Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wines of New Year's Eve 2013 (Germany / California / Ontario)

New Year's Eve to me has always been a time for pulling out an older bottle of wine, and then after that it's a free-for-all.  We started with ordering Chinese food from our favourite place, it took almost two hours for us to finally sit down and eat it, and we picked it up (they were just that busy), and to pair with it I chose a bottle of St. Urbans-Hof 2005 Riesling Kabinett, which was a real beauty: nose of apricot, hints of petrol, and a lovely bit of lime cordial; on the palate we found peach, pear, and apricot, flavours along with sweet lime notes which all lead to a nice long, lingering finish. The wine, although 8 years old still tasted fresh with that signature Mosel sweetness, but always backed by great balancing acidity.  My wife stuck with Riesling after the Urbans-Hof bottle was finished, opting for an Ontario beauty in the form of a Featherstone 2012  Black Sheep Riesling.  I went in another direction and picked out another Dave selection: an Elusiv Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir (Monterey County) from the wine fridge.  Now, for those who have been following along this holiday season, you'll be glad to know the Elusiv is more Pinot-esque than my last bottle of "Pinot Noir" (Belle Glos Meiomi) ... nose is very raspberry, with black cherry and plum backing it up; as it warmed beets and white pepper also showed up.  On the palate were sour cherries, black cherries and clove backed by good acidity, and some typical Pinot earthiness.  As midnight rolled up on us I pulled a bottle of Hinterland 2009 Rose (from Prince Edward County) out of the fridge, which had been chilling most of the day - I managed to pop the cork at the exact moment the countdown reached zero - perfect sparkling to ring in 2014 ... Happy New Year - we left the old year with a magnificent Riesling and brought in the new with a marvelous bit of bubbly.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rock Wall Winery 2011 Rock Hound (California)

The holidays are a time for the three 'F's': family, feasts and forgetting ... yup, we forgot one of my niece's gifts on Christmas Day which gave us the perfect excuse to have them over to our place to share in some beef stew and a few bottles of wine.  Now I know the title of this post only refers to one wine, that's because it is the only wine I have not written about recently; the others, like the Rosewood 2011 Pinot Noir, the Malivoire 2011 Small Lot Gamay Noir and the Cattail Creek 2009 Riesling, have all appeared on my website in the past few years and it's too soon to write a "Taste it Again" piece, though the Cattail Riesling is getting close.  I can say that all those wines are drinking very well, and of the 3 the Cattail received the most compliments.  And so, without further ado we'll move on and take a look at the Rock Wall 2011 Rock Hound ... I did a little digging to find out what exactly the Rock Hound was made of, but my research could only bring up the 2010, which was a blend of Syrah (70%) and Petite Sirah (30%), though some further digging might have shown the 2011 is the same blend (depends what they were serving at the 2012 Rock Hound Event) ... I got this wine from my friend Dave, in Michigan, who works at Champane Wine Cellars, who told me this was a big wine that needed early opening and a decanter, so I did both.  Aromas of cassis and black raspberry along with a mix of black and red licorice; palate showed quite a bit of milk chocolate, spiced-blackberry, some sweet dark fruit, nice pepper notes, licorice root and a long finish.  I probably could have aged the wine a bit more or left it in the decanter longer to get more of the fruit out of it, but I liked the way it was drinking with those multitude of flavours, and it paired well with the stew.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wines of Christmas 2013 (California / Spain)

When I picked these wines I had no idea I had gone with a complete California theme for Christmas, thankfully I added a little Spain in for a little outside sourcing for dessert.  These days Christmas Eve is spent with my in-laws while Christmas Day is spent with my brother and his family - sure we do a fair amount of driving, but it's worth it to see everybody.  My in-laws are more beer oriented, but I'm glad to see some of them coming over to the dark side of wine; my brother is also a beer guy but when it comes to dinner wine is his drink of choice, and he seems to like 'em big and bold.  Hopefully you've read what Eve brought to the palate (3 Cabs) - now it's time to see what Day brings.  

