Monday, December 29, 2008

Rosenblum Cellars 2005 Chateau La Paws (California)

I love a wine with a story to tell. This wine from the Zinfandel experts at Rosenblum has a little more than just Zinfandel in it, in fact it has Carignane, Syrah and Mourvedre as well. It is sub-labeled as “Cote du Bone Roan”, because of it’s Rhone blend of grapes, and the bone, well that comes from owner and winemaker’s Kent Rosenblum’s 40 year veterinary career. The label is dotted with paws walking across it and even the cork has paws on it. But this is no funny label wine without purpose, it is seriously good wine. The nose seems simplistic with black cherry, white pepper, plum and licorice root. The palate, on the other hand, shows lots of complexity as these grapes meet. The taste is similar to the nose until it opens, then you get blackberries, cassis and a slight earthiness on the finish. Speaking of the finish it’s long and that’s where the tannins show up (mid-way through) but then it smooths to a long cherry finish. Something that also makes this wine worthwhile is that some of the proceeds go to support animal charities, and drinking with a conscience is never a bad thing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cline 2006 Big Break Zinfandel (California)

This wine is over $40 a bottle back home (Ontario), here in Michigan (where I find myself for two weeks) it costs $22 … I know because I checked it out in up - sadly I bought this one back home and decided to bring it along to enjoy. But enjoy was not in the cards this night, not because the wine was bad, but because it was the second bottle to be opened this night, and while I can sample up to 200 wines in a day (and have), swallowing lots of wine in a short period of time is a different story. Needless to say I did not enjoy this wine as much as I should, but I did appreciate and love the spices and plums on the nose that were accompanied by the spiced cherries. I also loved the pepper, plums, black and candied cherries on the palate. Delicious. The big 15% alcohol is something to watch out for though.

Seifried 2005 Riesling (New Zealand)

This is a Riesling I brought along with me for my 2-week stay in Michigan; not that I thought I could not get wine down here, but I packed it up with my Ontario wines to get a glimpse of how the rest of the world’s ‘05 Rieslings were doing in comparison (see Fielding and 13th Street). This is a screw-capper from New Zealand - nothing new here - that has been lying on its cap for the past two and a half years. Upon opening I noticed that a few tartaric crystals (wine diamonds) had formed in the cap liner, and the liner had sealed itself to the bottle (separating from the cap). This did not affect the flavour of the wine at all I just thought it was interesting to mention. The nose was very petrolly with an underpinning of tropical (pineapple) and fuzzy (peach) fruit. The palate showed more of those fruit characteristics, namely the pineapple and other tropical notes along with lime, other citrus and petrol on the finish.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Montoya Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir (California)

In my discussion with my local wine merchant (whilst in Michigan that is) he told me of his favourite Pinot Noir. Now of course favourite is all relative because I gave him a hard limit of $15 - with the Canadian dollar being as much as 20% less than its American counterpart at this time, one does have to take that into consideration when making a purchase. Dave (the aforementioned wine merchant) quickly responded with this Montoya Pinot from Monterey county in California. Dollar for dollar my best value in Pinot, or so I am told. Tonight I pour it alongside a vadalia onion and red pepper chicken … a decent combination. The wine smells of fresh red berries: rasp-, straw-, cran-, along with some sour cherry and a slight earthy aroma. The taste follows suit with much of what the nose promises: cranberry, sour cherry, raspberry with some touches of vanilla and cinnamon on the finish. My non-red wine drinking sweetie manages to polish off her glass and requests some more.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Las Rocas de San Alejandro 2005 Vinas Viejas Garnacha (Spain)

After my visit with Dave I ended up with a number of interesting wines to try. One was this old vines Garnacha from Spain. No mention as to how old the “old vines” are, but then again there is no real worldwide definition or wine law that states what old vines means constitutes; you either take the word of the label or of the wine merchant who is selling it to you. I paid an extra 5 bucks for the pleasure of drinking this old vines wine over the regular vines … plus it was an extra year older. This truly was a delicious wine with blackberry, raspberry, chocolate and spice greeting me on the nose; black berry, cassis, cinnamon, spice and smooth dark chocolate on the palate. The tannins are there, but they are so well integrated into the wine that it takes several sips before they are noticed. I’d give this one 5-7 years of lie down time, but it’s a pleasure to drink now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sutter Home 2005 Zinfandel (California)

As I poured this wine into my glass, before the party started on Christmas Eve, my darling girlfriend remarked, “I am surprised to see you drinking a Sutter Homes, wine.” I looked at her quizzically, “I mean, it just seems so … ordinary, compared to what you usually drink. Are you becoming pedestrian now that you can buy cheaper wine?” In truth it was pretty ordinary, in both flavour and smell. Zin fans would recognize it as a Zinfandel, if they stuck their nose in the glass - it had the usual plum and cherry flavours which were backed by the faintest hint of spice (if you really looked for it) - but otherwise, yes, it was very plain. But if you consider the crowd I was serving (not wine drinkers in the slightest) and also that it was $4.50 a bottle (2 for $9.00) then the ordinary becomes alright by me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Robert Mondavi 2007 Private Selection Syrah (California)

