September 17, 2008

Harbour Estates Winery 2002 Cabernet

(Re-Tasted September 2008) ... Over the past couple of days I have re-tasted a few Ontario wines and have noticed a mini trend, all the bottles I opened were sealed with a plastic cork. Now, granted, the three wines were only from two different wineries, but I just wanted to point this out and keep note of it somewhere. Some folks swear by, and some swear at, the plastic cork, I am still doing my own taste tests and will reserve judgment until I get a few more aged wines under plastic. This Harbour Estates wine was sealed under the spongy-mac-tac version of plastic (I am pretty sure the industry calls it Nomacorc); I get a little leery when I see these synthetic closures on anything I've aged, but again I reserve all judgment until the wine is tasted, and this one showed pretty well indeed.

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc has really stood the test of time, smoky blackberries and cinnamon greet the nose and remained constant for the duration of my drinking and tasting, over the next 3 hours. The taste is a different story, while still very good the palate picks up smoky, peppery, a touch of spice and a bit of a woodsiness; over the course of those same three hours it smoothed out to the point of being silky and gulpable, and truly would have been if not for the black pepper spiciness making you stop and take notice. Very nice indeed - another 2002 wine that really hits the spot. I'd give this wine another 2 to 3 years, but it delicious now.

September 16, 2008

Creekside 2002 Cabernet-Merlot

(Re-Tasted September 2008) ... After the appalling adventure that was the '03 Weir (see below) I decided to give Creekside a chance to redeem themselves by pulling out this 2006 Cuvee Award winning wine (Best General List Red), and I am so glad I did. This wine has evolved in such a beautiful way and still has some time left. There's enough black fruit in here, in the form of black raspberries, a hint of wood - but nothing overpowering, a touch of Ontario's signature green pepper (roasted), a smokey cinnamon note and a pleasant long finish; and what's more, it's very food friendly - my pasta tasted all the better with this to wash it down. Is this a fantastic wine, no; but it is still a very good wine, that's a great big YES. It's a wine that has reached it's maturity gracefully and is now ready for you to enjoy (and over the next two years). For it's original selling price this wine now seems like a steal, $12.95 ... if you have some of these in your cellar it's time to release them and start drinking them up.

Mike Weir 2003 Cabernet Shiraz

(Re-Tasted September 2008) ... Frank Sinatra put it best, "Ain't that a Kick in the Head", or was that Dean Martin? Sounds more like Dean actually, I don't think you would have lived to see the day Frank got kicked in the head; but I digress from the real issue at hand.

I remember back in 2006 when I tried this wine for the first time, I was enthralled by it, so I bought a number of bottles and told you to do the same, telling you to lie it down for "a few years". Well now I am wearing the egg smack dab in the middle of my face - I opened a bottle last night and was very disappointed, it was all w
ood and cedary, green as hell with nothing but pea pod as the only distinguishable feature (other than wood). The palate was no better: pea pod greenness, wood smoke and a sour/bitter finish - it was like drinking, you guessed it, liquid wood ... nasty.

I could blame the year, 2003 was a wet vintage and not particularly good at that
, the boys from Creekside (winemakers for Weir) made a silk purse from a sows ear with this one ... the problem is that it had no staying power, and you would hope (no pun intended) a wine at that price point ($25.00) could stand up a few more years than the measily two it has not. This was a drink now wine ... it is now a drink not wine. And that kick in the head I refer to ... I have 2 bottles left. ' I'm willing to give it another go tonight, but if you don't hear from me again this review stands. If you like wood, this is your wine, for the rest of us, not so much.

September 12, 2008

Inniskillin 2002 Cabernet Franc Reserve

Found September 2008

I have often wondered if "Holy to Goodness" is a real thing people say, or if it was just my mother making something up so she did not have to say "Holy S**t" in front of us kids. The reason tI bring this up is because I said the latter when I first nosed this wine last night, some six years after vintage date, and wondered what mom would have said.

Before I tell you why I exclaimed what I did, it is important to note how I acquired my 3 bottles of this Reserve. In the spring of 2006 I wondered into the Inniskillin winery, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where staff had just finished putting out a display of the last two cases of 2002 Cabernet Franc Reserve with one of those "Last of ..." signs on them. They were not offering any tasting of the wine, so knowledge of vintage and track record of the winery came into play when I bought my bottles. In hindsight I should have bought one of the last remaining cases (12 bottles) - but funds were tight and there are plenty of others wines to buy. Now back to why the exclaimation.

I should not in any way be surprised by this wine, I have tasted longer aged reds from Inniskillin before, most notably a Franc from the early 80's that fellow wine writer Konrad Ejbich provided. I am happy to report that this wine has that kind of staying power. The colour has just the slightest bit of bricking, but nothing to be concerned with. The nose is sweet and pleasant with sweet dried cherries, butterscotch, oak, tobacco, spices (clove and maybe some ginger), vanilla and a touch of alcohol. (it is 13.5%). As time progressed (say an hour or so) cassis, raisin and blackberry also came out. On the palate there was pepper, vanilla-oak, cinnamon, dusty tannins, some black fruits (berries and currants); and over that same length of time (about an hour) the cinnamon, oak and spice became the most dominant. All exceedingly pleasant and palate friendly. The finish was hard to put a finger on because there was so much happening, but as it lingered on the tongue, and well after the swallow, there was a spiced-candied-orange-peel-with-a-hint-of-vanilla taste. Yummy, even if you don't like orange peel. I have one bottle left so I must chose wisely when to open it - another few years won't hurt it though. And if I were to say anything else, it would be this: a wine like this is the best reason I can give as to why you should visit and shop directly at the winery ... finds like this one.
Lost & Found rating: Real Treasure.

September 2, 2008

Vineland 2004 Select Late Harvest Vidal

(Re-Tasted September 2008) ... If memory serves
correctly this wine is still on the
shelves at Vineland Estates, and for good reason, it's still as delicious and tasty as it was the day it was released ... although it has changed in very subtle ways. The nose has turned from tropical to more regional: apples, peaches and pears (lots of pears here) while still maintaining that beautiful smell of lavender honey. The taste is peachy and bosc pear oriented with a little nutmeg-like spice and a bit of honey and floral flavours. It also lingers in the mouth with that floral-honey-peach and pears (in light syrup) without being cloying or thick. Finally, it has lost a little of that vibrancy I remember it having, but it's still very good; though what it has lost in vibrancy it has gained it complexity. Still drinking well and a big hit after dinner.