Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan 2005 Sun Rock Vineyard Meritage (British Columbia)

It only seems fitting to end the Vancouver Olympics with a wine from BC.  I popped the cork on this one about 20 minutes after Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal to, not only give Canada gold in hockey, but the most gold medals of any country in the history of the Winter games - it's a proud day to be Canadian.  This is a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc aged 18 months in a mix of French and American oak.  This was truly a delicious wine.  The nose and taste were almost seamlessly melded together with plum, chocolate and black cherry on the nose.  Those smells followed as flavours on the tongue while adding black pepper, spice and hints of vanilla.  Good acidity and biting tannins rounded out the finish.  Canada took 14 golds at these Olympic games, and I am sure Jackson-Trgigs saw a few golds for this wine.  I have one bottle left and its due to see the light of day sometime in late 2011 or 2012 - we'll see what happens to it then; right now it's wonderful.  Cheers to Canada.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Plethora of Ontario Wines (Ontario)

Tonight I had an Ontario wine tasting.  I pulled out 8 new Ontario wines to sample for future reviews.  I won't tell you about all of them, but I will say that the Peller 2007 Private Reserve series reds are pretty outstanding.  Receiving top marks was the 2007 Meritage and the 2007 Cabernet Franc; the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot were also very good.  Look for reviews of these four wines in my newsletter and on my website.  Usually after a tasting like this I pull out something from another region or country to have a glass of, but I have to admit I finished the Cab Franc, it was truly a wonderful wine, good job Lawrence (Lawrence Buhler winemaker at Peller Estates).  Cheers.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Screw Kappa Napa 2004 SKN Cabernet Sauvignon (United States)

After last night's affair this wine seemed the next logical step, with a name like Screw Kappa what do you expect.  This one has been sitting in my wine cellar for awhile, while the McManis had only been there a couple of days; but it's Friday and time to pull out something interesting to start the weekend off right.  This wine seems to do the trick, though with not a lot of finesse.  The nose is riddled with spiced-dried blackberries, and although the wine is only 13.5% alcohol the smell of booze came out quit prominently.  Thankfully it wasn't too boozy on the palate, cherry is the main fruit, a spicy bite, good acid and tannins on the tongue.  A wine that wasn't totally balanced but then again what quicky one night stand is?  NOw if you'll excuse me, I have a few more sips to take.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

McManis 2008 Syrah (United States)

This is not a delicate wine full of finesse and elegance.  It's not a wine you linger over and discuss the ways of the world.  It's not a wine you analyze over the course of an evening, rate the subtle nuances that occur as it opens up.  Nope, this is a wine for drinking, gulping and taking advantage of.  As a friend of mine called it, "this is a slut of a wine."  He explained that there are some wines you want to spend an evening with, to linger over and spend a long time with, in other words have a relationship with.  On the other hand, this McManis is your quick fling wine, one to enjoy while it lasts, in other words, it's a wine you have an affair with.  Lots of plum flavours and smells, lovely chocolaty notes, and a touch of white pepper.  But what will really comes out is the fruit - lots and lots and lots of fruit - incredibly gulpable and enjoyable, fun to roll around in the mouth and take big gulping swigs of.  The alcohol is pretty big here, coming in at 14.5%, so be careful how much fun you intend to have with this one - I suggest having a glass of water handy when its all done ... in other words, have fun, but bring protection.  Cheers.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wente 2007 Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (United States)

This Wente Cab smells a lot like a Zinfandel with its plum, cherry and vanilla notes - the palate is blackberry and plum with nice sweet vanilla tones ... pleasant, easy drinking and smooth.  I don't think it really matters what I ate with this, it was so tasty anything would have worked.  For the record I had chicken Swiss and a salad; told you it wasn't important.

Leoville 1970 vs Thomas George 2007 (France / United States)

Two misnomers in the title of this posting:  First these wines were had this afternoon, so it is not "what I am drinking tonight"; the second is there was no versus here, these wines were tried separately and judged separately.

We started with a bottle of 1970 Chateau Leoville-Barton; at first those in attendance wanted to write this one off, but i figured you have to give it a chance, heck it's been sitting in a bottle for the last 40 years or so.  But I didn't blame them, the nose was all woody and the same flavours followed, nothing fruity about this number and there was some really sour cranberry on the palate.  Two hours later I wouldn't say this wine shined but it sure showed better then when first poured out of the bottle.  The nose was woody with forest floor notes, tree bark and very dried fruit, with that slight sweet note.  The taste was sour cranberry, dried leaves and woody.  I have heard of this kind of wine described as rotting fruit, but in a good way.  You have to remember, this is a 40 year old wine, it tastes old but it's old in an interesting kinda way, not the make salad dressing with kinda way.

Next wine poured was a polar opposite, young, full of fruit, and lots of alcohol (16.5%).  The Thomas George Estates 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, The Torrente Vineyard was just loaded with plum and cherry, sweet vanilla, chocolate and caramel, there was even some blueberry notes.  The palate was just as exciting as the nose: dark berries, plummy, chocolaty and sweet raspberries - absolutely delicious - you have to like real Zinfandel to appreciate this wine, the red kind, not the pink kind.

