August 31, 2008

Lakeview Cellars 2002 Gamay Noir

Found August 2008

If you have any bottles of this wine kicking around, now is the time to drink it., according to many Gamay Noir isn't even suppose to last this long, but this bottle from the excellent 2002 vintage is still quite a lot of fun. It's definitely not the red fruity thing you think of when you think of wine made from the grape of Beaujolais. At this point of its life cycle the nose is a mixture of cherry liqueur and raspberry jam. It's exceedingly smooth in the mouth, almost to the point of having no flavour at all, then as it opens it has little else to say but "I am cherry hear me roar". There are no tannins to speak of and as it sits open to the air it became more like a cherry liqueur on the taste too. About 20 to 30 minutes after opening something funny happened: it developed a chocolatey-Kahlua-brandy component with a bittersweet chocolate finish. Not the most wonderful wine I have had, but it sure wasn't bad considering what it was and how old it was. As much as it lacked what it originally had, I liked what it had turned into, which is why I am going to give it a Lost & Found rating of Treasure.

Vineland 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon

(Re-Tasted August 2008) ... I distinctly remember buying this wine for under $20 - the reason: Vineland had run out of the current vintages and needed to have something on the shelf until the next vintage was ready. This was a classic case of right place-right time because the overlap only lasted about 2 weeks and they only allotted the re-released of a scant number of cases - I bought 4 bottles ... and am I ever glad I did.

This wine is still very much alive, and will be for a few more years at least. Initially it had lots of nice dark fruit smells along with cedar and black fruit tastes. Tannins were ripe and firm and the wine was vibrant in the glass, darkly coloured without any signs of bricking along the rim; there was even a great dark chocolate flavour on the finish, with just a thin coat of dustiness on the tongue. As it opened over the next few hours it developed touches of pepper, spice and a very appealing basket of red fruits on the palate. And boy did it ever smooth out. I have another 2 bottles, one of which won't see the light of day for another 2+ years. For those who are impatient, drink now.

August 21, 2008

Coyote’s Run 2004 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted August 2008) ... For the past hour and a half I have been sipping on this Coyote’s Run Cabernet Franc from 2004 and with each sip and each half glass it is getting better.

It started out with a heavy green pepper smell that overwhelmed everything in it’s path, if you tried really hard you could find a little bit of cherry, but the green pepper was just so overpowering. The mouth proved to be a little better with a softer version of that green pepper, some toasted oak and tobacco leaf mixed in. But over the course of the past hour and a half (coming on to two hours now), the green pepper has dissipated from the nose and taste – sure it is still there, but it has lost its over powering nature. Now I am left with a pleasant sipper full of toasty-cherry tobacco smells and flavours, with a dash of green pepper; and it’s wonderfully smooth. Surprise, surprise a little bit of pepperyness showed up at about the 2-hour mark. If I needed any more confirmation about Cabernet Franc being Ontario’s grape – I think I just got it. For those of you with bottle(s) left, I would say this one’s good for the next few years anyway.

Peninsula Ridge 2002 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted August 2008) ... I seem to be on a Cabernet Franc kick, and why not, I am still convinced it is Ontario’s grape to show the world what we can do; and if the last two I have tried are any indication, then man we should really hop on this Franc bandwagon pronto before the Chinese rip off icewine and the world thinks we’re nothing but a one-trick pony. With this very Pen Ridge Cabernet Franc making it’s appearance in Vintages September 13th, I thought it best to pull it out of the Taste it Again program and, yes, taste it again. What I found was amazing.

First, I’ll point out that when I bought this wine back in 2006, I paid a whop
ping $18.95 for it (it will now sell for $25.15 in September) and I picked up two bottles … one for the Taste it Again program and another for cellaring further. All I can say now is, good call. The nose is, at first, tobacco, leafy with a touch of green pepper – as it opens more vanilla, cinnamon and dark fruit come out to play. You will notice quite a bit of sediment on the cork or in the bottle, so I would suggest decanting or pouring slowly so as not to get too much of those “floaties” in your glass. In the mouth, at first again, you’ll notice the greenness and wood tannins, but as it opened there were also hints of dried red fruit and then some darker fruit nuances – this wine seemed to get better the more air that got into it – so after an hour or more it was going down way too easy. After 6 years from vintage date there was still plenty of good tannin structure and a good drying-dusty finish. Very impressive.

