December 8, 2011

Chateau des Charmes 2005 St. David's Bench Cabernet Sauvignon


(Re-Tasted December, 2011) ... We went out for dinner for my birthday this evening, a diner called Angels here in St. Catharines - no it's not fancy but perfect for what we wanted: casual and enjoyable, I had the rack of ribs deal which was quite good.  Anyway, when we arrived home we opened two bottles of wine, a white for Erica (my wife) and a red for me.  Forget the white, it was something cheap and cheesy and as it turned out was not my wife's favourites by a long shot, on the other hand, for me I opened a bottle of Chateau des Charmes 2005 St. David's Bench Cabernet Sauvignon with much excitement.  The nose started off with cassis, cedar and spice while the palate was very leathery and cedary.  I decided to let it sit a bit in the glass and see what happened.  A half hour later the wine was smelling of spices, cherry, clove and cinnamon, quite alluring; while the palate was blackberry, clove and lots of wood spice ... from there another half hour went by and the wine started showing lots of wood character and the fruit started to disappear completely - as I wrote in my notes, "showing lots of wood and a dearth of fruit".  Funny thing, the lone fruit fly who seemed to be roaming our house the past few days drowned in the glass - that is good news.  Also interesting to note, at this hour-plus mark when the wine was poured straight from the bottle the wine had plenty of fruit, it was just as it hit the air for longer than 10 minutes that the wood started to dominate.  Moral of the story: drink fast for fruit, drink slow for wood.

October 30, 2011

Sprucewood Shores 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

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

October 22, 2011

Chateau des Charmes 1999 Estate Cabernet Merlot

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


Hillebrand 2007 Trius Red

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

October 19, 2011

D'Angelo 2006 Iced Foch

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

Legends Estates 2006 Semillon

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


October 17, 2011

Huff Estates 2006 Wismer Vineyard Riesling Reserve

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

October 16, 2011

Pelee Island 2005 Vinedressers Shiraz

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

October 14, 2011

Colio 2004 Lily - Blanc de Noirs

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

September 4, 2011

Reif Estate 2007 Kerner

(Re-Tasted September 2011) ... I just finished listening to my Weekly Wine Notes podcast about this wine and I have to admit I was in some kind of mood that day (download it to see what I mean), seems I was "giving the finger to old man winter" drinking a fruity summertime white in the dead of the cold season.  This time I drank this wine when it was suppose to be drunk, in summer, with different, but still very pleasurable results.  The nose piled on the grapefruit skin with acacia and lavender honey ... at first the palate was full of grapefruit rind / pith with a touch of sweetness through the mid-palate and a bitterish finish, there was also some slightly floral nuances on the tongue.  But give it about 15-20 minutes and it became tropical with hints of papaya.  What started out a little funky ended beautifully.

September 3, 2011

Chateau des Charmes 2005 Rosé Brut

(Re-Tasted September 2011) ... This is my go-to wine for special occasions ... I got engaged to this bottle and now I am celebrating my 1st Anniversary with this bottle, and I am positive I celebrated a few more things but failed to write them down.  Started off our anniversary afternoon with a delicious lunch of homemade fish tacos and a plan of a few movies on the big screen (in the den); what could be more romantic than opening up a bottle of bubbly while still in your jammies.  This wine is getting better and it would also seem to be getting a tad sweeter as it ages, but not unpleasantly.  The nose is baked strawberries, with some raspberries notes and a hint of bread crust in the background.  The palate is big on sweet strawberries, while raspberries join the mouth-party to tone back the sweetness with a little of their signature tartness and then comes that fresh bread crust on the nice long finish ... this was the perfect wine to celebrate another momentous occasion with; and the good news I still have more bottles with which to celebrate with.

August 29, 2011

Mountain Road Wine Company 2006 Reserve Chardonnay

Found August 2011

I had this bottle twice over a 4 day span ... not the same bottle mind you, two different bottles.  The first was last Saturday when we had some friends over for dinner and they brought not one but two bottles of this Mountain Road Reserve with them - I am never opposed to two bottles in a night but when we only went through the one I figured I would age the other a little, then it hit me "salmon".  I think I have lost you so let's backtrack to Saturday. 

