Monday, January 31, 2011

Joke of Two and a Gallo with Something to Prove (California)

Sunday night ... time to pick something that will end the weekend right.  While the wife went for some Riesling (Between the Lines 2009 from Ontario - soon to be reviewed in a Newsletter), I decided to go off the Ontario reservation and see what happened to a Folie a Deux 2002 Manage a Trois ... I like this wine when it's young, it's fresh and fruity, a real quaffer.  A blend of three grapes Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (obviously where it gets its playful name from "blend of three"), you would hope something in that bottle would help it age.  Unfortunately the Folie was just an Un (One) (not a deux (two)) this time, as the "blage" (joke) was on me.  It just didn't taste right, not bad, just not good enough to be drinkable.  So back to the drawing board (known as the wine cellar) I went to find something else.

Now I know that a lot of people make fun of Gallo these days, but how can you make fun of an empire that built itself on quality, when it wanted to make quality that is.  I found a bottle of Gallo 2004 Sonoma Reseve Cabernet Sauvignon, and I must say I was really impressed.  The nose was rich with raspberry-chocolate along with hints of spiced dried fruit.  The palate was more dried than fresh, in the fruit department, with tart blackberry and chocolate also coming through.  Vanilla soaked dried cherries were also prevalent amongst a mild woodiness.  The only problem I could taste was the medium-short finish, cause I wanted the cocoa-raspberries to last a little longer.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chakana 2009 Bonarda (Argentina)

Call this the second red grape of Argentina, but get to know it so that you aren't surprised when it finally takes the wine world by storm.  Well, maybe a little bit of over exaggeration there, but this truly is one of those grapes that when done right can make a really seductive wine - and considering that everything Argentinean (namely Malbec) is hot in the wine world these days it shouldn't be long before we start seeing more Bonarda on liquor store shelves.  This was a dark fruited wine backed by spice, that was lush and tasty.  I see a problem with its ageing potential though - the plastic cork isn't even giving it much of a fighting chance, so open now and enjoy; maybe as the years progress we'll see more under cap or cork and see what this wine can do over the long haul.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ten Mile Wine Co. 2005 "The Broken Road" (California)

Friday night, time to dip into my box of goodies to see what comes out ... this is a Proprietary Red from Ten Mile Wine Company called "The Broken Road".  On the back of the bottle it says there are 4 grapes that make up the blend: "Petite Sirah, Barbera, Zinfandel and Carignane".  For a 6 year old wine there is still a rich red colour to the wine and the smell is full of plum, red berries and just a hint of spice.  The bottle is coated with sediment and there is a fair amount in the glass, but that only adds to the flavour and the mystic as the sediment is not gritty in the mouth.  The palate is lively with acidity and tannins, and there are plenty of dark fruits to take charge.  There is also a hint of something spicy that really melds well.  I would have to say this is a real gem of a wine, which I payed the whopping nine dollars and ninety-nine cents for in the state of Michigan ... I feel that I stole it from the store - it's just that good.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

La Multa 2008 Old Vines Garnacha (Spain)

I'm over at my parents place for dinner ... mom thinks she has found a find at Vintages this past weekend and is looking forward to giving it a try with me.  Problem is mom has some kind of pneumonia bug and everything tastes "metallic" (could be due to the antibiotics), but she still insists on opening the wine and giving it a go.  A real trooper my mom.  She says it still tastes off to her, while I think a different story.  If I'm not mistaken, I think she said she paid 13 bucks for this wine, and what a steal this one is.  It's a a drink now style of Granache from the country that grows more of the stuff than any other, Spain.  First the nose, lots of plum and blackberry with a spiced raspberry that starts to come out once the wine has been opened for about an hour - lots and lots of fruit aromas here.  On the palate it shows some real complexity: plum and blackberry lead the charge; sip after sip the wine seems to get juicier and spicier at the same time, till the palate has a spiced plum beginning to mid then turns to black pepper for the finish.  Really nice bottle of wine here that won't break the bank. Big alcohol too, at 14.5%.  A real winner with buzz potential.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Marc Kreydenweiss 2005 Barbabelle (France)

This is my third or fourth time opening a 2005 Barbabelle, and each tie it seems to be a different experience.  Still a very nice wine, and still with some time to give it,  but not too much time mind you, there is maybe 2-3 years left (max) of enjoyment before it starts to decline.  The nose shows little to no fruit, instead giving up woody-pencil shavings and anise aromas.  The palate throws off some fruit in the form of raspberry with soft wood notes and a hint of caraway.  Interesting and still enjoyable.

Two Chileans in a "Dirty Glass" (Chile)

People come and people go at our house and when friends come over I serve wine in good crystal ... but tonight it was a different story.  Many years ago I acquired pottery wine goblets in a variety of colours (black, blue, green and white), I rarely use these cups, instead employing my Schott Zwiesel stemware for both everyday and special occasions.  But tonight, it was not about really tasting the wines.  One friend had a rough and traumatic day with a near death experience attached, so getting the alcohol to the bloodstream was more important than the vessel delivering it.  Out came the goblets and in them went big Chilean wines:  the full bodied and fruity Tamaya Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah (2005) blend, and the spicy, pepper driven, dark fruited 2007 Korta Syrah (not together obviously, I hadn't completely lost my sense of reason, but in that order) - both worked well in the goblets, but with each at or bove 14% alcohol they also managed to calm some jangled nerves.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ninquen 2008 Antu Syrah (Chile)

This wine will see Vintages shelves (here in Ontario) this Saturday, and it is one worthy of picking up by the case.  The nose starts off very blackberry and plumy with some black pepper backing; within an hour the nose has added raspberry jam-ish notes.  On the palate it starts off very much the same, lots of dark fruit and spice kicks it off then withing that same hour the fruit turns more red and very juicy.  Tannins are silky smooth and there's a hint of peppered-raspberry-chocolate on the finish.  Very Aussie in its style especially for its fruitiness and pepperyness.  A lovely wine to sit and sip or to serve with dinner (I won't presume to tell you what to serve it with, I think it's Kraft Dinner ready if it came down to that).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mitolo 2008 Junior Shiraz (Australia)

Tonight it's time to be playful and powerful ... Mitolo is known for making those rich, jammy and juicy Australian wines like 'G.A.M', 'Reiver' and 'Serpico' - wines with big alcohol and big prices.  The Jester is their "lower" end and we see it here in Ontario for a shade over $21 ... but now here comes the baby in the family, 'Junior' for a relatively inexpensive $14.95.  It has the power (14.5% alcohol) and all the fruit you could ask for; it's a welcome addition to the line, and a great way to welcome budget-conscious-wine-drinkers to the world of Mitolo.  The nose is pure fruit: plum and black raspberry, while the palate is anything but simple, a plethora of the fruits that make Australian Shiraz so appealing to the masses: raspberry, plum and other dark fruits along with black pepper and chocolate notes.  The tannins are smooth with a touch of dryness on the finish, but the palate is mainly juicy and the wine is easy to drink.  The back of the bottle says it can be cellared for 3-4 years but I can't see people holding onto it that long, it's delicious right now.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Concha Y Toro 2008 Marques de Casa Concha (Chile)

This is rather a funny story ... it's Saturday and I am sitting in a hotel in London, Ontario with Mr. Schott Zwiesel Canada himself, Lloyd Thistle.  It is 10:45 at night, we have just returned from the London Wine and Food Show where I did a comparative glassware presentation of Schott Zwiesel stemware.  We had quite a few wines to pour and thankfully we had one bottle left of this delicious Cabernet Sauvignon from Concha y Toro (thanks to Select Wines Merchants for their generous contribution to our last wine of the day).  We brought it to the hotel room to watch the last of the Atlanta - Green Bay game and unwind from the days activities.  So here we are, in the room, and I ask Mr. Lloyd, "Where are the glasses?"  He slaps his head and says, "(expletive) I left them at the show, I meant to grab a box." (and I obviously did not bring mine or I never would have asked).  So here we are, the guy who swears he'll never drink out of crappy stemware again drinking with the guy who sells good stemware for a living, drinking a deliciously big black fruited Concha Y Toro 2008 Marques de Casa Concha out of water glasses ... the good news is the wine is big enough and powerful enough and good enough to withstand even this crime against wine.  Something tells me the next time Lloyd and I travel anywhere we'll each bring glasses, meanwhile we were just a couple of boneheads drinking wine watching the football game telling each other that the wine was still pretty good (it was, but you just know the right glass would have made all the difference).  Cheers Lloyd.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thorn-Clarke 2008 Terra Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)

I'm a fan of Thorn-Clarke wines and I was thrilled to open a bottle of this Cabernet Sauvignon.  The nose was loaded with plum, chocolate and cherry while the palate it plum, black cherry and has some other really juicy fruits.  This is a lovely and tasty red that can be drunk with food but is delicious all on its own.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

La Posta 2008 Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec (Argentina)

I tasted this wine for the first time in early December 2010 and was immediately attracted to it so I put it on my must list of wines to buy for the new year.  When it hit LCBO shelves in early January 2011 I was eager to try it again to see if I had been right the previous month, or was I just happy to be finished with mass wine tasting for the year (every second Friday 120+ wines).  I'm happy to report this wine delivered sip after sip, mouthful after mouthful, with delicious pleasant ever-changing flavours and an array of aromas.  The nose started blackberry with sweet black licorice and hints of strawberry.  As it opened in the glass the dark fruit turned red in the form of a red berry bowl of raspberry and strawberry.  The palate had the same kind of reaction to aeration, it started out dark but the mid-palate was really juicy and with an hour in the glass raspberry started to show up in greater quantity.  The finish kept intriguing me as it developed throughout the course of the evening finishing up with smoky-cocoa and cassis notes.  This wine will still be wonderful in a few years and I have laid some down to prove it.  I suggest doing the same while there is still some in the market (Ontario).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

McGuigan 2008 Black Label Shiraz (Australia)

Somedays the word is "uncomplicated" and that is just what this wine is, totally and utterly uncomplicated, it's an easy going wine on both the nose and the palate.  First the aromas are full of plum and cherry, there's just a wee hint of spice or pepper, but not enough for you to take notice of, here the fruit is front and center.  Palate is much the same, with upfront fruit, but there is a little bit of peppery-spice that the tongue must take note of as the wine moves through the mouth.  The finish lingers with a touch of pepper, a hint of spice and a coating of plum.  Put it all together and what have you got ... yup, uncomplicated, easy drinking.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Scott Harvey 2005 Syrah - Mountain Selection (California)

About a year and a half ago I met Scott Harvey and had the chance to taste 14 of his wines, of which this was one of my favourites.  I bought a bottle or two and tonight I thought it would be interesting to see how the wine is aging.  I am happy to report that it is stunningly delicious.  The smells are full of lures to suck you right in, plum, chocolate, raspberry and vanilla all blend to make very inviting aromas.  The palate doesn't disappoint as white pepper, raspberry and dark plum dance playfully across the tongue, the fruit is juicy and smooth as the tannins have mellowed and glide effortlessly through the mouth.  I also found there to be a little white chocolate on the finish, coming out most noticeable as the wine remained open in the glass for half an hour or more. I said it before, I'll say it again, delicious.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Aramis Vineyards 2003 Leeroy Reserve Cabernet Sauvigon / Shiraz (Australia)

Tonight, I blindly yanked a bottle out of a case of aging wines and found in my hand this bottle of 2003 Cabernet Shiraz.  At first the nose was closed and almost vile, so I decided that maybe a little decanting could help ... and it did.  A violent decanting (turning the bottle upside down and pouring quickly into the decanter) livened this sucker up, aromas of smoky blackberry and cassis were followed by spiced-vanilla, some cinnamon and a little chocolate.  The nose was slightly more inviting and open than the taste which produced toasted black cherry and a little pepper on the tongue.  Not a bad wine for one that is 7 years old, maybe a little more time or a second decanting would have helped.  I think I still have another bottle, maybe next time I'll try that.

Two Ontario Chardonnays, One Tough Choice (Ontario)

Tonight I did a tasting of about two dozen Ontario white wines, from Pinot Gris to Riesling and everything in between ... I also did some Rosés just to have a little fun.  Many of these wines will find their way into the pages of my newsletter in the coming months; but there were two that I decided to face off with my dinner, I will not divulge the full reviews but I pitted the delicacy of the Malivoire 2008 Moira Vineyard Chardonnay against the over-the-toppedness of the Closson Chase 2008 South Clos Chardonnay - each vying to pair with a spaghetti Bolognese ... each performed well in its own right and both wines are lovely in their own way ... look for the full reviews in my January 13th, 2011 newsletter.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hillebrand 1997 Trius Red (Ontario)

Here was the wine I had on New Year's Eve, it was brought over by a friend ... for a wine that is 13 years old it was surprisingly youthful on the nose mixing in a blend of dried and fresh sour cherries, quite surprising indeed.  The palate showed a lot more complexity, the dried cherries were there along with dried leaves which turned into pipe tobacco on the finish.  One of those in attendance said they tasted bitter cocoa (powder-like) in the mouth ... and who can argue with something like that - I sure didn't, especially since I had already finished my ration.