Friday, September 30, 2011

Josef Chromy 2009 Pepik - Pinot Noir (Australia)

Turns out I have a small collection of Josef Chromy wines, all Pinot Noirs and all Tasmanian, from Australia, what the folks down under proclaim as "true cool climate".  Of the three I have this is the one with the least amount of alcohol (12.5%) while the others have 13 and 14.5.  Pepik is a nickname for Josef in Czech - or so the back of the bottle says ... it also called this wine an "approachable, easy-drinking" wine, and I am apt to agree.  The fruit is forward in this wine with lots of cherry and hints of cranberry on the nose, along with sweet spices and some vanilla.  The palate shows the acidity of this wine first and foremost, then displays really good red fruit flavours, some spice which then leads to a cranberry, raspberry, strawberry finish.  Lovely mouth-feel and good taste, one of the reasons I like the Chromy wines, and why I have quite the collection going on.  Might I suggest you pick up a bottle from the store nearest you and see if you don't agree.  And for you white drinkers, his Chardonnays are pretty good too.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Seifried Estate 2005 Nelson Riesling (New Zealand)

I find myself at the Festival Inn in Stratford enjoying the evening with my wife after we returned from the events that took place on the Saturday afternoon at Savour Stratford (a report will follow in the next few days on the On the Road blog).  I brought along a little something special to while away the evening ... at least I am hoping it is special.  Not sure why I have been holding onto this wine like it was gold, I guess I am impressed to have some white other than Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand in my possession.  A curious wine because it started out a little too funky but then seemed to reclaim itself ... let me explain.  The nose started off too petrolly and almost hard to drink, but the palate didn't have that problem, there was little to no petrol there.  So I decided to let it sit and see what happened (our fridge might have also been a little too cold).  Yes petrol was hanging out in the background but there were also smells of apricot and lemon peel.  The taste also proved to be rather interesting with citrus notes in the form of lemon pith, over-ripe pear and some apricot.  As the wine warmed and opened up; after another hour there were hints of green apple and some minerality thru the mouth that disappeared into an apricot-lemon pith finish.  I think this wine has held up rather nicely.

Cline 2005 Ancient Vines Zinfandel (California)

Even sittin' at home on a Friday evening I found myself in a California State of Mind, so I opened up an old bottle of this favourite from Cline.  They say the vines they use are between 80-100 years old, that's pretty ancient indeed.  Now at first I was not sure about this wine, things did not smell good and the taste was suspect.  The nose was plummy to a degree but also had quite a bit of pruney and foresty floor nuances.  The taste also rode the line with vanilla, oak, creme de cacao but with a long slightly pruned-oaked finish.  But with more time in the glass and some more aeration to the wine it began to sprout.  In the end I got chocolate with dried plum, but not yet prune notes and some spice started to show up to give the wine a nice kick.  Yup, a decanter and an hour would have helped this wine, but I could not wait to get to the good stuff - patience is a virtue and sometimes I have none of it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trinchero 2009 Zinfatuation (California)

As the label suggests this is another in a string of Zinfandels I have been drinking here in California over the past week.  This one is an exclusive to Cost Plus World Market, where I had purchased a few bottles in San Francisco.  It's rich and plummy with hints of vanilla and black cherry on the nose.  The palate is plummy with some spice and loads of vanilla - an easy sipper for an afternoon staring out at Monterey Bay trying to pick out sea otters in the bay and on the rocks.  Thinking back to the past week, my favourite Zin on the trip was the first one I tried, but this one is quite lovely and another steal for 8.99 or something ridiculous like that ... like seriously how can you go wrong with a wine that inexpensive, worse case scenario you dump it in the stew.  Well I guess it's cheers from California, tomorrow it's back to the Great White North where I will be screwed at the cash register for even the simplest bottle of wine at our liquor monopoly (good bye free enterprise, hello rubber glove).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chock Rock Vineyard 2006 Syrah - Chalone (California)

A beauty of a Syrah that I tried while touring around the Carmel Valley area of Monterey, and happened across this winery tasting room, the project of Dan Karlsen, winemaker for Talbott Vineyards.  I was impressed by this reasonably priced ($18.00) Syrah that had so much actual Syrah character; probably because the grapes come from the cool Chalone appellation of Monterey.  I liked it in the tasting room and I'm loving it even more now that I have it in a larger, more appropriate glass.  Smells are of dark fruit and smoked meat while the palate has some lovely peppery notes, raspberry fruit and plenty of spice, Dan has also managed to trap some good acidity here so it's not a heavy jammy Syrah and it'll pair well with meat and cheese, I have no meat in the room but I am munching on some cheese as a pairing and it is just heavenly, especially with those cheeses that have a bit of a bite to them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

White Blend - Murietta, Chardonnay - Lockwood and Syrah - Qupe (California)

Dinner at Shake's Old Fisherman's Grotto on Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey was wonderful and the entire Jazz-FM party seemed to congregate at the place, all 26 of us, give or take one or two.  Jazz-FM is the group I find myself with to attend the Monterey Jazz Festival, and our first night in Monterey finds us here a day earlier than the festival begins to take in the sights.  Which is why tonight we find ourselves at the above mentioned restaurant.

I find myself at a table with two other couples and they look to me for some interesting wine choices for dinner.  Each couple is responsible for a bottle, and with 25% off anything local it makes the wine selection a little easier.  We start off with a poached pear and Gorgonzola salad and pair it with a Murietta's Well 2010 The Whip, a blended white from 6 different grapes including Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Orange Muscat and Muscat Canelli.  The nose is very aromatic with lemon, floral and sweet grass while the palate has a slightly sweet-grassy flavour along with lemon, floral, apple and hints of limeade on the finish, there is also a touch of pear and some great orange creamsicle notes that make it creamy and delicious.

Moving to the main I have, as well as 4 of my table-mates, a sesame encrusted walu ... which I just learned is also known as the ex-lax fish because of its laxative effects it has on humans (according to a January 2010 CNN report) and has been banned in such places as Japan and Italy (good to know now).  I can say it was very tasty especially with its coating of sesame ... we paired that with a Lockwood 2009 Chardonnay that had lovely smells of pineapple, apple and hints of vanilla on the nose followed by nectarine, peach, and pear fruit in the mouth along with a subtle spiced-vanilla finish.

Ending the evening with a little creme brulee topped with fresh strawberries and a Qupe 2009 Syrah that was loaded with black raspberry and white pepper on both the nose and palate, there were also some decent tannins on the finish to keep it from being jammy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Peachy Canyon Winery 2008 Incredible Red - Zinfandel (California)

View from room in Monterey
I never miss a chance to buy a bargain Zinfandel, especially from a company I have heard about.  I tried some Peachy Canyon wine many months ago back in Toronto at the California Wine Fair and was impressed with their brand and style of Zinfandel, so when I saw a bottle in a Trader Joe's in San Francisco I figure I just had to grab a bottle and give it a(nother) go.  This is their "Incredible Red", not my evaluation just what they call it, and it is a rather tasty little Zinfandel, especially when you consider it cost a mere $8.99.  It has the plum, vanilla and cherry fruit that we Zin fans look for in our wines and it follows pretty closely in the mouth with a velvety smoothness across the tongue ... it really all comes down to that lovely cherry finish that lingers long time, like a lonely sailor at a whore house.  Well enough with the silly similes, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my wine and looking out at Monterey Bay.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hahn Winery 2009 Meritage (California)

