Patz & Hall Wine Co. 2008 Chardonnay (Private Order) - sweet fruit with a touch of caramel, butter and pear, nice blend of fruit with the barrel notes. (*** 1/2)
Pinot Noir (top 3) ...
Lucas & Lewellan 2008 Pinot Noir - Goodchild High 9 Vineyard (Private Order) - sweet cherry, raspberry and vanilla on the nose; ripe cherry and vanilla on the palate. (****+)
Santa Barbara Winery 2009 Pinot Noir (Consignment) - quiet nose with nice fruit flavour and good acidity. (****+)
La Crema 2009 Pinot Noir - Russian River (Consignment) - sweet fruit flavour, very red and very yummy. (****)
Zinfandel (top 3) ...
Cline Cellars 2008 Big Break Zinfandel (Private Order) - this one's got the goods, big fruit, plum, cherry, chocolate ... lots of plum though, plus 15.5% alcohol. (****+)
Pedroncelli Winery 2008 Zinfandel, Mother Clone (N/A) - fruit is there but leaves grit and tannins behind; think dark plums and black cherries with vanilla bean grit, another biggie at 15.7% alcohol. (****)
Seghesio Winery 2009 Home Ranch Zinfandel (Vintages) - heavy on the raspberry and chocolate; big fruit with raspberry and pepper on the palate. (****)
Cabernet Sauvignon (top 4) ...
Freemark Abbey 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Consignment) - stood heads and tails above the competition, with a bonus, it's already 8 years old. Juicy with concentrated cherry, strawberry, mocha and toast, still with good tannin backbone. (**** 1/2+)
Trinchero 2008 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Vintages - July 2011) - jammy red fruit, cherry, raspberry, more cherry and some cocoa. (**** 1/2)
Lucas & Lewellan 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (Private Order) - nice mix of red and black fruit with chocolate/mocha backing. (****)
Oakville Ranch 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (N/A) - sweet black fruit, chocolate and plum, big 15% alcohol; tasted more Zin-like than Cabernet. (****+)
Blends (top 4) ...
Paul Dolan 2008 Deep Red (Consignment) - a cool blend of bio-dynamically grown Petite Sirah / Primitivo / Syrah and Grenache; chocolate, cherry, plum, black fruit with nice tannins on the finish, gritty but good; and nice length too. (**** 1/2+)
Miner Family 2006 The Oracle (Consignment) - chocolate and dark fruit, nice heft that allows it to age well, wait 2-3 years before popping the cork; blend uses all 5 Bordeaux varieties. (**** 1/2)
Dry Creek Vineyard 2006 Mariner (N/A) - another 5 Bordeaux varietal blend, raspberry and cherry with a mocha fruit. (****+)
Hess Collection 2007 19 Block Cuvee (Vintages - April 12, 2011) - a different kind of blend using Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec / Syrah / Merlot and Petit Verdot there's a complexity here that makes it very appealing; mocha, coffee, blackberry and a decent, yet not too astringent amount of tannins. (****)
Special Mention: Snap Dragon 2007 Red Blend (LCBO - $13.95) - sweet sipper for around the BBQ this summer, pick up a few and enjoy. (*** 1/2)
Foppiano Vineyards 2008 Petite Sirah (Vintages - Fall 2011) - rich raspberry with a touch of white pepper; big tannins with a jammy finish. Lush and fun at 15.2% alcohol. (****+)
Duckhorn 2008 Merlot (Vintages - April 2, 2011) - not sure when Merlot became such an also-ran but this is textbook Cali-Merlot: smooth and supply with lovely cherry and blueberry notes; a totally sippable and indulgent. Merlot. (****+)
Quady 2009 Elysium Black Muscat (N/A) - great dessert all on its own sweet, supple and seductive; total panty remover at 15% alcohol. (****)