This really was the tale of two wines, both interesting, both exciting in there own way.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Malivoire 2008 Red (Ontario)

This evening I received an email from someone I had met at the Shores of Erie Wine Festival just this past fall. Her email was about a trip her Master Tasters Program took to Niagara with stops at Calamus, Henry of Pelham and a few other wineries along the way.  She concluded her email by telling me she was having a glass of Malivoire's Guilty Men - an atypical blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Gamy and Cabernet Franc; which gave me a good idea - it was time for a glass of wine. As I rooted through my cellar I could not find a bottle of the Guilty Men, but I did have this bottle of Red, another Malivoire original blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay. My original review came out as both a Weekly Wine Note and a Podcast last August ... and I still stand behind it today.  As conclusion I guess I should say congratulations to Tracie for completing here course, I raise a glass in a toast to her and her colleagues.  Cheers.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

J + F Lurton 2003 Domaine des Salices Syrah (France)

Just to prove you don't need a Gewurztraminer with Asian food, I dined on lemon chicken, a spring roll and Asian salad for dinner, accompanied by this Syrah. Was it a match made in heaven? Not really, but I enjoyed the wine and I enjoyed the food and that's really all that matters. This was a pretty impressive bottle of wine. The nose changed a few times over the course of an hour with black fruit and bacon leading the way from the beginning, then there was white pepper, licorice and black raspberry that showed up the longer it was open. The palate also went through a variety of transformations. It started off with pepper, black fruit and pencil shavings, then it acquired some dried dark fruit nuances and ended with a mix of dried cherries and raspberries ... throughout it maintained its long finish, good tannin structure and nice balance. Never once did it occur to me this wine was 7 years old, it tasted fresh and lively for a wine of its age.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Buil & Gine 2006 Gine Gine (Spain)

Smacked in the face by the initial smells of black fruit and chocolate ... wow, this is going to be a good wine. But now that it's in the glass swirling about there are new smells emerging, namely a perfumed note and red raspberries. The perfume is actually huge, like a Chanel no. 5, but there seems to also be fruit in here. The palate has just a faint hint of the perfume, with lots of juicy blackberry along with juicy raspberry bits ... there's a real juiciness to this wine, if you haven't noticed yet. This one's a blend of Grenache and Carignane from the Priorat region of Spain, with huge percentage of alcohol, weighing in at 14.5% - scary part is, it's hard to tell. I got this one for two reasons: 1) I liked the wine when I tried it during a Vintages tasting; and 2) I just love the name, reminds me of an old Cary Grant movie ... on the other hand maybe he says "Judy, Judy Judy", not "Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie"; then again a little web research has just shown me that he never actually said that famous quote. See what happens, get a little booze in ya and suddenly the search for long lost quotes begins. Meanwhile the perfume nose has toned down, but juiciness has not ... lovely, just like Judy might have been.

N.B. - After an hour of being open, the wine loses the perfumed note completely; the red fruit juiciness never seems to go away.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sumac Ridge 2002 Black Sage Vineyard Merlot (British Columbia)

I have to wonder whether the wineries in BC have the hang of Cabernet Franc after what I tasted tonight. Last night I had a Cabernet Franc from British Columbia that was passable but not great, it was from 2005 and tasted older tahn what it claimed on the label. Tonight, I had a wine that was 3 years older than that Cabernet Franc and tasted 10 times fresher. The nose was blackberry, cassis, black raspberry and vanilla, while the palate was a juicy mix of black fruit and spice. For the last three nights I have sipped on something from Canada's West Coast but this is the first time I have been truly impressed - I guess I know why BC is getting such great notice for their Merlot.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sumac Ridge 2005 Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Franc (British Columbia)

The Olympics start tonight in Vancouver, and last night I found myself with a less than Gold medal wine from British Columbia. I promised myself I would go back and try another wine from Canada's West Coast, and here I am, sipping on a tasty, spicy number from Sumac Ridge. The wine is smoky and toasty with black fruit, barrel notes and an herbal quality. The palate has a lot of that smokiness with some tobacco, pencil shavings and pepper leading the charge. I've poured the wine into my Cru Classic Schott Zwiesel glass (nice Bordeaux red glass - big bowl), but I am also apt to decant to see what other aromas and flavours will come out of this. I pour the wine through my handy-dandy Vinturi and here's what happened: Nose stays relatively the same while the tannins on the palate have smoothed out a wee bit, leaving white pepper, black raspberry and toasty cedar. I think tomorrow I'll check out the Merlot.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Therapy Vineyards (British Columbia) - Juan Gil 2004 (Spain)

I was pawing through my collection of wine today ... no wait, let me back up a couple of hours. I got this neat little device called a Card-Scan, which allows me to feed business cards into it and in-turn it converts the information on the card to a file (ie: name, phone numbers, websites, etc.), I am quite impresses as it allows me to get rid of the piles of cards on my desk and its correct with about 90% of the information it transcribes. So how does the relate to wine you might ask? I was scanning through the cards I had amassed on my BC trip in the Summer of 2008, and decided it was time to open one of those bottles. Granted, I did this a couple of days ago when I opened a bottled of Golden Mile Cellars wine, but who says you can't visit the same region twice in a week. As it turned out it wasn't good to go back to that well this evening.

