December 30, 2008

Calamus Estate Winery 2006 Calamus White

(Re-Tasted September 2007) ... Found wine is always interesting; I never would have put this wine aside, but a devote white drinker might happen to lose a bottle or two in their cellar. That is the condition upon which I stumbled upon this bottle. But this is not a Lost & Found wine, it’s a Taste it Again wine, a wine I tasted back in September of 2007. Back then I recommended it as an end of summer selection (and possibly next summer too) - good thing I added the caveat about the acidity holding up, which at this moment it would seem it hasn’t. The nose is all buckwheat and lavender honey with a faint hint of orange flower; the flavour is also honey, the more bitter and sour buckwheat kind with the merest hint of tangerine. It wasn’t bad to drink, just not as good as it was in it’s youth. But then again it was meant to drink in its youth. So if you still have a bottle or two of this I would suggest you drink it now, as in right now, as in go directly to the wine cellar or fridge, take out that bottle, do not pass go, do not collect two-hundred dollars.

December 28, 2008

Cave Spring 2005 Select Late Harvest Cabernet

(Re-Tasted December 2008) ... Age has not diminished the pleasure of this wine one bit, the nose is still lush with strawberries and cherries while the palate is loaded with strawberry flavours - the sweetness is toned down so it does not come off as sickeningly sweet in any way shape or form - just an incredibly easy going sipper that disappears from the glass very quickly. Best of all, there is no sign of age on this wine - the colour is still a beautiful pinky-red and the nose is still very vibrant with those fresh berries and cherries. Don’t be afraid to keep this one for a few more years.

December 25, 2008

Fielding 2005 Reserve Riesling

(Re-Tasted December 2008) ... Another ‘05 Riesling and another opportunity to prove my premature-petrol theory. Fielding’s Reserve Riesling did not disappoint in that regard, there was a big petrol smell to this wine, with very little sign of fruit, especially on the nose, though the petrol did also continue its dominance in the mouth as well. After about 20 minutes some fruit did emerge as an apple juice sweetness became apparent, then there was a bosc pear flavour on the tongue 10 minutes after that … all still soaked in gas. The finish proved exceedingly long with apricot and petrol residue kicking around for an extended stay. To my delight the acidity remained fairly intact and caused me to swallow many times before it cleared the palate. This wine has aged nicely so far, but once again those that do not like their Rieslings with either gas smells or flavours will find themselves disappointed.

December 23, 2008

13th Street Winery 2005 Riesling

(Re-Tasted December 2008) ... 2005 was an interesting year. It’s the year we had the short-crop, it’s the year we had that stupid 99-1 rule imposed on us (for Cellared in Canada wines only), and it was the year that some great grapes grew because of the a great growing season (it was the winter damage that caused the short-crop). It was also a year in which I noticed “pre-mature petrol notes” in the Riesling. Now the smell of petrol / gas /diesel is a normal smell for Riesling to develop as it gets older, but somewhere near the end of 2006 (the year the 2005 Rieslings would have come out) I was already noticing a predominance of gas on my Riesling. Some say it was the hot summer that caused this; whatever it was it an interesting occurrence. Now some 3 years from vintage date it’s interesting to look (and taste) back at these wines to see where they are now. This 13th Street offering is big on the diesel smells, so much in fact that it is practically all you can smell. On the palate the wine still keeps it’s foot on the gas, but here you’ll also find some over-ripe apple and peach notes on the mid palate. Finally, you should love the finish, which maintains great acidity and a lovely lime flavour. This wine has held up quite well, and while it is definitely not over the hill those who don’t like to smell the Autobahn in their Rieslings best get to drinking this one right away.

December 17, 2008

Peninsula Ridge 2002 Merlot

(Re-Tasted December 2008) ... Back in March 2008, I posted a review (in my Lost & Found column) of a wine from the 2002 vintage that I felt should have lasted longer (not mentioning wineries but to see that wine click here). Some Smart Alec decided to leave me some feed back about my poor review: “it's clearly sat around for more that two years! It's an 02, you would have purchased it in 04 sometime, so therefore, 2006 would have been the 2 year mark. Yet, you just opened it now -- in 2008. Surely you are aware that not all reds have a 'whenever you feel like it' shelf life.” While his comments are valid to an extent there are wines from certain vintages that should have a longer cellar/shelf life than others; to him I would like to point out this wine.

People often ask me: Do Ontario wine age well, can I lie them down? In gratuitous and blatant self- promotion I point them in the direction of this column (Taste it Again) and to my Lost & Found rambles … because my goal is to test wines to see if they do age. When I lay this one down I was sure wo
uld stand the test of time.

Two years ago this was the Merlot to beat at the Cuvee Awards (2006). Now some 6 years from vintage date this beauty still retains much of its vitality in the glass and fruit on both the nose and palate. Blackberries, cassis, a touch of cedar and a little anise greet the nose; there’s also some cinnamon and red licorice that emerge as it sits and breathes in the glass (say half-an-hour). The sipping is pure pleasure, it’s smooth with black fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, a bit of tannin is still hanging about, and a beautiful chocolate seam delivers a wonderful finish. This one’s still juicy, with great acidity and enough backbone to last a few more years. I still get asked if Ontario wines age well – and I say you’ve gotta age the right ones and then the answer is a resounding yes.

