Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Afternoon of Ontario Riesling (Ontario)

After a morning of gardening (or should I say weed ripping, frustration and sweat) we decided to spend our afternoon tasting the products of a few wineries in the area as I was looking to complete an article on Gamay Noir I had been working on and needed a few more tasting notes to add.  My wife is a Riesling fanatic and thus a stop at Featherstone for a taste of their Black Sheep 2010 and to Cave Spring for a glass of 2009 Dolomite were a must (both also produce Gamay, so it was two birds with one stone) ... with 7 Rieslings on the menu my wife was prompted to call Cave Spring "Riesling heaven".  It was then time to head home, and once there, we decided to keep up the Riesling high as two more bottles of the grape's output were opened.  A sumptuous 2010 Norman Hardie offering and we also dug back in time and pulled out a bottle of 2006 Dolomite from Cave Spring.  Each wine we tried seemed to get better than the last ... summer afternoons, and evenings, were made for Riesling.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Malivoire 2009 M2 Small Lot Gamay (Ontario)

Way to soon for a Taste it Again review, but not too soon to pull out another bottle and give it a try.  I am working on an article for Tidings about Gamay Noir and it reminded me of this beauty from Malivoire - a barrel selection of interesting Gamay from the 2009 vintage - which was a stellar vintage for Pinot Noir in Ontario so why wouldn't the Gamay Noir grape benefit!?! They, the folks at Malivoire, have now repeated this barrel selection process for the 2010 vintage, but there's just something about this inaugural bottling that has something special.  Is it the super delicious flavour of black cherry with enough spice to hold it all together? Or is it the fact that you can cool or even chill this wine to make it all at once better and to watch it blossom as it warms up to that perfect temperature in the glass?  I paired it with a garlic pork chop dish and had a great time sipping it before, during and afterward (who's kidding anyone, it is such a gulpable wine that the before was even more enjoyable) ... this is one wine not soon forgotten and just in case you were wondering here is my original review:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tinhorn Creek 2002 Pinot Noir (British Columbia)

I was just sorta wondering about in my cellar (well looking at the management program really, but it sounds better the other way) and noticed that I had a 9 year old bottle of Pinot Noir from Tinhorn Creek in British Columbia, siiting there (I also have an 8 year old bottle of the same wine) but the 9 year old one struck me as something I must put my hands on and drink right away - and so I did.  What a fantastic beverage this turned out to be ... the nose was still alive with fruit: black cherry and cranberry with a touch of earth and lots of red fruit, which seemed to pop out after the wine had been opened about half-an-hour (and with a slight chill).  The palate was just as engaging with earthy red fruit and great palate cleaning acidity, there was also just enough spice to keep it all very flavourful.  I tried the wine three different ways ... right from the cellar - where the fruit ended up being darker and the tannins more aggressive; with about half an hour of chill in the fridge - this is where the fruit really popped and seemed very good, it was the best temp for the wine; and with a full chill to it (some 2 hours kin the fridge) - robbed the wine of much of the flavour.  This wine also made me think that I am possibly not drinking enough Pinot.

Monday, July 25, 2011

La Puerta 2007 Shiraz (Argentina)

Not everybody agrees with me on the plastic cork issue ... well not everybody that sells wine.  Most winemakers and winery owners know the effects plastic (synthetic) corks have on their product and my own experience has shown me that about 80% of the bottles I open that are closed with plastic or synthetic have some kind of fault.  So when I unwrapped the capsule from this bottle I was skeptical as to what I would find in the bottle.  Thankfully, to a degree, this was one of the wines in the 20th percentile that seem to be, for the most part, unscathed by a bad closure decision.  The nose was mostly pepper and blackberry with a hint of an oxidative quality that was so slight it took awhile to come out.  On the palate more dark fruit and white pepper with a port-like mid palate that may or may not have been produced through too much air getting past that cork.  Not as bad as I anticipated, but once again I wish producers would mark somewhere on their label that they used an alternative closure so I (and you) wouldn't hold onto these bottles past there prime (which is no more than 2 years).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dynamite Vineyard 2008 Zinfandel - North Coast (California)

Tonight's dinner was bbq back ribs, and that means a no-brainer to drink: Zinfandel.  I had recently acquired this bottle of Dynamite Zinfandel (not a review just the name) from Michigan for under ten bucks, around $8.99US, and with the exchange rate being what it is that means I got it for even less than that.  I couldn't have asked for much more from an under $10 Zin - it had lots of plum, vanilla and black cherry aromas to start with, the palate followed pretty much the same way with hints of wood-spice as the opening bite.  As the wine opened further and I got deeper into my mound of ribs the wine developed a cinnamon plum sensation and gentle spice through the mouth.  Not dynamite, but pretty darn good.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Josef Drathen NV Wiltinger Scharzberg Riesling Extra Dry Deutscher Sekt (Germany)

First let me say that if you pronounce the word for German sparkling wine wrong in the liquor store, you might get slapped, especially if you ask the wrong person.  German sparkling is called "Sekt" - but saying it wrong could wind you up in a lawsuit, in jail or worse ... but when acquired can make the world a happier place (I'm talking about the wine, although the other works too).  Anyway, enough preamble, let's get right down to it (which is how most men like it anyway).  This is a delicious German bubbly made from the Riesling grape and is full of Riesling smells and flavours and even has the minerality you expect to find in a good Riesling from the Mosel region.  The nose is apple, peach and even has a citrus-mineral note ... on the palate it is more refined down to the apple-mineral with a touch of sweetness.  The wine is fresh, lively and tasty and perfect for the kind of hot temps we've been having here in Southern Ontario.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Montrail - Gervais - La Posta (France / Argentina)

Last night of this short and sweet trip to Pine Island (Lake Nipissing) and it seems we have a Mediterranean flair to our last supper.  Have no fear, I'll put a stop to that by showing up with three wines, two from the Rhone Valley in France and another from Argentina - and all red blends.

Kicking off the last supper was the pre-dinner Cave de Montrail 2009 Segruet - Cotes du Rhone Villages ... this one was fairly harsh on the old palate.  Starting with the nose the aromas were blackberry, cassis and a hint of pepper, obviously fairly inviting.  Palate-wise there was some beautiful red fruit with black fruit backing along with some rugged pepper corns and the drying effect of cocoa powder.  Very good but very grippy, this wine will need a few years to settle down.

With an extra two years under its belt the St. Gervais 2007 Le Reserve du Crouzau - Cotes du Rhone Villages has smoothed out making it a wonderful match with the hopped up Medi-chicken.  Red fruit, blueberry and spice on the nose hints mildly at what is to come on the wonderfully full and enjoyable palate:  spiced-vanilla-blueberry with a mixture of white and black pepper and a chocolatey finish ... it glided smoothly across the tongue with just a mere hint of tannin.  Lovely.

At this point  it was not hard to convince everyone they needed to try one more (for the road) so I opened a bottle of La Posta 2008 Cocina Blend (bought specifically for the cottage experience).  A blend of 60% Malbec and equal parts Bonarda and Syrah this Argentine wine really delivered on the fruit.  Nose was a little bit of everything to everyone: cassis, pencil shavings and a touch brambly in nature, but the palate was focused and delivered rich dark fruit, vanilla, plum, black cherry, cinnamon and sweet pepper ... turned out to be a favourite around the table ... as I knew it would be.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Southbrook 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon – Gonzalez Byass Nectar (Ontario / Spain)

Night two of the Pine Island excursion (in Lake Nipissing) could not have turned out better … yes the Aussie wines went over very well … but the best part was the after party with dinner and a few wines on the table to go with it.  While people feasted and sipped on steak and Australian wine, I open a bottle of Southbrook 2002 Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon – a subtler and much older version of the grape than what most had been accustomed to over the past couple of hours.  You can read about the wine on my Lost & Found Blog

For dessert another wine that most people shunned until they tried it.  In a room of 19 people you mention Sherry and 2/3 of them will shy away for you quicker than they would from a floating piece of poo in the pool.  But some stuck around look enough for a taste of a delicious Pedro Ximenez grapes (read: sweet) Gonzalez Byass Nectar Dolce sweet Sherry – the best way to describe it is the innards of pecan or raisin pie.  Of the 7 who tasted a sip, 6 took a glass or two and thanked me at the end of the evening for the experience.  Gotta love those open to new vinous experiences. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

3 Cousins – 3 Wines (Italy / France / USA)

The tale has begun on this year’s Pine Island visit, a 5-acre island in Lake Nippissing near North Bay, Ontario.  Every year I host a Saturday evening wine tasting here (this year is New Zealand and Australian wines), I also stay for a few days in the peace and quiet of island living.  First night we had some great steaks on the Bar-B cooked to perfection by my cousin Jim.  I bring a box of personal wine with each visit, somethings I want my cousin Jim to try – he’s the one who appreciates the variety of reds (in return he provides his favourite beverage, Scotch, for the Sunday afternoon tasting) … my cousin Rhonda will occasionally have a sip or a slug of white (or try the red), but that depends on her mood.  My final cousin on the island (Joel) does very little in the way of alcoholic drinking, but the boy is about to go to University, so something tells me that might change.

Wine 1 – with the steaks we consumed a Tenuta San Guido 2008 Le Difese … this is the same winery that makes the famous Super Tuscan Sassacaia, so you know I was looking forward to this one … The wine was a perfect match for the steaks with an earthy-cassis nose that delved into spice, vanilla, allspice, and black cherry pit – very complex and sniffable, but then it was palate time and that’s where this wine really took off:  black fruit, spice, vanilla-wood, earthy with big spices.  Sure it needs time to mellow but that steak with this wine was sublimely delicious.

Wine 2 – theoretically an after dinner wine is usually sweet, but I knew the night was far from over, we had catching up to do, so out came a Perrin & Fils 2009 Vinsobres “Les Cornuds” a Rhone blend that’s loaded with big red and black fruit and floral notes on the nose, while on the tongue black fruit, licorice root and lovely spices graced the palate.  Not as complex as the first, but just as delicious.

Wine 3 – Finally, we’re fireside on the beach and out comes a Trentadue 2006 Old Patch Red (a wine I have been saving for just such an occasion) – it is a blend from California and screams juicy: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan, Sangiovese and Syrah.  The nose is pure plum and vanilla soaked cherries.  The palate is just as fascinating: big fruited, vanilla, plum with just the right hint of spice and acidity that keeps the fruit in check so that it doesn’t come off as jammy – but boy is that fruit robust and delicious.

3 days, 2 nights to go … be interesting to see what wines come out next, only I know.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Quail's Gate 2005 Merlot and La Posta 2008 Malbec (British Columbia / Argentina)

This is the tale of two wines and a Saturday night family BBQ:  a Quail's Gate 2005 Merlot and a La Posta 2008 Malbec.  Both wines were good but it was the Quail's Gate that had the complexity and structure to go with the steak dinner.  Woody with cassis and pepper notes on the nose; while the palate benefited from the constant stirring and aeration of the Schott Zwiesel Bordeaux glass  The flavours were of spiced blackberry and pepper along with decent tannins (that held up to the meat) and a slight woody character ... the fruit was starting to subside so it was definitely time to drink this one.  On the other hand, the La Posta, while good, was a one note song after the complex and tertiary flavours of the Quail's Merlot, rich dark fruit that was smooth and easy, good for the after dinner sit around and chat-fest.  Best part of the Quail's Gate Merlot is that we could all feel like outlaws drinking it, I brought it back from my trip out west a few years back, so we were all consuming contraband.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

JL Wolf 2006 Villa Wolf Rose ... (Germany)

Yikes ... here we are on a Thursday night looking for something to pair with a little fish dish and I come across something in the cellar that I suspect I might have held too long, but might be an interesting compliment:  JL Wolf 2006 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rose ... I remember liking this when I bought it and kept looking forward to a good summer occasion upon which to open it ... this seemed it. The capsule came off revealing a plastic cork and it went downhill from there.  The wine was oxidized and off tasting, I passed it to my wife, thinking maybe I am just being sensitive to the plastic closer and letting my predisposition get the better of me.  She was on the phone at the time of glass presentation, but paused in the midst of her conversation to take a sip, made "the face", passed it back and made a thumbs down gesture.  I guess it wasn't just me.  We settled on a Creekside 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Ontario as alternative, and it is still a beauty of a wine.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hillebrand 2009 Ghost Creek Riesling (Ontario)

I'm back on the boozy bandwagon.  After a month of (almost) nothing I have started having something to drink at night - not every night, I'll work up to that gradually, but there will be a vinous beverage at least 3 to 4 nights a week.  To kick off my welcome back I pulled out something for me and the missus ... she likes Riesling and it seemed only right to pour a pretty piece of work from the 2009 vintage here in Ontario.  My review of this wine still stands and is current enough that I think I will just link you over to it: