Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eshkol Winery 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa)

Okay, last kosher wine of the season, though it seemed only fitting with Passover and Easter crossing paths that I should take a few sips on a kosher wine or two.  This one is from the Paarl region of South Africa, and I have to admit I was a little skeptical of it:  I do not think I have tried a kosher wine this old.  The back of the bottle said that it would age well for 5-10 years, but still found myself ready to flush this one down the toilet.  After tasting it I have to say I am rightfully impressed with this bottle of wine - black fruit, smoky, a touch of that tell-tale South African tar in the back palate, hints of vanilla wood with just a titch of smoked-butterscotch.  As it sat in the glass it improved, less tar, more fruit.  Very nice.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Golan 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (Israel)

If Europe is "Old World" what does that make a place like Israel?  Really OLD World?  Here's another kosher wine that does not live up to the horrendous moniker kosher wines have built up over the years.  Nice sweet red fruit and a little white pepper gives this wine a drinkability factor that kosher wines have really been lacking ... I might have guessed this wine to be Australian with all that fruit and never would have picked it out as kosher - now that's high praise indeed.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vignobles David 2007 Le Mourre De L'Isle (France)

It used to be a shuddering experience to attend a Passover Seder, especially for wine fans; kosher wine was just an abysmal fluid they had the audacity to call "wine".  These days it's a different story.  Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to try many of the kosher wines to pass through the liquor board and have found a good half dozen to be worthy of crossing your palate - at a decent price (another kosher wine pitfall: the good ones cost mucho denero, but the expensive ones aren't always good - I suppose that could be said about a lot of wine).  This Vignobles David is one of those wines that tastes good and didn't empty your wallet.  Made from Grenache (60%) and Mourvedre (40%) it's a Cote du Rhone wine that actually has the character of where it is from along with spice, black fruit and nice tannins.  This is an excellent example of where kosher wines are heading.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

DeLoach 2007 Heritage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

I hate to say it, but these days I find myself to be a bit Cali-Cab-Jaded, which is interesting because last year at about this time I was Cali-Chard-Jaded, that was until I tried a couple of Dijon Clone Chardonnays from the Golden State, then suddenly I was re-inspired to try Chardonnay.  I think all wine drinkers get jaded by certain regions and certain grape varieties every now and again - I know I'll come back to the California Cabs and be thrilled with them, but as of about a week ago I started to think they all tasted the same (could this be due to the California tasting I was just at); I have no fear though, with the California Wine Fair on the horizon I just know someone will pour me a glass of something awesome and I'll get back on the wagon.  So tonight I decided to try the brother wine of the Zinfandel I had last night.  Am I thrilled with it?  Not really, it tastes Cabbish, the nose has a blackberry vanilla spice to it, while the palate delivers pepper, vanilla and cassis.  Am I ready to dump it down the sink and pour myself something else?  No, the wine is good - it just doesn't inspire me, maybe it will inspire you - if you have tried the wine and want to let me know, please feel free to do so.  Cheers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

DeLoach 2007 Zinfandel (California)

I promised myself a Zin earlier in the day and I am proud to say I actually kept my promise.  The nose of this DeLoach wine was really inviting: plum, chocolate, cherry, cola, and plenty of vanilla.  Palate proved to be a little more complex than the nose suggested; the plum and vanilla were definitely there, but there was a bit of spice and some black cherry notes that added depth to the palate and plenty of enjoyment.  I noticed that I have a DeLoach Cabernet sitting in the cellar so after tonight's great performance I think tomorrow night's wine will be the accompanying Cab.

Concha Y Toro 2008 Trio Reserva - Chardonnay (Chile)

I was jonesing for a little white wine this afternoon and this is what I had kicking around in the fridge.  Now calling this wine a Chardonnay is like calling Tiger Woods "a guy who had an affair", because it is so much more than a simple Chardonnay, and Tiger did so much more than have "an affair".  The Trio in the title refers to the three grapes that go into this wine: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc - not a combination that usually crosses your lips unless you are telling people, at a party, their choices of white wines being poured; but this wine successfully brings all three of these grapes together.  The nose is recognizable as Chardonnay with telltale apple, pineapple and vanilla notes.  The palate doesn't follow 100% along, yes there is a little tropical pineapple there but there's also some lemony freshness (Pinot Grigio influenced) and a touch of something fresh and pear-like, light and refreshing (Pinot Blanc's influence), when you expect a little more heaviness to cross your palate.  Together it's a taste sensation like no other, and one you'll keep sipping on to get more and more flavours out of - at least that's what I did.  Later on I think I'll have an Zinfandel with my beef stew, so I'll catch you up later.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Farnese 2008 Negroamaro (Italy)

