Friday, December 12, 2008

Southbrook Winery 1998 Lailey Vineyard Merlot

Found December 2008

Turns out my old Southbrook wine tasting days aren't over yet. As we learned back in my 92 Riesling review, I have been a long time follower of the Southbrook story - something to do with actually being my local winery (I live in Toronto and it just so happened to be located in Toronto - or at least closer than any other winery). So a weekend excurtion with my buddy Geoff was not out of the question, especially to the winery he had "discovered" with his first wife. He tells the story about going for a drive one Sunday afternoon and coming across this deserted winery where he bumped into the owner (Bill Redelmeier) who took him and his wife through every single one of the wines he had available. Anyone who knows Bill, or has met him, knows that he is one heck of a raconteur, and can talk forever, if you let him. All this did was make Geoff love this winery more and while his wife was not that much of a wine fan, he did have a buddy who was. Enter me, enter trips to the 'Brook. Bill always said that the wines made at Southbrook were meant to age, and I took him up on this - buying and leaving untold numbers of wines from the winery on my shelf. When I started my "box program" I took some of those wines off my rack and put them in a boxes for further aging. And now it is time to open this 1998 Merlot.

I have long been a proponent of ageing Ontario Merlot, I just fine that when they are young they lack finesse, are too green and far to leafy. Now this Merlot isn't a far cry from leafy and green, but it has a smoothness that is very appealing - especially if you realize that it is a decade from its vintage date. At first the nose was all green pepper, with a backing of black fruit and cedar - that was very slight. In the mouth the green pepper continued, yet was more subtle, with black pepper and dried black cherry with a wood tannin finish. I decided to decant and see what happened. Sacre-Bleu we have quite the wine here. The green pepper blows off from the nose; sure it is still there, but now you can pick up more of the black pepper, black fruit and subtler, almost sweet, cedar notes. The decanting also smoothed out the palate, the wood has calmed down and the pepperyness comes through. I am quite happy to drink this wine - and if you have any bottles, you should too. Lost & Found rating: Treasure.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Inniskillin 1999 Rielsing Icewine

Found December 2008

This wine wasn't really lost, nor did I "just find" it - I had been saving it for a special occasion - and I thought there was none more special than a birthday, my own. So this past December 8th I finally took it from its carefully selected resting place and put it into the fridge to chill. After dinner I carefully opened the bottle and poured. The wine had that viscous quality that icewine has, and was the colour of rust. I could buy into that, afterall it was 9 years old. But that's were any semblance to icewine ended.

I had gathered around me for this auspicious occasion my mother and girlfriend Erica, both are huge fans of Riesling (Erica the table wine-kind and mom the icewine-kind). We each stuck our respective noses into our glasses and came up with descriptors like old apples, vinegar and alcoholic prunes ... this did not bode well. With a bit of daring, and because it was my birthday we all felt we must take at least of sip of this funny smelling withches' brew, and yes the nose did not lie, the taste was of "rotting fruit" (those were the best words used). My two fellow revellers put down their glasses and said "sorry" (as if it were their fault) "we just can't drink this." I, on the other hand, took a few extra sips and snorts in the hopes there was a redeeming quality to this wine. The only thing I may have found was the reminiscence of some caramel that was once part of this wine's flavour profile ... I also think, maybe, possibly, I found a bit of corkiness; but it is so hard to tell subtle corkiness with icewine, the sweetness usually drowns it out. Lost & Found rating: Trash.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Southbrook Winery 1992 Riesling Dry

Found November 2008

When wine first started to come into my life on a regular basis, and reading about it became part of a normal daily, or weekly, occurrence, I read two things: reds aged, whites didn’t – but with every "rule" there's an exception: Riesling was that exception. I had heard/read that Riesling can/could age fifty years or more. Wow, 50 years – a white wine. It has to do with a combination of the sugars and the acidity … being the ever curious sort that I am I just had to do an experiment. So off to my local winery I did go – in this case it was a 30-minute drive north to Southbrook Farms in Maple (just north of Toronto) and bought myself a couple of bottles of Riesling and then hid them from myself in a dark corner of my cubboard to test out this 50-year theory. Well I never made it to fifty years, as the writing of this review indicates. I unearthed these bottles doing a closet clean out … the 1992 Dry Riesling, that you are about to hear about, and a 1994 Semi-Dry Riesling … the semi-dry has it’s cork in it, but not for long. As for the ’92 … I can’t believe this wine is 16 years old. Un-fricken-believable.

I started out by chilling it for far too long – afraid to open what might be a dead-wine; when is the proper time to open history? At first the smells were light petrol, citrus, and green apple vibrant ... yes, vibrant (as it warmed peach started to emerge and whiffs of petrol became more prevalent). This was now exciting … what could have been the mistake of a lost bottle might now turn into something amazing. Lips to glass here we go: lemon rind … hints of petrol … good acidity … green apple … dry finish. This 16-year-old Riesling had held up amazingly well. As it warmed more white peach flavours and petrol emerged just as they did on a nose - the finish was short, almost abrupt in the way it ended. What's even more amazing about this wine is that at the time it was produced both winery and winemaker (Derek Barnett – now with Lailey) were in their second year of the being. Stay tuned for the opening of the 1994 Semi-Dry. Lost and Found rating: Unbelievable Treasure.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Southbrook Winery 1997 Triomphe Cabernet / Merlot

Found November 2008

Years ago, when Southbrook was a young winery, and still resided in Maple / Richmond Hill (just north of Toronto), a buddy and I used to hang out there quite a bit. It was actually he and his wife who found the place, and knowing my love for wine started taking me there. I remember quite a few Sunday afternoons sitting in the tasting room talking with Nick or bumping into Derek Barnett, the winemaker, who talked passionately about his "hobby" or even Bill Redelmeier, owner, who could speak for hours on the history of the area. That was many moons ago for me and what seems like a lifetime for other principals of this story. Today, Southbrook finds themselves in the heart of Niagara, with a newfangled winery, an acclaimed winemaker and plenty of press about their new digs ... but they can't escape their past - which in truth is pretty good.

That brings me to this bottle of wine - seems I have a few older vintage Southbrook wines from the days of sitting in the old tasting room; those who manned it said the wines were meant for aging and it seems that I took that to heart. On a quiet evening in November I pulled out one of these elderly bottles with the burgundy label, popped the cork and gave it a try.

I tried a number of things with this wine: straight from the bottle, decanting and big glassware. Upon popping the cork I poured the wine directly into a Bordeaux Spiegelau glass and got dried fruit, wet grass, green pepper and dried cherry on the nose. The palate had wet leaves, and an earthy quality complete with a leatheryness and ... a metallic finish that changes into a Vick's cherry cough drop linger, but that metal is still there. I then decanted and let it sit - the nose improved and became a beautiful spiced dried cherry, but the palate did not seem to change, and over the next 30 minutes the wine completely collapsed, turning smoky and cedary, retaining the greeness and metallic finish. After 11 years this wine had become old and tired. Lost & Found rating: Treasure to find an 11 year old wine - became trash pretty quickly.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Inniskillin 2002 Cabernet Franc Reserve

Found September 2008

I have often wondered if "Holy to Goodness" is a real thing people say, or if it was just my mother making something up so she did not have to say "Holy S**t" in front of us kids. The reason tI bring this up is because I said the latter when I first nosed this wine last night, some six years after vintage date, and wondered what mom would have said.

Before I tell you why I exclaimed what I did, it is important to note how I acquired my 3 bottles of this Reserve. In the spring of 2006 I wondered into the Inniskillin winery, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where staff had just finished putting out a display of the last two cases of 2002 Cabernet Franc Reserve with one of those "Last of ..." signs on them. They were not offering any tasting of the wine, so knowledge of vintage and track record of the winery came into play when I bought my bottles. In hindsight I should have bought one of the last remaining cases (12 bottles) - but funds were tight and there are plenty of others wines to buy. Now back to why the exclaimation.

I should not in any way be surprised by this wine, I have tasted longer aged reds from Inniskillin before, most notably a Franc from the early 80's that fellow wine writer Konrad Ejbich provided. I am happy to report that this wine has that kind of staying power. The colour has just the slightest bit of bricking, but nothing to be concerned with. The nose is sweet and pleasant with sweet dried cherries, butterscotch, oak, tobacco, spices (clove and maybe some ginger), vanilla and a touch of alcohol. (it is 13.5%). As time progressed (say an hour or so) cassis, raisin and blackberry also came out. On the palate there was pepper, vanilla-oak, cinnamon, dusty tannins, some black fruits (berries and currants); and over that same length of time (about an hour) the cinnamon, oak and spice became the most dominant. All exceedingly pleasant and palate friendly. The finish was hard to put a finger on because there was so much happening, but as it lingered on the tongue, and well after the swallow, there was a spiced-candied-orange-peel-with-a-hint-of-vanilla taste. Yummy, even if you don't like orange peel. I have one bottle left so I must chose wisely when to open it - another few years won't hurt it though. And if I were to say anything else, it would be this: a wine like this is the best reason I can give as to why you should visit and shop directly at the winery ... finds like this one.
Lost & Found rating: Real Treasure.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lakeview Cellars 2002 Gamay Noir

Found August 2008

If you have any bottles of this wine kicking around, now is the time to drink it., according to many Gamay Noir isn't even suppose to last this long, but this bottle from the excellent 2002 vintage is still quite a lot of fun. It's definitely not the red fruity thing you think of when you think of wine made from the grape of Beaujolais. At this point of its life cycle the nose is a mixture of cherry liqueur and raspberry jam. It's exceedingly smooth in the mouth, almost to the point of having no flavour at all, then as it opens it has little else to say but "I am cherry hear me roar". There are no tannins to speak of and as it sits open to the air it became more like a cherry liqueur on the taste too. About 20 to 30 minutes after opening something funny happened: it developed a chocolatey-Kahlua-brandy component with a bittersweet chocolate finish. Not the most wonderful wine I have had, but it sure wasn't bad considering what it was and how old it was. As much as it lacked what it originally had, I liked what it had turned into, which is why I am going to give it a Lost & Found rating of Treasure.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hillebrand 2001 Trius Red

Found August 2008

Some moons ago, when I was deciding what to write about in the field of wine, my brother presented me with a bottle of Hillebrand 2001 Trius Red that he had found at his local liquor store – I think it was a thank you for looking after his dog for a week. I have held on to this lone bottle like gold; but for my mother’s 70th birthday I decided it was time to let loose the cork and see where this wine had gone. 2001 lives in infamy in Ontario as the year of the Ladybug, and so any bottle you open has the potential to be “buggy”. Thankfully I can say this bottle was not. Upon openings smells of dried fruit with some spices and a good whiff of cinnamon greeted the nose. The palate pretty much kept up with the nose: signs of dried fruit, dried leaves, a touch of oakiness with some spices and very little in the way of tannin. The age is showing on this wine but it is still very drinkable. Lost & Found rating: Treasure.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Willow Springs Testa 2002 Meritage

Found August 2008

The Testa label is the designation that Willow Springs gives to their Reserve line of wines that are only produced in “good years”. 2002 was one of those years, and I remember liking this wine so much that I put my name on a waiting list for the second bottling.
My original personal note said: “Lots of fruit ... smooth and easy to drink - ready now but could do with a few years of lying down.” I was not far off on this perception.

Now 6 years from Vintage date I was ready to give this wine another try in the hopes that it had aged well … my answer to those with a few bottles (more or less) is yes and no. The n
ose on the wine is dried fruit, pleasant and definitely approachable. The taste is a bit on the oaky side, with black cherry, cinnamon and sweet raisins on the tongue, there is also a pleasant black licorice finish. But after the first hour things change drastically. The wine tired and lost any semblance of wine and had become very woodsy and unappealing, both on the nose and taste. My recommendation is to drink this one up quickly. Please note: mine just lasted that long because I was alone, otherwise it would have been gone within the first hour. Good luck and enjoy. Lost & Found rating: Treasure -.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Creekside Winery 2004 Shiraz

Found July 2008

Should a Shiraz last 4 years? Damn straight it should, wood and skins alone will make it alright for that kind of ageing, but it’s the long term ageing potential that a year like 2004 is not going to be known for (that is a general rule to which there are some exceptions). So what about this Shiraz, is it an exception or does it follow the rule? There was definitely a generous use of wood here, because it comes through on both the nose and palate, but so does the black fruit and white pepper; there’s also some nuances of dried fruit, a sure sign of an aged wine – but it’s the white pepper and woodiness that’s keeping this one alive. Right now it’s smooth and enjoyable with a bit of wood tannins joining the white pepper on the finish. This one wasn’t meant for any longevity, it was built for drink now enjoyment, I’d say you’ve got maybe a year or two left. Lost & Found rating: Tolerable +.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Marynissen Estate 2002 Cabernet Franc

Found – May 2008

Whoa Nelly, what a wine we have here. The initial pour and sniff was one of oaky-black fruit and the taste showed the same, but there was something else in there that was hiding in and amongst that heavy wood – I was determined to draw it out. That meant getting out the decanter to give it some air. A small Riedel “Merlot” decanter, along with a diffuser and screen (for filtering) were used, and there was plenty of inky tarry black gunk on the filter. But the difference, in both taste and smell, was night and day – now smoother and more approachable, the nose was still oaky and black fruit driven, but now with vanilla and cinnamon sprinkled on top … there is also some black raspberry on both the nose and tongue. Looking at the colour it was still quite dark, showing great extraction, deep and dark right through the middle of the glass and there was still a good red rim with little to no signs of bricking (change of colour from red/purple to red brick-like colour). Taste is smooth and luscious, the black fruit remains, but plumminess, sweet tobacco and black cherry oak were now added to the mix. Even decanted there was still fine grit in the bottom of the glass. Both powerful and wonderful, with each sip I was in awe. This wine just further proves to me that Cabernet Franc is Ontario’s red grape. A beautiful year like 2002 really shows what our wineries can do and how they can make beautiful, age-worthy wines with this variety. This one still has plenty of life left in the bottle – it’s delicious now, give it another few years and I can only imagine how good this’ll be. I seem to have one bottle left – I’m going to lay it down to see what happens. Lost & Found rating: Major Treasure … still hasn’t peaked.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Southbrook 2001 Triomphe Cabernet Franc – Watson Vineyard

(Found – May 2008)

Here’s a wine that was started by Derek Barnett and finished by Colin Camp
bell … Derek, now with Lailey, is known for making great Cabernet Franc, so I suspect Colin probably just had to wait the prerequisite 12-18 months, that Triomphe wines traditionally received, before bottling this sucker (though it is still a reflection of the winemaker's taste and intuition). The nose is fresh green pepper and a bit cedary … mouth-wise, right from the bottle, it’s pleasant and smooth with a little tannins and good flavours: soft green pepper, blackberries and cedar. But, when you throw this one into a decanter you’ll watch it bloom: black fruit flavours galour, like cassis, black cherry and tobacco leaps into both the mouth and nose. An excellent wine with still a few years left to go. It’s wines like this that make me wonder (and hope) if Southbrook’s future will be as bright as their past – form my pen to bacchus’ eyes – I’ll drink to that. Lost & Found rating: Treasure.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Southbrook Winery 1999 Triomphe Cabernet Franc - Lailey Vineyard

(Found – March 2008)

Think ba
ck nine years. Having trouble? Let me help you. In 1999 Southbrook Winery resided quite happily at 1061 Major Mackenzie Drive just north of Toronto; they had been a winery for 8 years (at that location) and their winemaker was Derek Barnett (now with Lailey Vineyard). They did not grow any of their own grapes here; they bought their grapes from Niagara Vineyards, in this case Lailey, and made the wine in the former cow barn at the property in Maple. I bought this bottle back when I was a budding eonophile; Southbrook still had that (sound astonished) “a quality winery north of Toronto” cache. The guy behind the counter said, “It’s big and It’ll age a long time.”

That’s enough history, let’s fast forward to now. I found this bottle of ’99 Franc on a rac
k and decided I best drink it now – boy was I wrong, still too early … yes it’s drinking very nicely now but I think another few years would do this wine lots of good. I started by pouring it right out of the bottle; unfiltered bits and pieces fell into my glass. Looking at the wine as it cascaded into the glass, I could see that the colour was still dark, the smells were smoky, woodsy and had a hint of cherry licorice, the taste was all-woodsy and black fruited.

I then decided to filter and decant, what a difference: black licorice, spicy nuances and some green pepper on the nose. The taste was even better: black fruit, a bit of cedar, cinnamon, herbs, a bit of something spicy and hints of charred green pepper fresh off the bbq. The decanting smoothed this one out and made it even better then it originally seemed – and boy is it rich and flavourful … best of all it still has plenty of years left, I’d say 3 years or more. Wonderful. Lost & Found rating: Major Treasure ... and getting better.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Magnotta 2002 Toro Nero Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Editon – Non-VQA

(Found – March 2008)

I found this wine in a “two-year-hold” box I had been saving, it’s two years were up and decided to lug it over to mom and dad’s place for Easter … why not, it’s always fun to play “guess what I brought with mom.” In the end, mom called this wine “busy” and I’d agree. The aromas were all over the map: there was a grassiness that accosted the nose, I thought it more green peppery at first, but it developed a bitterness in the smell that lent it more to the grass family of vegetation; that was followed by a mocha note of sorts. Once you got past that, and swirled it around in the glass a little, there was ripe blackberry and eucalyptus … but at rest the wine returned to the original bitter smells. As it remained open longer the smells became coffee bean and then bitter, strong coffee. In the mouth, things got even busier – there was an oaky-minty taste, then smooth, soft vanilla with herbs and spices showed up. Give it a little air in the mouth and there were plums and cloves – then dried leaves lead the way to a juicy yet dusty finish – which as mom put it, “was not unpleasant at all.” Again, as it stayed open longer the coffee from the nose began to poke through on the palate, and within an hour it was fully dominant. Maybe a few years left here, but once opened drink quickly. Lost & Found rating: Tolerable+

Pillitteri Estates Winery 2004 Dolce Riesling

(Found – March 2008)

Hmmm an aged (4-years) sweet Riesling, seems like a nice wine to have found on a sunny Saturday afternoon, too bad it’s –3 out or the back deck would beckon. The cork pops and I’m away to the races with this one. Pretty simple wine actually, the smells are apple juice in nature with a touch of lanolin and talc. In the mouth I find it more difficult place to distinguish flavours. There’s a sweet lemonade taste and a very fine nuance of petrol, when aerated in the mouth, and there is a slight bitterness thru the mid-palate. Now swallow, and wait and wait and wait – wow, good extra long finish – a few minutes pass and I’ve still got the taste of the wine lingering in there … too bad they’re non-descript flavours that’re hard to identify. There’s also just enough acidity hanging around to balance the sweetness out. If you’ve got any of this drink ‘em this summer or maybe next, but I wouldn’t hold it much longer. Lost & Found rating: Tolerable+

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Featherstone 2004 Cherry Barrel Cabernet Franc

(Found: February 2008)

