November 17, 2009

Vignoble Rancourt 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon

Found November 2009

Lionel Rancourt was one of those guys that made wine fun and made you feel welcome. The first time I happened upon his winery it was after 5 o'clock at night, I was leaving the Shaw festival, having just seen a play with my mother. Today I'm not sure what the play was but I sure remember Rancourt's winery. We were puttering along Hwy. 55 (Niagara Stone Road) and spied his sign, we made the right hand turn and then another to pull down the driveway, all the time wondering if the winery was still open. The door was locked and the sign on the door said they closed at 5. I was getting back into the car when I heard a voice, "wait ... I'm coming." I turned to see a little limping man hobbling down the stairs of a house across the drive. "You came all this way to see my winery," he said as he got closer, "the least I can do is give you a taste of what you came for." And with that we shook hands and he opened the winery door. That evening Lionel took me on a tour of his winery and of his wines - told me of his great plans for the future and his passion for the wine industry. Alas, many of Lionel's dreams never came to pass, he passed away suddenly a couple of Chirstmases ago, but I still remember that visit. Tonight, I was having dinner with mom and dad and found this bottle to Rancourt's 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon in my cellar; I brought it along to bring back the memories of that interesting evening, my mother still says "poor Mr. Rancourt" whenever she passes the winery or sees a bottle of his wine. We opened it to try. Yet again I must say alas when it come to Mr. Rancourt: the nose was pruney with celery and other veggie notes , and when given a little air the woodiness shone through. On the palate there was much of the same with woody and vegetal notes. Gone was the fruit. When decanted all that was left was wood: cedar planks and sawdust. This wine had crested the hill and was in its steady decline, but something tells me it happened within the last year, so this one is just barely trash, but trash none the less. Lost & Found Rating: Trash

November 14, 2009

Henry of Pelham 2005 Reserve Riesling

(Re-Tasted November 2009) ... Back to one of my favourite topics, the 2005 Rieslings and their development. I have quite a few bottles of this wine in my cellar (4 more to be exact) so I had really high hopes for it when I bought it ... and I have to say it is coming along nicely, though at first, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. The initial smell was very gassy, and when I say very gassy I mean it was like standing at the pump having just spilled gas on your pants. And then if you can imagine getting into the car with your pants on wet with car-go-juice then you'll figure out what it was like to smell this wine. It took about 15 minutes for that to dissipate, but once it did there was a very pronounced lime-mineral note that emerged. The petrol came screaming through on the tongue in much the same way as it did on the nose, being extremely domineering in the first few minutes, but then it quieted down and giving way to lime rind, mineral/stony nuances and with only hints of gasoline. By the time an hour had passed the wine was warm but quite drinkable ... maybe I should have opened and let sit out for a bit then put in the fridge, next time, and with four bottles to go there will definitely be a next time.

November 13, 2009

Vineland Estate Winery 2005 Semi-Dry Rielsing

(Re-Tasted November 2009) ... Pop went the cork! And with that another '05 Riesling was opened, I expected to be hit over the head with petrol smells, but this one didn't do that. Sure the aroma of petrol was present, but it was not heavy-handed as it has been in many of the '05 I have tried in the past couple of years; in fact, the most dominant smell was lemon, a very welcome smell in 2005 Rieslings. But this wine really shone in the mouth, here I found a lot of complexity and believe there is still more to come. There was lemon and lemon rind with hints of sweetness across the tongue. There was also some tangerine notes along with petrol hanging out on the finish ... the longer the wine sat open I found some mac apple emerge into mix with the lemon, tangerine and petrol. This wine is still has time to develop and is drinking very nicely right now.

November 9, 2009

Jackson-Triggs 2002 Proprietors' Grand Reserve Merlot

Found November 2009

It seems like it's been awhile since anybody had something nice to say about Jackson-Triggs, what with that Cellared in Canada issue blowing up in their face (not saying it was just them, but they did take the brunt of the blame). So I'm here to tell you is that when J-T puts their mind to it they can make some awesome VQA wines, like this Proprietors' Grand Reserve Merlot from 2002 ... after finding and tasting it Saturday night there's was little doubt in my mind as to why this bottle had a gold label adorning the outside.

Back when it was released this wine was a real beauty, one ripe for laying down and re-discovering in years to come; and why? The combination of a good growing season and plenty of barrel age (18 months in new French oak). So here we are, some 7 years from vintage date, and this wine is still going strong. Upon opening, I noticed the cork was in perfect condition, no seepage up the sides and the tip was as black as pitch. The initial smell was one of smokey green peppers and spice, while the taste was plenty spicy with black pepper on the palate and a hint of dried black currants lurking on the mid-palate ... but for the most part this wine was all smoky, spicy and peppery in the mouth.

Being the impatient sort that I am, I decided it was time to decant, so I pulled out my Vinturi (a great little by-the-glass decanting device perfect for when you're on the road and require the use of a decanter but have none available) and passed the wine through it. The sharp spice was toned down to a more manageable level on the tongue and the smoky aspect came through as extremely pleasant. The green pepper, that once lived on the nose, dissipated quietly into the background, while the acid and black pepper were pleasantly intensified ... now, with the wine more in tune with my palate's needs, it was time to sit and sip away the evening. As I did so, and about an hour later, there seemed to be some blackened fruit that showed up, more as an after thought than a main player - but it was welcomed to the party with open arms (or lips as the case may be).

This wine proves to me that when Jackson-Triggs focuses on 100% Ontario VQA wine there is no controversy, they make fantastic stuff. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

November 2, 2009

Thirteenth Street 'Reds' Again, Last Bottle

Click here to read the original reviews from
January 2006 - Re-taste January 2008

(Re-Tasted November 2009) ... After all these years I am still in a quandry about this wine, even more so now, especially in light of what is going on in the Ontario industry. Yes, I know, it is a Cellared in Canada wine made from Ontario Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and Zinfandel from California. Do I mollify myself by saying this is a one-off from the boys at 13th Street, who make incredible VQA wines - in fact I do, but what a one-off it is. No date adorns the bottle, hence I have no idea how old this wine is, but considering my first review is from January of 2006, then it must be at least 3 years old, but the boys at The Street don't have a "blending license" so it must be either a 2003 or a 2005, adding another 1 - 3 years to the bottle. So now that we have accomplished nothing how does this wine taste? Smells needed some coaxing with an aerator revealing some plum and spice with hints of pepper; the palate was still in the very drinkable range of its lifespan offering up plenty of spice and pepper with an array of black fruits that were just beginning to fade. So if you have some of this wine sitting on a shelf, now is the time to drink it. I have to say, reluctantly, this is a very good wine, it shows what kind of wines can be made in this category and that they are not all some form of cheap plonk.