Sunday, November 30, 2008

Michael & David Phillips 2006 7 Deadly Zins (California)

This wine is developing a kind of cult like following - every time I head to the States somebody asks me to get them a bottle of this wine ... no wonder, in Ontario it sells for $24.95, while in Michigan I can get it for $12.99 or less - even with the exchange that's a good deal for this tasty Zin. A nose of blackberry, plum and chocolate, tastes of black cherry, vanilla, plum and chocolate with a hint of pepper ... this is one tasty wine year after year.

The Show 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

In the immortal words of Pink Floyd, "So you, thought you, might like to, drink a bottle of The Show?" Okay, so maybe that's not verbatim what they sang on "In the Flesh?" (from the album The Wall) but it would be if they tried this tasty little Cab from California. The merchant who sold it to me in Michigan (at Champane's Wine Cellar) told me it was made by Joel Gott (company or and company) and Joel seems to know his wines. Lots of blackberries, spice and chocolate; juicy and with just the slightest bit of tannin making this one go down nice and easy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shingleback Winery 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)

This was one of those boxed wines that I have 32 of kicking about. Now before you think 'what kind of Tetra-Pak fetish does this guy have' let me say that it's not that kind of boxed wine. When I say "boxed wine" I am referring to wines that I have laid down for a few years - I fill up a box of 12 with some wines I want to watch age (twelve of them to be exact) and in a few years, at a designated time I open the box and pull out the bottles one at a time (over the course of a month or so) and try them; this was one of those boxed wines. I put this box away back in May of 2006, by then this wine was already 4 years past vintage date, add another two and a half years and now let's see what happens. The cork had a deep purple stain to it and has held it's seal beautifully because the wine had only crept up about a centimeter. The nose was very peppery with dried black fruit, and chocolate liqueur ... the taste was big on spice, blackberry, dark chocolate, cassis and dried fruit. The alcohol is pretty heady at 14.5%, tannins are silky and as it remained open the taste became slightly liqueur-like with some Port-like nuances. Still very nice, but not long for this world - I would say another couple of years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ironstone Vineyards 2007 Old Vines Zinfandel (California)

As a Zinfandel fan I except something when I see "Old Vines" splashed across the label - not sure why, there is not definition of what is considered "old vines", just like there are few definitions in the new world as to what dictates "reserve". I found this wine to be just okay, not as delicious as I have had in past vintages of this same wine from the same producer; I'll chalk it up to it being a tad too young still: peppery and plumy were the main tastes and smells in this wine - but it lacked the intensity, the fruit forwardness and the chocolate-cherry-rum nuances. I would give it a few more years to mellow before I would open a bottle again - one of these days soon I will have to open the 2005 and see how that one's coming along.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Raimat 2002 Abadia Crianza (Spain)

Here's a wine that is designed to confuse you right from the get go ... on the back label you'll read the following: "These four grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo precisely combined make this wine unique and special ..." So special in fact that they don't need to mention the fourth grape - or maybe Cabernet and Sauvignon are two separate grapes. But I should stop picking on this label because the wine inside the bottle is what counts, and yes it was very good. Six years from vintage date has greatly helped this wine along. The nose seems to give off very little to help the palate, there's oak, cinnamon and dried cherries. On the other hand, in the mouth this wine explodes with rich flavours. The first to hit is a sweet cherry-vanilla liqueur sensation on the tongue, then cinnamon comes along on a wave of smoothness. the fruit is not fresh but instead tastes dried and candied with a sweetness on the palate like port ... but with a drier finish. Delicious indeed, maybe it's all due to the addition of that phantom grape.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aresti 2004 Winemakers's Assemblage (Chile)

This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere, and with the Carmenere in there you should have guessed it was Chile, even without looking at the top line. Typically it was a bottle I bought on a whim because of ... you guessed it, the label. As everybody knows label sells, once ... it's what's in the bottle that will keep you coming back - if it's any good that is. And this was not a bad bottle at all. The nose was loaded with a variety of tasty offerings like black fruit, cinnamon, spice and a minty-cedary quality (not atypical for Chile). The palate was smooth, with a touch of rough tannins (I thought of very fine sandpaper when doing this discription, 200 grade or something like that) with black fruit, and wood/cedar notes. As the wine remained open and the air soften it juicy blackberries emerged before kicking into a dry finish.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wente 2007 Morning Fog Chardonnay (California)

A soy and ginger cod seemed the perfect match to a glass of Chardonnay and I decided to give a try to the 2007 vintage of my favourite California Chardonnay from 2006. Turned out to be not a bad idea at all. The nose was toasted oak, buttery, unripe peach and vanilla nuanced, while the palate brought back the butter along with coconut, crisp white peach, vanillas and banana chips. I found this version a little more oaky than the previous vintage but still one of the more pleasant 16 dollar Chardonnays from California (in Ontario, Canada anyway).

Addendum: In a conversation with Carolyn Wente the next day I learned that there was less oak used in this wine than last year - though she did state: "I find the Morning Fog needs about 6 months to settle down and integrate in the bottle ... this was just released in July [2008]." So by my calculations in February 2009 all that rich oakiness should be melded with the fruit ... I say it'll be worth trying again then.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

L'Ostal Cazes 2003 Circus Shiraz (France - Languedoc)

Tonight I picked something a little further back on the rack, a 2003. I keep my wine racks in a year order, instead of by country or in old world/new world order ... by doing that I know the year of the wine I pull but not the country or producer. This wine is called Circus and at first glance I thought it was an Australian Shiraz, wasn't I surprised, when I took a closer look at the bottle, to learn that it was in fact a French wine from the Languedoc region (Southern France). The nice part of Languedoc wines is that they can mimic both old world and new world wines depending on the producer. This one smells new world with lots of plump black berries and cassis on the nose with a touch of pepper and spice. On the palate you'd also think new world as the black fruit emerges and, along with the pepper, dominates the wine, but it's the acidity that differentiates this wine from the new world (read, Australia), there's lots of it here and makes it a perfect food wine for pasta and lime mustard chicken - which is just what I had.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Familia Zuccardi 2007 FuZion (Argentina)

I find myself talking about simplicity a lot these days, you know: this is simple, that's simple, make things simple - the world seems complicated enough, why do we have to make the simple things complicated. Of course I am referring to wine, but this can be applied elsewhere too. Tonight I simplified everything. After a day of trying many (and I do mean many) Italian wines I decided to twist the cap on something that has become all the rage here in Ontario, a wine that has managed to knock off Yellow Tail off its perch as the Number One wine sold here in Ontario (at the LCBO) - 2007 FuZion. A blend of 70% Shiraz and 30% Malbec that has taken the Ontario market and consumers by storm because of it's $7.45 price tag - I told a press agent, who represents the wine in the UK, that "it's Ontario's equivalent to two-buck Chuck", we just don't see that kind of price on a good wine. I'm not saying this wine will wow-the-crowd at a posh dinner - but if you want simple that's exactly what you'll get here. Rich, ripe and juicy black and blue berries with a touch of spice. If you expect a little you'll get a lot out of this wine ... the best part, besides the price, is it's simple nature: just drink and enjoy. Oh and good luck finding a bottle.