Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Vina Cobos 2007 Felino Malbec (Argentina)

This wine came out a few weeks ago at the LCBO ... I rushed out and picked up a few for a couple of reasons: I had tried a Paul Hobbs (owner) wine a few days previously and two, I was very impressed. Paul Hobbs is a winery owner in California who saw promise in Argentina (something many established wineries are discovering) - and he was right. Vina Cobos makes quite a few very delicious Malbecs, of which this is the entry level. The nose was so complex and reeled you right in: blackberry, chocolate, spicy-cinnamon, spiced-vanilla, mocha and a slight whiff of pepper. The palate was even more appealing, but instead of giving you the description of the tastes I thought it best to tell you about the feeling I got once the wine entered my mouth: lush, plush and very juicy. This wine is more about a feeling than just the berries and vanilla that seem to dominate the palate - this is a wine to sip, savour and totally enjoy. Now if you'll excuse me I have a glass of wine to finish.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Robert Mondavi 2005 Vinetta (California)

This (as far as I know) was the first vintage of this wine (if not the second) - a true Bordeaux blend using all five of the recognized grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec) from Mondavi. In their entire history they have never created such a beast ... hard to believe, but it's what I read, so it must be true. Anyway, I was lucky enough to grab a couple of bottles a couple of years ago while down in Michigan - turns out it's not available in Canada/Ontario and Mondavi's agent in Ontario at the time hadn't even heard about it (I'm sure they have by now, though it is still not available). The smell is a mix of red and black fruit, chocolate, raspberry and strawberry. The palate delivers mainly black fruit along with spices and herbs, creme de cacao and a dried blackberry finish.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Delicato 2004 Merlot (California)

Many moons ago I was a Delicato fan. I liked their Monterra series, was a huge supporter of the Gnarly Head Zin and liked the blue and white label that was a staple at the LCBO. But Gnarly Head has branched out into pretty standard (if not very affordable) wines, Monterra seems to have disappeared from the market and the Delicato blue and white, is as good as gone. But that doesn't stop me from having a few bottles of my favs in my cellar. Tonight I found my hand drawn to that familiar blue capsule of Delicato, and I yanked a bottle off my rack easily and readily. The nose was very interesting, at first offering up fruit, then chocolate - the fruit was strawberry, raspberry and sweet prune juice, hopefully you know what chocolate smells like. The palate showed more life than I was expecting - lots of plumy-chocolate along with black raspberry and black cherry. Quite full in the mouth, almost chewy in nature with zero tannins - making this wine a smooth, delectable Delicato wine.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yalumba 2003 Shiraz & Viognier "Y-Series" (Australia)

When I got this wine the notion of putting Viognier into Shiraz was so foreign to Aussie Shiraz drinkers that they had to explain the process (and where it came from), to give it credibility, on the back label of the bottle. Today, we don't need the long-winded explanation of the Rhone and how they put a dollop of Viognier in to liven up the fruit flavours and smells of the wine. This one has a 5% dollop, and the back of the bottle instructs me that I should be drinking this by 2010 ... so I'm just catching it under the wire. The nose presented itself with pepper, dried red berries and alcohol - it seemed a little out of whack or out of balance and maybe a little too old. But not one to be daunted by smell I still took a sip. Turns out the smells fooled me, it smelled older then what I found on the palate: peppery, red berry, licorice, cherry and chocolate ... there was also some sweet dried plums - but not pruny, more like late harvested - to use a wine term. Delicious wine, and it paired well with the pulled-brisket soaked in BBQ sauce; the peppery of the wine matched with the smoky of the sauce.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Baron Philippe de Rothschild 2007 Carmenere Reserva (Chile)

Yup, that Baron Philippe de Rothschild. It seems that all the big French houses are realizing the potential of making wine in Chile, it's the old adage of "if you can't beat 'em join 'em. The colour of this this inw amazing - a great deep purple ... the nose is plum, blueberry, mint, chocolate and cinnamon; the palate is a little simple, but I take that to be it s jeunesse (must speak a little French in this review) - sweet plums and spiced-blackberry ... these flavours will expand with a little time in bottle - we'll check back in t afew years.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kaiken 2007 Malbec (Argentina)

