July 26, 2009

Coyote's Run 2005 Cabernet

(Re-Tasted July 2009) ... After the debacle that was the La Frenz Gewurztraminer I managed to locate a bottle or Coyote's Run 2005 Cabernet, a blend of the Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon. 2005 was a good year here in Ontario (if you don't mind a short crop) and the red wines turned out very well, and ageable. This wine is still in its infancy, at only 4 years from vintage date, and it still has some grip as well as lovely flavours.

At first I was concerned, the opening salvo to the nose was lots and lots of green pepper ... but that dissipated quickly leaving many more interesting aromas to develop over the next 2 hours: spiced-blueberry, cinnamon-raspberries, a touch of black licorice and at the tail end of the 2 hours some lovely black raspberry. The palate also showed plenty of complexity: dark fruit with lots of vanilla flavours kicked us off, then it moved into cinnamon, graphite and oak character while the dark fruit remained. There was a nice pleasant smoothness through the mouth right up to the point where pepper and gritty tannins left behind a long lasting impression. This one has a few years left in it for sure, so you can safely open now and enjoy, or let it sit for a bit and enjoy it later - either way you're on solid ground.

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July 25, 2009

Colio Estate Winery 2002 Barrel Aged Cabernet Franc Reserve

(Re-Tasted July 2009) ... Some might read this review as a negative review - but in truth it is nothing of the sort - it is just an okay review of a 7 year old wine. This is a wine that seems to have lost its character. Back in the day it had big tannins, lots of berries and other fruits, along with spices and a grippy finish. Today, it seems to be just a wine. The flavours are nondescript, but that's not a bad thing. It has little in the way of smell too, but again, not a bad thing. There are some woodsy notes in the mouth, but not enough to really write home about. This wine has turned into a plain everyday house wine, you know you're drinking a wine, but there are no varietal characteristics ... it's flat and uneventful; but that does not make it bad, it just makes it something to sip on ... it won't wow the crowd, but then again it won't offend either. It's perfectly approachable and pleasant, but don't expect to strike up a long conversation about it.

July 24, 2009

Sanson Estate Winery 2002 Bird Dog Red

(Re-Tasted July 2009) ... After the atrocity that was the Muscedere 2004 Cab Franc Reserve, I decided to give another Lake Erie wine a go: Sanson's Bird Dog Red. Dennis Sanson, is one of the unheralded winemakers of the Lake Erie North Shore region - it seems that everything he touches turns to liquid gold - or at least something close. This is his 2002 Bird Dog Red, a Bordeaux blend of Franc, Sauv and Merlot and it has aged well. The nose seemed to be ever-changing throughout the few hours the wine remained open, starting out as pepper and herbs, segueing into hints of green pepper and then moving on to include a little vanilla about an hour and a half in. The palate was also peppery from the get go, then came a touch of fruit, blackberry, for a brief visit, before the secondary flavours of pepper and spice took over for the long haul. It smoothed quite noticeably in the time it was opened (3 hours), and fruit did drift in an out of the realm of recognition, but mainly this wine was dominated by herbs and spice, which did most of the talking. For those interested, and who still have a bottle in the cellar, I do believe this is a last chance bottle, meaning that it does not have many years ahead of it, but it is still quite drinkable.

Muscedere Vineyards 2004 Cabernet Franc Reserve

(Re-Tasted July 2009) ... When will winemakers and winery owners learn not to put wines under plastic cork ... heck I hope it's soon because I am tired of wasting a lot of time, money and taste buds on these atrocities. First things first, if you make a wine that you think will age, find a screwcap or a cork to seal it under, forgo the plastic cork, please. I remember liking this wine back in January 2006 - in fact I called it good value and recommended buying a few to lie down. So I now must apologize, had I remembered it was a plastic cork I would have told you back then to drink it up, and quick. This wine, from the very get go, had a funny taste and smell - once I got through that and started to identify what it was turning into I was able to pick out green pepper and smoky notes, and these aromas followed through on the palate.

I hope Rob and Fabio (owners of Muscedere) have changed over their closer, if not, be ready for more of the same in the coming years.

