ports
Until this afternoon I must
confess to being a just in the bottle port virgin. However, with help from
my friend Kirk, a local consultant, who happens to be featured in the
catalogue’s ‘employee of the month” section, I made my way through.
Kirk loves his vintage ports and tasted them three times during the day.
He was kind enough to suggest in which order I should sample them.
633057 'DOW'S' VINTAGE PORT
2000 $ 77.60.
Although Dow’s was the least concentrated of
the group, its alcohol showed a burning sensation that was both hot and
spicy. However, at the time I put this down to its youthfulness.
Nonetheless the other ports did not seem to have the same harshness. The
nose did show lovely blackberry, licorice toffee, black shoe polish and
coffee. Lovely chewy tannin and good length to the finish
VINTAGE PORT 2000 $ 117.75, Fonseca Guimaraens.
Colour reminded me of a mix of borscht and dark blackberry coulis.
Fortunately that was not reflected in the flavour. Aroma of chocolate,
matchstick, cake spice and plum. Mid palate was chewy but surprisingly
harmonious. Chocolate on the finish was silky and so long.
VINTAGE PORT 2000 $ 77.60, Warre.
The Warres had a sweeter and softer nose, milk chocolate, mineral and
flint. A layer of rich blackberry and cassis over powered the mineral
components. Lot of heat on the finish.
633115 QUINTA DO VESUVIO
VINTAGE PORT 2000 $ 89.00 Symington's.
Leathery liquorish aromas, lots of prune, full and very round. Finish
left a taste of roasted hazelnut and was the driest of the group.
VINTAGE PORT 2000 $ 126.85, Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman.
Certainly the most complex nose of the group, Szechwan peppercorns, Asian
tea leaves, fall leaves, and tobacco leaf. A monster dose of red and black
fruit, thickly textured and the longest finish of the group.
F_ck_ng _m_z_ng! Anyone need
to buy a vowel?
738153 VINTAGE PORT 2000 $
Based solely on QPR, this would be the port to acquire. Very dusty,
mineral based nose but there was a backdrop of raspberry, blueberry,
chocolate, cloves, black pepper and an enticing leafy earthiness. Well
balanced and although quite tannic, it was showing well.
726885 LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE
PORT 1996 $ 24.95, Traditional, Bottled 2000, Quinta de la Rosa.
Ok so this is not a vintage port but it deserves a mention. If you are
worried about buying green bananas then leave the long term aging vintage
stuff alone and get some of this. Maybe it lacked in intensity but it had
all the character of the big boys. Rich aroma of nut, maraschino cherry,
black pepper, dark chocolate, tobacco leaf, raspberry and aniseed.
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