December 30, 2012

Fielding 2005 Reserve Riesling

(Re-Tasted December 2012) ... August 2007 doesn't seem that far away to me, not sure why, but in truth it was over 5 years ago that I tried this wine, loved it then - was pleasantly surprised by it now.  Most of the 2005 Rieslings I have tried years later have been loaded with petrol - as if I were drinking them right next to the autobahn - this was and is because 2005 was a hot year and the Riesling grape does not like weather like that.  So when I opened this bottle I was expecting lots of gas ... and the truth of the matter is that it did have plenty of petrol notes, but they were just that, notes, hints if you will, it is what carried the nose but the palate was much different.  Palate was lightly petrol-ed with a whack of green apple on the mid-palate.  There was also a lovely hint of sweetness on the lingering finish and the more you tasted the wine it seemed that delicious apple and pear puree emerge from the light smear of petrol that coated everything.  The petrol note did continue on the nose but it diminished with some time while the palate seemed to get sweeter with delicious apple dominating more than any other flavour.  Very impressive and very delicious.  Not sure I would hold this much longer but it might have a few more years left in it.

December 29, 2012

13th Street 2004 Riesling

Found December 2012

Not sure how a bottle of 13th Street Riesling got lost in the cellar, let alone a bottle of 2004, but it did and now I find myself popping the cork on a snowy Saturday in late December.  Not exactly the wine you would associate with pizza for dinner - but as it turns out the wine was picked before dinner was fully established ... as it turned out we decided to make a pizza delivery guy work (and drive in the snow) than moving ourselves to the kitchen and doing some work ourselves.  As for the wine:  I have to admit I was a little leery of the bottle because it had a super-saturated cork (at least three-quarters of the way up and was leaking - or at least the foil capsule was tough to pry off the top of the bottle.  We deemed it okay to drink and then the fun started.  There were hints of petrol on the nose and the finish was quite dry - even though the bottle declared it to be a semi-dry wine.  The flavours were the most telling with citrus, in the form of lime, poached pears, honeyed peaches and apricots which all make an appearance on the mid-palate before the sweet and sour sensation of bruised green apple took over the finish.  This was a lovely wine and showed great longevity (8 years) - especially for a wine with a leaky cork.   Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

November 26, 2012

Jackson-Triggs 2002 Proprietors' Grand Reserve Meritage

Found November 2012

Every so often I come across a bottle that I am sure I have tasted before, but as I go through my website and notes I find that I have never put pen to paper about a specific bottle and I wonder what I did with the original notes.  Most wines that end up in my wine cellar (especially if they are of Canadian origin) I have tasted before and thought they would be good candidates to lie down for a spell.  But some do slip between the cracks ... This must have been one of those.  But in truth I'm glad I "lost" this one because it made for an interesting tasting.  This Meritage is from the hot 2002 vintage, which was a good one for reds here in Ontario.  The blend, according to the back label is Merlot dominant at 42% - with the Cabernets: Sauvignon and Franc clocking in at 38 and 20 respectively.  I also admit to aiding this one a little by using my VinOair aerator ... the result was a wine that exhibited cedar and earthy tones from the get go, but as one dove deeper into the wine we found that underneath its cedary-earthy exterior lay dried cherry and blackberry.  Now, with some time in glass (about 45 minutes) the fruit that started off as dry had now proven to come alive with some cassis and black cherry notes.  I also found some smoky bits that played on both the nose and palate, and then as more time passed cedar began to reassert itself back into the picture - but there was a certain sweet spot to this wine that came at about the one-hour mark and lasted for about an hour where everything was just right in the world with it ... by the end of the evening the wine showed its slow steady decline to the realm from whence it came: earthy and cedary ... but in the interim it had that period where it really showed its beauty.  Now I can't wait to break int the 2005 version of the same wine, which seems to have reared it's head in the same place as the 2002 - which is why I figure this bottle got lost, it thought it was a 2005 (it can't be my fault after all.    Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

October 23, 2012

Daniel Lenko 2006 Reserve Riesling

(Re-Tasted October 2012) ... My wife is the Riesling lover in the family, so when we open a bottle it's usually for her and I just tag along for the tasting ... don't get me wrong, I love Riesling as well, but I'm good for any and all wines, it's just when a Riesling gets opened she's having some too.  Tonight we opened a bottle of Danny Lenko Riesling from 2006.  Now I remember talking with Dan years ago about why he has only a "reserve" Riesling and no "base model", he was pretty blunt when he told me that he learned years ago that people will pay more if the word "Reserve" is written on the bottle, even if it's the same wine in the bottle ... you gotta love that kind of honesty.  That all said I have to say I was excited to try this Riesling to see if it had stood the test of time - or at least the test of the past 6 years.  Ha-za it did.  The nose is full of wild flower honey and honeycomb notes along with candied lemon peel, mac apple and just a hint of petrol on alternate sniffs.  The palate was a little more complicated, not complex, complicated as it showed little in the way of fully recognizable flavours, just a mash up of a bunch of things:  lemon-petrol-mac apple-poached pear-lime cordial and waxy honeycomb.  All said and done it was a pleasant easy drinking Riesling that was tame in the acidity department and decent on flavour.  If you're sitting on some of this I would say it's time to drink.

October 1, 2012

Featherstone 2006 Old Vines Riesling

Click here to read the original review from October 2007 - while there also see the re-taste note

(Re-Tasted September 2012) ... This was not the first Riesling we opened on this Saturday afternoon - the first was a Dolomite 2006 (same year) from Cave Spring Cellars, it unfortunately was oxidized ... considering we did not have another bottle cold I decided to open up another Riesling from the same year, though different producer.  This old vines Riesling is still holding onto its mineral component but is losing the battle with petrol, which seems to overwhelm most of the smells and flavours.  Everything I can mention as a flavour or aroma has a petrol note attached: there's apricot and petrol, poached pear and petrol and a little lime pith and petrol ... though I have to hand it to this wine, it shucks the petrol on the the lingering finish so that it does not taste like you've sucked back a whole jerry-can of gasoline.

