Friday, December 28, 2012

A Tri-Fecta of Rosemount Wines (Australia)

I was prompted to pull out a bottle of Rosemount wine by my mother, who called to tell me she had just had a lovely Rosemount wine the night before in a restaurant and wanted to know where she could get the same bottle.  I told her that I believe it to be readily available at the LCBO (Ontario's liquor monopoly) - this prompted me to check my CellarTtracker account for bottles of Rosemount I might have in my possession.  Turns out I have (had) 6 bottles of Rosemount wine - three from 2002 and three Show Reserve GSM from 2006.  Thought I would try one of the older bottles ... then another ... then another.  The first bottle I opened was a 2002 Shiraz/Cabernet - I believe part of the diamond line -  yuck, alcohol laced raisins, this bottle had gone very sherry-like, somewhere between PX and off-putting ... I looked more closely and found the offending plastic cork at the end of my corkscrew ... I ran downstairs and grabbed the other two bottles.  The second to be opened was a bottle of 2002 Cabernet/Merlot, part of the same series, it was a little better but hardly worth drinking - it was laced with sherry notes but also had some elements of dried fruit - but not appealing in any way.  Again sealed with plastic - this stuff is a blight on bottled wine.  Finally, with a heavy heart I opened the 2002 Merlot (it had a purple label) and was sealed with a cork, a natural cork.  There was NO sherry noticeable on the nose or palate.  There was a forest floor aroma, dried fruit, wood-derived tannins - but with some hints fruit roll-up (fruit leather) ... then came mocha which lasted to the finish combining all aspects of what the mid-palate was experiencing:  forest floor, dried raspberry and strawberry ... while not the best wine I have ever tried I found this 10 year old Merlot to be quite exciting and interesting at the same time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Valdiviesvo 2009 Single Vineyard Malbec and Two Others (Chile / Ontario)

It was the day of Christmas and we stirred ourselves from where we had been stationed in Michigan for the last few days and came back home to the comfort of the surroundings of St. Catharines (where we call home).  Invited out for a Christmas get-together I thought it only right to bring some of the amazing Ontario juice I had tried in the past couple of months but also something that would blow the socks of guests from somewhere else.  The two Ontario wines I chose were favourites of both my wife and myself - her newest fav Riesling: Cave Spring 2011 Riesling, and my Gamay of choice from 2011: Malivoire 2011 Small Lot M2 Gamay - both will soon appear as reviews at The other was a Malbec form Chile - yes I know Malbec is making a name for itself on the other side of the Andes in Argentina but it seems there are some old vines in Chile and they seem to be doing a bang up job with the grape as well.  The Valdivieso 2009 Single Vineyard Old Vines Malbec is a wine I tried a few months back and really enjoyed it - and tonight I thought it would be fun to give it a try.  Rich in blackberry, smoke, vanilla and mocha notes were what made this wine a delicious addition to the night's poured wines.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Primal Roots 2011 Red Blend (California)

I find myself in Michigan for the holidays (and for all those who know the story - yes I have a proper glass to drink my wine from).  Tonight a bottle of Primal Roots 2011 Red Blend, which I picked up and was recommended to me by my good friend Dave at Champane Wine Cellars ... quick plug: if you have never been and plan to be in Warren, Michigan or anywhere close I suggest you pop in (it's on Chicago Road) - love their wine selection, their pricing and yes, Dave always has a good bottle or two to recommend; today he recommended 8 and I am looking forward to trying them all (over time).  But back to the wine at hand (or is that 'in hand'):  Primal Roots is a blend of Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel, reminds me somewhat of Menage a Trois - but seems a little more serious ... by just a little.  Sealed with a plastic cork this wine is not meant to age, so be warned, but it is a a delightful sipper on a snowy-wintery night (as it is here in Michigan).  Chocolate, mocha, black cherry and hints of vanilla and plum all meld together.  The bottle was only $8.99 and drinks like a wine at least double that.  Now it's time to get back to my book, blanket and of course my proper glass of wine.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Four Wines With Varying Degrees of Interest (Australia / California / Italy)

The only thing better than making new friends is making new friends with a good wine cellar who are willing to share ... I have been very fortunate this weekend to find myself in New York meeting some wonderful people and drinking some pretty interesting wines.  Friday was Sushi night and while everything we tried might not seem like sushi matching wines they were of varying degrees of interests all on their own.  Starting with a MollyDooker 2011 The Violinist, a wine made from the Verdelho grape - a grape found primarily in Portugal and Spain ... what the Aussies are doing with it I have no idea but this wine was not to many people's liking - there was a suggestion that maybe it needed time and I'm not so sure, this was just a very underwhelming wine that lacked character and acidity.  Should have been a great wine with the sushi, but in the end it fell flat.  Opened next (and quickly after the white debacle) was a Sine Que Non 2003 Omega ... it doesn't get much weirder than this an Oregon Pinot Noir made by a California winery, but what the heck. I'm picking up a lot of interesting tidbits this week ... like the US system is much freer in what you can make and from where than my beloved Ontario (more on that tomorrow).  This bottle was brought by our host because the bottle was leaking in his cellar and he wanted to see if it was still any good.  After I had this wine I looked at a few reviews on-line and discovered that ours tasted more like Pinot than others, who spoke of it as more Syrah/Shiraz like ... this was most definitely Pinot Noir, in fact it seemed to blend the old and the new worlds with its old world stinky nose and its new world fruit flavours, a dichotomy of sorts that worked out well ... maybe the leakage helped it along.  Final bottle at dinner was a Dark Matter 2006 Zinfandel, a delicious spicy, chocolatey with raspberry mixed in - it was a wonderful Zin, not for sushi matching but a lovely sipper tht would have been divine with BBQ ... maybe next time.

I'd be remiss if I did not mention a bottle of San Gregorio 2001 Serpico which was open earlier in the day on a dare ... and to see if this wine really was holding up.  Parker gave this particular vintage of this old vines Aglianico 98 points and the scuttlebutt is that it can age 30 years.  Upon first taste it would have been surprising that it lasted a second taste, but we were adventurous and kept giving it air and another try.  It started off quite fruit driven, then closed up on itself and revealed nothing but wood, cedar and oak notes.  The finish was raw and became like drinking liquid wood ... could this be the end of this wine?  About an hour later we came back to the glass and it had really blossom with fruit and the wood had dissipated to a dull roar - a supporting player to all that lovely fruit.  Post Script:  we left the bottle for about 24 hours and re-tasted it ... the end result was a so-so wine but that middle part was wonderful, that was the sweet spot.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Twisted Tree 2005 Merlot (British Columbia)

This is a bottle I brought back from the Okanagan Valley, which seems like forever since I've been there, but in actual fact it's been only 4 years (which is quite a while in the wine world).  I remember this being one of my favourite visits, it was deep in the Osoyoos which is the southern most part of BC.  Everybody always talks about N'kmip, but this Twisted Tree winery was a little hole in the wall and they made some pretty outstanding wines.  But this is more a case of wanting to hold on to memories longer than one should - and this bottle of wine is a perfect example of what can happen when your memories over-shadow you common sense.  I kept waiting for that perfect time to open the bottle and it seemed a visit to mom and dad's house might provide that opportunity tonight, (after all I did the Okanagan trip with my mom for her 70th birthday).  The wine was a shade of brownish-red and the nose hinted at earthy-wooden notes while also giving off dried fruit like blackberry, sour cherry and cassis.  It drank pretty nicely for its first hour but then it turned and turned quickly, it's as if a switch had been pulled, the fading of the wine started to take place and continued to do so exponentially.  It was here that the wine turned woody and slightly vegetative ... sigh ... the waiting might be the hardest part but when you wait to savour and it and it turns on you quickly, that might be even harder.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

From Beer to Sweet Wine the Holidays Officially Get Underway (Ontario, France, Lebanon)