Just put on the shelves of the LCBO (in Ontario) this Easter weekend as part of their April 11 Vintages release. I have been waiting for this wine to come back in stock for, I guess a year or so. Last year the liquor giant had this wine at about 19 bucks - a decent price - but this year, with the tough economic times we find ourselves in, the boys and girls at the Liquor Board decided to give us a break. Now on for a measily $15 this wine is worth you picking up a bottle or three or even a case of. Blackberries, cherries and spice greet the nose with your first sniff - and you can feel yourself sinking into the glass, whafting away on a ocean of smells: cinnamons, chocolate, juicy black fruits and a hint of mint. Now it's time to get your nose out of the glass and touch it to your lips. Rich and full in the mouth, it literally fills the mouth with flavour ... the blackberries give way to cassis which turns into cinnamon then spice and finishes with a little cedar and fine tannins. Very nice ... now if you'll excuse me I don't have time to waste here, I have a wine to drink.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cousino-Macul 2003 Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile)

We took the long way round to get to this wine ... three bottles of dubious wines were opened, each with their own problems (I will not mention the producers of these bottles - their origins were not important), but I will say that the last bottle ended up being corked ... and that led me to the belief that we should stop tasting wines from a category and go for something we knew. What is with all the cryptic-secrecy? Well I hate painting a certain kind of wine with such a broad stroke, but let me just say the three wines were of the Kosher variety, a category I feel is almost as hit and miss as organic. But that debate is for another day. Let's move on to what I had here in this 6 year old Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose was big with mint and hints of dark chocolate; but the mint really took over here. On the palate it was the same thing, lots of mint, but instead of chocolate there was plenty of woodsy notes. So I decided a decanter might be in order. I can safely say the decanter softened the wine, but it was still very minty with lots of wood and a pseudo-black fruit quality to it. As it stayed open it never did kick the wood or the mint but the wine started to develop leather and black licorice while the pseudo-fruit disappeared into the wood work. Much better than what came before ... but really is that saying much? This wine was palateable and potable and after three bottles that weren't, it was exactly what we were looking for.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vitkin Winery 2005 Carignan (Israel)

I remember recommending this wine to people a year or so ago as one of the best value wines to come out of Israel in a long time (and into the LCBO system - Vintages to be exact); and now that it has some age on it I'm starting to realize my own brilliance (how do you like that back patting - think I actually hurt my arm doing that one). The colour is like Smoke on the Water, deep purple (I'll wait for those who have no idea what I am talking about to check with their local classic rock station, and that's the only hint I'm giving you). The smells are very inviting and plentiful, with blackberry, cassis, plum, vanilla, cinnamon, spicy-tobacco, new leather and, of all things in a kosher wine, Christmas spice. The palate is just as wonderful and complex showing big black fruit that is just so juicy in the mouth, though still with big tannins, and a nice peppery-spicy finish. This one still has lots of time to go so if you've got any, enjoy it at your leisure.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Valpantena 2000 Falasco Valpolicella Ripasso (Italy)

Sunday, a day of rest and relaxation. Sunday, a day to put your feet up without a care in the world. Sunday, a day to pull out a special bottle to sip and savour; hence, this bottle for Falasco Valpolicella Ripasso. I am sure plenty of folks out there will ask, what are you having for dinner to accompany this Italian Stallione? And to you I answer - I have absolutely no idea, I have decide to get some edamame (Japanese soy bean appetizer) out of the freezer, nuke as per the directions and enjoy, hope the wine goes ... it ain't half bad. I opened the wine an hour before I decided on the Japanese treat ... my first smell and taste of the wine was somewhat pruny with hints of spice and very little else happening, so I thought that decanting it might be in order. I filtered (with a wire-mess strainer) and decanted it into a wide bottomed decanter. I looked at the bottle and noticed lots of fine grit, this also appeared in the glass (it was grit so fine even the filter couldn't get it). After about half and hour this wine started to show very well, the nose turned from pruny to black fruit (blackberry and plum) - and the palate improved too ... sure there was apparent age here with some forest floor and dried black fruit, but there was also a touch of tannin dryness and this wine really opened up appreciatively over the next hour. It certainly did hit the spot and was very nice for a layabout type of Sunday (which this wasn't, so it made the wine hit "the spot" even better).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Korta 2007 Syrah (Chile)

