A roundup of international wines that have reviewed by Wines In Niagara for various publications recently.
Chanson Le Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009, Burgundy ($18, 88 points)
For a simple, inexpensive Pinot Noir, there’s a lot to like about this wine. A nose of black and sour cherries, cocoa, earth and charred oak spices. It has lovely texture in the mouth with cassis, cherry, raspberry, evident tannins and a fair amount of length through the finish.
Domaine Beau Mistral Saint Martin Rasteau Cotes du Rhone Village 2009 ($23, 87 points)
A Rhone blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre from 60- to 90-year-old vines. A nose of kirsch, raspberry, cherry, plum, earth and a nice chocolate note. This is juicy stuff in the mouth with dark, rich fruits, licorice, earth, tar and fine tannins. A nice treat for lovers of this rustic yet pleasing style.
Antoine Moueix Merlot 2010, Bordeaux ($13, 85 points)
A good value junior Bordeaux red with cherry-bramble fruit and spiced currants in a ripe, plump style. The red fruits are joined by roasted herbs, licorice and firm tannins in the mouth. Serve with BBQ red meats.
Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Les Grands Vignes Nuit St. George 2009, Burgundy ($50, 90 points)
A tightly wound Pinot with subtle yet interesting dark fruits, bramble, forest floor and red berry fruit on the nose. It’s silky on the palate and opens up to intense raspberry, wildberry fruit, wonderful spice notes and fine-grained tannins. Try with grilled salmon and Teriyaki shiitake.
Maison Roche de Bellene Bielles Vignes Gevrey-Chambertin 2009, Burgundy ($48, 91 points)
This Pinot Noir displays a complex and floral nose of violets, earthy darker fruits, barnyard, mocha, truffles and spice. It is pure joy on the palate, with seamless raspberry-cherry-currant fruits and exciting spice woven in. It’s already coming into balance but has the stuffing to evolve for several more years. This is what Burgundy is all about.
Domaine Grand Tradition Cotes du Jura Blanc 2009, Jura ($22, 88 points)
Warning: This old-style Jura white is a blend of Chardonnay and Savagnin and is completely unexpected if you’ve never tried this style before. The nose quite sherry-like with slightly oxidized and unique notes of citrus peel, roasted nuts and apple skin. It’s very dry, oily and unctuous on the palate with fresh grapefruit, green pistachio, fino sherry and ginger flavours. Try this unique wine with raclette, fondue or white meats.
Trimbach Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives 2005 ($59, 93 points)
No other wine region on earth makes better Gewurztraminer than Alsace. This sweet VT is a perfect example of the exotic aromas and flavours that can be coaxed from this perfumed variety. The nose shows highly extracted grapefruit, wild honey, lychee, nutmeg and musk. It’s unctuous and fleshy on the palate with concentrated sweet fruits and spices. Just add the foie gras.
San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Reserva 2007, Tuscany ($27, 91 points)
A Sangiovese that spends 18 months in oak and a further six months in bottle before it’s released. It possesses a classic old-school nose of violets, earth, red fruits, toasted oak and spice. In the mouth, this juicy wine shows its stuff — plums, bramble fruit, spice, firm tannins, tar and vibrant core of acidity. Cellar five years.
Mionetto il Prosecco DOC ($12, 86 points)
This nifty, affordable sparkling wine from Italy is the perfect poolside sipper. It comes in a cute, modern bottle with a crown cap (like a beer bottle twist off). It’s fruity with green apple, citrus and orange rind notes on the nose. On the palate, the forward lime-apple fruit flavours are bolstered by racy acidity and a decent bubble.
Cantina Clavesana D’OH Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010, Piedmont ($13, 86 points)
Now, this is a fun little Dolcetto all dressed up in a clever package. The nose shows cherries, plums, kirsch, wild berries and savoury spices and herbs. All those fruits come together nicely on the palate with pepper and spices chiming in. Fun wine that would go well with veal parmigiana.
Banfi Centine IGT 2008 ($17, 88 points)
A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the southern region of Tuscany, this red shows blackberry, violets and spice on the nose. It’s lush and juicy on the palate with plum and currant fruits, some herbs and balancing spice notes. Smooth and delicious.
Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio IGT 2009 ($25, 89 points)
Ripe tropical aromas with melon and apple notes. Really fine Pinot Grigio in the mouth with lush tropical pineapple and guava flavours and a zesty citrus finish.
Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera Piemonte 2009 ($16, 86 points)
From one of the Piedmont’s largest wineries, this is a 100% Barbera red with a spicy, bold nose of plums, cassis and nutmeg. Quite expressive on the palate with dark fruits, hints of cherries, a touch of mint and soft tannins. A bargain wine.
Sattlerhof Gamlitz Sudsteirmark Morillon 2009 ($23, 87 points)
An unusual yet interesting Chardonnay from Austria that shows citrus, peach and grapefruit notes on the nose along with minerals and spice. It’s light and fruity in the mouth with some smoke, flint and mineral notes in a clean, refreshing and enjoyable style. Comes with a very cool Vino-seal glass stopper.
181 Merlot Lodi 2009, California ($17, 87 points)
The 181 referred to in the name of this California red refers to the clone of Merlot from Bordeaux, France. This is a very nice wine with dark cherry, eucalypt, spice and raspberry notes on the nose. It’s quite smooth on the palate with intense red fruits, a touch of licorice and spice, with plush tannins and long finish. A great find!
Foxglove Chardonnay 2009, Central Coast ($20, 91 points)
A simply gorgeous Chard from the Paso Robles region on the Central Coast. The nose displays apple-pear fruit beautifully balanced with spice and toasted oak notes. The fruit follows to the palate with added roasted almonds, carambola and interesting spices that’s all balanced and lasting through the finish.
Beringer Stone Cellars Merlot 2009 ($14, 85 points)
A simple and easy-drinking Merlot that shows notes of ripe cherry, herbs, wild berries and a touch of eucalypt on the nose. Nothing too complicated here, just a well-crafted red with defined fruit and soft spice at a good price.
Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($35, 90 points)
From a quality producer on California’s Sonoma Coast. This Cab is gorgeous and loaded with blackberry, mocha, currants, plums and a touch of mint. It’s beefy and bold on the palate with smoke, spice, leather and roasted coffee bean to go with all that fruit.
Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Fume Blanc 2009 ($22, 88 points)
Fume Blanc is a fancy name for Sauvignon Blanc that’s seen a bit of oak aging. The nose is quite aromatic with flowers, spice, apple, citrus and light toast and spice. It has grip on the palate with vanilla, pear and citrus notes in a round and juicy style.
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Field of Fire Chardonnay 2009 ($70, 92 points)
A truly extraordinary Kiwi Chardonnay. The nose displays scented pear, creamy peach, flower blossoms and stony minerality. It’s pretty and polished on the palate with baked orchard fruits, minerals, lovely toasted oak, depth of fruit through the finish, a core of vibrant acidity and wave after wave of pleasure. The finish lasts for a minute or more. A treat if you can find this small-production Chard.
Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir 2009 ($25, 88 points)
From the coveted Central Otago region of New Zealand that has proven ideal for Pinot Noir. I love the savoury cherry fruit, raspberry, flint and smoky notes on the nose of this wonderful Pinot. It is ripe and juicy on the palate with cherry-bramble-forest floor flavours, bright acidity and a clean finish. Delicious! The wine is named to honour the local rabbit population. A good match for coq au vin.
Vollenweider Wolfer Goldgrube Riesling Kabinett 2008, Mosel ($22, 90 points)
At only 7% alcohol, this German Riesling from the Mosel is a wine you can gulp down all in one sitting … and you just might do that, it’s that good. A lime bomb on the nose, with gunflint, grapefruit and white peach aromas on the nose. It dances lightly on the palate with a vibrant core of natural acidity. It’s sweet, yes, but not at all unbalanced. Hold for 5-10 years to appreciate the emerging petrol notes.
Domdechant Werner’sches Hochheimer Domdechaney Riesling Spatlese 2008 ($20, 89 points)
Honeydew, lemon tart, peach and underlying chalky minerality on the nose of this affordable Spatlese. It has vibrancy on the palate to go with the sweet flavours of lime, peach and honey. Very intense with a whiff of petrol. Will age beautifully.
Torley Hungaria Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($10, 88 points)
Hungary continues to turn out some cheap, yet well-made, wines that deserve our attention. This SB shows tropical fruits, gooseberry and melon on the nose. Those ripe fruits are lifted by racy acidity and clean flavours through the finish. Serve with summer salads and white fish.