Saturday night we were having a nice lemon, dill cod and I opened this heavy Chardonnay and although I liked the wine on its own, and it paired so-so with the fish I figured I hadn't given it its proper due.  After-all cod is a very light fish and this was a very heavy Chardonnay.  So on Tuesday night it was back to the drawing board.  I put the second bottle in the fridge and whipped up a dill salmon ... now let's see how the wine performs.  The nose (on both bottles) was one of the wines best features: buttery, vanilla, caramel; and as the wine sat in the glass things melded together giving up smells of buttered almonds and vanilla peaches - hot damn!  Next came taste and it was quite a treat too: hazelnut, butter, vanilla; nutty and buttery all at the same time, there was also a creamy sensation but with good mouth cleansing acidity so that it did not weigh heavily on the tongue.  Turns out it paired much better with the salmon than the cod and would even stand up to some fuller red meats without being sacrilegious.  Bottom line is the wine is well integrated and compelling enough to drink right now, I'm not sure further aging is going to help this one, so drink up and enjoy.    Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

August 28, 2011

The Ice House 2006 Northern Ice Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine

Found August 2011

I have a buddy who is not a wine drinker, how we remain friends I am not sure?  His passion for wine ends at the occasional rosé.  But then I learned there was hope for him yet.  He's a fan of Port and just this weekend I learned his passion for the sweeties extends past Oporto and into Ontario: Icewine.  So it was with great pride that I went into my icewine collection in search of something interesting to drink with him.  Now as every Canadian knows, we don't drink icewine, we hold on to it and give it as gifts, even the ones we get as gifts we re-gift somewhere down the line - it is the great Canadian re-gift ... I like to equate it to Christmas cake which seems to get passed along from generation to generation with nary a bite taken.  I was thrilled to locate this 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine from the Ice House, one of Canada's few Icewine only wineries.  At the time of its production few were making such a beast as a straight Cab Sauv sweetie, which makes this unique and, now 5 years later, really very tasty.  With regrets to Riedel and other glass manufacturers who insist Icewine needs its own vessel, I disagree (and you know my feeling on proper glassware) - Icewine is sweet enough that is cuts through whatever you are drinking it from and makes even a shot glass the right thing to drink it out of ... and tonight that is exactly what we did.  The wine has a beautiful strawberry sensation in the mouth with lovely acidity to balance it out and it's very good.   How did I know that, well first of all I tasted it, but secondly my buddy must have downed 6 shots of it in an hour - not bad for a guy that does not like wine.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

Hillebrand 2005 Trius Red

Or even look at the previous Taste it Again review - March 2009

(Re-Tasted August 2011) ... It's like a re-taste of a re-taste; it seems that every two years I pull out a bottle of this and re-taste the wine, and now it's my third go round with the 2005 Trius Red.  '05 was a good year in Ontario and the reds loved the weather.  According to the most recent LCBO vintage chart they rate Niagara wines from 2005 a 9A (meaning a nine out of ten and "A" for can be aged longer) ... I would agree.  This red blend is drinking well now but could stand another 5 years or more without too much degradation.  The nose is black currant, black raspberry, vanilla and cinnamon spice.  The palate doles out oak from the get go before the wood relinquishes its hold and lets the spice and the the black fruit emerge, so some patience when drinking now is a must.  If you have some in the cellar, like I do, drink one now just to get a frame of reference and we'll talk about this one again in a couple of years.  Cheers.

August 5, 2011

Colchester Ridge Estate Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon


(Re-Tasted August 2011) ... Since I am going to the Lake Erie North Shore on the weekend to give a talk about one of my favourite Ontario grapes, Cabernet Franc, at their annual Vintage tasting (Sunday August 7) - I thought it only right to re-taste a wine from the region.  I have two sitting in my current Taste it Again box, one from Colchester Ridge and another from Sprucewood, both wineries will definitely be in attendance at the event ... but in this case Colchester has home field advantage as it is there were the event will be taking place, so I plucked that one out of the case for a re-taste.  Smell was a little funky and vegetal which made me believe I was going to have a problem but I am always willing to give a bottle a second or third chance so I swirled and sniffed again with much the same result.  I decided to take a sip and see how the palate had fared, and I was pleasantly surprised.  First thing I noticed was the acidity was quite pronounced, which helped to bring the wines flavours out, they thankfully did not match the nose.  Yes there seemed to be a lot of wooden character along with cassis and spice notes which begin to emerge the longer the wine remained open - but I would say this wine is on it's downward spiral so drink now but let stand open about an hour before diving right in.

