Friday, November 22, 2013

Finca Los Trenzones 1998 Condesa de Laganza Reserva (Spain)

I keep my wine inventory on-line through a program called CellarTracker I know many who do - it really is a great way to keep track of your wine collection, no matter what the size.  But I'm not here to plug CellarTracker - what I do want to say is I looked up the community wine notes of this wine before I pulled it out of the cellar and no one had anything nice to say about this wine: poor marks and words like "thin" ('08), "spoiled" ('09) and "fading" ('07) peppered the reviews ... it was cringe inducing, especially because the worst of the notes were written in 2009 ... I was four years later.

I ended up taking this wine into a wine class I teach for those with a more sophisticated palate ... I told them it was a single grape varietal - some thought it old, but no one thought it 15 years old (2006 was the closest guess) ... though someone did nail the country and grape variety: 100% Tempranillo from Spain (Rioja) - though the wine is from La Mancha.  The rest of the vinification goes something like this: 12 months in oak barrels and 24 months of bottle age before release.  Aromas started out earthy and musty (typical for a wine in bottle this long) with a pruny vegetal note that sooner rather than later began to reveal dried strawberry compote.  And while the palate was earthy there were other aspects to it that were interesting, if you were willing to give it a chance: dried sour cherry with a hint of fig; the acidity was also up to par along with a core that showed lots of woodsy notes.  My final note on the wine read:  "This wine will not set the world on fire, but it is quite drinkable the longer it sits in glass the better it gets" (I only had it in glass about an hour before I drank the rest) ... I would definitely not want to hold this wine any longer cause it ain't getting any better. but it sure was a great experiment that paid off handsomely.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Montes 2006 and 2011 Limited Selection Red Blend (Chile)

Over the years I have written about and purchased quite a few Montes wines - this Chilean producer has proven they make quality wine at reasonable prices (sometimes too reasonable - but you didn't
The label has changed but the blend has not.
hear that from me).

Recently, the agent for Montes sent me a bottle of their newest vintage of the Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) Carmenere (30%) blend 2011 ... I decided to bring it to my wine class to taste, but I also wanted to show them what aging a quality wine could do for enjoyment of a wine, and also that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg for good, cellarable wine.  So I found, in my cellar, a bottle of the 2006 Montes with the same blend to compare with the newer vintage - the results were quite delicious:

2011 ...
The nose had blackberry, black currant, mint, licorice and smoke - the palate had quite a bit of tannin but it was pleasantly in the background allowing the mint, smoke and black currant to shine.

2006 ...
Showed more interesting notes both on the nose and palate with good complexity:  the nose was a little musty with earthy and peaty notes, there were also elements of prune, spearmint and coffee.  The palate also held lots of interesting flavours - first it came off as soft and smooth with a woodsy short finish; tannins were present but they were rounder and more supple and as the wine sat in the glass the mustiness wore off bringing forth coffee, dried cherry and mocha notes.

The conclusion was that the 2006 was a real winner - once it got over the initial funk - it proved to be a fascinating and ultimately enjoyable wine; while the 2011 was something everyone could get at any time --- the key is to give it some time to mature and you'll end up with something much more interesting to sip on, or take to dinner.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Banfi 2009 Cuvee Aurora Rosé (Italy)

It is 10:30 in the morning ... I know it is not really the traditional time to be opening up a bottle of wine for consumption, but it's a special occasion.  We have spent the last 3 weeks looking at a half-completed bathroom.  We started this project quite simply as a painting gig, it turned into a new vanity gig, which in-turn turned into a new flooring gig ... needless to say the entire bathroom looks different and much better.  The whole project was suppose to take 3 days - so 3 weeks ago I put a bottle of this Banfi Aurora Rosé sparkling into the fridge hoping to pop it on the completion of the bathroom ... and I waited, and I waited, and I waited.  Between contractors not showing up, flooring stores giving me the cold shoulder and one contractor with a heart of gold we finally got it done.  Which means finally I was able to open the sparkling and drink it - and I did not care what the time of day: the water flows, the toilet flushes, the flooring is down and the lighting lights - hazzah.  As for the wine, this Italian bubble is a beauty and perfect to toast the new fixtures, flooring and faucets (now if only I could figure out how to get it to flow through the taps) - it's a traditional method bubble made from 100% Pinot Noir which has a lovely rosé colour to it ... the acidity is wonderfully tart while the raspberry and strawberry peak through to give you a lovely sparkling wine experience - I could not ask for anything more.  It's crazy good and fits with the crazy time we had getting this bathroom completed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Folie a Deux 2005 Menage a Trois - Red (California)

I brought this wine into my wine class to prove a point and ended up proving quite a different one.  I had opened a bottle of this California blend a few months ago and found a synthetic cork under the capsule and a nasty tasting wine under the "cork" (so bad in fact that I never wrote it up, but did make a private note of the incident).  Now I know this isn't suppose to be a long-lasting wine, it was a fluke that I found it in the first place, buried in my cellar - sad part is ... there was a companion bottle with it.  And so I took it to class to show what an oxidized wine tastes like ... but that is not what actually happened.  Imagine my surprise when I found a natural cork under the capsule - and a mighty fine wine under that:  At first this wine made no friends at all, descriptions from the class ranged from earthy to dirty diaper, but once over the initial shock of finally being opened this wine started to reveal its real smells: dried cherry fruit, tobacco, dried blackberry and dried raspberry ... fresh fruit was not to be found here, but then it really wasn't expected either.  Palate proved to be more interesting: vanilla and dried cherry  with port-like nuances.  Plenty of dried red fruit with touches of the occasional spice ... but most of all it was sweet with candied fruit and a quick finish.  A very interesting curiosity of a wine and it served to prove a different point to those who liked it: wine is finite and once it's gone you can't buy any more - much to the chagrin of those who wanted to know where they could get a bottle or two.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Casa Marin 2006 Cartagena Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile)

It's Saturday night and I have just finished my seminars in Sarnia for the Fusion Festival ... now sitting quietly in my room I am able to open a bottle of something I have been looking forward to all day, put my feet up and watch a little hockey.  But before I get too comfortable I thought I'd let you in on that wine I have been looking forward to all day, a Casa Marin 2006 Cartagena Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.  What possessed me to bring it along as a room wine, I am not sure, but I am sure glad I did.  The starting aromas are coffee and licorice adding touches of cassis for fruit.  Then comes some white pepper and hints of mint - these appear on the nose and palate.  The finish has a touch of chocolate and spice.  As the wine sits in the glass the fruit starts to come out a little more and now we're at a juicy blackberry, cassis and white pepper stage ... so this is obviously getting better the longer it is open.  So I'm gotta get right to it and enjoy the game along with my (turning into) delicious Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fess Parker 2004 Syrah - Santa Barbara County (California)

This is a wine that was once described to me as "panty remover", for the simple fact that it had a whopping 16.4% alcohol ... that's massive and one of the biggest I've seen in a still wine.  I aged it to see what would happen to it and I can honestly say I'm not totally disappointed but neither am I super thrilled.  From the get go it was a little on the prune-y side, though it did also have a nice hint of plumy-ness to it - so it seems to be going from plumy to prune-y.  There are also touches of vanilla and chocolate with a big sweet middle palate (that's the alcohol talking) - that prune-y-ness seems to be hanging out in the background as if it is ready to jump out and fully consume the rest of the wine ... the finish shows some licorice all-sorts notes and there there's the imbalance due to the rampantly high alcohol.  Turns out I have a couple more bottles and I'm thinking I'll want to drink both within the next year before it becomes nothing but sweet stewed prunes.  Here's one time I am hoping for bottle variation.