Saturday, April 30, 2011

Four Ontario Whites and a Big Red Zin (Ontario / California)

A beautiful Saturday afternoon - the last in April, and some friends came over for a little get together and BBQ.  We started our time outdoors by opening a series of Ontario whites, with differing results.  The Reif 2009 Pinot Gris, should have been drunk last summer, as it tasted tired and not very lively.  Then we turned our attention to the Hillebrand 2009 Trius Sauvignon Blanc, still amazing, in my opinion one of, if not the, best Sauvignon Blanc made in Ontario in '09, and for less than fourteen bucks it was a steal.  Next the crowd called for more and another Savvy B hit the bottom of the glass and just as quickly the top of the grass, Strewn's 2009 Sauvignon Blanc just did not stand the test of time, it would have been drinkable (as someone said) if not for the amazing wine that came before it.  The last white was a Pondview 2009 Riesling, now this has not only held up well but is worth holding onto for a few more summers to come.  Final wine was a big juicy red from California to match up with the steaks we threw on the Bar-B ... Pedroncelli 2007 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel, plum, vanilla and spice has never matched up so well.  Great afternoon and evening.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tenuat S. Anna 2009 Brut Millesimato (Italy)

End of the work week, no better time or reason to open a bottle of bubbly ... and this Italy Prosecco is a beauty.  Lovely citrus and apple smells with a hint yeasty-bready-ness and vanilla.  The palate is fresh and lively with a citrus-apple combo playing across the tongue and a creamy mousse backing it all up ... ah, delicious - let the weekend begin.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Folanari 2001 Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon (Italy)

Another wine I pulled out of the cellar on a whim ... a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Veneto region of Italy.  This was an interesting wine for what it still had, lots of acid, and that may have helped in its ageing process.  The nose was an interesting mix of dried and fresh dark fruit, but otherwise uneventful.  The palate proved to be full of dark dried fruits too, but the surprise was mid-palate where there was still a lovely hint of cassis and a touch of woodiness.  There were nuances of tannins and big acid on the finish and for the first 45 minutes this wine was intriguing and a pleasure to drink; but then the finish turned very harsh and bitter as the fruit lost the battle to the tannins and all that acid.  I was surprised the wine was still quite drinkable, but not surprised that it 'fell off the table so quickly'.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Domaines Bour 1999 Domaine de Grangeneuve Cuvee Vieilles Vignes (France)

I always wondered why my parents put me into a French Immersion program at school when I was young, the teasing from the English language-learning students was relentless and made us all feel quite ostracized from the rest of 'les etudiants'.  Today I understand what people are saying in French, but when it comes to speaking it I am well out of practice ... so I have often wondered why my parents put me through those formative years of hell.  Until today.  I am looking at a bottle of 12 year old French wine, that I pulled out from my cellar, and the back label is written completely in French, and because of that education of years gone by I can understand 95% of what is written.  It's a blend of Syrah and Grenache "a parts egales" (in equal parts); and the wine is made from "nos plus vieilles vignes (plus de 30 ans)" (our oldest vines, over 30 years old).  There are other parts of the label I understand but now 12 years later the descriptors are a little off: ["Les aromes evoquent les fruits murs et les epices" (Aromas recall ripe fruits and spices); "En bouche ... harmonieux, plein et rond" (in the mouth ... harmonious, full and round)].  All except for "Potential de vieillissement de 7 a 10 ans" (aging potential of 7-10 years) ... they weren't far off.  This wine got lost in the cellar and only now did I find it and say to myself "Je ferais mieux de boire celui-ci maintenant" (I had better drink this one now).  

