November 23, 2008

Southbrook Winery 1992 Riesling Dry

Found November 2008

When wine first started to come into my life on a regular basis, and reading about it became part of a normal daily, or weekly, occurrence, I read two things: reds aged, whites didn’t – but with every "rule" there's an exception: Riesling was that exception. I had heard/read that Riesling can/could age fifty years or more. Wow, 50 years – a white wine. It has to do with a combination of the sugars and the acidity … being the ever curious sort that I am I just had to do an experiment. So off to my local winery I did go – in this case it was a 30-minute drive north to Southbrook Farms in Maple (just north of Toronto) and bought myself a couple of bottles of Riesling and then hid them from myself in a dark corner of my cubboard to test out this 50-year theory. Well I never made it to fifty years, as the writing of this review indicates. I unearthed these bottles doing a closet clean out … the 1992 Dry Riesling, that you are about to hear about, and a 1994 Semi-Dry Riesling … the semi-dry has it’s cork in it, but not for long. As for the ’92 … I can’t believe this wine is 16 years old. Un-fricken-believable.

I started out by chilling it for far too long – afraid to open what might be a dead-wine; when is the proper time to open history? At first the smells were light petrol, citrus, and green apple vibrant ... yes, vibrant (as it warmed peach started to emerge and whiffs of petrol became more prevalent). This was now exciting … what could have been the mistake of a lost bottle might now turn into something amazing. Lips to glass here we go: lemon rind … hints of petrol … good acidity … green apple … dry finish. This 16-year-old Riesling had held up amazingly well. As it warmed more white peach flavours and petrol emerged just as they did on a nose - the finish was short, almost abrupt in the way it ended. What's even more amazing about this wine is that at the time it was produced both winery and winemaker (Derek Barnett – now with Lailey) were in their second year of the being. Stay tuned for the opening of the 1994 Semi-Dry. Lost and Found rating: Unbelievable Treasure.

November 10, 2008

Colio Estate Wines 2002 Barrel Aged Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted November 2008) ... Here we are tasting something with true Ontario flavours and has those tell-tale Ontario smells ... green pepper. This Cabernet Franc comes from the remarkable 2002 vintage, one of three great vintages (so far) in this decade (2002, 2005, 2007). Ontario always has it's challenges but those three vintages had some really great age-worthy wines come out of it. No exception here. I'm not sure how much time this bottle has left, I do have a few more to get through, and one is due to come out of the cellar in September 2009 - but i have no fear that it will hold up till then. For now, upon openning, the nose is loaded with cedar and green pepper notes, while the palate holds onto the cedar and green pepper as flavours but also adds a touch of pepperiness and dried blackberries ... the good news is the wines gets better and more flavourful as it stays open, it drops some of the overpowering green pepper and cedar for spiciness and dried black fruit. All-in-all this bottle is holding up quite well.

November 2, 2008

Southbrook Winery 1997 Triomphe Cabernet / Merlot

Found November 2008

Years ago, when Southbrook was a young winery, and still resided in Maple / Richmond Hill (just north of Toronto), a buddy and I used to hang out there quite a bit. It was actually he and his wife who found the place, and knowing my love for wine started taking me there. I remember quite a few Sunday afternoons sitting in the tasting room talking with Nick or bumping into Derek Barnett, the winemaker, who talked passionately about his "hobby" or even Bill Redelmeier, owner, who could speak for hours on the history of the area. That was many moons ago for me and what seems like a lifetime for other principals of this story. Today, Southbrook finds themselves in the heart of Niagara, with a newfangled winery, an acclaimed winemaker and plenty of press about their new digs ... but they can't escape their past - which in truth is pretty good.

That brings me to this bottle of wine - seems I have a few older vintage Southbrook wines from the days of sitting in the old tasting room; those who manned it said the wines were meant for aging and it seems that I took that to heart. On a quiet evening in November I pulled out one of these elderly bottles with the burgundy label, popped the cork and gave it a try.

I tried a number of things with this wine: straight from the bottle, decanting and big glassware. Upon popping the cork I poured the wine directly into a Bordeaux Spiegelau glass and got dried fruit, wet grass, green pepper and dried cherry on the nose. The palate had wet leaves, and an earthy quality complete with a leatheryness and ... a metallic finish that changes into a Vick's cherry cough drop linger, but that metal is still there. I then decanted and let it sit - the nose improved and became a beautiful spiced dried cherry, but the palate did not seem to change, and over the next 30 minutes the wine completely collapsed, turning smoky and cedary, retaining the greeness and metallic finish. After 11 years this wine had become old and tired. Lost & Found rating: Treasure to find an 11 year old wine - became trash pretty quickly.