As I mentioned, I have another bottle still kicking about … seems only right to give it some more time and see where it goes from here – I guess we’ll find out together in another 2 years or so.

Hillebrand 2002 Trius Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted August 2008) ... Monday August 18, 2008 … come home from a hard day of grunt work, been looking forward to opening that bottle of ’02 Trius Cabernet Franc all day … hot dog, the end of the day is here. Remove capsule. Plunge corkscrew into cork and extracted it with a resounding “pop” … smile. Breathe in as I reach for the glass … no way … pour wine into glass … sniff … pour glass of wine down drain … pour more wine … sniff … could it be? … Yes way – touch of taint (from the cork) – tough to tell, but a few more sniffs, swirls and swigs decides it. Not happy. Luckily I have back up on this one within arms reach.

Pull out second bottle, cross fingers. Repeat capsule and cork operation, pop is decidedly less resounding. No funny smell is in the air though. Swirl, better … Sniff, better … Swig, now that’s what I expected. A little woodsy, a little spicy on the nose, with hints of cedar. Palate shows that cedar a place to rest, on a bed of dried black fruits and tobacco leaves. The taste is dry and pleasant … ready for food and drinking on its own. Not too long left, another year or two – but well made and still enjoyable. Glad I bought a few when I did, but now it’s time to drink it up.

August 20, 2008

Fielding Estate 2004 Semi-Dry Riesling

(Re-Tasted August 2008) ... This was the wine that put Fielding on the map as a must visit winery. In 2004 they came out of the gate with guns blazing, a real contender. Made by now twice replaced winemaker Andrezj Lipinski (currently with Organized Crime, Foreign Affairs, John Howard and possibly others). This wine showed flair and fun in the same bottle. I remember it sold out quickly, a month after I bought a few bottles I was looking for more, and it was gone. Good thing I lay this one down to see if it was just a flash in the pan wine or something of substance. Good news, this screw-capper was delicious 4 years later, with a great golden colour in the glass. The smell and taste was very Welch’s grape juice on the first few sniffs and sips and as it warmed it developed some complexity: a grassiness soon emerged, along with some very delicate notes of paraffin and crayon wax. But it’s in the mouth is where it really showed its mettle, with a crispness that defied its age and a granny smith tartness that still existed with just a tiny bit of sweetness on the finish. This wine really shows some pluck for such a young wineries first outing. This was the wine that signaled the arrival of a new winery in Niagara, one conscience of it’s quality to price ratio, and they have managed to maintain that reputation … original price of this wine, $12.95. (Also see Taste it Again from February 2008)

Hillebrand 2001 Trius Red

Found August 2008

Some moons ago, when I was deciding what to write about in the field of wine, my brother presented me with a bottle of Hillebrand 2001 Trius Red that he had found at his local liquor store – I think it was a thank you for looking after his dog for a week. I have held on to this lone bottle like gold; but for my mother’s 70th birthday I decided it was time to let loose the cork and see where this wine had gone. 2001 lives in infamy in Ontario as the year of the Ladybug, and so any bottle you open has the potential to be “buggy”. Thankfully I can say this bottle was not. Upon openings smells of dried fruit with some spices and a good whiff of cinnamon greeted the nose. The palate pretty much kept up with the nose: signs of dried fruit, dried leaves, a touch of oakiness with some spices and very little in the way of tannin. The age is showing on this wine but it is still very drinkable. Lost & Found rating: Treasure.

August 11, 2008

Willow Springs Testa 2002 Meritage

Found August 2008

The Testa label is the designation that Willow Springs gives to their Reserve line of wines that are only produced in “good years”. 2002 was one of those years, and I remember liking this wine so much that I put my name on a waiting list for the second bottling.
My original personal note said: “Lots of fruit ... smooth and easy to drink - ready now but could do with a few years of lying down.” I was not far off on this perception.