It has been a few days since I have been able to enjoy a glass of wine at home.  The last few nights I have found myself out at a variety of events and by the time I got home it was too late to crack (or pop) something open.  The worst part is that I was out at events that I couldn't just sit back and enjoy a glass of wine.  That said, tonight I twisted the top on this Negroamaro from Italy (made in the Puglia region - the heel of the boot).  Negroamaro actually means black and bitter, but this wine is so far from that description you'll be shocked at the black-and-bitter moniker.  This wine is a real fruity expression of this grape, the nose is blackberry and smells almost sweet and juicy.  The palate is blackberry juicy with some cassis, and just a hint of the bitterness this grape is known for on the finish - but it does not detract from the wine's juiciness one bit ... it fact keeps it from being too jammy.  Black?  Yes. Bitter?  No way.  Delicious? You bet.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Trapiche 2007 Finca Las Palmas Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina)

I promised myself that I would get to this wine soon, and lo and behold today is the day; and what a delicious bottle this has turned out to be.  The nose is full of blackberries, cassis and spice with a hint of vanilla - it just has such a sweet smell it's hard to get your nose out of the glass.  But then you taste it.  Juicy blackberry and luscious chocolate, there's black cherry on the back palate, while the tannins are slightly chewy, meaning it'll hold a few years longer with wonderful results, but it is so worth drinking right now.  This wine is truly decadent.  To make it even more so I open a brie called "Lady Laurier" that I picked up at the Wine and Cheese Show on the weekend ... now all I need is that fig jam I had the opportunity to try to top it all off (but alas I could not buy at the show) and I could die a happy man ... well maybe not, there are still so many good wines and cheeses to try - and don't get me started on chocolate.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

d'Arenberg 2008 The Stump Jump Shiraz (Australia)

I had the choice between something complex or something simple, now not to down play this d'Arenberg, but it is a fairly simple wine, delicious but simple.  The nose is floral, perfumed and blackberry fruit; the palate isn't much more complicated than that, a little chocolate, a little black fruit and some floral-like notes.  Pleasant and easy drinking.  For a Sunday night what could be better.

Delaforce 2004 Late Bottled Vintage Port (Portugal)

After dinner tonight I felt like a glass of Port.  I had nothing open so I looked through the Port shelf in my wine cellar.  Seems I have a few bottles of this LBV, which I don't remember buying, but I must have liked it to buy so many ... that means it was time to open it and try it, see what all the fuss in my head, at the time of purchase, was about.  I'm here to tell you, I was not wrong to buy a bunch of this.  The first thing I got was the smooth black cherry and chocolate notes in this Port, there was also a beautiful, well-integrated spice on both the nose and palate - delicious.  With each subsequent sip I became more and more enthralled with this wine to the point where I could not praise it enough:  sweet and delicious, fruity and chocolaty with just enough spice to keep it interesting.  I also found this Port paired exceptionally well with the Brix dark chocolate, though it was just as tasty all by its lonesome.  Something tells me it goes well with anything, even popcorn - and yes I did give that a go too - what is life without experimentation.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Domaine Croze-Granier 2007 Cotes-du-Rhone (France)

This wine just came out at Vintages this weekend - it has probably been kicking around the wine world for longer, but the LCBO finally got it onto its shelves.  I picked up a few and decided to give it a go right away.  The nose was full of eucalyptus notes with a black fruit backing; on the palate it was the same tune, lots of eucalyptus with dark fruits, namely raspberries and cherries along with black pepper.  The best part of this wine, for me, was the delicious mint-chocolate mid-palate leading to the peppery finish.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Groom 2006 Bush Block Zinfandel (Australia)

Not the usual place you see Zinfandel being grown, which is what prompted me to buy this bottle in the first place, a whopping 12.99 in the state of Florida at a place called Wine World.  The guy behind the counter said it was a good wine, nothing earth shattering, he had tried it but "it did not stand out as something fantastic" he told me.  But I just had to try it for myself.  The nose was loaded with vanilla and spice; on the palate there was spiced-plum along with cinnamon-vanilla notes.  It lacked the fruitiness that I expect from my Zinfandels, it was still enjoyable to drink, it was just atypical, but then again it was a Zinfandel from Australia, how typical is that?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HRM Rex Goliath NV Zinfandel (California)

There are only two numbers on this bottle (if you don't count the price tag):  the alcohol is 13.5% and the number '47' - which refers to the weight of the "World's Largest Rooster" that this wine is named after.  Tonight it's a simple dinner of macaroni and cheese, not rooster; so I thought I would go for a simple wine.  I know I have had this Zin lying about for a few years but it still smells and tastes youthful and fruity.  Lots of plum and chocolate, black cherry and vanilla ... a tasty wine that hits the easy-to-drink spot I was looking for.