I pulled out a Therapy Vineyards 2006 Freud's Ego, a blend of the Cabernets (Franc and Sauvignon) and some Merlot. The bottle was loaded with volatile acidity (acetone), the fruit was gone and the wine was insipid and boring ... very sad.

So I had to find an alternative ... so I reached for a Juan Gil 2004 Monastrell ... fruit is still red and spicy, palate is much smoother than I remember, but the wine is delicious. Sorry to say I was not a fan of BC today. But with the Olympics in Vancouver a day away I think maybe I have to try again - I'll look into a Sumac Ridge for tomorrow ... 2005 Merlot might be just what the doctor ordered. Cheers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Golden Mile Cellars 2006 Pinot Noir (British Columbia)

Golden Mile Cellars is no more, they changed their name to Road 13 Winery so they could give the Golden Mile designation back to their region - a very selfless act. I visited Road 13 when they were still Golden Mile about 2 years ago and picked up this bottle of Pinot Noir. As with any trip you take you always want the memories to last, which is why we never drink the bottles we bring home right away, we wait until we want to relive those memories. Our Golden Mile visit was a highlight of the trip, and with my mother a mere 4 days away from a return trip to the West Coast (this time for the Olympics) I thought it only right to share a bottle brought back from our trip. The wine took a few minutes and much aeration to open up, but once it did it went down smooth and easy. The nose was loaded with sour cherry and cranberry, while the palate was ever so slightly earthy with the sour cherry and cranberry taking center stage. With all those tart fruits you'd expect a mouth pucking effect, but it was very smooth and very nice - especially with the lingering cranberry finish.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yalumba 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon - Y Series (Australia)

There's not always a reason as to why you pick a wine to drink ... tonight was one of those nights. It was after 6 pm and I had just finished spending most of the day in my office - stepped out the door of my office and into my wine cellar. The first bottle to catch my eye was this one - due to the golden capsule and the black letter "Y" - sometimes that's all it takes. I popped the cork, poured it into a glass and breathed deep. Wow, hot and spicy were the first sensations I picked up on, then black fruit and spicy as the wine settled in the glass. The taste on first and second sip was very bitter. This couldn't be it; with a nose like that there had to be more than a bitter after taste and spicy black fruit. I decided to decant. The nose settled down into a beautiful dark fruit with a shaking of spicy cocoa; the heat had dissipated and the spice was toned down. The palate ended up being smooth with blackberry and spice; the aftertaste lingered and turned from bitter to blueberry. Time in bottle had made this wine a little surly coming out, but once liberated it sure did come around.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Vigne & Vini 2006 Zinfandel - Primitivo del Salento (Italy)

I'm a huge fan of a well made Zinfandel / Primitivo (Italian) / Crljenak Kaštelanski (Croatia) - though I have never tasted one of the latter ... they are all part of the same grape family, in other words they are all the same grape from different parts of the world; so you can well imagine I was thrilled to find a good bargain in this Italian version ($14.00). I had it for dinner tonight with some Korean ribs and it worked well, with and without the meat. Lots of plum and spice with a juicy red fruit and plum mid-palate. This one is not meant to age, and the plastic cork I pulled out of the neck confirmed that to me (in my experience, plastic corks don't help in the ageability of wine, in fact they hinder it, so drink them up quickly). Overall I was quite impressed and enjoyed this wine.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Frazzitta NV Zibibbo (Italy)

Thought I would end this long evening with something a little sweet and interesting. I have to admit I have never had this type of wine before - it's a "port" from Sicily made from the Muscat of Alexandria grape, hence it is white, known by its traditional nom de plume: Marsala. This wine was sweet and delicious with smells of cinnamon, marmalade and almonds. The aromas followed onto the palate, but over the course of 10 minutes, and plenty of aeration, the cinnamon was reduced to a dull roar and the marmalade and almonds took over. Absolutely delicious with a piece of Lindt 65% Cacao Madgascar dark chocolate.

Venta Morales 2008 Tempranillo (Spain)

I hold in my hand a bottle of Venta Morales. My buddy Dave from Michigan recommended this one to me. I ask him one question every time I see him: "What do you recommend?" He knows this means, "what's your best deal in the store?" And he always picks out a few good ones for me. In the past he has picked a Pinot Noir that tasted like it should have cost double the price, a French 'Petit Bordeaux' and quite a few Zinfandels. This time he took me over to the Spanish section and said this $5.99 (USD) wine is a steal. Heck, with the dollar being so close the exchange was minimal, so I bought a bottle, now I wish I had bought six. Spain is one of the unsung regions of the world, producing great wines at great prices, this one is no exception. A slight hint of violets greet the nose along with some blackberry fruit and a bit of spice. The palate is full of black fruit and spice and given some time this wine smoothed out and became even nicer to sip on. As for the tannins, they swung between biting and silky depending on how big the gulp you were taking was.