There is no doubt from the very first smell that this wine is an old one: dried leaves, forest floor, age and rot are all smells in the glass - but rot in a good way, not in an I-live-by-the-dump kinda way.  Flavours are far from fresh, see above for some of the descriptors, but there are still some tannins and acidity in this wine that give it a certain freshness on the palate, without being fruity.  Over the course of a few hours the wine smoothed and became even sippable with a lingering dried tobacco leaf/cigar finish.  You have to understand old wine to like this one, and it was mighty likeable if you like old wine - that may sound like pretzel logic but it sounds much better than my French does.  As for my French Immersion formative years - I guess I should thnak my parents after all this time, your foresight helped me to read French wine bottles, and in this profession that a much needed skill.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bouchard Pere & Fils 2009 Macon (France)

The bottle says "Vin de Bourgogne", the natural assumption would be Pinot Noir; but I got in trouble making that assumption a few weeks back, when I thought the 2001 version of this wine was Pinot Noir, when in fact it is Gamay (or so I was told).  I re-read the back label of the 2001 Macon Superior and found no mention of the grape in the bottle; this 2009 has it clearly stated on the front label (Gamay), so there is no confusion to be had on this one.  And truth be told it has lovely Gamay colour and flavour, which are simple and delicious.  Pretty red colour with the nose is loaded to the gills with cherry aromas, the palate is red cherry with a hint of spice, which starts to show itself around the third or fourth sip.  I chilled this bottle a little to bring out the red fruit aspect, for those who prefer a little more kick in their Gamay, leave it out of the fridge and drink at room temp - it's also a great experiment to see what a chill does to a red white.  Paired nicely with the Chicken Parmigiana that one's this evening's meal.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Conde de Valdemar 2003 Crianza (Spain)

Friday night (the end of the work week - and a holiday weekend to boot) ... Meatloaf (a good one, not some run of the mill piece of meat with ketchup on it, or the rock singer) ... and a bottle of wine (nothing ordinary, wanted to spruce it up with something interesting) ... which all led me to this 8 year old bottle of Spanish Tempranillo, with a little Mazuelo (Carignan) on the side, (about 10%).  I love Spanish wine, I think they are some of the most consumer friendly wines about, especially because of their price.  This Crianza was full of dried red berries, a little cedar and some dried cranberries on the finish, paired well with the meatloaf and the relaxed atmosphere the start of a holiday weekend brings.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DogRidge 2005 Duck Chase Petit Verdot (Australia)

This is another one of those wines I cellared for a few years (purchased July 2007) ... it was a screwcap wine but I still held it upside down in a box.  Interesting thing about screwcap wines that sit on their cap for a length of time is they seem to develop a sediment in the cap similar to opening a paint can lid ... this one developed that kind of silt.  The result of this sludge-like formation is that it makes the first pour and swig very chewy, and the wine lacks a certain clarity, instead it has a very cloudy look to it, even after let it stand upright for most of the day.  But these are easily forgivable things when a wine is tasty - and this one really was.  The nose was a spiced-chocolate with cinnamon, cassis and black raspberry.  The palate was just as intriguing and changed with time in glass, starting out with cassis, blackberry and white pepper; an hour later an interesting herbal quality developed along with a hint of blueberry.  Tasty and terrific wine ... so tasty and terrific in fact that I can't remember what I had for dinner.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marietta Cellars - Old Vines Red, Lot Number Forty Three (California)

A non vintage "field blend" that has been produced more than 50 times by Marietta Cellars, this one is version "43" and one I have had languishing in my cellar for quite some time.  From what I know about the wine it is a primarily Zinfandel based blend with a whole bunch of other grapes thrown in for good measure.  Today I extricated it from a box in my cellar and poured it into my glass, with good results.  Dinner was a pepperoni pizza and a few chicken wings (not the healthiest of meals but sometimes you have to scratch that itch) and I thought something smooth and easy going would do the trick, then I came upon this bottle and curiosity got the better of me.  Now, in its youth the Marietta Old Vines Red is a perfectly good wine that is suitable for all kinds of food, especially the simple burgers and pizza nights, but also pairs well with BBQ and other Zinfandel friendly fare.  But this one is now 11 blends past its release (according to their website Marietta has released #54), and the claim is that the wine will drink about 1-3 years after its release (but how are you to know right?) - I know that this one is more than 4 years old (my records show the last time I drank a bottle was in 2007).  The nose was full of plum, black raspberry all with a touch o' vanilla.  Then the palate took over showing black cherry and spice with some chocolate-licorice notes on the finish.  Still lovely after all these years ... I see I also have a bottle of #44, betcha that's nice too.

Monday, April 11, 2011

V Leite de Faria 2004 Tinto Gloria Reserva (Portugal)

This Portuguese red blend took a little time to come around but once it did it was a pleasure to sip on.  A blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca that exhibits nice red and black fruit on the nose with decent spice, cedar and pencil shavings.  The palate delivers more spice than fruit but still with enough tannin bite, black cherry and plum notes to keep it all very interesting.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Goundrey Wines 2002 Homestead Cabernet Merlot (Australia)

Sunday night, the work weeks begins anew tomorrow, but tonight it`s about fixing up some comfort food and opening a bottle of something nice.  Walked into the cellar and yanked out the first bottle that caught my eye, as it turns out it was a 2002 red blend from Australia.  This Goundrey wine should have been well passed its prime (the bottle says to age it 3-4 years), but as luck would have it it was still drinking well now.  Smells of dark berries, cedar, anise and red licorice filled the nose, nothing like those fruit bomb-like smells you expect from Australian wines.  The palate doled out dried red berries and spice with a lingering flavour of herbed-peppers and spice - quite enjoyable with intriguingly good flavours; not fresh but far from finished.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Azienda Agricola Svoltacarrozze di Meoni Sebastiana 2004 Toscana (Italy)

This is one of those wines with a very eye catching label but might not be what you expect inside.  The label is modern and stylish, the wine inside - quite rustic.  This red is made from Sangiovese Grosso and Cabernet Sauvignon; I thought the Cabernet would help smooth out the Sangio, but in fact I think it worked the other way around.  The wine was rustic and bitterish by itself, so this is not a sit-by-the-campfire-and-sip-on-it kinda wine.  But where it did do a good job was with some cheese, I pulled out some 6 year old Balderson white cheddar and as it turned out this wine made a beautiful pairing with it ... it was too late in the evening to bbq a steak, but I bet it would have done wonders as both the marinade and the accompaniment.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Torres 1997 Mas La Plana & FontanaFredda 2000 Barolo (Spain / Italy)

What a fabulous little step back in time this was.  I was helping a friend with his wine cellar and discovered a few gems (which obviously he will be opening this summer with friends and family), but he was nice enough to pop the cork on a couple of interesting finds.  Like a 1997 Torres Mas La Plana, a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Spain.  Now Spain isn`t known for making Cabernet, in fact, they are more comfortable with Tempranillo and Grenacha, so this is a real treat.  Reading the back of the bottle it says that it can be cellared up to 10 to twelve years, and that`s after close to three years of maturation at the winery ... so, according to Torres, we are at the tale end of the sweet spot for this wine ... or are we?  I won`t leave you in suspense, this wine was a total delight from start to finish.  The nose was earthy with dark fruit and spice aromas that were really very alluring.  The taste doled out dark fruit, earthiness, chocolate liqueur, and a little bit of plum and/or prune (depending if you swirled before sipping); this wine was good to the last drop.  A neighbour showed up and that required a second bottle of something interesting, thus the cork on a bottle FontanaFredda 2000 Barolo had to be pulled.  The nose was sour cherry and spice while the palate was wild with flavours, namely cherry, spice, cinnamon and still an excellent amount of red fruit flavour crossing the tongue.  Tannins were silky, acidity felt balanced and the fruit still starred in this show (though on the dried side).  An excellent little tasting to say the least.  Thinking back upon it made the ride home on the subway much more enjoyable.