September 27, 2012

Willow Springs 2005 Testa Limited Reserve Cabernet Franc - Bottle 2

(Re-Tasted September 2012) ... If you thought I was pissed in my last post you haven't seen or read anything yet, it is going to seem that I am picking on this particular producer, but I am talking to all of you half-wits and no-brains who decided to use plastic cork back in the early to mid-2000's and those that STILL insist on using this crappy closure today ... STOP RIGHT NOW.  I have read the labels on this bottle backwards and forwards, front to back, and nowhere does it say that it is sealed with an inferior closure - nor does it say that it is closed with a plastic cork.  I did read the bottom line of the back label that says, "Enjoy now with family and friends", but when you call your wine a "Limited Reserve" you have to expect that some folks are going to lie this wine down for an extended stay in their cellar - especially because 2005 was such a good year for reds, and thus ageing wine.  This wine is a nasty mess (and that's three bottles worth - see below), as the picture to the right shows, the cork on this second bottle isn't in as bad a shape as the previous bottle, but it is still leaking up the side and rimming the cork with gooey dried wine.  The colour was a sickly brown and the taste was bitter and, yes, I'll say it again, NASTY.

Plastic corks are the bane of my existence.  As a person who cellars his wine and looks forward to opening the bottle in the future, there is nothing worse than seeing a plastic cork under the capsule.  As I posted last night on Facebook:  "I'd have been happier with a corked bottle because I would know they at least tried for a quality closure." ... but putting a plastic cork on a good bottle is like giving up - you aren't even giving the wine a chance to get better, you're saying "today is the best this bottle of wine is ever going to be" - you're also saying, "I don't give a flying f--k about my customer", especially when you don't put anything on the back label (or front label) about the wine being sealed with this type of closure.  Shame on Willow Springs and shame on any producer still using this type of seal on a bottle (and I know in Ontario there's still at least one, hello Lakeview) without putting a warning on the label to customers that they should drink the wine within a year, or less.

As for my last bottle of this Testa 2005 Cabernet Franc mess ... it's in the exact same condition the other bottles are in:  The capsule is seemingly glued to the bottle.  Wine is seeping up the side of the cork. The smell is atrocious and the wine is brown and dingy with an off-puting nose and even worse taste.  What a complete waste of money this was, I take solace in the fact I paid a mere $13.95 per, but had Willow Springs added a buck or two more to the price, just so they could use a better closure, I would have been happy to pay it.  Right now I'm just royally pissed - as any customer would be - and that's not the lasting impression you wanna leave on the people helping to pay your bills. 

Willow Springs 2005 Testa Limited Reserve Cabernet Franc - Bottle 1

(Re-Tasted September 2012) ... Earlier this week I posted about tasting a horrible Cabernet Franc, and for those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, here it is.  This was just a nasty piece of business, but I can't blame the wine or the wine making, in fact, when I read my review from back in January 2007 this wine should have been made for the long-haul.  Alas some %R*%&**& decided to close this wine with a plastic cork - and if you follow my wine reviews and re-taste notes you know what I think of plastic.  You'll know that I think a plastic cork isn't good at the best of times, but what made this wine even more exciting was that it had a leaky plastic cork - well that's even better, or worse, depending on how you look at it.  I really have nothing else to say about this wine ... if the producer doesn't care enough about their premium reserve wine to seal it with a proper closure, then I guess I reserve the right not to write anymore about the wine.  If you have some of this in your cellar all I can say is good luck.  Picture of the offending cork and wine label appears to the right.

Maybe I'm being a little hard on this wine ... seems I have another 2 bottles of this, that's the confidence I had in this wine.  I'll try it again over the next week to see if I just got a very faulty bottle ... instead of just a faulty bottle.  Stay tuned.

September 9, 2012

Fielding 2006 Sparkling Riesling - Charmat Method

(Re-Tasted September 2012) ... It was still the week of my anniversary - so far we have have two other bubblies this week to celebrate:  an Oyster Bay Rose and a Chateau des Charmes 2008 Rose (see a pattern) ... one last one before we lock up the sparkling wine cabinet (till next week).  I'm not going to tell you this was the best bubbly of the week (that goes to the Charmes wine), but I will tell you it was the most interesting and the oldest.  This 6-year old bubbly sure was the surprise of the week, as it had so much more complexity than I remember.  The nose had beeswax, lemon rind and a hint of petrol - the palate was baked apple, bosc pear, with apricot and a lingering finish of wild-flower honey ... the bubbles were good some 4 hours later as we poured the last drops of the bottle as a night cap.  Good job Fielding, for a charmat method sparkler this one stood up for longer than I would have expected.  For those with a bottle in the cellar, don't be afraid to pop the cork on a bottle , I think it is drinking better today than it ever has.

September 8, 2012

Peller Estates 2007 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc

Click here to read the original review from April 2010

(Re-Tasted September 2012) ... About two and a half years ago is when I put the first review of this wine up (and gave it a 5-star rating), and in truth I was not suppose to have a bottle for another 2 years because I have that much faith in it ... but tonight I suddenly wanted to see how it was doing - and that is my prerogative, as it is my wine cellar.  I am happy to report this wine is doing just fine, thank you very much.  The nose is loaded with raspberry, blackberry with a pleasant smokiness - the palate still has those firm tannins along with black currant fruit dominating, then come those smoky notes from the barrel and some tobacco leaf (a usual tell-tale sign of Cabernet Franc).  If you have some in your cellar don't worry you've got lots of time.

