December 29, 2010

Featherstone 2006 Old Vines Riesling

(Re-Tasted December 2010) ... Holy Hanna, is this a mouth puckering wine or what?  Obviously a rhetorical question.  Tonight we opened a 4 year old bottle of Featherstone's Old Vines Riesling, made from, at the time, 30 year old vines, some of the oldest in Niagara.  The nose doled out a citrus stoniness while the palate was big on lemon and mineral and nice balancing acidity. The finish reminded me of sucking on an apple core - there's flavour there but there are all the pits; but by no means is that to insinuate this wine is the pits, in fact it is it's polar opposite ... still delightful and a wonderful pairing with fish.

Aleksander Estate 2003 Riesling

Found December 2010

Now here is something unusual, or something that is becoming unusual, a wine that I have not previously reviewed that got lost in my cellar.  It used to be a more regular occurrence, which is why I started this blog in the first place, but as my record keeping got better it almost seemed redundant to have this site ... but thankfully it is still alive and well so I can tell you about one of my most recent finds.  While rejiggering my cellar I found a 7 year old bottle of Riesling from Aleksander Estate, located in the Lake Erie North Shore.  Since the winery started in 2005 this must be one of their very first efforts, and it is a decent effort at that.  Colour is golden with a nose hinting at mac apple with the merest hint of petrol.  The taste became a little more problematic, while the acidity was still good and the wine was aging nicely without faults, it seemed to be losing flavour, the petrol is faint-faint-faint on the tongue but other flavours don`t seem to be driving this wine at all, it has become `just a white wine, it`s simple yet sippable with no distinguishing characteristics on the palate. Lost & Found Rating:  Minor Treasure

December 28, 2010

Maleta Estate Winery 2005 Cabernets

(Re-Tasted December 2010) ... Well I was right 3 years ago when I predicted this would be a blockbuster of a wine to lie down and that it would need 2-3 years of bottle age to mellow; ha-za for me.  A blend of the obvious Cabernets:  Sauvignon and Franc, though I can not seem to find a percentage in any of the records I have of this wine (let me check one more place) ... well digging a little deeper shows that it might be a titch Franc heavy (by about 6%).  This is truly one of the best re-tasted reds I have tried because it shows so little signs of aging, the fruit is big and in-your-face, on the nose it has lovely black fruit, some definite black cherry and a delectable chocolate raspberry smell develops with some time open.  The taste is also very fruit forward: cassis, blackberry, black cherry with hints of tobacco notes in the background.  Tannins are smoothing but are still relevant and most definitely there. This wine could still use a few more years without much degradation, it'll peak in the next few years but is delicious to drink right now, especially with some kind of meat or pasta dish.

December 23, 2010

Thirty Bench Winemakers 2005 Red

(Re-Tasted December 2010) ... There are those I am sure who question my choice of pairing, me being one of them, but I enjoy seeing what might or might not go with what, and I invite everyone to experiment with the foods they eat and the wines they drink (more on that in a minute).  Tonight I opened a bottle of 2005 Thirty Bench Red, a primarily Cabernet Franc blend (65%) from the very decent vintage of 2005 (compared to what has come after in Ontario: 2007 and 2010 - "very decent" is an apt description to this year).  The nose was very shy upon opening and stayed that way for the better part of an hour, mostly everything just smelled smokey.  The palate was tucked away inside itself too ... this just required some time and I gave it some, but I refrained from pulling out the decanter, instead I allowed it to do it on its own in glass and bottle.  About an hour later the nose started to develop blackberry, black raspberry and that smoke turned more tobacco-ish.  The palate took a bit longer and between the one and two hour mark it really began to blossom.  Spicy black fruit with a touch of dried tobacco leaf, the smokiness remained and there was also some good drying tannins that started to come about.  

If I had to do it over I think I would have decanted, but it was nice to see the evolution of this wine on its own.  Still a lovely wine and with a few years left, though spice dominates the fruit and will probably continue to do so as it ages - wait too long and you'll just have a spicy tannic mess ... 3-4 years max.  As for the food I finally paired it with: maple-soy salmon, both food and wine held up well to each other.


December 6, 2010

Henry of Pelham 2003 Reserve Riesling

Found December 2010

Well, I combed through my records and could find nothing about me having tried this bottle before.  I have one bottle in my collection and that is all, so I must have been saving it for a special occasion and that occasion was tonight.  After a long weekend and long day we decided to relax and open something interesting, and what could be more interesting than a seven year old bottle of Riesling.  The nose was shy at first, we barely got any smell and even the flavour was a little muted.  We set our glasses aside and waited 15 minutes ... what a difference:  petrol mixed with green apple and lime skin.  The palate was similar yet different, the petrol wasn't apparent it gave up completely to the green apple, while the lime gave way to more lemony-citrus ... good acidity balanced everything nicely and there was a lovely mouth-coating lingering finish.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

December 5, 2010

Jackson Triggs 2004 Late Harvest Riesling


(Re-Tasted December 2010) ... Had some friends visit on the weekend, some non-wine-drinking American friends; obviously they were closer to my wife than they were to me.  The question is how do you get non-wine drinkers interested in wine.  I poured a few different wines on the Saturday night to very little affirmative reaction, until I poured this six year old sweetie from Jackson-Triggs, I turned my head to see if this one was being enjoyed and found an empty glass staring back at me, hurray.  I was not surprised to see the glass empty because this was a very tasty older Late Harvest Riesling with a wonderful blend of apricot, baked apple, along with honeyed peach and pear notes.  The colour was a pretty golden yellow and hints of petrol crept up the nose, but nothing could deter one from those other wonderful flavours taking over the tongue and winning you over.  Not sure how much time this bottle has left, I would say a year, maybe two - but it is a delicious mature sweetie right now, so if you have some it would be a perfect pour for the season we find ourselves in, especially when those non-wine drinking Americans come to visit.

