May 30, 2008

Marynissen Estate 2002 Cabernet Franc

Found – May 2008

Whoa Nelly, what a wine we have here. The initial pour and sniff was one of oaky-black fruit and the taste showed the same, but there was something else in there that was hiding in and amongst that heavy wood – I was determined to draw it out. That meant getting out the decanter to give it some air. A small Riedel “Merlot” decanter, along with a diffuser and screen (for filtering) were used, and there was plenty of inky tarry black gunk on the filter. But the difference, in both taste and smell, was night and day – now smoother and more approachable, the nose was still oaky and black fruit driven, but now with vanilla and cinnamon sprinkled on top … there is also some black raspberry on both the nose and tongue. Looking at the colour it was still quite dark, showing great extraction, deep and dark right through the middle of the glass and there was still a good red rim with little to no signs of bricking (change of colour from red/purple to red brick-like colour). Taste is smooth and luscious, the black fruit remains, but plumminess, sweet tobacco and black cherry oak were now added to the mix. Even decanted there was still fine grit in the bottom of the glass. Both powerful and wonderful, with each sip I was in awe. This wine just further proves to me that Cabernet Franc is Ontario’s red grape. A beautiful year like 2002 really shows what our wineries can do and how they can make beautiful, age-worthy wines with this variety. This one still has plenty of life left in the bottle – it’s delicious now, give it another few years and I can only imagine how good this’ll be. I seem to have one bottle left – I’m going to lay it down to see what happens. Lost & Found rating: Major Treasure … still hasn’t peaked.

May 28, 2008

Southbrook 2001 Triomphe Cabernet Franc – Watson Vineyard

(Found – May 2008)

Here’s a wine that was started by Derek Barnett and finished by Colin Camp
bell … Derek, now with Lailey, is known for making great Cabernet Franc, so I suspect Colin probably just had to wait the prerequisite 12-18 months, that Triomphe wines traditionally received, before bottling this sucker (though it is still a reflection of the winemaker's taste and intuition). The nose is fresh green pepper and a bit cedary … mouth-wise, right from the bottle, it’s pleasant and smooth with a little tannins and good flavours: soft green pepper, blackberries and cedar. But, when you throw this one into a decanter you’ll watch it bloom: black fruit flavours galour, like cassis, black cherry and tobacco leaps into both the mouth and nose. An excellent wine with still a few years left to go. It’s wines like this that make me wonder (and hope) if Southbrook’s future will be as bright as their past – form my pen to bacchus’ eyes – I’ll drink to that. Lost & Found rating: Treasure.

Southbrook Winery 2002 Triomphus Cabernet-Merlot

(Re-Tasted May 2008) … This wine won what? A little over a year ago (Jan, 23, 2007) this wine
won a taste off between the French and Ontario at Sette Mezzo in Toronto. Today, I doubt it’d get out of the first round. I’m gonna blame this on the inferior corks used in the first bottling (these corks were subsequently replaced with better quality corks after the big win – and one of Anne Sperling’s first smart decisions when she took over the reigns at Southbrook). First bottling is capped with gold wax … replaced corks with red wax. As you can see from the pictures, the original corks have the consistency of sponge (and about as many holes) and will crumble easily, so beware when opening. Currently, the wine in bottle is bitter and off-tasting … not corky … just not right, a wine that tastes well beyond its 6-year age. More vinegary than fruity and little to no tannins to speak of. I remember this wine being big and bold with tons of tannins and fruit to come … lots of promise. For a wine that was designed and made to last ten years or more this wine won’t survive the turn of the decade. Gold topped – drink up now; red top (haven’t tried) but the better cork closure which should give it longevity.

Ridgepoint Wines 2004 Cabernet Merlot

(Re-Tasted May 2008) …
This review is painful to write. I know Mauro, owner of Ridgepoin
t, a very friendly and congenial person. I know Arthur Harder, a very good winemaker who has made plenty of award winning wines here in Ontario. But this 2004 Cabernet-Merlot I don’t know, nor do I want to. I remember liking it very much – which is why I set it down for a few years – but unfortunately, it has not stood the test of time. First, there’s the agglomerate cork (crushed up pieces glued together to form a re-constituted cork) … the wine was halfway up this closure. The smell was wet newspaper and cardboardy with just a hint of the former blackberries that used to be a hallmark of this wine. Taste was no better – a funny burnt-cracker-like taste, a bit gluey, flat and unappealing … sorry boys, this one’s corked and the glue has seeped into the wine. Yuck. Might I suggest better quality corks for future vintages, especially those built to last. I seem to have another bottle of this – I’ll take another look/taste and get back to you about it.

Creekside 2001 Laura’s Blend Red

(Re-Tasted May 2008) … I loved this wine so much at first tasting I bought quite a few bottles (6 to be exact) and I still have 3 left. 2001 was a good year in Ontario, except for our vineyard friends the ladybugs, who got munched up in the grapes and secreted that foul smelling and tasting pyrazine chemical into the wines. Thankfully this wine has none of that. Today, some 7 years from vintage date (and 2½ from original tasting), I popped the cork and tried it again. The nose grabbed me by the hairs and screamed “green pepper”, which was all over this wine – there were also some black currants, but they only peaked through that green pepper curtain. The taste is loaded with cedary notes … heck, forget notes, it was like chewing on a stave; little fruit seems to exist here. And that previously mentioned green pepper – well that appears just prior to swallowing and all over the finish and into the aftertaste, but little shows up in the mouth itself. A little aeration proved to be only slightly helpful in bringing out more flavours and different smells. It’s still drinkable and not unpleasant, but I’m not sure I know where it’s going, or if it’s gone. With so many bottles left, I’ll try it again at the end of the summer and let you know.