December 30, 2013

Marynissen Estates 2002 Cabernet Franc

Found December 2013

This is a dichotomy of a wine, and right from the get go I was not sure whether I liked it or not.  The aromas were not pleasant, nor did they really come around, a cross between Buckley's cough syrup, rotting leaves and dried tobacco, by the two hour mark some black licorice materialized and that added a little pleasantness to the smells (a very little pleasantness) - otherwise it was not a wine I liked dipping my nose into.  And what's worse, if you just let it sit in the glass it filled the room with those oddball smells (aerating it created the better aromas of what I mentioned earlier).  But that is only have the story.  The palate more than made up for the nose, and what's even more exciting are the changes that occurred, over the two hours in was in my glass, were in direct opposition of the aromas.  The tastes started out with lots of tobacco; what made it easy to drink was the smooth nature of the wine, but it still had good acidity backing it up and all with a pleasant mouthfeel.  Over the course of the first hour it developed some dried-raspberry, along with hints of cinnamon, a delicate white-smokiness and some anise notes.  By hour two there were a definite pleasant smokiness, dried red berries, tobacco, clove, and burnt cedar.  Considering the age and the aromas eminating from the glass this is some pretty awesome stuff - I found some real pleasure in drinking it ... The wine is definitely past its peak but still mighty drinkable, if you can just get passed the smell.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

December 27, 2013

Lailey 2008 Old Vines Chardonnay

(Re-Tasted December 2013) ... Tonight I felt like a Chardonnay, it does not happen often, but for some reason a Chardonnay was calling my name; oh yes, now I remember why, salmon was on the menu.  But I did not feel like just any old Chardonnay, I wanted to try something older and from one of my go-to producers, that is a short-list indeed (as I suspect it is with most people).  Hence I hold in my hand a bottle of Lailey 2008 Old Vines Chardonnay.  In my original review I gave it 4 stars, and if I were to try it and rate it again today I think I would raise that score just a bit.  Everything just seems to have melded so well together and there are flavours and smells that just weren't even thought of back in 2010, in fact the fruit was a little shy back then, today, let's just say, it's not as shy.  The nose kicks things off with vanilla and butterscotch and then as more air gets into this wine the fruit begins to emerge in the form of apricot and grilled pineapple.  Taste is just as exciting, maybe more, but what really floored me was the great acidity that hit the tongue first, then the flavours start to develop, butter and spice are out of the gate first followed by vanilla, coconut and caramel ... as with the aromas fruit is the last thing that starts to show, this time in the form of mac apple, grilled peach and grilled pear. Very tasty and very appealing ... I have a couple more bottles kicking about and look forward to trying another ... soon; if you have any, now's a good time to give it another go.


December 19, 2013

Konzelmann Estate Winery 2006 Shiraz

(Re-Tasted December 2013) ... In 2006 Konzelmann made a lovely, juicy, peppery, black cherry and spicy Shiraz for a mere $12.95 ... it's the kind of wine that you would drink by the gallon and never look back at.  Well, that is not my way of doing things, I drank a few but held back a couple of bottles to see what would happen to a $12.95 Shiraz from a vintage like 2006.  I have to say that if the nose was any indication of what I was going to find on the palate then I should have stopped immediately, it was pretty stinky right from the get go; but thankfully I'm a professional and have encountered off aromas but with good palate results, and this wine possessed that quality:  the palate kept me coming back sip after sip, I just didn't breathe in when my nose was in the glass.  This wine is a perfect example of the smell taking you part of the way there, but the palate taking you home.  Nose was overly-earthy with elements of pepper corn, while the palate was pleasantly raspberry, white  pepper with some smoky notes.  As the wine sat in the glass the nose rarely got any better than what it started out as, but the palate finishes with a dried raspberry smokiness that is quite appealing ... pretty good for a 2006 - drink up now.

December 17, 2013

Calamus Estate 2007 Meritage

(Re-Tasted December 2013) ...  It's time for another Taste it Again wine and this time I've got a bottle of Calamus 2007 Meritage to put through the rigors of re-tasting.  6 years from Vintage date and long ago sold out, this wine was incredibly popular and one of the best wines made at this young winery up to that time.  I came across this wine resting in my sideboard as one I had set aside to drink soon and see how it was showing, I have another bottle lying down in the cellar for a few more years to see the ageablility of the 2007 vintage.  So this is a wine we will revisit in years to come.  It's important to note this wine is sealed with a screwcap, does that play a part in what is to come?  We'll see.  The wine seemed to 'open' in a variety stages:  at first the nose was black licorice and cocoa with some earthy, black raspberry, mocha and black cherry - very appealing and enticing, definitely a good sign, now if only the flavours will be that complex.  The palate started out with coffee, cocoa, and hints of smoke ... but as the nose continued with those great aromas the palate seemed to grow thinner.  Sure there's a smooth spicy note to the finish but the middle seems kinda hollow, it's a donut of a wine at this point: nice beginning pleasant finish but nothing in the middle to hold it up.  After an hour the wine lost it's earthiness but still remains a little hollow down the middle and a woodiness is starting to come through.  Half-an-hour after that things are finally coming into balance, that wood finish is still dominating but the front palate says mocha and cassis ... As I mentioned, I still have another bottle and it should be interesting to open this wine up again in a few years.  At the moment you need to decant or give it time in glass.