December 2, 2010

Jackson Triggs Proprietors' Grand Reserve 2006 White Meritage


(Re-Tasted December 2010) ... The question here is:  when does a White Meritage get too old?  Now granted this is only 4 years from vintage date, but it's still a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (87%), which is considered a "drink now" kinda wine and Semillon (13%), a grape (at the time) still relatively new to the Ontario climate.  

The first thing I noticed about this wine is the colour, more golden then yellow; as white wines get older they tend to darken, where as red wines lighten.  The nose was a mish-mash of aromas: Bartlett pear, over-ripe pineapple, a slight hint of grassiness, honey notes and some strange ash-like smells too, that weren't off-putting just funny to be found there.  Thankfully about 20-25 minutes later there was a really nice smell of white grapefruit that started to emerge.  The palate was hit and miss with some of that over-ripe pineapple coming out, grass and peach pit notes.  It also seemed that the acidity was playing possum, sometimes it was there and in subsequent sips it was not.  Strange wine after all this time, but I still managed to finish the glass, and enjoyed it.

November 26, 2010

Coyote's Run 2005 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted November 2009) ... There are those who swear by screw cap wines and other who swear at them - I am one who is all for the screw cap as long as the results are good after some aging occurs, because I like to age and re-taste my wines.  So if you give me a moment I am going to check out what I said back in May 2007 about this wine.

Seems that back then I was talking about a lot of black fruit coming thru on this one, but some 5 years from vintage date it looks like a lot of that fruit has dropped out and instead is giving off aromas of green pepper, red current and graphite.  The palate also has plenty of green pepper, regular black pepper and a lot of non-descript flavours, yet is soft and smooth with a good long finish.  The wine isn't great, nor is it unpleasant, it's perfectly suitable to drink and enjoy, just not something you would stand up and take notice of.  In the end I give this wine a pass because it is drinkable, and after all isn't that what we look for in our wines.

November 15, 2010

Lakeview Cellars 2005 Merlot


(Re-Tasted November 2010) ... I don't want to waste too much of your time reading this because to much time was wasted already on this bottle.  I wasted too much time trying to drink it and come up with something nice to say about it (I really can't), and I hope Lakeview wasted a whole bunch of sleepless hours trying to decide on the closer of this wine, because they really ruined a perfectly good bottle of wine with what they chose.  I took this over to a friend's house to watch a little Monday Night Football, eat some wings and, in general, have a good evening.  One of the attendees is a big fan of Ontario wine so I was looking forward to sharing it with him.  Off came the capsule and staring at me was a plastic cork.  But can't let that influence you because it's what's in the bottle that counts.  At first there was a big smell of black cherry and I breathed a sigh of relief ... but it took only 10 minutes before the wine was undrinkable, oxidized, woody and sour.  My Ontario-fan friend said, "it tastes like it's been in a decanter for about an hour too long."  I couldn't have put it better myself.  I have two more bottle of this wine which I will try to locate and taste to see if the same thing occurs with each.


November 7, 2010

Fielding Estate Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc

Found November 2010

Five years on and this wine still has so much stuffing left in it, not surprising considering 2005 was a very good year here in Ontario.  The nose is spicy and peppery with dark fruit and cassis aromas.  Flavours are all over the map starting with biting tannins, pepper, blackberry, cassis and sharp acidity.  This wine has some great drinkability when enough air is put through it, plus it has an enjoyably long finish.  There's lots of life left in the bottle and it's worth keeping it in the cellar a few more years to let those tannins mellow and that fruit start to emerge more fully.  Time will tell if it balances out, but I have faith in this one.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

October 25, 2010

Inniskillin 2004 Montague Vineyard Merlot


(Re-Tasted October 2010) ... When you look at a bottle of 2004 Ontario red you secretly hope you haven't waiting too long to drink it.  This one's 6 years from vintage date, and a rather weak vintage at that, but this is a wine made by one of the old guard of Ontario winemaking ... it is also a single vineyard offering grown on the Montague vineyard, and finally, it's Merlot, a grape that does well in the big O and usually needs a few years to start showing well even in the best of years.  With this pedigree and knowledge I opened this wine with a bit of enthusiasm.  Smells were almost non-existent, maybe some dried and woody aromas started to emerge some 30 minutes after opening, but nothing really got traction in the aromas department.  Tastes were dried dark fruit, black licorice, wood and still with some nice spice character.  After 2 hours of being open it had gone more wood than fruit; but the interim was quite a pleasant experience.

