Sunday, April 28, 2013

Can Blau 2006 Can Blau (Spain)

It's Sunday, and the Kawartha Flavour Festival is now behind us.  My seminar went well and now I am sitting in a bed and breakfast (Golden Pathways) eating the topping off some anchovy and hot pepper pizza - I thing there are hot peppers on it too - trust me it was not my choice ... anyway I do have this bottle of the Spanish Can Blau with me, a blend of Mazuelo, Shiraz and Grenache.  I am a huge Blau fan so I am exicted abot opening this wine.  Upon capsule removal I am staring at a plastic cork (with some trepidation I might add); and I'm also thinking, 'how often do you get a Spanish wine with plastic cork, after all they make cork in Spain - weird.  The folks who are staying with me have quite a bit of wine knowledge themselves and also looked chagrinned that plastic is on the docket as wine closer.  But as it goes into the glass and up to the nose one of them says, "it comes off as a full aged red" - at only 6 years old I'm not sure that's a great thing to say, but the wine ends up being a very pleasant mix of dried red fruit and spice, quite enjoyable to drink.  I know I have more bottles sitting at home in the cellar which means it is time to drink them this summer.  If you have some bottles too I would recommend the same. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pedroncelli 2002 Petite Sirah (California)

Here's one of those wines that you pull out of the wine cellar and scratch your head:  One, I know Pedroncelli for Zinfandel, as I have one or two in my cellar; and two, I had no idea I had a 10 year old Pedroncelli in my cellar, and a Petitie Sirah at that.  Another thing that made me wonder about this wine before opening is that Petite Sirah is not a wine you really put much stock into ageing - it's a wine you use for blending but you don't see lots of wines where the grape stands alone.  Interesting to note that Petite Sirah is also known as Durif in other parts of the world and grows mainly in Australia - that's something for your next backyard bbq when the conversation lulls or a Petite Sirah wine appears.  I was pretty impressed with this wine right from the get go - the aromas were peppery and spicy with tons of black pepper on the nose.  Palate didn't show a tone of fruit, in fact it was mostly things like cinnamon, cedar-spice, and hints of cocoa that all made appearances before the dried cassis made it's way onto the palate.  For wine buffs this is an interesting wine to serve with dinner and watch it come into its own in the glass ... otherwise I don't think it would cut the muster in today's "lots of fruit" style wines.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Carmen 2002 Reserve Merlot (Chile)

It was a long day.  Started out at the Ontario Wine Awards judging Chardonnay, Gamay, Rose and a variety of red blends ... then I popped in on my parents to see how they were doing (not home).  Then went to visit one of my oldest friends (time wise - years wise) and his family - then I pushed off for home with a grocery store stop along the way.  There I bought a pound of ground beef and pork and the plan was to make homemade burgers.  But with my wife out of town there was no way I was eating 2lbs of meat, no matter how good that sounds ... so I made two burgers and turned the rest into a meatloaf (and I have to admit, now that it's out of the oven it looks pretty good).  But I also opened a bottle of wine this evening and a Chilean Merlot at that ... with some age on it:  a 2002 to be exact.  I seem to be breaking a lot of corks these days and this bottle of wine was no different - I snapped this one in the middle, was able to remove another quarter and pushed the rest into the bottle; then I poured a quite a bit down the sink trying the rid the wine of cork sediment.  As for the wine itself; it was definitely far from fresh fruit, but it had some really good structure and backbone that made it an interesting beverage at its current age.  Smoky dried blackberry kicked it off, adding in leathery notes and chalky tannins.  There were hints of all kinds of tertiary things such as cedar y-vanilla,  cinnamon smoke and hints of cocoa (that showed up with time).  There was also an exciting anise cinnamon aroma that began to show an hour from opening.  Pretty interesting wine at 11 years of age ... a good, tasty wine, if you like 'em aged.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cameron Hughes 2010 Zin Your Face (California)

