Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Highway 12 Winery 2007 Mission Hardward Old Sonoma Red (California)

After tasting through 5 Prince Edward County Wines (Ontario, Canada) by this evening it was time to get out of the County (as it is referred to) and get into something a little different, hence the California Red.  I am told this is a blend of Merlot and Zinfandel from Sonoma - and a quick check of the website confirmed that to be true - aged 17 months in barrels.  This was a really good match to the beef ribs that were the main course of tonight's dinner - and I think that is exactly what the winemakers had in mind for this wine.  The nose has raspbery, spice, plum, vanilla and a heap of other red fruit, while the palate is smooth and coated in red berries with a touch of spice and some sweet vanilla and plum - quite a nice pairing.  Now it's back to packing up the old house and readying it for the new ... my long holiday weekend will be spent painting and mowing: I hope you have a good one and remember to drink something Canadian tomorrow - it's Canada Day afterall.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bolla 2009 Valpolicella Classico (Italy)

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity of trying the 2008 version of this wine at a Bolla relaunch dinner (  Tonight, I opened the 2009 version and started packing up some of my wine to take to my new house.  What a fabulous sipping wine this is (although it does have good acidity and would pair nicely with a plate of pasta - that reminds me I have to start thinking about dinner ...).  The nose has cranberry, sour cherry and hints of floral and spice.  The palate is fresh and lively in the mouth with ripe, fresh, tart cherries and a hint of white pepper.  Sippable and very easy drinking, this wine made packing up wine so much easier than one would believe.  Had I thought of it beforehand I probably would have chilled this one just a little to really bring out that fruit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

J.P. Vinhos 2001 Tinto da Anfora (Portugal)

Sorry for being out of touch for awhile, for all those who have emailed let me answer your questions thusly:  yes I have been drinking and tasting but I have been away from an internet connection, so it makes it hard to make public notes on the wines.  Now, no more excuses, on to this wine.  This is a blend of four indigenous Portuguese grapes and one international (Cabernet Sauvignon) ... as for why this was tonight's wine - the red end of the capsule caught my eye (I know real scientific reasoning here).  From first sip to last swallow there was always sediment in my glass - in fact the inside of the bottle was covered in it, I could have made a sand castle with what was in the bottom of my glass.  The nose was a bit pruny with hints of stewed prunes and chocolate (I know it sounds odd but some how it worked).  Palate was a touch on the sweet dried black fruit and spice side, this wasn't fresh fruit - it was dried and chewy.  This wine has held up pretty well although I'm glad I didn't wait any longer to drink it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Three Whites ... Two for the Dogs (Ontario)

Ever have one of those nights where you think "it's not my night"?  This was that night.  I started by putting a bottle of 2004 Pelee Island Late Autumn Riesling in the fridge - a few hours later, before I started making dinner, I popped the cork on this wine and ... that smell was unmistakable, cork.  'Too bad,' I thought to myself, 'it happens, I know I have a back up bottle in here somewhere just for such an occasion.  So into the fridge I go and ... Ah yes, a bottle of Calamus 2006 White.  It's under screwcap so I should have no problems with the wine being corked.  I twist the cap and the signature crack-of-the-cap is nowhere to be heard.  I pour the wine into my glass and, yup, Houston, we have a problem, oxidized.  I inspect the bottle a little more carefully and see that indeed it was a full bottle and not one I had previously opened and forgot about.  Thank goodness for chicken and risotto, they take some time to prepare and cook, so I ran down into the basement and grabbed a bottle of Huff 2006 Riesling Reserve - Wismer Vineyard (I was determined to go Ontario tonight, even if it kills me), plus two other bottles (just in case).  Two bottles went into the fridge, the Huff saw the freezer for twenty minutes.  Success, this wine hit the spot (and was not faulted in any way).  Dry and delicious - some apple notes but mostly lime with the merest hint of petrol starting to slide in, there was also some very good acidity.

Twin Pines Orchard Hammer Bent Hard Cider (Ontario)

I'm at it again - another hot day in Michigan and it's time for another taste of home ... I have a bottle of Hard Cider from the folks at Twin Pines and man does it ever hit the spot.  A blend of four apples: Ida Red, Jona Gold, Russett and another that escapes my brain at this time.  Crisp, clean and oh so refreshing.  A little later I'll be opening up a Riesling with dinner.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Twin Pines Orchard Hammer Bent Perry (Ontario)

86 degrees in Michigan (that's 28 Celsius) and it was time for something to drink.  We decided on a Perry from Twin Pines Orchard.  Perry is a cider made from pears and this one is one of the best I have ever tried, small batch from a small Ontario cidery.  No surprise as to what it tasted like (fizzy pears) - bottom line it was delicious and really hit the spot.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mission Hill 2002 Five Vineyards Pinot Noir (British Columbia)

Sour cranberry and spiced cherry are the two most notable parts of this wine.  Flavours linger in the mouth and the acidity and tannins still form a united wall on the finish.  I was looking for something light and easy drinking tonight and got something in the ballpark I wanted to be in.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lailey Vineyard 2008 Riesling (Ontario)

