October 30, 2011

Sprucewood Shores 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

(Re-Tasted October 2011) ... In my review of November 2007 I ended my notes saying that I would meet you back for a glass of this in 2012.  Well I'm a few months early but just as impressed as I was back in 2007, maybe even more so.  At the time, this was the first commercial vintage available at Sprucewood, who had a nascent winemaker still trying to find her footing and getting guidance from the more established locals.  Well Tanya Mitchell, said winemaker, listened and soaked in everything - she crafted an excellent wine that stood the test of 4 years in the cellar and a wine that could go for a little longer if given the chance.  The nose is anise seed with a nice earthiness a bit of dried blackberry, raspberry liqueur and after an hour in glass there were notes of a cherry brandy kinda wine.  On the palate there was black licorice, smoky oak notes, cinnamon, spice and a touch of earth; after that same hour as discussed above the cherry came screaming out in the form of cherry liqueur, yet smooth and tasty across the tongue.  A great first effort on the reserve wine and a wonderful starting point for a fine winemaker who continues to make her family run winery proud to this day.

October 22, 2011

Chateau des Charmes 1999 Estate Cabernet Merlot

(Re-Tasted October 2011) ... It is with a little sadness that I write this review.  This is the fourth time that I have put pen to paper over this wine (so to speak) and it is my last bottle in the cellar.  It is currently 12 years from vintage date and by wine standards, when you put that on the table, people say, "my that's old", because very few people can hold onto their wines that long.  And that really is a shame, because if you had you would have found out exactly what I did on this Saturday evening in October 2011 ... it was amazing.  I have been eyeing up this bottle for a little while wondering if maybe I had waited a little too long to pop the cork, but tonight, after trying the Hillebrand 2007 Trius with friends, I thought I`d best try something even older to see how it is progressing - so I ventured downstairs for my last bottle.  The aromas were of dried plum, raspberry, cassis liqueur, cherry whiskey, some slightly leafy notes and chocolate cherries ... very complex and worth sticking your nose into more than a few times just to get all those aromas out of there.  The taste proved to be just as inviting and complex - on the tongue it was sweet, supple and smooth.  Sweet dried plums and vanilla notes - this wine still had marvelous fruit keeping everything alive - a touch on the dry side rather then the fresh side - but what do you expect from 12 years in bottle?  I wish I had 3 more bottles to carry on the experiment with in another 2 years and beyond.  But alas, I say goodbye to my last bottle of this superb wine.  If you have some, drink now for some real enjoyment, or you have the option to wait a few more years just to see where it goes - so far it has been one heck of a journey.


Hillebrand 2007 Trius Red

(Re-Tasted October 2011) ... I really delved into old Ontario wines this night, and was rewarded handsomely on both occasions.  The first was this Hillebrand flagship Trius Red that I was enthralled with upon its release and had visions in my head of it lasting a decade or more, which is why I ended up with 12 in my cellar.  Earlier in the day I ended up going to the Hillebrand futures tasting where I got a chance to try the next in the great line of Trius Red (2010) and an older version (2007).  The folks I was with were unimpressed with the '07 and once I got a chance to taste it began to worry myself - could this wine really be over the hill so soon?  The wine was lean and uninteresting and dare I say a little weedy.  This tasting prompted me to open one of my own bottles and give it a try.  The good news is that the wine is fine, and what we tasted in the afternoon was a funky bottle that was not caught by winery staff as being off - bottle variation does occur.  The nose is still loaded with all kinds of goodness: anise, blackberry, vanilla, cinnamon, pencil shavings and a touch of oak for enhancement of aromas.  The taste is pleasant doling out cassis and blackberry along with anise and vanilla-oak.  For those of you still with bottles in your cellar have no fear, but I think you should open a couple just to get a feel for this wine and how it is ageing ... very nicely I might add.  As for bottle number two on this evening, read on.

October 19, 2011

D'Angelo 2006 Iced Foch

(Re-Tasted October 2010) ... The lack of Marechal Foch wines reviewed on my site (OntarioWineReview.com) speaks volumes.  While I can find some redeeming features in Baco (another bane of my existence) there is very little in Foch that I find redeeming, to me it always has the faint hint of stinky feet or rotten cheese ... that is until I tried what Sal D'Angelo did in 2008 which turned out to be the greatest use of Foch I had tried, and the best use of a hybrid since I tried a Baco "port" from New York state.  The question is, did this wine stand up over the past 5 years?  Well I have to confess I think it did, but not as well as it could have.  You see Sal insists on using plastic corks and these spoil his wines something terrible.  But, since this was a sweetie with a nice balance of acidity it seems to have withstood the wrath of plastic better than some of his table wines.  There were signs of bricking (colour) around the outside edges of wine but there was still plenty of black cherry, plum and spice on the nose.  The acidity level has dropped significantly making it a tad cloying and more along the lines of sacramental wine but with an intriguing zinfandel-like character on the mid-palate and a very pleasant finish that seems to linger on forever.  All-in-all I would have to say it has stood up nicely and still retains the title of the best use of Marechal Foch I have tasted - though I 'd better start drinking these up or passing them around for Christmas presents, they don't have much longer to go.

Legends Estates 2006 Semillon

(Re-Tasted October 2011) ... My momma once told me, "If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all" ... and if I were to stick with that theory I would leave this page blank.  This is truly one of the nastiest tasting wines I have ever had the misfortune of putting into this column ... and absolute disaster.  And I can't blame the winemaking, the winemaker or the grape - this wine was ruined purely on a closure decision.  This was, in its time, the first ever single varietal Semillon made in Ontario, and it was a beauty.  I remember fawning over this wine and had I been giving stars at the time it would have received the coveted 5-star rating.  Now Semillon is an ageable grape, so this had the potential to be something exciting as it got older.  But alas, a plastic cork has killed this wine's dreams of being something extraordinary in its autumn years.  The wine was oxidized all to hell and just plain nasty to smell and taste.  I can't stress how much I loved this wine in its youth, and how much I abhor what I found upon popping that plastic cork ... unfortunately from such great beginnings this wine isn't worth cleaning the toilet with.  I really wish we would learn our lesson about plastic corks ... the good news is I think some are getting the message, as I am seeing less and less of them, especially in Ontario wines.  If you have any of these wines, flush 'em!  Do not stop by the kitchen in the hopes of cooking with it, do not ruin your meal ... this is a lost cause.  And if you must know, I dumped 3 bottles - and smelled/tasted each one.  As for my mother's advice, all I can say to that is, "sorry mom".


October 17, 2011

Huff Estates 2006 Wismer Vineyard Riesling Reserve

(Re-Tasted October 2011) ... Reading my original review from 2007 I notice that the big change to this wine is the nose ... in the original the smells were sweet with peaches and apples, but now 5 years later those smells have move more toward the way the palate is going to offer them up.  The first aroma to grab the nose is petrol, but it subsides quickly to reveal green apple and lime notes.  The palate for this "dry" Riesling really is, and if you like sweetness in your Rieslings you've waited too long to enjoy this one; but if you enjoy 'em dry you've got what you came for: lime, sour lemon, orange peel and just a hint of petrol to show it has some age.  This one is definitely living up to its billing.

October 16, 2011

Pelee Island 2005 Vinedressers Shiraz

(Re-Tasted October 2011) ... This was my second bottle of Shiraz (or Syrah) on a night of disappointments.  The good news, I guess, that the wine in this bottle was still alive.  Now 2005 was a good year for reds in Ontario and the southern most point, Pelee Island, got some real nice flavours out of these grapes, as per my notes of September 2009 - but now looking back over them I see that there was all kinds of the same flavours back then that it has now, but with an element added and an element taken away.  Some 4 years later the wine seems to be falling apart.  Back then I was in love with the spicy-peppery notes in the wine and started to see some dark fruits emerge.  But the nose has gone all cedary along with those black pepperish aromas; while the palate has the spice and black pepper there seems to be a real cedary flavour, and the thought of some fruit coming to the rescue is long gone ... there does not seem to be a spec of fruit left in this bottle.  Granted the wine seemed to smooth out over the course of an hour, dropping some of the harsh tannins that also were prevalent in the bottle, but it remained all woody and black pepper in flavour.  While it was drinkable it seems to work better with the food than on its own.

October 14, 2011

Colio 2004 Lily - Blanc de Noirs

(Re-Tasted October 2011) ... I am getting to the point in my sparkling wine collection that I can hold a few bottles on reserve to see how they age.  There was a time when I only had a couple of bottles on the rack, because bubbly was made for special occasions and it seemed that those "special occasions" were few and far between - so why have too many.  But then I came to realize that bubbly is for any and all occasions and as long as you're staying within your budget you can have a bubbly whenever you want, or whenever the mood strikes ... and trust me when I tell you that there is plenty of well-prices sparkling wines out there, and bubbly does not have to come out of Champagne to be good.  Now, with that preamble I can tell you that I opened this bottle on a Friday night 'just because':  Because it was the weekend, because it was the first weekend my wife and I were home at the same time and did not have the jet off to go somewhere; because it was Friday, and because it just seemed like a fun thing to do ... heck can you think of a better reason?  This Blanc de Noirs  from Colio is made from Pinot Noir grapes and was the first year they made this particular bubble (though they had been making a Blanc de Blanc version for years).  The nose had mostly a toasted hazelnut aroma with a slight raspberry character, very pretty.  The palate still maintained crisp apple with a hint of lemon and as it sat delivered biscuity, nutty and baked apple notes to go along with it, plus there was a pleasant long finish.  This wine has really developed into something interesting with plenty of character that was worth delving into ... glad I saved this one.