The ribs are finished, the bones are piled on the plate ... and I have to tell you I wasn't about to give up on having a Zinfandel with them (even if my last attempt proved underwhelming) - so just before serving I grabbed a bottle of "Zin Your Face" a $10 Zin I picked up on my last trip into the US - and one I was told, despite it's gimmicky name, is actually very good.  And I would have to agree - and why not, it was recommended by my good buddy Dave at Champane Wine Cellars in Michigan (even he was bashful about recommending it because of the name).  The nose is filled with black fruits:  plum and cherry, along with hints of vanilla and spice.  Palate pretty much follows right along but with more spice than fruit ... which was a welcome respite from the sweeter rib sauce and acted as a foil so that both ribs and wine were tasty - alone and together.  I am going to have to steal a line from the Irish Spring marketing campaign and twist it a bit for my benefit: Gimmicky yes, but I like it too.

Renwood 2003 Old Vine Zinfandel (California)

Tonight I thought I would BBQ up some ribs for dinner - so obviously it's time for Zinfandel.  I found an old bottle of Renwood 2003 Old Vines that I thought might just do the trick.  The ribs are in the oven ... wind gusts are hitting 70km an hour so BBQing is out of the question ... and I poured myself a glass of this wine.  First thing that happened was the cork broke ... easy fix, and I was able to push the cork through.  Next step was to pour the wine into a nice big glass - mission accomplished.  Now smell.  Holy crow, all I can smell is alcohol here, I look at the bottle, 15 whopping percent ... I knew that Zins were big (in fact I like that aspect of them) but this one just smells big ... taste is a little on the cherry-plum side of things but that big rocking alcohol is just reaching through the very middle of the wine and taking over.  I have to admit it has been a long time since I have had a Zin where I did not find at least one thing to like about it ... this is just too much alcohol with nothing else to back it up.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lazy Sunday - One White / One Red both Pinot Family Members (Ontario / Oregon)

The sun is shining for the first time in awhile this Sunday ... so we decided to watch it from the comfort of our den (after all it was still just 5 degrees out), put on the new Louis CK special ("Oh My God" - very funny) and watch a bunch of other things, while trying to decide what we should have for dinner on our new wheat-free diet (sorry, lifestyle change).  We came up with some kind of pizza concoction made with cauliflower - my wife asked, "what happens if it doesn't taste good?" - I responded, "well, we've always got wine."  And with that we each opened a bottle.  She, a bottle of Huff Estates 2011 Pinot Gris and me, a bottle of Maysara Winery 3o Pinot Noir from Oregon (read: Three Degrees).  I have recently reviewed the Huff so it's all linked up, but this is my first experience with Maysara wine.  Turns out it is an organic/biodynamic winery out of Oregon and for the most part when I see a US winery playing with the biodynamic I get a little queasy ... I just don't think they have it quite down pat yet ... it's just too new to them.  Anyway, I did not know this about the wine before I sipped at it, I found the wine incredibly earthy with hints of vegetation that were not all together pleasant.  That's when I inspected the bottle and thought I would try to give it the benefit of the doubt.  Next up on the nose and palate was a mushroom-iness ... after about 45 minutes to an hour I began to find some fruit.  First came cranberry then a little later some sour cherry came by for a stay ... and thankfully the earthy, mushroom and vegetation took a back seat.   Was this my favvourite Pinot ever ... not really ... but it did come across better in an hour than it did from the start.  As for the pizza, not bad at all.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sparkling Wine Nightmare (Ontario / New Zealand / Ontario)