After a day of touring around Fisherman's Wharf and taking the Cable Car here in San Francisco we are now relaxing in the hotel room with some nuts, cheese and (but of course) wine.  This is a straight up Meritage with all five of the Bordeaux grape varieties present (Cab Sauv and Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot) heavy on the Sauv (45%) and Merlot (29%).  This is a pretty powerful wine, and I'm not just talking the alcohol (14.5%), the nose is plum, black cherry, with a heavy reliance on spice and some black licorice nuances.  The palate real zings with its spicy character doling out a lot of pepper and spiced plum, though I have a feeling giving this wine a few more years, say 5, would be quite beneficial to its smoothness, the tannins are a bit raw - if I were allowed more than two bottles back into the country I would definitely be bringing back a bottle of the Hahn and of the OZV from last night.  A delicious wine, again, and for such a cheap price (sorry, inexpensive) this one was purchased for around twelve bucks, twelve bucks?!? ... unbelievable.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oak Ridge Winery 2008 OZV (California)

First evening in San Francisco sees me asking the concierge in the hotel if there is a good wine shop near by (what else?); I am pointed in the direction of a nearby Cost Plus, so I make the 5 block walk in search of a good bottle of California wine ... what I find is an interesting store that sells everything from soup to nuts, including ... you guessed it, wine.  This bottle is on sale for a mere $9.99 at the front door, so I put it in the shopping cart and continue on my way.  The guy manning the wine section is very helpful, telling me that the OZV (stands for Old Zin Vines) that I have chosen is oneof the better values on Zin that they have presently.  The wine is made from vines that are between 50-100 years old and boy does that make all the difference in the world.  This is one sexy Zin with dark plum, chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, cherry-cola, nutmeg and allspice all piling on board to make this one of the most interesting Zins I have tried in a while.  As it sits in the glass the spiciness get a little better and starts to develop clove notes.  The palate follows in pretty much lock-step with the nose (this is nort a bad thing) and the palate seems to have one of those forever finishes that goes on for days... this is a spectacuar Zin..

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wakefield 2004 Merlot (Australia)

This is one juicy and delicious Merlot with sweet fruit that brings to mind blueberry and blackberry with an almost creamy sensation through the front to mid-palate, but then the finish has lots of black pepper and bite that brings this wine to a very satisfying conclusion.  6 years old but you still have a few years before all that fruit goes bye-bye.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stone Cellars by Beringer 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

I'll be honest with you here - as I always try to be - I had no faith in this wine what-so-ever, none at all.  This is a cheapo bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon from 2000, sure it has the name Beringer on it, but other than that I had no hope for a good drink and even had a younger bottle of Australian hooch on stand-by.  The nose had a teenage smell to it (meaning the wine was not old but it wasn't young either) still with a fair bit of fruit amongst a forest floor nuance.  But the palate really popped, smooth and supple dark berries like blackberry and black cherry seemed to come out with a over-ripe raspberry sensation along with some vanilla and a finish that had a flavoured toothpick quality.  Fantastic wine?  No, but very friendly and very consumable ... I have to hand it to Beringer, even the bottom end stuff stands up.  Cheers.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gandia 2002 Hoya de Cadenas Reserva (Spain)

Tempranillo with a hint of Grenache aged 12 months in barrel then it sat in my cellar for what seemed like forever, until tonight.  I plucked it from a box of wines to be tried "later", and later has come now.  The question about a wine like this is how old is too old?  There is no fresh fruit in the glass what-so-ever and there is almost a faint hint of Sherry (does that make it okay because it`s from Spain?) ... but there is also something alluring about the wine on the palate.  It grabs hold of the tongue with spice and a hint of wood, and yet seems almost sweet through the mid-palate.  8 out of 10 people would tell me to dump it down the sink and reach for something younger, but I kinda dig the funky old wines - they have character, they`re not the same old juicy jammy wines we have come to know and love - and that`s what makes them so interesting to sit and sip on ... this one might kick the bucket in an hour (so I`m gonna get right to it) but until then I will sip on it and enjoy the funky flavours of old age.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bubbles, Two Reds, and Aussie Port (Australia)

It seems we had an Australian evening chez moi, mate.  My buddy from the night before decided to stay over, sleeping-in from the party hard style of wine drinking we did the night before, and we moved into holiday Monday the same way we ended holiday Sunday, with wine.  

Kicked off the day by tasting through some 30+ wines I had sitting around for review.  One of those wines was a Yellow Tail wine called Bubbles, which is coming back into the Ontario market with a new kind of closure. In truth this is not a wine that is going to take the world by storm like some of the previous Yellow Tail offering, and it is not going to change the drinking habits of Champagne lovers - but what is will do is make bubbly more accessible and more pleasurable for a lot of people not looking for the breadiness found in Champagne and replacing it with fresh, crisp and lively fruit along with enough sweetness to make it a wine that's easy going down and easy to party with every single night - because bubbly is not just for special occasions.

After a bite to eat to clear up all that wine from the palate, we threw in a movie (District 9) and opened a bottle of Peter Lehmann 2008 Layers, a peppery black fruit number with lovely cassis and spice notes throughout ... the tail end of the bottle paired well enough with the burgers we BBQed before the rains came.  Dinner's entertainment was the movie Taken with Liam Neeson (if you haven't seen this revenge flick it is well worth it) and mid-way through a Thorn-Clark 2005 Terra-Barossa Cuvee was opened.  The cuvee was a blend of Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Cab Sauv and Cab Franc and mixed together to make a sweet and succulent fruity blend that concocts licorice, coffee, mocha, and vanilla cream into all that fruit.

After dinner, IronMan (one and two) were the movies served alongside a Dutschke "Old Codger" Fine Old Tawny Port from South Australia, a nutty, cherry and caramel sweetie that had just enough spice to make it interesting ... It was a day where two guys, without their wives, watched guy movies and drank guy wines, all we needed was the cigars (but my wife would kill me if we smoked 'em in the house).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Two Whites - One Red (Ontario / Australia)

Pretty simple day really.  Buddy came over after the Burlington Rib Fest and we sat around and drank my booze ... frees up space for more, is the way I look at it; free booze is the way he looks at it.

Started with the Reif 2007 Kerner, which proved to be quite delicious after some time in glass.  My buddy, like myself, is not a huge Chardonnay fan, claiming his favourite was way back in 1992 and was made by JL Groux when he was still with Hillebrand.  I pulled out one of my recent favourites, a Coyote's Run 2008 Black Paw Chardonnay, needed some time to open up but once it did it had all I was looking for, my buddy drank it but claims nothing compares to his '92 - stuck in the past obviously.  Finally we opened a bottle of D'arenberg 2008 D'arry's Original (Shiraz Grenache blend) that had lots of spicy black pepper and dark fruit ... this one needed no time in glass to open up, it was ready upon pouring.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Two WInes - Two Different Results (Ontario / Washington)

Due to an interesting scheduling conflict (and that's all I'm going to say about that) my wife and I celebrated our anniversary two days early ... and of course wine was a big part of that celebration.  We started with an afternoon toast with lunch (homemade fish tacos grilled up on our new panini grill), our toast to one year could only be with one wine, the one we got engaged with: Chateau des Charmes 2005 Rosé Brut ... a wine that so far is getting better with age.

Wine two was a major disappointment and, typically, was one I had so been looking forward to trying, a bottle of 2005 Eroica from the combined efforts of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen, grown in Washington State.  I have tried this wine at trade tastings in the past and have been blown away by its freshness and delightful flavour; but this was one nasty bottle of wine that lacked everything I loved about the previous ones I have tried.  The nose seemed to be alright doling out petrol, stewed pineapple and some hints of apricot ... in the mouth the wine had a buttery (?) sensation with hints of mineral notes.  There was some apple and pineapple flavours with a semi-sweet finish that hinted at apricot and lemon pith.  We had ordered Chinese from our favourite place in St. Catharines (Magnolia), and while the food was good (as usual) the wine disappointed ... next time maybe we'll just go with a second bottle of bubbly.