Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fielding Estate Winery 2009 Lot 17 Riesling (Ontario)

Today we did some grocery shopping and some gardening - it was a quiet around the house weekend.  We ended up at Tony's Fish Market in St. Catharines where we bought some salmon and some mussels ... the mussels had to be eaten quickly (fresh mussels are always better than ones that sit out for too long) so I made them late in the afternoon as a pre-dinner snack.  The recipe called for some white wine, so I yanked out this bottle of Fielding wine, a delicous Riesling from the 2009 vintage.  I used a cup in the recipe and then poured two glasses to enjoy with it ... on it's own it was a delicious wine which I have previously reviewed ... but I can't recommend it in with the mussels, it brought about a sweetness in the seafood that, while tasty at first, became too sweet the more mussels eaten.  I would recommend a dried wine for the recipe, but for sipping along with them, this would have been just fine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Concha Y Toro 2007 Winelmaker's Lot 148 Carmenere (Chile)

I know there are some of you out there that wish that Carmenere had stayed lost ... I am not one of them.  With each passing year I try more and more wines made from this grape and on a percentage basis they get better year after year.  Now granted, this wine isn't exactly a young pup just pulled out of the vineyard, but I believe the folks at Concha "got" this grape earlier than some.  This is a single vineyard offering from the Las Pataguas Vineyard.  The nose mirrors the flavours, but the palate offers up more juiciness than the nose can display.  Blackberry, white pepper, black raspberry-chocolate, a touch of bramble and really sweet juicy fruit courses through the mouth sip after appealing sip.  This wine was satisfying and enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chateau Hauchat 2008 Fronsac (France)

Word on the street is that this is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc - not a Cabernet Sauvignon grape in sight.  This is what I call a "mom wine" - mom does not like a lot of tannins, she likes the fruit and spice but is not huge fan of the dryingness of tannins; and this wine has what mom is looking for.  The nose is black fruit oriented, there are some herbs and and a smoothness to the wine that is (believe it or not) sniffable.  The palate is smooth and seductive - the fruit isn't in your face, in fact it is wrapped in a lightly wooded glove, but that wood is not overbearing and makes this wine smooth and easy to drink.  Not sure this is a bottle I would hold for any length of time, but it sure does go down easy now.

Moreson 2004 Pinotage (South Africa)

I am not a Pinotage drinker, usually, and for the most part, I shun the stuff as much as possible ... there are a few I have enjoyed, but mostly they are ... (to be delicate) not very enjoyable.  That said I have learned a few things about the grape that have made it more palatable over the years.  Pinotage is a nasty little cuss when young, but time in bottle gives it a certain amount of drinkability. A few months ago a Pinotage came into the market that was quite drinkable and I thought maybe the grape had finally turned a corner ... but it would seem that the producer had turned the corner, not the grape, as the next half dozen I wrapped my lips around had the same nastiness about it.  Now enough about generalities and let's get to this particular one I had with homemade bison burgers.

The initial pour and sniff had me wondering if this was the same old same old, and that my theory about time had failed me ... thankfully, I can still cling to the 'time in bottle' philosophy.  The smell emanating from the glass was a real stink - think of a day old fart lingering about in a closed room ... not very inviting. But the palate was altogether different, the 6 years had made quite a difference: black fruit and spice dominated the first sip.  The second introduced a bit of a tarry quality and the third showed up with some chocolate notes.  Sip four brought it all together: spicy black fruit, a slight hint of tar and a dark chocolate note bringing it all together.  It was a real pleasure to drink this wine - I just had to avoid inhaling while my nose was in the glass.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Inniskillin Okanagan 2006 Zinfandel (British Columbia)

Tonight it's a Zinfandel from of all places Canada.  It's part of Inniskillin's 'Discovery Series', where they try grapes that are not typical for the region and make small batches of wine ... this Zin saw a production of 400 cases.  Spicy, peppery with hints of dark plum and licorice, there's even a pleasant assortment of raspberries (mainly on the nose), which made the aromas very appealing and while the palate showed good stuffing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rosedale Wines 2007 Cat Amongst the Pigeons Shiraz (Australia)

Subtitled 'Nine Lives' this Shiraz tells a story on the back label that I find, at times, hard to follow: "When Rosedale Wines became one of the largest independent producers in the Barosa Valley, they set the 'Cat amongst the Pigeons.'" ... Maybe the 15% alcohol in this 100% Barossa Valley Shiraz is getting to me, but I am not sure I follow.  What I do know is that this wine is pretty typically Aussie, in a good way, from first sniff to the last sip.  Big full on black fruit greets the nose - it smells soft, sweet and chocolaty, like it should just glide on down.  The palate delivers on what the nose recounts, but adds a few surprises along the way ... the black fruit is there in spades, there is a hint of dark cocoa powder, plus (and this is the surprise) a real spicy hit of pepper ... there's also some heat on the palate, and really warms the insides.  It's raining tonight, but this wine needs a cold winter's night to really do what it does best: help take the chill off.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finca Flichman 2002 Paisage de Barrancas (Argentina)

I am slowly making my way through a box of “lie down” wines that I should have gotten to earlier in the year, but that’s what happens when your year gets really, really busy.  So I reached into the box and the first wine I grabbed was this 2002 red blend from Argentina: Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon (in that order); aged 12 months in French and American wood, and another 6 months in bottle.  I would have to say I was very impressed with this wine, licorice and dried blackberries wrapped in dark cocoa with a touch of wood tannins on the medium length finish.  Nice wine that has aged quite well.  Not sure it was a good match for the pasta dish I served myself, but I bet it would have paired wonderfully with a big bruiser of a steak … if I have any left I will do that next time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Santa Carolina 2008 Reserva de Familia Camenere (Chile)

This is a tasty little beverage with lots of fruit flavour.  The nose is plum, blackberry, cassis and vanilla, while the palate is smooth as silk, delivering plums, dark fruit and a touch of spice.  I know some folks bad mouth Carmenere, but this one is downright delectable and could change a lot of minds on the subject of this grape.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Azienda Agricola Monte Del Fra 2008 Bardolino (Italy)

The Campbell's Soup kid couldn't have put it any better when he said, "mmm mmm good", because this is exactly what this wine is.  Tonight, I found myself chez mere et pere for dinner, and mom pulled out this bottle of Bardolino - a quick look up shows the blend of grapes is very similar to Valpolicella with the Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella as the base.  This is one smooth wine, lots of raspberry and plum notes with a real pleasant juiciness in the mouth - absolutely delicious.  And those who say not to pair red with fish, think again, it wasn't a bad match at all to the Korean Salmon my father whipped up.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wolf Blass 2008 Yellow Label Shiraz (Australia)

I'm not sure what is going on in the world of Blass but I am not sure I am liking it all that much.  Tonight I taught a class on the wines of Australia, pouring a straight Shiraz (Lucky Country), a Shiraz-Viognier (Yalumba) and a Cab/Merlot/Shiraz blend (Yering) ... this got me hankering for one of the icons of Aussie wine, Wolf Blass - its Yellow Label was once the epitome of Australian wine.  When I arrived home I cracked the cap and found myself drinking a nondescript Shiraz ... Wolf Blass used to have character but this could have been any one of a hundred Shirazes that I have tried over the years.  Don't get me wrong, it was tasty, easy to drink and had lots of fruit - but I think I have come to expect more when I open a bottle of Blass - this just did not deliver.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rosewood Estates 2009 Semillon (Ontario)

Tonight I tried a wine that I sampled at the Savour Stratford event a couple of weekends ago.  It was a Semillon from Rosewood Estates in Niagara.  Now for those that don`t know Semillon is a famous French grape, used in the making of Sauternes, and has also found a home in Australia, but not much is grown in Ontario.  In the past, Rosewood has usually put the grape into a white blend, but the last two years have seen a straight dry white made from this grape.  Last year I slipped the 2008 Rosewood version a 4-and-a-half-star rating and was excited to try the newest incarnation of this wine when it was offered to me at the Stratford event.  The vines are a mere 6-years-old (babies in the vine-world), but are showing some real maturity in the glass.  This wine was a horse of a different colour when compared to last year`s version, but it proved to be equally as good.  The nose was tropical with pineapple, peach and green apple skin aromas.  Palate was liking biting into the aforementioned green apple but with peach and grapefruit pith backing it up; there even seemed to be a faint hint of something minerally here.   The finish was long and citrusy with really good acidity for backbone.  At $18.00 this really is a steal.  I won`t hazard a guess as to ageing potential because this wine is tasty right now, and so thoroughly enjoyable.  If you want to lie it down be my guest, but keeping it down might be the tough part - you`ll want to break into another bottle as soon as the first one is finished.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Masi 2007 Campofiorin (Italy)

Second night in a row that I have opted for Italian and the second night in a row I have gone with a Ripasso wine in my glass.  The Amarone Tasting from Monday reminded me what I really like (and can afford) from Italy, Ripasso, and I wanted to see what Masi's newest addition to the Campofiorin line was like.  Masi, the originators of the Ripasso style/method, call their wine Campofiorin with an explanation on the back of the method used to make the wine.  It is also interesting to note that this is the first time ever that Masi has declared a 5-star vintage two years in a row.  They declared 2006 as a five star and the proof is above the vintage year on the front label (you can clearly see the 5 star designation) ... the 2007 bares the same marking, and I am told that the folks at Masi went through a struggle to declare 07 because they don't want to seem like they are declaring all vintages as "the best" ... but considering they have declared only 7 since 1942, this is a rare occurance in and of itself ... now 2007 is the 8th such declaration. 

So I have talked your ear off about the declaration of vintages, the proof is not just above the year but should be in the glass.  I have had sips from this wine in the past 3 months but I have yet to pop the top on a bottle and try it over the course of an evening.  Nose is beautiful with plums and chocolate and slight floral notes.  The palate is also alluring with its good backbone of acidity holding up cherries, raspberries and a touch of spice ... the finish brings me back to the chocolate that lingers on the nose.  Lovely and only gonna get better over the next 10 years.  I actually believe this to be a better wine than the 2006 ... heresy you say, you be the judge, I'll stick to my declaration, that is until I try the 06 again. Cheers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Zonin 2006 Ripasso Valpolicella (Italy)

Got home from the Amore di Amarone tasting and had a craving for an Italian wine - but something not as heavy and robust as an Amarone, so I took the next step down on the evolutionary ladder of this famous wine, a Ripasso.  For those who don't know, a Ripasso is a re-fermenting of the Valpolicella wine as it is re-passed over the skins of the grapes used to make Amarone ... it gives the wine a little more body and a bit more alcohol, plus you get the advantage of some Amarone flavours without the Amarone price.  This Zonin was a darling of a wine that I found a few years back and this bottle seemed ripe and ready for the tasting (again).  The wine was mellow and smooth with lots of plum, cherry and chocolate notes and really nice acidity ... it paired well with the burger that I had for dinner this evening.  On a personal note, I am a huge fan of this style of wine, though lately I have been disappointed with the Ripassos coming through the Ontario liquor stores.