August 31, 2012

Chateau des Charmes 2005 St. David’s Bench Cabernet Franc

Found August 2012

Not all of us are lucky enough to try decade old wines ... nor are we all lucky enough to have such a creature in our own cellars (if you have one at all).  I have been collecting wine now for over 15 years, and Ontario wine for just as long (if not longer), so I have some pretty interesting (and I'm sure expired) stuff down there.  Thankfully, this Chateau des Charmes decade old Cabernet Franc was far from the expired list, in fact it showed well from start to finish.  The nose kicked things off with dried cherry, dried blackberry and hints of vanilla-cedar.  The plate proved just as inviting with mocha, dried cherry and some cedary notes.  I was worried the cedar would start to take over but they seemed to be happy to linger in the background ... as the evening wore on things started to happen in the glass and especially on the palate:  a dry smoky finish began to dominate; and there was some dried tobacco leaf notes (like picking bits off your tongue while smoking an unfiltered cigarette) ... the final analysis on my last sip, some 2 hours after opening, was this: tobacco, dried blackberry and black currants with a nice, relatively smooth, finish.  This wine is showing exceptionally well for its age.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

August 29, 2012

Lailey Vineyard 2005 Canadian Oak Cabernet Franc

Found August 2012

There aren't many using Canadian oak to age their wines, so seeing it on the label is fairly unique; but winemaker Derek Barnett of Lailey has been using it since his days making wine at Southbrook - when it was located in Richmond Hill - so he has a pretty good handle on it.  This wine, now some 7 years from vintage date, showed a little of its age, but also showed that it had some life left in it too.  The nose started out with dried raspberry, and the palate was oaky, cedary and tomato stem-ish ... not a great start, but as I like to tell people, "you get locked in a bottle for X-number of years and see how you feel the moment you get out" ... so this wine needed a little time to reset itself.  In so doing - about half and hour later - the nose showed signs of black currant and smoky-toasty oak.  The palate also seemed to turn itself around and had dried blackberry, hints of coffee with a woody finish - most remarkably is that it did show quite a bit of fruit on the mid-palate before doling out the mostly woody finish.  If you have some in the cellar, I think now is the time to drink it.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable +

For more wine reviews and related articles go to,
while there sign up for Michael's free bi-weekly newsletter.

August 21, 2012

Thirty Bench 2005 Cabernet Franc - Small Lot

(Re-Tasted August 2012) ... "Hello sweetheart," is how I should have greeted this bottle, had I known the wonders of its contents, but instead it was just another pull of a cork.  But this 7 year old Cabernet Franc was a spectacular find in my cellar.  The fruit was truly amazing: dark and spicy ... and the nose kept giving up more and intriguing aromas that the palate seemed to match note for note.  At first there was that dark fruit with hints of cedar, pipe tobacco and anise; then as the night wore on it developed peppered/spiced cranberry notes and vanilla-licorice.  This beauty of a bottle still has plenty of time to develop, though I suspect the wood is going to intensify and the fruit character will diminish - will it happen tomorrow or in the next week - I doubt it, it might not happen for a few more years, but what I can tell you for certain is that this wine, right now, has the perfect mix of fruit, oak and character - the more I drank the more awesome this wine became.

EastDell Estates 2005 Cabernet Franc Reserve

Found August 2012

Here we go again, another wine that has been ruined by a producer's decision to cheap-out and use plastic to seal a bottle that has no business being under the worst closure known to man - heck I think you'd do better if you shoved a kerosene soaked rag in the top of the bottle, then at least I could use the wine for something other than drain cleaner.  The shame of it is this wine had such potential and you can mainly taste it rather than smell it.  The nose is laced with Madeira/Sherry notes and the taste is oxidative in nature and just getting worse the more air you swirl through the glass. - you can just make out the dark fruit and spice that would have be absolutely killer if it wasn't for the off-putting nature that already defines this wine.  I can't say it enough, if you are even thinking of closing your wines with a plastic cork, you aren't really thinking at all.  Now to find out the next bottle I opened and what this EastDell wine had the potential to be, read this review - from the same night. Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

August 15, 2012

Cattail Creek 2008 Chardonnay - No Oak

Found August 2012

Ever wonder what happens to an unoaked Chardonnay if left a little too long?  I wonder no more.  I know there are some out there who love age on their Chardonnays (and others that don't) - but I can tell you, at least from some limited experience, make sure they are oaked before you lie them down, or you'll end up like this Cattail number.  There was nothing horribly wrong with it, it was just tired, flabby, flat, uneventful and seemed almost slightly oxidized.  The fruit had dried out of this once lovely wine - it must have been lovely I had three bottles of it.  But now it isn't even good for the stew.  Oh well, you win some you lose some, this bottle and the two others I have, are definitely destined for the drain.  Lost & Found Rating: Trash

Chateau des Charmes 2006 St. David’s Bench Viognier

Click here to read the original review from April 8, 2008 Weekly Wine Note

(Re-Tasted August 2012) ...  A few weeks ago I popped this wine into the fridge for some guests we had coming over ... sadly we never got around to popping the cork and so there is it sat in the fridge for a few weeks until last night, when I finally spied the bottle and decided that I would pull the cork to pair with some fish we were having for dinner.  I remember this wine being more tropical in its youth, but now it has developed more like a Chardonnay ... it's not surprising they call Viognier "the alternative to Chardonnay".  The nose is quite appealing with apricot and pear, but seems to have some smoky notes that also appear.  The palate still has good acidity and a lovely lingering long finish, but as I said (on the palate) I probably could not differentiate this from an oaked Chardonnay.  The taste is buttery and toasty with peach pit and apricot pit notes, it also develops a little poached pear as it sits in the glass.  Still very pleasant ... if I want Chardonnay without it saying Chardonnay on the bottle.

