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.