Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gonzalez Byass Solera 1847 (Spain)

I apologize in advance to you Sherry purist out there, but I like my Sherry on the sweet side, which is why I like Cream Sherries, Pedro Ximinez based Sherries and ones like this Gonzalez Byass 1847. The story behind this sherry is that the original Solera was started in 1847. For those who understand the way that sherry is made I'll wait while you 1) read that again and 2) whistle your amazement. Anyway, the theory is that somewhere in this beverage is some sherry from 1847 ... by now we're talking a very minuscule amount, but it theoretically should be in there. It makes interesting talk around the table, but by the time you are ready to drink this I would suggest you find a nice cozy couch and curl up with a glass. The nose is candied orange peel, roasted almonds and burnt caramel; the palate is just as intriguing with honey roasted almonds, a nuts and raisins trail mix of sorts, all soaked in a caramel-booze base, and of course there's a great long finish ... this is one to sip and savour.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mission Hill 2006 Compendium (British Columbia)

The first thing you'll notice about this bottle of wine is in fact the bottle - this is not environmentally friendly packaging (it's heavy), but then top tier wines from most wineries aren't because cool is not a plastic bottle. The nice thing about a heavy bottle is there a thousand and one uses for it after the wine is long gone: a doorstop, paperweight, a bud vase or weapon ... just to name a few - but I can guarantee you're going to like what's in the bottle before you get to that point. "Compendium" is the what the folks at Mission Hil have termed "a super second" to its flagship Oculuse. It's a new Bordeaux-styled blend which has Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (the only thing missing is Malbec). The propaganda that accompanies the bottle compares it to Oculus by saying: "[Compendium] is crafted in a different style and may be enjoyed immeditaely, while Oculus benefits from time in the cellar." So after all that preamble I am sure you are wondering what the wine in the bottle tastes like. I can tell you that this is an ever changing bottle of wine. It starts with a hit of blackberry and spice on the nose, then turns into spiced plum about 15 to 20 minutes in if you give it some time to sit around and aerate. While I cooked dinner I placed the glass a few feet away from me (within arms length at all times) and I could smell it quite plainly when I was as far as 2-3 feet away, so I would say the nose is very powerful, and the colour is also beautiful. But I guess I have kept you in suspense long enough - the palate is just as advertised, hefty enough that you could lie it down for a few years, but gentle enough that you could easily drink it now, and by decanting you help it along even further. There's hints of pepper, blackberry, spiced plum, vanillin and a gentle smoothness across the tongue. I have been informed that this is a new release for Mission Hill, and since that is the case I suppose I should give it some kind of mark just in case you are looking to get yourself a bottle - I'd say 4 1/2 stars (Excellent).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Torres 2007 San Valentin (Spain)

This is a bottle of 100% Grenacha from Spain with a cutesy little cupid (complete with arrow) hanging from the neck. But while the bottle is cutesy, what's inside is far from it. The nose is vanilla, sweet blackberry and red licorice. At first the palate seemed a little bitter and too acidic, but give it 45 minutes to come out of its doldrums and you have one heck of a flavour profile here. Sweet vanilla oak and blackberry, a nice fruit to tannin ratio with a lingering dry finish complete with stoney mineral, black fruit and smoke.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Juan Gil 2006 Monastrell (Spain)

Just the other day I was extolling the virtues of Juan Gil, well tonight I decided to once again give one of his wines a go around. This is the Monastrell aged four months in American and French oak and has "de cepas viejas" written on the bottom of the label. Again its another stunning and drinkable wine from this producer. The nose was incredibly inviting with plum, spice, blackberry, black cherry and chocolate notes long with hints of vanilla. The high alcohol (14.5%) heat was the first thing to grab the nose, but this settled in about 15 minutes after opening, leaving behind black fruit, spice cocoa and a little bit of a warming sensation on the way down ... perfect wine for a cold winter night; unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook) we're in the midst of an Indian Summer in this part of Ontario, so I have to instead take solace in the fact that the wine went great with the burger I consumed for dinner.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Juan Gill 2007 Gos (Spain)

Juan Gil is one of my favourite wineries from Spain, they never fail to impress. The wines I have tried from this bodega, in the region of Jumila, have been all 100% Monastrell (red) and each one delicious in their own right. This is a simple wine, but simple does not mean bland or boring, it has great flavours and smells that I have come to expect from this winery. The nose was black fruited with herbs, vanilla and a subtle minerality. On the palate there was the black fruit and herbs, some sweet vanilla nuances and a steady seam of acidity that makes this wine refreshing as well as tasty.

