Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt 2002 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese (Germany)

From the name alone you can probably tell this is a German wine ... thanks to two colliding incidents today I find myself drinking a bottle of von Kesselstatt Spatlese.  One: today was the day of the German wine tasting in Toronto, over 100 wines of which 90% were Riesling - you would expect after leaving such a tasting that one would have no interest in tasting Riesling for quite some time, but that's where you are wrong, it only whet the appetite for something aged and interesting in the Riesling department.  Two: on my way home from the tasting I tweeted from the train a choice of wines I was thinking of drinking, one was a local Gamay, the other a German Riesling (which I was pairing with fish) ... within seconds of posting my friend Alex Good from Calgary wrote back: "Riesling.  Pick the Riesling."  And so the table was set for the Reichsgraf.  And how right he was.  At 11-years-old this wine showed very little sign of its age, in fact the only thing my wife noted, when I poured her a glass, was the wine seemed dark in colour ... golden.  From there it was all uphill ... the nose was apple and apricot with some lemon rind and minerality showing through.  The palate just made you want to take sip after sip, and at only 8% alcohol it was so easy to do.  A lovely sweetness filled the mouth mixing with it apricot, pear and some intense sweet lemon notes - my wife called it "apple juice" - but there was so much more here.  The acidity helped to balance it out, but it did not get in the way of the gulpability of this wine ... I think my Riesling-loving friend, Alex, would have loved this one ... my wife will stick to her dry Rieslings ... but there's something to be said for a well-made, well-executed Spatlese that one just can't quite put into words except to say: "you've got to try this."

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hardys 2005 Bankside Shiraz (Australia)

Oh Baby what beauty of a wine this is ... was.  We were grilling up some inch thick steaks on the new charcoal grill tonight and it seemed only right to pull out something with a little heft.  I had my choice between a 15% Kaesler blend (also from Australia) or this Bankside (at 14%) ... and I am glad I picked this one.  The nose had a beautiful spiced-raspberry aroma, along with some white pepper that really brought out that fruit.  The palate was loaded with dark berries, cassis, pepper with touches of smoke and vanilla notes for extra accents.  This wine was delicious with the steaks and was nicely aged ... nice job Hardys and good for me for having the patience to wait.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Anakena 2005 Carmenere, Single Vineyard (Chile)

Some of the best bottles of wine you drink are those that you have the least expectations from.  I have to be honest, I had no idea what to expect from an eight year old bottle of Carmenere.  Would the fruit be dried or still fresh?  Would the wood over-take the fruit?  Would there be anything there worth drinking at all?  I'm happy to report that this was one impressive bottle of wine, that over the course of a number of hours showed little of its age.  The nose was full of smoky notes with spiced-blueberry backing it up ... the nice part of the aroma was that it never faded, never got stronger, nor did dissipate in any way - the nose remained constant.  The palate, on the other hand, did change, but always for the better adding elements that enhanced:  starting off with spiced-raspberry along with some tannins notes, then it added hints of cocoa within the first half hour.  As time passed it seemed to smooth out yet retained a chalky almost mineral character (kinda like baker's cocoa) then, before I stopped drinking it, there seemed to be an added quality of mint to the mix ... very lovely and it complimented dinner, which was simple as can be: Sloppy Joes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A to Z Wineworks 2006 Chemin de Terre (Oregon)

Tonight, once again I pop the cork on a bottle of A to Z Chemin de Terre ... sadly this is my last bottle of this totally delicious wine and I am so happy that I waited to give it one last go.  The last time I opened a bottle was in August 2010, before that it was July 2010 and then at some earlier times (because at one point I had 5 bottles of this wine in my cellar).  This really is a kitchen sink wine as it had about 7 or 8 different varieties in the blend, and some you never would have pegged to be grown in Oregon (Sangiovese anyone?).  But now some 7 years from vintage date I can tell you the wine has held up extremely well and currently has smoky blackberry notes with cassis and black cherry, lots of fruit left in it for a wine of this age - it was smooth, elegant and really sexy in the glass.  I know we had some people come over and I have to tell you I have no idea what they drank - I just know I enjoyed this.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tale of Two Vintages: Jackson Triggs Okanagan Cabernet Sauvignon (British Columbia)