Tonight there were eight different bottles opened, well nine actually, but one was corked, as friends came over to kick off the holiday season.  The first thing to be cracked was a bottle of beer, we had made a trip to Oast Brewery in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Saturday afternoon and walked away with a 6-pack of beers (two different) to start our evening off for those who wanted suds with their pigskin (total blowouts the 4pm games were).  Those who wanted to start their evening off with wine chose the Colio 2011 CEV Sauvignon Blanc or the Tawse 2011 Quarry Road Riesling (linked to full reviews on my website).  As we plowed our way through appetizers and on to the main course (pot roast, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, roasted cauliflower, and fresh homemade cast-iron skillet bread - all lovingly prepared by my kitchen maven wife); I offered up dinner wines.  Cave Spring 2011 Dolomite Chardonnay (reviewed on site) was the white of choice but it was the next four wines that proved very interesting and the ones I had not tried in quite some time (if ever).  Kicking off with a Chateau Lagrezette 2000 Cahors (France) ... this was old school Cahors Malbec, before they started making them all drink now, a la Argentina, this needed time - and we gave it 12 years - and it still needed an hour in the decanter to mellow and give it that smooth, lush, black fruit quality with barely a hint of those robust tannins it once had in its youth.  Next up a Lailey Vineyard 2007 Niagara Peninsula Pinot Noir (the first bottle we opened was corked, rats!), this proved to be quite a lovely wine that still has plenty of time in front of it.  An hour and a half in decanter could not subdue the tannins and rough around the edges spices, but the fruit was coming out quite nicely and seem to be holding the middle ground defiantly against the tannins and spice on either side.  This one still needs time and I have a few bottles left so I am quite prepared to give it what it needs ... let's see what happens in two years or so ... my guess and hope is that as the tannins subside that rising fruit quality we found tonight will advance further. The surprise of the night was the Chateau Musar 2008 Musar Jeune (Lebanon), this wine had a sweet fruit edge, middle and core and a youthfulness to boot - it was the wine most asked for seconds of, I only had the one bottle open, I'm sure I could have gone through two or three.  Lastly, with the multitude of desserts served I took a flyer on a non-vintage sweetie out of France: Croix-Milhas Maury - Mute Sur Grains, Vin Doux Naturel ... not sure how this one went over as many did not finish their glass - that should tell me something - so I can only speak for myself here: the wine was drier than expected, with a spicy edge to it that might have been a turn off for some ... when you think sweet you rarely think about a spiciness to go along with it.  Then again with all the wines consumed previous, maybe it was just one too many bottles in a fantastic evening of food, wine and friendship.  Thank you all for coming and let's do it all again next year - with different wines of course.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Night and Four Wines Down (Chile, Australia, Washington)

Twas the night before my birthday, and into the house, we welcomed some friends to take part in a souse (sousing that should be, and actually it was for dinner it turned into a sousing, for one of us at least).  This evening, four bottles were consumed and one stumble away into the darkness - thankfully his wife was sober enough to get him home.  The evening started with a Chilean Chardonnay (Vina Maipo 2011 Vitral Chardonnay) - turned out to be a very quaffable wine with good acidity, nice fruit, hints of vanilla and a creamy smoothness on the finish.  Next up, to pair with tonight's "classic" pork roast dinner (the "classic" moniker was on the packaging), I pulled out two Penfolds wines: 2005 Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet and the 2005 Thomas Hyland Shiraz ... I wanted to see how these two wines had aged.  The supposition, before I opened the bottles was that the straight Shiraz would outperform the blend because of its price and quality on the Penfolds scale.  Unfortunately, the Shiraz-Cabernet was never given a fair shot at trying to out-best its pricier counterpart as it was sealed with a plastic cork.  While my guests were generous (to a fault - no pun intended) about the blend it was obvious that the Shiraz was the one more up to the task.  While the Koonunga Hill was slightly oxidized (and got more so with each 5 minutes that passed) and according to my guests, "drinkable as a third bottle" - the Hyland was nicely peppered and spiced with lovely dark fruit and could stand to be aged another few years if not more.  I knew it was time for one more when I saw my guests pour themselves from the skanky-ass Koonunga bottle.  I quickly asked what they would prefer and a Washington Merlot was suggested.  Columbia Crest 2007 H3 (Horse Heaven Hills) Merlot ... what a stark contrast to the aged Aussie.  The Merlot was juicy without being jammy, smooth and mellow, as one expects Merlot to be, with some sweet fruit driven elegance.  Everyone tried at least a sip - the aforementioned wobbler/stagger-er polished off most of the bottle, but all agreed it was one of the best Merlots they had had in quite some time.  Thanks for coming over (and you know who you are) - let's do it again soon, it was a lovely evening ... even if (I am sure) one of us had a massive headache the next morning. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jackson Triggs 2002 Proprietors' Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (British Columbia)

My love for older wines and experimentation continues ... and today in the middle of the afternoon, after a wine tasting that did not go so well, I decided to find something interesting to try.  That curiousity led me to this bottle from the Okanagan and surprisingly it was very good.  Sure it was mainly past its prime but it showed well as a mature wine.  The fruit on the nose was all dried, mainly blackberry and cherry in nature - sweet smelling and rather inviting.  The palate was the most interesting thing about it: licorice/anise notes with dried blackberry and cassis, smooth and quite drinkable in its present state ... then within half and hour the oak showed up on the drying finish and began to take over, thankfully the dried fruit remained intact.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Laborie 2001 Merlot (South Africa)

Two things intersected tonight: 1) I was watching Sideways before dinner (it was on TV) and 2) I started looking for a Merlot in my cellar after Miles had his tirade against the grape being consumed at dinner.  If you've seen the move you know what I am talking about, if not, stop reading this post and get thee to the television and find that movie (or your video retailer, it's worth owning).  Now, what led me to South Africa is another story - I guess I was looking for something older and my experience with South African wines has always been one of them needing time to shuck the stink and get into something you're happy to drink.  This one still had elements of it's "South African stinky-ness", but it was more on the palate than the nose.  The aromas were faint at first but turned into mocha, vanilla and a hint of something more earthy.  The palate was altogether intriguing with cocoa starting everything off then moving into smoky notes, then dried blackberries and cassis, adding a hint of tar and finally emerging with a defininte coffee note on the finish.  An interesting wine and not what I would call your typical Merlot.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Concha y Toro 2006 Trio Red (Chile)

It's on a night like tonight where I start feeling very scared about what's in my wine cellar, especially the stuff in there from 2005 and 2006.  

I find myself having to stay in the city tonight (Toronto) so I am off to visit my parents.  Because mom always enjoys a good bottle of wine I decided to pack one, the above mentioned Concha y Toro 2006 Trio (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc).  I have loved this wine in the past and have been looking forward to opening it all day.  Upon arrival I peel the capsule off the wine and lo-and-behold staring back at me is my nemesis: the plastic cork.  Undaunted I carry on - thinking that just once I would like a plastic cork not to spoil one of my aged bottles of wine ... could this be that time and could this be that bottle of wine?  Almost. The wine has basically no nose what-so-ever ... and continues this way through my last sip some 30-minutes later.  The palate has hints of fruit upon the first sip and onto the second, but soon loses all sense of fruit and becomes lean, acidic and lacking any kind of interesting character ... in fact it takes a mere 20 minutes to oxidize completely to a point where I can choke but two more sips down before I am forced to give up the good fight and realize I am sipping on a losing cause.  Another wine ruined by the dreaded plastic cork ... sigh. Am I to find these abominations on all my bottles of 2005 and 2006 wines?  I guess we'll know soon enough.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finca El Retiro 2004 Tempranillo - Reserva Especial (Argentina)

Now my grasp of the Spanish language is not very strong ... but my limited knowledge can figure out that "Reserva Especial" is Special Reserve and that intrigues me.  What intrigued me even more is that this wine is from Argentina and is made from Tempranillo, not something you see from Argentina very often - not in Ontario anyway.  I had this wine in one of my 'lie-it-down' boxes and it seems the time for lying this one had come to an end, sooner or later you do have to try them and assess them as to whether or not it should continue to nap or be woken up post haste.  Good news is this wine falls into both categories ... I was sure glad I woke up a bottle, but I think it could still sit a little longer with little to no ill-effect.  The nose was cinnamon and vanilla oriented with blackberry, raspberry and sweet licorice notes (very appealing).  On the palate it took a few sips to come around.  The first taste to hit the palate was that of spiced raspberries, the last thing was a lovely cocoa finish - it was the middle that caused a lot of controversy as the flavours were not as easily identifiable.  In the end I picked up hints of blueberry and spice coursing through the mid-palate.  This ia a delightful and relatively unique wine (from my perspective anyway), because it remains the only bottle(s) of Tempranillo I have form Argentina - seems I have a couple more to enjoy over the next few years; right now it's drinking very well.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Artezin 2003 Zinfandel (California)

Seems like forever since I wrote on this blog ... probably isn't that long but I had a little bit of a scare over the past few days that has cut my wine drinking a little, something to do with kidneys ... but I'm sure I'll be back on the horse in no time - I should hope so the holidays are coming and so is get-together season, and that means a little drinking (as we all know, when it comes to some folks we need a little booze to get through).  Tonight we tried a crockpot recipe for ribs ... turned out alright but I now know why I prefer back ribs to side ribs.  The wine I used in the cooking and subsequently the drinking was an Artezin 2003 Zinfandel.  When I poured it into the pot at 10 in the morning it had a rustic, dried fruit quality that I thought would keep the sweet BBQ sauce in check.  8 hours later, ribs ready, the wine had blossomed with spiced plum, deep balck cherry, with licorice all-sorts on the nose, dried fruit nuances and a slightly raisined note that was very pleasant to drink ... I didn't want to put the glass down ... then my wife reminded me about the kidney thing and one glass was all I was allowed ... but oh what a delicious glass it was.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marisco Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir (New Zealand)

Lately I am finding myself drawn more and more to New Zealand Pinots.  At the recent Stem Agency tasting I fell in love once again with a wine from Marisco ... last year it was their King's Wrath Pinot, this year it was just their plain old everyday Pinot.  A buddy of mine, who also attended the tasting, dropped off a few bottles of the wine for me this evening, when I texted to thank him he wrote back, "just having a glass now" ... and so my thought process was, "why should I wait".  I cracked a bottle and poured myself a glass - and the wine is even better than I remembered.  A very pretty nose layered with berries: raspberry, strawberry and cranberry along with hints of dried cherry, cinnamon and spice. The palate is just as enticing and loaded with fruit, spice and black cherry.  The acidity is clean and bright and there is enough toastiness from the wood to enhance the flavours and keep you coming back for more.  It really doesn't get much prettier than this; think I'll be having a couple more glasses before turning in ...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vigne Regali (Banfi) 2008 La Lus Albarossa

I'd tell you I feel like I'm flogging a dead horse here, but this horse is far from dead ... I found myself at my brother's new house for dinner tonight and decided that I would bring along one of my newest favourite wines ... why should he not enjoy what I have found, plus, over the years he has turned me on to some really good beer, so I thought I'd repay the favour with the fermented grape.  I have written about this wine extensively in blog posts about Banfi tastings: in the spring and in the fall ... and then a larger post for Ottawa Life magazine's blog a couple weeks ago ... so if you have not read about it yet I am going to suggest linking up to one of those pieces to see what I am fussing about, the Ottawa Life piece is probably the fullest and best of the bunch.  Anyway, after tasting the wine in my own glass amongst family I can tell you that my admiration for the wine has grown even more.  If you haven't yet purchased some you might be out of luck - but search around anyway, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shalestone NV Red Legend (New York)

As my day ended I decided to walk into the cellar and grab the first bottle I saw ... it just so happened to be this very lost bottle of Shalestone Red Legend that I uncovered over the last few days by moving bottles around.  I have no idea how long I've had it or when I bought it, but it has to be a few years anyway cause I haven't been to the Finger Lakes region in at least 3-4 years; and I had to have bought it there because we don't see that much New York wine up here in Ontario (even though we are neighbours - scratch head here).  Red Legend, according to the website, is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Lemberger, Syrah and Pinot Noir - an odd combination, but what the heck.  The wine is a rather simplistic blend on the palate and the nose with an element of sweetness ... but I found out within half an hour that I had kept this too long (it was never meant to age in the first place), it began to oxidize and become real off-putting.  But in that first 30 minutes it wasn't bad at all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Marietta Cellars Lot No. 44 Old Vine Red (California)

This non-vintage Zinfandel based wine has long been a favorite and I usually buy it when I am in the states because it happens to be cheap as chips down there.  I guess it's just the simplicity of the wine that gets me, the fruit and spice but ultimately the plumminess.  The nose on this now well aged version (the current release is No. 58) is full of plum, vanilla, dried blackberry and spiced currants ... the taste has a juicy and plummy note with vanilla, cola with a lovely bit of spice on the finish.  If you read the tasting notes from the winemaker from when this wine was released it says, "The lush berry fruit and peppery spice are the hallmarks of the nose, and the mouth is big and lush with ample acidity and tannin for a very smooth balanced finish." ... I would have to say it still has all that and a little more.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tarapaca 2006 Reserva Carmenere (Chile)

I bought this wine a few years ago after a Chilean tasting, it was probably one of the best Carmenere's I had had to date ... so I bought about 3 or 4 and decided to find out what happened if I aged it a bit.  And I can tell you matter-of-factly that it got better, a lot better.  When first opened the nose was a lovely brambly blackberry and cassis while the palate had blackberry bite with mocha and leather ... then I did something to see if I could smooth the wine out further - I put a VinOair aerator on the bottle and poured the wine through it.  I couldn't ask for better results, the brambly blackberry and cassis on the nose turned into mocha, blueberry, and cassis with a hint of menthol.  The palate smoothed right out, gone was the leather and harsh blackberry, in came the cassis, blueberry, mocha, vanilla and yes, menthol.  I was very impressed with this wine (and the VinOair), but I think the wine deserves most of the credit, the aerator just made things happen faster.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Robert Mondavi 2005 Private Selection Vinetta

When am I ever going to learn?  Or better yet, when will wine producers ever learn?  It seems the 2005 was the year of the plastic cork - not only do I find them plugging and gumming up the works of Ontario wines, but I also find them on bottles of 2005's from around the world.  This wine was the first meritage blend Mondavi did under the "Private Selection" label - and you would have hoped they'd've use a better closure for such an occasion.  But alas they did not.  The good news is that their lack of forethought and foresight did not ruin my enjoyment completely.  The wine was still very dark when opened - the underside of the corked was stained black.  The fruit was still very dark and slightly peppered with hints of plum also present.  That lasted through while I was making dinner (about 15-20 minutes) ... then it began to show it's oxidative side very quickly and within 40 minutes of opening the wine was undrinkable and unrecognizable from my first sip.  Alas, I hope that Mondavi have fixed this error in judgement for this wine because something tells me it would age rather gracefully given the proper treatment.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dr. Loosen 2011 Red Slate Dry Riesling

A rainy Saturday, and as we tried to figure out what to have for dinner we opened a bottle of Dr. Loosen 2011 Red Slate Dry Riesling.  I am a fan of Loosen wines, not all the time mind you but I find myself liking these wines more often then not.  This was one of those wines that I thought was quite a lot of fun and interesting when I tasted it during the Vintages media tasting here in Ontario (which is when the media gets to taste the wines prior to their release).  There seemed to be a bit of effervescence on the tongue initially, I would think that comes from the wine being under screwcap and not how the wine was intended, as the fizziness seemed to dissipated within about 15 minutes.  What it left us with was lemon, and lime peel with hints of mineral kicking in and out from sip to sip and a lovely seem of mac apple that also seemed to be dancing around those citrus zest notes.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bogle Vineyards 2005 Old Vines Zinfandel (California)

I'll tell you, when I first got a whiff of this bottle I was scared ... and my first few tastes were tense too.  It's not like I have never been disappointed by a bottle of wine before, but this was a special bottle of Zinfandel I brought to a friend's house as my star bottle of the evening; and it is not good to have your star bottle go down in flames.  It started off kinda murky and muddled with bitter flavours and earthy aromas that were far from pleasant.  Thankfully we moved on to something else to get us through dinner and returned to this afterward - just to see ... the result was a wine that had blossomed in the interim (about an hour or so): plum, chocolate, black cherry all backed with some dried fruit nuances, but always very good, and better with each sip.  Decanting might have made it come around sooner - but it was best to have the surprise of time instead of the quick step of the pour.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Estampa 2004 Gold Assemblage (Chile)

This is a wine I picked up a few years ago for a song, a blend from Chile that highlighted Carmenere (57%) along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and only 3% Petit Verdot.  The nose was very minty with spice, cassis and dark chocolate ... the dark chocolate continued on the plate along with more interesting notes like licorice, black currant and spice.  Time had helped to mellow this wine and the longer it sat in the glass the smoother and more mellow it got.  Delicious, glad I have a couple more bottles to enjoy.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Two Aussies and a Californian (Australia / California)

The title of this post sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke ... but the only joking was during the evening as we had friends over for plenty of wine, lots of laughs and a trip down memory lane.  My wife opted for beer and the other spouse decided she was driving so it was just the men who polished off the following three bottles - much to my head's chagrin the next morning:

We started with a bottle of Thorn-Clarke 2009 Merlot from Australia, which we paired with the simple dinner of meatloaf and potatoes we consumed.  My wife was appalled by her new potato recipe, which she made in the crock-pot.  The taste was alright but the red skinned potatoes leached a funny colour into the concoction.  Everybody still ate them with gusto.  As for the wine: smooth blackberry and nice spice.  I continue to like this Merlot as it ages.  The next wine was also an Aussie: Thorn-Clarke 2008 Terra Barossa Shiraz ... why so much Oz tonight?  Because that's what my guest was thirsty for.  The Terra-Barossa Shiraz was a plummy, vanilla and chocolate affair that is a quintessential Aussie Shiraz ... not too jammy, and very delicious.  Finally it was time to introduce our guests to a bottle of Californian Cab, Rebel Wine 2006 The Show Cabernet Sauvignon.  The bottle is a lot of fun with its old time circus style logo - this was the one with the cowboy on the front - and the wine inside was a showstopper: mocha, dried blackberry, cassis and plum; it showed itself to have a little elegance after the jamminess of the Shiraz.  Once we all come down off our hang-overs (a problem one of us did not participate in) it'd be nice to see them again, or as the hanging ornament in our living room states; "I like the nights I can't remember with the friends I can't forget" - or something like that.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

L.A. Cetto 2005 Petite Sirah (Mexico)

After my nasty experience with a second bottle of Testa Cabernet Franc and the plastic cork fiasco, I moved on this this bottle of Petite Sirah from Baja California - Mexico.  It was really delicious and aged just right.  Blackberry and spice on the nose came around to also play on the palate along with peppery notes and a hint of cedar.  It was also impressive to see this under $10 bottle of wine was sealed with an actual cork, I'm just saying.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Two Hot Climate Reds (South Africa / Australia)

Tonight I had a past winner of the Wine Tasting Challenge over for dinner ... I have to admit I totally forgot that until my wife asked what prizes they had won ... after that the night became its own challenge, to see if I could stump the champ (or is that chump); which is actually a lot easier to do than you would think - when someone is put under that kind of pressure to be right they usually start to second guess themselves ... I know that each time I have participated in the Challenge (at which in 2008 I came in fourth place, professional category) I felt enormous pressure to be right - especially in 2009 because I had an award to live up to.  That all being said I will tell you that my chump-friend missed both wines: guessing one as a California Zinfandel and the other as a Merlot ... as for what the wines really were:

We started the night with a little bubbly and a white - but those were not the stars of the show so they will not be mentioned here - they were warm ups for the main attactraction.  Staritng with the Ayama 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine I had bought a few years back as one of the best Cabs I have ever had out of South Africa and a great value to boot.  It was smooth and fruit driven with lots of red fruit goodness and a dark cherry finish - yes, there was a hint of that South African tarry note, but it was masked very well by all that fruit.

Next up was a favourite I was sure my friend was going to figure out in a heartbeat ... surprisingly their significant other nailed it first shot ... who knew that my friend had a block when it came to Shiraz: the Stalking Horse 2008 Shiraz is textbook Australia with big alcohol, rich jammy black fruit, chocolate, vanilla and white pepper notes that carry through to the jammy yet spicy finish.

To my friend, all I can say is "Better luck next time" ... and there will be a next time ... because if there is one truism about wine - it always brings people (back) together.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chakana 2009 Bonarda - Yaguarete Collection (Argentina)

If you haven't heard about the Bonarda grape I do feel a bit sorry for you - only a bit because it is not always the best wine coming out of Argentina ... but hopefully in years to come we might start seeing some really exceptional Bonarda hitting our shores.  A good place to have started, had you been able to pick some up when it passed through the LCBO (or wherever else you purchase your booze) was this great bottle of Chakana Bonarda, and it's drinking better now than it did when I first laid lips to glass for a swig.  The fruit is black and rich, there's chocolate notes, plum and a lovely smooth finish with just a titch of white pepper that keeps it was being too silky - you could say that Bonarda has bite, but just a little.  If you've got some sitting around it's a great bottle to drink now ... my only problem is the plastic cork that closes the bottle, which means my last bottle (buried deep in the bowels of my cellar for ageing, might not make the journey of a few more years, sigh.  Thankfully it wasn't an expensive bottle, which is another good thing about Bonarda wines these days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Domaine Les Grands Bois 2010 Cuvee Les Trois Soeurs (France)

Tonight it's a Rhone wine made from equal parts Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, very purple in colour with a hint of a red tinge around the outside rim ... I mention this because it looks very pretty splashing into the glass.  A touch of violets on the nose along with white pepper, plum and black cherry ... very appealing and alluring.  The plum and black cherry continue onto the palate and that white pepper shows up as well, but more on the finish than on the mid-palate ... the back of the bottle says it's "easy to drink" and I am apt to agree.  Supple and very tasty.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Marc Kreydenweiss 2005 Costieres de Nimes - Barbabelle (France)

I've had this Kreydenweiss wine a few times before, at one point, back when it was being sold, it was one of Ontario's best value wines at under $13.00 (or something silly like that).  But in truth this has been the best bottle I have had since my very first taste when I first bought it.  The wine seems to have integrated nicely and is aging remarkably well.  The nose has earthy and licorice notes along with some smoked black cherry.  Taste-wise there's some real good complexity: black currants, dried and spiced cranberry, white pepper, smoky-tobacco leading to a pleasant (though I am sure it won't sound that way) cigarette ash finish - when mixed with all that came before it it is quite nice.  The wine is dark, smoky and brooding and is a lovely addition to the evening meal - no matter what you're having.  If you were one of the many to take advantage of this wine deal, now's the time to drink-up, if you haven't already.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Winebow 2011 Clean Slate Riesling (Germany)

These days it takes a greater education to read a back label than it does a German front label - both can be extremely confusing and sometimes you just never seem to get to the bottom of anything.  I was studying the back label of this bottle and still to this moment have no idea who the producer is ... a quick check of the LCBO website and I see its Moselland (but I have caught them with errors in the past) ... Winebow seems to be who ordered up this wine to be made, so for the moment let's go with that.  This is quite the pleasant German Riesling from the Mosel region.  The nose was full of peach, green apple with hints of lime and nice mineral notes.  When cold the wine is crisp and minerally, has a green apple mixed with delicious apple undertones and all is wrapped with a hint of sweetness and good acidic balance.  I noticed that as the wine warmed to a "cool" temperature the wine lost a little of the bracing acidty and green apple and instead went all peach and delicious apple- easier to drink for those that don't dig on acid.  Well priced here in Ontario at $12.95.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Maycas del Limari 2008 Reserva Especial Syrah (Chile)

Back in October of 2011 I got a taste of the great Maycas wines line-up, I was super impressed by the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2009 Syrah - which I assumed was the current release of both wines.  So how in the heck did the LCBO (Ontario's liquor monopoly) get their hands on the 2008 Syrah and, even more head scratchingly, finally get it to market in June of 2012 ... Not that the wine suffered from the ageing but I still would have liked to put my hands on the wine I tried (maybe they'll release that one in 2014).  As for this 2008 version, I was still impressed, just not as impressed as the '09 - which, if you can find some in your area, is a fantastic wine and I recommend it highly.  The 2008 Syrah starts off as a very violet wine, both on the nose and in colour, it has aromas of blackberry, black pepper, cassis and black cherry along with hints of smoked meat lingering in the background.  The taste is peppery, smoky and spicy, reminding one of roasted game, yes there's dark fruit in there but all paired with those peppery/spicy attributes: peppered-cassis in the mid-palate with a smoked raspberry finish.  I would give this one a four+ if I were rating it, just below the 2009 ... but neither wine disappoints on any level.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Allegrini 2001 Valpolicella Classico (Italy)

If I told you that I opened this wine and said it tasted like an old Italian wine, would you know what I mean?  Some would and but most wouldn't - if statistics are correct - most of you have no idea what I'm talking about (95% of all wine purchased is drank within 48 hours).  So to have an 11 year old Italian wine is a rarity these days, and too bad cause it really is an educational experience, as well as a tasty one, if you like old wine.  Not sure I should be doing it regularly with Valpolicella's though (known more for being light and fruity than age-worthy).  There was plenty of dried fruit on this one with smoky notes and a light cedary playfulness about it.  The dried fruit was cranberry and sour cherry and it really was quite enjoyable on the palate.  The palate was smooth with dried fruit and only hints of wood interuption, but as it crossed the mid-palate and moved to the back oak and cedar took over and lingered - though still pleasantly - nothing was over the top or took over, it all just melded together pleasantly.  About 30 minutes into the experience the wine took on three new aromas and flavours:  licorice, forest floor and dried leaves.  I was thrilled with the way this wine stood up

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Smoking Loon 2009 Old Vines Zinfandel (California)

With no mention as to how "old" the Old Vines are I can't verify that statement, but I can tell you that this $15 wine (just coming into Ontario on the general list) is a full-flavoured and red fruited gem that will have you sipping and savoring the night away.  I pulled this one out for burger night when my in-laws were in town and heard nary a complaint from my usually vocal father-in-law; truth is this was the only wine I pulled out that I had no idea about before I poured it ... dangerous when trying to impress those around you ... but being that I was using the BBQ and burgers, salads and slaws were on the table, Zinfandel seemed to be a perfect match.  Recommended and Father-in-Law Approved.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Van Ruitten Vineyards 2004 'Old Vine' Zinfandel (California)

On the weekend we tried a new recipe: pulled chicken, it was delicious - I would say it was fall off the bone, but it was made with boneless chicken breast, so there was no bone to begin with..  On Monday we decided to eat the left overs and I thought it time to pull out an old Zinfandel to see if the wine would go with faux-BBQ (already know it's great with pulled pork, ribs, etc, done the real way - this was a crock-pot make your own sauce kinda deal).  This wine was made with 50+ year old Zin, which I suspect is good enough to call it "old vines", aged 24 months in American oak.  Most grapes would find themselves so inundated with oak after 24 months that you could barely tell if it had fruit, but this 14.5% Zin held up well and I think now it's starting to show good fruit character even within its cocoon of spice.  The nose is cherry, raspberry, cola and white pepper and as the wine opened up in the glass there were signs of spiced-vanilla that lured you into just smelling the wine, but don't stop there.  The palate proved to be pretty smooth, it would almost seem syrupy if it wasn't for the spice and pepper notes that plowed through.  Within about 20 minutes the spice and pepper backed off to reveal a pleasant cinnamon-cherry-cola flavour that carried through to the finish.

Clos de los Siete 2006 - Michel Rolland (Argentina)

If ever a wine was perfect for a meal this was the wine and steak and potatoes was the meal ... Seems like a simple meal to pair, but the wine found a harmony with what was on the plate.  The nose was leathery, spicy with cassis and blackberry notes ... the palate overwhelmed at first but then toned itself back (within 15 minutes) and began offering up exactly what was needed.  Started with a big spice and hits of pepper but then turned into a lovely smooth wine that brought out the dark fruit and cocoa all lined with just the right amount of spice ... this was a very enjoyable wine with great flavours.  Through all the bad publicity he gets Michel Rolland seems to know what he is doing.  I also see I have a bottle of the 2003 vintage of this wine, I'll have to try it in the next few weeks to see if it too has got the stuffing or if it's falling apart.  For now, this 2006 is the bomb - a great wine that has hit it's stride for a big meaty meal.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mt. Boucherie 2005 Summit Reserve Merlot (British Columbia)

It's been a few years since I have been in British Columbia, but I still have wines from my trip in my wine cellar, so I decided tonight, with my parents in attendance for dinner, that I would dig deep and find something recognizable (to my mother anyway - she came with on the trip).  This Mt. Boucherie seemed like the perfect thing to pull out.  The nose was slightly spiced and dark fruited, while the palate was not exactly juicy (as one would expect from a Merlot), but it wasn't too wooden either (as one might think a Merlot would take on) ... it was, as Goldilocks would say, "just right": darker fruit, spiced wood character that was very easy to drink, especially when aerated.  I would not say this wine is at it's peak I would say it's just on the other side of it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mionetto NV "MO" Prosecco Extra Dry (Italy)

It's funny that nobody talks about bubbly as a late night snack.  Oh, sure you hear about it as a before dinner drink, or maybe a during dinner beverage.  You might hear people talk about having it to toast a special occasion, or maybe outdoors on the patio on a hot day.  Yes it's a great thing to mix with orange juice on a Sunday morning, or pour in a little cassis to make a kirsch after dinner ... but I have never heard of somebody saying it makes a great after everything beverage.  Which is exactly what we did last night with this bottle of Prosecco.  It was after dinner, after dessert and I was sitting in front of the TV with my wife watching some Olympic sporting event recap when I suddenly heard myself say: "Want a glass of bubbly?"  Even more surprising was the answer I got, "Sure".  And off I went to the fridge for a bottle of what was there, this MO Prosecco.  I had received the bottle earlier in the week and thought I must try what is considered the "Number one Prosecco brand in America".  The wine had nice bubbles with floral, and lemonade-like sweetness, wild flower honey and sweet apple notes - it was pleasant and easy drinking, so much so that it was almost swiggable.  Interesting to note that it was so popular in America that it is now in Ontario, proving that you have to make it in the States before you can even be thought of here in Canada.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Malivoire 2010 Pinot Gris (Ontario)

It's too early to look at this as a Taste it Again ( wine, but it's worth taking another look at it especially on a hot summer day on an island in Lake Nipissing.  When first I unscrewed the cap and tried the wine it was fairly bland, but I have to tell you that after an hour (back in the fridge with half a glass removed) it opened beautifully.  The aromas were a lovely peach and lime mix, while the palate follows right along with the right amount of acidic backbone and lime pith on the finish - a real refreshing patio wine, especially for where I am (see above).

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Vina Robles 2008 Red4 (California)

Hail, Hail the Gang's all here ... first family dinner since my sister moved to Australia about a year ago (or is it two - I think it's two-plus, how time flies).  Anyway the family got together for some food around my parents kitchen table.  Steak, potatoes, corn, cole slaw, fried mushrooms ... heck I lost count of all the things mom put on the table.  But I do remember the wine, this RED4 is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Mourvedre, heavy on the first two.  It was smooth and lush in the mouth with lots of plum, dark fruit and chocolate notes.  Tannins weren't too over the top as the fruit pushed through everything ... great pairing with steak.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Giesen 2011 Marlborough Riesling (New Zealand)

I first tasted this wine at the New Zealand tasting event in Toronto, and I really liked it, giving it 4+ stars out of 5.  Now that I have bought and tried an entire bottle I can safely say that yes, I still like it - but now have more to say about it.  The nose is talc, green apple and limeade which is very appealing.  The palate is a mix of green and delicious apples - with a hint of Fuji thrown in for good measure; there's also a great lemonade note along with a mango finish.  It seamlessly blends the sweet and the tart so that you constantly get a different take with each sip, plus there's a lovely mineral note to the wine that appears with each sip.  As the wine warms in the glass the sweet starts to dominate, I guess the tartness is brought on by the chill ... but at 10.5% alcohol this one can easily be consumed while it is still chilled with little to no difficulty - and with very little headache at the end.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Four (?) Bottle Night (British Columbia / California / and more)

Am I getting too old to have a four-bottle night?  Or was it five bottles?  That's tough to say at this point, as I write this 3 days later, but I can tell you they are fun.  Had some friends over for dinner, "and that's where your drinking problem starts," said my sponsor from AA - alright I'm kidding about that - but we did have some friends over for dinner, and I knew I had to step up my A-game for wine for this group.  So what did I grab out of the cellar?  Well we started with a glass of cheer, sparkling of course, a Road 13 2008 Home Vineyard Sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Golden Mile, British Columbia (Southern part of the Okanagan Valley).  The grapes for this wine come from the 44-year-old vines of Chenin that grow on the property.  The wine was lovely, fruity and exotic with just a hint of sweetness that comes along with a nice bubbly - but always with a dry finish.  Went down so light and easy, great starter wine.  

We then had two bottles of Chateau des Charmes wines from right here in Ontario, a 2006 Riesling (whose review will appear in my Taste it Again column next week) and a 2011 Rose (which will appear in my Newsletter in the next couple of weeks).  

Dinner was pulled pork, baked beans, cole slaw ... BBQ fare ... so the only thing I could think of was Zinfandel:  Cedarville 2005 El Dorado Zinfandel.  This was a very elegant Zin, complex and delicious with plum and white pepper, spiced and dried berries along with an element of fresh cherry - it was not only great with dinner but a wonderful sipping wine for after too.  The final straw of the evening was the bottle of Frazitta  Zibibbo, a Marsala style wine sweet with apricot and honey character that has a slight oxidative quality - but is really a wonderful sipper.  Well, that'll do it - five bottles down (well we did not finish the sweetie) ... and I'm still standing ... and that is always a good thing.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bower Harbor Vineyards 2005 Erica Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Michigan)

This is one of the bottles in my collection that has special meaning.  First, it was a bottle acquire during my only trip (so far) to Michigan wine country - the birth state of my wife.  Second, the single vineyard where this Franc comes from is named "Erica" - same as my wife.  And third, it's Cabernet Franc, one of my favourite grapes.  It's as if this wine was meant for us to buy it.  In an attempt to preserve the memories of our trip I have kept this bottle and have also kept telling myself I should open it, because not only does the label matter but (if memory serves) the wine inside was pretty good too.  The first sniff almost set my nose on fire, very spicy - but with a little more aeration and time in glass it settled into aromas of spiced and peppered dark fruit.  The palate had similar features but also took on a bit of a wooden character on the finish.  The more it remained open the drier the finish seemed to get and some tobacco leaf started coming out as a predominant finishing flavour.  After about 45-minuters the wine had settled into where it would end (for me anyway) - the wood character became wood spice on the finish and there was a definite hint of spiced and peppered cranberries on the mid-palate.  Still a good wine and it went well with dinner.  I have also kept the bottle for the three reasons mention above.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Apollonio 2001 Valle Cupa Salento Rosso (Italy)

After a weekend of drinking beer spent with my in-laws I was glad to see a bottle of wine waiting for me upon my return home.  This is a wine I had taken out a few days previously but never got around to drinking - a 50 / 50 blend of Primitivo and Negroamaro aged 12 months in barrel then an additional 12 months in bottle (or that is what I understood from the back label and my rusty almost non-existent Italian).  At first it smelled kinda hot, looking at the alcohol content I am not surprised as 14.5% jumped right at me, it also tasted rather warm but there was a spice on the front palate amongst the heat that told me that a little time was needed for it to come around.  Dried plum, spiced -raspberry, licorice, all-spice and black pepper were all found on the nose; while white pepper, licorice and dried red fruit dominated the palate.  The wine smoothed out after 45 minutes and was supple and easy to drink, but still with dried fruit, spice and pepper ... around the hour mark it developed a hint of bitter cocoa on the finish.  Nice wine for its age.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

RH Phillips 2005 Toasted Head Cabernet Sauvignon - Alexander Valley (California)

If you go to the Toasted Head website there is absolutely nothing about this wine (and I'm not just talking about the year, nothing about a Reserve wine at all) - I suspect it's not made anymore; the full name of this Toasted Head wine (according to the writings on the bottle) is "Toasted Head Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Barrel Reserve" ... the reason I even bring any of this up is because this wine turned out to be an excellent find in my cellar.  Being that it is the fourth of July I thought it only right to pull out something  American - and serve it with steak and potatoes.  This Cab came to my attention while rooting around in the cellar where I spied this Toasted Head wine peering back at me.  Now I'll admit Toasted Head is not always a favourite, the Chardonnay I find too woody for my taste, so this version of Cab had me a little leery from the get-go ... but I find those wines are the ones that surprise me the most.  On opening the wood hit me quickly on both the nose and palate, but within a few minutes things started to settle down and get more interesting: smoky/toasty notes (to be expected), cassis, dark berries with a hint of dried cherries and as everything started to come into focus with a little time in glass the wine came off as spiced just-right with some pleasant vanilla and cinnamon notes within all the fruit.  By the time the wine hit its stride, some 45 minutes after opening, there was a sweet fruit smoothness caressing the tongue.  I was really glad to have opened this one when I did, it showed that the Toasted Head brand can show finesse and complexity.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kendermanns 2004 Kalkstein (Germany)

A hot summer day, fish for dinner and a Riesling on the tasting menu.  An older Kendermann that I once enjoyed but was interested to see what age would do ... and it has improved this wine dramatically as it is better than I remember.  The nose has the merest hint of petrol with lively mineral and peach pit.  The taste was amazing with the mineral taking center stage with green apple on the mid-palate and hints of fresh, ripe pineapple on the finish with some really zesty acidity from both fruits in all the right places. There was a medium-length to the finish that just made you want to keep sipping.  I was really impressed with this wine.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Show 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

Not my first experience with this wine and certainly not to be my last.  On an evening where 9 wines were poured between 12 people (two bottles were not counted as they were absolutely horrible - no names mentioned here) this wine was the only one I am choosing to mention as the others will either or have either been written about on my main website (  The nose has changed on this once juicy and fruit forward wine, aromas are now woodsier with black cherry and cassis notes.  The flavours are more of the dried variety with lots of spicy wood backing - it's getting a little long in the tooth but does show a nice blackberry and cedar finish that still very pleasant.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Double Shot of Delicious (Germany / California)

A lazy Sunday afternoon filled with friends, sun and leftovers.  And yes I was bellying up again to the pulled pork trough from last night, but before that we'd poured something very interesting for our guests.  The afternoon began with a Furst Lowenstein 2005 Hallgartner Schonhell Riesling Kabinett, a beautifully made Riesling that is currently 7 years old.  Honeyed apricot, poached pear, hint of orange peel and some lovely lemon zest on the back palate with great balancing sweetness ... a perfect opener for the afternoon.  But the fun did not stop there. When pulled pork is on the menu Zinfandel has to play a part, that's why I opened a bottle of Ravenswood 2009 Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel.  Ravenswood is a master of the Zinfandel and this one was not different ... it had complexity and paired beautifully with the pork - most prevalent of the flavours: plum and chocolate, but there was black cherry, hints of cola and the right amount of spice.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Riesling, Two Chardonnay and a Pedroncelli Zin (Ontario / California)

Tonight we had someone coming over to the house, which means bottles of wines will be consumed ... tonight four in total (tomorrow a big headache).  Starting with a new winery's 2011 Riesling, Di Profio Wines just opened here in Ontario (June 15) and we took some wines home with us from the open house.  The wife loved this green apple and lemon laced dry Riesling and it made for a great little wine to sit on the deck in the early part of the evening.  This was followed by two Chardonnays - both from Ontario.  Starting with the incredibly mouth filling Southbrook 2010 Whimsy! Chardonnay (previously reviewed in full) and then followed up by the leaner, but just as equally impressive, Chateau des Charmes 2010 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (soon to be reviewed).  But for dinner tonight was a mess of pulled-pork and there is but one wine I can think of that goes with that, and unfortunately Ontario does not make it, Zinfandel.  Pedroncelli 2007 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel was a perfect pairing for the sweet meat with nicely spiced plums, hints of soft leather, dark cherries, cassis and just a touch of earthiness to ground it (ha ha).  A lovely end to the evening.  No wait, we did open one more, a bottle of Quinta do Infantado Ruby Port ... now the evening was complete ... let the headache, and the midnight nap on the couch, begin.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Oyster Bay NV Rosé Sparkling Cuvee (New Zealand)

It's been awhile since I have posted here ... that's because I've been on the road in Portugal and everything I drank was posted in another blog (feel free to take a look as I have linked it up here).  Upon my arrival a bottle of New Zealand bubbly awaited me and this is really something special.  A blend of 80% low-yield Chardonnay and 20% hand-picked Pinot Noir which has one of the prettiest colours in a sparkling I have seen in some time - a real elegant salmon hue.  The nose is lime, apple blossom and strawberry pith and the palate has a hint of raspberry, lemon pulp and a delicate sweetness wrapped in a lovely coat of acidity which ends clean a fresh.  If you can find this bottle I suggest buying a few for those special occasions ahead - or just because, cause there is no better reason to drink bubbly than just because.  For those in Ontario this wine will be in Vintages June 23.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Winzer Sommerach 2009 Experiment W (Germany)

Hoodwinked again ... this is a classic case of what I drank in one country doesn't taste as good in another. This is a bottle of barrel aged Kerner I got while I was away in Germany, it's called "Experiment W" because it's the workers wine - which means the workers of this co-op had a hand in the making of it.  When we sipped it in Germany, were given the story behind it and were able to spit and just taste, this was a very interesting and enjoyable wine.  But put it into a big glass, get the air running through it and taste those tropical pineapple and vanilla notes which appear on sips 1 thru 5, but by sip 6 or 7 the alcohol, which is a whooping 15% really starts to kick in and the wine seems unbalanced and began to taste more like gin rather than having that pleasant "something other than Chardonnay that's been oaked" quality.  Oh well, I dragged this bottle back just to find out it wasn't for sipping on the deck on a hot Canadian late-spring afternoon, hopefully I'll have better luck with the other bottle I carried back, a barrel-aged Silvaner ... but it awaits to be seen because that bottle is for another time ... as it was we moved quickly from this bottle to an old Ontario wine from Inniskillin, which proved to be excellent ... if you are interested to find out which click here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fresita Sparkling (Chile)

My wife got it totally right last night ... I returned from a week in Germany where I tasted countless serious Rieslings and Silvaners with the occasional Pinot Noir thrown in, (you can follow my journey from Day 1 to Day 5 here) ... after such an immersive adventure I came home to find she had dinner in the oven and a bottle of wine on ice.  And what bottle did she choose to serve for my homecoming?  Something serious?  No, and thank goodness for that - she went for one of the most frivolous bottles I have in the cellar.  This mix of white wines and strawberries that comes straight from Chile was exactly what the doctor would have ordered. - and it's exactly as advertised)  Thanks honey, dinner was great and so was your choice of bottle, don't think my tired brain and exhausted palate could have done better, nor my palate handled much more then what was in this bottle.   If you don't have this wine, I suggest getting one or two for fun occasions - or nights when simple is golden.  And to my nieces who love this stuff - we're out in the cellar, but if you come to visit we'll get more.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ravines Wine Cellars 2006 Riesling (New York)

A number of years ago I went down to see how a real wine festival was run when I attended the Finger Lakes Wine Festival in New York state ... being from a province with an all powerful monopoly and alcohol rules that date back to prohibition era, it was nice to see how things could run if you trusted your populace with the booze they consume and your organizers to get it right ... but I digress.  While there I found a winemaker who was doing the right thing in a sweet wine loving state - and that was making serious dry wines.  The next day I went out to his property in Hammondsport on Keuka Lake and was further impressed by the wines he was making.  So impressed in fact that I bought two bottles from him, a Cabernet Franc, which I recently reviewed, and this bottle of Riesling - which I opened tonight with some Chinese food that the wife and I thought would be a nice romantic dinner before I headed off to Germany for a week of wine tasting.  This bottle has stood up very nicely: citrus rind, lemon / lime pith, peach pit and hints of petrol (and I do mean only a hint) on the nose.  The palate pulls things off a little better.  Where the Nose seemed to be aging the palate still seemed young and vibrant: peach pit, lime acidity and a nice chalkiness with a dry finish.  Wonderfully complex and deliciously satisfying ... I do still hope they are making them this way at Ravines.

Friday, May 25, 2012

World Tour on a Friday Night (France / Australia / Ontario)

Friends from Toronto came over in the evening (9:23pm) and the wine started following - as well some game meat sliders hit the BBQ (wild boar and kangaroo) ... so the big reds seemed to be the ones to bring out.  In honour of the kangaroo the 2008 Stalking Horse Shiraz seemed the good option, plummy, chocolate and dark fruited, big alcohol, really full in the mouth.  For no apparent reason I also opted to open a beauty of a French wine from the Languedoc, Domaine de Bachellery 2007 Grenache Fut de Chene.  The dark fruit shines on this one with touches of vanilla and spice; a seemingly delicate wine that proved to be delicious with both burgers, but still showed power and boldness once you got a few sips in.  The evening ended a few hours later with a bottle of Peninsula Ridge 2010 AJ Lepp Vineyard Merlot (; which proved to be the best wine of the evening (and I'm not just saying that because I live in Ontario) - it was delicate with mocha and coffee notes on the nose, and proved to be a complete opposite to the big-and-bold-ness of the French and Aussie wines.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Kaiken 2008 Malbec (Argentina)

On the menu tonight was bison steak and so I needed something to stand up to that smoky meat flavour ... out came this bottle of Kaiken - I have been a fan of these wines since they arrived on our shores (Ontario) and have put a few away to see how they age, both from the regular and the ultra line.  This one is some 4 years old and still drinking beautifully. Aromas of blackberry, black raspberry, cassis, cherry and hints of kirsch (which is where the alcohol comes into play).  The taste is also quite lovely with cherry, blackberry, mocha, raspberry liqueur along with spice and peppery notes - but there don't seem to be many of those.  All-in-all a great BBQ wine with little to get in the way of that big fruitiness.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ravines Wine Cellars 2006 Cabernet Franc (New York)

"I drink alone ... oh ya, with nobody else ..."

Tonight I am reminded of that George Thorogood song, "I drink alone", because the wife has a touch of that stomach flu that is going around and went to bed early ... I decided to come down to the basement and do some work - and open a bottle of wine.  This is a bottle I bought from a very serious wine producer in the Finger Lakes, Ravines.  Usually when you go to the Lakes you get a lot of sweet whites and crazy named sweet reds, but the guy at Ravines, Morten Hallgren, is making serious wines, I recommend swinging by if they haven't corrupted him into making the sweet stuff already.  This wine obviously has a little age on it, but is still drinking quite well.  The color is almost a deep rosé or maybe more along the lines of a Pinot Noir.  The nose has strawberry, raspberry and smoky notes, it also seems to be opening up quite nicely the longer it sits in glass.  The palate follows along the Pinot analogy with it's cranberry, raspberry and smoky qualities with hints of spice and really good acidity, which runs clean through the mouth.  There was a drawback at first, as the resulting linger of the wine on the tongue seemed to possess a little dirty dishrag quality ... but now, half an hour in, this wine seems to linger with a little strawberry and wood smoke ... good job Morten, you've made a might fine wine.  Now if you'll excuse me I must get back to work ...

"... and when I drink alone I prefer to be by myself."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Familia Zuccardi 2007 FuZion (Argentina)

So honestly, I was ready to lambast this wine for being past its prime, after-all you wanna find fault with one of the most popular wines in the world.  Bought for a cheap $7.45 a number of years ago, I pounced on a case the moment it hit the Ontario market - so this bottle is from the first batch that arrived on our doorstep ... and I must be honest, I can't find a fault with it - couldn't then, can't now.  It's exactly what you want in an $8 bottle of wine that is made up primarily of Malbec (70%) with a dollop of Shiraz (30%).  Now 5 years from vintage date it is still showing wonderfully well.  The nose is black cherry with mocha notes, while the palate shows some real complexity with a plethora of black fruits: blackberry, black raspberry, black cherry along with mocha and a touch of white pepper on the finish ... the wine is smooth and still really supple.  I still have a few bottles so I'm gonna hold on just a little bit longer and see what happens ... heck that's another thing you can do with an under $8 wine: cellar aging tests without feeling you broke the bank to do so.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Penmara 2001 Five Families Shiraz (Australia)

This was the last of my selected 2001 trial bottles and boy was this one a disappointment ... let's start where this wine went wrong ... the closure: a plastic cork (which were big in the early part of the 2000's) this nasty-ass closure should be banned - and anybody who is still using it should either mark that you are using it on your label (preferably in  BIG BOLD print), or close your doors ... this "cork" is ruining your wine.  This wine was oxidized beyond belief to the point of it being a sweet sherry, brick coloured with lots of sediment in the bottle - this tells me there was some real potential in the bottle, but has turned so nasty and I can honestly tell you I have tasted vinegar with better depth of flavour.  What an absolute waste of what could have been a beauty of a bottle.  Yuck.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Domaine des Salices 2001 Syrah (France)

Well, back again for more 2001 bottles of hooch ... I think I'm stuck in 2001 because I am re-arranging my wine cellar and I'm transferring data from my current software system (Cellar!) to CellarTracker - so I don't want to get too involved with the movement of the cellar until the transfer is done ... anyway that's just a little about what's going on here, I'll keep you posted.  Anyway back to the wine.  Last night I tried another '01 wine from France, this time a Vins du Pays from J &; F Lurton's Domaine des Salices.  This Syrah was an interesting wine, though I only made it through one glass because the more it sat the smokier, the woodsier and the more tannin dryness it left on the tongue.  The nose was smoky, mushroomy with dried raspberry and cedar ... it also had a fun little minty quality about 30 minutes in.  The taste kept the smoky, added earthy and cranberry notes along with dried cherry, cedar-vanilla notes and gentle spice ... but then between 30-45 minutes in the glass the subtle changes that were happening became more pronounced and intensified turning more woodsy than fruity quickly (even the dried fruit seemed to disappear); the wine got gritty and just started drying out the tongue.  I probably missed the sweet-spot of this wine by about 3 years.  Oh, well, it's all a learning experience.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Cave de Rasteau 2001 Rasteau - Cotes du Rhone Villages (France)

My obsession with 2001 wines, or should I say experiment, finally continues.  After a weekend in Kitchener at the Wine & Food Show, where there was enough wine poured to choke a horse.  I had brought 3 bottles of 2001 wine along with me for those quiet evening back in the room, but it seems that I either got back to the room too late or enough wine had been consumed for one evening - or both (see the late dinner at Bauer Kitchen).  So all the bottles of 2001 made it back home, and it is here that I will begin again to drink and experiment with them.  This Rasteau proved to be a lovely find a decade later.  The nose is rich with cedar, cinnamon, dried blackberry and dried cranberry with hints of vanilla that seemed to drift in and out of the olfactories.  The palate was nicely spiced with creme de cassis that rolled around in the middle and that touch of vanilla (from the nose) found its way onto the palate.  The finish was a pleasing combination of dried raspberries and black licroice that took awhile to develop in the mouth but then lingered for quite a spell.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wines at the Bauer Kitchen (Italy, South Africa, BC, California)

My 2001 vintage experiment was put on hold for a night as a small group of friends headed out to a Kitchener-Waterloo restaurant called Bauer Kitchen (187 King Street South, Waterloo) where sommelier Jake Richards toured us through a number of interesting wines from a diverse array of places: Italy, South Africa, Japan (by way of Toronto), California and back to Canada (British Columbia to be exact).

Jake started us off with a lovely Prosecco from Contarini called Val-Secco because, according to Jake's information, when they re-drew the lines of the Prosecco region (in Italy) this winery fell just short of the line - so, not being able to call themselves Prosecco they took the first few letters of Valdobbiadene (a classic Prosecco region) and the "secco" to form their proprietary name.  What a delicious bottle of bubbly this is, full of fruit, persistent bubbles and lemon candy sweet with balancing acid notes.  A great starter to the evening, we could have happily drank this the rest of the evening, but Jake had more in-store.  Like a South Africa white blend from Sequillo, their 2008 white had us guessing the blend: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and possibly some Chardonnay (?) - creamy vanilla, exotically grassy with some real intrigue in the mouth and a lovely long finish.

Next up was a palate cleansing Sake from Izumi of the North, a sake house located in, of all places, Toronto, Ontario,Canada - we drank the Nama Cho cold, and it refreshed and cleansed the palate for the reds that were to follow.

With a smile Jake brought over a very black bottle and started to pour, only once all the glasses were filled and we had taken our first taste and universally agreed on the "fine-ness" of the wine did he reveal it as a 2009 Syrah from Black Hills winery in British Columbia - nice blackberry, cassis and raspberry aromas with white pepper, blackberry, and mocha on the palate ... after tasting this you can see why you'd believe the rumour Jake was willing to start: that BC wineries are ripping out their Pinot Noir vines to replace with Syrah ... it's quite plausible and maybe even the right thing to do.  Finally, and surprisingly, the last wine was my least favourite of the evening: Caymus 2008 Zinfandel ... many of my readers know my love for Zin but this one seemed a little out of whack, there was plum and chocolate notes but you could also sense the alcohol heat on both the nose and palate (15.2%) and this made the wine seem unbalanced ... I suspect another couple years in bottle might rectify that situation.  All in all a fantastic wine tasting and the meal presented to us was equal to the task. Thanks to Jake and the wonderful staff at the Bauer Kitchen for a fantastic evening.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eugenio Collavini 2001 Merlot - Isonzo del Fruiuli (Italy)

Over the next few days I will be sipping and sampling wines from the 2001 vintages from around the world ... there's no conspiracy as to why I am drinking wines of this certain age, I was just messing around in the cellar the other day and thought maybe I should be drinking up my seemingly vast collection of 2001 wines (make room for the newer stuff).  So over the next three days you'll see more reviews of wines from over a decade ago.  Tonight's candidate in the category is a wine from Italy's Friuli region, a Merlot - not usually a grape many consider a traditional Italian grape, but they do mess around with the international varieties.  This was an interesting wine and one I wish I had more than one bottle of; after a decade in bottle it proved to have a wonderful mouthfeel and smoothness to it.  Dried red fruit and blueberry lead the charge here, with a touch of some cedary notes, there also seemed to be quite a bit of spice (probably from the wood) in the early going.  But after an hour it settled down and became a wine you could sit and sip on for most of the night - which is what I did ... let's hope the other wines from a decade ago hold up just as well.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An old Zin and an older Cab (California)

A frank talking Saturday evening deserves some serious wine ... and we had just that, in both ways.  I won't delve into the conversation but I will tell you about the two wines.  The first was a Cline 2007 Sonoma County Zinfandel, an absolute beauty that is in the prime of her drinkabilty.  Lush plum, black cherry, and chocolate - rich and decadent, the plum screams through the whole wine from start to finish adding in layers of flavour as it goes.  The next was a bit of an older wine that was starting to crest but still good in its own way.  The L de Lyeth 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon started off a little tough, or should I say thin, but that would be expected after the Zinfandel's lushness - but as the night wore on and the conversation grew more serious it started to come into its own and now in hindsight seemed a more serious wine to take the evening in with.  It was smooth with blackberry and black cherry taking the lead and a touch of herbal creeping in from the rim (if you know what I mean).  Both wines made a serious evening more palatable and were worth talking about, here anyway.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chateau Haut-Monplaisir 2004 Cahors (France)

Funny, but true story ... early this morning I walked into my wine cellar, knowing we were having steak for dinner I wanted to grab something big.  My hand was guided by fate (sure, let's call it that) to a lone bottle in a box ... a French wine from the Cahors region ... known in the past for big, ballsy and tannic wines that need meat or time, made from the Malbec grape.  Let's step back in time a moment ... long before there was Argentinean Malbec there were the wines of Cahors - the traditional home of Malbec.  I then headed out for an Argentine tasting in Toronto.  And why today?  Because, unbeknownst to me, it is World Malbec Day.  On this day you are suppose to celebrate the Malbec wines from Argentina ... well it seems that I am celebrating with the proper grape, but I've gone old school.  Alright maybe not so funny as it was fateful and interesting that I had done that without realizing it.  Anyway, this wine turned out to be really old school Malbec with lots of leathery, earthy and brambly notes and huge drying tannins ... the steak helped tame those tannins but the wines was still quite aggressive ... says something about those smooth lush Argentine wines - they are much more approachable and much sooner, this one could still use a few years to mellow.