July 30, 2011

Cave Spring 2006 Riesling "Dolomite"

(Re-Tasted July 2011) ... Seems I have sipped on this wine in this column before (January 2010) and I still can revisit this wine a few more times in years to come and I'm thrilled by that because this is a classic:  the first bottling of this soil specific Riesling by one of the preeminent Riesling producers of Niagara.  This wine is still a beauty with smells of apple, mineral and apricot on a soft pillow of petrol that just gently wafts through without being intrusive.  On the palate there is mineral and apple with some spiced peach syrup and another hint at some petrol to carry it along to the finish, it really is just a soft titch.  While the finish is lime based with some excellent length ... still hold up beautifully, can't wait to open the next bottle.

July 20, 2011

Southbrook 2002 Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon

Found July 2011

What a treat this was, even if most in the room had no idea what they were trying.  It was the after affair of my wine tasting duties of my annual Pine Island visit.  We had just finished a 6 wine tasting of New Zealand (only 1) and Australia (5 wines) – of course, as expected, the reds were a big hit – Aussie’s big bold and recognizable flavours usually are.  But for dinner I had brought a special bottle that I was looking forward to tasting, and it was this Southbrook number that was 9 years old.  After the robustness of the Aussies this was a subtle experiment and most stayed with the knock-over-your-head with flavour of the Down Under Wines, which left more for me, and I could not be more thankful.  The wine is at its peak (or maybe just slightly off peak) still holding on to fruit like cassis and sour cherry with vanilla wood backing.  The palate is having a heyday with a touch of green pepper (so slight that it disappears with time - after 3 or 4 sips) giving way to a brilliant smoothness that is flavoured with cassis and vanilla-wooden notes.  Deliciously amazing, smooth and easy sipping.  If you have a bottle or two I suggest bringing some out, firing up the grill and matching it up with something medium-rare … I hope you too will be stunned.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

July 7, 2011

Chateau des Charmes 2005 St. David's Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted July 2011) ... This was a pleasant surprise of a wine to pull out of one of my Taste it Again boxes: one, because I love Cabernet Franc and two, because the folks at Chateau des Charmes seem to do it quite well - and they are particularly ageable, especially when it is the single vineyard series.  So, needless to say I was thrilled to pop the top on this one.  2005:  good vintage, nice heat, ripe grapes, so this one should do just fine in the glass some 6 years later.  At first I have to admit I was a little skeptical, woody and cigar notes lead the aromas to the nose, but then as it opened there was some raspberry notes that also started to come up.  With a little more time the wood started to subside and the fruit and cigar ash rose ... very pleasant.  On the palate the same thing occurred, but it unfolded a little quicker, instead of half an hour to start to mellow (which was the time for the nose to start) it took half that time for the palate to start coming around.  Spice, tobacco, cedar, and a cocoa powder dryness on the finish - there was also that woodiness, but as I mentioned it started to dissipate within a quarter of an hour and replaced itself with a the oomph and bite of a spiced characteristic.  This wine needs some time in a decanter, and make sure you have a big glass to pour it into or this bruiser will get the better of you.  Advice: Drink or hold a few more years.

June 29, 2011

Cave Spring 1997 CSV Estate Bottled Chardonnay

Found June 2011

It's not often that you get a chance to talk with the winery owner a few days after trying a bottle of his wine, but that is just what happened here:  I tried this bottle on a Sunday and (by happenstance) was speaking with Tom Pennachetti about it the following Friday.  My findings on this wine were very poor, but there were a lot of unknown factors to me before I acquired this bottle.  It was given to me by a friend who `found` it their basement.  The friend in question did not have proper storage for the bottle and has moved a number of times in the interim.  Needless to say the bottle was questionable at best.  I opened this bottle up with a number of wine-loving friends and they were excited to sip on a bottle of 13 year old Ontario Chardonnay.  The cork was crumbly and ended up falling into the bottle, after filtering enough of it out to get a proper sample we found the smells and flavours to be off-putting, tertiary in nature with little sign of fruit; there was some butterscotch and vanilla notes but it all got lost in the heavy oxidative and maderized flavours of the wine.  When I told this to Tom he said he had tried a bottle not too long ago and his experience had been much better, but then again (he pointed out) his bottle had been kept under pristine cellaring conditions. A bottle this old will show signs of its adventure to your glass, and this one`s adventure was dodgy at best.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash (though possibly not the wines fault)