August 1, 2012

Niagara College Teaching Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

Found July 2012

Mama done told me lots of things:  My momma told me there'd be days like these.  Momma told me not to chew with my mouth full.  Momma also said, "if you ain't got anything nice to say, don't say it at all" (she also said that 'ain't ain't in the dictionary'), so maybe I heard that one wrong ... but I ain't got much to say positive about this wine so I'll be brief, cause momma also told me not to lie.  The nose is highly unappealing, not corked but just all wood and not much else (and that's being kind).  Being the researcher that I am I had to also taste the wine: it was like licking cardboard though again it was not corked - just overtly like sandpaper on the tongue and in the throat, so much so that one did not want to swallow.  This is an absolutely awful wine seven years from vintage date - too bad because it had such good pedigree being from the 2005 vintage, but over manipulation and over oaking has killed it in its twilight years (which means it would be good for vampires if you added enough garlic).  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash +

For more wine reviews and related articles go to,
while there sign up for Michael's free bi-weekly newsletter.

July 25, 2012

Henry of Pelham 2005 Meritage Cabernet-Merlot

(Re-Tasted July 2012) ... I think the thing I like most about doing these reviews is looking back at what the wine was.  Obviously I liked it in the first place, or else I would have never reviewed it, but it's interesting to see how the wine changed.  Reading the old review of this Henry of Pelham offering I noticed I mentioned a "vegetal" note and some "earthiness" ... well I can tell you those are long gone.  The nose is currently where this wine shines the most, once it gets out of the bottle: cassis, blackberry and cinnamon all take a turn at your olfactories - there is also a bit of oakyness but nothing too extreme ... over the course of an hour in the glass the fruit turns from the dark to the red with raspberry and black cherry - it still smells fresh and lively with hints of oak / spice character backing it up.  The taste is where my concern began, and ended an hour later:  the taste was black cherry but with an overwhelming cedar and oak-spiced cherries ... if this continued it would have been disastrous in an hour, but it mellowed right out.  The oak and cedar notes dissipated and in an hour I had spiced raspberries and black cherries on the tongue ... wow ... with a length black cherry finish.  This wine is peaking right now, but you have to give it about an hour to come out of hibernation, after all it's been 7 years since it's birth and at least 5 years in the bottle - you'd be a little cranky too at first.

July 24, 2012

Cave Spring 2005 Cabernet-Merlot

(Re-Tasted July 2012) ... So a quick scan over my review from 5 years ago says I thought this wine had "ageability to spare", well, we're now 7 years from vintage date and I am not sure what to make of this wine - it's not bad, but it's not the greatest wine I've had at this age either, let me explain.  The nose was filled with peppered-raspberries and peppered-strawberries, while the taste gave nothing but lots of spiced oak and a cedary finish.  Time to pull out my Venturi aerator just to see if I could coax some fruit out of this bad boy.  I would have to say that blackberry and cassis did show up on the nose, but so too did it enhance the overwhelming pepper and oak notes - with a little more time in the glass the fruits melded together into what could best be described as a compote.  The flavours also seemed to benefit from the aeration.  Tastes of sweet dried fruit like blackberries and cherries showed up with some vanilla oak backing (there's that oak again) ... I also found that in the end the compote from the nose did find it's way to the palate.  But overall the one word that I would use to describe this wine would be "pepper" followed closely by "oak".  Have some in the cellar I would suggest aerating and drinking fairly soon.

July 14, 2012

Chateau des Charmes 2006 Estate Bottled Riesling

(Re-Tasted July 2012) ... It truly is a summer for Riesling.  With the hot weather we've been having I'm not only digging out the new bottles, but also some of the old ones, to see how they are doing.  My original review says to lay this one down and watch it develop, and develop it has, into something lovely.  The fruit is still very much intact with apricot, apple and pear notes especially on the nose, but they are intact on the palate too; the acidity has stayed right where it needs to be to keep that lovely freshness and there's even a limeade, honey and lemonade note to the finish.  This is still one terrific wine that shows no signs of going anywhere, downhill that is, it seems to be holding its own quite well.  Wish I had a few more bottles so I could find out where it is going - cause I'd love to take the ride with it (and wouldn't you know it I do - we'll check back in a year or two).

July 12, 2012

Hillebrand 2007 Trius Dry Riesling

Found July 2012

It's time for Hillebrand to redeem themselves in this column ... after finding a dreadful 2004 Riesling I thought I'd give them another chance with something from a much hotter vintage (a little unfair, especially when dealing with a Riesling).  This one fared much better.  The nose had developed a lot of petrol (usual in a hot year) with peach and lemon pith backing.  The taste had lime zest and pith, apple sauce and a little paraffin.  As the wine began to warm in the glass - as it is apt to do on a hot day - the wine gained more of an apple juice character.  Drinkable and fairly good, not great but good.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable

July 9, 2012

Lailey Vineyard 2005 Cabernet Franc

Found July 2012

I find it surprising that in the 51 wine reviews I have done of Lailey wines over the years that I never got around to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) for this one.  One, because I love Cabernet Franc and am a proponent of it being Ontario;s red grape - and two, winemaker Derek Barnett seems to know how to handle the grape quite well, especially if you look back at some of his Southbrook wines from the later 90's and early 2000's.  But all that, as they say, is water under the bridge.  2005 was a good vintage in ONtario and the longevity of the reds should be quite substantial, this one is now 7 years form vintage date and is starting to show that age, most by what it lacks instead of what it has.  The nose is dried cherry and tobacco; while the palate has lots of dried red fruit, most notably cranberry, well spiced and a touch on the woody side .. then we get to the finish, here we find a lack of any fruit at all and instead get a sweet wooden sensation on the tongue ... not exactly what I was looking for but then again, not totally unwelcome.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable

July 8, 2012

Hillebrand 2004 Vineyard Select Riesling

Found July 2012

Of all the Lost and Found wines I have tried over the past few days I am the most shocked about this one ... it was a hot summer day and we were sitting on the back deck that`s when I had the thought "why not open up an older Riesling" ... what I got instead was a disjointed mess of a wine that had prematurely oxidize into something undrinkable.  The colour was deep and dark, like a rancid apple juice, and the smell was not much better.  This wine had developed a sickeningly sweet character that permeated the entire wine, there was a hint of apricot and pear if you dove deep enough, but that got enveloped so quickly by that sweetness that it ruined the entire experience of drinking this wine.  Four sips and I was done ... the wife took three less - I guess I`m just a glutton for punishment.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

Ridgepoint 2004 Medium Dry Riesling

(Re-Tasted July 2012) ... Do you keep hidden gems to yourself or do you share them with the world?  That is the question that plagues us all.  If we go about telling everyone then maybe one day there will be none left for us, if we keep quiet, there is the potential that none will be around when we do want some because they will not be making anymore (out of business).  One of Niagara's overlooked wineries is Ridgepoint, who has quietly has been making wine for a number of years with little to no fanfare.  They were in fact the first to release an Ontario Nebbiolo onto the market, but that was many years ago and there is kind of a 'been there done that' attitude about it (considering others are doing it now too).  On the same day that I opened a rather putrid bottle of Hillebrand 2004 Riesling, I had a back-up in mind, this 2004 (same year as the Hillebrand) Ridegepoint Medium-Dry.  This one proved to have beautiful colouring, hardly showing its age, the nose was lanolin, candied almonds with just the merest hint of petrol to give away it's aged quality.  The taste was lemony with lemonade notes and lemon pulp and lots of peach pit, the sweetness was barely perceptible, probably because the acidity was spot on and there was a beautiful long finish to boot.  A nice bottle that is drinking well right now.

July 6, 2012

Hillebrand 2005 Trius Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted July 2012) ... Last wine from the July 6th taste-a-thon and it seems I saved the best for last ... this Trius Cabernet Franc lived up to its promise and more.  Even seven years from vintage date the fruit is still all over this wine on both the nose and palate.  Tobacco, raspberry and cherry lead the charge on the nose here, and in the mouth it is harmonious and well-constructed.  The tannins are still holding their own but softening, the taste is still fruit driven, vibrant and tasty - this wine should hold easily for another 2-3 years if not a full five.  Seems I have a few more bottles so we'll check in with it at a later date ... I am hoping for good things, and if you're holding some you should expect it too - but if you decide to drink now you're gonna love it, it might be time to pull out a full bottles and enjoy.

Colio Estate 2002 CEV Gamay Noir – Barrel Aged

(Re-Tasted July 2012) ... Back in 2005 I said "this is not your typical Gamay" - but why I decided to keep it in the cellar another 7 years is beyond me ... maybe I wanted to prove myself correct.  With a slight browning on the edges I have to admit I was I little circumspect about trying this wine, thinking that maybe it did not age well.  Browning is not a sign of bad wine, but it is not a colour you see in Gamay, which is something you usually drink much younger than 10 years old.  My notes for this tasting are peppered with one word, and it appears four times on the page in various forms, "surprising".  The wine was "surprisingly very drinkable", not the best Gamay I have ever had but it was still holding up quite well.  Very little in the way of fruit, besides some dried cherry and cassis notes, there were vanilla and smoky notes that were also presen,t but the wine was mainly an array of spices with a short finish.  For a wine I held out no hope for when I opened it as I sniff and sipped I found myself being very impressed ... which I found very, you guessed it, surprising.

Lakeview Cellars 2002 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted July 2012) ... I find it amazing how you can take a really good wine (this one) from a really good vintage (2002) and ruined it with one simple decision (plastic cork) - this was and is the case for this wine.  I really enjoyed it back in the day when I first reviewed it, and thought it had some great potential, I did not think a decade would be out of the question with this one (as I wrote in my private notes), my thought process was that it would take a few years to just mellow out and bring out that hidden fruit.  But the plastic that closed the bottle made that impossible.  The wine was full of sweet sherry aromas and the wine was oxidized, more sherry than wine-like and after a few minutes in glass it was even worse than that.  I got hosed on their 2005 wines, which were also under plastic - the '02's are even worse ... if you bought a case thinking you'd be enjoying it after a decade of aging I have two things to say: 1) sorry you wasted your dough and 2) hope you like salad ... though I am not sure I would sacrifice the lettuce.

Ridgepoint 2005 Cabernet Merlot

(Re-Tasted July 2012) ... Today I sat down with a friend and tasted through a number of older Ontario vintages ... you can pop over to the Lost and Found Blog to see what we tasted on July 6, 2012.  As it turns out some I had tasted before and others I had not ... this wine falls in the tasted before camp, as you can see from the linked original review above.  This was one of the better wines we opened that day - first it had a natural cork, which is always a good sign (so is a screwcap - plastic is the worst thing to see on an aged bottle).  The first sniff of the wine was loaded with volatile acidity, but we figured this should blow off ... and it did.  The structure of the wine was still very much intact on the palate: dried fruit reigned supreme along with white pepper, spice and some pretty heavy tannins - these dissipated quickly the longer it sat in the glass and within 15 minutes it had turned into a pleasant (enough) drink.  I would say this bottle would hold another 2 years, maybe more, but not quite sure I would risk it.  It's a decent drinker right now.

