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