November 25, 2013

Vineland Estates 2005 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted November 2013) ... It's been over three years since last I re-visited this wine and tonight while combing through the cellar for something to drink I found it and thought it an interesting wine to try.  I think what I am most astonished about here is the palate, smoky with a touch of woodsiness, good acidity with something herbal creeping in but nothing unpleasant.  Taste-wise it doesn't seem to have a lot of fruit, as the smokiness seems to have taken over, but there's plenty to get excited about as it is smooth and ends with hints of anise and a touch of leather.  On the nose we have some smoked-vanilla-raspberry, not fresh, but smoked so that the fruit aromas act as an enhancer to the smokiness.  The palate seems to continue to smooth and become somewhat of a quaffer that shows some vanilla in the mix and there's a cedary-aspect that continues to resolve itself.  It's quite complex and interesting and altogether fun to taste and smell. The thing I keep coming back to is that this 8 year old wine cost a measly $12.95 back when I bought it, and it has withstood more than a wine of that price point should - as someone once told me about a 10-year old microwave I was throwing out - "it doesn't owe you anything".  I still have a few bottles in my cellar , I may not write them all up because I am certain this holiday season the rest of them will be coming out of the cellar - it's drinking very well right now ... okay, I might hold one back just to see.

November 19, 2013

Jackson-Triggs 2004 Delaine Vineyard Syrah

Found November 2013

This past Saturday we had a friend over and I decided to pull out some older wines, well two.  One was a bottle of Hillebrand Wild Ferment Chardonnay from 2006, which turned out to be quite a beauty - the other was even older and even more amazing, because if you think of the vintage in Ontario that particular year (2004), and consider the grape variety of this wine, you'll think it pretty amazing indeed that this wine survived as long, and as well, as it did.  Upon opening there was an earthy nuance that came from the wine but it settled down quickly and things started to happen, both on the nose and the palate.  Blueberry and white pepper emerged, then some time later there were elements of smoky dried fruit then it turned into definitive aromas (and the occasion taste) of Montreal smoked meats with just a touch of thyme (there was an herbal quality that took us a while to put our collective fingers on - or should I say our noses around, but this is what we all agreed upon in the end).  An amazing find in the cellar and a wine filled with so much complexity.  If you have this in the cellar I think it's time to pull out this bottle of 9-year-old Syrah and enjoy.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

November 18, 2013

Hillebrand 2006 Wild Ferment Chardonnay

(Re-Tasted November 2013) ... The full name of this wine is (bare with me): Hillebrand 2006 Showcase Mori Vineyard Barrel No. 6038 Radoux French Puncheon Wild Ferment Chardonnay - now try saying that 5 times fast ... anyway, I opened this up on a Saturday night with a real Chardonnay fanatic (who seems to have turned me into, at the very least, an ABCer open to Chardonnay).  It is the oldest Chardonnay in my cellar and being a fan of wild ferment wines (in their youth) I was excited to give this a try to see how it ages ... if you're thinking fresh fruit, forget about it, but if you're into caramel, toffee, baked dried apple, burnt butter, touches of apricot and peach pit then this wine definitely delivers on all levels, plus more.  It has held up well but I think now is the time to be drinking it, waiting won't give you anything more that you're really looking for.

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November 14, 2013

Henry of Pelham 2007 Reserve Cabernet/Merlot

(Re-Tasted November 2013) ... Please excuse me if I get a little more effusive than usual about a Taste it Again wine but I'm telling you this might be one of the best taste it again wines I have re-tasted in quite some time ... granted it is only (according to the review) 2 years from tasting date - but something tells me I have tasted this earlier than that and the dating of the original tasting might be a little off.  But let's go through this wine bit by bit so that you know why it is so awesome.  The nose screams of dark fruit: blackberry, black cherry and plum along with cinnamon and clove.  Palate still has wonderful tannin structure and comes off as really sexy in the mouth with a smoky quality, hints of cocoa, great spice balanced with vanilla, blackberry and cassis - there's also some lovely mocha-spice on the finish. If you have some of this wine in your cellar it is drinking beautifully right now, if you don't have any, find someone who does, this is a really beauty that seems to just keep on getting better and I don't think it has reached its plateau quite yet; it still has a few years but I'm telling you now is as good a time as any.

October 28, 2013

Inniskillin 2006 Reserve Series Pinot Noir

This was a surprise of a wine.  Not that I didn't think it would age, but that it aged so well.  2006 was a year that Pinot Noir would have thrived as it was not an incredible vintage for big heavy reds, but the lighter ones would have done quite well and the acidity would have been good for things like Chardonnay, Riesling, Gamay and, of course, Pinot Noir - wines that really need the acidity to make them sing in the glass and helps them age well.  The Inniskillin 2006 Reserve Series Pinot Noir has a gold label, as you can see from the picture, and it truly deserves the gold status is gave itself.  Dried strawberry, earthy and smooth right from the get go and throughout the time I drank it; it was a delightfully tasty wine with a med long finish and something else that showed was a seam of strawberry that appeared in many facets and stages thru the course of the drinking.  The above noted flavours and smells were always there but there was also a myriad of others that came and went over the course of the couple of hours I sipped on it: things like vanilla, cedar, clove and cinnamon all managed to make and appearance and add to the enjoyment of this wine.  If you have some of this in the cellar it is now time to drink.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

October 25, 2013

Stoney Ridge 2005 Cranberry Wine

(Re-Tasted October 2013) ... I won't belabor this review.  I'm gonna get right to the point and not beat around the bush.  I'm gonna come right out and say it and not make you wait for it.  Okay, enough lolly-gagging around, let's get right to this ... this wine was actually much much much better than expected.  When I pulled it out around the Thanksgiving table many were wondering what the heck I was thinking bringing such an old unimpressive looking bottle to the family dinner (the label looks like something I made at home).  But once it was opened we all started singing a different tune, this wine had kept those lovely tart cranberry notes and had ditched the cranberry cocktail aspect it had when it was young.  Then my intrepid sister-in-law suggested that it might be a good base for a holiday themed spritzer and out of what was originally seen as a daring wine to open turned out to be the hit of the evening ... I also got a picture of the stained bottle and even that was impressive - you can actually see a line running down the side of the bottle where the colouring and the bottom side of the bottle ended up being darker than the top side - I'll publish it here too.