Wirra Wirra 2002 Scrubby Rise (Australia)

After sipping on a little rosé (13%) I needed something with a higher octane to go with dinner; this 14.5% Aussie bruiser should do the trick, a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The wine offered-up a very spicy nose with pepper, plum and cassis. there was also an odd smell that appeared too, banana skin - not the fresh ripe kind, the browned up version of the peel, not unpleasant and very interesting. The flavour did not offer such oddity, instead it was pepper, plum, spice and lots of big black fruit; cocoa and hints of cinnamon were also present. A lovely wine 7 years from vintage date and one that really hit the spot. It was interesting to also note how this wine was sealed, with a screwcap, but the inner lining was very spongy, puffy even, like a small pillow, spongier than usual for those who check out these kind of things - I have heard it said that the thickness of the inner lining can be changed to suit the winemaking need, depending on the seal you are looking for and the transfer of air you wish into the bottle. When I took off the screwcap the lining was actually stuck to the top, so I'd say the seal was pretty tight on this one ... an interesting wine all around.

Ogier 2008 Cote du Ventoux Rosé (France)

Yesterday I went to a tasting at the LCBO; me and some of my fellow wine writers sampled approximately two dozen wines. When it was all over I wondered into the store and bought two bottles of this rosé from the Rhone Valley ($11.95). Made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault this wine has a beautiful salmon colour. The nose is cherry and raspberry, while the palate is fresh cherry with a dry raspberry finish - or so said my notes from the afternoon tasting. This evening before dinner I decided to crack a bottle (well, actually I pulled the cork - cracking is what you do with a screwcap wine), poured myself a glass and sipped on it for a bit. While doing so I made a few notes: "cherry and raspberry on the nose, cherry palate, raspberry and dry on the finish". Seems pretty consistent if you ask me. I love a wine that tastes the same at home as it does in a tasting room.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard 1999 Bobcat Blend (California)

Now this was a real surprise. At one point I owned 3 bottles of this wine,. The first one I drank in April of 2006, the next in August of 2007 - the note on the last bottle said hold another year ... seems I'm a little late, as two years have now gone by. Upon opening the wine was a little shy in the glass, giving up forest floor notes and not much else; but with a little coaxing, the right glass and some aeration fruit began to emerge, not fresh fruit, dried fruit - but, twas fruit. Figs, dried blueberry and cranberry rounded out the forest floor notes on the nose. The mouth is where this wine really shows its age, but also shows it's complexity: dried leaves, dried fruit, barrel notes of cinnamon and spice with touches of dried herbs. There's a nice seam of acidity here that seems to hold the wine up nicely in the mouth and very little tannin, but still there is some tannin ... this wine was a real surprise, ten years old and still holding up well. Lovely, in an that old wine kinda way.

Domaine La Martine 2003 Cotes du Rhone-Villages "Roaix" (France)

I'm really struggling with this wine, I mean really struggling. I have been looking forward to this wine all day - I caught a glimpse of its label this morning and immediately pulled it out of the cellar for this evening's sip. But I am now in a quandary. The back label is all in French (that is not my quandary) and I have read that this wine is a blend of Syrah and Grenache, and I so want this wine to be okay; but I am getting a hint of corkiness, even so slight, and I am hoping beyond hope that maybe it's just me smelling something I don't want to smell ... but alas, 10 minutes in, a little aeration and a few sips later - this bottle is most definitely, without a doubt, corked ... damn - I really wanted that one. I guess it's back to the drawing board.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Botalcura 2004 El Delirio Reserve Syrah/Malbec (Chile)

I picked this bottle out bright and early this morning. I was walking by my wine racks and a silver capsule caught my eye, it was there and then that I decided this bottle was it. So about 12 hours later I sunk the corkscrew into the bottle and unleashed the 2-inch cork (almost broke the sucker). At first the nose was earthy and brambly with sweet black fruit hiding below the under-brush, there was also hints of wet moss (which thankfully soon blew off) along with floral and vanilla aromas. Flavours were slightly harsh at first, but I did a little decanting with a thing called a Vinturi, which seemed to have a smoothing effect and helped the nose to come out from behind the trees and leaves ... juicy blackberry, cassis, white pepper and nice spice on the palate made this wine thoroughly enjoyable and lots of fun; by the final sip I had forgotten all about it's rough beginnings.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Montezovo 2006 Ripasso Valpolicella (Italy)

I've had this wine in the past and enjoyed it very much, and after last night's fiasco with not one, not two, but three bottles of wine, I decided to screw trial and error and move right to something I know would bring my palate some pleasure. This Ripasso is wonderful, with lots of fruit, spice, cherry and chocolate notes and nice mouth enhancing acidity ... I'm not going to type too long here, because I just want to go and enjoy my wine ... unlike last night. Talk to you tomorrow night.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Old World Nightmare Evening

I felt like a bottle of something Italian, so I rummaged around in the cellar and found a bottle of 2001 Velletri (by Cantine di Campoverde - grapes? I have no idea) - popped the cork and was hit by a rush of, as mom would say, "no good smell". The wine had turned to vinegar long ago, I still tasted it to confirm, and yes, it was off.

Next, I rummaged deeper into the cellar and found a bottle of 2000 Chateau Saint Cyrgues from the Costieres de Nimes (France), this was a nondescript wine that got worse the longer it was opened. It was harsh on the palate with little in the way of flavour or smell - I didn't waste more than 5 minutes on it before realizing I had another dud on my hands. Sometimes waiting isn't the best thing.

Finally, I stopped my digging and went over to a rack of favourites that I know rarely, if ever, disappoint. I chose a Bodegas Castano 2005 Hecula, usually a show stopper, but this time it seemed dumb. It had muted black licorice, black fruit and spice on the nose; black and blue fruit with a lingering graphite note on the finish, along with some odd fruity notes - everything just seemed not right with this bottle. Looking at my past notes of this wine , which are less than 6 months old, I think I got a bum bottle here. Guess it just wasn't my night - sometimes you have to accept that and move on. Life really is too short to drink bad wine.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pikes 2001 Clare Valley Cabernet-Merlot (Australia)

The 5 year old Yellow Tail fiasco behind me I moved on to something else. This time I dove deeper into my wine cellar and found this 8 year old Cabernet Merlot in the cheesiest bottle I've ever seen. The label had very little on it (besides the producer and grape varieties) and the bottle shape was so standard I think they sell them 10-cents a dozen at the local U-Brew. But if ever there was a bottle of wine that proved packaging isn't always a good indication about what's in the bottle, it's this one. The nose was complex with cinnamon, clove, dried blackberry and herbal notes. The palate offered up lots of flavour including white pepper, cinnamon, herbs and some tannins. It also threw a ton of sediment into my final glass, but boy was I ever impressed with this one.

Casella "Yellow Tail" 2004 Shiraz-Cabernet (Australia)

I bought this bottle many moons ago in New York State ... it was around the time Yellow Tail Shiraz was big in Ontario, I had not seen any of their other wines except for the Shiraz so I decided I must try it ... I picked this one because it had a snazzy purple label. Not sure what possessed me not to drink it right away, but I got home, stuck it on my wine rack and forgot about it. Tonight, as I was searching for something to have I spied the funky purple and thought, "oh boy, that's probably very interesting about now." Curiosity got me to open this bottle tonight, it was definitely the bottle to open and try. Unwrapping the capsule exposed a plastic cork, usually a sure sign of a drink now wine - and I was way past that. The nose was quite pruney and unpleasant, so I expected the worst on the taste - the things I'll taste just to learn my lesson. The palate was not as awful as you might think, it sure wasn't the fresh and fruity wine you expect from the Yellow Tail brand, but it wasn't all vinegary either. I found smooth, sweet dried fruit, almost port-like, but without the richness and lush flavours of port. Not completely horrible, but certainly not great ... experiment over, time to open something else.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Falset-Marca 2006 Etim Seleccion (Spain)

Here's a wine with enough edge to make it interesting now but even more interesting in a few years. A Spanish blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah that just found its way into the Vintages section of the LCBO (in Ontario). The nose is plum, spice and black fruited, while the palate is plummy and spicy with a definite lean toward pepper. There's some bite back to this wine with tannins in and amongst all that peppery-spicinesss ... I say give it some time and you should see great results; or if you just can't wait, make sure to have a decanter handy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lustau Deluxe Cream Capataz Andres Sherry NV (Spain)

Just finished tasting one of my "lost" bottles of Ontario wine (Pelee Island 2003 Vinedressers Cabernet Sauvignon) and thought I'd like to add a little European flair to my evening, but it's a little late to open another bottle. In fact I would like something sweet; but instead of reaching for my usual bottle of Port I decided on a little something different - I opted for a tipple of Sherry. This is a "blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximinez" which means they added a little sweet to the dry. Sweet wins out, naturally, but it's a pleasant sweetness, not the over the top sickeningly syrupy kind. The nose deals out some of the greatest aromas: candied orange peel, buttered pecans, honey roasted almonds and chocolate liqueur. On the palate you've got your sweet candied almonds and pecans, along with alcohol soaked orange peel and/or infused marmalade. It went great with some bittersweet 70-85% dark chocolate, even better with almonds.