May 6, 2011

Fielding Estate Winery 2006 Sparkling Riesling

(Re-Tasted May 2011) ... Another Friday night and another bottle of bubbly opened ... tonight we were celebrating being young and alive, or was it the coming of spring weather on the weekend, or maybe because it was a quiet night at home ... really do I need a right proper reason to open bubbles?  I chose this inaugural Fielding bubbly for this non-occasion and wondered how a 5 year old sparkling Riesling would taste.  First I have to say the bubbles were quite persistent and long living for a wine that was made in the Charmat method (I expect shorter lived bubbles, you know, they die in the glass 20 minutes after the wine has been opened).  The nose was baked apple and pear, while the palate showed hints of petrol and lovely tangerine notes.  Not sure what I expected but what I got was more than I bargained for - I still have a bottle of this left, will be interesting to taste in another few years.

April 6, 2011

Reif Estate 2006 Cabernet Franc

Found April 2011

As I sit at my desk to write this unfortunate review I can think of only one word to describe this wine: sinister.  I was at a get together with friends who appreciate Ontario wines and I thought this would be an interesting wine to try.  Here's why:  A few years back I held a Cabernet Franc Challenge and this wine was one of those wines that ended up in the bottom tier of the judging, I set it aside in the hopes that it would come around (after all it was one of the youngest Francs in the competition and the producer usually makes good product).  As it turned out my hope was for not.  This wine was nasty from the get go and now 5 years from Vintage date it has no redeeming qualities to it whatsoever.  Words around the room used to describe it were "bitter", "nasty", "cough syrup", "weird" and "not even good enough for salad".  I don't know what else I can say after that except if you happen to have any of this wine in your cellar (as I did) you might want to take the bottles directly to the sink, do not pass go because you will definitely not collect 200 dollars ... pour it down, my friends, pour it down.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash


Calamus Estate 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

(Re-Tasted April 2011) ... It was not really a good day for trying Ontario wines, some days are just like that, you want to drink wine from a region but everything you open doesn`t work out.  You probably read about the nasty Reif 2006 Cabernet Franc opened earlier this day, well later we opened a bottle of Calamus 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, with better, but not great results.  The nose was initially rife with acetone notes and a little bitter on the palate.  After finishing those few mouthfuls I grabbed up the bottle, screwed the cap back on and gave the bottle a vigorous shaking, much to the room`s shock.  I then poured myself another tasting.  The results of the sudden shock of aeration vastly improved what was shaping up to be a miserable drinking experience ... the acetone crept into the background and revealed dried blackberries and forest floor aromas.  The bitterness also abated and turned into dried blackberry on the tongue, but there was also a prevalence of  bitter wood tannins making there way up the back palate and onto the finish, which I suspect will soon take over the front as well.  As my host pointed out, `this wine is on the decline`; so if you have some in your cellar the time to drink it now, give it plenty of air, and a good shake.

April 3, 2011

Angels Gate 2006 Sussreserve Riesling


(Re-Tasted April 2011) ... I feel I got really lucky with this wine.  Better yet, I feel that Angels Gate got really lucky with this wine.  Not because it worked from concept to wine - the idea of Sussreserving is not a new one - but because they sealed it with a plastic cork and there seems to be little damage to the wine because of it.  I am not going to get into a rant about plastic cork here, though I think they are a blight on the wine world - but I will say that my bottle seemed to be okay (for the most part), if you have any in your cellar, it might not be.  Anyway, tonight was Chinese food night and so a Riesling seemed to be the perfect thing to pair it with.  On the nose this wine have a slight petrol note, some sweet tropical aromas (like pineapple in syrup) and just a hint of oxidation, just a hint mind you.  On the palate there was plenty of apple juice like qualities and a slight lemon rind bitterness on the finish.  All-in-all not bad for 6 years from Vintage date and being under plastic this whole time.  But as I said, if you have any in your cellar or collection, it`s time to fish it out and test the waters, so to speak. 