We started with a bottle of Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, cause everything goes better with bubbles:  mac apple sweetness with hints of lemonade and fresh bread, very tasty and so easy drinking - truly a wonderful start to the evening.  I know many are going to give me flack when I call this a Pinot Noir, because it is hard to distinguish this wine as Pinot from say Zinfandel or Shiraz, but I like the Belle Glos 2011 Meiomi, it just has its place and with all that black cherry, plum, and chocolate it's hard not to like it ... some will say "it aint Pinot", but it sure is tasty.  I dug a little deeper into the cellar for this next one, Bonny Doon Vineyard 2005 Le Cigar Volant, this is a Rhone Valley style blend made in the US of A (50% Grenache, 24% Mourvedre, 22% Syrah, 3% Carignane, 1% cinsault) and with 7 years on it the Rhone pedigree really come through in the form of smoky notes and touches of pepper on the nose; the palate has pencil shavings, cassis, wood smoke, and peppered-raspberry.  I really liked the complexity without the over indulgence of too much fruit.  For dessert I pulled out a bottle of Miguel Torres Moscatel Oro Floralis, this is a decadent wine that one should sip on slowly for full enjoyment, but one feels like they should sip quickly because the next glass could be your last, as everyone else does the same - it's just so decadent and delicious: caramel-spiced-orange on the palate while floral and citrus hit the olfactories, the finish is long, lingering and sensuous with its orange blossom note.  Quite an array of wines, and all delicious in their own right. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Wines of Christmas Eve, 3 Cabernet Sauvignons (California / Australia)

It was an unconventional Christmas Eve at my in-laws this year ... usually it's family get together about an hour outside of town, but this year we stayed put with my in-laws, ordered Chinese food, played games and drank wine (cider and beer for some) - there was no worry about driving home so I could sample a few more wines than usual.  I started with a wine I picked up at Meijer a few days before called Carnivore, a  2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, simple yet a great sipper to just sit around the table and sip on: plum, blackberry, cocoa, black currant, smooth and silky ... of course it did not pair with the food what-so-ever, but I don't think that is what I was going for.  The next bottle to be opened was a Shinas Estate 2009 The Verdict, I picked this one up from my buddy Dave at Champane Wine Cellars; it's not as big and robust as I thought it might be, but then again isn't it nice get an Aussie wine that shows more finesse than being all alcohol and sweet fruit.  The Verdict is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Victoria the still showed plenty of fruit black cherry and plum, with a middling of chocolate, some blackberry, and a touch of alcohol on the nose (not surprising with it coming in a 15.5%), there's also an element of cherry-kirsch, all seems to follow on palate ... it too was basically smooth with silky tannins.  Turns out it was a really pleasant drink that would match well with a meat dish because of the acidity that appeared on the finish.  The final wine was something my niece and her boyfriend call their house wine: Trader Moon Wine 2012 Velvet Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, to me this one smelled more like a Zin than a Cab, I had to re-check the label and the back of the bottle to see if any existed within ... No mention.  Red and black plum ruled the roost with blue fruit and vanilla; it too was a rather tasty wine.  I think I still enjoyed the first wine best of all, just because of it smooth, sippable nature.  The night wasn't about complex wines it was about all things easy drinking.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

St. Francis 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County (California)

We arrive in Michigan for the holidays early on Saturday morning.  We do a little shopping at that French bulls-eye store everyone talks about known as Tar-jay (Target) and then we head over to Meijer for a look-see at the groceries on our list to take home.  Once done I wonder into the wine department to grab a couple of bottles for the next few days.  I am heading over to see my buddy Dave at Champane Wine Cellars in a few days so I just need a couple till I get there to discuss wine, have a drink and buy some interesting bottles.  The first bottle I picked up was this bottle of St. Francis Sonoma Cabernet: nose of  black currant, smoked-blackberry, and cinnamon; while the palate had some mocha notes along with smoked currants, black cherry, and some mean-spirited blueberry skin tannins.  There also seems to be a grittiness to the finish that is not tannin related.  This one's not much of a sipper as the drying finish could be seen as more food based ... maybe with the pizza proposed for dinner tonight.  Turns out it was okay with dinner, but those tannins and that grit never seem to mellow.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

One from France, One from Ontario and One from Washington (France / Ontario / Washington)

