Thursday, February 28, 2013

Two More Ruined by Plastic (California / New Zealand)

I am about to get up on my soapbox ... let me just drag it over here ... test it's stability ... tap the microphone ... and here we go:

Two fallen soldiers with tarnished toppers
Tonight I was appalled and also embarrassed by what I found under two, count 'em, two capsules ... neither was expected and neither was welcome - plastic cork.  I don't know what the fascination with plastic cork was in the mid-2000's but for god sake it is really starting to get on my very last nerve.  I understand that natural cork was letting us all down (at the least 10% of the time) and I get the point that screwcap looked cheap - but to opt for something like plastic, who thought that was a good idea?  Now in truth, of the two bottles I opened I had real faith in one of them, the other was more of a lark:  Delicato 2005 Merlot and Cooper's Creek 2003 Tom Cat Merlot ... I suspect you can guess the serious versus the lark ... but both wines were absolutely horrible (worse than I ever imagined), and that is not what I was expecting from Delicato.  Let's start by describing the wines in there present form ... and I must say these aren't all my words.  [Sidebar:  the reason I was also embarrassed (just a little) was that I opened these wines up for my wine class in the hopes of showing at least one good aged Merlot]  The Delicato wine was oxidized, funky and off-putting, "wet old shoes" was one of the descriptors used on this night ... the wine was prematurely aged and undrinkable.  But that wasn't half as bad as the Tom Cat - (now how much faith can you put into a wine like this?) but the odor was horrible, one student mention it smelled like their "green bin" the other said "rotting vegetables" ... whatever moniker you put to it it was not good, not good at all.  

Once again I make the plea to producers to please, please, please in the name of all that's good and holy to please put on your labels some indication that the wine is sealed with a synthetic cork (read: plastic), that way I, as a consumer of your product, will know not to lie it down - in fact I'll make a special rack in my cellar specifically for plastic corked bottles, those are the ones I can open immediately or as the fourth bottle on a bacchanalia-like evening, you know that time of night when nobody can tell the difference between a good bottle and rot-gut.  The sad part is that with all the research about plastic corks and longevity there are still wineries who insist on putting "reserve" designated wines under plastic cork (one I know about right here in Ontario just released some beauty 2007's under this closure, say goodbye to them by next year).  Something has to be done.  As consumers we have to start demanding better labeling for instances of plastic cork ... as a writer I have to make it my mission to alert everyone about plastic cork on bottles, that way I at least give them fair-warning before they make the decision to lie it down.  Plastic cork is fine for drink-now bottles (2 years max) but for anything you hope to have a future with (say 5+ years) no plastic should  be used.

Funny thing, it just so happens that I am going to visit the largest manufacturer of plastic cork (NomaCorc) later this month, I will have plenty to say on the issue of plastic corks ... I would love to hear what they think of the age-ability of wine under their product ... I can bet you dollars to donuts they're going to tell me their research is much different than my practical findings.  I know, keep an open mind and all - but I can't seem to get over the number of bottles I have encountered that have been totally ruined by a ill-placed and ill-thought out closure ... maybe that's a little harsh ... the question comes down to this:  do you blame the closure or do you blame the producer?  The closure is inferior for long term aging - the producer is negligent in not telling you about the closure ... maybe I've found my culprit - now how do we get wineries to tell us about their choice of bottle sealant?  Earlier this week I had lunch with a major Italian wine producer, and he seemed intrigued by the concept of putting that kind of information on the label ... will I have to make my pitch one winery at a time?  Or better yet, why don't we all put the bug in their collective ears.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Osoyoos Larose 2005 Petales d'Osoyoos (British Columbia)

