February 25, 2008

Fielding Estate 2004 Semi-Dry Riesling

(Re-Tasted February 2008) … It’s hard to believe that this is from Fielding’s inaugural vintage and one of the first (of what has turned out to be many) Fielding wines I have fallen for. As Fielding embarks on a new winemaking chapter, with new winemaker Richie Roberts, it’s nice to look back to where they have been. Made by Andrzej Lipinski, now two winemakers removed from the project … we really see his ability to make solid whites – especially when given good grapes. The nose has developed into over-ripe peaches and rusty Delicious apples; there’s also a whisper of petrol (the sign of aged Riesling) in the background, along with a creamed honey note. Palate-wise there is still some great acidity powering this wine along; the fruit persists in the mouth with apples, pears and peaches soaked in a light cocktail sauce – the petrol is delicate and playful on the tongue … and the finish lingers like a houseguest at 1am – except this one is more than welcome to hang out. I just know we’ll come back to this one in a few years and still love it.

February 18, 2008

Thomas and Vaughan 2002 Cabernet Franc

(Found - February 2008)

I've had a bad back of late, must be all that snow shoveling I’m doing - makes you wish you'd chosen condo living instead of home ownership; so tonight I needed relief. Looking at my wine racks I saw a long neck bottle calling out to me, it was a 2002, Thomas & Vaughan Cabernet Franc - I thought to myself, "I could use a little TLC from the likes of Dr. Thomas and Dr. Vaughan" - so let's see if they can make this house call memorable. I sunk the corkscrew into the wax top covering the cork and pulled up ... Yikes, plastic cork! That could be trouble. My first smell and taste were plasticy. I dumped my glass and tried again. A nose of spices, leather, cloves, blackberries and allspice - the tannins in the mouth were rich, the flavors were cassis, blueberry skins, a vanilla-cinnamon mixture and fine oak. Pretty impressive ... fifteen minutes later something happened. I had misplaced my glass as I began doing something else and when I came back to it I found juicy, ripe blackberries, a touch of cedar, silky smooth tannins and a touch of cocoa on the finish; the nose had also developed some sweet tobacco. Very impressive … another 25 minutes past. Now I have a real quaffer on my hands - it's smooth, soft, luscious and head-tiltingly good ... seems like I hit the sweet spot on this one, best of all, looks like I have another bottle on the racks. Lost and Found Rating: Treasure.

Thirteenth Street Winery 2002 G. H. Funk Vineyard Cabernet-Merlot

(Found - February 2008)

Here's what happens when you pair a great vintage (2002) with a cult winery known for making great, much sought after wines (13th Street). A few years back I bought this bottle of wine for under $20 - today I looked like a genius for picking up two, though I feel like an idiot for opening it so soon. That's the thing about wine that’s so vexing, when is the perfect time to open it? If you open it too soon or too late there's no way to get the genie back in the bottle, so to speak. This Cab-Merlot has not finished ageing, but it is coming along beautifully. Upon first open the smells were black fruit and licorice, twenty minutes later herbs and pencil shavings joined in the fray. The taste showed great complexity with each passing fifteen minutes ... spices, herbs, anise, nutmeg, a bit chewy through the mid-palate with just a touch of graphite. The tannins can best be described as slightly gritty - smooth through the mouth, but with a dry cocoa-like finish that leaves a little bite behind. If I had another bottle I'd lie down for another two years - maybe more. Lost and Found rating: Treasure … only going to get better.

Thirteenth Street Winery 2004 Erv’s Burger Blend

(Re-Tasted February, 2008) ... So with the disappointment of the “Noirs” still sitting heavy on my tongue, I decided to reach back into my box of goodies and grab out another Thirteenth Street creation, this time the kitchen sink blend they lovingly call “Erv’s Burger Blend”, a mishmash of a whole bunch of grapes (Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Merlot , Gamay and Pinot Noir). The nose was all woodsy, with tons of peppery-spicy goodness, a touch of cinnamon and caramel, and, as it opened up the waft of black licorice began eminating from the glass (some 45 minutes later). Tasting brought about the same kind of thrill - cinnamon, herbs and spices greeted the tongue upon first sip - the tannins had mellowed into sweet silkiness and lingering dark fruit on the finish - most notable at the 45 minute mark: tart cassis. This one’s still very nice, and those spices keep coming back on the finish, making up admirably for the disaster that was the “Noirs”.

Thirteenth Street Winery "Noirs”

(Re-Tasted February 2008)I was a big fan of the Thirteenth Street “Reds”, which was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel; so when the boys brought out “Noirs” (a blend of Gamay and Pinot) you just knew I was going to jump at it. Now, a few years on, this non-vintage wine seems like it just might have had a fighting chance – colour is still good. When I first opened it I smelled earth, sour cherry, cranberry, and … is that corkiness? The taste was also interesting: sour cherries, strawberry, definitely earth and something else ... there was also an effervescent feel on my tongue. I decided to give it some time to breathe to see what developed - and there it was, that slight corkiness I thought I had detected early on, came roaring out of the bottle 30 minutes later ... no doubt about it, this beauty had turned into a beast; too bad.

Erie Shore Vineyard 2004 Summer Sun Cabernet Rosé

(Re-Tasted September 2007) … By all rights this wine should go into my lost and found column, because I unearthed it on my drink now rack; guess I had forgotten to drink it now. This is a tale for those who believe that rosés should be drunk early and young - I was one of those. When I found it I thought "uh-oh” – but always willing to pop the cork on anything, I decided to give it a go. It was lovely ... peach, pear and apple flavors with a very inviting nose - not at all what I expected it to be, now over three years from vintage day. Proving that you can't always trust your preconceived notions.