Monday, May 31, 2010

Fielding 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (Ontario)

A bottle of Fielding 2005 Cab is on the menu tonight, and a very decent bottle it is, could stand to lie down for a few more years - but really, what did I expect from a bottle of 2005.  For those who don't know, '05 was a good year in Ontario, especially for reds, read all about it here:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Domaine Jean Manin 2005 Fleurie "La Madone" (France)

This is a beauty of a Gamay is from the Beaujolais region of France.  Now before you all run off screaming "He's drinking Beaujolais" - know that there are different kinds of Beaujolais - the candied version we all have at Thanksgiving (at least the Americans can have it at Thanksgiving) is the Nouveau kind - this wine is as far removed from Nouveau Beaujolais as California Pinot from Burgundian Pinot.  First things first, at 5 years of age the only use for a Nouveau is salad dressing, on the other hand this Fleurie is still full of fruit and hints of peppery spice (the idea that it could hold another 5 years springs to mind). Lovely black cherry and raspberry fruit shakin' in a bag with a little white pepper.  That pepper is quite apparent especially on the finish - and the longer it's open the better it gets.  When I first opened it there was no nose and the taste was barely black fruit; what a difference 30 minutes makes.  Wish I had a few more bottles of this beauty, alas this is my last one so I might be nursing this one all night.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cono Sur 2009 Viognier (Chile)

Sorry folks, not much time to talk, I'm doing some work around my new house.  But I had some friends come over this afternoon to take a look around and once done we twisted the cap on this summer refresher from Chile.  The fruit is all over the place on this wine and it is gulpably good - bottle was polished off in under 30 minutes.  Now back to work with a buzz, thankfully I'm peeling wallpaper and not using heavy machinery.  Cheers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Folie a Deux 2005 Manage a Trois (California)

It seems the more bottles of this wine I drink the more stories I have to tell - and believe it or not, none of them have to do with the name of this wine.  This wine is fun because it's the ultimate party wine and you can tell what kind of party you attending by walking in the door and saying, "Hey, anyone for some Menage a Trois?"  And wait for a response.  Alas, that has nothing to do with any stories I have about this wine.  Tonight I was at my parents for dinner who had been looking after my 4 year old niece most of the day and were now serving dinner (I think she is four - time just flies for me).  Anyway all went well until my parents presented her with her after-dinner treat, a chocolate-chocolate-chip cookie, she got so excited about finishing her fruit and orange juice to get to that cookie that when she reached for it the small bowl (now empty) crashed to the floor and shattered into a million little pieces - I have never seen glass break into that many pieces ... now in the quiet of my own place I can smile about the whole thing as I remember watching it as if in slow-motion.  As for the Manage wine, it's a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet that's ripe with plums and hints of vanilla - a pretty simple wine for a simple meal (hot dogs) and some real excitement (again, not related to the name of the wine).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

McManus Family Vineyards 2008 Zinfandel (California)

I have Chinese food coming so I have to make this quick.  Yes.  Yes.  I hear you saying that Zinfandel isn't exactly the match you'd be using for Chinese food, which is why I have to drink up quickly; though I suspect I will still be sipping on this one when the delivery guy arrives.  This is the quintessential Zinfandel with all the right smells and flavours.  Lots of fruit, hits of vanilla and a lovely touch of spice.  There's also some great plum nuances and the prerequisite big alcohol (14.5%) ... a lovely wine to sit and sip upon and if I were having ribs I would be in Wine and Food Matching Nirvana.   But the truth is I don't care if you don't think it goes with Chinese or not, I'm willing to take the risk ... and I'm gonna find out in about 2 minutes, the guy just pulled into the driveway.  Cheers.

Four Wines One Evening (Chile / Kentucky / Burgundy / Ontario)

Dinner at a friends place means good food, good times and lots of laughs, and above all, more than one bottle of wine being opened.  Tonight, we saw the wine of 4 bottles exposed to the air and the bottom of a glass.

