Thursday, March 31, 2011

St. Lucas 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina)

In truth, this was one of these wines that I picked out of the cellar a few days ago, but with salmon on the menu last night there was no way I was going to try and force a big Cab down my throat.  Those who follow my drinking habits know that I am not one to follow the conventions of wine and food pairing, but salmon and Sauv (Cab) seemed even too far out there for me.  So it was off to a friend's house for pork and Cabernet - and this worked out quite well.  I was wondering just how this wine stood the test of time (afterall it was 8 years old) but I think it held beautifully, lots of dried blackberries on the nose while the palate delivered more dried blackberry, dried black cherry and some well integrated chocolate ... no complains from me here.  Smooth and delicious I have written down in my notes, had we not done a small tasting beforehand I am sure we would have finished the bottle.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bouchard Pere & Fils 2001 Macon-Superieur (France)

Here we are on a Wednesday night ready to serve up some salmon, trying to decide what to grab out of the cellar.  The right side of the brain says Chardonnay is the right choice, the left side is telling me that there is an interesting bottle of Pinot just sitting there ... I like to take chances so the Pinot it is.  I'll have to say the first sip (no food) was interesting but not exciting.  It was drinkable, as there was a hit of fruit, but it was a quick hit that did not linger, or even give you opportunity to figure out what the fruit was.  Aromas were almost non-existent.  With the food it was just sour and unappealing, so I let it sit while I had dinner and then moved on to figuring out this wine.  As it turned out it never did really come around to be anything wonderful ... nor did it turn into a pile of dung - it kind of stay in the glass as a non-descript red wine, maybe a little spice on the palate, and it was most definitely dry.  My wife, who also gave this wine a few sips thought she got a little initial fruit also, but it was so quick it become indistinguishable.  In the end the best thing I could say about this is that it was wine, a red wine that was neither good, nor bad, just red wine.

NB:  It has been pointed out to me that the wine is actually a Gamay Noir, not a Pinot Noir ... still a good choice with salmon but not this evening.  As the person who pointed this out to me said: "at 10 years old likely better in the sauce pan than a glass" ... now we know what happens to aged Gamay - so drink early, and if you have a lot of it, drink often.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sandeman 2000 Late Bottled Vintage Port (Portugal)

It's not often that I don't have a wine with dinner, but tonight was one of those rare occasions ... instead I looked forward to dessert because I had located a bottle of 2000 Late Bottled Vintage Port in my cellar (actually I have three of them).  Most LBVs have one of those quick twist caps on them, you Port drinkers know what I'm talking about, a plastic cap you can twist to open and attached to the underneath is half of inch (or so) of cork.  This particular bottle did not have this featured cork, instead it was a real honest to goodness cork (and a long one at that) ... not that this made any difference to the wine, just thought I would mention it.  As for the Port, the aromas were hard to pick out, but there was definitely a touch of black cherry.  On the palate there was the typical chocolate, black cherry, blackberry and spice; there was also a long cocoa finish ... but one thing I was not ready for was the big shot of acidity, it seemed that on every second sip there was overwhelming acid bite - product of an aged LBV or of the vintage?  Maybe a second bottle will need to be opened sooner rather then later.  And over the next few weeks as I make my way through the bottle (you don't finish a bottle of Port in one sitting) I'll get to see if that mellows or if the fruit comes more to the fore.  Interesting experiment to say the least.

Monday, March 28, 2011

La Palma Merlot and a Strong blend (Chile / California)

Spent an hour of my day at a Rodney Strong tasting (details to follow on the On the Road with the Grape Guy blog), where we did some blending from their 2009 vintage (more on that in a minute) ... then it was off to the Old Mill to listen to Peter Appleyard (vibes) and Dick Hyman (piano) as part of the FM91 jazz concert series ... these two octogenarians put on quite the show.  Dinner was a nice piece of panko crusted cheese stuffed chicken and I decided to order a bottle of Chilean Merlot to pair with it.  The Vina La Rosa 2009 La Palma Merlot was just what the doctor ordered, simple yet satisfying:  the nose was blackberry with a touch of mint; the palate proved to be very juicy, full of black fruit (black cherry) and soft tannins - a good match for the chicken.

Upon my arrival home I poured a glass from a half bottle of the blend I made this afternoon from the Rodney Strong 2009 fruit; my approximate blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Malbec and 5% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot seems to be hitting the right spot so late in the evening.  The chocolate notes from the Cab Sauv meld well with the raspberry and spice ... granted, maybe I have a little too much tannin on the finish, making the wine a little angular, but the nose and mid-palate are lovely.  It's the first ever Grape Guy blend - and probably the last.  Now it's time for bed ...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adelsheim Pinot and Coudoulis Lirac (Oregon / France)

It's Sunday, the last day of the Ontario Wine Awards judging - the day traditionally saved for the sweeties ... and it went off without a hitch.  Afterward, during lunch, someone pulled out a bottle of Adelsheim 1994 Polk County Pinot Noir - Seven Springs Vineyard, an few ooo's and a couple ahh's went around the room.  People who were preparing to leave suddenly shucked their coats and grabbed a glass.  The cork went pop and the wine splashed into a number of glasses.  Tony Aspler proclaimed that 1994 was a good year in Oregon, as he eyed up the bottle.  Now we all hold our collective breaths as we look at the wine our glass, the room goes quiet, there is a universal sniffing sound, some slurps and swishes as we taste.  Not half bad for a 16 year old Pinot.  The nose is earthy with dried cranberry, and forest floor / dried leaves notes.  Still has decent acidity and some tannins to back it up - the tannins overwhelm the fruit but there is still some stuffing here that makes it enjoyable with dried fruit and a chalky finish ... big thanks to Jan for this.

Later that evening, as I am whipping up some dinner (hamburgers) I grab a bottle of Domaine Coudoulis 2006 Lirac - a blend of Grenache, Syrah ad Mourvedre ... The wine is big and bold and spicy.  The nose is full of red berry fruit, white pepper and blackberries while the palate is peppery, spicy with blackberry, cassis and big tannins.  Turned out to be a perfect mach for the meat. What an interesting day for wine.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Golden Mile Cellars 2006 Zinfandel (British Columbia)

Now here's a wine that's a collector's item - or at least the bottle is.  This is a wine not usually found outside California, Zinfandel - oh, sure it is called Primitivo in Italy, but rarely do you see the name Zinfandel on the label outside the Golden State, but here it is in British Columbia Canada.  But that's not the part that is a collector's item.  Nope, this wine was produced by Golden Mile Cellars which technically is no more, they are now called Road 13 - same winery, same owners, they just decided to give the name (Golden Mile) back to the particular part of the Okanagan Valley their winery resides in - the Golden Mile.  I visited them when they were still Golden Mile Cellars and bought one of my favourite grape varieties, thrilled to see it here in Canada, even if it is on the other coast.  The wine is really really spicy with lots of pepper and spice notes on both the nose, and especially the palate ... there's a touch of plum on the palate also, but it too becomes very spiced by association, and the finish ends up being a dried sour plum ... with plenty of spice.  Tasty wine with grilled meats, which is exactly what I had with it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chakana 2007 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina)

Gotta love a Friday night when you can walk down to the cellar, grab any old bottle off the shelf and enjoy it with no pretenses.  That's just what I did here with this 2008 Cab from Argentina (not exactly an "old" bottle, but it is "any").  Lots and lots of red fruit and spice in this one - totally pleasant and enjoyable ... a real sipping wine and one to pair well with the pizzas we shared with friends.  But it's a good news / bad news kinda wine:  the good news is it is drinking well now and is really very fruity ... bad news: drink it up quickly because it has a plastic cork, and that means no chance for longevity ... sigh.

Monday, March 21, 2011

De Loach 2006 Pinot Noir - Russian River Valley (California)

This wine was brought to our house about 6 months ago as a house-warming gift.  Now usually when I get a gift like that I enjoy opening it with the guests that brought it, but sometimes that is not always possible ... as was the case with this bottle; so tonight, when I heard we were doing roast chicken for dinner, I thought it would be a good complement to the meal.  As usual I opened the wine up while dinner was cooking.  The smells were what I expect from a California Pinot, lots of red fruit, this time cherry, with a hint of vanilla (not too much) - these smells continued through to the end ... it was the palate that changed over the course of an hour or so.  Flavours started off cherry with spice and a touch of tannins, that I felt would benefit from a couple more years in the cellar to mellow; the finish was that of raspberry-cranberry and spice with a medium length to it.  Within an hour those tannins subsided leaving the wine mellow and smooth with plenty of lovely red fruits to dance across the tongue.  As for the chicken, it never turned out quite like we wanted, so we ordered pizza instead ... the wine still worked well with it - you can pair a delicious wine with just about anything.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cono Sur Riesling and Lan Crianza (Chile and Spain)

It has been quite some time between bottles on these pages, mostly because I have had one of those nasty colds that keeps one from enjoying a good bottle of wine ... but while the incessant cough persists the nose and throat seem to be back to normal.  So it was with renewed vigor that I attacked a glass of Cono Sur 2010 Vision Riesling - Single Vineyard (the first 2010 wine in these pages).  I loved this one when I tasted for my Vintages report and now that I own a few bottles I love it even more.  Amazing that a Chilean Riesling could have this much depth and character, not at all what you expect from a hot climate region.  The smells are of lemon, peach and pear, while the palate has a mineral quality that really takes this one to a whole new level, there's also peach and just the right touch of sweetness on the tongue.  From there I moved on to a Bodegas Lan 2006 Crianza, a wine made from 100% Tempranillo.  This was also a delightful wine, but it took a little while to open: lots of black cherry, mocha, coffee, vanilla, herbs and a touch of spice, and finally with a bit of a spiced wood finish.  I think this wine needs a little more time to come aruound; even the bottle claims the wine dips between the 3rd and 4th years before really hitting its stride ... I guess we shall see years to come.