Colchester Ridge Estate Winery 2005 Cabernet Franc

Found July 2012

This was the tale of two wines ... the wine we opened and the wine we ended up drinking, let me explain.  When first we popped the cork it showed some dark fruit but there was also a waft of underlying volatile acidity (VA), and it kept rising the more aeration we gave the wine, this characteristic also found its way onto the palate.  The second problem we discovered was that although the wine had a mediocre 12.9% alcohol level you could actually smell and taste it - the wine was hot.  10 minutes later a transformation occurred and the wine that we initially took for undrinkable hooch turned into something rather pleasant.  The dark fruit started to rise above the VA and took over as the dominant smell and taste, spice joined it and the alcohol seemed to settle so that it was not a hot mess. We also found dried cherry and a nice bit of tobacco from the mid-palate to the finish.  In the end we sat and sipped on a glass because there was some nice spiced-dark fruit on this well-balanced wine.  I knew we`d find a good one today.   Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable+

Kacaba Vineyards 2003 Cabernet Franc

Found July 2012

As you can see it was a big tasting day at my house in July (see two previous posts - Caroline and Riverview) ... I actually had a former employee of Kacaba over for a small tasting and we opened a few bottles of older Ontario wines to see how they were aging.  He was very excited to break into this bottle because he was working for the company at the time and was "quite familiar" with this bottle.  Upon opening the wine was just loaded with VA (volatile acidity = nail polish remover), and this did not seem to blow off as we had hoped.  In the spirit of tasting every wine, even the ones that show poorly on the nose, we took a few sips.  We found the wine to be too heavy in the oak department and very heavily spiced but it also lacked any kind of fruit characteristics what-so-ever ... it was all barrel all the time.  I did a few experiments to see if it was just time in bottle that had closed it up but it never did seem to open up ... what I did find was that a quick sip of the wine followed by a quick swallow made the wine almost palatable, but if you held it in your mouth for any length of time, or tried to aerate it it just ruined any pleasure you would derive from the wine.  Over the course of half an hour the wine turned sour and nasty, especially on the finish. In the end the wine lacked depth beyond its dry and woody flavours.  Hate to say it, but if you have this wine sitting around the house it's a mess, with no hope of getting better.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

Riverview Cellars 2004 Cabernet-Merlot

Found July 2012

After the horrible Caroline Cellars 2005 Franc debacle I had to open something else and this Riverview 2004 Cabernet-Merlot got the nod.  The nose is quite inviting with white pepper, dried cherries and some warming wood spice.  The palate is also holding up quite well, especially for a wine made in a less desirable year, with dried raspberries and strawberries taking charge on the mid-palate and flowing pleasantly across the tongue; the finish shows just a touch of wood spice.  It has become rather light in colour, but the fruit seems to be holding its own (if not a little on the drier side) and it drinks well now, but I would not wait too much long to enjoy it.     Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable 

Caroline Cellars 2005 Cabernet Franc

Found July 2012

Sometimes when I "find" a bottle in my cellar I think to myself, "I really hope this one is good" - this was the case when I found this bottle of '05 Franc from Caroline Cellars, I wanted so much for this wine to be good.  The problem is that it was sealed with a plastic cork and thus did not stand a snowball's chance in hell of aging - how I wish producer would put a warning on the label when they use such a closure.  Back in its day it was a bronze medal winner at the Toronto Wine and Cheese Show; and looking back at the vintage 2005 was a great year for red, which means it had good pedigree; but this wine was oxidized all to hell and had a nasty smell and taste reminiscent of paint thinner.  The bottle showed great promise as it was stained purple on the inside, but the colour in the glass came closer to tawny port than it did red wine ... just wished it had tasted more like tawny than what it did taste like.  If you are unfortunate enough to have any of this in your cellar might I suggest another use for this wine, like as drain or toilet cleaner.  Sorry Caroline Cellars, you get my lowest rating in this column and all because you decided to use plastic instead of real cork.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

June 23, 2012

Huff Estates 2007 South Bay Chardonnay

(Re-Tasted June 2012) ... I think the original review this is linked up to (the audio portion anyway) has been lost in the ether of the internet; but the score, 4 stars (out of 5) has not; and on this Saturday afternoon with plenty of friends in attendance I thought it might be time to re-try this bottle.  Now granted I'm not far from the original review (two and a half years), but this really shows it has what it takes to stand the test of time.  The nose is pungently vanilla with loads of butter and some lovely baked apricot, while the palate is nicely spiced, especially on the finish with pretty baked apple notes - complete with cinnamon ... and it's that spicy note that just keeps on giving and giving ... plus there's some real good acidity to round it off nicely.  I still have one bottle left and I'm looking forward to giving it another couple of years to see where it ends up.  Something tells me I'm going to enjoy it.

June 7, 2012

Inniskillin 2003 Late Autumn Riesling

(Re-Tasted June 2012) ... It's been close to nine years in bottle and at least seven years in my cellar - it is the oldest bottle of white wine I have, or had, and so I held to it like a drowning man to a life raft.  But tonight I finally took the plunge with this bottle of Late Autumn Riesling and in truth, I was blown away by it.  The colour was golden in the glass and the nose had a mix of honeyed and poached pears and peaches with just the merest hint of petrol and some candied lime peels - as it sat in the glass the peach turned more into apricots and the poached part disappeared.  Now for the tasting ... and what a fabulous wine it was, especially on the palate.  The flavours were an odd dichotomy of dry and honeyed, switching as it glided through the mouth, apricots, creamed honey, spiced-peaches all balanced off by some really great acidity.  This was a stunning wine and I am glad I held onto it, but now is the time to drink.  It'll hold ten, but not sure it'll see eleven. 

