Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Uncorked / What I'm Drinking Tonight is Going Home

The What I'm Drinking Tonight blog is going home and taking on a new name:  "Uncorked Tonight" ... 

With the update and release of the NEW Michael Pinkus Wine Review website (formerly OntarioWineReview); with its sleek new look, cool design, and mobile functionality we've decided to bring a few of the blogs back into the fold ... this being one of them - be sure to check us out there.

Thanks for reading and we'll see you on the new site.

Michael Pinkus
Grape Guy

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jackson-Triggs 2005 Meritage, Sun Rock Vineyard (British Columbia)

Far too many years have past since my last trip to British Columbia to check out the Okanagan Valley and drink their wines ... as I sit here reminiscing with a glass in my hand of this award winner (Best Red, All Canadian Wine Championships) ... I am remembering the day spent with the folks of Vincor and the tour of their properties, the lunch and dinner, the driving up and down (and back up) the Valley ... what a day.  They say you can never bring back those memories by opening the bottle, you have to create new ones, but with this wine in my hand it's hard not to thing back of those 10 days of summer - especially on this miserable April day.  Here we have a blend of 50% Merlot,  30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc ... and it is drinking absolutely fabulously ... in fact the longer it sits in glass the better it becomes.  Aromas of pepper, smoke, dried cassis, coffee and anise seem to lull the olfactories ... Palate starts off slow with plenty of wood on both the front, mid and back, but once air has done its magic (after an hour) it reveals itself to be a super pleasing combination full of mocha, blackberry, spiced-strawberry, anise, and cassis.  Everything has mellowed and has becomes silky smooth all the way to the finish.  This wine still has great life left in the bottle and after an hour smoothed our for the next 2, by then we had drank the whole thing.  So glad I held on to it, but now I have a typical wine buyer's lament:  wish I had gotten more.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nepenthe 2004 Tryst (Australia)

Tryst is a blend of three grapes, and an odd triple blend at that, especially if you consider the country of origin (Australia):  Cabernet, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel ... As a Zinfandel fan I was positive I would like this even though zin was low man on the totem pole to Cab and Tempranillo ... I also decided a little time would do it some good and I wasn't wrong on either count.  The nose if full of plum, blackberry, vanilla and baking spice.  The palate also had much to give and the tannins still put up a fight with the tongue, but it also allowed the spiced-plum, cinnamon, dark chocolate and coffee to come through unimpeded.  A real taste treat after all these years - so glad I held onto this one.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ca'Momi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley (California)

A find is a find is a find ... not sure if that was ever a saying but I think I would like to coin that one now.  I discovered this wine during a Vintages tasting in late December 2013 during the Ontario Wine Board's annual crap-a-thon that they call "Smart Buys" (a virtual dumping ground of low-priced, low end wines that they can't figure out where else to put them throughout the year).  But on occasion there is a stellar bottle that sneaks through the cracks and this was one of them ... so much so that I just had to buy a bottle the moment it hit shelves (okay, so I bought three).  What made this wine so good is that is wasn't your same-old, same old typical low priced Cali-Cab it had everything that a higher priced bottle should have, and then some:  Nose was loaded with plum, smoked cherry, Christmas cake spice, black currant, anise, and coffee bean while the palate takes all of that in and adds black cherry, white smoke, touches of smoked meat and mocha wrapping it all with a long, luxurious finish.  Pure yum.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Delaine Syrah - Coyote Franc - 7 Deadly (Ontario / California)

So I won't bore you with too many of the details ... tonight we had some folks over for dinner and I think it tied in with March break some-way some-how.  Anyway, it's a Thursday night and I pulled out three bottles of wine for the masses.  Two were from Ontario: an one new and an old one, plus a little something from California.

We kicked things off with something I was really interested in trying, a Coyote's Run 2005 Cabernet Franc ... and thankfully it did not disappoint.  I reviewed it in full as part of my Taste it Again blog and it can be found here.  The other bottle from Ontario was a beauty of a Syrah from the Delaine Vineyard, part of Jackson-Triggs, it's too young to have a Taste it Again written about it so you can read my original review from November 2013 here.