A Half Glass - Bouza and A Full Glass - Ridge (Uruguay and California)

Yesterday afternoon I hopped off a train and immediately went back to work.  I found myself at the Royal Canadian Military Institute (RCMI) for a tasting of some wines from Uruguay produced by a company called Bouza.  The tasting didn't begin until 5; I was a few hours early so I sat and wrote a variety of other reviews until my hosts showed up; but the background it neither here or there, what is important, of course, is the wine.  Out of the 6 wines I tried my favourite was the Bouza 2007 Monte Vide Eu, a red blend of Tannat (50%), Merlot (20%) and Tempranillo (30%).  The wine spent 15 months is a mix of French and American oak and is a limited production wine of 9000 bottles (750 cases) with each bottle individually numbered.  The nose was mildly chocolaty with lots of red and black fruit and hints of spice.  The palate was loaded with juicy blackberries and as it sat in the glass the berries turned more red and even juicier.  This was one nice wine, too bad it's about $50 a bottle by the time it reaches our shores here in Ontario.  I then left the RCMI and headed home.

I hadn't been home for about 16 days, and had been lugging three pieces of luggage around with me all day, so as you can imagine I was tired when I finally walked in the door.  My cat was extremely excited to see me, there are few cats in the world that would run across a room and demand to be picked up and held on your shoulder, mine did - what a welcome.  One of the bags I was carrying contained 4 bottles of wine (2 Californian, a Spanish and an Aussie) and I was determined that after lugging them around all day I was going to partake in one upon my arrival home.  I unpacked then sat down to enjoy a bottle of Ridge 2007 Lytton Springs, a blend of 71% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Syrah and 7% Carignane.  This wine was lush and plumy with hints of peppered-vanilla and a slight brushing of chocolate.  It seemed to get spicier and plumier as it sat in the glass, so by the time another hour had passed it was smooth and easy with just the right amount of bite.  This wine hit the spot, it's good to be home.  Now I have to changed the clocks, damn it's later than I thought. Oh well after a long day the beckoning of bed is welcome too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

San Nicolas de Tolentino Longares 2008 Triana Tempranillo (Spain)

It's my last night in Michigan, then it's back to Toronto on the 10am train Tuesday morning.  I decided to abandon the white wine mode I usually find myself in when with my fiancee (she enjoys white more than red) and pulled out a bottle of something she had bought for me.  A few weeks back she called me to tell me "Triana" was on sale 2 for $8 at the local grocery store.  I almost crapped myself.  I was not looking at the flyer with her so when she said "Triana" I thought she meant "Treana" - the difference is that the former is a Spanish wine while the latter is a Californian that fetches much more than four bucks a bottle. Once the confusion had been made clear I still said that I would love a $4 Tempranillo from Spain (which is what 'Triana' is.  Tonight I opened one of these confusing finds.  I would have to say that the wine is fairly simple: black fruit and pepper on the nose; red fruit and peppery on the palate with some nice spice and a grittiness of tannins. Worth $4?  You bet, I would even give it a few years to mellow.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Furst Lowenstein 2005 Hallgartner Schonhell Riesling Kabinett (Germany)

I'm currently in Michigan and enjoying a bottle of Riesling I hauled over the border from home (Ontario).  It's been sitting in the fridge here for the entire week I was away in Florida (I was planning to have it before leaving, but never got around to it); so as you can imagine it was a little on the cold side.  That did not stop it from being a very good wine, and the nice part is that it warmed up to a tasty temperature.  The nose was muted, because of the chill, but as it warmed it showed green apple, lemon drop and mac apple skin. The palate was extremely appealing right from the very first sip: tangerine, hint of limeade along with some honey and floral notes - sweet yet tart - with a nice long finish.  This was a perfect wine to let age as it shows little sign that it's 5 years old, so I am glad I did hold it; if I am not mistaken I have more in the cellar ... lucky me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Columbia Winery 2008 Cellarmaster's Riesling (Washington)

We're on our way back north, driving back home from Florida, and taking a different route home, up I-95 and I-77 with a stop in Savannah, Georgia just to get the lay of the land for a future visit.  We find ourselves stopping in Columbia, South Carolina eating room service salads and Terriyaki BBQ chicken wings.  My fiancee is a fan of Riesling and I have one making the trek home with us amongst my Florida wine purchases.  This Washington Riesling is delicious, if a little on the sweet-ish side, the nose is lemon, peach with hints of apple; the palate offers up lots of pear with peach and sweet-honeyed notes and a long, lingering pineapple finish - the acidity is decent but not very biting, a nice wine that took the edge off of a long day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Big Ass Winery 2007 Big Ass Zin (California)

Big fish dinner called for a "big" wine afterward.  Last night in Fruitland, Florida - our farewell dinner at Captain Bell's.  Upon our arrival at our home away from home we decided to open a wine, a neighbour thought it was about time to open a Lambrusco someone had brought her back "years ago" from Italy.  I did not catch the name of this foul smelling non-vintage train wreck that tasted worse than it smelled (hey you have to try everything at least once) - this was just nasty and defies description.  I went into my stash that I had purchased from Wine World and came back with this brute of a Zinfandel.  Loaded with peppery-plum notes, cassis and medium-bodied tannins with a big 14.5% alcohol - thankfully it got the taste of the Lambrusco out of my mouth in a hurry.

Ayler Kupp 2005 Riesling Kabinett (Germany)

Thursday afternoon, this is our swan song in Florida, as we are leaving bright and early tomorrow morning to drive back north to Michigan (where my fiancee Erica lives) and then me back to Toronto.  The family has come over for a goodbye drink and then we are going out to dinner - down here they eat early, must be all the retirees.  It is raining like cats and dogs, so we are watching and listening to the rain as it comes down.  This is one of those wines I brought from home, it's a Riesling I have been saving for a special occasion and this seems to be one of those occasions.  Slight petrol, peach and some rusty apple smells on the nose, there's also the sweet trace of honey.  Palate shows the honey off more generously, keeping the petrol at bay, while delivering green apple and peach pit notes.  Delicious, and perfect for the afternoon at only 9% alcohol.  Goodbye Florida, what a send off, you should see this rain.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rocland Estates 2007 “Ass Kisser” Shiraz (Australia)

Tonight, it’s 70F and it’s burger night here in Fruitland.  Yesterday I popped over to a place called Wine World where I picked up half-a-dozen interesting bottles.  One was this easy drinking Aussie Shiraz for $9.99 – I asked the guy at the store about it before I bought it and he said, “It’s good for a ten dollar bottle of wine.”  And he was right; lots of red and black fruit with peppery spice and dark chocolate notes.  I would have to say that it’s a typical-Australian-fruit-bomb-with-pepper-notes Shiraz, nothing I haven’t had a thousand times before, the only difference is that it’s new to me and has a cool name, especially when you’re trying to make amends for taking off to a liquor store midday.  But I’m in Florida, can you blame me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Villa Rose NV Moscato D’Asti (Italy)

Tonight we are sitting out with Erica’s parents’ friends before heading off for some Mexican food (which was delicious by the way).  I pulled out my Schott Zwiesel glasses and a bottle of Moscato, which I had purchased this afternoon for just this occasion.  Most people in the circle had never heard of Moscato and others had no idea that wine went into proper glassware – as usual I get chuckles when I pull out my own stemware.  This pseudo-bubbly was just the right sweetness needed for end of the day heat here in Florida (68F), and the 5.5% alcohol was far from oppressively heavy.  Ginger ale, peach and grapey smells and flavours.  A good treat for those who tried it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Meridian 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

Oscar night and I needed a wine that would allow me to watch the show and not concentrate on the wine.  I find myself in Florida at a Publix grocery store looking in the wine section (hey Ontario, imagine looking for wine in the grocery store) … I find a bottle of Meridian 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon – a wine I had tried back in Toronto at a Foster’s tasting, I knew the wine, and it was cheap here in FLA ($6.99).  Nose full of black fruit, chocolate and black pepper, with a palate of black pepper, cassis and dark cocoa … I enjoyed the wine and, as I do every year, I enjoyed the show – after all I’m not just a wine buff, I’m a movie buff too.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pillitteri 2008 Sparkling Icewine Cabernet (Ontario)

After two days of driving we’ve arrived in Florida, had dinner with Erica’s (my fiancée) parents and I finally met Grandma.  Seemed only right to toast the occasion with something special – good thing I brought along this Pillitteri Sparkler from home (Ontario).  Not your usual icewine, this one’s got bubbles and it’s red (made with Cabernet Franc); sweet raspberries and strawberries with just enough fizz to keep smiles on faces.  Nothing like welcoming new family with something sweet – the bubbly part was a bonus.