Lailey Vineyard 2008 Zweigelt

Found October 2013

It causes me great pains to write such a review - because I am usually a fan of wines from Lailey - but at Thanksgiving I decided to open a few older bottles with the family.   Now I have to take some responsibility for this bottle, after all I was the one who waited this long to open it; but how else do we learn about older wine unless we store them away and open them on a rainy day.  Now I know Zweigelt isn't known for it's robust and fresh fruit character but this one was pure badness:  leathery, pencil shavings, band-aid along with caraway seed, and even more band-aid.  There was not one person who could find a redeeming feature about it ... chalk this one up to experience - thankfully we had some other excellent bottles that night.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

October 24, 2013

Maleta Vineyards 2001 Meritage

Found October 2013

Shhh, don't tell my wife, but I kinda enjoy when she leaves town to visit her family for a few days.  I have nothing to hide but if she saw the amount of time I spend in my wine cellar that weekend she would have flipped (why was I not cleaning other parts of the house?)  Now, I did not spend 24 hours or anything silly like that, I just took a few hours to re-arrange and move stuff around and also make some discoveries, like this 2001 Maleta Meritage.  I was really looking forward to this one as it had been a silver medal winner (as the sticker on the bottle proudly proclaimed) and 2001 was a pretty good year for reds in Ontario.  Except for one little spotted creature it would have been a perfect year ... and alas the Asian Lady Beetle had infected this wine as well.  Back when this wine won its award I am sure it was not as pronounced, but today it's all rancid peanut on the nose that just keeps getting stronger the longer it stays open ... sadly, you could make out that lovely fruit that would have been there if not for that off putting nose (especially on the palate) - flavours were muted, but another surprise was that the fruit and acidity still seem to be very much intact ... it's really just the off-putting nose, and the muting of the fruit that stands in its way.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

October 4, 2013

Between the Lines 2009 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted October 2013) ... It's not usual that I re-look at a wine after less than three years, but this unoaked number isn't going to last forever, so if you have some in the cellar it would be a good time to listen up.  When we last looked at this wine in June of 2011 it was all fruit, lovely, rich, red fruit.  Now 2+ years later it has developed into something more.  There's a nice tobacco, blueberry and raspberry aroma and follows onto the palate where you  do find an underlay of tobacco leaf.  Gone are the ripe red fruits, replaced by some secondary characteristics that play well with what brought this wine to the dance in the first place: fruit.  It's drinking really well now, it's smooth and delicious and very tasty - but drink it up soon, because it's unoaked you'll want to enjoy it while it still has something to offer.  

September 24, 2013

Tawse 2004 Dry Riesling

(Re-Tasted September 2013) ... I really want to give this bottle the benefit of the doubt - but I can't.  I want to say that maybe it was something I did - but I can't believe that to be true.  We opened this bottle while on an overnight trip to Stratford, I thought it would be interesting to taste this 2004 Dry versus the newer 2012 Quarry Road Riesling, so I brought a bottle of each.  I chilled them both the same length of time in our room fridge, and even waited till after dinner to give them an extra hour of chill time.  Excited I opened the 2004 first, the cork broke in half, but I can live with that - but what was in the bottle I could not live with.  It was absolutely beyond words how bad this was, and my wife, a Riesling devotee, had nothing positive to say about this wine:  she could barely choke down the first sip and a second sip she spit back into the glass - if you know my wife she does not spit wine ... ever.  The nose was off-putting and the flavours were not much better, in fact they were non-existent.  Alas I thought this wine would last a good 10 years but instead it was probably dead long ago ... if I said it was too dry and had no sweetness to balance it for the long haul does that make sense?  If somebody had a recent encounter with this bottle that was better than mine please do let me know.  By the way, the 2012 Quarry Road Riesling was stunning (as usual).

September 21, 2013

Inniskillin 2004 Montague Vineyard Merlot

(Re-Tasted September 2013) ... I have often said that Ontario Merlot takes time to come around, maybe not this much time, but time none-the-less.  Here we are 9 years from vintage date and I am opening a bottle from a year not known for its red wine.  I was inspired to do so by a recent trip to the Great Estates of Niagara wineries (Jackson-Triggs, Le Clos Jordanne and, yes, Inniskillin) on which we stopped off to see the grapes hanging in the Montague vineyard.  I was a fan of the reserve single vineyard reds that came out of the winery this year (2004), which included a Shiraz and a Pinot Noir from such vineyards as Brae Burn and Klose.  Not sure why the Merlot was the one that caught my eye tonight, I still have all three wines in the cellar, but maybe it was the homemade chili we were having with dinner.  This was a very interesting wine when first poured and then as the hour progressed:  mocha / coffee was the first thing I smelled, then came licorice, a hint of smoke and oaky notes ... these all pretty much followed onto the palate ... what was lacking was an element of fruit - that came a little later.  About the 45 minute mark there was some definite smoked-dried-cherry that seemed to hang around pleasantly from mid-palate onward.  I am not sure how long that stayed as I finished the glass on that high.  You have to like mainly secondary and tertiary flavours on your wine to still be enjoying this one - or at least be intrigued by older Ontario Merlot.