Not sure what possessed me to do this but tonight I thought it a great idea to pull out two bottles of wine from the same winery: same grape variety but different vintages ... why not eh?  If you've got 'em flaunt 'em, or at least pull 'em out and try 'em.  The two wines were Jackson Triggs Proprietors' Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2001 and 2004 vintages.  Starting with the opening of the bottles:  the 2001's cork pretty much disintegrated in the bottle, it was spongy and soft and no matter how I tried I could not get that all the cork out of the bottle.  My last resort was to push the remainder of the cork into the bottle - while an eighth of the cork remained adhered to the side of the neck.  The 2004 was in much better condition and slid out without any hassle what-so-ever.  Colour of the wines were as expected, the 2001 was definitely brickier than the 2004 - though the 2001 was more evidently aged and showed its 12 years more readily, whereas the 2004 did not look to be a wine of 9 years from vintage date.  Initially the 2001 was a nice wine with sweet dried fruit notes and it was quite smooth with just a hint of some tannin or acidity - it was hard to make out what was biting back ... but that was short lived as the wine became very raisiny within 30 minutes and stayed that way for the rest of its life span in the glass (about 2-and-a-half hours) ... it had definitely crested the hill and was hurtling towards the bottom.  The 2004 had the opposite effect:  it started off pretty rough and rugged, almost to the point of being aggressive - but once it settled into the glass it started to reveal its true nature, lots of cassis and other dark fruit with creme de cacao on the palate ... over the course of its lifespan in the glass (same as the 2001) it developed a wonderful texture in the mouth, mixing tannins with a pseudo-creaminess.  Within the course of 2 hours it opened to the point that it was expressing itself with dark fruit (mostly dried) with black licorice and sweet spice.  Truly impressive.  So while the 2001 is definitely on the decline the 2004 is just a hair off its peak and should be drunk this year - yes it has crested the hill but it sure doesn't want to go down with any quickness.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Final Dinner at the ACWC (Germany / California / Italy / France)

It's the last night of the All Canadian Wine Championship and as usual we meet at a restaurant with a BYOW license and many of the judges have something they want to showcase.  The first that shows off something interesting is a bottle of Dr. Hermann 2007 Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese an absoultely gorgeous Riesling that a real balanced beauty that is just a fabulous pairing with the butternut squash soup (and not bad with the mussels).  The Banfi 2010 Centine is a good bridge wine that seems to be fruity enough to pair with the beet salad; juicy red berries that prove to be supple and succulent.  The main is beef tenderloin and the choice is between the Domaine du Pegau 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape or the Enkidu 2010 Diener Ranch Red Hills, Lake County Zinfandel, both an excellent pairing with the beef.  The Pegau was earthy with plenty of dark fruit, this bottle had plenty of life left in it as it was a 1500ml bottle, so we popped the cork way to early, but all are thankful it made its way to the table (thanks AG).  The Zinfandel was a beauty of a plummy, spicy wine with 15.6% alcohol that was smooth and sexy.  Another great year at the ACWC where I believe Ontario should have done much better than in previous years.  Next year we'll do it all again, with more great Canadian wines and great international bottles for dinner.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Marietta Cellars Old Vines Red Lot Number 44 (California)

I have to admit I'm a fan of Marietta Cellars Old Vines Lot Blends ... they're non-vintage, so you're never sure of the year you're drinking but looking on-line I think I can safely say this one was released sometime in 2008, making this blend 5 years old.  It's primarily made from Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Carignane and I'm telling you I don't think I've tasted one that's better then this one ... not sure if I've had one as old either: plum, vanilla, chocolate, sweet cherry with other rich red fruit along with a mix of sweet red and black licorice this truly was a beauty to sit, sip and enjoy dinner around the bbq with.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cline 2006 Big Break Zinfandel (California)

I have quite a few Zinfandels in my wine collections, but none is more precious to me than my Cline 2006 Big Break Zinfandel ... it's a silly reason really, they just happen to be the most expensive bottles of Zinfandel I own, and like many people who hold onto wine they feel is precious I don't want to open it until precisely the right time.  We had a friend coming over tonight for an impromptu visit and I needed something to serve.  I pulled out a starter bottle of Chardonnay (reviewed here) but I needed a red to go with dinner.  Granted we weren't going gourmet tonight (remember it was an impromptu visit) we were grilling up some burgers ... but our friend has just recently found (or re-found) Zinfandel, and so I can't just pour them any old bottle - so I brought out one of my prized possessions.  I have to say I am critical about expensive bottles - I paid quite a bit of money for these and want them to be just right ... and happily this one is.  Plum and baked cherry along with baking spice, vanilla, reduced cola and spiced plum, all made an appearance either on the nose, palate, or both .  My wife is more of a white drinker so she stuck with something light - but I just know I impressed our friend, she drank the whole glass and asked for seconds.  And I know I impressed myself, it was so good.