This is one bottle from one of three mixed-cases of wine I brought back from British Columbia a few summers ago.  I have tasted Osoyoos Larose Grand Vin (the big wine) in the past at a variety of tastings and am fairly impressed with the wines coming out of this partnership between BC and France.  This 2005 is Merlot dominant and now has some 8 years from vintage date on it ... and considering this is the 2nd wine from the producer you have to wonder about the longevity.  I can tell you that I was super impressed with what I found.  The nose had earthy notes right from the get go - but those seemed to dissipate with air revealing some raspberry before settling in with dried blackberry and dried cherry.  The palate also opened with earthy notes but soon turned to dried red fruit as its mainstay along with black cherry, oak and spice - there was also some nice acidity to keep the wine lively on the tongue - but still had the smoothness of an older vintage wine settling into its golden years ... the good news is I would say this wine has a few more years ahead of it ... if you're looking for fresh fruit it ain't here, but if you want to understand older wines, how they age and what they can become this is a great place to get that education.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Three Wines on a Saturday Night (Australia / France)

Truth be told there were more than three wines consumed on this evening - there were 2 bubblies, a Riesling, a Chardonnay, and a number of reds ... but for the time being, while my head stops throbbing, I'll focus on the following three wines:

Jip Jip Rock Sparkling Shiraz ... I have had quite a few Sparkling Shirazes in my day and each time I do I tell myself I'm to never have another - that was until I tried this one.  As one of the members of our group stated: "This is what Shiraz has been missing for me ... bubbles."  It's light and fruity - not what you would expect from a heavy-weight grape like Shiraz - it manages to keep the fruit intact without getting syrupy or too heavy handed with tannins, this is a delicious sparkling red.

Abbotts & Delaunay 2010 Reserve Corbieres ... I've written about this wine extensively for Ottawa Life, but this is my first tasting of the wine since I bought a few in early January (and tasted the wine in November).  It was even better than I remembered and it was a good compliment to the pork tenderloin served as the main: cherries, blackberries, violets, plum, anise, so well-balanced and just a delicious wine.

Le Ferme du Mont 2009 Premier Cote, Cotes du Rhone ... this was a big red fruit with cherry, raspberry and strawberry notes - not much more to say about it, it was a simple pleasure to sip on at the end of the evening.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Remo Farina 2000 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso (Italy)

When you hang out with a bunch of Italian winemakers (or even one) you begin to have a hankering for Italian wine, even when you get home.  Tonight, I wanted something old and Italian and ended up this Remo Farina Ripasso.  At 13 years of old (from the label date) this wine really shows some good complexity and mostly tertiary aromas and flavours:  smells of leather, prune, licorice, clove and baking spice ...  the palate starts off with tons of black pepper and anise - seems to move quickly into a whack of acidity and sprice, which dominates the palate when drank on its own, but with food it worked beautifully: smooth and mellow while still being aged to perfection and with nice complexity.  With a little time there appeared a slightly woody note and a finish of leathered-cherry ... for 13 years old this is one interesting wine that still delivers.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Night of Three Bottles: 2 Chards and a Vidal Bubble (Ontario / British Columbia)

Next Saturday night we are heading over to a friend's house for dinner ... this Saturday we stayed home and did that housework stuff that people tend to do (when they are bored).  My wife then prepared dinner for our Sunday dinner guests (Guinness Pie) and started the fresh bread process, which she was going to make Sunday afternoon.  Then we sat down together and tried to decided what we were going to have for dinner.  For the discussion of who was going to cook dinner we opened a bottle of Lighthall 2011 Progression - a bubbly from Prince Edward Country made in the Charmat method from Vidal grapes (I reviewed it recently so check out the review by clicking on the wine name).  Then we decided on pizza, cause neither of us wanted to cook, and so while waiting for the delivery guy to appear we opened a bottle of Sandhill 2010 Chardonnay from British Columbia - now I am a self admitted ABCer but you would never be able to tell as we opened another Chard after this one - but let's not jump ahead quite yet.  This is a beauty from a part of Canada that I am more fond of their reds than their Chardonnays.  A cooler vintage and a steady hand by winemaker Howard Soon has made this one of the best Chardonnays from the Okanagan I have tasted in recent memory.  Looking at Howard's notes: "The cooler 2010 vintage provided slower ripening, compared to the warmer 2009 vintage, however this assisted in developing perfect balance between ripe flavours ..."  I could not agree more.  A nose rich in peach, pineapple and vanilla led to a palate with hints of vanilla, spice, peach pit and caramel apple with a nice spiced apple finish ... here in Ontario the wine is selling for the same price as it is in BC, which is an accomplishment unto itself - great value and a delicious bottle.  As mentioned we opened another bottle of Chardonnay and this time it was a beauty from Ontario's own Coyote's Run, 2010 Black Paw - this one was a little more richer because of the hotter vintage we had in Ontario (another rarity for us to eclipse BC for heat) - it's another review that can be found on my website.  Needless to say in was a good night of good wines - and we slept very well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sokol Blosser 2010 Pinot Noir - Dundee Hills (Oregon)

A few weeks back I wrote an entry in my Ottawa Life blog about a couple of wines from Sokol Blosser (a highly regarded Oregon Pinot Noir producer) of wines they blended from around the country to make easy drinking, non-vintage blends ... those blends, I would then assume, would get their name out there into the wider world and get people interested in trying what has, or will, make them famous:  Pinot Noir.  Tonight, I gave a go to a wine that is more along the lines of what Sokol Blosser is all about, a Pinot Noir from their beloved state of Oregon in the Willamette Valley.  This Pinot had an earthy, red currant, raspberry, violet and cranberry cocktail nose, while the palate delivered earthy and acidity in it's very first few sips ... from there is mellowed and really showed itself.  Vanilla was one of the main flavours backed by a fresh cranberry tartness and some sour cherry ... but the really exciting part of this wine was the cherry replay on the finish - you swallowed and waited about 2-3 seconds and suddenly your mouth was filled with the replay of cherry ... and then it was gone ... but it was that quick replay that made you want to take sip affter sip after sip, just so you could experiece it again - all done with a lovely freshness.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Columbia Crest 2009 Les Chevaux (Washington)

I find myself drawn to the Horse Heaven Hills line of wines from Columbia Crest, known as H3, especially the reds - I have a number of these wines in my cellar.  One of the more unique is the "Les Chevaux" blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc ... doesn't particular sound unique - I bet there's a hundred wineries making a blend very similar in the US alone - but it's the region that's unique, which was established as an American Viticulture Area in 2005.  According to the H3 Wine Growers Website: "Cowboy James Kinney named this area in 1857 after discovering his herd of horses eating the native grasses on the hillside.  Proclaiming this is "Horse Heaven""The regions also has the distinction of being "proud home of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th "100" point wine,  2002-2003-2005-2007 of Washington State".  The wine spends 18 months in a mix of French and American oak of which 1/3 is new, but it is not overwhelmed with oak - in fact the oak acts as seasoning and rarely shows its hand.  The nose is blackberry, cinnamon and with hints of blueberry - the palate is much more expressive with its dark berries, cinnamon, vanilla, black cherry and dark raspberries, pipe tobacco, anise, cocoa and yes, just the merest hint of oak.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Rock Wall 2010 Jesse's Vineyard Zinfandel (California)