This Friday I felt like captain Walter E. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now as I experience "The Horror.  The Horror." ... but not of war, the horror of a sparkling wine debacle of the like I have never seen.  Earlier in the day I consulted with my wine database and decided this weekend I was going to celebrate Friday with my oldest bottle of bubbly in the cellar:  a Jackson-Triggs 2003 Methode Classique Proprietors' Grand Reserve.  And so I put it in the fridge in the morning hoping to open it around 5 or 6 o'clock in the afternoon after the work day was done.  And it it came to pass.  Six PM and I got out two sparkling wine glasses - unwrapped the capsule and slowly started to remove the cork ... with barely a pop, a hiss or a fizz.  Had I been able to pull the cork out of a bottle of bubbles soundlessly?  If so this was the first time I have ever done that.  Alas the bottle had lost all its bubble it was flat, uninteresting and for the most part oxidized.  I looked at the cork and it was a short, stubby thing that never (even three hours later) expanded.  So bottle one was faulty.  Now I had to hastily find something else.  This time a bottle of Oyster Bay Brut Rose from New Zealand ... I popped this one in the freezer and waited half an hour ... this one made a beautiful explosion as the cork was pulled from the neck and the fizz in the glass was exactly what I was looking for.  I poured one glass, and before I could pour the other a funny smell hit my nose.  I put my sniffer in the glass, and wouldn't you know it ... corked.  Shit.  Back to the cellar for a third bottle - my plan for dinner at 6:30 backed up by another half hour as I waited for my third bottle of bubbly to chill in the freezer: this time a bottle of Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs - I popped the cork at 7:15pm; washed out the sparkling glasses and poured my third bottle in the glass ... hazzah - finally a bottle we could drink ... but the time for bubbly had passed.  We drank the wine and it had its usual deliciousness, but we were not in the mood for it.  Although I love sparkling (and so does my wife) it just had lost its appeal this evening because of the trouble; the time for bubbles had passed.  Sigh - we'll try again in a few weeks and hope for better results - but now I know that there's a time for sparkling and there is a time to just give up.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Golden Mile Cellars 2006 Zinfandel (British Columbia)

It's seems like forever since I have been to Golden Mile Cellars ... and as the saying goes, "You can never go back" - and in this case that is very true ... Golden Mile Cellars changed its name soon after I visited it (I am sure there is no corollary there) to Road 13, giving the name of the winery back to the region in which it resides - The Golden Mile - which is in the southern Okanagan.  But I still had a bottle with the old name and label and so tonight, along with my mother, with whom I visited the winery, drank and reminisced about our time in the Okanagan and the Luckhursts who own the winery.  Surprisingly the wine was better then I remembered it - we had tasted it almost two years to the date ago and all that was really apparent about the wine was the spiciness ... now sure it has spiced plum and just plain old spice but there was so much more like dried blackberries and a real nice seam of dark chocolate.  Sadly this is my last bottle of this wine in the cellar and all we have left from our Golden Mile Cellars experience are the memories and this blog ... cheers to good wine, good times and pleasant memories.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bodegas Castano 2011 Hecula (Spain)

Yesterday morning I had a brief meeting with Daniel Castano, part of the Castano family that owns Bodegas Castano in Yecla, Spain.  The meeting was to get re-acquainted with the La Casona and Hecula brands and meet the family behind these bargain wines (under $9 and $12 respectively) ... I was then handed a bottle of the 2011 Hecula, a wine coming to the Ontario market in May (currently the delicious 2009 is on shelves).  This wine comes from 60-80 year old "Old Vines" of Monastrell ... and fans of old vines wines know that kind of age really makes a difference in the glass.  I was glad to be able to taste this wine in the comfort of my own home and with a meal of my choosing, because this wine deserves some food to pair with it.  I went with a Spaniard-inspired chicken (some ingredients Daniel suggested).  Plus, wine always tastes better in the company of the winemaker - or by extension, the owner or a family member of the winery ... just saying, so to get some real perspective on a bottle it's best to bring it to a neutral location.  So here I am with dinner in the oven and I pop the cork on the new Hecula (a wine I enjoy and have great respect for; it's also a wine I have in my cellar I have bottles that date back to 2003).  I open the bottle and pour it into a nice big red glass, but there's something about the wine that didn't seem quite right to me ... I could smell red and black fruits, and the wine had some nice spice and hints of woodiness and a mocha finish ... but that woodiness kept growing - not something you expect from a wine that spent only 6 months in French and American oak.  As the wine sat in the glass the woodsy-like flavours continued to the point where it muted the fruit flavours of the wine and also managed to take over the aromas as well - it was then that I realized the bottle was ever so slightly corked (cork does not get better, over time and with exposure to air gets worse).  That's really to bad, because the wine had so much promise and I still believe the 2011 is going to be another great value from Spain and in particular the Castano family.  I guess at some point another bottle will be in order.