September 20, 2013

Tawse 2009 Spark Rosé

(Re-Tasted September 2013) ... Friday night, I can't think of a better reason to pour a glass of bubbly - it's a personal celebration of getting through another week.  Tonight I felt like a Rose in the bubbly department and also decided not to dive very deep into the cellar as I picked out this rather recent release from Tawse.  It's still a pretty (in colour) and delicate bottle, but the nose has definitely changed over the past two years since first I tried it.  The aromas have become very sweet in nature: apple, raspberry and lemonade - quite inviting.  But the palate is far from sweet, in fact it is downright mouth puckering, sure there's a hint of fresh raspberry mixed in for added flavour, but what really stood out is the great lemon / citrus which brings with it a massive hit of cleansing acidity ... for those who like to smell 'em sweet but taste 'em dry this has turned into something you can really dig in to.

September 1, 2013

Hillebrand 2005 Collectors' Choice Cabernet/Merlot

(Re-Tasted August 2013) ... This wine is from the very good 2005 vintage and should have some longevity in the bottle - and whether it does or does not depends on how you like your wine.  At first the wine was all smoky and very dry showing no fruit ... so I put a Vinoair single glass aerator on the bottle and poured myself a glass: suddenly we had fruit on the nose in the form of dried blackberry, dried cherry with oak spice.  The palate was dried dark fruit with smoky notes along with cinnamon and clove but still with lots of oak notes.  It took about 30 minutes for the oak to take over making the wine harsh and chalky ... I then poured another glass without the aerator and got another 30 minutes of drinking before the oak took over again.  So it's going to depend on whether you like those strong oaky notes or not ... or how fast you're willing to drink it - by the hour mark no matter what I did it was mostly chalky with lots of oak spice.

August 24, 2013

Muscedere Vineyards 2005 Canadian Oaked Chardonnay

(Re-Tasted August 2013) ... The boys at Muscedere have a lot to be proud of ... over the past decade they have successfully built one of the premier go-to wineries in the Lake Erie North Shore, complete with some of the best reds and a great little back deck with pizza oven.  Yup, the Muscedere boys have a lot to be proud of ... but this wine is not one of them.  I was really looking forward to opening and (re)trying this wine: a Canadian oaked Chardonnay from a hot vintage at only 8 years of age should still have some interesting things going for it.  I would like to be sitting here telling you about the lovely baked fruit, the tropical notes, the mild oak flavouring (from only 4 months in oak) and how it has all come together in its maturity; but 2005 was the year of the fake cork (some call them synthetic) and Muscedere was swept into the vortex.  While synthetics may be fine on drink-now style wines (2-3 years) aging is not their forte.  This wine started off badly and just kept getting worse - after only 5 minutes it was completely undrinkable:  oxidative and cabbagey notes started it off followed by apple cider vinegar and rancid coconut - an absolutely horrible wine to smell or taste, it was literally undrinkable.  Sorry boys this might not have been fully your fault but you did pick the closure.

August 23, 2013

Cornerstone Estate 2006 Riesling Reserve

(Re-Tasted August 2013) ... If Jerry Kopanski has ever wondered why Cornerstone winery isn't a more widely known winery it's because of nasty pieces of business like this - and poor winemaking decisions.  Now before I go on let me say I have met Jerry (owner of Cornerstone) and like him very much - he's genuinely a nice guy - in fact I wrote his winery up in my early days (see here).  Of course we all know where nice guys end up , and being nice gets you nowhere when shady winemakers are looking to ply their "craft" on unsuspecting owners, and then you have the guys selling you things that will "make your wine better" (ie: closure).  This Reserve Riesling was sweetened with "ice wine quality" juice - it was decent in its prime and showed potential to be interesting when it matured - but here we
are 7 years on and it is attrocious.  The main reason is the cork: plastic ... I touched the corkscrew to the cork and it began to sink into the bottle - it took a concerted effort to grab it and keep it from going further in.  It was loose and it did not need any effort to remove it, there was also little to no pop, more like a simple slide and out.  The wine itself was orange in colour, literally orange!  (I hope the picture does it justice)  Being the consummate professional I am I gave it a taste: oxidized apple juice with some tin can linger - one is the result of the cork, the other from the winemaking.  So both contributed to the downfall of this wine.  On a positive note for Cornerstone, with the hiring of Andrzej Lipinski (a bona fide winemaker) as the new winemaker, Jerry Kopanski and Cornerstone are finally taking steps in the right direction, and hopefully putting the past behind them. 

NB:  I have one bottle left of this wine - I will give it another try, just in case.  But I hold no hope out that it will be - maybe I'll be surprised.

Lailey 2007 Niagara Peninsula Riesling

(Re-Tasted August 2013) ... The '07 Niagara River was surprisingly vibrant and gave me hope for this bottle - but the Niagara Peninsula left me a little cold, and I'm not just talking about the temperature of the wine.  There were hints of lime throughout, and they kept reappearing on the nose, palate and finish - but the acidity was lackluster and because due to that fact, diminished the complete experience of the wine.  There were hints of lemon zest and Vaseline on the nose; in the mouth the best part was the sweet mid-palate that turned into a lime cordial-like finish; but alas there really was no acidity to speak of to prop the whole thing up - thus the wine eventually tasted flat and sweet by the middle of the first glass.  But it was much better than the next wine we opened ... comparatively this one was a treat (I guess it really is all about perspective).

August 22, 2013

Tawse 2007 Sketches of Niagara Riesling

(Re-Tasted August 2013) ... There is a review in here somewhere, just bear with me ... It's been a long couple of days, my wife (a nurse) had some new software installed at her work place and they are going thru the growing pains of learning it correctly (this is not an easy process it seems, she has been on the phone more in the last two days then she has in the three years we've been married).  Anyway the call came to me downstairs at about 5:00pm - "I need a drink" ... she wanted something fruity, so I was about to pull out a Riesling (her favourite) when she said, "I need something stronger - can you make something with Vodka".  So that I didn't get yelled at (like the people on the other end of the phone) I dutifully went off and created something using frozen berries, coconut water and, yes, Vodka.  I then quietly opened this bottle of Sketches for myself.  Hints of petrol greeted the nose, but nothing that was overpowering, they were subtle and mixed with lemon peel.  The palate was also filled with lemony goodness along with sweet peach and some lemon drop candy on the finish - I found the wine to be incredibly quaffable and smooth.  The acidity seemed to be lacking, but it was still a highly drinkable wine.  If you have any in your cellar this is a perfect time to drink it.

