Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pondview 2009 Bella Terra Cabernet Franc (Ontario)

Way too early for a taste it again review but I did want to see how this wine stood up in a proper Bordeaux-style glass.  Pulled the cork and noticed the wine has seeped it's way up, and the neck smelled oxidized, so I had a brief moment of worry ... but because it was still a young wine it overcame this problem and my review of the wine still stands:

Best way to check to see if you have a leaky bottle , not just of this wine but any wine under a cork seal, is to twist the plastic capsule and see if it turns easily, if it is hard to turn, or does not turn at all you might have a problem, and the older the bottle the more the problem will be ... this is not a fool-prrof method but has worked for me 95% of the time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BBQ Night Zin and Dessert Time Late Harvest (California / Ontario)

A full house for a BBQ on the back deck: burgers, dogs, salads, chips, the only thing missing were the baked beans and potato salad - but hey, you can't have everything.  I pulled out a 7 year old Zinfandel from Ravenswood (Ravenswood 2004 Vintners Blend Zinfandel) and was blown away by the dark fruit: plum, black cherry and hints of vanilla along with an element of spice that still existed in this wine - it still tasted young and fresh ... plus there was a bit of chocolate on the finish.

Speaking of chocolate the peanut butter chocolate fudge cake that my wife made was a huge hit and I paired it with a 2008 Pillitteri Select Late Harvest Gewurztraminer (a bit of a curious oddity wine) which was spicy and floral with nice balancing acidity ... another hit.  A tasty dinner was had by all ... I'm sure the drinks played a key part in everyone's enjoyment.

Wines from the Weekend and Beyond (Ontario)

For those of you who think I have not been drinking over the weekend, or even over the last few days, shame on you, I've just been posting reviews on a variety of other blogs like:

Taste it Again ...

Lost & Found ...

So there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Palivou Vineyards 2000 Agiorgitiko (St. George) - (Greece)

I don't showcase a lot of Greek wine because I don't have a lot of Greek wine in the cellar, but after tonight's bottle I have to ask myself why?  I just finished putting together a blog entry for Ottawa Life, that will appear in September, about a tasting of Greek wines I did back in May.  I was then looking through the earlier part of my wine cellar (organized by year) and found this 2000 Agiorgitiko and thought it would be appropriate to open that up for dinner.  Funny thing is I used to drink quite a bit of Greek wine, one of my early favourite reds was a light bodied easy drinker from the Aegean Islands.  

I have learned over my time of drinking and writing about wine that I am not always going to get those fresh fruit flavours just because I open a fresh bottle of wine.  Wine ages, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but when you open a ten year old bottle you're definitely gonna get something interesting.  Which brings me to this bottle:  It's old, but it's definitely still quite drinkable with dried fruit mixed with cedary-oak notes (more wooden than fruity) with hints of acid and spice.  It seemed to go pretty well with the goat cheese stuffed chicken breast I made.  I'm surprised at how well it stood the test of time ... about 20 minutes into the drinking I noticed a bit of that foresty floor aroma and taste, but not in a rotten way, more in a character nuanced way ... I must admit I was shocked, amazed and surprised that the wine was still as alive as it was.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Don Sebastiani 2007 SKN Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

SKN - what in the world could that mean? Could be Skin minus the I but no, it actually is an acronym for Screw Kappa Napa.  With its eye catching orange label this wine grabs your attention, not surprising the producer is listed as Three Loose Screws ... but forget about the packaging and marketing for a minute, because label will get you to buy a wine a grand total of once, what`s in the bottle will have you coming back time and time again.  This is a relatively easy recommend because most people recognize the Napa brand as being wine of quality (but still crap does come from the region), this is a pretty basic Napa Cab but a tasty one at that.  The nose is full of chocolate, blackberry, black cherry and plum while the palate is dark fruited with pepper and spiced-plum gives length to the finish with just a hint of mocha on the linger ... seemed to go well with the Venison Honey Garlic sausages I paired it with.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hollick Wines 2004 Red Ridge Cab / Shiraz / Merlot (Australia)

I think I am starting to doubt my sanity ... I know I have seen the bottle, I even drank from a glass poured directly from it, but for some reason I can't find any information about this wine.  Tonight we had dinner at a grillhouse called Wildfire in St. Catharines, dinner was excellent with steaks the size of your head and ribs that were delicious and saucy.  Ordered a bottled off the Bin End menu, when it arrived I tasted it and it was getting older but still with lots of spice and tannins to match with our main courses.  I turned the bottle around and saw the name of the producer as Hollick and knew it was Australian (so said the label on the front) - but as far as anyone ever tasting or seeing this wine on Yahoo, Google or CellarTracker, no dice.  I can tell you the nose had good spice character and the palate had a decent amount of dark fruit, though it was fading in favour of the ramped up spice with hints of pepper while the finish turned out to be a pleasant linger of spiced plum. All in all a decent wine for the evening meal.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Two Reds and a White on Meatloaf Night (Ontario / Argentina)

It's not often I have a three bottle night, but it is not everyday you get to celebrate a birthday and an anniversary.  My parents came to visit on Friday afternoon (it had been my mom's birthday and their anniversary in the past week).  We were making them dinner, but because of their early arrival there was time to catch up before dinner was served.  What better way then out on the deck in the beautiful sunshine and nice weather.  Mom was talking about a wine she had had earlier in the week with a friend that she thought was quite nice; turns out it was a 2008 Gamay from Malivoire.  I said, "If you liked that one then you're going to love this one," and I grabbed a bottle of Malivoire's 2009 Small Lot Gamay, this one is a stunner and one of the best Gamays I have tasted out of Niagara so far.  My wife is a white drinker, so when she returned and joined us on the deck it only seemed fair that she get a great wine too, which lead me to pull out a Cave Spring Cellars 2009 Dolomite Riesling.  Finally, with dinner a special meatloaf with my first attempt at an Israeli couscous salad (turned out pretty good), for this I pulled out a bottle of Finca El Retiro 2004 Tempranillo Reserva Especial (from Argentina) - this was a spicy number that still had some good dark fruit to balance off the spiciness.  Smooth and enjoyable, especially with the meatloaf.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Two Ontario Whites - Semillon and Riesling (Ontario)

Friends came over tonight, and because it was hot outside and later in the evening, white wines took center stage ... two wines I have previously reviewed and have enjoyed - now I am enjoying them again.  How about I just link 'em up here and you can read them at your leisure:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

EOS 2004 Paso Robles Zinfandel (California)

Last time I was in Michigan to visit my wife's family I took a few minutes to check out this liquor store everyone said I should ... alright so it was more like an hour, I don't spend "a few minutes" in liquor stores.  So while the family visited I shopped for booze and found a number of interesting bottles, mostly Zinfandel - a real American staple and their gift to the vinous world (if you can get past the pink stuff) - and I feel When In Rome ... (you know the rest).  Anyway, I got this a few weeks ago and yes it was already 7 years old when I picked it up (as I look at the EOS website I see they are selling the 2008 version) ... but boy am I glad to have put my hands on this one, it is drinking exceptionally well right now.  The nose is plum, blackberry and vanilla while the palate was smooth going in then grabbed the tongue with a hint of pepper and a decent amount of acidity on the finish.  Through the mouth there was dark plum, spiced cherry and vanilla and the finish ended slightly sweet (probably due to the 14.5% alcohol) with a delicious spiced-plum.  I paired it was a balsamic glazed chicken and it was one of the best pairings I have had in a long time as the wine melded with the slight char on the chicken ... I thought I had gone too bold with my wine tonight but now I am glad I don't listen to myself or the "experts" who say Zin can't go with chicken.  Goes to show that on paper pairing isn't perfect, you have to experiment to gain knowledge.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Perrin & Fils 2008 Rasteau L'Andeol - Part 3 (France)

Alright ... so here we are on the fourth night of this bottle being open and the Wine Shield is in the bottle (installed correctly?) - theory is that the Shield should protect the bottle from oxidation for longer than if the bottle was left unprotected.  Truth is the wine has port like flavours and smells, which is a sign of oxidation.  So did it protect the wine better?  I'd have to say that my findings are really inconclusive on the matter ... one bottle does not a test make.  I'm going to have to give it another go in the next couple of weeks, but this time I will have to open two bottles of wine so that I have a control bottle and one under the wine Shield, to see if it makes a difference; and I think I know just the bottles to do it with  For now I wouldn't rush out and get Wine Shield unless you want to experiment with it as I am going to do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Perrin & Fils 2008 Rasteau L'Andeol - Part 2 (France)

So yesterday, if you remember, I inserted a Wine Shield into my partly consumed bottle of Perrin & Fils 2008 Rasteau L'Andeol ... the shield is suppose to protect the wine from the air and let it last longer after opening ... so the second glass should be just as good as the first, in theory.  Truth is I thought the second glass was even better than the first with big raspberry notes on both the nose and taste, just a hint of that pepperiness on the palate from yesterday, but it was there.  Now, would this have happened anyway had I not used the wine shield, I think it might have - the more I think about this experiment the more I realize I have to sacrifice two bottles to see if this will work, obviously 2 of the same wine ... Let's see if I am wiling to do that for the sake of "science".  For now I will continue with my bottle of Rasteau and skip Sunday's glass to see what happens with Monday's by then the wine has been open four days and by then I am usually ready to dump it down the sink - though I have to admit a bottle rarely, if ever, gets past the first night in this house, it's a shear sign of will-power that I have allow a bottle this delicious to last this long.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Perrin & Fils 2008 Rasteau L'Andeol - Part 1 (France)

So tonight I did my first trial with a product called Wine Shield which is a product designed to prolong the life of your wine after it has been opened.  It's a bit of a complicated process to get the Shield into the bottle and I am still not quite too sure I did it right - guess I won't know till I finish the bottle - but from my reading it is a plastic food grade blanket that sits on top of the wine protecting it for the air so that each glass tastes as good as the first, or at least the wine won't spoil as quickly.  Tonight I gave it a try with this Rasteau from the Cotes du Rhone region of France, and a good one at that: Perrin & Fils.  I read somewhere that their name on a bottle is as close to a guarantee of quality that you are going to get - and I have to admit that I am rarely disappointed in their wines.  This wine is a blend of Granache and Syrah, with the majority being the Grenache (usually about 80%) ... upon opening it had a lovely nose of plum, dark cherry and spice; the palate showed lots of spice with dark berries and black pepper bite.  Dinner choice was marinated steak and it went quite well together.  I then installed my Wine Shield (hopefully correctly) and now we wait until tomorrow to see what happens.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Newton 2004 Napa Valley Claret (California)

"Claret" is what the English would call wines from Bordeaux ... but this is not a Claret in the traditional sense of the word, claret, as a Bordeaux, would contain a blend of 5 specified grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and/or Malbec; but this version of California Claret forgoes the Malbec in favour of Syrah (8%).  The result is a wine that is smooth yet with a peppery bite ... dark fruit leads the charge on the tongue, doling out blackberries especially, but spiced/peppered plums are also found on the palate.  A delicious wine with meat stew, which is what I had for dinner tonight at my parents house - though I did not ask what kind of meat, maybe I did not want to know - afterall these were the folks that served me tongue at a young age.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Zinsational 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel (California)

I love visiting the U.S.  Sure I now have family there and we get together for a drink (or 12 - you get a chance ask my wife about Friday night), but the real draw is the wine stores on every corner and the variety you find on the shelves (and the family of course).  But while my wife is catching up with her sister-in-law or friends I find time to slip out and check out a local liquor establishment (even if its just the Wal-Mart around the corner).  This time I ended up at a Parkway Liquor Store (?), at least that might have been what it was called ... they had floor to ceiling liquor, beer, coolers and, from what people told me before I went, they had recently renovated to expand their wine selection.  Needless to say I just had to check it out, and while there bought a few bottles (mainly Zinfandel).  One I specifically bought for dinner that night, which was going to be some BBQ from a place in New Balitimore, MI called Bad Brad's BBQ (place was excellent, the brisket was amazing and so were the St. Louis style ribs) ... anyway I got this bottle of Zinsational for just such an occasion and shared it with my father-in-law (I had no idea he was a wine drinker) ... the wine was full of plum and spice with black cherry and vanilla notes and went very well with the BBQed fare ... granted we drank the wine out of juice glasses, but it was the kind of wine (and dinner) that suited juice glasses perfectly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cline 2005 Red Truck Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

If you read the little red truck's license plate on the front label you'll see that it says Cline, but otherwise you would have no idea this wine is from one of the top Zinfandel producers in the US - just thought I'd mention that as an aside.  But don't worry about that for a minute and think about this easy drinking juicy red (when it was first released) what has now happened to it at 6 years from vintage date?  Well I can tell you that it is really at its peak - especially if you like a layered juicy Cab.  The nose is black cherry, cassis along with some vanilla and cinnamon.  The taste is even better and continues to evolve over a two hour period.  It starts out as a smooth red, almost creamy, with plum, black cherry, vanilla with a hint of pepper on the finish, which mixes with subtle tannins ... 2 hours later it's the finish you'll most remember: plum- chocolate and some alcohol soaked cherries, a few more sips and I was thinking back to black forest cake ... now that's a wine that keeps on giving: great for dinner and then great for dessert.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Double Shot of Road 13 Wines (British Columbia)

As a freak occurrence I ended up with a number of bottles of Road 13 wine (formerly Golden Mile Cellars) and tonight, with friends in attendance on this holiday Monday I opened a couple of those bottles.  The first to be opened was on the deck and turned out to be the beauty of the batch: 2010 Old Vines Chenin Blanc.  This was just the cat's ass (if you'll excuse the language) with aromas that filled the air the moment I poured it (even outside you could smell the tropical fruit plain as day coming from the glass), this wine had what I like to call "sniff-all-day-edness" to it.  The palate was just as inviting loading on those sweet tropical fruit flavours of pineapple and hint of mango, yet also with some restarined mineral notes and citrus flair, especially on the finish where grapefruit and lemon pith intermingled to keep that sweet fruit at bay and bring out all the lovely enjoyment of the wine.  It was on this high that we then opened the 2010 Rosé, a primarily Gamay Noir based pink wine to go with the pork dish for dinner ... alas, it could not stand the scrutiny of the crowd won over by the Chenin's charms, nice but nothing spectacular; maybe we should have started with the rosé.

L. Mawby M. Lawrence "Wet" (Michigan)

It's Friday night, time to celebrate the weekend so I went deep into the cellar to find something unusual but tasty.  Here's a bottle of bubbly I picked up in Michigan a couple of years back at a sparkling wine house called L. Mawby, a place that now boasts 15 sparklers with names like "US", "Consort", "Jadore", "Detroit" and "Sex" ... this one is just plain "Wet".  Wet is a blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier done in the Cuvee Clos method ... flavours are of sweet almond biscotti and over ripe apple.  This wine was probably a little fresher a few years back but it was interesting to taste it with a little age ... and in truth it was delicious and as advertised: Wet.