October 24, 2010

Cave Spring Cellars 2005 Dry Riesling

Found October 2010

This wine has turned simple over the past 5 years, but simple in a good way.  The nose shows a heavy dose of petrol with a backing of lime rind ... while the palate is far more inviting.  The petrol has lessened from what the nose intoned it had the potential to be; there's still that lime edge, but with a pleasing lingering finish.  2005 wasn't the best vintage for Riesling (the heat was not the kind of weather Riesling likes) - but this wine was made by one of Ontario's masters of the variety and it shows.  nOt sure how much longer this will hold and be pleasant, so if you have some, drink up soon.  Lost & Found Rating: Treasure


October 12, 2010

Jackson Triggs 2001 Proprietors’ Reserve Pinot Noir

Found October 2010

Whoa Nelly, I wish I had something good to say about this wine upfront – the smell is absolutely horrible, no fruit with lots and lots of stink.  On the backend, we’ll call that the taste, it’s earthy and woody with no signs of fruit, so there is little in the way of a pleasant taste here … the good news is that what is here is smooth and it tastes much better than the smell indicates, though that is not saying much.  Interesting colour to the wine, it is a blood orange hue.  Sorry to say this one did not stand the test of time.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

October 11, 2010

Chateau des Charmes 2001 Estate Bottled Pinot Noir - Add Two More Years


(Re-Tasted - again - October 2010) ... On the back of this bottle I had written, "Hold Two Years: 12/05"; so either I was telling myself to drink it in December of 2005 or I lay it down in December of '05 and was saying I should drink by December 2007 - either way I missed the deadline ... both time.  I opened this bottle for Thanksgiving (the Canadian version), we weren't having a traditional turkey dinner, instead I had whipped up a casserole using ground turkey, lentils and brown rice (actually tasted much better than it sounds) ... but I figured a Pinot Noir would make it feel more traditional than it was.  I also had a bit of a scare when I cut two fingers chopping onions (the folks on the Food Network make it look so easy) ... so I really needed a drink once everything was in the oven.  My previous foray with this wine, in April 2008, was not a good one - but I did not know that when I opened this bottle.  I pulled out a Schott Zwiesel Pinot Noir glass and poured the wine in.  The cork broke during the opening and it was a little on the moist side about 3/4 of the way up, but otherwise everything looked in good condition.  The wine itself showed little sign of bricking, or browning, and the smells coming off it were pleasant enough, if slightly non-existent.  The best way to describe the nose is what it settled into 20 minutes after opening, wooden-raspberries, up until then the wine was a little shy, giving away little at far as aromas go.  Taste-wise it remained fairly closed through the entire hour and a half it was in the glass, lots of tannins and wood spice, fruit barely perceptible, if at all there.  But it was not unpleasant to drink, in fact it seemed a nice pairing with the turkey-lentil casserole, and who knows maybe the wine needs even more time to come around - it has definitely improved since April 2008 when I could barely stomach it.

September 13, 2010

Stoney Ridge 2005 Proprietor`s Reserve Brut Sparkling Wine

(Re-Tasted September 2010) ... I first tried this bubbly in March or April of 2007 and then again at the Cuvee ``experts tasting`` 2 years ago.  The first time I tried the wine I thought it was good, the second time I thought it was very good and just the other day (my third go around with a bottle of this bubbly) I thought it was excellent.  This wine is just getting better with age, and that`s a good thing for those who were wise enough to have bought a few bottles and have let them rest awhile.  I opened this for a friend`s birthday and used some new Champagne glasses I got as a wedding present (it`s great when people know just what to get you).  The bubbles were persistent and playful - the aromas were biscuity, yeasty, bready and and slightly butterscotched.  The bubbles played on the tongue with dry lemon, apple and a slight toffee note danced their way through the mouth.  I have one bottle left and I am looking forward to opening it ... the big question is when ...

August 26, 2010

Tawse Winery 2006 Echos Red

(Re-Tasted August 2010) ... It's the day after the trying, and I just finished reading my previous review of this wine and can really see/taste the change in this wine over the past 3 years.  If you would like to refresh yourself with what I said previously click on the link above, I'll wait while you check it out.

Today I opened a bottle and was surprised at the incredible aromatics of the wine, lovely and red fruited - the taste was so-so, but what can I expect from a wine trapped for 3 years in bottle - so I let it breathe a little more, swirled it some more and let it sit while I cooked my dinner (BBQ pulled chicken).  When I finally sat down about half an hour later the wine told a different story.  The aromatics were still there with raspberry and licorice along with some vanilla wood backing it up.  The taste was much better after the initial sip:  sour cherry, cranberry (lots of sourish red fruit throughout) with firm acidity, but it paired well with the BBQ chicken and the sauce I poured over top.  The wine's a little lean but still good with food - the back label said it is a full-bodied wine, but I wouldn't go that far, medium-bodied at this point, at best.  Time to drink it up now and over the next 2-3 years.

August 4, 2010

Vineland Estates 2005 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted August 2010) ... I have a confession to make and I feel bad that I have to admit this to you, but I feel we are friends and that I can share this with you:  I stole this wine from Vineland Estates, I hope winemaker Brian Schmidt can forgive me.  

Okay, I didn't really steal this bottle of wine, but drinking it tonight I sure feel like I did ... I paid a piddly $12.95 for this bottle, but it tastes like a wine twice its price and it will seem even better in years to come.  This was one of those "wine bargains" you hear talk about, a wine that delivers beyond its price point.  This is a beauty of a Cabernet Franc with smoky black fruit, spiced dried cherry tobacco and much more, and what's more this one is far from being past its prime - there's lots of life left in the bottle.  5 years for a $12.95 wine, do you really expect that kind of longevity?  Not really.  10 years?  That would be amazing, and I think it's very doable here, another 5 years wouldn't put too much of a ding n the taste.  It will be nice to test this theory in a few years, and looking in my cellar I see I will be able to do just that.  

Now I realize that I didn't just steal this bottle, I committed an act of grand theft larceny; I hope the folks at Vineland don't send the cops to my door after reading this - but if they do I hope the constables that shows up like wine, we can share a bottle before they haul me away.

August 2, 2010

Henry of Pelham 2005 Cabernet Franc


(Re-Tasted August 2010) ... I've been eyeing up this wine for about a month now, trying to decide the exact time to give it a try, would I be too early?  Too late?  Or would I be in the sweet spot?  
I re-read my original tasting note about this wine and noticed that a straight Franc is a rarity in the world of Henry of Pelham, so this bottle is to be cherished.  But it's not touchy-feely time; now is the time to pop the cork and give it a go.  My first sniff was that of spice and pepper, very welcoming.  A few swirls of the wine and some herbs come to the fore, like Italian seasoning, then a smokey tobacco note, then some dried cranberry (I knew  there had to be some fruit in there somewhere).  The taste is smokey-red fruit in nature, with some dried tobacco leaves, spice and white pepper ... and that was just in the first 10 minutes.

The next ten offered up more excitement. Sweet vanilla-cherry-tobacco caressed the nose, while the palate showed black cherry with a spiced nuance ... nice to see that fruit has finally decided to show itself, and very nicely I might add.  Tannins are soft and supple and each sip offers up more and more flavour and enjoyment.  If you bought a few of these I would suggest trying one now, as this wine has really started come into its own (not that it wasn't good from the get go, but it's gotten better);  I would also leave a bottle lying down for another couple of years as I can see this one getting even better by 2012-2014.  Enjoy ... I know I'm going to.

July 18, 2010

Willow Springs Winery 2003 Vidal

Found July 2010

Lazy (and hot) Sunday afternoon ... the call for lunch is a tuna sandwich ... now I have to find a white wine (too heavy for red with all this heat, besides dinner is a steak so red is already forecasted for later).  I find this Vidal in one of my wine fridges, for all I remember it may have been there since 2003.  Nose is slightly honeyed with some peach and apple puree.  Teeth-chillingly cold, so for now it is okay, it tastes like booze in white wine; we'll have to give it some time to warm up and develop some flavours.

20 minutes have passed and now we are starting to see what was under that cold exterior ... and in truth this is not bad at all.  There is some slightly oxidized apple here, with a hint of pear, a drop of lemon and enough acidity left to hold it all together.  It's a wine I keep sipping on wondering when the other shoe is going to drop and I won't want to drink it anymore, but I keep on sipping away.  There's even a nice mid-length finish of apple peel.  I can't complain too much about this wine, it is doing its job on a hot July afternoon, plus it has me taking more and more sips trying to figure it out - what more can I want.  I am prepare to make the call on this Willow Springs 2003 Vidal.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

July 7, 2010

Crown Bench Estates 2002 Beamsville Bench Summertime Merlot

Found July 2010

One bad wine deserves another.  This is my second wine tonight, as I am trying a few wines from the '02 vintage, that strike me as 'need to try now'.  I guess I have to admit I have not picked the best wines to give this a go with, but I have to open each and every bottle in its turn (and as i am packing up there are certain wines that strike me as either drink now or ditch wines).  Tonight this bottle had its turn and in truth I wish I had left it lost.  This wine had sweet fruit at some point in its life, though I am not sure whether it was designed as an off-dry red or just a juicy sweet thing - the name suggests an off-dry red to chill and enjoy in the summertime, like maybe the summer of 2003. This wine is now 8 years from vintage date and the smell is faintly sweet, yet with oxidative notes.  The cork was like a sponge, the corkscrew sunk deep and quick and actually pushed the cork deeper into the bottle.  Once in, the cork did not take any effort to come out, it slipped out without the use of the lever on the corkscrew, just a simple pull up and out.  This wine tasted like a Manechevitz sacramental wine that had gone bad - odd and unappealing.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash


Cilento 2002 Pinot Noir Gamay

Found July 2010

I admit that right from the get go I had little hope that this wine survived all these years gone by - the grape varieties alone told me I might be dealing with an over the hill wine here.  Unwrap the capsule and there's a plastic cork staring back at me, strike two.  And if those two didn't give me pause, the colour should have, it made me wince as I saw it hit the glass as I saw dirty brown cascade my crystal vessel of choice.  But here is where I have to do my job, I dedicated myself to bring you the good, the bad and the ugly in this column, and by gone it I'm gonna do it, after all I had bought this wine at some point in my life, I must have liked it at some point.  I even had the wherewithal to slip it into my wine cellar ... where I obviously forgot about it, until today.  The smell was as unappealing as the colour and the taste, well let's just say I would have been better off using this one for salad dressing.  The wine was prunish and oxidized, there were hints of some old fruit here but those hints were few and far between.  What's more, I could not bring myself to swallow a full sip - the little I choked down was enough.  This wine is, was and always shall be from this day forward DOA ... In truth, I should have popped the cork a week after I bought it.  I will be apologizing to myself and my taste buds later.   Lost & Found Rating:  Trash.


July 3, 2010

Lailey Vineyard 2005 Zweigelt

(Re-Tasted July 2010) ... I’m not sure I can add much to this review except to say “yum”.  Did some painting today and went to the Lailey Barrel Burning BBQ mid-afternoon, when I got home more painting and then decided I had had enough so went in search of something to drink – this Lailey Zweigelt jumped out at me as something interesting to have.  Zweigelt is a grape you see a lot in Austria, but here in Canada it isn’t as plentiful, it’s light and fruity and made properly a really great quaffing wine.  2005 was a very good red vintage here in Ontario and this wine shows just how good the vintage was.  Tasty red berries, mainly cherries, with good acidity to keep the sweet fruit in balance – the more I sip on it the more in love with this wine I get – it hits the spot and is still a wine very much worth drinking, “with summer barbeque” as the label says, or on its own.  If you have some I would say drink now or hold another couple of years.


May 31, 2010

Fielding 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon


(Re-Tasted May 2010) ... Well, well, well ... tonight I hold in my hand a wine that my original review says hold for 2-3 years, at which point the wine should be hitting it's peak - I don't think I am far off here.  When first opened there was some pretty aggressive tannins on the back palate thru to the finish, but as I get deeper into this wine, and it has had a chance to air some, there is definitely a real change for the better happening.  The nose has some blackberry and licorice, while the palate is showing rich black fruit, vanilla and nice spice with a finish that has a good deal of tannins backing it up.  I want to say hold it for another 2 years and see what happens - I'm even going to put my money where my mouth is on this one, I see I have 2 bottles remaining, one is going down for an extended sleep of another 3 or so years ... I guess we'll see what happens when it wakes up; but right now I am enjoying this wine so I gotta go.  Cheers.


May 25, 2010

Chateau des Charmes 2002 Estate Cabernet Merlot

(Re-Tasted May 2010) ... Those of you who have read my blogs and newsletters from the beginning know that I was quite taken with the 1999 Cabernet Merlot from the Chateau - it was one of my first real "Holy Sh*t" moments with aged Ontario wine ... the kicker here is, I tried the wine when it was already 5 years old.  I was able to put my hands on half a dozen bottles and have drunk them sparingly over the years relishing in the subtlety and nuances of an ageing wine (I have one bottle left).

When the 2002 came out, a fabulous Ontario vintage, I snatched up quite a few Estate Cabernet Merlots.  Tonight I once again was looking forward to re-experience an aged Charmes wine ... but ever 8 years on you'd be hard pressed to distinguish this from a younger version.  This is one big brawny bottle of booze.  Upon opening there's plenty of tannins along with dark chocolate that is very appealing; but there's also mucho fruit behind all that muscle along with cinnamon, spice and vanilla oak.

45 minutes later the wine has finally toned down so that other smells and tastes are distinguishable - it's smoky with licorice, lots of spice and still with the big tannins - at the point there's more barrel tones then fruit - the sweet spot for this wine is about the 25 minute mark after opening when things seem to meld together just right.

May 20, 2010

Viewpointe Estate Winery 2005 Riesling

(Re-Tasted May 20) ... Tonight it was time to pull out an 'old' Riesling; now truthfully 5 years isn't that old for a Riesling but when it's from a hot vintage like 2005, which seem to have the tendency to prematurely age, you figure your Riesling is going to be old tasting.  But this is a really beauty at 5 years of age.  The nose is lemon with a touch of petrol and Bartlett pear.  The palate has apple and pear with a nice smooth sweetness through the mouth - very sippable and very enjoyable on this very summer-like day.

May 6, 2010

Stoney Ridge 2004 Founder's Signature Collection Meritage


(Re-Tasted May 2010) ... The first sniff of this wine did not give me very much faith that I would be consuming a glass, let alone a sip or two - but sometimes you just have to dive in and give it a try.  The first smell of this wine was like smell a mild turpentine or paint thinner ... not something I really wanted to put in my mouth ... but then I gave it a few more swirls and let it rest on my desk while I did a few other things.  Then I came back to it about 20 minutes later.  The turpentine smell had faded and it was now a sweet dried fruit smell, imagine sticking your nose into a bag of raisins and cranberries, maybe even some prunes, and snorting deeply and you would have the smell of this particular glass of wine.  Not everybody's cup of tea.  Flavours should give one pause also.  Not that fresh lively fruit that has become all the rage, this one is more dried fruit, but there is a sweet element that is rather pleasing, but there is a fine line here - give the wine too much air and the taste is pruney (okay if you like prunes I guess), too little and it like sucking on wet tobacco leaves, but a few quick suck-ins of air and a swish about the mouth brings out sweet dried cherries and a touch of vanilla-cinnamon along with some tobacco notes ... in this case, the complete package is better than the sum of its parts.  

I don't recommend holding onto this wine much longer (especially if you like a lot of fruit in your wine), but it is a very interesting wine to drink now and one I would not shy away from if offered again.  I have one bottle left, might be interesting to take this week and see if those at the Artevino judging agree.

May 2, 2010

Two Wines (2005 Rieslings), Two Wineries - One Night

(Re-Tasted April 2010) ... A lazy Sunday afternoon just calls for white wine, and today I yanked out two Rieslings to taste again - both from the hot 2005 vintage, a year that has shown a propensity for premature petrol aromas and flavours on the wines.  But these two are from long time and top producers in Ontario, would they suffer the same fate?  As it turned out both these wines had just the right amount of gas, were delicious, and each in its own way.

The Trius Dry Riesling was first on the list of bottles to be opened, it showed a wealth of fruit with apples and limes taking centre stage, there was just a hint of petrol on the nose and palate, just the right amount for the age of the wine.  There was also good clean acidity and a medium length finish - this wine was still holding well and probably will for a few more years.

The Jackson-Triggs single vineyard Delaine was also very nice and showed classic signs of a Riesling of this age.  The smell was quite different from the Trius, the nose had apricots, lime and wildflower honey notes, while the palate showed apples, apricots and lime.  Good acidity helped this one through to its medium length finish with just the merest hint of petrol on the final swallow.  

Two delicious Riesling that are still very much alive and well and hopefully living in your cellar - I know I still have a bottle of each so we'll have to revisit them in a few years.

April 30, 2010

Tawse Winery 2004 Dry Riesling


(Re-Tasted April 2010) ... I expected a heck of a lot more from this wine, but instead this is what I got:  First, 2004 would have been a decent vintage for Riesling (Konrad Ejbich in his book about Ontario wine gave Riesling an 82 with "more aging needed") - not too hot, not too cold, it was a decent vintage.  My own review from January 2007 speaks of pineapple, mango, mineral and melon, a potential for improvement in the bottle and I concluded by saying "this wine's best years are still ahead":  I gave it 2-5 plus years.  Well that educated guess proved to be a lesson in humility because I was way off.  This dry Riesling is now almost totally unpalatable: petrol and apple are prominent upon opening (mostly petrol) with a massive amount of palate awakening acidity ... give it 20 minutes and now it's all acid and petrol with the fruit fading fast, it never recovers, it never gets better.  I remember hearing a story about this wine - it was suppose to have a touch of sweetness left behind, but instead it was fermented bone dry and had sweetness added back to it.  This science experiment was not a good moment in Tawse's short but illustrious history.  Instead of telling you this wine's best days lay ahead I should have said that Tawse's best days were ahead, because this piece of their history could have an only be improved upon - and it has been with a change of winemakers and production practices.  On the Yuk vs. Yum scale I think you know where I sit on this one - too bad, because I did have high hopes, the wine should have aged much better had it been made right.

Had this wine as aperitif at a family dinner - 
to see what 1970 Bordeaux we had with the main click here

April 26, 2010

Lailey Vineyard 2007 Gamay-Zweigelt

(Re-Tasted April 2010) ... While I sang the praises of this wine in my previous review I have to be honest, I never once pulled this wine out last year for BBQ season.  Instead, a little over a year from my initial review, I have pulled a bottle out to give it another taste.  I wanted something simple yet enjoyable this evening and I got exactly what I bargained for.  The fruit is red, the spice has become herbal and both mingle in the mouth to give a nice medium length finish.  This is one easy drinking red that you could easily chill and enjoy on the patio this summer - and this time I might even take my own advice.  No BBQ tonight, instead I had a simple beef stew and all went well, before, during and after dinner.

April 25, 2010

Angels Gate 2005 Single Vineyard Gewurztraminer

(Re-Tasted April 2010) ... I have heard it said by many people, "Gewurztraminer does not age," and yet when I inventory wine cellars I find bottles of German, Alsatian or Austrian Gewurzt, some as old as ten years, and their owners swear they are better now than the day they bought them.  I my mind this could only mean one thing, I had to put this theory to the test: find out definitively whether Gewurztraminer will age or not.  Now, one bottle does not a test make, but you have to start somewhere.

My first comment / observation, upon removing the capsule on this bottle was one of dismay, under the skirt was a plastic cork.  That just signals to me that the winery never expected anyone to age their wine.  Plastic cork is just the worst closure for aging, period; I think I would prefer a gasoline soaked rag to a plastic cork - but that's just one man' opinion.  So, was the wine affected by this nasty abomination?  My answer is an unequivocal, I don't know - I need to do more testing on aged Gewurztraminer, but I can almost guarantee that it didn't help.  The initial smell was melon (cantaloupe) and apple with some floral and sweet over-ripe banana (or even banana chip) aromas; flavours followed pretty much along the lines of what the nose suggested, more apple than melon, more banana than floral, but all components were there.  What I can tell you is that there was a definitive lack of acidity.  It was a drinkable for sure, but the sweetness was more present then the acidity, which made it a little tough to swallow in any great quantity - good thing I had people to share the bottle with.

April 14, 2010

Ridgepoint Wines 2004 Meritage

(Re-Tasted April 2010) ... I opened this wine with some trepidation - not sure why, but the year two-thousand-four holds a certain amount of dread for me ... something in my psyche that makes me think twice, except when I am opening a Riesling.  Thankfully, my dread of the vintage was ill-placed after sipping and sipping this wine, as it proved to be a real winner (still).  The nose stayed pretty much constant trhough my hour-and-a-half tasting of it, but the palate swung wildly to and fro.  At first sniff the nose was a little woody and a touch herbaeous (grassy), with a hint of fruit lingering in the background.

The taste was all over the map and yet proved to be very appealing at all stops along the way.  At first it was sour cranberry and woodsy with sourish tannins and ballsy acidity, which really took over and became apparent on the finish; thankfully, some fruit did play a part at the end with cranberry and sour cherry coming along to linger in the mouth.

Twenty minutes on and the nose is getting more woodsy with ever passing minute, but the palate has begun to smooth out and develop woodsy-cherry and vanilla-spice.  Another 20-minutes pass and the cherry-wood  turns to a soft green pepper, while the palate is still fairly smooth with only hints of green pepper beginning to emerge there too.  This wine is about a year or two passed its "peak", but it's still quite drinkable and a good example of a nice middle aged wine (6 years from Vintage date) from a so-so year.

March 18, 2010

Inniskillin 2004 Brae Burn Vineyard Shiraz


(Re-Tasted March 2010) ... Still in a Syrah / Shiraz mood and still wanting to go Ontario I looked further into my cellar inventory and found this Inniskillin 2004 version.  It's a single vineyard wine from the Brae Burn vineyard, from a year that is thought to be pretty dodgy.  Pouring the wine into the glass I noticed that it was still pretty red in colour with little signs of its age.  The nose gave little in the way of positive smells but the palate still had elements of spice and cassis.  The finish is where things got interesting, it was kind of a sour-butterscotch seasoned with white pepper, sounds odd and not very appealing but in a strange way it was quite drinkable and enjoyable.  Then there was the lingering finish which dropped the butterscotch note and left behind the pepper and some wood characteristics.  For the record, decanting striped this wine of any flavour or character so I poured straight from the bottle.


Peninsula Ridge 2005 Syrah

(Re-Tasted March 2010) ... I, in general, find winemakers to be a conservative lot when discussing the longevity potential of their wines.  I remember Jean-Pierre Colas telling us that he expected this to be a 2-year lived wine and that was about it.  The pedigree of the wine should have deemed it to last longer:  2005 was a good growing season and an experienced winemaker - should be enough to gain at least another year or two ... and it was - it was the 5 years that killed it.

Recently I was asked to try the 2007 version of the Reserve Syrah being released by Peninsula Ridge, and that reminded me that I still had a bottle of the 2005 edition (though not the reserve).  So tonight I cracked it open to give it a go, wanting to see if Jean-Pierre was wrong in his assessment.  The last time I tried this wine was back in January of 2008, it took some time to open, and needed to be decanted, and it finally did revealing a nice raspberry earthiness.  Today I was not that lucky.  The nose started out with lots of green pepper with a faint flutter of raspberry in the background and then things turned south quickly, the smell became very paint thinner-like.  Remembering the need to decant I did ... though it did little to help the wine, it brought out a little more of the fruit and dulled the paint thinner aspect, but it still was hard on the palate and the pleasure of the fruit was short-lived itself.  This wine needed a lot of work to make it drinkable (15 minutes of shaking and stirring the decanter) and I am not sure most people would have worked this hard to try and get a drinkable wine out of it.  In the end I came to the conclusion that it was not a horrible wine, it just wasn't very good anymore.  If this were the last bottle in my house and the stores were all closed I could have drunk this wine, but since I have other stuff to chose from it did not make the cut.  Turns out Jean-Pierre was right, though he was off by at least a year.  I moved on to another wine.

March 5, 2010

Flat Rock Cellars 2005 Riesling

(Re-Tasted March 2010) ... Even when on the road I carry my own glasses, I also occasionally carry my own wine. Take for example right now:  I am on a train back to Toronto, I am carrying two Californian, a Spanish and an Australian - if this train breaks down I am ready for the long haul.  That's why in a La Quinta Hotel in Calhoun, Georgia, I'm sipping away on a 2005 Flat Rock Cellars Riesling.  It's not the kind of summer weather you expect when you thing of Georgia, in fact it's pretty chilly in the state this time of year.  Now I'm a Canadian, so that means I am ready to throw on some shorts in this 64F (12C) degree weather, but others are dressed as we would at home for below zero temps.  In the hotel, I popped this bottle of Flat Rock Riesling into a garbage can of ice and waited an hour or so for it to chill.  I then brought out my traveling Schott Zwiesel glasses and I was ready, all I needed was a balcony to sit on to enjoy, unfortunately there was not to be found.  The nose didn't seem to want to give much up in the way of smells revealing only lemon rind and hints of petrol. The palate was willing to show a little more: petrol, lemon curd, a touch sour, a bit of tartness and a decent amount of acidity.  This was once voted as the best white wine in Canada, it didn't exactly live up to that rating today ... but it just goes to show that there is so many factors at plays when tasting wine: it had been a long day on the road (13 hours) and we were quite tired; the wine was not (tired), but I think we were too tired to appreciate and enjoy it. Though it was nice to have a taste of home so far from it.

March 4, 2010

Thirty Bench Winemakers 2005 Riesling

(Re-Tasted March 2010) ... When it is perceived that Riesling is all you do then you'd better do it really really well.  Now I know that Thirty Bench makes more than just Riesling, but every year they put out four Rieslings, three vineyard specific versions (Steel, Wood and Triangle) and the other a blend of those three.  They've gotten so good at it that most people consider them a Riesling producer above any other grape variety.  Now those of you who follow this sporadic column know that I have been talking about the premature petrol in hot vintage Rieslings, namely 2005 (I have a feeling 2007 will follow in '05s footsteps).  I found that this wine suffered from it too, but surprisingly, not to the extent of some others and, for the most part, primarily on the nose.  Smells were very petrol and peach pit -esque, but the palate delivered lemon-limey-ness and green apple acidity.  It certainly wasn't fresh, it had aged Riesling notes all over it, but it wasn't as loaded with gas as many other 2005 have been apt to be.

February 22, 2010

Jackson-Triggs 2004 Proprietors' Reserve Meritage

(Re-Tasted February 2010) ... I'm not one to mince words and when it comes to plastic corks I have a real problem holding my tongue.  The guy who invented plastic corks should be taken out back and shot.  He/she has done wine no favours at all, in fact I think he single-handedly ruined a few vintages of good wine.  The other thing that drives me crazy, is when I peel back the capsule of a bottle of wine and find a piece of plastic staring back at me - the immediate thought that runs through my head is "I have been waiting x-number of years to open this bottle and now I have to worry that it has oxidized because I had no idea it was sealed with a plastic cork" - it's infuriating.
So here I am tonight with a bottle of Jackson-Triggs 2004 Meritage and plastic is what I see ... I am already predisposed to be slightly pissed off, but I push on.  The smells emanating from the glass are those of raspberry, licorice and a slightly sherried note; and with the passage of time it does not seem to be getting any better.  Taste-wise, at first there was a vanilla-caramel note surrounded by dried red fruits; alas that does not last long and the wine seems to be wilting quickly in the glass, becoming more dried and lackluster.

By the second glass fruit is gone and the smell is fishy and funky with the merest hint of dried black fruit and cedary notes.  Another 15 minutes past and I could have sworn I was drinking bilge water and that's too bad because this was a beauty in its prime.  Has it's day past?  That is a tough question, find one that wasn't sealed with plastic, or a plastic cork which has held it's seal and I think this one is ripe for the drinking - but the closure has helped age the wine faster, blast you plastic cork I still have two bottles in my collection.

February 7, 2010

Thirty-Bench Winemakers 2006 Small Lot Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted February 2010) ... 2006 was not a great year for Ontario reds, in fact it was pretty lean picking. That siad, this Cabernet Franc was probably one of the best reds I tried that year: loaded with concentration and fruit. Now four years from vintage date I must say it's holding up quite well. The nose has maintained a fari amount of freshness of fruit, showing primarily black raspberry, with some secondary aromas of cocoa powder and chocolate. There also seems to be an alcohol note creeping into the mix, though it isn't as prevalent as to take away from the enjoyment of the wine. Taste-wise it's still very tasty: black raspberry, cherry-tobacco and tannin-rich blackberries. Still very nice. If you have some in your cellar consider drinking this wine over the next 2-3 years for optimum flavours.

Lailey Vineyard 2002 Canadian Oak Pinot Noir

Found February 2010

I rescued this bottle from the scrap heap of annihilation - basically someone I knew was going to throw it down the drain figuring it was too old (without even trying it) - what a waste. I brought it over to share with some friends one wine soaked evening. Not exactly at it's peek this bottle was making it's slow decline - but it still had enough stuffing to keep all in attendance interested. Loads of dried fruit and tons of sour cherry, all backed by a touch of wood tanins and lots of acidity. In its prime this would have been one fantastic wine, but I think at this stage, old age was taking its toll and getting the better of this bottle. Lost & Found Rating: Tolerable but fading

January 10, 2010

Jackson-Triggs 2004 Proprietors' Reserve Shiraz

(Re-Tasted January 2010) ... There are two kinds of wine in this world: 1) the right wine at the right time, and 2) the right wine at the wrong time; and we've probably all experienced both. The right wine/right time is when you are drinking a wine and the mood, place and taste is perfect - everything just seems to come together in the right way. Then there is the right wine/wrong time bottle - the one you thought you were going to enjoy but something happened on the way to the glass and in the end that wine just didn't "do it for you". I think this was one of those wrong time wines. The colour was good, the smell was okay and the flavour was there, but I am not sure it is what I wanted to be drinking this Sunday evening. So I looked at it with my reviewer's eye, instead of my drinker's palate. There was pepper and cassis all the way through the wine, though about 15 minutes in there was a strong smell of wood alcohol and a woody aftertaste; but then given another 20 minutes that disappeared. Now almost an hour after opening and pouring, there seems to be an intermingling of white and black pepper with a long cassis, black pepper finish. Drinkable but nothing that'll knock your socks off. I seem to have a couple more bottles left, I think I should give one a little more time and see where it ends up. For now it drinks well but won't leaving you screaming for more.

January 9, 2010

Cave Spring Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir Estate Bottled

Found January 2010

This one goes out to all you good little boys and girls who have been cellaring your 2002 Ontario wines: Kids, it might be time to start looking at these wines and in fact, breaking into them; not that they are over the hill, far from it, but some are starting to drink very, very well, let's take for example this this 2002 Pinot Noir from Cave Spring. Starting from the nose this wine had everything your looking for in aged Pinot, smells of sour cherry, dried cranberry with a slightly smoky nuance. On the palate those cherries turned black with a delightfully delicious smoothness and a touch of tannins - this was a real pleasure to drink, I'm not stretching it at all when I say, "what a beauty", especially when given a little air through decanting. I recently reviewed the 2007 version of this wine, and if it ages as nicely (and I suspect it will), I suggest making a multiple purchase of the '07, the '02 is long gone (unless you have some in the cellar). Lost & Found Rating: Treasure +

January 2, 2010

Cave Spring Cellars 2006 Dolomite Riesling

(Re-Tasted January 2010) ... Sipping on this wine January 2nd in the late afternoon with my fiancee watching Angels and Demons (starring Tom Hanks), she turns to me and says, "I think you finally got one" ... she is referring to the wine I have poured for her of course. Erica is one of my toughest critics for the wines I pour, probably because she has a very limited scope of wines she really likes, Rieslings top the bill while she merely tolerates most other wines, especially reds. But not just any Riesling will do, it has to fall into a certain kind - and this one did. The first thing that popped from the glass was the minerally-lemon and faint hint of petrol; the palate was a blockbuster of flavour for the mouth: apple, peach pit, mineral bits, lemon and lime, lip-smackingly good and quite dry. The finish was long and had citrus-mineral notes all over it with a lovely bit of acid bite. The only thing that betrayed the age of this wine was the label and the colour. I know my previus review on the website reads "2005 Dolomite", but if I am not mistaken, 2006 was the first year the Dolomite Riesling came out at Cave Spring, and now I am too late to fix my error on the site. No matter, this is still a beauty of a wine and I look forward to sipping on it more in the future as I have a few more bottles in my collection.