My brother and his wife came over for dinner, we made roast pork and a whole bunch of appetizers ... maybe next time we'll just have an appetizer party because there was lots of pork left over and very little of the appetizers ... the wines we poured were interesting and enjoyed (enjoyable).  My brother kicks his evening off with a little Dead Elephant, an India Pale Ale from Railway City Brewing Company located in St. Thomas, Ontario - I'm a fan of the Dead Elephant, but it sounds disgusting to tell people you're sucking on a Dead Elephant on a hot summer day.  Bro has never done such a thing and his response to having his first was to have a second (he must have liked it), at one point he turned to me and said, "quite hoppy, more so than you'd expect in an India Pale".  The ladies (my wife and his) decided to go with white in their glass, so I opened a bottle of Keint-he 2009 Chardonnay out of Prince Edward County, they polished off the bottle in record time.  Myself, I kicked off my evening on the red side with a chilled bottle of Laurent Gauthier 2011 Grand Cras Morgon, a "vieilles vignes" (old vines) Gamay from the Beaujolais' Morgon region: black cherry and cranberry, both tart, with white pepper notes to compliment ... I must say this wine was quite young and still has plenty of time to go, proving that Beaujolais can age, this could easily go 5+ years.  The dinner wine was from one of my favourite regions in Washington, Horse Heaven Hills, this is the one from Columbia Crest, 2009 Les Cheveux, a Bordeaux blend:  lovely blackberry and black raspberry with a great chocolate seam that runs right down the middle, proved to be very smooth and silky.  All-in-all a great night of food and wine.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ten Birthday Wines - Starring a 1970 Bordeaux (France, Germany, Ontario, California)

'Twas the night of my birthday and friends were in the house - bottles of wine were opened and here's what we had:

Starting with a Dr. Burklin Wolf 2004 Riesling, which was quite an interesting older German Riesling full of honey and waxy notes with some apricot pit ... this was the first dead soldier of the night (some wines did not get finished).  Other whites of the night were a Thirty Bench 2012 Riesling, Chateau des Charmes 2010 St. David's Bench Chardonnay, Cave Spring 2012 Dolomite Chardonnay, Vineland 2011 Elevation Riesling, and a Vineland 2005 Dry Riesling (this one did not show well).  Speaking of not showing well, we also opened a bottle of Ruhlmann 2004 Sylvaner Bouquet Printanier - Cuvee Prestige, sealed with a cheese-o plastic cork, this wine should never have spend this long in my cellar, nor should it have been opened tonight - this wine should have stayed lost.

Surprisingly, only two reds were opened, a Tom Eddy 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which proved to be a delightful wine, well aged, well balanced but certainly not the star of the night ... on any other night maybe, but tonight it was a 43 year old Bordeaux that stole the show.  The Chateau Gruaud Larose 1970 Grand Vin was absolutely stunning, considering its age.  To the average everyday wine drinker this is going to sound unappealing, but to wine geeks (like a couple around the table tonight) this wine kept changing and opening and giving different aspects of its character that were admirable: starting with Band-aid and forest floor on the nose and a bit on the palate, there were also welcome (and surprising) hints of raspberry that appeared, not strong, but subtle and appealing.  No doubt the wine is very mature, but still very drinkable. The most surprising part is the acidity, which still stood up and kept the wine "fresh" or at least the palate from getting tired.  The biggest and best compliment I can give this wine is that it is savoury and sexy - in its own kinda way.  This is only the second wine I have ever had from my birth-year, this time it was extra special cause it was my actual birthday.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Michel Torino 2006 Don David Malbec (Argentina)

It's a Thursday, that has no real significance but I thought I would point that out - looking for a bottle of wine I go no further than my sideboard, which has been housing this bottle for a few weeks now because we did not open it at a recent gathering of friends (it was picked out to open but never made the table).  I have had a bottle or two of this wine in the past and find it not only good value, but exceptionally well balanced and enjoyable, especially in the fruit-department.  So far I can say all that for when it's young: it is deliciously easy to drink - thing is, now it is 7 years old:  will it be just as fun to drink?  The answer is a resounding yes.  The nose and palate seem to go hand-in-hand with plenty of chocolate, blackberry, cassis, and white pepper; palate adds an inkling of sour blueberry but is smooth with hints of black licorice on the finish.  It has held up well, and still has life left in it - looking at my cellar inventory it seems I have a bottle left and will be glad to have it within the next year or two.