Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve: German Riesling & Ontario Bubbles (Germany / Canada)

It was double Riesling night chez moi on New Year's eve ... first we started with a bottle of CH Berres 2007 Riesling Kabinett (Urziger Wurzgarten) and paired it with ordered in Chinese food.  Now before I get to the wine I want to take this moment to remind myself that ordering Chinese on New Year's eve is not a novel idea - no matter what you convince yourself of, in fact I think everybody and his dog had the same idea.  Our usual place took an hour-and-a-half to deliver, the food was almost stone cold and the usual fabulous quality almost seemed pedestrian (the soup even tasted like dishwater) ... so note to self, pick it up next year.  As for the Riesling, it was a delicious accompaniment and also by itself.  It started off with a hint of petrol on the first whiff, but soon that dissipated and we were left with lemon, dried apricot and lime cordial on the nose.  The palate started the same way but righted itself within 15 minutes: sweet citrus notes found their way to the back palate, baby powder nuances along with pear and lemon across the tongue - it had a dry start with a touch of sweetness on the finish ... lovely.

The second Riesling of the night happened to be of the sparkling variety as we opened a Maleta 2005 Old Vines Brut (Ontario) at the stroke of midnight.  This wine has aged very well with baked apple and lemon pith notes on the nose, while on the palate toasted brioche with a slight buttery taste across the tongue gave way to a long lemon and lime pith finish.  Happy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cline 2010 Cool Climate Pinot Noir (California)

According to my American wine connection this is the first time Cline has made a Pinot Noir.  Cline is known for making excellent single vineyard Zinfandel, and here in Ontario they have a good value priced Syrah that continues to impressed year in and year out ... but I had never seen a Pinot under their label and my connection further sparked my interest by telling me it is one of his favourites of the year (value-wise) ... now that's pretty big praise.  I was also told that for years Cline has been growing these grapes and selling them off to La Crema, who are known for making some pretty awe-inspiring Pinots themselves, so if they liked the grapes this must be something special.  The nose had lots of smoky strawberry notes along with sour cherry and spice.  The palate doled out more of that smoky quality along with sour cherry, spice and some earthy notes.  The finish was the most intriguing part of all as it laid down a delicious layer of smoked black cherry on the tongue.  I would say this is a pretty good first effort from the folks at Cline.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Concha y Toro 2005 Casillero del Diablo Merlot (Chile)

Last night was pizza night and so I was looking for something Italian in the cellar when my hand found its way to the neck of this bottle ... and so I for-went (???) the Italian and decided to open this Chilean instead ... and what a wonderful surprise it was too.  I know that Concha y Toro make excellent wines, but to find it here in the $12 range and to have it last beautifully for 6 years, and it could have gone longer, trust me, proves to me the winery is all about quality in the bottle ... The nose was blueberry, chocolate and cassis - lots of chocolate and cassis, which was followed on the palate with a smooth suppleness that carried along with it cassis and spice with a hint of woodsiness ... paired very well with the pepperoni pizza we devoured.  Don't be afraid to lie some of these bargain wines down - you never know which ones will surprise you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Forchini Vineyards 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel, Proprietor's Reserve (California)

While in Michigan this holiday season I visited my friend Dave at Champane Wine Cellars ... I was buying a bottle for my sister-in-law and needed some advise on something easy and fruity, as I am trying to find a way to convert her from the sweet reds to the drier versions ... then the inevitable question, I needed something for me.  Dave knows my penchant for Zinfandel so he brought me over to the section and started showing me a few bottles that he has tried and admired over the past few months.  One of which was this Forchini Old Vines.  The nose was mainly spiced-plum though I did pick up a hint of volatile acidity; but the palate was perfect with lots of vanilla along with the spiced plum which showed up on the mid-palate and a lovely chocolate note on the finish which lead to something peppery ... very nice.  Yes Dave sure did pick a winner here.  On another note, while talking wine, as we usually do, Dave was intrigued by Pinot Noirs from Ontario, skeptically so, so I promised him a little tour through the world of Ontario Pinot the next time we meet ... I just know that's going to go well as I have already begun a list of my favs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Belle Glos 2009 Meiomi Pinot Noir (California)

