Just because I started a website called OntarioWineReview.com doesn't mean it's All-Ontario-All-the-Time. When I kick back at night my mood (and sometimes my curiosity) decides my wine of choice. And the title should read, "Uncorked and Un-Screwed Tonight" ... but that just sounds wrong.
Easter dinner with family, it's what the holidays are all about. A brother who can make a hell of a lamb and another who picks a hell of a good bottle of wine (or three) it's a perfect combination for a fun and delicious evening. Started with a bottle of the inaugural Tawse 2011 Gamay - could have used a bit of a chill, but it was a nice wine to start the evening. Next up, a bottle of Domaine Boudau 2008 Côtes du Roussillon Le Clos a beauty full of white pepper, plum, spice and black raspberry - good acidity and some fine tannins round it off. Even more interesting was the shockingly imperceptible 15% alcohol - this wine packed a hidden punch amongst all that fruit and light-spice flavour. Also poured with dinner was a bottle of Trapiche 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Finca Las Palmas from Argentina, paling in the alcohol department by a full percentage point; but it proved to be an even bigger hit than the Boudau with its chocolate-mocha-coffee nose that followed through onto the palate adding rich dark berries and a silky smooth finish along the way. I was very happy with the performance of all these wines ... after all they had to match up with the dinner that was cooked to perfection. I'd say the Boudau has a few more years left under the hood - while the Las Palmas is ready to drink now.
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I erroneously identified this as a 2010 wine yesterday when I posted it along with my drinking vessel on Facebook and Twitter ... yes I am sitting in Raleigh, North Carolina drinking wine from a paper coffee cup - but if you had seen the plastic wine glass they offered me instead you would have gone with the paper as well. But a good Zin is a good Zin and when it's big enough all it needs is air. This 14.9% monster is from Amador County, and my buddy Dave always says "you can't go wrong with an Amador Zinfandel" - and I believe that once again he is very right (even paper-cupped). Nose screams of raspberry, vanilla and red licorice, along with a nice plum backing. Palate seems to follow along but drops the red licorice for a mix of anise, chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla bean all with a sweet plummy finish ... which is a great trade off. In some bastardized French "So Bon" would be 'So Good' and I would totally agree here.
My brother and his family came over for dinner tonight and we decided on some simple fare, namely sausages (from Garden City Meats) of 6 different flavours- that kind of flavour combination needs a variety of wines, and so I picked out a couple. We started with the Belle Glos 2009 Meiomi Pinot Noir, one of my favourite California Pinots, I can't afford the single vineyard offerings but this 3-region blend is a real beauty, black cherry throughout with good acidity and a touch of an earthy quality that gives this wine some real character. Next wine was suppose to be a Cali-Merlot but appetizer time went a little longer than expected, and so I grabbed a bottle of Montgras 2005 Reserva Quatro, this is a 4-berry blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere and Malbec. It started out pretty muted but then started to offer up black licorice-mint, dark berries and a nice long finish. While the Montgras was a last minute addition to the menu the RH Phillips 2005 Toasted Head Merlot was always set to make an appearance which is why right after I opened and refilled some glasses with the Chilean blend I opened and decanted the American Merlot. Inspired by the 2001 I opened earlier in the week I thought it might be nice to open this wine to see how it was making out. Hate to say it but I might have killed it with the decanting. While the 2001 had some real character, granted all of the aged variety, the 2005 just seemed to sit there - yes it was smooth and silky but other than saying it was an easy drinking red there is not much else I can say about it; maybe if I hadn't decanted I'd have more to say.
Earlier this week I mis-posted a 2001 Merlot as a 2003 wine, I knew I had 2003 on the brain for some reason and it's because I had pulled this wine out at the same time I yanked out the Merlot ... while the Merlot was impressive at twelve years old I thought this 10 year old Shiraz was even more impressive. The nose had an absolute crap-load of cassis on it when first opened, then along came black raspberries and balsamic strawberries ... pretty intense. The palate changed over the course of about an hour and a half. It started out with cassis, cocoa nibs and a rather rough / raw finish; within about 15 minutes the finish started to develop those tell-tale peppery notes that Shiraz is known for ... the wine just kept smoothing out and becoming more recognizable as Shiraz and by the hour-and-a-half mark it proved that it had been amazingly well preserved (screwcap closure) with great dark fruit and pepper notes and just a touch of something dried ... really very impressive if you have the patience to let it sit.
Earlier this week I posted a piece for Ottawa Life about California Merlot which garnered a short conversation on Facebook between someone who loves Merlot and someone who finds it to be a vile weed (but a good blending grape). I would have to say that lately I have tasted quite a few really good Merlots made in Ontario from the 2010 vintage - but that really has nothing to do with this wine. I was prompted to dig a little deeper in the cellar to see what I could find in the Merlot department with a little age on it. My last foray into aged Merlot was not a happy one - so I was hoping for better this time. Not sure whether the Toasted Head was meant to age but I will say it didn't do too badly. At first the nose was that of dried blackberries, smoke and anise ... the flavours is where it played a little game of possum at first: smoked/dried herbs and dark berries with a toast of earthiness ... it then became more defined with smoked-dried cherry and cinnamon, herbal while it continued to smooth out ... cheeking out the glass as I swirled the wine I noticed quite a bit of sediment coating the glass ... I also found that as it sat in the glass it developed more spice character but never lost that smoky/dried cherry quality - and that was a good thing. And a very good thing for a twelve year old Merlot.
It's a beautiful Friday night, time to celebrate the weekend ... we crack a bottle of Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catharie Rose Brut as we sit back with a small tray of California rolls ... they seem to go wonderfully together. After dinner the need for something else strikes me and my wife says, "surprise me" - I know that if I go for red she'll turn her nose up in a minute, so I locate a white I've been looking forward to drinking ever since I brought it into the house in the early part of the winter. The Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Roussanne is not something I expected to find in the Chilean section of the liquor store, nor did I expect it to be any good - but man was this a delicious bottle, and so different from the Rieslings, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs we've been consuming of late. I would love to say there is a delicacy here but that isn't quite true, it's a wine that accosts the nose and palate, but in a good way. Herbal, pineapple, poached pear and hints of spice all make an appearance at times and in places - yet it seems to retain good mouth cleansing acidity and a great long finish. As for the wife, seems like she'll stick to the Rieslings, Chardonnays and Savvy B's, Roussanne was not her glass-of-vino, so I poured for her a Chateau des Charmes 2011 Rose ... and that suited her just fine.
I'm a Tasmanian Pinot fan ... have been since my very first sip of Josef Chromy wine ... I like the fruit, the delicacy, the eye opening acidity and yet the alcohols seem to match with what many think of as Australian wines (usually high) but they don't seem to interfere with the enjoyment of the wine (read: get in the way). A week or so ago another Tasmanian Pinot hit the Ontario market and if the name doesn't get you the wine inside will. Devil's Corner is a delicious Pinot filled with all the things I love about Tasmanian Pinot Noir: lovely spice, great acidity, powerful yet with restrained fruit - sounds like a bit of a dichotomy but in truth you just have to taste one to believe it. Cherry, cranberry - all with that seam of acidity to keep it fresh. I can't seem to remember what I had for dinner tonight - but I sure do remember this wine quite vividly.