And to my doubting Thomas above: I held the wine in question because it said “Limited Edition” – and I guess you were right, Limited Edition didn’t mean selected grapes, it meant limited life span.

December 16, 2008

EastDell 2004 Pinot Noir Reserve

(Re-Tasted December 2008) ... It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Taste it Again note and there is no one happier then me to get back to this column … my last “box of fun” was loaded with foreign wines and Southbrook finds, so I’m so glad to be re-tasting a few past favourites.

I remember liking this wine so much back when I first tried it that I quickly scooped up another bottle when I was next at Eastdell and immediately put it into a box for further ageing (that’s the box of fun). But after today’s tasting I’m not sure how kind time has been to this wine. The nose proved to be a little finicky – sure I found the typical Pinot characteristics of cranberry, sour cherry, strawberry (in the form of licorice) and earthiness, but there was also a wet leaf / forest floor aspect and a funny alcohol smell that kept re-surfacing … in a wine that’s only 13% that’s not normal. Looking at the colour it seems to be darker than I remember (and I thought memories were suppose to fade – rim shot) – being more brownish and bricky. The palate seems fine though, with sour cherry, strawberry and earth – yet very uninspiring. I am reminded here about one of the things they say about Pinot Noir: it drinks in waves. It has its ups and downs during its evolutionary period, for 6 months its delicious, 3 months its dumb and stunted, another 4 months and it’s brilliant, and so on. Who knows, in two months time this one might have leapt out of the glass, but today – on December 15, 2009 – it just lay a little flat. On the other hand, we could just blame the plastic cork. If you have a bottle give it a little more time and see if it resuscitates itself.

December 12, 2008

Southbrook Winery 1998 Lailey Vineyard Merlot

Found December 2008

Turns out my old Southbrook wine tasting days aren't over yet. As we learned back in my 92 Riesling review, I have been a long time follower of the Southbrook story - something to do with actually being my local winery (I live in Toronto and it just so happened to be located in Toronto - or at least closer than any other winery). So a weekend excurtion with my buddy Geoff was not out of the question, especially to the winery he had "discovered" with his first wife. He tells the story about going for a drive one Sunday afternoon and coming across this deserted winery where he bumped into the owner (Bill Redelmeier) who took him and his wife through every single one of the wines he had available. Anyone who knows Bill, or has met him, knows that he is one heck of a raconteur, and can talk forever, if you let him. All this did was make Geoff love this winery more and while his wife was not that much of a wine fan, he did have a buddy who was. Enter me, enter trips to the 'Brook. Bill always said that the wines made at Southbrook were meant to age, and I took him up on this - buying and leaving untold numbers of wines from the winery on my shelf. When I started my "box program" I took some of those wines off my rack and put them in a boxes for further aging. And now it is time to open this 1998 Merlot.

I have long been a proponent of ageing Ontario Merlot, I just fine that when they are young they lack finesse, are too green and far to leafy. Now this Merlot isn't a far cry from leafy and green, but it has a smoothness that is very appealing - especially if you realize that it is a decade from its vintage date. At first the nose was all green pepper, with a backing of black fruit and cedar - that was very slight. In the mouth the green pepper continued, yet was more subtle, with black pepper and dried black cherry with a wood tannin finish. I decided to decant and see what happened. Sacre-Bleu we have quite the wine here. The green pepper blows off from the nose; sure it is still there, but now you can pick up more of the black pepper, black fruit and subtler, almost sweet, cedar notes. The decanting also smoothed out the palate, the wood has calmed down and the pepperyness comes through. I am quite happy to drink this wine - and if you have any bottles, you should too. Lost & Found rating: Treasure.

December 11, 2008

Inniskillin 1999 Rielsing Icewine

Found December 2008

This wine wasn't really lost, nor did I "just find" it - I had been saving it for a special occasion - and I thought there was none more special than a birthday, my own. So this past December 8th I finally took it from its carefully selected resting place and put it into the fridge to chill. After dinner I carefully opened the bottle and poured. The wine had that viscous quality that icewine has, and was the colour of rust. I could buy into that, afterall it was 9 years old. But that's were any semblance to icewine ended.

I had gathered around me for this auspicious occasion my mother and girlfriend Erica, both are huge fans of Riesling (Erica the table wine-kind and mom the icewine-kind). We each stuck our respective noses into our glasses and came up with descriptors like old apples, vinegar and alcoholic prunes ... this did not bode well. With a bit of daring, and because it was my birthday we all felt we must take at least of sip of this funny smelling withches' brew, and yes the nose did not lie, the taste was of "rotting fruit" (those were the best words used). My two fellow revellers put down their glasses and said "sorry" (as if it were their fault) "we just can't drink this." I, on the other hand, took a few extra sips and snorts in the hopes there was a redeeming quality to this wine. The only thing I may have found was the reminiscence of some caramel that was once part of this wine's flavour profile ... I also think, maybe, possibly, I found a bit of corkiness; but it is so hard to tell subtle corkiness with icewine, the sweetness usually drowns it out. Lost & Found rating: Trash.