As for my wife, she finished off her drink in record time and heard my glass hit the counter while I was making dinner - she immediately wanted to know what I was drinking ... when I told her Riesling she wanted a glass of that too.  This software is tougher than I thought ... but my wife is tougher still, she will overcome ... and if not then we have enough booze to numb the pain.  More Riesling, STAT.

August 2, 2013

The Tale of Two Lailey Wines - 2008 & 2009

(Re-Tasted August 2013) ... Friday night turned out to be Chardonnay Night in My Backyard - we had a friend over and she's a big Chardonnay fan, and recently we have been drinking, or at least tasting, quite of bit of the grape.  We had tried quite a few good one's and my wife decided we should have our friend over to taste some of our favourites ... but then something happened on the way from concept to execution - I changed the program.  Instead of pouring a number of recent Chardonnays I dug a little deeper into the cellar
and pulled out two older bottles.  Now, not being a big Chardonnay fan from way back, my cellar does not run deep in older vintages of Chardonnay - ask me for a Zinfandel or a Cabernet Franc and I am sure I've got something from the late 90's but a Chardonnay, my last of the 2004's were consumed earlier this year and after that I might have something from 2007 and onward. 

The plan was to start new and work back - the first was from Closson Chase, then I pulled two more out, and as it turned out both were from Lailey (one of the wines was not in the original plan).  The 2009 Canadian Oak was a four star wine, when I rated it back in June of 2011, and today it shows the acidity of the vintage, it still has lovely Chardonnay character but the acidity is the thing most noticeable - sipping it on its own it was a little harsh, but when paired with appetizers it held up really well.  The other wine was the 2008 Brickyard, back in 2010 I gave it a rare 5-star rating, and I think it still deserves it.  The wine was smooth and buttery with vanilla notes, but it was the fruit that was still vibrant and ever-present riding the wave of butter and vanilla - it's as if the wine has barely aged a day - it's still wildly drinkable, paired great with the rosemary salmon, and had just a light dusting of caramel for something sweet on the finish. 

August 1, 2013

Magnotta 2002 Cabernet Franc, Limited Edition

Found August 2013

Funny that this should be a Lost and Found bottle, I have three in the cellar, well two now.  Not quite sure why I was lying this down so long, and especially on my, what I call, "Drink Now" rack - I guess the now never came, until ... well ... now.  The original thought for tonight was to have this bottle with chicken Parmesan, but due to a heavier than expected lunch we decided on a lighter scallop and peas meal - but there is no need to miss out on trying a wine just because you've changed the menu, fact is I drank a glass while cooking and another half glass after dinner.  That should mean I found the wine to be delicious, right?  Well I wouldn't go that far.  It was definitely drinkable, the nose was smoke with lots of black raspberry notes; the palate started off smoky and stayed that way ... other elements kept coming in and out but smoky always stayed ... there was also plenty of oak and some dried fruit, but above all it was oaky and smoky with wood tannins taking over near the end (two hours after opening).  Those other two bottles will have to be consumed rather quickly before the wood and smoke fully over-take.  Might be a nice pairing with some burgers on the charcoal grill ... that'll be my next experiment.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable +

Norman Hardie 2005 Riesling

(Re-Tasted August 2013) ... It would seem I go back to this wine every four years, it's a 2005 and I have tried it in 2009 and now in 2013, at this rate I guess my last bottle is scheduled to be re-tasted sometime in 2017.  The "problem" last time was the premature petrol that had taken over the bottle and I would have to say it is even more prevalent and even more omnipresent than it was back in 2009.  The petrol never does blow off, as it did in 2009, but there is a pleasant backdrop of lemon pith and zest that still makes it a very drinkable wine as long as you can get passed the gas (and yes, I did say 'pass the gas').  If you have some left in your cellar it's time to drink up, on the other hand, I might wait another 4 years just as an experiment - after all, I've waited this long.  Funny to note that I was one of the first to purchase this wine from Norm, the date is actually handwritten, done before he got the proper officially dated labels in.

July 10, 2013

Hillebrand 2006 Trius White

(Re-Tasted July 2013) ... This should be the last of the Hillebrand re-tastes for some time, it's interesting to see what comes out of some of these blind boxes as to what I'll be tasting again ... over the past month there have been a lot of Hillebrand wines.  This so happened to be the first vintage of the "white" which was introduced to the winery by winemaker Darryl Brooker and released July 1, 2007 - it is a blend of Gewurztraminer and Riesling with some oaked Gris and unoaked Chardonnay added for good measure.  My original notes say it was meant as a drink now wine (which was probably told to me by Darryl), but here we are 7 years later and it seems to still have quite a bit of stuffing left.  The nose is zesty with grapefruit, a cross of mac and green apple and some peach pit.  The palate is still front loaded with citrus and orange peel along with a grapefruit pith kinda finish.  After about 45 minutes after opening the wine seemed to get tired, so that's probably what Darryl meant when he said "drink now", he meant open and drink now not that particular year, because this wine has aged quite nicely, guess I should have gotten some clarification on his statement.  If you have some in the cellar bring it out and enjoy it.