First up was a wine from right here in Ontario, a Cattail Creek 2009 Chardonnay Musque - a great aperitif with plenty of fruit and fun.

Next a bottle of Patrice Rion 2001 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 'Le Plan des Dames' from Burgundy was served with dinner.  A 9-year-old Pinot Noir that stood up pretty well  - some smoky, bacony notes with strawberry and hints of earth on the nose.  The fruit is red in the mouth, but slightly bitter - tannins had mellowed and there was a pronounced earthy flavour.

After dinner, sitting around shooting the proverbial poo we opened another two bottles:  Talon Winery 2006 Kentucky Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a bottle I picked up while driving down to Florida.  The scenery we passed to get to this winery was breathtaking (and so were some of the narrow winding roads).  The wine proved to be just as tasty in Ontario as it was in Kentucky: smoky, cassis and anise filled the nose while smoky-vanilla-black raspberries loaded the mouth.  This wine was aged in Kentucky oak barrels and had the smoothness of good bourbon.

Finally, a bohemoth of a wine:  Concha Y Toro 2007 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada from Chile; a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah from what the label proclaimed as the "Historic Vintage" of 2007.  The label didn't stop there, it also told us it was the "best ever" vintage which led someone at the table to remark, "so what happens next year, or the next they have a 'best vintage ever'?"  (This reminded me of the Ontario situation with the comparison between 2007 and 2008 - what indeed happens to the next vintage?)  The wine was aged 14 months in French oak and had that real telltale sign of Chile:  mint, on both the nose and palate.  The nose also had blackberries and cocoa while the palate was all blackberries and big tannins - a nice wine opened too young, another 5 years would have done this wine some real justice, but sometimes you just get too excited about trying something new.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saint Cosme NV Litttle James' Basket Press (France)

It's a learning experience to open a wine you are interested in and have never heard of.  This was a bottle I acquire in Florida while I was there is early March, the guy at the wine store said he found it one of the more interesting of the French wines he had on his shelves - if the label is any indication then I would agree.  But the proof of a wine is always under the cork, or, in this case, the screwcap.  I first did a little research before giving the cap a twist, I already owned the bottle so all I was doing was trying to find out what I was about to try.  This is a non-vintage red blend wine that is said to be a "permanent creation of a solera system which gets more and more complex every year" (back label) - the Saint Cosme website hints that this wine is "[a wine of] an extraordinary Grenache origin, among the most noble ones".  The wine is spicy, plumy, peppery and has a smoothness that rolls across the tongue and yet leaves the pepper and spice on the finish after the wine is swallowed ... this is a real winner of a wine, tasty and delicious - there is no doubt that this is an interesting wine from a winery established in 1570 ... who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Lyeth Estate 2006 L de Lyeth Sonoma County Zinfandel (California)

Tonight I wanted a nice Zinfandel, and so I went into the basement of my fiancee's house and found that she had lots of Zin, I know it is one of her favourite varietals so I make sure to stock up chez-elle.  I picked this one because it seemed the most interesting - I have had Lyeth wines in the past and have enjoyed them so with the Zin I was hoping for the same reaction.  The nose was spiced plum and vanilla, on the palate there was much of the same with a little white pepper and hints of black licorice ... but it lacked the fruitiness I was expecting from a Zin, sure there was lots of spice, white pepper and vanilla here, and yes it was pleasant and all but I sure did want a little more fruit to come shining through on this one.  Oh well, you can't win 'em, or like 'em, all; not saying this was a bad wine, it just didn't have what I wanted or expected ... and when Zin is on the table I think fruit should be too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Montevina Winery 2007 Barbera (California)

Had company this evening, they came over to visit, have pizza and get help moving a couch ... then we all sat around and chatted, that's where the wine comes in.  This is a bottle from Amador County in California; Amador is known for, amongst a number of things, making great Zinfandel - this wine sort of reminded me of Zinfandel. The fruit was big, red and sweet on both the nose and the palate, there was a hint of vanilla on the nose and a touch of white pepper on the palate (if you held it in your mouth long enough), otherwise this wine was just all big red fruit, with time open the fruit became black cherry, but still big and still sweet tasting (it was definitely a dry wine with ripe, sweet fruit flavour).  An easy quaffer with very little in the way of surprises, and little in the way of acidity to get in the way.  Not sure what I was expecting from this Italian grape grown in California, so with no expectations came no let down..  If I were to rate it I would give it 3 1/2 stars (out of 5 - Good).