So the focus of this What I'm Drinking is a 7 Deadly Zins from Michael David out of California ... this one is probably one of the most recognized names in Zin, no matter where I have gone and say I love Zinfandel inevitably someone will say to me, "Have you tried that Seven Deadly one?"  The answer is, many times.  The last one I had was showing some Syrah like qualities of smoked meat, this particular night it was an older 2009 version and while it was very tasty it was also quite typical of Zin:  smoked raspberry and cherry with a seam of vanilla running through it.  Delicious and just what I expected, but nothing earth shattering, I would have to say that the 7 Deadly is getting better than this standard version they put out in 2009.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Night of Old Vines Wines (Ontario / Australia)

What a fabulous night of wine.  Three Ontario and one Australian.  A dinner at a friend's house that proved to be just as tasty with food as it did with the wine.  But it's the wine that always impresses me and so that is where our focus will be.

We started the night with a Lailey 2010 Brickyard Chardonnay, it was one of the Brickyard vintages that was not already in my cellar, and a trip to the winery the weekend before revealed that they had only one case left, they had also decided to taste a bottle while we were there ... needless to say we bought a few as it was delicious:  rich and buttery, with lovely grilled peach notes.  A hot vintage Chardonnay that seems to blend the big buttery flavours of California and the acid balance of Ontario.

Next on the list was an Angels Gate 2005 Old Vines Chardonnay ... this one was a real surprise to all of us, though I am sure I tasted it back in its younger days.  The age of the wine and the age of the vines work in harmony to give a lovely balance of complexity:  Toffee, caramel, hint of toasted marshmallow, rich and mouth-feeling with creamy vanilla and spiced pineapple puree, plus there was a real beauty of a long finish.  This was one that was the pleasant surprise of the night and one I wish I had more of because the creamy smoothness and complexity of this wine was amazing; best of all it still retained an element of acidity that kept it in balance.  This was a sipping Chardonnay that we polished off before dinner ... so two bottles down and two more to go.  The first two were a perfect match to the crab dip (see I do remember some of the food).

Our host was thrilled to provide and open the next bottle, because she has been waiting to open it for a very long time, a Reif 2007 First Growth Pinot Noir ... made with the oldest vines on the Reif property; and I would have to say it has held up extremely well.  The nose is full of earthy, cranberry, and black cherry notes; this all follows onto the palate while adding white pepper, currants and toasted oak ... there's also some beautiful acidity that acts as a backbone and keeps this wine upright and refreshing, not overbearing.  Another hot vintage wine that is standing the test of time.

The final bottle was a Torbreck 2005 GSM out of Australia, but not just any GSM, an old vines Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre ... and from what I have read this wine is suppose to be a nasty piece of business (according to the folks on CellarTracker) ... but in truth I think the wine just needed more time to finally come into its own.  The nose has nice tobacco notes with a cassis syrup aroma or sorts mixed with black-peppered-raspberries.  The palate was loaded with sweet plum, black cherry, and more of that raspberry-pepper combination.  A delicious end to the evening.

As you can see, if you were a fan of old vines wine this was the night for you ... and since I am this was a great night.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cedarville 2005 Zinfandel, El Dorado (California)

It's been a real long time since last I tried a bottle of this ... but the real story behind this wine isn't how long its been since I've had one, but instead how I acquired bottles of this.  A friend I was taking WSET classes with was also a wine agent and learned that I was a big Zinfandel fan.  I got a call late one evening from said friend who informed me she had an open bottle and was inviting a few folks over to try it, wondered if I were interested (knowing my love for the grape) ... I jumped at the opportunity to taste a Zinfandel I have never heard of; so needless to say I loved the wine and shared the purchase of a case with another Zin lover who was there that night.  This alas is my last bottle and I'm sad to say it is drinking even nicer today than it did when I tasted before, and it has gotten better each time after, and it is maturing gracefully.  The nose is pure black pepper with nicely spiced plum, hints of vanilla and a touch of dark cocoa.  The palate is full of  cocoa, spiced-vanilla, plum, and black raspberry.  The alcohol gives this one a warming effect in the belly but it's balanced and the wine bites back with all those spice notes.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Wild Haven 2010 Reserve Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills (Washington)