July 8, 2013

Back to Back Vintages of Trius Dry Riesling: 2006 & 2007

(Re-Tasted July 2013) ... People are going to start to believe I have stock in Hillebrand with the amount of wines I have reviewed lately in this column ... but as it turns our it is just their turn to get picked on as their wines have come up in the run.  I noticed that one of the wines had an original review published at the time of its release, the other has a note some 5 years later in the Lost and Found column, both are linked above.  Let's start with the 2007 wine, which is the one that failed to garner an original review and  languished until I tried it last year around this time. Turns out that last year it was merely tolerable, a year later it is almost undrinkable (unless you have nothing else about the house and are dying for a drink).  The 2007 is fat, flat and uninspiring ... the nose is much better than the palate as it delivers grapefruit, lemon and lanolin notes; also noted was that the citrus fruit is zest based and not fresh.  The acidity on the palate is practically non-existent and the wine comes off as thick and sweet but with a bitter and unpleasant finish.  In 2012 I said "the wine gained more of an apple juice character", now I would say it's apple juice that has gone sour.  The 2006 is a completely different story, one year older this wine still comes off as fresh and lively:  pear, peach and apple rule the nose, with pear being the most prominent ... the palate retains a healthy dose of acidity and it appears on the tip of the tongue as well as lingers on the finish.  Mid-palate comes off a tad sweet with all that great white fruit character, but the finish forgoes any notion of sweetness for a mix of green apple and peach with hints of limeade ... okay so maybe sweet and mouth pucker fight it out, but very pleasantly ... the big winner here is the 2006 ... by a landslide.

July 6, 2013

Coyote's Run 2009 Pinot Blanc

(Re-Tasted July 2013) ... Now most people wouldn't waste their time with a four year old Pinot Blanc, but knowing that the year in Ontario was known for big acidity this wine was intriguing to me.  To show my confidence in it I brought it along to an afternoon shindig (but I'm not totally off my nut, I did bring a backup).  I'll tip my hat here when I tell you I have to say I was rightfully impressed with this wine, it started off with a nose of grapefruit pith but then turned into some real pleasant pear and melon notes - both are aromas I am used to in Pinot Blanc.  The grapefruit was also present on the palate, more so than the nose, and it seemed to stick around.  Bosc pear and green apple showed up mid-palate and fought it out all the way to the finish.  I think the most impressive part was the acidity, it still managed to hold this wine together.  Now I know some will argue the closure played a part in keeping this wine fresh (screwcap) - but I would say the weather from that season played an even bigger part giving it all that acidity to keep it fresh and lively, even at the improbable age of 4 ... if you are still holding onto a bottle or two of this wine and are wondering whether to put it in a sauce or drink it my advice is to drink and enjoy, it's a delight.

July 4, 2013

Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2006 'Triangle Vineyard' Riesling

(Re-Tasted July 2013) ... Riesling fans had a new face on the Riesling frontier to explore in the 2006 vintage - it was the family of Rieslings from Thirty Bench:  three vineyard designates (Steel, Wood and Triangle) and a bottle of blended Riesling that encompassed all three vineyards.  Triangle is usually the most mineral, the most citrus-based, the driest and the one Riesling fans covet because of all the classic Riesling characters that offers.  But now some 7 years later it was time to re-look and re-taste this wine ... and let me tell you it is just as good, or maybe even better, now that it has some good age on it. Gone is the petrol that seemed to be there from the get go, now it's a lovely citrus and mineral blend, and it still tastes and feels fresh in the mouth.  The nose starts with lime and mineral and never lets up all the way to the finish ... the palate has lemon-lime zest with plenty of mineral, acidity and a long lingering finish.  This is one fantastic wine with no sign that it is ready to give up yet, or any time soon.

June 30, 2013

Cave Spring Cellars 2005 La Penna

Found June 2013

It's not that I have never tried this wine before, but this is a wine that upon released was so big it was hard to gauge where it was going to be.  This was one of the first Amarone-style wines that was made in Ontario and it only figures that long-time Cave Spring winemaker Angelo Pavan would give it ago.  Now, with some years under the cork I decided it was time to give this wine another go ... and it was delicious.  A nose of cherry, chocolate and sweet vanilla lured you in for a taste and what a taste it was.  Nice cherry and spice with cocoa and vanilla all lending a part to the long finish.  As it sat in the glass a spiced cocoa sensation took over the finish and the mid-palate had lots of big lush fruit like cherry and blackberry.  This wine felt and tasted fresh in the mouth, was lively and it also had a decent amount of acidity to keep it from being cloying or thick.  With 14% alcohol it was a heavy-weight without the heavy-weight feel.  I do believe this wine still have another 5-7 years with ease.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

Hillebrand 2005 Artist Series Meritage

Click here to read the original review from June 2008

(Re-Tasted June 2013) ... On a night where three wines were opened there is always a risk that one is not going to be liked ... this was not exactly the case with this Hillebrand Meritage, but the problem was the other two wines were more interesting.  This three grape blend was everything it should be, the nose had slightly dried black cherry and blackberry; the palate followed the nose pretty closely adding spice and pepper then finished long with pepper, cassis and spices.  Within half and hour there were peppered-strawberries with some pretty intense tannins ... but it never became anyone's favourite wine ... it had a little of everything but not a lot of anything anybody really thought special.  Too bad, on any other night this would have been a winner.  As for the wine itself, it drank very well and is holding up well too.  Sealed with a screwcap - just thought I would throw that out there.

