July 21, 2014

Taste it Again / Lost & Found are Going Home

The Taste it Again / Lost & Found blog has found a new home on the new MichaelPinkusWineReview.com website

It’s finally here:  now updated and released the NEW Michael Pinkus Wine Review website (formerly OntarioWineReview); has a sleek new look, cool design, and mobile functionality and so we've decided to bring a few of the blogs back into the fold ... this being one of them - be sure to check us out there.

Thanks for reading and we'll see you on the new site.

Michael Pinkus
Grape Guy

April 4, 2014

The Story of Two 2002 Cabernet Francs

Thomas & Vaughan 2002 Cabernet Franc:  Not previously reviewed
Peninsula Ridge 2002 Cabernet Franc:  read the original review from May 2005

This is the story of two bottles of wine ... both from the Bench area of Niagara, both made from the same grape and both made in the same year ... but with serious differences in smell and taste, for one simple reason - let's take a look:

(Tasted March 2014) - I located this bottle in my wine cellar and immediately became excited, Thomas & Vaughan made some very interesting and exciting wines in their time and even had some older vines, especially of Cabernet Franc, and so this seemed a great bottle to open and reminisce about a long lost piece of Ontario wine history.  I knew I was into for a rude awakening the moment I removed the capsule and saw the plastic cork.  Crap!  But I was determined to give it a fair shake.  No too long ago I opened a 6-year-old bottle sealed with a plastic corked that was actually drinkable (not drinkable for long, but drinkable), the problem is this one was double that.  It didn't take long for me to realize I was not going to be as lucky.  The Thomas & Vaughan had such great promise but was oxidized (slightly at first, but still evident) as time wore on (no more than 30 minutes) it was fully oxidized and undrinkable.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

(Re-Tasted March 2014) - While I waited on the T&V wine to see what would happen to it I thought I'd pull out a "back-up" and found this bottle of Peninsula Ridge 2002 Cabernet Franc, sealed with a natural cork.  I broke the cork halfway through the opening so I struggled a little to get the remaining piece out and managed to remove it with a minimal amount of cork bits getting into the wine.  This was a marked improvement from the T&V wine right out of the bottle:  smoky with dried blackberry and cassis, sweet dried raspberry, tobacco leaf, and a long smoky finish with a certain smoothness as the tannins have mellowed.  It continued to evolve through the evening, and as the Thomas & Vaughan was dying a slow cruel death this one was rising like a pheonix to take over the void on my palate the T&V was leaving behind.


March 28, 2014

Couple of Wines from the Cellar: Henry of Pelham & Thirty Bench

Henry of Pelham:  Not previously reviewed

(Tasted March 2014) ... Tonight I pulled a couple of wines out of the cellar from a couple of cooler vintages.  Started off with the Henry of Pelham 2004 Off-Dry Riesling, which proved it still had plenty of life left in it.  Nose of peach, apricot and apple seed (with no sign of petrol what-so-ever).  Palate was a show of balance between the sweet and the acidity:  apricot, peach pit, touch of green apple along with a bit of Mac, there was even some lilac and honey notes that came into play ... What impressed me the most about this wine was that it kept its sweetness but with good acidity to keeping it from being cloying plus it had a long dried apricot linger to the finish.  Obviously, 2004 was a great vintage for Riesling.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

(Re-Tasted March 2014) ... After that enjoyable feast of the senses I decided to move along to another cool vintage, but this time a little more recent, with a bottle of Thirty Bench 2009 Red.  In no sense of the imagination would anyone call the 2009 vintage in Ontario a great red vintage, but Thirty Bench managed to coax something special into their Red.  Now, some 5 years from vintage and 2 years from my last tasting of the wine I found the nose to be lacking of fruit but still appealing with its anise, oak, vanilla and spice; this continues on the palate, lots of vanilla and spice, but adds a hint of cassis to the background.  The wine is smoothing out nicely with silky tannins and sweet oak, but should not be held too much longer as fruit will start to fade even further.  Right now it is a real pleasant drinker for BBQ fare.

