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.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Juan Gil 2005 Silver Label Monastrell (Spain)

I told you I'd be having the same wine tonight, but from a different year - and what a difference a year makes ... where last night's wine had many dried fruit qualities this one was all fresh fruit, big tannins and lots of spice.  Right from the get go you could tell this wine was big, the black fruit was massive: blackberry and spiced black cherries led the charge, with a hint of licorice and allspice on the nose. The palate brought all that to the table and more: black pepper seasoning every sip, there was all that dark fruit and spice notes wrapped up in some pretty hefty tannins.  This wine was a heck of a lot more robust and spicy than last night's effort, and as the wine sat in the glass, instead of drying out, it seemed to develop more and more dark fruit character and a certain kind of juiciness, tempered by the pepper and spice.  Be interesting to see what the wine is like in a year when it reaches the age of its 2004 counterpart ... but right now this is one ballsy and beautiful wine.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Juan Gil 2004 Silver Label Monastrell (Spain)

Over the next two nights it will be the tale of two wines ... two wines from the same producer ... same exact label ... two different years.  Tonight it's the Silver Label 2004 Monastrell from Juan Gil.  I first learned about Juan Gil in Michigan where I was visiting with my buddy Dave from Champane Wine Cellars, and he told me it was great value for under $15 ... this is one of the bottles I picked up from Dave - I know because it has the telltale red pricing sticker, I bought it for $11.99 - remember drinking it that very same night I bought it and ran back for more (the next day).  Since then I have always looked for and enjoyed the wines of this producer.  When I came across the two bottles that I will be having over the next two nights (the 2004 and the 2005) I was excited to try them side-by-side, but then I thought one might go to waste as it is only me partaking in this experiment - and Lord knows I we wouldn't want to waste good wine. And it turns out this one still is.  Lots of dark fruit and spice both on the nose and palate, and as the wine aerates it develops licorice and peppery notes - something along the cracked black pepper line; there's even a slight nuance of dried blackberry and strawberry developing in the background .... the finish is a dry and cedary with plenty of acidity.  Still a nice wine 8 years on, and tomorrow we'll see how much difference a year makes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Torres 2004 Atrium Merlot (Spain)

So much for a soft, fruity Merlot - especially if you wait 8 years to drink it.  This Spanish offering - not a place you see a lot of Merlot from was all dried blackberry and a touch earthy on the nose ... but I have no problem with that ... I also didn't have a problem with the spiced dried dark fruit that went across the  mid-palate or the dry cedary notes that appeared on the finish.  I have to admit though, I found the funky cigarette ash linger in the throat almost a bit repulsive ... sad part is I got used to it - anything so that a bottle of wine does not go to waste.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gray Monk 2004 Pinot Noir (British Columbia)

Having just sat through (and mostly enjoyed) a BC wine tasting, I thought it would be interesting to open something that I had sitting around from the West Coast of Canada.  I was surprised to see I had an eight year old Pinot. Now in truth, as much as I enjoy the red blends and Cabs from out there I was not that thrilled with the Pinot Noirs - though there were a few that sparked my interest.  So I opened this bottle with a little trepidation. The nose was dried cranberry with a touch of wood and a nice cinnamon overlay ... pretty simple.  The palate on the other hand was quite complex offering up a mix of dried and sour fruits.  First came some craisin and dried raspberry, then a freeze-dried-type of strawberry flavour, some cinnamon wood, gentle spice and as the wine opened up there almost seemed to be a element of fresh raspberry that sneaked through every third sip.  This wine still had an air of elegance to it.  Very nice.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Borsao 2006 Tres Picos Garnacha (Spain)

Over the next week or two I will be pulling out quite a few Spanish wines from a box of wine I have been aging ... seems I put down at least four from that country into one box - usually I find that I have a high number of Ontario, California or Australian wines to get through ... but this box must have been laid down at a time when I was experimenting with Spanish finds, and why not.  Spain has some of the best wine values around.  Like this Tres Picos for instance. I have a notation that I picked it up in the US for 12.99 on the recommendation of my buddy Dave at Champane Wine Cellars - Dave has never steered me wrong on a bottle of hooch yet and again he proved his mettle here.  Now I am sure that I have reviewed this before, when it was much younger, but now that it has some age on it it's still a beauty lots of dark fruit with just the right amount of spice to make it complete - a beauty to sit and sip or a great companion to burgers (which was dinner this evening).

Friday, April 6, 2012

Concha y Toro 2009 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile)

The night started with a pretty so-so kosher wine by Renatti (a Shiraz that tasted more like grape juice with booze in it), but ended with the delightful and always impressive Concha y Toro on the table.  I am a fan of what comes out of this Chilean behemoth of a winery - even though they are large they have quality wines coming out the door, at least in the over $15 range.  The Marques de Casa Concha Cab sits around the twenty dollar mark and delivers excellent value for the money.  Lots of lovely dark fruit with a hint of mint and a chunk of bittersweet chocolate on the finish.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lucky Country 2006 Shiraz (Australia)

Lucky Country wines used to be a label of Two Hands, but they have split off into their own off-shoot.  It certainly isn't the first time a popular wine label has pulled this trick, and it certainly won't be the last.  A famous example is Conundrum, which used to be a label for Caymus, but now if you look at their back label it says it is produced by "Conundrum Winery".  As for the wine, it's still a wonderful fruity and spicy version of Shiraz - with lots of dark fruit and pepperyness; just what you expect from a Shiraz ... and even with some age on it (6 years) it's still drinking beautifully, which means the label has changed but the wine inside is still a quality product.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

La Posta 2010 Cocina Tinto (Argentina)

I remember buying this wine a couple years ago when it was called Cocina Blend (kitchen blend) because it included every grape from the La Posta kitchen (Malbec,Syrah and Bonarda) - it was delicious then and now with a shortened name it is delicious still.  Just released onto the general list at the LCBO in Ontario at a steal of a price of $12.95.  The nose is cassis/kirsch-like with vanilla, cinnamon and blackberry ... as the wine opens it seems that a mix of red and dark fruit starts to shine through - though I have to admit it didn't stay in my glass very long.  The palate is dark fruit with cocoa like flavours especially on the finish.  Good tannin backbone keeps you from chug-a-lugging it - otherwise it is so tasty you might do just that.