Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Loosen Brothers 2007 Dr. L Riesling (Germany)

Getting Chinese food always means pulling out a Riesling - and this has become one of my favourites over the years, and continues to be excellent value. The 2007 seems a touch sweeter than past vintages, but the citrus, talc, apple and floral nose seems inviting enough to take multiple sips. The palate remains crisp with a green apple finish. ... Now, time to eat.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Albert Bichot 2006 Beaujolais-Villages (France)

In typical French wine style this wine has no back label, but I have a story to tell about how it finally got to my table. Way back when I went to an Albert Bichot dinner and tasting (May 22, 2008), this wine turned out to be one of my favourites of the evening and so, Dean Tudor (fellow wine writer) and I decided to split a case. We were told that it was a private order wine and might take some time to land on our shores - we thought it was a good enough wine to wait, and at $15.95 a bottle, a steal for the quality therein. Well I finally got the wine on Friday (October 24, 2008) a little over five months to the day that I ordered it. In truth I couldn't remember what it tasted like, so I decided to open one tonight and see (and taste) whether it was worth the wait ... I am happy to report it was. Beautiful bright nose of ripe fresh cherries and a palate to match - yummy. I had it with meatloaf and salad, but as far as I'm concerned it would have gone with just about anything ... 5 months may seem a long time to wait, and it was, but when a wine is this delicious, it's well worth it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Canyon Oaks 2007 Zinfandel (California)

A few weeks ago, in preperation for getting yet another few bottles of ZInfandel, I opened a bottle of the 2006 Canyon Oaks Zin. I had just ordered a half case thinking it was going to be the 2007 version of this wine, but found out it was going to be the 2006 - so I thought I'd best try the '06 again to make sure I liked it enough to get another 6 bottles (I did). Well wasn't I surprised, when I picked up my bottles, to find out that it was indeed the 2007 vintage ... hence I just had to open a bottle "toot suite" (as the French would say). Rich plum was the hallmark of this wine, from the nose clean through to the palate ... plumy, rich, succulent even more so than the '06; there was also black cherry, cola and vanilla notes - very enjoyable, and also very gone - did I really finish the whole bottle?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Juniper Crossing 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (Australia)

I have quite the backlog of Australian wine, back from when Australia was the value priced region - these days it is Chile or Argentina that has taken over that mantle. This Juniper Crossing cost me $15.95 when I bought it a few years ago and today is probably over twenty. The nose is blackberry, plum with a hint of prune, some licorice and a touch of cracked pepper. The palate has a cedary quality to it, not overpowering but definitely there. Some tannins come out to play along with a drying black berry and cassis note ... you can also find the hints of licorice. Pleasant and enjoyable, I'm glad I didn't wait much longer to enjoy this wine, but enjoy it I will.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Clos LaChance 2005 Ruby Throated Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

This is a straight forward, very likeable Cabernet Sauvignon (which get blend with little bits of other Bordeaux varietal). The nose is sweet smelling with black cherry and plum along with a hint of mint chocolate that makes you take continuous smells just to make sure you really are smelling what you smelt (not smelt as in the fish, just smelt as in smelled, but I like the word so I am keeping it in there). The taste is even more appealing, it's juicy with lots of red cherry, chocolate and cinnamon. It finishes off nicely, almost sweetly, in the mouth with a drying finish. I really enjoyed this bottle from beginning to end. By the way the Ruby Throat is not just in reference to the colour of the wine, it has to do with the humingbirds that flock to these vineyard in San Martin, California ... the wine is part of the Hummingbird Series and the Ruby Throated Hummingbird adorns the label.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fitz Riesling NV Extra Trocken Sekt (German)

This wine has a story - my story. I ordered this wine from Vinexx agency back in the spring; actually my fellow wine writer Dean Tudor and I ordered some, well to keep the story straight, Dean liked this wine so much that he ordered 3 cases of it and I said I would take 6 bottles off his hands. The price, a mere $13.95 - what a deal for this bottle of sparkling. But the wine had to be specially ordered from Germany and between the time it was ordered and the time it landed on our shores the Euro had shot up in value and the $13.95 price tag was now $17.95 ... still excellent value for a sparkling wine - but not three cases excellent; so Dean and I split a case.