I'm a fan of wines from the Horse Heaven Hills of Washington.  I discovered this region through Columbia Crest and their series of wines from this Washington sub-region and since I have been looking for and tasting wines from there every chance I can; this one I picked up on my recent trip to Florida.  After a spectacular dinner at Hillebrand with my wife and our weekend guests I thought I'd pull this one out to share in one of my wine-obsessions ... my "niece" and her boyfriend were in town and their interest in wine is just starting to hit a fewer pitch, meaning they'll try everything and anything just for the experience (yes I am still talking about wine here).  This wine proved to be just what the doctor ordered for a night cap ... lots of blueberry and raspberry on the nose followed up on the palate with blueberry, cocoa and spice - the wine proved itself to be dry and spicy in the best of ways and it was a nice capper to the night ... that is until I said, "hey let's try one more ... how about a dessert wine?"  And it was only fitting that I pulled out a chilled bottle of Hillebrand 2004 Late Harvest Vidal ... to read about that one you'll have to click here, and you'll want to, cause it was a real beauty.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Rolf Binder 2009 Ma I? Have this Evening (Australia)

An interesting name for a wine with some random punctuation thrown into the middle for no apparent reason ... on the other hand with 14% alcohol this wine has the potential to take your evening away if you are not careful and have more than one bottle ... thankfully that is not what happened to us.  Ma I? is a Shiraz (80%) Mataro (Mourvedre) blend from Oz and a wine I thought I'd pull out after an absolutely hilarious Bill Burr concert in Hamilton with my "niece" and her boyfriend.  They were in town to see this comedian who they have been a fan of for years and they took the opportunity of his Canadian concert tour to kill two birds with one stone ... see Bill and drink wine with us.  This wine proved to be just what the doctor ordered for a night cap ... lovely, smooth and plummy with chocolate, black cherry and vanilla - super easy drinking and as I said, a perfect capper to the evening. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Marisco 2010 Pinot Noir (New Zealand)

I have had a few Marisco wines in my day and I would have to say I am a big fan of this New Zealand winery, there are very few of their wines I wouldn't want in my cellar.  One year a mistake was made in pricing and I was fully ready to take advantage of it, but the agent never got in touch ... for the agent's sake it's good that my memory sucks when it comes to stuff like that; on the other hand, when it comes to wine I don't forget the good stuff.  This Marisco Pinot hit all the right notes both on the nose and on the palate and showed the right amount of complexity and drinkability on all levels.  Aromas of violets, cranberry, and black cherry opened the door to flavours of black raspberry-cranberry, with some light plum character and lovely spice.  The nose's subtle perfume notes also made for a real pleasant drinking experience.  What really stood out was the hints of cherry mid to finish which made this a beauty of a sipping Pinot, but with the acidity it was also good with the salmon dinner ... who says red doesn't go with fish. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Weingut Max Müller I. 2011 Silvaner Eigenart (Germany)

I got this wine on a trip to Germany and was very impressed with this barrel aged Silvaner which had quite a lot of structure on both the nose and palate; but it seems that wines in other countries tend to taste much better when you are there but when you get home they go completely south.  But this time I got happily-lucky:  aromas of vanilla from the barrel intermingle with lemon and lime citrus fruit ... which is quite alluring.  Palate also mixes barrel and fruit in an enticing and exciting display on the palate - nice creamy vanilla note dance on the tongue with citrus and pleasant palate pleasing acidity.  On the finish was some nice lime pith bitterness that balanced everything out.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Les Vignerons de Tautavel Vingrau Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes Le Cirque (France)

Been back from Florida for a few days now, drank plenty of cider while away and bought a few wines at a place called Total Wines, which seems to be a large chain down there (and the selection, wow) ... but that did not stop me from digging into my own cellar this Monday evening and finding a Languedoc wine from France to pair with the burgers we were having for dinner.  This Le Cirque is a four grape blend of Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah and it's a lovely sip and smell:  Nose is full of raspberry, vanilla, white pepper, cinnamon and cassis with elements of smoked cedar in the background.  Taste is also inviting but not as complex (yet) with cassis and white pepper being carried on a bed of smoke and cedar.  My hope is that as this wine ages the fruit will lift and that cedar element will dissipate a little more, rounding out those edges.  Right now is very good with the potential of being great.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beaulieu Vineyard 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon / Estampa 2004 Gold Assemblage (California / Chile)

Beaulieu 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coastal Estates - When you pull a bottle out of the cellar like this (a relatively inexpensive wine with mucho age on it) that you have most likely just lost track of over the years you wonder if you should open it or just make salad dressing with it ... well my experience has always been to open it and let the chips fall where they may.  This wine ended up being kinda smoky with dried fruit character, sure it opened a little but it never gained  anything but some odd dried fruit and earthy notes on the palate - this was a bottle that would have been best to have stayed hidden, but I am glad I got it out of the cellar so that something else can take its place.   

