February 24, 2009

Fielding Estate 2004 Cabernet Franc

Found February 2009

Hmm ... I think it's time to drink your 2004 wines, or at least look at them with a little more scrutiny. 2004 was not a great vintage here in Ontario, the wines were good but not great, and if you are holding onto anything maybe it's time you thought twice about what you have in your cellar. I have two bottles of this wine and tonight decided it was time to pull one off the rack and give it a go. The initial smell is vegetal (read subtle green pepper) and cedar (these follow thru on the taste) and they continue through for the next hour. Pleasantly, there is also a few other smells and flavours. Smell: you'll pick up a tiny bit of cherry, but it's of the sour variety. On the palate, cinnamon shows up briefly in the mouth; on the finish it's a mix of cranberry and sour cherry - and of course, wood. I'm happy to report that the wood is far from heavy handed, and currently it is something you can easily drink with little to no interference from big-wood tannins ... but drink now, this one doesn't have a lot of life left. Lost & Found: Tolerable

February 14, 2009

Thirty Bench 1999 Riesling Icewine

Found February 2009

I guess this is not fair to put this in the Lost & Found section – considering I never really bought this wine and cellared it myself – but I have to admit I am not sure where else to put it. You see Thirty Bench has just released a few older Icewines to show how Icewine ages, and I got a tasting of one of the earliest … so just come along with me for the ride and pretend. At first I thought this wine was a little oxidized, but a little more swirling and I found brandied-peaches on the nose … about 15 minutes later there was a tinny smell in the background. On the tongue, it was a touch syrupy and the taste was canned peaches in a light syrup. There was still a good bit of acidity here and the finish had great length. Does it shine like some of the more recent Riesling Ices I've tried? No, but it is a great piece of history to show where we have come from with this grape, when it comes to Icewine? Sure is … and you just gotta love sipping on history. Lost & Found: Tolerable +

Norman Hardie 2005 Riesling

Click here to read the original review from September 2006 - OWR Newsletter #39

(Re-Tasted February 2009) ... It was a Riesling weekend. Having consumed, or at least opened and tasted a Lailey Riesling the night previous, I twisted the cap on this Norman Hardie with some trepidation … was I in for the same rude awakening I have found on so many bottles of 2005 Ontario Riesling? My quick answer was yes, but after giving this wine a few hours to mellow I was surprised to say “not as much”. When I first reviewed this wine back in September 2006 (for Newsletter #39), I was convinced it was one of the best Ontario Rieslings I had tried from that year. I have to say that after a bit of aging this wine still doesn’t disappoint, but you have to show some patience. When first opened I was smacked in the face by the gassy smell of petrol, "here we go again", I thought. In about 20 minutes the petrol diminished enough to find a little lime on the nose. The palate was a little more forgiving – there was definitely some fruit here: green apple and watered down lemon-lime nuances, there was also lots of mineral notes and a steady seam of petrol on the tongue. The aftertaste was anything but petrol though – it smoothed and righted itself into a delicious peach nectar. Another hour passed and apple showed up on the mid-palate, though always as an accompaniment of petrol. Lots of Ontario Riesling of 2005 are showing a load of premature petrol – this one is probably the best of the lot for blowing it off.

February 13, 2009

Lailey Vineyard 2005 Riesling

(Re-Tasted February 2009) ... I’m not trying to belabor a point here, nor am I trying to bore you with one 2005 Riesling after another – but I am proving to myself (an hopefully to
you) that 2005, although a great year for red wines (aside from the short crop), was not so kind to the whites – especially those whites that like it a little cooler.

There is a camp in Ontario that believes that Riesling is a grape we can hang our hat on – I don’t disagree, but nor do I whole-heartily agree … I believe our grape is Cabernet Franc, but I am about to get off topic. Riesling is a grape we do well with most years, 2005 was not one of them though. Sure our Rieslings were lively and fresh in their youth, but I would still consider 3 years youth … this wine (and many other Rieslings from 2005 – just check out others reviewed on this blog) taste like a Riesling many years past 3, say 10 years-plus, in its development progression; in fact, I tried a 1987 Riesling from Germany at a recent Vintages tasting that did not have this much gasoline on the nose … and I tasted a wine made by this very winemaker (Derek Barnett) – a 1992 Riesling – that showed very little sign of petrol … but this wine … Once I popped the cork I thought I was working at a gas station. The taste is along the same line, yes there is a little lemon and lemon rind here, but it quickly gets overpowered by the petrol – even after being opened a few hours it never recovered. In a few more years I’ll be filling my car with this one, not my glass.

February 9, 2009

Hillebrand 2002 and 2005 Cabernet Franc - side-by-side

Click here to read the original reviews from May 2006 and July 2008

(Re-Tasted January 2009) ... This is the tale of two winemakers, two styles and making wine in two very good vintages. During the Niagara-on-the-Lake Days of Wine and Chocolate event, I found myself upstairs in the Hillebrand private tasting room where they pour old and limited edition vintages. My steward, Austin, was interested in having me try two Cabernet Francs, both available in very limited quantity at the winery: the 2002 and 2005 Trius. These two wines were made from grapes grown in 2 exciting Niagara vintages by two very different winemakers. The 2002 was made by J.L. Groux (now with Stratus), while the 2005 was made by then new-winemaker, Darryl Brooker (by way of Australia and New Zealand). This is a comparison between an old world style winemaker (J.L.) and a new world style winemaker (D.B.) – granted the wines are 3 years apart, but their styles are definitely apparent.

There are similarities in these wines (smell), stands to reason as they are made from the same grape, they are: tobacco and green pepper; but each has it to a different degree and in a different flavour profile. The 2002 is like raw pipe tobacco with up-front green pepper, whereas the 2005 is a sweeter cherry-tobacco with the subtleness of green pepper that’s seems almost imperceptible. Other notes in the ’02 include: spice, cinnamon, pepper and oak; while the ’05 delivers more up front fruit, cherry, as well as a smoky quality.

Palates also show a certain amount of similarities (from the grape) and differences (in style). The 2002 has plenty of acidity, black pepper and subtle green pepper on the tongue – there’s also lots of cedar/oak qualities with drying tannins and dried black cherry on the dusty, dry finish. The 2005 is much more fruit driven, big on spices with white pepper instead of black … good tannins are the backbone of this one. The finish is spiced blackberries and cedar.

This was an interesting tasting pitting styles and vintages against one another. Both wines still have plenty of time left in them: the ’02 can easily see 2012 (and quite possibly a few years after that), while the ’05 will be drinking well into 2014 and beyond. All this for an unbelievable $14.95 (upon release, and even now, if the winery still has any left) … you can definitely say that the adventure continues for these two wines.