Sekt is the most fun you can have with a legitimate wine word ... it sounds like "sex" with a "t" at the end, and if you say it to a good looking wine merchant, as I did in B.C. you have the chance to get slapped, unless you clarify, "I am looking for some sekt ... um, German sparkling wine?" You can see the dilemma. Anyway, this sekt truly is yummy; made from the Rielsing grape it has all the things you expect, a little apple, a little peach, nice fruitiness with a touch of citrus-toasty-yeasty goodness. And although it says "Extra Trocken", which means "extra dry", there was an apparent sweetnes that made this wine go down very nicely. Good thing it was only 11.5% alcohol, cause at the speed it went down I could have been in trouble the next morning.

Fabre Montmayou 2006 Gran Reserva Malbec (Argentina)

This wine has great deep blackish purple colour and the nose is rich in black fruit and herbs, I couldn't wait to tip the glass and try it. But the taste let me down, it was hollow and tinny on the finish ... with time, thankfully this dissipated enough to drink it, and it was better the next day after a stay overnight in the fridge and an appropriate period the next evening to allow it to warm a bit (leaving just a hint of a chill); but what the palate may not notice the memory never forgets - through the black fruit and pepper I still recalled the tin.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thorn-Clarke 2005 Terra-Barossa (Australia)

This blend of Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc is wonderful ... I have been a big fan of Thorn-Clarke wines since I tried the Shotfire a couple of years ago at an Australian tasting event - since then I have tried to put my hands on his wines whenever I see them for a good price. This one was just released into Ontario's LCBO and from what I was told by staff there it just flew off the shelf (sold out Ontario-wide according to the Vintages rep I talked to on Sunday morning - though I think there are a few bottles left here and there if you look hard enough). It may seem like a simple wine but it is pure enjoyment with a nose that has plum, chocolate, black cherries and white pepper. The palate delivers relatively the same thing, though you may want to add licorice and cassis in the mouth. Very nice, and well worth the $15.95 I paid for it.

Robert Mondavi 2001 Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

With my family out of town on Thanksgiving, a buddy of mine invited me to his family's Thanksgiving dinner taking place at his parents' condo. Feeling the need for turkey, stuffing and all the fixins I accepted. Before going I combed through my wine rack for an appropriate bottle to bring ... and I found it. His mother and I used to exchange Christmas gifts: I would give her a mouth-blown glass ornament for her tree, she would give me a bottle of wine for my collection. Back in 2003 she gave me a bottle of Robert Mondavi 2001 Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, it seemed like the right time to share this bottle, especially considering it would be with the original giver.

The evening started with a Mondavi Woodbridge 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, with its juicy blackberries on both the nose and taste. We then moved on to the 2006 Lindemans Pinot Noir from Australia - a more than acceptable red, though it lacked much of what I would call Pinot Noir characteristics, save for the raspberry, which seemed to be the most prevalent smell and taste in the glass.

Finally, it was time to open the time capsule. Smells of dried fruit and herbs greeted the nose; about fifteen minutes later dried leaves/vegetation/damp forest floor was more than just a little apparent ... the tastes were also changing rapidly: sour cherry, dried fruit and a touch of tannin turned to distinctive dried cranberries and dried cherries with an evolving smoothness that told me it was fading fast. Given another year or two and this wine would have been on the decline, as it was, it was just cresting the hill and starting it slow decent, I'm glad we caught it when we did. Tonight I gave thanks for the wine and the company. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Silver Sage 2006 Pinot Noir - "The Passion" (British Columbia)

This wine is like no other Pinot Noir you'll ever try - it's the Pinot for no-Pinot drinkers. The nose is big cherry, sweet plum and cherry liqueur (no earthiness to speak of). The palate follows with a big fruit punch: raspberry, cherry, plum and a hint of chocolate almond liqueur (no earth - no mineral - no hint of terroir - all signatures of Pinot Noir). And although it has no typical Pinot Noir characteristics it's a lovely fun wine with lots of its own character - and one of the most popular wines at the winery when I visit this past summer (I should know for two reasons: I bought 2 bottles and they told me so). Would I let this wine age? No way. Would I drink this now? You bet, and I'd fully enjoy it for what it was ... and I did. Although it's odd for a Pinot, it is very nice as a wine - and sometimes that all you're looking for, typicity be damned.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Finca Antigua 2002 Tempranillo (Spain)