March 23, 2014

Chateau des Charmes 2006 Chardonnay Musque

(Re-Tasted March 2014) ... Buoyed by the finding of a Fielding Chardonnay Musque from the same year, I decided to open this bottle of Chateau des Charmes Musque to see how it had fared.  Alas, not too well.  I have to admit I really didn't expect much from it, it was a wine that literally had gotten misplaced in my cellar and I was surprised to find it.  But considering the Fielding had turned out so well I thought it a great opportunity to see how a wine from a different part of Niagara turned out.  Chardonnay Musque is an unoaked wine and not really known for it longevity, so the fact that it was even drinkable at all is testament to the wine maker.   The nose was very Musqu-esque with floral and perfumed apple notes, but the palate had a bitter mid and finish and an odd, almost sour, aftertaste ... not very appealing at all.  So the moral of this bottle is that if you think that a wine is not meant to age put it somewhere where you will remember to drink it sooner.

March 20, 2014

Coyote’s Run 2005 Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted March 2014) ... I make no bones about it, I am a fan of Cabernet Franc, and some of these older ones from Ontario are really beginning to impress.  Coyote's Run is known for making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but they also grow some Cabernet Franc on the property - and henceforth they make it into a single varietal wine.  2005 was a hot year in Ontario and so I had high hopes for this one when I opened the bottle.  Nose had definite sour cherry, raspberry and white pepper notes while the palate had hints of anise and white smoke from the get go.  Left open in the glass and aerated it began to develop those typical Cab Franc characteristics of tobacco (on the light side) along with some dried cherry.  The pepper from the nose came in on the finish and managed to wrangled it's way in between the dried fruit and the good acidity.  Turns out that those high hopes I had for this wine were not misplaced.  For those of you with a few bottles left, now would be the time start thinking of drinking, though there's no real rush, this should keep another few years.

March 17, 2014

Angels Gate 2008 Gamay

(Re-Tasted March 2014) ... When I first tried this wine is was already 3 years from vintage date, now another three years have passed, how would this light fruity Gamay be?  I found a bottle down in the cellar and decided to give it an hour worth of chill and enjoy it with a nice piece of salmon.  I can safely report that this wine is still holding its own ... the big berry bowl of fruit is gone, but there is still quite a bit of sour black cherry on the palate, a gentle spice that carries through to the finish and some good acidity that acts as backbone ... I can't complain one bit about this one, it's still a delicious wine.  This is my last bottle, but I think if you have some in your cellar you still have a couple of years to enjoy it.

March 14, 2014

Del-Gatto 2007 Bella Vigne Leon Millot / Foch

Found February 2014

Talk about an odd find in the cellar ... I had no idea it was down there or how it got there.  I hate to say it, it was probably a wine that was sent to me by the winemaker and by the time it got into the rotation it was sold out; so I lay it down to see what happened.  The last one I have a notes of is the 2006 which made my Weekly Wine Note back in January 2008.  After finding this wine I decided to take it into my wine class to see what they thought of this aged hybrids blend from this Prince Edward County winery.  Here I think they got more than they bargained for as this wine seemed to go against every convention.  First on the nose there's a blood orange aroma which seems to mix with tomato and / or clamato juice, plus there's an herbal sensation.  Moving on to the palate that herbal and orange mixture comes across and adds a spiced rum cola note that is very very interesting ... all told it was a much better sip than expected, some even asked for seconds.  Lost and Found Rating:  Tolerable

February 15, 2014

Chateau des Charmes 2006 Gewurztraminer

(Re-Tasted February 2014) ... After a wacky experiment with a Fielding Musque that turned out to be a pleasant surprise, I approached this Chateau des Charmes '06 Gewurzt with a little more respect and hopefulness.  Gewurztraminer, although un-oaked, has the ability to surprise when aged ... but which side of the surprise line would this particular wine fall is the real question.  The nose had touches of toffee along with subtle lavender ... interesting perfumed notes and a fruity / floral combination that lured one into the glass.  The palate also had interesting nuances, like the coriander-pineapple mid-palate and the intense spice on the finish that seemed to play off the hint of sweetness leading to a drier than expected finish ... any sweetness the nose led you to believe was there dissipated in the end on the tongue.  This wine proved to be mainly dry and its only drawback was the short (there-and-its-gone) finish.  Another nice bottle of un-oaked white that makes one question their belief system about what can and can't mature when oak is not present.

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Fielding Estate 2006 Chardonnay Musque

Found February 2014

thanks to K. Selezen for taking the pic
I put little to no faith in un-oaked wines being age-able (except Riesling) - and I've done plenty of tests to come to that conclusion (knowingly and unknowingly).  This year alone I've opened a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, a 2008 Un-oaked Chardonnay and a 2007 Gamay each with no oak and each had its problems.  So when I found a bottle of Fielding 2006 Chardonnay Musque in a box of "to hold" wines in my cellar I had to question myself: "What was I thinking?"  Now Chardonnay Musque is traditionally an un-oaked, flowery, fruity version of Chardonnay made from a clone of the Chardonnay grape that has musky aromas to it - which is where the "musque" name comes from.  I popped the cork, poured the wine into a glass, and took a deep sniff, totally prepared to be disappointed and walk away ... but wait, it's non-offensive:  honey, melon and floral aromas greet the nose ... it's actually downright pleasant and most importantly it continues to be thus over the next hour.  Surely the palate is where this wine will fall apart (I think to myself) - but no: tropically tinged fruit, mainly pineapple, greet the buds, followed by over-ripe peach backed by wildflower honey aspects ... sweet fruit with an interesting medium length finish that keeps you coming back for more.  Surprisingly drinkable and pleasantly so, if you have some in your cellar I suspect now is the time to drink up and truly enjoy this find.  [I also served this during one of my wine classes and of the 7 wines poured this received top marks and raves from everyone].   Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

February 11, 2014

Lailey 2009 Chardonnay - Niagara Peninsula

(Re-Tasted February 2014) ... When I first reviewed this wine less than 3 years ago I gave it four-and-a-half stars, and today I think I might just give it a little bit higher because it has turned into one spectacular wine.  The nose is so alluring with aromas of rich buttery-toffee along with peach and vanilla; on the palate there's a vanilla butter sensation that mixes so well with the fruit of citrus, peach and mac apple, almost to the point of being a puree it's so creamy; but then comes the finish:  there's a hint of spice that lingers lovingly on the tongue bringing everything all together and there's that great acidity, the 2009 vintage was known for, that keeps everything from being cloying or too sweet ... sure there's a sweet fruit entry, but that is backed up by that spicy dry finish and that's what makes this wine such a beauty.  Oh, and did I mention the peach pit essence that appears on both the nose and palate as it sits in glass.  If you have one of these in your cellar it'll hold for another few years, and if you have a few bottles I would recommend grabbing one out now and giving it a shot - it's a little piece of heaven.

February 8, 2014

Hillebrand 2004 Late Harvest Vidal

(Re-Tasted February 2014) ... I have two of these bottles in my cellar and reading my original review again I have to admit I have no idea what I was waiting for to drink them because they sound like they were amazing back in 2008 ... the funny thing is, as good as they were back then they might be even better today, and that is really unexpected.  This is now a 10 year old bottle of Late Harvest Vidal, and those who question whether icewine can reach this maturity would be even more impressed at this wine.  I poured this as kind of a lark for my "niece" and her boyfriend after a dinner at Hillebrand, and I was enthralled by what I found in the glass: toffeed apricot, honeyed pear, nice acidity on the finish while the mid-palate proved to be creamy and luxurious, this wine has held up extremely well, in fact I would go so far as to say it is a stellar bottle; and aside from the color it would be hard to tell its age.  I am not going to wait any longer for the second bottle, it will be a dessert sometime this summer.

January 16, 2014

Vineland Estates 2005 Cabernet Franc Reserve

(Re-Tasted January 2014) ... Hot-diggity, one of my favourite Ontario grape varietals from a winery that knows how to handle the grape and does it well; and now with 9 years of aging it's time to see just how this wine is doing.  Back in 2008 I gushed over this wine and thought decanting would help smooth it out.  I put the wine into a box and forgot about it for awhile, seems I forgot about it for a good long while ... 6 years to be exact ... now I'm excited to give it a try.  

Upon opening there were aromas of white and black peppercorns, in fact they seem to take over the wine; palate was full of  tobacco, dried black raspberry, and spice - but what really stood out were some fairly aggressive tannins that came on mid-palate right to the finish; but as I like to say, if you were locked in a bottle for 9 years you'd come out pretty grumpy too - and this wine was just that.  After about 20 minutes the aggression started to subside; I then tried using my VinoAir to see what that did, but is striped all the character out of the wine ... so I went back to a free pour into the glass straight from the bottle.  Within 40 minutes it had become a bottle you'd like to take to dinner with touches of licorice and white pepper en-robing that dried fruit and the tannins too on a more subservient role, smoothing out beautifully.  This wine is ready to drink right now and it's very enjoyable.  In a word, it was delicious and well worth the wait.  Now I wish I had more of it ... ain't that always the way.