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.