Thursday, September 30, 2010

Les Celliers de Beauregard 2007 Promenade des Princes

I once went to a French wine tasting that focused on the South of France, which includes the Rhone Valley. Alongside all the powerful Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines was this producer from a place called Plan de Dieu (Plan of God) - he said it was just outside CdP, was little known and made wines just as good as its famed neighbour.  I remember trying the wine and being really impressed, especially because the wine was ... for lack of a better term: cheap-as-chips and really good ... I mean really, really good.  So I have always kept my eyes open for wines from this region to see if that producer was a fluke or more the norm of his area.  This is my third foray into Plan de Dieu wines and I can say that so far it's no fluke; their wines are really really good, at a fraction the price of its more famous Rhone neighbour.  The nose is a lovely cherry with a hint of chocolate and red licorice.  The palate is cherries and plum with good acidity, smooth silky tannins and a seasoning of herbs on the finish.  As the wine picked up more air in the glass flavours and smells reminded me of Port ... without the sweetness - lots of fruit and beautiufl flavour.  The only drawback is the plastic cork closure, hence no ageing for this one - it could take it, but the closure is detrimental ... good news is that it's drinking great right now so I think it'll be my house wine for a few get togethers over the next few weeks - wanna come over?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Nichol Vineyard 2006 Capriccio (British Columbia)

It's been awhile since I've been able to sit down and just have a glass of wine.  I have been busy every night this week, as the On the Road blog will verify.  Between teaching wine courses and various tasting I have been at or hosted, I have not had time to sit down with a glass and enjoy a meal ... tonight I did - or at least had the glass of wine.  Spent the day in Prince Edward County at Taste!, another great year for this event and the wines from the County are getting and better.  When I arrived back at where I'm staying (chez pere et mere) dad had roasted a duck and mom had me go downstairs to pick out a bottle.  I chose this 2006 Capriccio from the Naramata Bench of British Columbia ... a little research showed it is a Pinot Noir-Gamay Noir blend (which I have to admit I guessed correctly - there was no back label on the bottle to give me that hint). A little long in the tooth the nose had a light earthy and herby smell with a slight bit of sour cherry.  The palate was easy on the tongue, hadrdly any tannins to speak of, and the acidity was fairly flat as well, though it was pleasant.  Touches of white pepper and light spice graced the tongue but the fruit was almost non-existent.  Glad we had this bottle today because in another year or two their would have been no saving grace to this wine.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cline 2008 Ancient Vines Zinfandel (California)

Tonight's dinner was the reason I got a BBQ ... beef ribs ... and I knew the perfect accompaniment for them, Zinfandel.  The big question was, which one?  I tried this Cline a few months back when it came thru the LCBO (in Ontario) and was thrilled by it (bought at least three bottles, if not more), and tonight seemed the perfect occasion to yank out the first bottle and pop the cork ... and was I right.  The nose was loaded with sweet fruit and other aromas: plum, black cherry, vanilla and spice.  On the palate this wine wrapped itself around the tongue and held on for dear life combining the aromas beautifully: spiced dark plum and vanilla-black cherry were the flavours that most stood out ... this was quite simply a lovely Zin and paired great with those beef ribs.  It was so easy to sip on before, during and after dinner.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Montes 2005 Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere (Chile)

Tonight I opened something with a little age - granted I had a few older bottles on the list of things to open, some as old as 2002, but decided with tonight's hoisin-glazed chicken this might be a better choice ... and was I right.  The sweet sauce paired nicely with the sweet fruit flavours in this wine.  The nose was blackberry and mint - pretty typical for Cabs from Chile, but this one also has the benefit of 30% Carmenere added to the mix, and that gives this a little bit more play on the palate.  The grapes come from the famed Apalta vineyard - a name that should be familiar to lovers of Chilean wine.  Now back to the wine, on the palate it was even better than the smells on the nose:  mint, sweet black fruit, nice tannin texture in the mouth, there's even a pleasant nip of chocolate across the tongue.  The finish lingers with blackberry and chocolate ... lovely and delicious - so was the chicken.

