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.