La Casona de Castano Old Vines Monastrell 2009, Yecla DOC ($9, 88 points)
An emerging region in southeastern Spain that’s offering great bang for the buck. A nose of blueberry, cherry, plums and light spice. The mouth shows bright plums and berries with grippy tannins and a kiss of oak spice. The ultimate porch-sipper when unexpected thirsty neighbours show up at the door. Serve with tapas.
La Posta Cocina Tinto 2010, Mendoza ($13, 87 points)
This is an interesting blend of Malbec, Syrah and Bonarda with deep, rich aromas of plum, smoke, spice, tar, earth, black cherries and cassis. It is bold and substantive on the palate with black raspberry, cassis, cherry, tar, spice and leather notes.
Catena Malbec 2008 ($20, 87 points)
Catena is a benchmark producer of Argentina’s greatest grape — Malbec. The 2008 vintages shows violets, cassis, nutmeg, dark fruits and spice on the nose. It’s savoury on the palate with a rich broth of dark fruits, tobacco, leather, pepper and soft tannins. Delicious stuff.
Tilia Malbec 2009 ($13, 86 points)
This is from a varietal series by Catena’s winemaker Alejandro Viggiani. The Malbec is lovely with concentrated aromas of blackberry, vanilla, violets, plums and spice. It’s rich and savoury in the mouth with raspberry jam and dark fruits on a bed of soft tannins. Great sipping wine.
Lachini Pinot Noir Estate 2008, Oregon ($44, 90 points)
This Oregon Pinot is sourced from estate fruit in the Chehalem Mountains and, wow, what a delightful surprise. The nose reveals juicy, wild black and red fruits, toasted vanilla, earth, plum and fragrant floral notes. It shows both power and grace on the palate with lush, generous fruit, surprising poise and balance with its array of spice and fine oak stylings and acidity. Cellar for five years or decant and drink now. Pair with pheasant or veal.
Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Langhorne Creek ($30, 93 points)
What a gorgeous wine with a nose of cassis, black currants, plums, earth, sweet oak spice and mocha. It is textured on the palate with layers of concentrated dark fruits, chalky tannins, chocolate-mint notes, lavish spice and a long, long finish. Serve with rack of lamb.
Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz Cabernet 2009, Coonawarra ($35, 91 points)
The blend is 70% Shiraz and the rest Cab. I love the mature blueberries, currants, mocha and pepper notes on the nose. It’s rich, expressive and velvety on the palate with layers of lush currants, blackberries and spice. Will age well in the cellar.
Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2009, Adelaide Hills ($20, 90 points)
Modern-day Chards from Australia, such as this one, have evolved over time to cut back on the oak to let the ripe fruits play a starring role. The nose on this beauty show ripe apple, peach and pear notes to go with cream, spice and minerality. It’s creamy and buttery on the palate but still maintains its freshness and lovely fruit flavours. Enjoy with broiled lobster.
Grant Burge Summers Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills 2010 ($20, 88 points)
Burge’s Summers vineyard is in the relatively cool climate Eden Valley in the Adelaide Hills. It shows inviting citrus, light toast and vanilla, charred oak and cream notes. The fruit is intense on the palate, but nicely balanced with the oak, spice and acid. Could try this with grilled veal chops with mushrooms.
Lindemans Bin 40 Merlot, Australia ($12, 86 points)
A simple, yet delicious, value wine with cherry fruit, blackberry and soft spices on the nose. It’s lightly spiced on the palate with some chocolate notes on the finish.
Rosemount Diamond Label Merlot 2006, Australia ($16, 86 points)
This multi-regional Merlot displays plum, blueberry, herbs, cocoa and raspberry aromas. It’s quite fruit on the palate with raspberry, chocolate, vanilla and pepper flavours. To enjoy now.
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Merlot 2010, Australia ($17, 87 points)
The iconic Yellow Label from Wolf Blass rarely disappoints and is a stalwart in the price category. The nose shows plum, black fruits and subtle spice notes while the palate delivers plum, earth and licorice on a bed of supple tannins.
NOTE: Tasting of the wines above were conducted either as a result of samples, structured tasting, purchased or from a casual tasting.