Now 6 years from Vintage date I was ready to give this wine another try in the hopes that it had aged well … my answer to those with a few bottles (more or less) is yes and no. The n
ose on the wine is dried fruit, pleasant and definitely approachable. The taste is a bit on the oaky side, with black cherry, cinnamon and sweet raisins on the tongue, there is also a pleasant black licorice finish. But after the first hour things change drastically. The wine tired and lost any semblance of wine and had become very woodsy and unappealing, both on the nose and taste. My recommendation is to drink this one up quickly. Please note: mine just lasted that long because I was alone, otherwise it would have been gone within the first hour. Good luck and enjoy. Lost & Found rating: Treasure -.

Harbour Estates 2004 Petit Verdot / Malbec

(Re-Tasted August 2008) ... I really remember liking this wine back in March of 2006 (my memory isn’t that good – I looked it up) and when I lay it down I thought it would last a couple of years or more … maybe I was right, maybe I was wrong – but I certainly couldn’t tell with this bottle. The only word I can come up with on this one is nasty, and by that I’m not talking in that young, hip vunacular for “really good”.

At first the nose smelled of caraway seeds, then quickly and with more aeration it turned into old sweat socks, rotten vegetation and soaking wet baseme
nt. Inspecting the cork, I noticed that the wine had crept up about halfway. Further inspection of the cork showed that it was a combination disc/conglomerate (solid cork discs on each end, covering ground up and reconstituted cork pieces glued together). Of course, my professionalism and dedication to my craft forced me into putting the glass to my lips and taking a sip; afterall some of the best wines I’ve tried have had inexplicably funky noses. Uh … no … (oh, where is the sink when you need it) … the nose matched the taste, even worse. Too bad, I had some high hopes for this one.

August 4, 2008

Creekside Winery 2004 Shiraz

Found July 2008

Should a Shiraz last 4 years? Damn straight it should, wood and skins alone will make it alright for that kind of ageing, but it’s the long term ageing potential that a year like 2004 is not going to be known for (that is a general rule to which there are some exceptions). So what about this Shiraz, is it an exception or does it follow the rule? There was definitely a generous use of wood here, because it comes through on both the nose and palate, but so does the black fruit and white pepper; there’s also some nuances of dried fruit, a sure sign of an aged wine – but it’s the white pepper and woodiness that’s keeping this one alive. Right now it’s smooth and enjoyable with a bit of wood tannins joining the white pepper on the finish. This one wasn’t meant for any longevity, it was built for drink now enjoyment, I’d say you’ve got maybe a year or two left. Lost & Found rating: Tolerable +.

Ridegepoint Wines 2002 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted August 2008) ... 2002
is the year of the ageable red, that’s why so many of my Taste it Agains focus on wines from that year. Here’s a bottle from Ridgepoint Cabernet Franc that won best of category at the All Canadian Wine Championships the year it was entered (the sticker on the bottle does not give the award year). Now 6 years from vintage date the smell when you first pop the cork is all cedar, after an hour there are some great dried fruit smells that join in, and you might also get the distinct smell of raisins (yes I know they are a dried fruit – but now I’m getting specific). Let’s move on to how it tastes. From the get go there are a plethora of roasted red and green peppers with a touch of cedar essences – these flavour continues all the way through hour-to-hour, the finish is smooth and supple. Still a very nice wine, drink over the next year or two, if you’ve got any left.

Marynissen 2001 Gamay Noir

(Re-Tasted August 2008) ... Way back w
hen, in a galaxy far, far away Marynissen made a name for themselves making red wine: good, ageable red wines; though I may have been stretching it with this one. Seven years from vintage date I opened this bottle of Gamay Noir with a mix of trepidation and excitement. Gamay is the fruity grape of Beaujolais, and not anybody’s first choice for making a wine of any longevity. But combine a good growing season, with plenty of oak and know-how and you can make a wine of some depth and ageability. Popping the cork on this bottle produced a spray of flying wine diamonds, which had crystallized on the cork over the years. The initial smell and taste was harsh and sour, bitter even. After 45 minutes both the smell and taste had mellowed revealing cedar with cinnamon and dried fruit. An hour later we were back to bitter and sour – the wine had completely died. This one is drinkable, but only during a specific window of opportunity (between 45 minutes and an hour-and-a-half from opening) – otherwise its shot.