Chateau Fontaine 2008 Woodland White (Michigan)

This afternoon was the first time I sat out on a patio, it was a little breezy but a nice time to have a simple white.  This was another bottle we picked up during our trek through Michigan last year, and a wine made from a little heard about grape these days, Auxerrois.  I used to love when Ontario wineries were making wines from this grape, but it became unfashionable and consumers had trouble pronouncing the name (Gewurztraminer has the same problem), so consumers did not buy it and wineries stop making it (can Gewurztt be far behind)?  But today it was this Auxerrois which at first was delicious and refreshing, but as it opened the sweetness came out and the acidity disappeared.  It was good for the first 20 minutes, the last 10 was just all sweet ... so the key to drinking this wine is drink up quick.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

L. Mawby - M. Lawrence NV "Sex" Brut Rosé (Michigan)

A little bubbly tonight to celebrate my fiancee's birthday ... this is one of those bottles we picked up on our Michigan tour last year (around this time I do believe), it's from L. Mawby, a producer specializing in sparkling wine.  I remember it being a fun, raucous place with Bob Marley playing on the overhead speakers.  We bought a few bottles of fizz while we were there and just couldn't resist picking up a bottle of a wine called "Sex" - I think they sell a lot of this one because of it's name, but the wine inside the bottle is good too.  If memory serves correctly the name was a joke that they figured would never get through the censors but somehow it did and now nobody can remember was the alternative name was going to be.  The label says "Rosé" but the colour is that of light peach juice, not exactly the pinky colour you think of when you pour a Rosé, but what the heck.  The smells are lemony and green apple, they follow through on the palate and have a peach pit stony-like finish, quite dry and a nice little bubbly to celebrate with.  Now, about the sex part ...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

13th Street 2007 Gamay Noir (Ontario)

A simple dinner of chicken-pizza called for a fairly simple wine, and what could be simpler than a Gamay.  I reviewed this wine 8 months ago and it is still drinking beautifully today - dare I say even better than when I reviewed it ... this was such a quaffable wine that I caught myself on several occasions just sucking it back instead of sipping on it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Four Bottles of Wine (Ontario, Spain, France)

Now, before you wonder what the heck I was up to this evening drinking four bottles of wine, let me tell you that most of this stuff was tasted and dumped - there are some rummies out there cursing my very name.  A buddy came over last night sporting a few bottles of his own wine, which we tasted (I can't divulge the wines because he is still working on them).  Then it was time for me to show what I had of interest in the cellar:  I came up with 2 bottles of white and 2 bottles of red.

Kicking off the tasting was a bottle of Jackson-Triggs 2006 Sauvignon Blanc ... now I was under no illusions that this wine was still going to be the wonderful, fruity job it once was, the colour was golden yellow, which usually means age or oxidation in a white.  The acidity was more or less still there but for the most part it was flat and flavourless - it was also sealed with a plastic cork, which is also not a good sign of ageability.

Next up, a bottle of Creekside 2008 Undercurrent Gewurztraminer, this one started off slowly, probably because it was way too cold, but as it warmed up the fruit and the floral began to emerge, there was some nice zip and zing to this wine once it warmed up and aerated a little.  A pleasant little sipper to say the least.

As we waited for the Gewurzt to come to a temperature we could enjoy I brought out two reds, a Henry Bourgeois 1998 "Les Baronnes", a Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley in France.  The smell was mushroomy and earthy while the flavours were thin on the palate, there was some fruit in there but it was not of the fresh variety and disappeared quickly replaced by barnyard (more like 'merde' as the French would say) aromas and flavours - this was a very short lived wine, if it was alive at all.