March 12, 2012

Konzelmann Estate Winery 2006 Red Moose

Found March 2012

I currently have two bottles of this wine in my cellar (well, one less now) and obviously I have tried it in the past, or it would`t be there, but it seems I have never written a single word about it ... and that surprises me - I guess the review got lost in the wash, or my dog ate it, or I left it in my other pants, or whatever other excuse I can give you as to why I have no record of trying this wine in the past (and writing about it).  But tonight I found a bottle in a box of aging wines and decided it was time to give it a try.  A few things scared me about trying this wine:  1) the silly label - critter labels are usually gimmicky and this one even more so.  2) the vintage date - 2006 was not the greatest of vintages in Ontario, in fact it might be one of our roughest, and a 6 year old wine from that vintage might be a little dodgy.  3) the grape variety - Zweigelt, barrel aged (as this was is) or not is an Austrian cross of Lemberger and St. Laurent that is Austria`s most famous red, but grown sparsely here in Ontario; and most versions I have tried have been meant to consume young ... so what was I thinking aging this wine???  Well it`s a good thing I did because this was one delicious wine.  The nose was of smoked-cranberry, white pepper and spiced-black cherry which continued to offer pure aromatic pleasure through its entire time in the glass.  The flavours yielded even more enjoyment: at first there were strawberry-cranberry notes with hints of vanilla and caramel.  But given some time it changed into something even better, there was more to find:  sweet dried fruit notes, like craisins (cranberry-raisins), vanilla smoke and then later the whole glass succumbed to black cherry.  A nice smoothness through the mouth led to a wonderful tasty smoky-black cherry finish with a sort of toasty-ash linger.  This one was a real find.  Lost & Found Rating:  True Treasure

March 11, 2012

Creekside Estate 2005 Laura's Blend Red

(Re-Tasted March 2012) ... It was only recently that Creekside started adding the other Bordeaux varieties into their Laura's mix ... here we are dealing with the days of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc only blends.  In Ontario, 2005 was the second "really good" to "great" vintage of the decade, depending on who you spoke to, so it seemed only right to lie this one down for a spell.  Bottled in late 2007, the back label proclaimed 2008-2013 as a perfect window in which to drink the wine - so here we are tucking ourselves neatly into the latter part of that time period.  Upon opening, the wine had aromas of licorice, smoke and cassis (more smoke and licorice though) - as it sat in the glass a touch of unsweetened strawberry jam seemed to waft up and take hold, but still had the other features to back it up.  The taste was something different, gone was the licorice and only a hint of smoke remained; dried blackberry dominated for a spell than red currant showed up, but all soon fell to a fiercely dry finish that was a touch woody, and getting harsher with time in the glass.  All-in-all good mouth-feel here, though still slightly tannic, with fruit that still shows up - if none more than a little dried ... it's those tannins that seem to keep wanting to rise up and crush those delicate fruit nuances that still remain.  If you've got some then you'll want to decant it and drink it or you could hold out another year or two, but not longer - in this case the decanter is key to smoothing those (wood?) tannins.

March 8, 2012

Colio Estate 2005 CEV Cabernet Sauvignon

(Re-Tasted March 2012) ... Here's an extremely well made wine from a great vintage in Ontario, and especially the Lake Erie North Shore; our most southerly and, by definition, hottest region.  The wine shows little of the 7 years it has under its belt (from vintage date) and 5 years from release.  The nose is blackberry, cassis with spice and pepper - it's nice to point out that the fruit is well seasoned aromatically.  The palate is dark fruit with hints of wood seasoning ... I'm thinking another year or two will let us determine where the wine is going: will the fruit dominate or will the wood take over?  I have one bottle left, I guess I have given myself my marching orders for its future ... looks like we'll have to revisit this one in 2014-2015.

March 7, 2012

Creekside Estate 2002 Cabernet

(Re-Tasted March 2012) ... If you have read the original review done in 2008 you'll notice at the end I said we'll try this one again in two years; well I am behind schedule, as it is now 4 years later and it is only now that the wine comes up for re-tasting.  First, I was shocked and appalled to see a plastic cork, but then around that time period Creekside was using the inferior closure.  I found the wine to be a little lean right from the get go showing a little more oxidation than you want in a wine, but less than I would have expected, based on the closure.  I was happy to see the wine still retained some good acidity and that there were also still quite a bit of tannin backbone, but there is something to the finish that didn't sit quite right:   it's funky - sweet (as in oxidized) and bitter (because the wood is showing through, especially the longer it sits open).  It is an old wine no doubt, but we must keep in mind it is 10 years old; the real question is, is it as "old" as it should be?  Guess we'll never know.  For this wine I would have loved to see a control wine either under cork or screwcap to compare.

March 5, 2012

Southbrook 2001/2002 Triomphe Cabernet Franc, side-by-side

(Re-Tasted March 2012) ... Let me just start out by saying that I am a little shocked that I had no pre-tasted notes from these wines, so I had to look a few places before finding something on my Lost and Found site; but now that we are all linked in it's time to look at what happened when I conducted an interesting experiment with my wine class that proved to have some very interesting and intriguing results ...