Opps … the problem with moving is that you have open cases of wine everywhere, and when you are looking for a bottle instead of finding the “one you were looking for” you end up pulling out what’s handy.  I thought I was picking one wine and when it was poured and on the boxes (we have no table yet) it was another.  I recently reviewed this wine in Newsletter #135I enjoyed it a few weeks ago and enjoyed it tonight.  But if I have to tell you the truth I was looking for another Riesling.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Riesling – Pinot Noir – Cabernet Sauvignon - & a ’59 Monbazillac (Germany / Ontario / France)

Sunday night dinner … Invited over by some friends for an exquisite dinner that included osso bucco and a lemon pie that was, well, out of the ordinary and yet oh so tasty.  Also got my first taste of steamed whole artichokes – that was quite the treat.  The evening started with a bottle of Weingut Dr. Nagler 2002 Rudesheim Auslese from the Rheingau region of Germany.  The initial feeling was that maybe it was a little too sweet to start the evening, but true eonophiles prevailed here: the chance to try any old wine beats out what is proper everytime.  The wine was stunningly delicious with a slight petrol note along with honeyed apples on the nose.  The palate was very sippable, to the point of being dangerously so, honeyed apricots and mac apple – the bottle was gone long before the last of the appetizers.

Next course was a hot pear soup, or at least that’s what I think we were having; as always I am more focused on the wine and this time it was something more recent, a Tawse 2007 Pinot Noir, Niagara Peninsula, from Ontario.  Sour cherry, cranberry with a slight spice and good mouth cleansing acidity.  Both the soup and the wine were delicious.

I had brought along a bottle of Southbrook 2001 Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon, which I told my host to do what he wished with.  He decided to forego one of his chosen bottles for serving the Southbrook with the main course.  He decanted it for about an hour and a half before giving me the honour of pouring it.  The nose had that telltale green pepper note but there was also dark raspberry, spiced cedar and I found the tannins to still be quite robust … very nice.  But this was not the oldest wine poured.  Not to be outdone my host (the one in charge of the wine anyway) had one more surprise up his sleeve.

Out came a bottle of brownish liquid, my host said it was the last of a case he bought in 1961.  The wine was a G. Cros 1959 Clos Fontindoule Monbazillac … the wine had a rather sherried nose but there was still a little life left in the glass and you could get it if you aerated the wine in your mouth.  Peach sherry came to mind.  This wine was a mere shadow of its former self, but the experience was well worth it and the wine was still quite drinkable … it paired well with the lemon pie giving the lemon flavour something to play off of and made it pop in the mouth.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ayama, Good Hope, Cono Sur and Roederer (South Africa / Chile / California)

Friends bring with them good time, good cheer and an escape from the busyness of getting a new house ready.  This was the first time we had friends over in the evening at the new place, some have come over during the daytime, but tonight it was an evening visit … we even bought some extra outdoor chairs for the occasion.  I kicked the evening off with my last bottle of the old standby Cono Sur 2009 Viognier.  I bought three bottles less than a month ago and now they are all gone.  You’ve heard me tell you about it enough so I will move on, but dang it is an easy sipper for the hot days ahead.  Next up a bottle of 2009 Pinot Noir from The Winery of Good Hope in South Africa.  Smooth and yummy – wish I could tell you more but I went down so easy.  Then there was a bottle of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Slent Farms called Ayama.  This is an unoaked version yet shows lots of complexity and drinkability – fruit, spice and tannins make up the biggest portion of what you be feeling in the mouth.  This wine still has plenty of presence on the palate for a 4-year-old unoaked wine.  Finally, friends bought over a little toasting wine:  Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut, a California sparkling from the French house of Roederer.  All I can say here is ‘cheers to tasty wines’.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two WInes from Quinta de la Quietud (Spain)

Tonight I was at a meeting at which a winemaker showed up with some wines from his winery in Spain - now in truth Jean Francois Hebrard does not own Quinta de la Quietud, but he works there and has since 2001.  These wines are just coming into the Ontario market and they wanted us to try them.  The first was the 2008 Corral de Campanas, which the label calls a "Sexy" Toro wine - Toro is just another name for Tempranillo in that part of the world.  The Corral is made from 12 year old vines (and younger) is a very fruity wine that deals up spice and pepper with a touch of oak for flavouring.   It is aged 6 months in lots of new American oak, JF says that's because he wants to extract maximum flavour in the shortest period of time (at least that's what I got out of the conversation in his thick French accent).  The mid-palate is juicy with chalky tannins on the finish - this one could easily age 3-5 years.

The second wine was the 2005 Quinta Quietud, using the same Toro grape, but this time the vines are between 20-80 years old and the wine spends 20 months in 70% French oak, of which a third is new.  This wine has more power (15% alcohol) and yet more finesse and delicacy than the Corral.  The nose is sweet with red fruit and vanilla, and it is very appealing.  Delicious black current, blackberry, vanilla, spice and a good finish.  Sweet mid-palate with good tannins and mineral complexity.  Turns out it wasn't just the nose that was appealing, so was the taste.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nugan Estate 2001 The Edge King Valley Cabernet Merlot (Australia)

As many wines do, when I am not sure what to drink on any given night, the capsule of this wine caught my eye, the words "the edge" printed around it - I pulled the bottle out and looked it over ... 'that one looks okay to me' I thought and immediately started to read the back label.   The last line caught my eye: "Enjoy now or cellar for up to 5 years" - oops, I think the 5 years has long passed, but what the hell.  So I popped the cork on this 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot blend and wondered what I was going to open next, once this wine proved to be over the hill.  As luck would have it this wine was far from over the hill, it fact I think it is languishing somewhere on the top of the hill still basking in some of its glory.  The nose is somewhere between ripe and over ripe fruit with hints of sweet dried blackberries and blueberries.  What really makes this a lovely thing to sniff on is the dark chocolate that plays in and amongst all that fruit.  On the palate the fruit is there, the chocolate not so much, but the dried black fruits are delicious and the finish is long and supple, coating every nook and cranny of the mouth, you can lick some out from the creases in your mouth.  Just goes to show that wineries and winemakers are just guessing at longevity (then again, aren't we all?)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Angove's 2004 Vineyard Select McLaren Vale Shiraz (Australia)

Over the weekend I had plenty of wine, which I have talked about in the past, like the Cono Sur Viognier (2009), Nyarai Cellars 2007 Cabernet Merlot, Applewood's Mac Meade and Coyote's Run Black Paw Chardonnay (2008).  But tonight's wine was brand new to my palate, the Angove's 2004 Vineyard Select McLaren Vale Shiraz ... an impressive wine with an equally impressive name.  Angove's was established in 1886 and when this wine was released, in 2006, the bottle marked their 120th Anniversary (proudly proclaimed on the label).  After 120 years of winemaking you'd hope they do it right, and I can report firsthand that they do.  A wine like this just takes time.  At first the wine smelled of heat, although the wine was cool in the mouth, hot with pepper and alcohol (14.5%).  A decanter and 20 minutes took care of that problem revealing a 6 year old wine with some really intense flavour.  Lots of pepper and spice at first, but soon dark fruit emerged along with some semi-sweet dark chocolate. A real treat for a Sunday night dinner with the fam.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Familia Zuccardi 2007 Fuzion (Argentina)

Alot has been written about Familia Zuccardi's FuZion wine and they have sold a lot of bottles to show for it.  I have to admit I jumped on the FuZion bandwagon too, I bought my case along with everybody else, though I bought mine in the first release here in Ontario.  And why not, it was a pleasant Shiraz (70%) / Malbec (30%) blend for under $7.50 a bottle - even if it were a horrible wine it would have been okay to marinade with, especially at that price.  Thing is the '07 was not a horrible wine, in fact it was quite tasty and rather delicious - and it flew off LCBO (Ontario's liquor retailer) shelves by the case load.  Now some 3 years later I have opened another bottle on the coat tails of a rather horrible wine experience.  The wine is smooth, fruity and delicious with a mix of red and black fruit, some pepper and cocoa mixed in on the finish - very uncomplicated and very good, especially for that price.

Thierry and Guy 2004 Le Freak Shiraz Viognier (France)

Talk about disappointing.  I was walking in the wine cellar this evening, trying to figure out what to drink, when suddenly a capsule talked to me, almost literally - it caught my eye actually, but it had a face on the end so it could have done some talking had I stared at it long enough (and had enough wine).  It was this Shiraz Viognier from France and I pulled it off the rack interested to try it.  I cursed quietly to myself once I pulled off the capsule and found a plastic cork underneath - when will wineries learn that plastic is the worst form of closer.  Now I know this wine is from 2004, but still what made them think this was a good idea - the plastic cork salesmen I am sure.  Nose is a little on the funky side with stewed prune notes; palate showed the remnants of what was once some delicious spicy notes and dark fruit - but it had dried up and partially oxidized, leaving behind a nasty bitter finish.  Too bad, this Le Freak had the potential to be a real nice wine, especially aged. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ravenswood 2004 / Chilcas 2003 (California / Chile)

Two wines were opened tonight, only one I enjoyed.  The first was the Ravenswood 2004 Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel ... this was a funny little wine because it was all spicy and peppery at first, but there was no fruit.  I was talking to a buddy on the phone and I said, "I think this wine might be corked", but I wasn't 100% sure.  So throughout the next 30 minutes I sipped on this wine every time I passed the glass.  Cork taint does not get better with time, it gets worse - and more apparent, and by the 30 minute mark I was sure this was corked.  Too bad, I was really looking forward to a Zin and Ravenswood makes some of the best.

I then yanked out this Chilcas 2003 blend of 80% Cabernet and 20% Syrah, part of the "Ranch Vineyards" series.  I would have to say the first sip was extremely disappointing, might have been some residual effect from the Zin, tight and unappealing.  Then I used my Vinturi on it (single glass decanter) and this wine opened up beautifully.  The nose had interesting smells that combined dried black fruits, cocoa and mocha, along with some anise and spice.  The palate was also pretty interesting black fruit, herbaceous notes with a black licorice liqueur-type finish that was in no way thick like those liqueur can be.  Very tasty and enjoyable.  Not what I was originally looking for but certainly what the doctor ordered, so to speak.