Finally, there was a bottle of Marques de Riscal Baron de Chirel 1988 Reserva from the Rioja in Spain.  This wine started off very slowly and seemed like it was going to be in the same vein as the Bourgeois, meaning dead on arrival.  It started out with lots of tannins and the flavours were old, dried and wet leaves; there was dried black fruit in there and it was fighting to come to the surface, but it was a long hard struggle, surprisingly it did make it near the end.  At first it was not horrible, but not exactly wonderful.  We let it sit as we looked back at the Gewurzt for a few minutes, we gave it (the Gewurzt) a few sips and agreed it was coming along nicely.  Back to the Rioja and it too had opened considerably, there was now spice in the wine and barrel notes of vanilla mixed with some spice that was holding the wine together nicely.  The longer this wine stayed open the better it became.  We then thought of pairing it with a little food and found a Sundried Tomato Harvati that paired very well, the wine actually accentuated the tomatoes in the cheese, very impressive ... I do believe we did finish this bottle as there was nothing left in the bottle when we headed out for dinner.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Domaine Boudau 2008 Le CLos (France)

Tonight I pulled out a bottle I bought a few weeks ago, this one from the South of France, where the sun is warm and the grapes develop lots of sugar, and alcohol (15%).  This is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (80-20) that is just so juicy it borders on succulent, if it weren't for the fine tannins keeping everything in check it would be one to just suck back.  There's spiced plum and cherries on the nose while the palate has juicy blackberry and cherry with hints of vanilla and spice.  The fruit fills the mouth and it's only on the back palate where the spice, pepper and tannins appear.  This one is going to be dangerous because it demands to be gulped, not sipped, but that alcohol demands sipping - see the dilemma I am faced with.  I'm going to have to go and sort this one out myself with a roast beef dinner ... wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Umani Ronchi 2007 Jorio (Italy)

I tried this wine yesterday at an Italian tasting ... I liked it so much that I just had to find some.  So I called a couple of stores and found a few bottles, even picked some up for mom as a Mother's Day gift (hope mom doesn't read my blog regularly).  This Montepulciano D'Abruzzo is a black fruited spicy number that is simply lovely and juicy, it has enough tannins to sit for another 5+ year but it drinks quite well now.  The nose is blackberry and cassis with hits of spice and vanilla.  The palate seems to follow suit with nice blackberry, drying tannins, and some juicy black raspberry in the middle; for those interested it also has a beautiful colour.  The finish seems to dry the palate out but then it makes you want to take another sip to quench it - pretty sneak wine that way.  Lovely and very palatable ... now I'm off to find something for dinner, cheers.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Snoqualmie 2007 Whistle Stop Red (Washington)

Before opening this bottle I did some web-research to find out what people thought about it and to tell you the truth the folks out there were not too kind to this wine, ratings of 78 to 87 points by a bunch of winos on CellarTracker.  Therefore it was with some trepidation that I opened this bottle; and truth be known I have no flippin' idea what they are talking about, one guy said it was "heavy cherry tones with thin layer of vanilla", another mentioned it was only good for BBQ season (is that some kind of slam against the wine?).  All I can ask is:  are we tasting the same wine here?  Maybe these guys are used to sucking back the more expensive fermented juices of the world, but to me this was quite nice wine.  I think the guy who gave this an 87 has hit the mark, it's not a wine that's going to set the world on fire but it sure does not deserve a 78, an 80 or an 82.  Sure there's quite a bit of cherry in this 70% Cabernet and 30% Merlot blend, but there is some nice bite from the tannins, black cherry, vanilla with a hint of butterscotch on the nose; the palate shows some dark fruit, black cherry and a nice spiciness on the finish.  As I said not something that is going to set the world on fire but definitely something to sip and enjoy, and isn't that what wine is truly about.