Marc Kreydenweiss 2005 Barbabelle (France)

Tonight I opened an old favourite with a bit of a surprise, and not a pleasant one.  This Kreydenweiss I bought about 2 years ago and was enthralled with it, a wine from the "Vallee du Rhone - Costieres de Nimes" - this is a traditional and typical Rhone blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault all farmed biodynamically ... but that is just the back story.  This was a lovely wine two years back and I was hoping for the same now ... but there was disappointment to be had here.  The initial sniff was spice, currants and a funky plastic note - with more swirling the plastic effect started to come through stronger (my wife called it out-house and refused to drink anymore beyond her first few sips, "It tastes better than it smells, but I can't get past the nose", she said setting the glass aside for the evening).  I was not willing to give up on it so soon.  The flavour was better than the smell with spicy black currant and black pepper.  It also did not pair well with the Chinese food that appear at the door 20 minutes after we opened this bottle (it didn't just appear magically, we did order it).  After dinner I returned to the wine.  At this point the wine has been opened a little over an hour, and something miraculous happened - it was much better.  The nose had turned more red fruit oriented with spice and pepper still lingering about; the plastic had disappeared.  The palate had changed a bit too, it had smoothed out, there was still spice, black fruit and pepper there with a pleasant edge on the dry tannin-dominated finish.  Well happy day - this turned out to be a better wine then it looked like it was going to be. Problem is, that even after my proclamation about how good the wine had become my wife was still not interested - I guess you never do get a second chance to make a first impression.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nik. Weis Selection 2008 "U" Urban Riesling (Germany)

When you give my wife a choice between white and red, 9 times out of 10 she will go for the white.  Doesn't matter what's for dinner, white is her wine of choice.  So when I asked her if she wanted a drink this evening she answered "yes" and, of course she requested "white".  It is then my responsibility to find something she is going to enjoy.  A few nights ago we opened a Chardonnay that she was not too thrilled with (I enjoyed it with the salmon we made); tonight I opted to open something I knew she would enjoy (and I would too) - this German Riesling - a new addition to the general list at the LCBO here in Ontario.  The nose is full of inviting fruit aromas like mac apple and a touch of lemon rind, there's also a little petrol peaking around the fruit.  The flavours are also very enjoyable with green apple leading the charge, some petrol to coat the palate and really good acidity to cleanse that same palate.  The finish is lovely, long and lingering.  This is a pleasure to sit and sip upon.  Sometimes my wife doesn't finish her glass of hooch; that's how I know she wasn't a fan - this one she finished, and even asked for seconds, so it must be good.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Geyser Peak Winery 2002 Sandy Lane Vineyard Zinfandel (California)

Mexican night her at home ... to be more specific, taco night - but we got lazy and stuffing the tacos took too much work, so we mooshed it all up in a bowl and called it "taco salad".  The wine had been picked earlier in the day, a 2002 Zinfandel from California's Contra Costa County, part of the Geyser Peak Block Selection series and one I have had much enjoyment out of in the past - but how would it be after 8 years?  Lovely, is the easy answer.  The nose smelled of spiced-raspberries, lots of plum and gave off hints of vanilla.  The taste was even more exciting and welcoming:  spiced vanilla plums, cocoa, rich dark fruit all shaken with spice and near the end of the bottle (opened about an hour) I picked up vanilla enriched strawberry jam ... altogether it was lovely and delicious smooth in the mouth with the barest hint of tannins to get in the way.  As for the finish: red berry and spiced vanilla plums ... mmm, mmm good.  Did it go with the tacos/taco salad?  Sure.  Did it go even better on its own after the meal?  You bet.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lailey 2008 Old Vines Chardonnay (Ontario)