Disappointed with the display of my Danzante wine I turned to a wine I had, and bought, during the PMA Chairman's Gala. This wine wasn't exactly the Primitivo I was looking for (see below) - but neither did it try to hide what it really was. Dark in colour, a nose of pepper, spice and dark fruit followed on the palate by lots of spice, cassis, blackberry, pepper and plenty of tannin. The long peppered-raspberry finish added to the enjoyment and went well with the chicken and Sante Fe rice I had for dinner. Do I lament the Danzante wine? Sure I do. But this Syrah proved to hit the spot and made me forget my momentary sadness.

Mondavi/Frescobaldi 2003 Danzante Primitivo (Italy)

With the whoaful results I had when I opened my last bottle of Danzante wine, I thought it best I also open this one. With, I hate to admit, the same whoaful results. This time it wasn't that the wine was corked, it was just aweful. The smell lacked fruit of any kind and the taste was all wood. Primitivo is the kissing-cousin (if not brother) of Zinfandel, so I was expecting plums and berries - in modern Primitivo's (like Ogio) they highlight their relationship with Zin by being very fruit forward wines. This one seemed to want to hide it. The oaking was very heavy handed and the wine was chewy in the mouth, but not in a good way. A very clumsy effort from a winery I expected a lot more from - in all their bottlings. And for those of you who are going to make comment that the wine is 5 years old what did I expect ... I expected an Italian wine with the legendary names of Mondavi and Frescobaldi attached to it to last at least a paltry five years.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Finca Las Moras 2005 Black Label Shiraz (Argentina)

I started the night with a Sangiovese (that was unfortunately corked), so I moved on to something that was not even in the same ballpark - a Shiraz from Argentina - it's the equivalent of starting the day wanting All-Bran and ending up with eggs, bacon, toast and a mess of homefries. This was released in Vintages (Ontario - LCBO) a few weeks back. The nose is black and spicy with hints of graphite (what they call pencil lead these days), blackberry, black raspberry and hit after hit of nutmeg/cinnamon. The palate is just as intriguing and inviting - lots of spicy character, peppery with black fruits (cassis, amongst others) and a drying tanninc finish. I have two bottles of this puppy and will be laying the other down for a few years to see what happens ... stay tuned.

Mondavi/Frescobaldi 2002 Danzante Sangiovese (Italy)

Boo Hiss Hiss Boo ... nothing's worse than opening a bottle that you have been sitting on for awhile and finding out it is corked (that moldy cardboard, wet newspaper, damp basement smell - nasty). This one was subtle, as in I thought it was there, then I thought it was gone, then I thought it was again - then I realized it definitely was there: countless sniffs and three sips later. Few things make me sadder than knowing that this bottle was bad the moment I took it off the shelf and no amount of care in storing it could have helped. Damn! I guess it is on to something else.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Antinori 2000 Santa Cristina (Italy)

My first question, when I found this wine in my wine cellar, was when on earth did I happen upon a bottle of Antinori wine ... this producers brings us some of the best Italian wines on the market, and some of the most expensive and sought after (ie: Tignanello, Pian delle Vigne, etc.); my other question, of course, was how was this wine going to show - knowing Antinori's reputation I was hoping well. The nose at first was all dried fruit and dried herbs, then it slowly started to show more, with typical old wine smells: forest floor, dried leaves, mocha, leather, tobacco and even a touch pruny. The palate showed old wine characteristics as well: dried cherries and herbs, tobacco and a very dry finish. A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot that was in oak only four months and obviously bottled unfiltered (due to the bits of sediment I found) - I have to admit I really enjoyed this wine and see why Antinori's reputation is what it is - I would have bought this wine for under $15 and it was well worth every penny, now 9 years from vintage date.