My hat goes off to my buddy Dave in Michigan ... I am here on an impromptu visit and decided I needed a bottle for the evening ... now those who follow my posting regularly will know that Dave is a wine-geek that works at a place called Champane Wine Cellars in Warren, Michigan, and whenever I am here I try and swing by to see what interesting finds he can point my palate to ... last time I was here he mentioned a bottle of Rock Wall Jesse's Vineyard Zin ... I bought it but have yet to pull the cork on my bottle at home.  I walked into Champane's this afternoon and learned that Dave was off - so I was on my own ... I picked up 4 bottles, one of which was another bottle of this Zinfandel Dave was raving about ... and holy Moses, the man knows my taste buds when it comes to Zin (he knows I am a fanatic for the wines - we've had many a conversation on Zin).  Let's start here:  this wine is made from vines planted in the 1890's, the story continues that the 90-year-old farmer, Jesse, tends these plants - more power to him ... whatever the story the wine is totally awesome ... the nose is plum, blackberry, vanilla and chocolate - the palate over delivers with all those aromas translating into flavours and adds black cherry, white pepper, a hint of something minty and sweetened black tea.... I could drink this wine all night ... and I probably will - cause I'll need the evening for my body to process the 16.1% alcohol so I don't wake up with a major hangover ... sad to say it would/will be very much worth it.  Thanks Dave, for introducing me to this amazing gem of a wine.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Haras de Pirque 2006 Equus Carmenere (Chile)

This wine revealed itself in stages: what it was on first opening and then aerated.  When the bottle was first opened and poured into the glass the overwhelming smell was mint-chocolate and that showed itself on the palate, especially on the finish - the mid-palate was pretty grippy and brambly in nature showing little fruit.  But with such an enticing finish I knew there had to be more, and I hate to admit it, I was not going to be patient to find out.  So I pulled out my VinOair and re-poured the wine:  nose went from overly minty to black cherry and spice ... then as it sat in the glass you could smell the alcohol heat (looked it up, it was 14.5%) and became a cherry cough syrup - which isn't bad if you grew up on Triaminic.  The taste was also staggered:  kirch and cassis like notes, cherry liquor, spice and a long finish.  I think it depended what stage I caught it at as to whether I really liked it or just liked it, though when the alcohol heat started to show through it was less appealing - but it was all about waves for this wine ... a wave of really good followed by a wave of mediocre followed by a wave a hey-that's-not-bad and so on.  It's gonna be another one of those bottles I pull out this summer and try again ... with company.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Del Palio Vineyards 2000 Sangiovese (Italy)

This was a really weird wine ... as I have mentioned in previous reviews I have recently put my cellar on CellarTracker and have been trying out some of the features.  Today I thought it would be fun to see what kind of Chianti I have in my cellar ... sadly the program said I only have 3 bottles (this I am having trouble believing because I know I have more kicking around in there) - and the oldest was this bottle from 2000.  Took me awhile to locate it because the label is one of those weird-fanggled-looks-like-we-made-it-at-home-with-our-new-printer kinda labels: lots of odd colours like orange and red, not what I think about when you hear the word Chianti.  I also have to admit that I decided, in keeping with the old school nature of this wine, forewent the usual red wine glass I use and pulled out an small juice glass - like the ones you see Italians drinking wine from in movies (funny aside - as my wife was making fun of me for my glassware of choice, we happened upon an old movie on TV and what was the guy drinking wine from ... vindication).  In this glass the wine showed that it still had some really good acidity along with dried fruit, some dried leaves notes - kinda like orange pekoe tea - the acidity helped to give the fruit a lift, and in the bottom of the glass a fine sediment appeared.  This was quite a nice wine for a 12 year old Sangiovese ... the more I try old Italian wines the more impressed I am with them.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Norrel Robertson 2005 Papa Luna (Spain)

It's Friday night and time to look deeper into my cellar to see what is interesting ... well tonight I didn't have to dig too deeply as I only made it back to 2005 for this bottle of Papa Luna.  Of course I like to do a little research on a wine after I drink it and as it turns out the winery isn't actually called Norrel Robertson, Norrel is the winemaker, and he sources his fruit from old vines Grenache in the Calatayud region of Spain.  Now seven years form vintage date this wine has taken on a little more wood character than I remember it having.  The nose is definitely dark berries with a hint of wood in the background ... the flavours hide the wood a little better with dark cherry, anise, cinnamon kicking in before the wood spice appears, taking up the rear.  It definitely needed to sit a bit but has it sat too long in the cellar?  I have a couple more bottles so I'll test them out again this summer and tell you.