The "experiment", as I like to call it, was done to see if they liked older wines and, in particular, if they liked older Ontario wines, to show vintage variation and to see how the wines held up in the eyes of 'your average every day wine drinker', they are not seasoned wine types.  I poured for them, what I believe to be, Ontario's signature red grape from two similar but wildly different vintages.  First allow me to explain my vintage comment:  2002 was the first "great" vintage of the 2000's ... 2001 had that possibility in its pedigree, but "the lady bug" incident in Ontario spoiled many bottles, therefore the 2001 vintage will forever have an asterisks beside it.  Thankfully that was not the case from either of these wines.  I poured Southbrook's 2001 & 2002 Triomphe Cabernet Franc side-by-side for my class (blind I might add) and sat back while they nosed and tasted the two wines.  At first there was a lot of talk about the smell of the wine ... but as I explained during the reveal, "if you had been locked in a bottle for 10 years, you'd smell pretty funky too."  My real moment of pride came when Gary (a returning student) piped up with the comment, "are they the same wines from different years?"  When pressed he added, "cause they smell similar."

As for the results of the tasting ... within about 10 minutes the wines began to open and all the kidding was dropped in favour of a few oooo's and ahhhh's about the development of the wine, both aromatically and palately ... the 2001 had balsamic and tobacco on the nose, a smooth palate which carried with it the sweetness of dried fruit.  The 2002 was still a little rough around the edges, but with a real drink-ability to it that suggested a few more years would do it justice.  In the end, the class preferred the 2001 four-to-one; but it would be an interesting test to try again in 2-3 years.

February 23, 2012

Lakeview 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

(Re-Tasted February 2010) ...  Many who follow this blog or any of my other writing about the wines that I drink know that I am anti plastic cork.  For the most part I find them an inferior closure that is only good for "drink now" wines - if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself face to face with an over 5 year old wine sealed with plastic you are most likely a goner (or at least the wine is) and you should find another bottle.  It happened with the brother of this wine, the 2005 Merlot, so I suspect the same would apply to the Cab.  But a funny thing happened with this wine - it actually came through okay.  Maybe I am just so used to being disappointed that when I am not, or not fully, the slightest bit of normalcy in the bottle is reason to celebrate ... and trust me I did go over this wine thoroughly.  The nose is full of raspberry liqueur, blackberry, anise and even some cedar notes.  The palate proved to have more of that woody-cedary sensation, spicy and dry on the tongue with rougher than expected tannins; dark fruit and cocoa powder also made an appearance.  A decent wine, and sealed under a plastic cork, wow, I'm shocked, I guess this proves that every dog really does have its day.  I have two more of these wines kicking around the cellar, I guess time will tell if they survived also - I know the other 2 bottles of Merlot I had were shot to ... (you know what).  If you have any in your cellar my advice would be to drink these bottles sooner rather than later - the law of averages are not on your side.

February 2, 2012

Mastronardi NV a'Dorah

(Re-Tasted February 2009) ... Released sometime in 2007, this is a non-vintage sparkler made in "Cuvee Close" or charmat method ... it was part of Martronardi's first batch of sparkling wine, which they decided to call "a'Dorah":  "the wine of romance and seduction ... that ignites your passion for life."  A light, fruit driven sparkler in its youth (and meant to be drunk that way) it has become something quite different and exotic now that it has a few years under its belt.  The nose is caramel corn with floral and honey notes, while the flavours dole out honeyed apricots, canned peaches and hints of orange peel, leading to a bruised apple finish with a surprising, and pleasant, Barlett pear linger.

January 26, 2012

Two Southbrook Wines 2001 and 2002


(Re-Tasted January 2012) ... In truth one of these wines should be in the Lost & Found edition, but out of the two: Southbrook 2001 Triomphe Cbernet Sauvignon and the 2002 Cabernet Merlot ... one was a complete failure and the note would read "blech" ... so instead I decided to put them together here.  Funny part is, the better wine is not the one you'd expect.  

Starting with the Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon, the (at the time) high end wine on the Southbrook depth-chart - I am sad to report that this wine was 'buggy' ... what I mean by that is that in 2001 the big lady bug infestation in Ontario ruined a whole lotta wine ... Southbrook's 2001 Triomphe's seemed to have been immune to that until now, with ten years under its belt, with flavours and aromas becoming more delicate, the wine can no longer hide the fact the bug aromas and especially the flavour are in there.  The better of the two wines turned out to be the 2002 Cabernet Merlot ... this wine was on the complete opposite end of the scale as it was on the "low end" of the Southbrook portfolio.  Now some might not be partial to green bell peppers, considering it to be unripe fruit, but that aroma and flavour were real hallmarks in both the 2001 and 2002 of these wines.  Today it is showing a roasted and peppered green pepper on both the nose and palate ... reminded me of shish-kabobs or veggies on the BBQ.

Tawse 2006 Echos Bistro Red

(Re-Tasted January 2012) ... What a difference 6 years can make.  I just read over my review from October 23, 2007 about this wine, and boy was I crowing about it ... but in hindsight I should have seen this coming a mile away.  2006 was not the greatest of vintages in Ontario and yet there I was telling you this wine would out-last it's 2005 counterpart (something tells me I have to go back and try that wine just to see which is drinking better). I guess I was just so happy to see a wine under $25 from Tawse that I was blinded by everything else.  Now I am not saying this wine is over the hill and should be tossed immediately, but it sure isn't going to be getting any better any time soon, so waiting is not an option with this one.  When first poured all seemed fine, but within 20 minutes a touch of volatile acidity seemed to come wafting out of the glass, and I just could not get rid of it.  The flavours were all dried fruit and spiced wood, the buddy I was tasting with called it "fruit leather" (he has kids so he is more familiar with this confection than I am) - there was also the disjointed smell of blackberries and alcohol ... in the end the wine just seemed to be more wood-spice than fruit and that's too bad.  I would say drink with a grain of salt, but Iam not sure salt would help - just keep an eye, and your mind, on the age of the wine: as an older wine from a so-so vintage it's not bad.