I find that when I do a lot of work or research on a grape I suddenly have a craving to have a glass or two of the wine made from it ... so upon my arrival home tonight I opened this bottle of the recently released (in Ontario anyway) Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot.  Meiomi is a blended vineyard Pinot, as oppose to the single vineyard Pinots that Glos makes ... plus it's under screwcap, which is quite different than the stylized waxing put on the higher end Belle Glos wines.  I found this wine to be really tasty and just what I was looking for, even though when describing it to my wife she thought I was nuts for liking it - I guess you just have to like reds and in particular be intrigued by Pinot Noirs many facets.  The nose was of a smoky tobacco that really lured you in; the palate kept the smokiness and added black cherry with just a hint of the cranberry that was found on the nose - so far so good, right?  But here is where the oddness came in, the finish retained the smokiness but with more of a cigarette ashtray finish; or for those who have smoked before, it was like the lingering sensation of a few cigarettes on the tongue.  Now I was never a hardcore smoker, I have had the occasional cigar and flirted with disaster many years ago (I have my brother to thank for the habit not catching on) ... but I remembered the sensation.  This is really an interesting wine, and yes, very tasty - even down to that ashtray finish.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cline 2005 Gnarly Head Old Vines Zinfandel (USA)

In a post I did about Friday's wine (Bogle Phantom), I made mention that all Zin is good unless it is spoiled.  In a related matter, I got an email the other day from a winery owner who was not happy with one of my posts in which I blamed pastic cork for the demise of his wine.  Which bring us back to the Gnarly Head I held in my hands, struggled to open, and poured into my this past Sunday.  At first the wine just seemed a little pruny - and with the plumminess of Zinfandel (usually) you can some how make the leap that an older Zin will become pruny (no?).  But 20 minutes into the glass and this wine was shot, long-gone-to-the-Yukon, an absolute disaster ... and I blame, you guessed it, the cork, which was indeed plastic, stylized, but plastic.  I suspect you have heard me talk about the bane of my existence being these plastic corks which act like sieves for air.  They spoil wine that is usually wonderful in no time flat.  And if you are unlucky enough to have stored away a plastic capped wine for any length of time you have a 80/20 chance that wine is not worth cleaning your toilet ... such was the case with this wine.  In both smell and taste it was rancid and not worth drinking.  My wife was actually shocked that I was pouring a glass of wine down the sink, and even more shocked that is was a Zin, saying, "I thought you said there were redeeming qualities in all wine" ... not one like this sweetheart, not one like this.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Bogle 2004 Phantom (USA)

I make no bones about it, I really like Zinfandel wines, and although I write a lot about Ontario, I know that my beloved home province will not be making Zinfandel any time soon (unless this global warming really takes off).  I also find myself with a passion for Primitivo, but that's a story for another time.  Tonight's wine was a Bogle Phantom, a wine made from Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Mourvedre, two  latter of the three grapes from "old vines".  I occasionally hear a debate about Zin, whether it should be drunk young and fresh or put a little age to it and see the complexity come out - the argument there is that Zin has no complexity when its young so why would it get it when it's old?  But enough with the naysayers, unless it's absoultely spoiled, Zin is great at any stage.  Granted this isn't pure Zin but it sure has enough inside to give it real character.  The nose is black cherry, raspberry, spiced blueberry with a whiff of cinnamon.  The palate is a little tamer but still quite good doling out spiced cherry, raspberry and plum notes.  It was an altogether very pleasant wine, not sure how much longer I would leave it in the cellar, but tasty it was.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mitchelton 2003 Blackwood Park Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)

There are times that I pull a bottle of wine out of the cellar for no more important a reason than I wanted to ... there are other times I look a little deeper into the cellar and think I have to start drinking some of this older stuff ... this was one of those times (on both accounts).  This Mitchelton Cab was stunning from beginning to end, it was one of those bottles that after the first sip I was wishing I had more bottles and after an hour I was wondering if I should have let it sit longer. But all that means nothing now as it is the only bottle I have and it is now open and gone, but what an enjoyable wine it was.  The nose was full of black cherry and chocolate with a hint of rich vanilla cream.  The palate was even better with fruit flavours of blackberry and black cherry, then dark chocolate and vanilla took on some of the chores of delivering flavour ... as the evening progressed the wine continued to be loaded with rich dark fruit on the tongue and the finish was cocoa ladened with lots of length.  This was a delicious wine, so glad I got the chance to experience it - and while I wish I had bought more, I am glad I drank it during the sweet spot.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Get Together wines and beer (Ontario / Australia)

The evening started with a growler of beer and ended with a debate over an Ontario Meritage, the middle consisted of two wildly different Tasmanian Pinots.  Sounds like a party, and it was.  

The wife and I decided to invite some friends over to make up for cancelling on the US Thanksgiving get together we were originally planning (I had to go out of town that weekend).  Our drinking started early because of the miracle bird - a turkey that was calculated to need 7 hours to cook somehow only needed 3 to be completely done ... it is our first Christmas miracle.  My wife and I sat on the couch in the living room and knew we needed something to drink ... that's when we pulled out the growler (1.9L) of Niagara College Teaching Brewery Glutton free beer ... yes we wanted a beer but nothing heavy - we had guests coming after all, and this one hit the spot.  

People started to arrive some 3 hours later - the beer was gone but we had plenty more, including a NCTB Oatmeal Stout that proved to be popular with us and a few guests.  For dinner I twisted the cap on a bottle of Josef Chromy 2009 Pinot Noir "Pepik" - which was delightfully Pinot-esque with that sour cherry, cranberry and slight earthy tinge, this was a very good Pinot Noir from a country not known for making great pinot (Australia) but from a region I have grown to really enjoy Pinots from (Tasmania).  I wanted to have a bit of a contrasting Pinot in bottle number two, so I twisted another cap on a bottle of Tamar Ridge 2007 Pinot Noir 'Kayena Vineyard'; another Tasmanian offering but this time from the 2007 vintage, which must have been way hotter because the alcohol was a whopping 14% where as the first was only 12.  This one showed more of a cooked fruit flavour, more robust with more plummy and black fruit qualities - more along the lines of what you expect a delicate grape like Pinot to become in a hot region like Australia ... but there was still some finesse shown in the making of it so it wasn't jammy ... it past muster.

After dinner a debate began over a bottle of Ravine 2010 Meritage - someone mentioned that had seen my review and wondered what wine I had tasted, as they had tried the same wine and was nothing like what I had described.  I quickly ran downstairs and grabbed a bottle and poured some glasses - I was vindicated, but my guest insists that the wine we tried tonight and the one they had tried previously, while labelled the exact same, were not the same wines ... curious.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Between the Lines 2009 Merlot (Ontario)

I'm on an Ontario kick this week as I pulled out this bottle of Between the Lines 2009 Merlot tonight - looking at my site I thought I had reviewed this wine already, but it seems I have not posted said review; could be because there was not much of this wine left at the winery (the only place you can get it), and as I was drinking I thought "why should there be any of this wine left, it's bloody delicious" (obviously my inner-Brit comes out when I drink).  Not only is this iwne delicious but a real value at only $13.00.  Smooth and fruity it's exactly what people think of when they think of Merlot.  Most Ontario Merlot needs some time but this one is ripe and ready now.  Here's a pre-holiday suggestion .. call up Between the Lines and see if they have any of this wine left, if they do get some, it's a real people pleasing, party starter kind of wine.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Columbia Crest 2007 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington)

I would have to say that the Washington wines I have tasted of late have been pretty awesome stuff.  I was really blown away by a tasting of this wine a few months back and now that I got a chance to put this wine into a nice big glass and consume more then a few mouthfuls (without having to spit them), I am even more impressed.  The nose was full of ripe inviting fruit like blackberry and black cherry, but there were also lovely aromas of vanilla, spice and mocha.  The palate didn't disappoint in any way, starting with chocolate and cassis, then moving on to blueberry and black cherry, before allowing pepper and spice to take center stage.  The wine did have some fairly aggressive tannins that seemed to soften with more swirling in the glass, but they kept popping up even after an hour.  This wine shows some great potential for further aging over the next 5+ years, but it sure is drinking well right now.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ravine Vineyard 2010 Chardonnay - Estate (Ontario)

Finally got my hands on a bottle of this wine to take home and it is just as good in the glass here in my living room as it was sipping it at the winery with Peter Gamble.  Paired with salmon this wine truly does satisfy - I always remember something that Thomas Bachelder said when talking about Chardonnay:  "where's the salmon?" and I think he is completely right, it was a delicious match.  As for the wine, best I just send you over to my original review from a few weeks ago:  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mission Hill 2005 Reserve Shiraz (British Columbia)

I don't know why, but the idea of having something from BC just stuck in my head and I couldn't shake it.  I must have been looking through a magazine or something, and Mission Hill just kept coming up - even though I have other BC wines to chose from.  One that's really got me Jonesing to finally open it is a 2005 Twisted Tree Merlot - but I guess I am saving that for another day.  Tonight it was a beef pot roast and Shiraz that had my attention on the wine and food front. The wine proved to be quite good over the short term with a nose of black currant, cedary and cinnamon notes along with some spice and pepper (hard to tell them apart at this point in the evolution of the wine).  On the palate the cinnamon came through along with blackberry, cassis, white pepper and cedary notes ... and as the night wore on the cedary notes became more prevalent to the point of being more like dry pencil shavings ... but then there was also some pleasant smoked meat spices that complimented those woody flavours, when I took the last sip of the night the wood was over-shadowing even the spices.  Held up nicely but not sure it has too much longer to be called "fresh".