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.