March 3, 2011

Stoney Ridge 2005 Wismer Vineyard Cabernet Franc Reserve

(Re-Tasted March 2011) ... Why I seem to drag this wine out in March I am not sure.  Two years ago, almost to the day, I pulled a bottle of this out from the cellar and gave it a re-taste, and it showed very well.  Not surprising, it was only a year from whence I tasted it (or at least posted my review).  Now some 3 years from the original review, two years from last tasting and 6 years from vintage date it is time to re-taste this wine again.  This wine was made by Stoney Ridge's then winemaker Liubomir Popovici and he has done some really good work on this wine.  The nose has some great blackberry, cassis, cedar and good spices lingering around; the taste is loaded with spice, cassis, chocolate liqueur, some dried red fruits (namely raspberry and cherry).  Across the tongue it is smooth yet with enough tannins to make it interesting, there is still a few years left in this bottle and as I check my inventory I see I will be reviewing this wine a few more times before I am done with what I have.  I am sure that over time winemaker Liubomir P has been referred to as "Lube" ... and I would say this is a good oil (wine) by Lube with no filler; (though I am not sure if it is unfiltered - or the pun would be even better).  If you have any of this wine you could sit it for a few more years or enjoy it now with a little decanting.

March 1, 2011

Reif Estate 2004 Merlot

Found February 2011

As a result of a misstep, this same night, with a Jackson Triggs 2004, I opened a same vintage Merlot from Reif ... first I was glad to see a real cork closure ... now let's see if it made a difference to this dismal year dated wine.  While not the most exciting or impactful nose the wine did show signs of being drinkable.  When left to stand the wine gave off rotted aromas that were kind of off-putting, but when aerated you could find dried raspberries, dried leaves and cedary notes.  The palate proved to be inviting and off-putting all at the same time.  A tad herbaceous, some cedar (especially on the finish), a very forest-floor, dried leaves character passing over the tongue ... for those who like those mature flavours in wine this was a very interesting specimen, although it tasted much older than it was.  All-in-all it was drinkable, but barely.  If you have any in the cellar this wine is past its prime and on a downward trajectory from its peak, but still I found it enjoyable in a purely academic way.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable

Jackson Triggs 2004 Proprietors' Reserve Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon

Found February 2011

Now I know 2004 was not a great year in Ontario, especially for reds, but I remember being a fan of this wine from J-T and thinking maybe in a few years time it'll show just as nicely if not better than on the day I first tried it.  Well now 6 years later I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, I was wrong ... the wine has aged piss-poorly to put it delicately.  Smells of rotting fruit, forest floor (read: rotten leaves / vegetation) and oxidation plague both the nose and palate ... the taste is bitter and nasty.  As I said before, I know 2004 was not a great year, but J-T could have given this wine a fighting chance by using a better closure, the plastic cork did this wine a real disservice.  If only producers would put that warning on the packaging ("sealed with synthetic cork") then I, and other wine lovers like me, who age their wines, wouldn't be so disappointed when we open a bottle sealed with this soul-sucking nastiness ... fact is, had I known I never would have laid it down in the first place.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

February 13, 2011

Henry of Pelham 2006 Off-Dry Reserve Riesling

(Re-Tasted February 2011) ... Another Sunday night, another battle with our demons ... our love of Chinese food from our local favourite.  I would say we eat Chinese from the Magnolia Restaurant as often as we eat chicken, which I think is once every couple of weeks.  And once again I dug around looking for a wine to match, coming up with a 2006 off-dry Riesling from Henry of Pelham.  '06 was a decent year of Riesling, not too great for the red grapes but a year that Riesling loved and this wine shows it.  The nose is pear and peach with a nuance of petrol, some talc and limeade.  The palate was lemon and green apple based with nice acidity and a long luxurious finish.  There is no rush to drink up the bottles in your cellar, this one still can age and should improve gracefully over the next 5 years or more.  Thankfully I have one left myself and will thoroughly enjoy it when the time is right ... that time could be now, but I'm willing to see this one through a few more years.

February 10, 2011

Tawse 2005 Echos Bistro Red

(Re-Tasted February 2011) ... If memory serves, this was Tawse Winery's first attempt to bring their wine to the masses, what I mean by that is that the price of the wine was not in the stratosphere, this was a very respectable $25 dollars, and while not your average every day drinker it was a special occasion wine that you could have on more of those semi-special occasions.  Back in July of 2007 I wrote that the wine could age 7 years or more.  I said this for two reasons: the pedigree of the wine and the pedigree of the vintage - both have good reputations.  When I first stuck my nose in the glass I thought I was going to be disappointed because there was an awful stinky smell emanating from the glass, with a little swirl and some air it seemed to open it up a little more and created some raspberry and wood spice smells - have to admit I was hoping for more.  But hold the phone, this wine was not done quite yet.  The palate was smooth and proved to be quite complex: dark strawberry, cherry, vanilla wood, hints of spice and a cocoa-strawberry-woody finish.  Still quite nice and very drinkable, just don't smell it without giving it a swirl or you'll be disappointed.  Seems I will be revisiting my other bottles of this wine sooner rather than later, but we are approaching the 7 year mark, so its time anyway.

February 1, 2011

Vineland 2006 Cabernet Franc


(Re-Tasted January 2011) ... Reading my notes from my previous review I told you to "Drink your ’06 now while waiting for the ‘05’s to come around" - in other words "Drink Now`.  I, on the other hand, because of this column, decided to hold on to the bottle and see where it goes.  Truth is it is not a bad wine, and if you like that hint of Ontario green pepper, then this is starting to turn your way.  The nose is dried raspberries with just a touch of the green pepper.  The palate shows a little bit more depth with tobacco, touches of smoky, dried fruit and a herbaceous note coming through, (read: that green pepper again).  The wine is smooth, dry and relatively pleasant to drink.  If you have any left now is really the time to drink up, not sure if you have two or three years left but it`d make for a great BBQ this summer.

January 31, 2011

Fielding Estate Winery 2006 Gewurztraminer


(Re-Tasted: January 2011) ... The first thing I noticed, when pouring this wine into my glass, was the golden colour of the wine - it sure did show its age in that respect.  But the rest of the wine showed little sign of age, the nose was full of peach and pear sweetness, maybe a touch of honeyed apricot also played with the olfactories.  On the palate there was a touch of pear, a hint of spice and good acidity that still left the tongue feeling a little prickly.  The finish was also quite exciting with a long lemon pith flavoured finish ... this wine has aged very nicely, but don't wait too long to drink your remaining bottles, I'd hate for you to lose those great smells and flavours to too much ageing.


January 19, 2011

Calamus Estate Winery 2005 Calamus Red

(Re-Tasted January 2011) ... It's nice to see that Ontario wines can stand the test of time, granted it is only 5 years for this particular wine but it has come through quite nicely, with little to no degradation in quality.  If you look back at my original review you'll see this wine went for the relatively inexpensive (read: cheap as chips) price of $13.00 a bottle.  Thirteen dollars a bottle for a wine of this quality?  Seems almost surreal.  Reminds me of the old joke about the worm looking out the flying bird's rear end and him saying, "you wouldn't shit me now would you?"  But seriously, this was some delicious wine for the price, and now just a hair over 6 years from vintage date it proves itself again.  The nose is white pepper, red berries (mainly strawberries) with spiced blueberries and also some wood spice.  The palate is also intriguing with dark fruit, spice, good acidity and dusty tannins, lively but dry ... this bottle still has a few years left in it, say another 3 or 4 just to be on the safe side.  That price tag is looking more and more like a steal the older, and finer, this wine gets.

January 18, 2011

Inniskillin 2004 Klose Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Found January 2011

I will be nothing if I am not totally honest with you here ... this is a wine I was completely scared of.  First, it was from the so-so 2004 vintage, a vintage not known for its great wines (negative), though the wine is produced by one of the older wineries in the Niagara region (positive).  The wine was delicious when I bought it a few years back (positive), but now, six years on (negative?), did I make a mistake to lie this one down?  I really didn't want to find out, so I let the bottle languish about in the box I was suppose to open and taste.  There were twelve bottles in the box and this was the last one to come out ... here goes nothing.  This was part of the single vineyard series, the wine was sourced from the Klose Vineyard, a 15 acre vineyard located on the Niagara Parkway and named for its owner Gerald Klose.  It seems that Mr. Klose knows how to grow Cab in a difficult vintage, because my worries about this wine turned out to be unfounded, in fact I was completely taken aback at how good this wine turned out to be.  The nose is blackberry and cassis with some herbal-mint notes as the wine started to open up.  The taste was just as impressive, sour raspberry and sour cherry take the lead, then turn it over to sweet cranberry, all balanced by some nice acidity and leading to a long spiced-raspberry finish.  With each sip the palate continued to shine and proved to be truly delicious ... I do believe this wine is peaking right now and not sure how long it has left, if you have a bottle or two in your cellar it might behoove you pull it out and drink it - you won't be disappointed.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

January 9, 2011

Vineland 2006 Dry Rieslng

(Re-Tasted January 2011) ... When you think of certain wines from certain wineries you expect good things ... and when it comes to Vineland and Riesling they fall into that category.  This was a Riesling that kept on giving
as the night wore on.  The nose started out with peach and paraffin and there was even a hint of bug-repellent in there, but it was a background smell that did not overpower the wine, it was just sorta there and it disappeared with time to leave just the peach and paraffin.  The taste was much more involving on the tongue.  Big acidity kicked off the show, lemon and lime notes with a slight paraffin backing.  Then time and air took over and it mellowed the wine.  It started off acidic and harsh but mellowed to crisp and refreshing.  The finish also delivered the goods, cutting through the lemon and acid to bring mac and green apple crispness to a long lingering finish.  Don't let the initial smell and taste fool you this one just needs about 15 minutes in the glass to really show you where it's going.

January 4, 2011

Chateau des Charmes 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon - Paul Bosc Vineyard

(Re-Tasted January 2011) ... Theoretically 9 years from vintage date, but can you really count another year 4 days into the new year?  For argument sake let's call it 8 years.  And still going strong.  I have to admit I was rightfully impressed with this bottle of wine.  It was one of the first times that the term "terroir" really meant something to me.  In 2002 Chateau des Charmes created two Cabernet Sauvignons, one from the St. David's Bench vineyard and another from the Paul Bosc vineyard - the only thing separating these two vineyard is York Road.  If you have ever visited the winery St. David's vineyard is the one where the winery sits, Paul Bosc is across the road.  To taste these two wines you would not believe that was the only difference, they were completely different wines.  Now, some 8 years on, I find myself with a bottle of the Paul Bosc version.  This wine was the powerhouse of the two and it still has plenty of life left in the bottle.  The nose is dark berried with a nice spiciness to it ... over the course of the evening an alcohol smell started to eminate from the glass (say 2 hour after opening and decanting).  A very closed wine at first I did decide to decant to get the most out of this one.  The sediment was grity and fine but did not detract from the taste of the wine.  Taste-wise there was nice cassis, dark berries and a little bit of wood tannins.  Given time there was also dried blueberries and a touch of cocoa on the finish.  This one still needs time, yes it's mature, but not mature enough, those tannins could still use a little softening.  I predicted 10-15 years, and so far I am right on track.

January 3, 2011

Hillebrand 1997 Trius Red

Found December 2010

It's a little bit of a misnomer to call this wine a "lost and found" wine, because a friend brought it over on New Year's Eve, hence it was never lost in my cellar - but on the other hand it was lost to me (I did not have it) so it is not too far a stretch ... in any case I hope you will indulge me.  For a wine that is 13 years old it was surprisingly youthful on the nose mixing in a blend of dried and fresh sour cherries, quite surprising indeed.  The palate showed a lot more complexity, the dried cherries were there along with dried leaves which turned into pipe tobacco on the finish.  One of those in attendance said they tasted bitter cocoa (powder-like) in the mouth ... and who can argue with something like that - I sure didn't, especially since I had already finished my ration.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure


January 2, 2011

Cave Spring Cellars 2004 Estate Bottled Riesling

Found January 2011

It was a great New Year's weekend for wine.  First I tasted a 1997 Trius Red on New Year's Eve; then on New Year's Day I found myself face-to-face with a bottle of Cave Spring 2004 Estate Bottled Riesling.  Since the calendar had switched over we could "technically" call it a bottle of 7 year old wine.  The nose was petrol, green apple and peach pit with a touch of mineral stoniness.  On the palate mineral and limeade went hand-in-hand with some nice biting acidity on the finish and over ripe green apple notes. The acidity softened the longer it remained open and in the glass - good thing it was not in the glass too long.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure