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.