Estampa 2004 Gold Assemblage - Whenever I pull out a wine like the previous attempt, I also pull out something as "back up" and here I used the Estampa 2004 Gold Assemblage (Red), form Chile ... this one proved to be much more interesting with its smoky mint quality right from the get go; from there it added blackberry and cassis along with hints of vanilla and mocha.  Happily it was delightfully delicious and complex.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Domino del Plata 2033 Crios by Susana Balbo (Argentina)

This is a tragic wine ... Lately I have been touting my love for the Bonarda grape; mark my words it will become popular one day and it'll been for it's fresh, juicy nature.  So I went looking in my cellar to see what I had in the Bonarda department, putting my money where my mouth was ... and I found this 2003 wine, a 10 year old Syrah / Bonarda blend (equal parts of each).  So needless to say I just had to try it.  The nose should have been the tip off to how this wine was going to be: old leather, white pepper, burnt cherry, with an under-current of green bin (for those of you not in Ontario, the 'green bin' is basically a compost container that gets picked up weekly from your home ... it's organic matter).  The palate gave me some hope: starting off fairly juicy but it ended funky and odd ... this wine is in the throes of a personality dilemma, it's not sure where it wants to be and if it should be there.  So with all this happening I wrote a note to myself that I will share with you now:  "These are the days I wonder if I'm an alcoholic ... I keep sipping on this wine although I know its bad - I keep hoping it will come around, but deep inside I know it won't.  I am sitting at the dining room table with the glass of wine on the other side of the table and I can smell it - and it is pungent and not very appealing ... and it's not getting any better."  With time in glass it still stinks and the palate has actually turned into nothing organically recognizable mixed with booze.  Sad part is you could tell it was a well made wine and it was fighting to be heard from, but a mix of the closure and time let it down.  I still believe in Bonarda, but aging it might be another issue.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Brookland Valley 2002 Verse 1 Shiraz (Australia)

I will be totally honest with you here, I bought this wine strictly for the label ... I did not care that it was Shiraz, I did not care that it was Australian and I did not give one iota that it was from the famous Margaret River appellation ... I thought the label was interesting and there you have it, into my cellar it went.  Now I don't remember the price but I it had to have been good cause at one point I had 4 bottles of this sucker - but I am now down to my last bottle and I hoped I had not waited too long to drink it.  I can thankfully say that I had not, though it did show its age it was not over the hill.  A nose of dried blackberry and dried cherry kicked things off and with a little aeration it began to develop cocoa to go with the dried fruits.  Taste was also interesting, it started off still quite tannic with spiced-dried cherry and pencil shaving notes - but it also had a decent amount of acidity holding it together ... once again I tried to give it a little air through the aerator and that seemed to enhance the spice and pepperiness.  All-in-all a good bottle that not only had a pretty label but some nice wine inside.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Mixed Bag from Bubbly to Malbec to Dessert (France / Argentina / Ontario / Australia)

I have been a little lax about updating this blog because we re building a new website and I keep hoping we can move all blogs to one location ... But the change over is moving at the speed of IT, and anyone who has worked with an IT department knows exactly what that means.  Subsequently I have not posted anything here thinking that I would just have to move it or it would not get swept up in the move ... but since we find ourselves behind schedule I thought I best keep going with my wine finds ... this one goes back to a dinner party we attended in early January - with a friend who is as passionate about wine as she is for making great food, not sure which one comes first in her book:

We kicked things off with a hybrid of our own doing:  a Chateau des Charmes Sparkling Brut and a dash of Tawse 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine, on it's own the Icewine had strawberry, cherry and hints of spice, not too sweet, with nice balancing acidity.  Combined they made one hell of an impressive aperitif.  There was also another bottle of bubbly on the table that night, but alas I did not take note of what it was.

Our friend is a huge fan of Malbec, and I thought I grab one from the homeland and one from the adopted land (France and Argentina) - both wines had a fair bit of age on them.  The Argentinean was a Altos 2002 Las Hormigas, and it was head-snappingly atrocious in both smell and flavour ... granted, maybe it was a little too long in the tooth, but I can't believe that plastic cork helped in any way.  The French version was a Chateau de Gaudou 2005 Cahors Tradition, and it showed amazingly well with plum, spice and pepper notes on the nose; palate was well-balanced with black raspberry and a lovely cedar finish ... now it also wasn't all Malbec (80%), it also had some Merlot (15%) and Tannat in there as well (5%).

Final wine of the night was Lillypilly Estate 2002 Noble Blend, I thought it was lovely for its age: caramel, apricot, lemon, baked pineapple, and after a while develops marmalade notes, these all appeared on the nose; palate showed off honey-apricot with some lively acidity, creamy mid, and a floral-vanilla finish ... alas I was the only one who really enjoyed this ... but then sometimes my inner wine-geek takes over.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Kim Crawford 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

Tonight I'm trying out a new recipe for shrimp scampi and the directions call for half a cup of white wine ... I put some thought into it and decide to go for this (reportedly) fruity Kim Crawford Sauv Blanc ... the nice part about opening a wine for a recipe is that you get to finish the bottle and that's precisely what we did.  In truth I have never been a huge fan of Crawford's Savvy B, I have found it serviceable and rather typical but never anything to write home about - but the hype surrounding the 2013 vintage for Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand peaked my interested and I decided that I could sacrifice a half cup to get to the bottom of this bottle.  I can honestly say, for the first time ever, I am thrilled with a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.  The nose is an absolute beauty with lovely and alluring melon and tangerine notes; the palate seems to follow along nicely with what the nose has offered up, while adding grapefruit cocktail and a nice medium length finish.  The acidity isn't in your face it's there to keep all that fruit in check and to keep it from becoming something Del-Monte would call "in light syrup".  If you can put your hands on a few bottles of this 2013 version I would suggest doing so and saving them up for summer.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Zilzie Wines 2002 Cabernet / Merlot / Petit Verdot (Australia)

This is one of those bottles that sat in my cellar for far too long, not because I was waiting for it to age, but because I was waiting for the perfect moment to open a wine called Zilzie.  It just seemed to be a wine you wanted to open with friends at the right time ... the name was interesting, the label cool, and the blend fascinating, it needed friends to share.  But each time the occasion arose to open it with friends it didn't feel like the right time and then it just got too late to open it with people, it was too old, and ... well ... I have no excuse for opening this wine 11 years from vintage date.  Not saying this wine is bad, far from it, but something tells me its hey-day had long passed.  With all that preamble I was still impressed with what was in the bottle:  Black raspberry, black sambuca, and melted dark chocolate, all on the nose.  When poured straight from the bottle the wine just wouldn't open up on the palate, so I had to run it through my Vino-Air and that helped to smooth things out and makes things more palatable.  The best thing I can say is that it had interesting flavours that weren't fresh but not quite dried and a super long finish.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Three Thieves 2009 The Show Malbec (Argentina)

It's been a nice lazy New Year's Day around our place I wish I could tell you we got a lot accomplished but we did not ... we watched the Winter Classic between the Leafs and the Wings ... we watched the Rose Bowl, where Michigan State won for the first time in 26 years ... and we ate a plate of nachos together.  As for the wine, the wife went for her usual standby, a Riesling, while I dug into the cellar for something a little bit more interesting, a Three Thieves 2009 The Show Malbec.  I really like The Show Cabernet Sauvignon from California, I find it rich a juicy and not too taxing on the palate - I had heard of the Malbec (which comes from Argentina) but until today I had not tasted it, I've had it in the cellar for no more than a year, maybe two.  The nose is blackberry and cassis with black tea and cloves backing it up - the palate keeps the cassis, adds black pepper, a little juiciness and some woody character to the finish.  After trying this wine I can definitely say I prefer the Cab in this line but the Malbec is more than serviceable.