Tonight I fell into the salmon / Chardonnay trap ... last year, at an Ontario wine tasting, the key note speaker, Thomas Bacheldar (at the time winemaker for Le Clos Jordanne), said, when referring to Ontario Cahardonnays:  "they make me think, 'where's the salmon?'"  Well tonight I decided to take him up on his suggestion.  So here I am with a piece of terriyaki salmon and a glass of Lailey's 08 Old Vines Chardonnay.  The wine is rich with buttery and butterscotch notes, along with vanilla and spice - there's fruit in here too, but it still hasn't surfaced because the wine still needs a few years to fully integrate.  But still Thomas was right, it sure did go well with the salmon.  Cheers.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hedges 2003 Red Mountain (Washington)

Hedges Red Mountain is a red blend made up of the three major Bordeaux varieties and a titch of Syrah (1%), the grapes are taken from three different vineyards `Bel Villa`, `RMV`and `Hedges`.  A friend brought this over because it was a bottle he was dying to try and needed the steak and the company to do it with ... it proved to be a nice mature Bordeaux in flavour:  there was fruit, spice as well as dried berries and slightly woody aromas.  I know for certain it went well with the steak and potatoes.  I thought the bottle looked familiar so I searched my notes and found that I drank the same bottle a little over a year ago - I wish I had noticed beforehand cause I would have whipped out the decanter ... but this time I don`t think it really needed it, but it wouldn`t have hurt.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Graham Beck 2003 Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa)

A hunt through the wine cellar tonight unearthed this South African blend.  Now, usually, for me anyway, most South African red wines have a funky road tar note to them ... the good news, this smell and taste disappears with age - hence this wine had turned into a beauty.  At first I'm not sure if it was going to be, it had a certain age stink and the plastic cork had me worried; but leaving this wine alone (half an hour), while I cooked dinner (lasagna and salad), and something miraculous occurred, this wine got better, much better.  The nose was spicy black fruit, with a hint of cocoa and some nice herbs; the palate had the taste of lightly aged fruit with a pleasant spice that makes it fun and easy to drink with smooth tannins and a touch of white pepper.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Finca El Retiro 2007 Tempranillo (Argentina)

It's not often that you find a Tempranillo outside of Southern Europe, where it flourishes in Spain and kicks around Portugal under assumed names ... so to get a version out of Argentina is somewhat unique and somewhat exciting for a wine lover - if for nothing else, just to see what Argentina can do with a grape like this.  From my experience tonight I would say they do quite well.  This wine is loaded with spicy goodness throughout, along with black licorice aromas and black currant flavours.  As it opens it smooths and becomes a wine perfectly paired with roast beef, potatoes and even salad - though I wouldn't go with strictly a salad, this wine needs a meat accompaniment., and when it gets it, it shines.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reichgraf von Kesselstatt 2008 RK Riesling (Germany)

First wine as a married man is a Riesling I bought for my wife - because I know how much she loves Germanic Rieslings (actually most Rieslings of a drier nature she is fond of).  The peach, mineral and green apple of the nose led to a mac apple and mineral palate that is truly delectable.  Not too sweet and not to dry - just right for sipping.   Goes well with Chinese food, on its own and with the movie The Book of Eli ... which we are watching right now.  Cheers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two Ontario Beauties (Ontario)

Hinterland's 2007 Rose Sparkling and Hillebrand's 2005 Trius Red were poured today to welcome my soon to be bride to her permanent new home - both wines were amazing.  Hinterland might just be making Ontario's best sparkling wines and the 2005 Trius Red is still drinking amazingly well, especially when served with steak.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Churchview Estate 2004 Premium Range Cabernet-Merlot (Australia)

Tonight I opened box 14 of my age-and-store wines.  Now, I am a bit behind on my tasting and drinking of these wines, on the box was written, "Open June 2009", good thing the wines inside were meant to have a little age on them ... this one is 6 years from vintage date.  Out of 12 bottles I pulled this Australian Cab-Merlot out as something interesting and worth tasting tonight ... was it the right choice for BBQ chicken?  I guess we're about to find out.  The nose still had some oomph and so did the palate.  Aromas of black raspberry, dark chocolate and spiced vanilla - the palate was even more interesting and intense with vanilla, cassis, white pepper and spiced chocolate.  As for the chicken, it seemed to be a pretty good match.  A good choice and still quite a good wine.