I love coming down to the United States, if for nothing else to buy and try some of those wines you just never see in my part of the Great White North thanks to those tyrants at the LCBO. This Syrah is definitely one of those wines, and the best part is that it was on sale for only $8.49 at our local Meijer’s (grocery store); heck all Mondavi Private Selection wines were on for that price - even with the exchange rate being what it is that’s still a great deal. The nose was all raspberries and white pepper; the palate was big and juicy with red and black berry flavours and that white pepper from the noses continues on in the mouth. Yummy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Geyser Peak 2002 Merlot (California)

For those who remember, a few nights ago I opened a 2004 Merlot from California with horrific results. Tonight I decided to go with another Cali-Merlot to see what happens. I can tell you right from the get go it was a better choice than the previous night's bottle. The nose was black fruited and very spicy with loads of black pepper. As the wine sat in the glass the pepperiness disappeared and gave way to a sweet blackberry note. The same can be said for the palate, which started off with a harsh-like bite of pepper but soon mellowed to a smooth, lush blackberry number, with hints of cassis and cinnamon. The finish was fairly quick, but then that just meant you had to go back to the trough more often - and with this wine that wasn't a bad thing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Beronia 2001 Tempranillo Crianza (Spain)

After the horrid Monterra incident I went further back into the cellar looking for something that would not only catch my eye but make things better. Out of the corner of my eye I saw it, with its red and gray capsule that stood out from all the other bottles. I grabbed it and brought it over to where the sad bottle of Monterra stood. "Here's hoping for better," I said as I plunged the corkscrew into the real-cork cork. Now that was more of what I was looking for: cinnamon, spice and blackberry greeted the nose while in the mouth it was loaded with beautiful spiced-plum flavours. The combination of acidity (that was still quite vibrant) and fruit (which still retained a fair amount of juiciness) had the ability to both quench a thirst and make the mouth water. That's more like it.

Monterra 2004 Merlot (California)

It was a night for something easy drinking, so I pulled this 2004 Merlot off the shelf without a second thought; but instead of the great plum and cherry that I was expecting I got a rancid, old prune, dried up wine that seems to have died before it's time. The colour was almost brown with barely a hint of red at all. Not sure whether to blame the producer or the plastic cork.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bogle Vineyards 2004 Phantom (California)

Tonight I was dying for something plumy, jammy and big. I had just written an article about the Italian tasting I attended and had Valpolicella Ripasso on the brain - so why didn't I chose a Ripasso - good question. Instead, I picked up this bottle of Bogle Phantom, a blend of Petite Sirah, Old Vines Zinfandel and Old Vines Mourvedre - I thought it would be plummier and jammier than it was, although it was definitely big (14.8%). On the nose there was some white pepper and black fruit with a little pencil lead in the background. The white pepper continued in the mouth along with some form of black fruit, but t was hard to define, the pepper was just too dominant. Did I like this wine? Sure I liked it, but it was not what I wanted this evening ... next time I'll just listen to my inner voice.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Torres 2004 Atrium Merlot (Spain)

Another wine from my box of fun, yet sometimes I have no idea why I decided to lay it down for a bit. I checked my records and it seems this was the only bottle of this Torres Merlot that I had, so what made me decide that a few years on its side was going to benefit it ... who cares, this wine turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. The nose had a peppery heat with blackberry, black cherry, cassis and as it remained open through the hour it developed a port-like plumminess. In the mouth it proved to be smooth as silk with pepper, black fruit, spice and bittersweet chocolate. Why did I decided to lie this one down? Call it intuition, and it paid off in spades.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two Hands Wines 2006 The Lucky Country Shiraz (Australia)

Sometimes it's fun to quote yourself, so here I go. In my October 25, 2008 Vintages report I said, "Speaking of textbook, the Two Hands 2006 Lucky Country Shiraz ($17.95 - #0077883) is just what you’d expect from an Aussie Shiraz, minty/eucalyptus, chocolate, pepper, blackberry and a touch of black cherry." After opening a bottle last night I stand firmly behind that review - though I forgot to add in the 14.7% alcoholic punch this wine adds. Now, why on earth am I telling you about this now ... well it just so happens that the LCBO has lowered the price on over 40 Vintages products for the holidays and this Lucky Country Shiraz just happens to be one of them, dropping it three-whole-dollars to $14.95 - which turns this good wine, into a good bargain. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bogle Vineyards 2006 Petite Sirah (California)

So last night I decided to grab the first thing I cast my eyes upon as soon as I walked from my office to my wine cellar, and lo and behold the winner was this gem from Bogle. I had picked this bottle up during my last venture into the States; I know this cause it still had the $8.89 orange sticker on it (meaning it was on sale). The nose had a rich black fruit smell to it, with a touch of peppery-goodness and some floral notes. The palate was lovely, peppery, raspberry and chocolate. At first I could swear I tasted the alcohol (13.5%) which led me to believe the wine was slightly out of balance, but over the next 20-minutes that flavour discipated and was replaced by a butterscotch taste right at the very end. This wine proved to be smooth and plush in the mouth with very little in the way of harsh tannins (they were there but to a milder degree). Very enjoyable - didn't go with the cod I was having but I enjoyed both emmensely, separately.