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Hernder Estate 2004 Merlot

Click here to read the original review from August 2008

(Re-Tasted June 2013) ... This is one of those wines that I have been eying up for probably the last two or three weeks wondering when I was going to pop the cork.  2004 was not a great year for red wine in Ontario so one that is 9 years old does not inspire confidence, plus it's everyone's love to hate grape, Merlot.  But Merlot is Ontario is mighty different.  For one, young Merlot is usually a little tight and harsh, so it takes a few years to develop that signature smooth and easy Merlot-ness that California and Chile seem to have right from the get-go.  This one did not start off very well ... the aromas were funky and weird and there was even a note of stinky blue cheese to it ... this does not bode well.  The palate was pretty rough and tumble with vanilla and cedar being the dominant elements with hints of sour cherry and wood spice ... not only was this wine getting old it was old.  But I thought I would give it a little time to open before I passed complete judgment of thumbs down.  But a funny thing happened between first assessment and "one more try" - the wine woke up.  After about 30-45 minutes a miracle occurred, the stinky nose remained, but the palate opened and became juicy with sweet dried cherry and red licorice ... some spiced cherry also emerged on the nose, but the blue cheese-ness was always lingering about.  If you have any of this wine kicking about you might want to open and decant ... but I also wouldn't wait much longer to enjoy this one.

June 29, 2013

Three Vintages of Hillebrand Trius Red: 2005, 2007, & 2010

(Re-Tasted June 2013) ... What was suppose to be a weekend of Riesling turned into the weekend of interesting reds, starting with this flight of three Hillebrand wines from their flagship Trius line.  My brother invited us for a BBQ on Saturday night and because him and my sister-in-law aren't huge white wine fans I switched my wine-drinking tact for the weekend to be all red.  I thought it quite apropos to bring these bottles to my brother's as he was the first person to buy me a bottle of Trius wine, a 2001 Red, so I knew it was a name he recognized and would be interested in trying.  Finally, I picked these three vintages for a really simple reason:  they represent the last three great red vintages in Ontario.

The 2005 version of this wine is obviously the oldest, but it still had some interesting characteristics that made it very drinkable, and still able to age another few years.  The nose was vanilla-cinnamon dominated with dried black cherry being the fruit most noticeable.  The palate showed an element of wood, mainly cedar, with vanilla and spice/dried cassis and blackberry ... but as it sat in the glass the dried fruit became fuller in the mouth and started to give the wine some nice complexity and not just dried-fruit rubbed wood (which is where it started).  Within about three-quarters-of-an-hour the wine was overtaken by licorice and dried fruit, with the cedar, vanilla and cinnamon notes all taking a backseat.  By the end of an hour-and-a-half the wine had turned into a mocha-coffee treat.  An interesting roller coaster of a taste experience, and the one I elected to take the furthest (meaning I was the one to finish this bottle).

All corks in excellent condition
The 2007 wine seemed to be the smoothest and most accessible of the three wines.  The nose was red fruit dominated, with cherry and raspberry leading the charge; they were followed up by some licorice notes that hid in the background.  Palate was almost juicy with the merest hint of tannins on the back palate, some might call them silky, but at times it was as if they weren't even there.  Strawberry came through on the mid-palate along with raspberry, anise and a nice touch of cinnamon.  As the wine opened in the glass more aromas and flavours emerged like vanilla, clove and nutmeg, but always with those red fruit taking center stage.  This is the one wine that is drinking beautifully right now, and there is nothing harsh to get in its way.  This was the wine my sister-in-law enjoyed the most.

Moving on to the 2010, this wine is still a relative baby, still holding onto some of that baby fat in the form of spice and fruit heft.  The nose is blackberry, cassis, strawberry, cinnamon and spice ... the palate shows some cedar notes along with cinnamon and spice.  There's plenty of dark fruit with hints of red starting to emerge, it also has quite the long finish that proves to be on the spicy/peppery side.  My brother likes his wines a little bigger, brasher and bolder and so this is the one he latched onto.

Three different wines from hot vintages that show different degrees of complexity, but in the end all were good, every bottle was finished and everyone had a favourite; and surprisingly it wasn't all the same bottle.

June 18, 2013

Vineland Estates 2007 Riesling - Semi-Dry

(Re-Tasted June 2013) ... Another 2007 Riesling that proves that something was learned from the 2005 vintage when it comes to maintaining acidity and flavour in Riesling in a hot vintage - instead of having them develop pre-mature petrol in their second year.  This Vineland is a delicious wine that is full of apple and lemon notes with hints of mineral through the middle; in fact it's the balance of the sweetness and acidity that makes this such a delicious and well balanced Riesling, especially at 6 years of age - thought I picked up a hint of petrol but it was fleeting.  This wine has held up better than expected.  Drink now or try holding it for a few more years to see if indeed winemaker Brian Schmidt is getting a handle on hot vintage Riesling ... after sipping on this one I would say he most definitively is.

June 13, 2013

Lailey 2007 Riesling - Niagara River

(Re-Tasted June 2013) ... I'm not sure about your thoughts on the issue, but I for one am leery about warm climate Riesling; so when the hot temps roll into Ontario for extended periods of time over the course of the summer I'm thrilled for the reds but wonder how it will affect the aromatic whites ... and no grape gets more affected that Riesling.  Hot vintage Rieslings are great first out of the gate ... but then in year two they start to develop a huge amount of petrol - almost to the point of being overwhelming.  That was the case with a 2005 Lailey Riesling I had retried in 2009 and plenty of other '05 offerings ... so I have to admit that I was expecting the same thing here.  It seems that somewhere in the interim there was some learning done and this 2007 (another hot Ontario vintage) did not come off as poorly as that 2005.  The nose still retained peach and mineral notes with just the merest hint of petrol, nothing that over-powered the aromas, it lingered lightly in the background.  The palate didn't show much in the way of gas, instead it rose to the table with wet stone and peach pit along with acidity that was still holding on, not a lot mind you, but enough to keep some semblance of balance in the wine ... the thing that really came through was that stoniness.  The 2007 Riesling is holding up surprisingly well, especially when compared, at the same age, to the 2005 version ... not sure how much longer I would keep this wine but it makes for a nice summer sipper this summer for sure.