July 15, 2009

Mountain Road Wine Company 2004 Botrytis Affected Riesling

(Re-Tasted July 2009) ... Today's word is "outstanding". That is the best word I can come up with to describe this wine. Back in 2006, when I reviewed this wine for the first time, I said it was under-valued. Today Steve Kocsis, winemaker and owner of Mountain Road has rectified that situation by putting this wine is a half bottle (375ml). But back in 2006 he was selling this beauty in a 750ml for $17.95 and people thought he was crazy ... today I don't think that opinion about Steve's state of mind has changed, but the wine sure has, and for the better. The nose is a beautiful combination of apricots, dried pineapple and a touch of petrol. The palate is just as interesting with lots of dried sweet fruits: pineapple, apricot, mango, and papaya - the only problem is that with such a big bottle it's hard to finish it ... well, not that hard - but still it is a lot of sweetness to deal with all in one sitting. The wine is also a bit on the thick side, meaning it has some viscosity, but nothing that's off-putting, it just has an anticipation factor when pouring (like Heinz ketchup - but much less thick). I also made note of the nice golden colour that this wine has taken on. Looking at my inventory it seems I still have another bottle of this one kicking around, and boy am I happy about that.

July 12, 2009

Chateau des Charmes 1999 Estate Cabernet-Merlot

(Re-Tasted July 2009) ... It was once said to me that "wine tastes better in the presence of the winemaker" - I am sure that anybody who has experienced tasting with a winemaker can attest to that. Tonight I got a rare opportunity to taste a bottle of Chateau des Charmes 1999 Cabernet-Merlot Estate Bottle with the Bosc family - but this story has a little bit of a twist, it was a bottle that I had been storing for the last 4 or 5 years, and it had traveled 2000km to get to the table.

On July 2nd I found myself enroute to the Annual Pine Island tasting held on an island just south of North Bay ... knowing that I would not be returning to my abode until the 13 of July, I knew I had to take the bottle with me. So I packed it carfeully in bubble wrap and into a cooler bag, packed with bubble wrap around it to keep it safe - this is where the bottle resided for the next 10 days. I then stored the wine in our cabin on the island, thankfully the weather never hit a temperature above 20 (celsius). My next stop was in the US of A (Detroit), where I visited with my fiancee for a few days and kept the bottle in its bag in her cool basement. Then to Niagara I went - where the bottle had to rest in a trunk all day as the temperature outside rose. At this point I bought a couple bottles of cold water and stowed them in the bag with the bottle, as a gauge as to how well the bottle was being insulated. Thankfully when I returned to my B&B that evening the water was still cool. Finally, the bottle made its way, 10 days later, to the Bosc table where we pulled the cork and I held my breath. Had I ruined this carefully stored bottle that I had launched my website with (as the first red reviewed) back in April 2005? Had I taken enough care of this bottle through all this moving about? It was show time ...

Paul Bosc Jr. popped the cork and gave it a sniff - he then poured a little off and sampled it, so did I. I little smoky and dark fruitish. We let the wine breathe in the bottle for an hour. Now back in 1999, Junior was not the winemaker, Paul Bosc Sr. was, and he showed up to try the bottle (this is where the part about "in the presence of the winemaker" comes in). The wine proved to have a life all it's own - still with vibrant fruit, it actually tasted young, this 10 year old bottle that had been hauled from town to town tasted young. The nose was black fruited, on the dry side, with licorice and raspberry notes. The flavour was black fruit, vanilla with a hint of pine, sour raspberry and cassis. The tannins still had a grip yet smoothed through the mouth - and kept those flavours with barely a change over the next three hours. Outstanding wine, "a vintage on par with 2002," said Paul Jr. I have some bottles of the 2002 Estate Cabernet Merlot - I guess we'll see if that statement really is true in 2012.

July 10, 2009

Colio Estate 2006 Riesling

Found July 2009

Sometime it's not about what you find in your cellar, it's what you find in someone else's. Last night I discovered this '06 Colio Riesling in my fiancee's wine rack. Now truth is before she met me she did not have a "wine rack", she had a couple of bottle stashed away in her basement (one's a Chianti and one's a Merlot), which someone had given her and she put away to 'drink later' and never got around to it ... probably because red is not her thing (one day I'll brave the Chianti). Then when she met me, well her vineous life changed, which means she drank more wine (and that's a big change for a beer girl. She liked whites more than reds, Riesling was a favourite along with some Pinot Gris and Vidal - but nothing too sweet, and for sure she likes it dry; and that's what is now in her cellar, a lot of whites and a smattering of reds that I have collected here (in Michigan) for my consumption. She'll try the occasional red, but she really is a white-girl. Now enough about her, what have we discovered here in her cellar. This Colio Riesling is only 3 years old, so still a baby, the nose is very fruity with melon and green apple being the prominent smells, there's is also a lovely honeysuckle note that really ties the aromas together and keeps you sniffing with every sip. The palate proved just as inviting: mac apple, honeydew, lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness through the mid palate before finishing dry and lovely. The aftertaste linger for just the right amount of time, not too long, not too short, just enough time before your craving another sip. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

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Maleta Winery 2005 Cabernets

(Re-Tasted May 2009) ... I had the opportunity to give this one a re-taste during the 42 Wines / 21 Wineries event held in Toronto. I was so impressed with how it tasted that I reviewed it, gave it 4 1/2 stars and was prepared to put it in my newsletter - then suddenly I realized I had reviewed it previously. So instead of putting it in the newsletter, it moves here to the Taste it Again section, where I will now post my re-review of this wine with a smile, that's because I noted in my previous review (of November 2007); "Still a little closed this wine will require another 2-3 years of bottle age to open up a bit ...", and I was right. By the way, this wine is still for sale at the winery and an excellent pick up indeed, only $15.95.

Sometimes a winery can really do you a favour by holding onto a wine. The average time between purchase and consumption of a bottle is anywhere between 12-48 hours – that doesn’t leave a lot of time for ageing the wine and allowing it to develop and come into its peak period. Maleta is just now releasing their ’05 blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Cabernet Franc. 2005 was a good growing season for red grapes and for making ageable red wines. This one spent 2 years in a mix of French, American and Hungarian oak, all that age has given great complexity to the wine on both the smell and in the taste: smoky, blackberry, raspberry, cinnamon, spice as well as a plethora of other dark nuances of berries and herbs. There’s also great acidity, and good bite on the tongue from those tannins. An easy cellar candidate for the next 5 years, but also something to drink in the next 12-48 hours. Priced for a multiple purchase so that you can do both.

July 2, 2009

Hillebrand Winery 2006 Trius White

(Re-Tasted July 2009) ... If memory serves correctly this is the first year that wine maker Darryl Brooker concocted this blend. I remember it having Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay and some Pinot Gris – but then sometimes my memory fails as to content – but I do remember this was a very nice wine. In my conversation with Darryl, I remember him saying it leaned more towards a drink-now style than anything meant to age. I have learned over the years that winemakers can be pretty conservative about their wine’s age-ability assessments (especially Darryl, who seems to undercut everything); but this time I think he was right on the money with his assessment. Don’t take that to mean the wine has gone bad, it just has lost a lot of the freshness that made this wine so damn tasty a few years back. Today the first smell was a bit on the sulphury side, but that blew off in a minute of two. Next up the nose were some melon and apricot smells, but not of the fresh variety, and hints of floral began to peak out the more air that got in. The palate showed signs of floral, apple and over-ripe peach, but left a rather unpleasant aftertaste behind and the acidity seemed fairly flat too. After about two hours some acidity returned and the flavours blossomed a little more, but by then most people were onto red and had no use for a wine that didn’t wow from the start. My advice would be to decant this one and take your chance.

July 1, 2009

Southbrook Winery 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Lailey Vineyard

Found July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day! To celebrate I looked at a lot of different wines to pour into my glass - I even looked at a couple of wine from Washington State, but that seemed sacrilegious; so I went deep into my cellar, back 10 years, and discovered a bottle of Southbrook 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Lailey Vineyard. This is wine from back in the day when Lailey was still just growing grapes and Southbrook was still making wine in a barn in Richmond Hill.

You should have seen the thick paint like substance on the cork, surprising because I had this bottle standing up for at least three weeks before pulling the cork. I open it slowly but still manage to spray a few glasses and the counter with thick red (almost black) ooze. In the glass the colour is still very red, more blood red than crimson. Sediment is very fine and wispy in the glass, leaving patterns on the glass and when swirled they look like schools of fish swimming around near the bottom.

The nose still has hints of fruit and spice (black fruits and peppery spice) but there is other underlying smells: coffee grounds, black licorice, a touch of forest floor, dried tea leaves, and dried red fruit; there's also a spicy wood smell starting to develop (some 30 minutes in).

The palate also shows real signs of life here. Tannins have mellowed to a dull roar, though they are still there. The fruit is fading with flavours on the peppered and dried side. A touch of wood spice and dried leaves ... bit of tea leaf on the tongue, but there's a good replay of acidity and long finish that hints of vanilla-cinnamon wood with a bit of white pepper.

I could probably sit, sip and analyze this wine right up to the last drop. Suffice it to say that I am impressed with this wine; for a 10 year-old Cab it is very impressive and still has a few more years ahead of it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go enjoy what's left of Canada Day with this fantastic wine. Happy 142 Canada. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure ++