Mav Awards ’09 – Wine & Spirits

By / Magazine / December 23rd, 2009 / 1

Assemblage. This year’s selection of top spirits and assemblage are truly travelling the world. Now in our third year, Tidings editors and tasters select the best wines that demonstrate the winemakers’ main d’oeuvre. This is a call to all gourmets. Sit back and enjoy this year’s selection. Tasted by Gurvinder Bhatia, Tony Aspler, Sean Wood, Gilles Bois, Evan Saviolidis, Jonathan Smithe and Harry Hertscheg.

90 Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio 2006, Okanagan ($39)

This 5-varietal, Bordeaux-style blend strikes boldly and brightly. Lots of red/black fruits and toasted spice aromas. Rich, concentrated black fruit flavours with ripe, polished tannins. The warm finish echoes with cassis and notes of chocolate, vanilla clove and mint. Decant for maximum enjoyment. (HH)

90 Burrowing Owl Meritage 2006, Okanagan ($45)

The blend of 5 Bordeaux varieties and mix of French, Russian, American and Hungarian oak results in complex spiciness with polished tannins and a long, smooth finish. Savoury sagebrush, dried flowers and sweet-tart red/black fruits abound. Roasted coffee bean notes linger. Drink until 2014. (HH)

88 Featherstone Onyx 2007, Ontario ($30)

Cabernet Franc/Merlot. Deep ruby in colour with forward vanilla oak and cedar on the nose with currant fruit behind. Medium-bodied, well-extracted sweet red berry fruit with vanilla oak giving the wine a mocha flavour; good length and balance. Finishes dry. (TA)

87 Hidden Bench Terroir Caché 2006, Beamsville Bench, Ontario ($35)

In 2006, because of vintage conditions, Hidden Bench took all of their premium grapes designated for the top tier red wine, La Brunate, and used it in this offering. A blend of 50% Merlot, 34% Franc, 12% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine shows plum, vegetal, raspberry, coffee and cocoa qualities that are built on a medium-body frame. Ready to drink now. (ES)

86 Zonin Primo Amore Sangiovese/Merlot I.G.T., Sicily, Italy ($14)

Nice nose of ripe red fruits, nothing complex but there is something inviting in it. Supple and fruity in the mouth, its delicate structure is enhanced by a touch of bitterness. Drink now. (GBQc)

90 Paul Mas Clos des Mures 2007, Coteaux du Languedoc, France ($23)

The nose entices with black fruits, oak-derived spiciness and floral character. The soft texture and firm acidity defines its structure. Pleasurable ripe sweet fruit and satisfying dry finish. This Grenache/Syrah based single-vineyard blend provides distinction and value. A seductive dinner companion. (HH)

92 Col d’Orcia Nearco Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC 2003, Tuscany, Italy ($78)

From one the best producers in Montalcino comes this intriguing and dense blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah. Winemaker Pablo Harri’s elegant touch is evident in this supple, yet powerful wine. The colour is dense and the bouquet intense. Extraordinarily balanced and multidimensional with flavours of ripe black cherries, blackberries, black currants, dark plums and hints of cocoa. The finish is long and persistent. Wild game and braised meats will marry well. (GB)

89 Roches Des Brises Saite-Croix/Marechal Foch Icewine, Quebec ($42)

A first in Canada. This Icewine is a blend of two hybrids Sainte-Croix and the rich Marechal Foch. Deep ruby, with a nose of candied wild berries and cooked spices. Served chilled the sweetness balances nicely. But as the night goes on, so does the wine. Dark berries, caramel and chocolate on the palate. Will stand up to — and enhance — most blue cheese and dark chocolate treats. (JS)

90 Maxwell Shiraz/Grenache/Viognier Four Roads 2005, McLaren Vale, Australia ($32)

The addition of Grenache and Viognier results in wonderful complexity in this subtly elegant wine. Round and soft with a silky texture and layers of mature fruit that are complemented with just the right amount of well-integrated oak. A stylish wine that will pair well with braised meats and BBQ leg of lamb. Very well made. (GB)

88 Herder Winery & Vineyards Josephine 2007, Similkameen Valley, BC ($40)

This Bordeaux-styled blend imparts complexity on the nose and palate, led by dark berries, cassis, toffee and cedar. The lean structure yields to a long, warm finish accentuated by dark spices of coffee, chocolate and vanilla. A very beef-friendly wine. (HH)

93 COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria Pithos DOCG 2007, Sicily, Italy ($52)

A blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato di Vittoria, the wine is actually produced in terracotta amphora buried in rock with the fermentation allowed to occur naturally without temperature control. The maceration and fermentation last 7 months. The beautifully perfumed nose is reminiscent of pure red fruits with hints of mineral, spice and earth. The palate is silky smooth, with bright cherry and plum, spice and a hint of earth. This is an outstanding wine that exerts itself with graceful elegance as opposed to brute strength. (GB)

88 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent 2005, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon ($19.60)

A red blend made up of Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, oak-aged for 12 months. Warmly perfumed and harmoniously developed bouquet with light earthy, gamey and peppery overtones. Rounded, generous fruit, supple tannins, velvety texture and deftly integrated fruit, spice and dry oak on the finish. Great value. (SW)

90 Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2007, Franschhoek, South Africa ($44.99)

This Syrah-based blend includes Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and splashes of Cinsault and Viognier. Results in a complex nose of spicy, gamey, savoury aromas, with floral notes. Juicy red fruits complement the rich, well-balanced palate. The spicy/savoury character returns on the lengthy finish. Drink 2010 to 2014. (HH)

Caroline Cellars Cranberry Winter Harvest, Ontario ($22/500 ml)

Canada is always poised to surprise. This blend of late harvest Vidal and cranberries. On the nose the Vidal is masked by cranberry fruitiness. Smooth tartiness, peaches and honey on the palate, with a balanced sweetness. Long finish with a present mouthfeel. Ideal for pies and honeyed desserts. (JS)

Pump House Brewery S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter), New Brunswick ($2/341 ml)

Moncton’s Pump House Brewery’s best brew to date. Shows a rich malty aroma with pronounced floral and herbal accents and powerful flavours of malt, savoury and dried fruit. Very dry bitter finish. Brew for the serious enthusiast at a great price. (SW)

Ardbeg Ten Year Old Islay Single Malt Non-Chill Filtered 45% ($75)

A quintessential Islay whisky displaying pungent salty peat smoke, iodine and subtle fruity malt on the nose. Flavours are expansive, complex and demanding. Fruity rich malt and spice are intermingled with ashy, smoky dry characteristics. Not for the fainthearted, but Islay aficionados will love it! (SW)

Te Bheag Connoisseurs Blend Unchilfiltered Scotch Whisky ($40)

Te Bheag is a very good blend, with a high proportion of malts and a distinctive Island personality. This non-chill filtered version displays greater depth on the nose, with heathery and slightly smoky notes. The lack of filtration is especially noticeable on the palate, displaying fuller-body, gentler, rounder softness, amplified flavours and sweet mellow oak on the finish. (SW)

The Original Oldbury Sheep Dip Blended Malt ($45)

An interesting blend of malts from 4 traditional regions aged 8 to 16 years and subsequently married in American oak barrels. Aromatics reveal lightly peaty and smoky notes with dried citrus fruit, orange peel and overtones of oak. Quite mellow on the palate, with rich sweet fruitiness, plenty of spice and appealingly fiery and dry oaky character on the finish. (SW)

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