Wednesday, October 30, 2013

RJ Vinedos 2006 Pasion 4 Merlot (Argentina)

This screwcap Merlot from Argentina started off very slowly, in fact it proved to be pretty harsh at first and I began to believe it was not going to get better - but 30 minutes later it began to wake up and show a nose of blackberry, blueberry and cocoa ... on the palate there was cassis, blueberry skin, dried blackberry and a subtle, enjoyable smoky-oaky finish.  Goes to show you, sometimes all you need to do is give it some time and it'll opened nicely.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meiomi 2010 Pinot Noir - Duorum 2010 Red Blend (California / Portugal)

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to pull out some of those wines you've been dying to try, or try those wines that are new to you.  This past Thanksgiving I popped the cork on 4 wines, 2 older wines from Ontario and two more recent vintages from "away".  The two Ontario wines will be written up elsewhere (Lailey 2008 Zweigelt & Stoney Ridge 2005 Cranberry), but the wines from other places I'll tell you about now.  We started the night with a bottle of Belle Glos 2010 Meiomi (which is a Pinot Noir).  Now there are those who find the Meiomi wine to be a little on the jammy and full side, especially for a Pinot Noir - "it's wine, but it isn't Pinot" ... and while I see their point it is one of my guilty pleasure wines, it's just one of those reds that puts a smile on your face with it (too?) fresh fruitedness and the 2010 delivered exactly what I was expecting: rich black cherry, hints of white pepper and light touches of other spices.  Is it classic Pinot Noir? Not by a long shot, but it is tasty, and has the ability to turn non-Pinot drinkers around, in that they don't hate all Pinots.  The dinner wine was not classic Thanksgiving fare either, and definitely not an apparent match for turkey, but it was another delicious wine: Duorum 2010 from the Douro Valley in Portugal.  I visited this winery a couple of years ago and was impressed with the terrain and what they were trying to accomplish at this new winery in a very old region.  But I found the alcohol a little high and the wines slightly out of balance, they were good but just needed tweaking so they did not taste so ... Australian (for lack of a better comparison).  Well it seems in the interim Duorum has found that precious balance.  This is a beauty and at only 13.5% if has struck the right balance of fruit and finesse: raspberry, black cherry, great acidity (for balance) and a long finish.  Twas a good Thanksgiving for wine - and I look forward to the American version where I can do it all again, with different wines of course.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Le Ragose 2000 Valpolicella (Italy)

Yes it was quite a weekend when my wife left town ... I opened a variety of bottles that I found while cleaning up the cellar without being told I was an alcoholic ... I also have to admit I dumped quite a few as well, they were just too old, or I had previously written about them as being bad (and as luck would have it I found another bottle).  It seems to always be the way.  You wait for that perfect occasion to open that "special bottle" and the "perfect" occasion never comes and the bottle languishes and (sooner or later) goes off.  But that was not the case for this 2000 Le Ragose, a ripasso method Valpolicella.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I found under the cork:  aromas of anise, dried blackberries and hints of plum (there was still an element of freshness to this wine that I was not expecting, especially on the nose).  The palate followed the nose's lead kicking in nice acidity and a dried raspberry finish. But what really stood out was the smoothness that started mid-palate and lasted to the end.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ernest & Julio Gallo 2000 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

Another one of those finds in the cellar ... what am I doing with a Gallo wine from 2000 still kicking around down there?  On the other hand, these days the Gallo boys are derided for being successful, or is that for making plonky, cheap wine ... but when you climb the ladder of quality (away from Barefoot and such) you do find some really beautiful wines - and in 2000 this was the case.  I found this Sonoma Cab to be very good, especially when considering its age: dark red fruit (definitely not fresh) along with dried cranberry, there was also just a hint of spice towards the finish.  What I really found surprising was the long lingering mouth presence that came post-swallow and that brought with it some hints of licorice.  This was actually a very pleasant surprise of a wine, showing that when the Gallos aren't making those cheap and cheefuls they can make some really good ageable stuff too.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Richard Hamilton 2002 Colton's SGM & Pike 2002 Shiraz - Clare Valley (Australia)

Tomorrow I start the long process of re-organizing my wine cellar ... well, it shouldn't be that long, but it'll take me most of the day.  Tonight I have Syrah on the brain, but suddenly these two wines strike me as something interesting to try - they are in line with my original hankering, but the year and the comparison factor make them interesting to me on this night.  I first open the Richard Hamilton, a Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre combination (SGM) ...  it smells of pepper and alcohol (it clocks in at 14%) - in fact alcohol seems to be a dominating smell here.  Gave it a little bit of time and found some black fruit and spice coming to the surface, but always with that whiff and (as it turns out) overly alcoholic taste, it smells hot and tastes the same way (and by that I mean alcoholically so) - bad balance, or it did not age well, which ever it is not a favourite.  But if you get past that alcohol there is some pleasant white pepper and dark fruit, but you really have to find it.  From the same year I tried a straight Shiraz from Pike (Clare Valley), this proved to be a more elegant and smooth wine, and although it had .5% alcohol higher than the Hamilton, you hardly noticed the booze at all - and that's what I call a dangerous wine.  Red licorice, blackberry, and a touch of cocoa kick it off, but as it aerates it develops dried character and that adds some depth and additional flavours to this wine; it's smooth character made it a much more enjoyable wine than the Hamilton.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Quinta do Encontro 2004 Preto Branco (Spain)

After the relative freshness of the first bottle I opened this evening (2009 Between the Line Cabernet Franc) this was almost a shocker, until I looked at the year - somewhere along the line I did not look at the year of this wine and I thought 'man it is prematurely oxidized and really tired' ... but then when I realized it was some 9 years old it all made sense.  The nose was leathery and full of dried dark fruit along with a slightly smoky note to it.  On the palate there were dried cranberries, dried blackberries and some cassis, all mixing with that leatheryness found on the nose.  Plus there was a seam of earthiness running right down the center from first sip to last swallow.  The wine is a little tired and it's not going to get any better - but once you got passed it's short-comings (and realize its age) you'll come to the realization that it's not a bad wine at all ... plus it has its place at the table.