It pays to have a good cellar worth of wine, because it allows you to lose bottles and find finds years later. I must have bought this bottle back in 2005, because I had a note on the bottle: "10/2005 - H1", translated: laid down October 2005, Hold 1 year ... well it seems I lost track of this bottle for 3 years, instead of just the one, and boy am I glad I did. Reading the back label I see this 100% Tempranillo was aged 6 months in brand new American oak barrles. At first, the wine came off too warm, which made it all black fruit and tannic - quite harsh; but then I put it in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes and the wine really brightened up. Over the course of a few hours the wine exhibited smells of dried fruit, plums, figs, raisins, spiced-plum, red cherries, chocolate, spices, herbs, spiced-vanilla and white pepper - not necessarily in that order. While the flavours proved to be a little simpler, but still very inviting: dried fruit, sour cherry, herbs, chocolate and spiced-cedar-vanilla ... with a lengthy smooth finish. Good find 3 years later. Now I see I have a bottle of this producer's 2000 Crianza still sitting in my cellar - will that too be a find too? I guess we'll have to just find out.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Marc Kreydenweiss 2005 Barbabelle (France)

One of the biggest surprises of the spring (2008) was when I tried this bottle of wine from France. I rarely, if ever, buy a case of wine, but this incredible buy ($12.95) really surprised me. Now, some 6-months later, I'm still enjoying this bio-dynamic beauty (usually another reason my sensors ring - most bio-dynamic wines I have tried have been cringe inducing ... though over the last year I have tasted some pretty amazing bio-wines, along with the cringe-inducers). Leather and spice lead the way on the nose, with a black fruit and lightly cedar taste, there's also a slightly tannic note on the finish. This is one of those wines that's not available at or thru the LCBO, so check out to see if they can get anymore - or put it on your wish-list for next year's release.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Canyon Oaks 2006 Zinfandel (California)

With a plugged nose from a cold I picked up sometime in the past week (probably on my plane ride back from Italy) - I decided that tonight I needed something with umph!, somthing with enough power to cut through the blockage ... something I could smell. Hence, a 2006 California Zinfandel - a wine of some power and big aromatics. The term "aromatics" is usually reserved for white wines, but if you've ever smelled a young Zin you'll know what I'm talking about. Big plum and sweet cherry along with a rum and cherry-cola note, there's also vanilla and sweet blackberries - Zin just smells like Zin. As for the palate, well the plums, cherries, blackberries and cola bean comes through, along with sweet vanilla and a touch of that aforementioned rum. I love Zinfandel, it just has such a signature smell and taste, which comes through even when a cold should have you down and out; plus with the usually big alcohols in these wines, if you drink enough it'll knock you out for a good night's sleep - no need for NyQuil (this one's only 13.5%, so more consumption is the answer).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

La Frenz 2007 Chardonnay (British Columbia)

Those who know me, know my tastes are not Chardonnay-leaning - I joined the ABC movement (Anything But Chardonnay) a long time ago. Tired of the overly extracted, overly wood influenced, chewing on a stave appeal of Chardonnay. So for a Chard to impress me is truly a feat. I tried this wine during my BC excursion just this past summer (July - August) and just had to take one of these wines home (risking reprisal fro the government and the LCBO). The nose is just so inviting; even now, a couple of months later, and away from the beautiful scenery of the mountains and the lake I still can picture them as I sip this wine. Some folks say, and I tend to agree with them, that the place and time make the wine - and while that might have been true with many of the Okanagan wines I tried this one transformed an Ontario night into a day in the Okanagan. When I visited La Frenz for the first time it was rainy and grey and yet this tropical fruit layered beauty cracked through all that and made you believe it was just you and the wine ... I was there again with each sniff and each taste. Now I will admit I served this wine with an inappropriate meal - Panzerottis - it did not go with the rich tomoato sauce and melted cheese, and surely did not compliment the pepperoni; but in truth both were tasty (the wine and the panzerotti) and sepearately they were delicious. But that transportation factor took hold after the meal and took me back to the deck overlooking the vineyards of the Okanagan. This wine is simply super - enough said.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

LA Cetto 2005 Petite Sirah (Mexico)

Some nights you open a bottle of wine that you are so sure you want, and when you take that first sip you realize, "this is not what I was looking for at all". - such was the case with this Mexican Petite Sirah ... sure it had all the pre-requisites I thought it would and should have: nice red fruit, peppery and a touch spicy on the tongue, the tannins had subsided and the palate was smooth and enjoyable ... but not to me. I had a glass, put the cork back on the bottle and stored it away on my counter for a rainy day that I would hope to come in the next 2-3 days, but then again maybe it won't rain and the bottle will go to, shock of all shocks, to waste. Too bad, under better cirrcumstances I would have enjoyed this one but as is often the case mood dictates the enjoyment of the wine you chose and my mood just wasn't there for a Petite Sirah - too quick with the corkscrew and not with the brain.