Archive for March, 2010


weekend values

Here are two very no-nonsense everyday drinkers that offer up fruit and complexity without the high price tag!

2008 Box Head, Shiraz, South Australia

Offers up many of the characteristic flavours of a good Shiraz including cedar spice box, dark cherries and licorice.


2008 Wrongo Dongo, Monastrell, Jumilla 
A lovely Monastrell with supple dark fruits such as black berry and plum with hints of peppery spice and silky tannins. And all for $8.99!


“great ideas are made in the head”…

…said Dan Philips in response to the saying “great wines are made in the vineyard.” And that seems to sum up an evening with the man who pretty much brought Chris Ringland and Aussie wine to the US market with 40 cases of wine and maybe a dime of his life savings left in his pocket. A gamble? Perhaps, but isn’t anything worth while? With that investment Dan started the Grateful Palate and R Wines, which is one of, if not the, single largest importer of fine Aussie wine to the US. To prove this; as if it really needed any validation, he brought along eight stellar examples to taste out to Just Grapes Platinum and Gold members.

The theme for the night…Shirazathon!
The guests were greeted with a glass of Bitch Bubbly a sweet sparkler made from Shiraz. Then everyone made their way into the “barrel room”. On the flight were:

1) 2008 Strong Arms, Shiraz, South Australia $9.99

For the money this one was really quite nice and complex with a rich spicy nose, lush peppery attack with rich dark fruits and cherry cola notes on the palate with soft tannins and finished with nice acidity.

2) 2008 Marquis Philips, Shiraz, Mclaren Vale $14.99

This one was close to stealing the whole show last night with its meatier and earthier nose of subtle white pepper, cherry and tobacco leaf notes. Rich and almost sweet on the lead off but lively spice notes emerge mid-palate with supple and smooth tannins in support of a long finish the had bright acidity and light chocolate notes.

3) 2007 Boarding Pass, Shiraz, South Australia $18.99

This one is 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier with a nose of cedar spice box and dark cherries. Earthier on the palate with dark fruits mingling with richer mocha notes and soft tannins provided a nice structure. A long finish caped off this value quite nicely.

4) 2007 Luchador, Shiraz, Barossa Valley $18.49

Dark cherries, tobacco leaf and spiced chocolate aromas greeted the nose with warmth. Lush fruits and spice lead off the palate with dark cherry and black berry notes rising up mid-palate with dark chocolate notes heading into the long finish with subtle acidity and smooth tannins.

5) 2007 Chris Ringland “CR”, Shiraz, Barossa Valley $21.99

This one is personal favourite of mine. It’s ages 20 months in seasoned French and American hogsheads, which instead of over oaking provide this wine with a big spicy nose with hints of licorice, cedar and spice box cherry. The palate is treated to lush dark fruit flavours accented with hints of vanilla and oak all supported by strong yet smooth tannins and the finish was full of more spice box notes with lovely dark chocolate ribbons running throughout.

6) 2007 First Class, Shiraz, Mclaren Vale $31.99

As the name suggests this is the upgrade to the Boarding Pass and another favourite of mine. It was aged 18 months in French and American oak. Black berry, licorice, warm baking spice and ever so subtle hints of wet river rock minerality make up a very complex nose, which translates into an equally complex palate that seems to coat the entire mouth with silky chocolatiness, rich dark fruits, baking spice and velvety tannins but a lively note of acidity chimes in on the finish to keep this from getting too heavy.

And last but not least la pièce de résistance! And the cause of the most nerve-racking part of the night for me since I first started working at Just Grapes six months ago…pouring 30 people a fairly good tasting portion straight from the decanter, while the boss looked on!!!

7) 2005 Anamorphosis, Shiraz, Barossa Valley $249.99

RP awarded this 99 points! It comes in a mirrored bottle with a poster of a man’s POV looking down into a wine glass while standing in the woods. Place the mirrored bottle onto the glass in the center of the poster and watch as the portrait of Bacchus the god of wine appears in the reflection on the bottle! Very cool! And the wine was stellar as well. The nose was sweet tobacco leaf with dried fruit notes and whiffs of Chambord. The palate was rich and lush with all the dark fruit and spice notes one comes to expect from a good Shiraz with mingling notes of cedar and spiced chocolate leading off a long and supple finish!

Overall it was a great night and rare opportunity to meet someone who has made such a huge impact on the world of wine!


Okay so here’s the malbec I enjoyed last week:

2002 Aleph Malbec, Medoza

Very funky and earthy on the nose when first opened but that dimished to a very pleasant earthiness after a 45 minute decant and the dusty dark fruits emerged with supple tannins and dark chocolate textures and flavours. This is not a malbec for the faint of heart but a true representation of what a darn good malbec should be like and cost for that matter.

Saturday I brought home a new addition to the cab section of Just Grapes:

2008 Owen Roe, “Sharecropper’s” Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, WA

For $17.99 retail this is a very nicely balanced and complex pour that is still approachable and drinkable right now but could age a few years as well. I loved the aromas of roasted sage and spice that mingled with black berry and dark cherry notes. It has a very supple palate with lush fruit flavours and smooth and silky tannins. It finished long with notes of dark chocolate andjust the right hint of acidity to keep it from becoming flabby.


this weekend’s vinos

Well, I had a wonderful weekend of wine tasting. It began Thursday night when I brought home a wonderful Dry Creek Valley Zin. It’s gorgeous! Deep purple and ruby-red in colour and comes from nowhere with big spicy blows to the nose full of rich dried fruit aromas. Just when you let your guard down a bit and your back is turned, this Zin attacks the palate with a powerful mouth-full of jammy dark fruits (plump raisins and blackberries) followed by warm waves of fresh cracked black pepper and sweet baking spices, hints of cola and chocolate and balanced by silky smooth tannins. This wine does not retreat lightly either, leaving behind more lush fruit flavours with just a slight hint of tangy acidity. This wine guerrilla will always win the battle!

Friday night I brought home a bottle of 2007 Aveleda Follies Touriga Nacional and after having may Portuguese wines that I absolutely loved I had high hopes for this one. And though it did deliver some wonderful fruit flavours and spice notes that was this pesky minerality on the nose that I just couldn’t get past. It reminded me of damp chalky clay but I was the only one who detected it. I’m no expert on pairing but wonder what food would go great with this?

The next two wines were left over samples from a tasting that were given to me. Each had a good two glasses left in them…just enough for me to truly appreciate their wonderful noses and palates.

Up first was this 2007 Il Poggione Rosso Di Montalcino Big fruits, soft tannins and just enough oaken spice to round it out and at a third of the price of it’s bigger brother Brunello I’m certain I’ll take the time to proper sit down and enjoy this one again!

Last up was this very intriguing Haut-Medoc from Chateau Labat. It’s 50/50 Cabernet and Merlot and was really quite supple and luscious on the palate. Again I only had enough to appreciate its qualities but not enough for me to really get to know it so I’m sure I pick up a bottle of this in the future.


supermarket gem!

I found this little ditty at the new Caputo’s for a mere song! It hails from Calatayud, (North Central Spain near Campo de Borja) an unknown-ish region that’s fast becoming a favourite of mine. So, this one was everything I was hoping it would be: dark ruby in colour with intense red and dark berry fruits and lovely hints of roasted coffee beans and spice on the nose; all of which carried over onto the palate that had a nice soft tannic structure and subtle acidity to help balance out the lush fruits. The finish was nice and long with more supple red fruit notes. The grapes were sourced from old vines ranging from 70 to 100 years and I’m sure it saw some oak. However,  just how much, I’m not certain; but I’m guessing no more the 4 months. WS gave it a 90 and for under $12 it’s a bargain!

2007 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha