Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heartland Wines 2008 Cabernet Sauvigon (Australia)

Over the years I have enjoyed many of the wines by Ben Glaetzer, of which this is touted as one, but tonight of all nights I picked one that didn't quite hit the mark.  It's Oscar night in Canada, one of the few shows these days I, 1) drop everything for to watch and, 2) watch live (it falls into the category of the Super Bowl and other big sporting events).  I'm just a movie nut plain and simple, so I look forward to this night.  Tonight we were visiting friends to watch the awards being handed out and I thought a rich, luxurious Glaetzer would suit the night right.  Uh, no!  Yes the nose delivered what I was looking for with raspberry and sweet cherry ... there was also the typical Glaetzer high alcohol (14.5%), but the palate let me down; gritty and somewhat bitter - disjointed even - not living up to those great rich fruit smells from the nose.  This time I expected more and got less ... I guess sooner or later its gotta go that way too.  Sigh.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vintjs 2008 Garnacha (Spain)

Tonight's wine is being drunk Italian style ... I am in a hotel room in Utica, Michigan, once again I find myself without proper stemware (or even glassware) and with some beautiful wines to possibly drink.  But the good thing is I am bringing the beauties back to Canada with me, where I have a plethora of glassware that'll make 'em taste great (as long as they are as good as the labels tell me they are).  But for now it's a juice glass and a $5.99 Garnacha purchased from Trader Joe's.  It's actually a 2008 red blend (labeled as Garnacha) from the Aragon region of Spain, made up of 80% Garnacha, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Syrah and 6% Merlot with a whopping 14.5% alcohol.  Dark purple in colour, smoky-vanilla-plum on the nose and lots of dark spiced fruit on the palate.  I would have given this one a few years to age, had I not seen the bright red plastic cork sealing the bottle ... oh well, at 5.99 it was never meant to age - it's definitely a suck it back (in a hotel juice glass) kinda evening.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sokol Blosser Meditrina (6) and an Old Ontario Cab Franc (Oregon / Ontario)

Okay, the way I read the documentation that came with this wine was that it was a blend of three different grape varieties from three different parts of the U.S.:  Pinot Noir / Syrah / Zinfandel (from Oregon / Washington / California respectively).  So I thought instead of just I giving it a try I would take it to class and give the students a go at it: see if they could identify it and then find out if they liked it.  The wine started off okay with a very fruit driven nose of plum, cherry and black currant, someone sniffed some pepper in the mix too, but I did not pick it out (something tells me they took a sip before it was time).  On the plate that aforementioned pepper came screaming out of the glass and onto the palate, almost intrusively so, it overpowered everything else and no fruit was apparent ... then the finish turned all bitter and unappealing.  Ten minutes later we went back to the smell and there was a rancid butter aroma beginning to creep out of the glass.  Sorry to say that the Meditrina was not as appealing a wine as its white counterpart: Evolution, which I enjoyed the previous night.  Out of the eight students that stayed to try the wine only one said they enjoyed it. 

We moved on to a Southbrook 2002 Triomphe Cabernet Franc (Ontario), it started poorly with everyone giving the nose a hard time and the palate an even rougher time.  But with some time in glass and a constant aeration, decanting would have been a better option.  Everyone admitted that it certainly got better the longer it sat and by the time we were ready to wrap up class everyone wanted to know where to buy a bottle -  alas, I told them, wine is a finite item and it has been sold out for many a moon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sokol Blosser Winery Evolution White - 14th Edition (Oregon)

This is an intriguing wine to say the least - this white wine has 9 grapes in it, and as luck would have it I lost the piece of paper listing the 9 grapes, but I do remember Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muller-Thurgau and other grapes being thrown in - this is not random, according to the bottle: "Happenstance? Coincidence? Chaos? Not a chance.  This bottle you hold is a deliberate, pre-meditated attempt to advance the entire wine universe a notch or two".  It does go as far as saying "Lucky Number 9" on the label - so it does infer a certain amount of luck went into this grouping of grapes.  But as for the wine in the bottle it really was something fun and enjoyable for a weeknight.  The nose bounced between citrus and tropical for the first little bit, before settling on tropical for the rest of its time in the glass. I decided to stop trying to find the plethora of white fruits and just enjoy the smell, which was really the greatest lure of this wine.  The flavours proved to be just as nice and enticing with a decent amount of acidity.  The only problem I found was with time the wine flattened and as it became warm lost a lot of the playfulness in the glass - so my advice: Keep it Chilled - which is what I believe the wines wants you to do anyway, as the top of the bottle proclaims: Chill, open, pour, sip, chill.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Raiding of the Cellar (Australia / France / USA)

I attended a 60th birthday party last night and it was a riches of old wines that materialized out of the old man's cellar.  The youngest wine was 11 years old, the oldest 21.  Kicking things off was a 1999 Cape Mentelle 'Trinder Vineyard' Cabernet-Merlot from Western Australia; lots of leather, dried fruit, tobacco, anise, and forest floor notes throughout ... smooth across the tongue, not a lot of life left in it but I wouldn't be dumping it down the toilet anytime soon either.  Another Cape Mentelle proved to be equally up to the task of still be drinkably good, the 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, with its dried red berries taste and cherry Fruit Roll-up smells, a touch foresty but still very nice to sip on.  Neither wine stayed in the glass long because there was always another set to be opened.

Leaving Australia we set sail for the Old World with a bottle of 1995 Chateau Clarke from Bordeaux, dried berries and dried leaves, it was time to drink this one and drink it we did - happily.  The oldest wine materialized, a 1990 Chateau Cruzeau - not a well known house from Bordeaux but one that made a very good wine in 1990.  Surprisingly alive with red fruit, a touch of red berries and soft leather notes.  Quite possibly the most interesting wine of the night ... Until the American showed up.

The final cork to pop, that I was present for anyway, was a Ridge 1994 Geyserville, a blend of 68% Zinfandel, 20% Carignan, 8% Petite Sirah and 4% Mataro, 16 years old and the fruit still showed through, though it was definitely all dried, raspberry and cherry with some semblance of tannins (though not intrusive) and a hint of sweetness - I meant to look at the alcohol content but missed my opportunity.  Finally, as mother nature began to dump snow on the land, we decided it was time to leave, just as a bottle of Vouvray was on deck.  But as in baseball the on deck batter never gets up to the plate (or the glass in this case) once the game is pronounced over.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Three Wines for Dinner (Ontario / Chile / Washington)

My parents showed up for dinner, roast in hand to throw into the oven (gotta love when people come for dinner bringing their own food for everyone).  We kicked off the appetizer portion of the evening (which they also brought themselves) sitting in the living room with glasses of 2009 Organized Crime Riesling.  For dinner I pulled out another bottle of Columbia Crest 2007 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot because mom is fascinated by Washington wines (of while this is a particularly good one).  But between the Riesling and the Merlot I opened a little bubbly from Chile made by Cono Sur called simply "Brut".  Made from Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir (95 / 4 / 1 % according to the bottle; 90 / 6 / 4 % according to the website) no matter what the confusion on content this $14 bubbly (in Ontario anyway) is a really delicious value bottle of fizz.  Fresh and crisp with a mainly apple nose, a bit of sweetness and lemonade-like flavours in the mouth, the wine seemed just right for putting everybody in a good mood (and at only 12% alcohol I know it was the flavour not the elevated alcohol), there's wasn't a drop left in any glass, not even my father's, who considers sparkling to be "ginger ale in a dirty beer glass".  This is a better than decent bubbly to have around the house this summer for those of you entertaining; and you won't be breaking the bank to buy a few ... in fact I'm on my way this week to do just that.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hillebrand NV Trius Brut (Ontario)

I'm not going to bore you with the details of Valentine's Day, I am sure you have a story of your own that you would be just as excited to share, but what would be interesting is to find our what your special bottle was on the big day devoted to love.  I opened a bottle of Non-Vintage Trius Brut, a multi-award winning bubbly from Ontario, and deservedly so.  With no date on the bottle I have no idea when I acquired it but I know that it had to be about 2 or 3 years ago.  The wine is still fresh and lively with apple, fresh bread crust, lemon and almond biscotti notes on the nose; palate was crisp, almondy, green apple, lemon and had a nice fresh bread middle flavour that complimented the crust on the nose - oh yum ... it was just lovely as it played across the palate.  Glad that I have a few more of these in the cellar to open on other special occasions.  Feel free to share what special bottle you shared with your someone special.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Two Ontario Whites: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (Ontario)

Had a rough day on Saturday.  The car gave me trouble and had to go into the shop.  Groceries were sitting in the back seat when this happened, it was cold enough outside but inside the service garage it was toasty warm, so I had to sweat the fish, meat and chicken sitting in my backseat - luckily I found a ride home in time to get the stuff into the freezer - but not before losing a few pounds in worry.  But enough about my rough day.  Finally got home at 4 and decided it was time for a glass of something ... opened a bottle of Coyote's Run 2008 Black Paw Chardonnay, one of my favourites from that year, too early to do a Taste it Again review on it, but I can tell you it is still drinking beautifully and I enjoyed every sip.  Then a buddy came over for dinner, he whipped up some kind of shrimp and linguine dish (in a cream sauce) and requested a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to go with it, sadly I could not find any, or maybe I did not look hard enough, but I did come up with an Ontario alternative: Hillebrand 2009 Trius Sauvignon Blanc, if you have not tried this wine you are really missing out, tastes even better now, a year after release, then it did when I first reviewed it in June of 2010 - truly stellar and stunning.  Overall a good end to a miserable day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Francis Ford Coppola's 2005 Director's Cut Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (California)

If I could say one thing about this wine and leave it at that, it would be that the wine was "aged to perfection".  But I will not just leave it at that, it would seem like a cop out.  I pulled this wine out for a dinner with some friends.  We had trouble figuring out what to serve and settled on a new recipe (why we always try something new on guest I am not sure - but we do), meatloaf, the Katie Lee Joel way (yes Billy Joel's ex).  I yanked the first thing I could find in the cellar, this wine came out of one of my aging boxes, I wanted to bring summer to the table and Zinfandel always makes me think of bbq ribs on the back deck.  This one was delicious, both with dinner and on its own.  Spiced plum, chocolate, dried black fruit, fig, pepper ... each sip seemed to bring something new to the palate, it's unfortunate that the bottle had to end ... the good news is that I have one more I can drag out this summer - hurray.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Columbia Crest 2007 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot (Washington)

I find myself in Ottawa for a tasting event of close to 40 Ontario wineries (more on that next week on the On The Road with the Grape Guy blog) ... I am now back in my hotel room and, with no offense to the wineries and winemakers of fine Ontario wine, the last think I want is an Ontario wine.  So I dig into my bag of tricks, pull out some travel glasses (real crystal, stemless - it's all in the packing my friends) and a bottle of Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Merlot, with its whopping 14.5% alcohol; you might think that a little heavy handed in the alcohol department, but you take what mother nature gives you.  The beauty is that the alcohol is barely noticeable on either the nose or palate.  The smells are blueberry, dried leaf, black cherry and lots of mocha.  The taste is loaded with mocha-blueberry with just a hint of heat ... but ultimately it made a great pre-dinner sipper.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Deen De Bortoli 2004 Vat 8 Shiraz (Australia)

Super Bowl 45 ... Packer-Steelers ... which wine to have?  I know, there are people out there scratching their heads saying "Wine? It's beer time my man."  Sorry.  The wife's a former Bud-girl (and also Milwaukee's Best) but has opted for water, so wine it is.  So I walked into the wine room, spied a bottle, walked to it and pulled it off the shelf - there is no other reason than that for this wine.  Not a bad aged Shiraz, hint of eucalyptus and dried fruit on the nose (more dried fruit than euc as the wine aerates).  The palate was slightly minty, dried dark fruit and smooth with a mere titch of tannins (which also mellowed as it sat open).  Starts to deteriorate at the game went on ... Go Steelers (said just as the second Packers interception happens) ... as I was about to say, starts to deteriorate as the Steelers chances, sigh. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ayler Kupp 2005 Riesling Kabinett (Germany)

A beautiful 6 year old German Riesling with lots of complexity on both the nose and palate, and something tells me it will continue to develop nicely over the next 5 years or more.  Currently, the nose is apricot and peach with some honeyed notes and the merest hint of petrol.  The palate showed great balance between the sweetness and the acidity: mac and green apple with peach pit and mineral notes, a nice bit of pear on the long finish.  As for the petrol, it does not seem to be there on the palate but I think it will show in the next few years.  Right now this one is still complex and tasty.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chateau Canada 2005 (France)

To steal a phrase from Fozzie, tonight "Patriotism swells in the heart of the American bear" ... well Canadian bear anyway.  I found a 6 year old Chateau Canada from Bordeaux, a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from a 6 hectare property 15km north of Bordeaux.  The story goes that the Frenchman who once owned it visited the colony of Lower Canada and was so impressed that he named his property `Chateau Canada`.  All well and good but you have hope it`s a least drinkable ... and I would have to say it most certainly was.  I was actually looking for a bottle of Italian, to go with my Chicken Parmesan, but I was in a rush and pulled out an Aussie and a French instead ... Aussie was too far off the mark, so I opted for the Bordeaux.  While not the best Bordeaux wine I have ever had this was quite a tasty little beast.  The nose was spiced-cherry, blackberry with a hint of raspberry, there was also a woody character, but nothing to be alarmed about.  The taste was all over the map: woody, spicy, toasty and smoky, and with a little aeration there was a tinge of raspberry mixed in with peppery-cocoa powder, dry and still quite tannic with a long smoky finish.  Good choice to drink and with the food.