June 12, 2013

Featherstone 2007 Gewurztraminer

(Re-Tasted June 2013) ... The other day I opened one of my "wine for aging" boxes and discovered a plethora of white wine within: 6 Rieslings to be exact.  Over the course of the weekend I sip and sampled my way through three of them with a mixed bag of results - from decent to delicious.  Amongst all those Rieslings was a bottle of 2007 Gewurztraminer from Featherstone, which seemed to almost reach out and call my name.  Hot vintage Riesling (like 2007) are one thing (namely they develop pre-mature petrol notes), but hot vintage Gewurzt is quite another, and so is aged Gewurzt.  So a day after the Riesling Experience (report coming soon) I opened this bottle of 6 year old Gewurztraminer to find out how it has aged... and I'm happy to say, very well.  The Gewurztraminer showed well on every level: the nose had floral, apricot, lychee and white pepper all playing with your olfactories ... but what the nose gave the palate intensified.  A rich, viscous mouthfeel, the wine seeming to stick to your cheek.  A lovely spicyiness that came through from the very first sip; rich and flavourful with plenty of intensity and a linger of white pepper and apricot on the finish.  Not sure what I'll eat with this but I'm just happy to be drinking it on its own.

As it turned out I had bacon and cheddar cheese burger patties (minus the bun) and it held up rather nicely to the smokiness of the both the bacon and the barbequed burger ... who knew?!?

June 9, 2013

Calamus Estate 2007 Riesling

(Re-Tasted June 2013) ... Suddenly the day became all about Riesling.  We started with a bottle of Rockway 2006 Riesling and it just ballooned from there.  Next thing you knew we had opened 4 different Rieslings (3 from Ontario, 2 older vintages and one 2012).  This Calamus Riesling came at the beginning of the Riesling-glut.  It's from the 2007 vintage, a hot vintage here in Ontario, and one where I find Rieslings did not fair very well over the long haul.  Surprisingly, this aged one was not as bad as others I have tried from that vintage.  The nose started out with lanolin and beeswax notes, and those continued through the entire tasting, there were also some subtle petrol notes ... then came some fruit in the form of Fuji apple, lemonade and lime zest.  The palate dropped the lanolin for extra beeswax while adding apple skin, peach pit and pear puree mid-palate.  The acidity was fairly decent for both its age and vintage leading to a long finish of key lime ... this wine has held up pretty decently all considering, though if I were you, I don't think I'd hold it much longer if you're still holding any at all.

Rockway Glen 2006 RIesling

Found June 2013

Here's a 2006 I found in a box in my cellar from what was once a dodgy producer ... the reason I said "once was" because Rockway Glen now has recently taken on a new name, new identity and new lease-on-life.  Now called Rockway Vineyards the winery is starting to produce a very good small lot line-up of wines under their new winemaker David Stasiuk ... but this wine is from back in the day when the winery was a golf course first and a winery played a very minor second fiddle to that enterprise.  The nose has aromas of lime cordial with a drop of petrol ... the palate is dried apricot and lemon peel, there's also some decent acidity and a bruised apple sweetness to balance it off.  It all ends with a sort of bitter dried lemon peel / pith finish.  It's not the best aged Riesling I've ever tried but it certainly isn't the worst, which is why I am giving it the Lost & Found rating you see at the end of this review, and yes that is a minus sign.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable -

June 6, 2013

3 Years of Rosewood Semillon - 2008, 2009, 2010

(Re-Tasted June 2013) ... This was not my usual tasting that I do in the confines of my own home, nor were these my own bottles (although I do have some back vintages of Rosewood Semillon in my cellar) - this was a tasting arranged by Krystina Roman of Rosewood at Treadwell's restaurant in Port Dalhousie (soon moving to Niagara on the Lake).  The tasting also included the two newest version of the Semillon: 2011 and 2012 (reviews can be found by clicking on the year).  This grape has been an oddity on the Ontario wine scene and its biggest proponent has been Rosewood and their winemaker Natalie Spytkowsky ... Natalie is now gone (from the winery) but the Semillon lives on as you will see from the tasting notes below - interesting to note that all these wines are unoaked.

Rosewood 2010 Semillon ... the nose leaves a little to be desired as all it appears to contain is a bit of waxiness; but where the nose leaves off the palate picks up and runs with it, it's tropically tinged along with big white fruit flavours especially a complete pineapple (skin to fruit).  It has a sexy, full mouthfeel, but is also lower in acidity (this is definitely a vintage variable) - there really is a nice fatness to this wine that fills the mouth with plenty of fruit... still very much alive and quite enjoyable, probably the one most likely to come out of the cellar this summer.

Rosewood 2009 Semillon ... probably one of the more impressive wines in the Semillon line up.  The nose on the 2009 is also quite peculiar but it's on the palate where it shows its true mettle.  Again you find quite a bit of tropicality to the fruit profile along with a touch of lanolin; but the acidity really carries the ball here, and that should come as no surprise as 2009 was known for its juggernaut of acidity, especially in fresh white wines.  This was the wine that showed the best evolution in the glass from first pour to last sip.  Still quite a complex wine worthy of extra time in the cellar.

Rosewood 2008 Semillon ... this is purely a drink now wine, there is no sign of being over the hill and I am sure it will age a few more years in a cellar, but it has a lovely mouthfeel right now, it's soft and gentle with an easy mouthfeel and a purity of fruit performance, especially mid-palate ... finish has some interesting notes about it like anise and vanilla.  Drink now before you lose some of the more interesting aspects about it.