Saturday, July 29, 2006


Lavradores means "growers." This Portuguese delight from winemaker Jiao Brito e Cunha was named one of the "20 Best New Wineries" by Food & Wine Magazine last October. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Barroca.


Vanilla cream attacks the palate followed by red berries and plum. Smooth, silky with a dark red color and pleasant nose.


87 PTS
Bold and concentrated an excellent Portuguese value wine at around $10 a bottle.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


This serious blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault is a distinctive red from Provence. Unfiltered and all natural, the limited production yielded only 1,000 cases.


A deep purple elixir with black pepper, herb and floral aromas and flavors. The core of the wine is very fruity with exceptional wild berry tastes that drift from dark blackberry to blueberry to boysenberry before becoming syrupy cherry on the light, dry finish.


90 PTS

Smells like handcrafted, homemade wine. There is a comforting richness to each glass. The black pepper scents are a bit too dominant when first poured but they settle down after the wine has had a chance to breathe giving way to the luxiourious fruit. For $16 a bottle, there is great value here. If you haven't tasted Vacqueyras, this is a good introduction.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Vergelegen, meaning "situated far away," is a winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Once an uncultivated land with 21 different soil types, Vergelegen is now a paradise with camphor and oak trees, orange groves, orchards and of course, grape vines. The first vines at Vergelegen were planted in 1700 by Willem Adriaan van der Stel. In 1989, Anglo American Farms planted the first vineyards.

The grapes used in this Merlot were sourced from a French Bordeaux clone and an Italian clone. The wine is made from 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.


The nose is rich with bacon fat, spice and dark fruit. The mid-palate is enormous with incredibly intense flavors of smoked pork and spiced wood. The finish is strong, long and flavorful bursting with sweet plum and a hint of cocoa.


93 PTS
This is an unusual and phenomenal Merlot. It does not offer the kinds of flavors you expect from Merlot. Silky, complex and utterly delicious. The concentration, clarity and intensity of flavors inspire awe. The whopping 15% alcohol is undetectable. A simply amazing wine! Purchased on sale for $21 and already regretting that I only bought one bottle.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Cortes de Cima is one of Portugal's leading wineries. If you have not tasted non-Port red wines from Portugal, then you are missing out on some of the most intriguing wines on the planet.

I really believe in these new world wines and am convinced that they will break out in the near future. The concentration, complexity, richness and seductive characteristics of these reds stand out from what every other country in the world is producing. Pinot Noir grown in Burgundy may be replicated in Oregon. California Meritages may imitate Bordeaux wines, but nothing produced outside of Portugal tastes like these reds. They are tremendously unique.


Approaching cult status, the Incognito is a Syrah varietal with a purple hue so deep and saturated that even Prince would be envious. Lush red berries on the nose are followed by waves of creamy vanilla oak on the tongue. The mid-palate is full of rich cherry cola and fresh ground cinnamon and the finish goes on for a good 10 seconds.


92 PTS
This is a phenomenal Syrah with incredible intensity, purity and concentration of fruit. Magnificient, with sediment and chewy tannins. The 15% alcohol is so well integrated that it is nearly undetectable. About $33 per bottle and worth it!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, France is always a wonderfully refreshing white wine. Estate bottle from the Loire Valley, this hand harvested Vouvray is a good summer sipper.


Aromas of peach/pear with tangy lemon citrus flavors intermixed with smoke and honey. Sweet with good acidity.


87 PTS
Refreshing and simple. Not overly complex so not a wine you want to stock up on, but a good party wine that you can find for around $11 a bottle.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


This Saint-Estephe red is the second label of the northernmost classed growth in Bordeaux, Calon Segur.


Medium-bodied with a muted nose of dark fruits, this wine exhibits the flavor of flat cherries with a black pepper finish. Very acidic with 13% alcohol that goes right to your face.


83 PTS
Tastes like a fading Bordeaux past its prime. The color also appears to be moving away from ideal showing some age at the edge of the glass. Missing all the classic structure, aromas, and flavors one looks for in a Saint-Estephe. Purchased for $13 and a big disappointment even at that price.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I know it is officially summer because we've had fireworks, MI3, Superman, Pirates and hot, humid weather, but do I really have to start drinking Rose, White Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc? If you are like me, you spend a lot of time inside with the air conditioner cranked up, so why must we turn to light and white? Why not simply adjust the thermostat, pretend it's a chilly fall day and open up some RED wine? After all, the summer should be about taking time to drink good wine you enjoy, so stop hiding complex reds in the cellar just because it's sunny. Drink them. I know I plan to all summer long which is why I opened up this bottle of Chianti.

Comforting, soft oak aromas. Light in color, medium bodied with sharp dry tannins, delicate toasty oak, mellow licorice and plum. Good finish.


89 PTS
Wonderful flavors but doesn't explode in the mouth. Leaves you wanting bigger fruit, more oak, and more concentration than it puts forward. A very good wine, but one that teases the taste buds in a frustrating way. If this wine was richer and fuller bodied it would be phenomenal. This is the kind of wine that will please wine drinkers that are not fond of Chianti or big reds because it is so approachable and easy to drink. A good value at $18.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


As my Toronto vacation continues, I found it hard to resist picking out a bottle from a friend's cellar called Chateau Canada. After all, the country just celebrated Canada Day so I doubt there is a more appropriate wine available at the nearest LCBO.


This Bordeaux Superieur made from 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon is a medium-bodied dry red table wine with muted plum aromas. A bit flat, with lackluster dark fruit flavors that turn bland and slightly tart on the finish.


84 PTS
Hard to recommend this slightly below average offering. It was fairly easy to drink with no harsh tannins or alcohol burn but it lacked enjoyment beyond the interesting name on the label.

The night did have a silver lining. We finished up with a terrific bottle of Rasteau Cotes Du Rhone that was light and packed with tremendous blackberry jam flavors. Simply delicious.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I'm vacationing in Toronto, Ontario or what I like to call the hardest place to buy good wine on the planet. Toronto is dominated by LCBO wine shops (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). This means that there are countless bottles of Canadian wines but limited options from the rest of the world. LCBO must clearly have excellent importation deals with Australia, because Aussie wines are also plentiful but one stroll down the California/US wine aisle is enough to make any American shriek in horror. Outside of a few low-end mass market Mondavi wines, Ernest & Gallo and White Zin jugs there's nothing from Napa, Sonoma, Oregon, or Washington. The perception of California wines here in Canada is cheap and bad and I can't blame them. That pretty much describes the wine they offer from California.

You can find Canadian wines everywhere in Toronto. They sell them at Wallmart, Loblaws, in the malls and even in small Wine Rack stores on Yonge Street, but finding a good wine shop that stacks quality wine requires significant research. After a few fruitless efforts, I retreated to the biggest LCBO I could find next to Loblaws near Highway 7 and tried this South African Merlot from the Vintage section in the back. LCBO's good wine (what Americans would label as $15 - $20 solid quality wine) is sold at a premium in this upscale section. It is the only option for a weary American like me in search of good wine. The prices of most bottles in the store are significantly higher than in the US. I'm guessing this is due to importation taxes and the exchange rate. Whatever the reason may be, Toronto residents don't know what they are missing and I on the other hand, never realized how spoiled I've become.


Subtle oak and cocoa on the nose with plum, blackberry and licorice flavors. Good structure with ripe fruit that opens up quickly. Decent finish.


88 PTS
Bordeaux-like Merlot with South African style. Solid quality at $20 a bottle.