On the eve of a Featherstone Limited White Wine victory at Cuvee 2008 – for their 2007 Gewurztraminer – I opened this bottle of Cherry Barrel Franc, another limited edition wine from Featherstone. This is a single barrel production wine (one barrel, 23 cases, 276 bottles). Upon opening I got rhubarb and raspberry; a few minutes in and I was dealing with a red-berry bowl with vanilla flavouring. Tastes were as expected (the nose didn’t lie): cherry, woodsy and tobacco leaf with a touch of vanilla and some interesting crème-brule nuances. 30 minutes later it was smooth as silk and easy swiggin’; everything had settled, flavours of cherry-vanilla-tobacco … the finish was long and loaded with sour cherry while the tannins were present but smooth. Good wine from a so-so year (2004) – I believe this wine has hit it’s ‘sweet-spot’, so drink now to 2009. Lost & Found rating: Treasure.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Thomas and Vaughan 2002 Cabernet Franc

(Found - February 2008)

I've had a bad back of late, must be all that snow shoveling I’m doing - makes you wish you'd chosen condo living instead of home ownership; so tonight I needed relief. Looking at my wine racks I saw a long neck bottle calling out to me, it was a 2002, Thomas & Vaughan Cabernet Franc - I thought to myself, "I could use a little TLC from the likes of Dr. Thomas and Dr. Vaughan" - so let's see if they can make this house call memorable. I sunk the corkscrew into the wax top covering the cork and pulled up ... Yikes, plastic cork! That could be trouble. My first smell and taste were plasticy. I dumped my glass and tried again. A nose of spices, leather, cloves, blackberries and allspice - the tannins in the mouth were rich, the flavors were cassis, blueberry skins, a vanilla-cinnamon mixture and fine oak. Pretty impressive ... fifteen minutes later something happened. I had misplaced my glass as I began doing something else and when I came back to it I found juicy, ripe blackberries, a touch of cedar, silky smooth tannins and a touch of cocoa on the finish; the nose had also developed some sweet tobacco. Very impressive … another 25 minutes past. Now I have a real quaffer on my hands - it's smooth, soft, luscious and head-tiltingly good ... seems like I hit the sweet spot on this one, best of all, looks like I have another bottle on the racks. Lost and Found Rating: Treasure.

Thirteenth Street Winery 2002 G. H. Funk Vineyard Cabernet-Merlot

(Found - February 2008)

Here's what happens when you pair a great vintage (2002) with a cult winery known for making great, much sought after wines (13th Street). A few years back I bought this bottle of wine for under $20 - today I looked like a genius for picking up two, though I feel like an idiot for opening it so soon. That's the thing about wine that’s so vexing, when is the perfect time to open it? If you open it too soon or too late there's no way to get the genie back in the bottle, so to speak. This Cab-Merlot has not finished ageing, but it is coming along beautifully. Upon first open the smells were black fruit and licorice, twenty minutes later herbs and pencil shavings joined in the fray. The taste showed great complexity with each passing fifteen minutes ... spices, herbs, anise, nutmeg, a bit chewy through the mid-palate with just a touch of graphite. The tannins can best be described as slightly gritty - smooth through the mouth, but with a dry cocoa-like finish that leaves a little bite behind. If I had another bottle I'd lie down for another two years - maybe more. Lost and Found rating: Treasure … only going to get better.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jackson-Triggs 2002 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Meritage

(Found – January 2008)

Sure it’s fun to pick on J-T, and here are just a few of the reasons why … they’re big, they sold-out, they make cellared in Ontario wine by the boat-load and their Olympic wine is the biggest marketing gaf ever in the history of Ontario wine – and that’s saying something (the official wine of the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver is non-VQA). Makes you wonder who is steering the ship. But even with all these snafus you have to admit that when they do get it right they really get it right – and when "they VQA" they do it right. Take this Grand Reserve Meritage from 2002 (gold label) … 6 years from vintage date and it’s still a beauty. Colour and nose are still big and black … and that assessment goes right through to the palate. Tons of black fruit: cassis, blackberries, black raspberries with a touch of cedar and a lovely finish that completes the deal. They may not get it right all the time, they may mess it all up in the marketing department, and you might feel let down that they caved to the mighty American conglomerate (Constellation) … but when the marketing machine lets the wineamakers speak – they can make something spectacular from what they grow right here at home. Lost and Found rating: REAL TREASURE.

Willow Springs 2003 Vidal

(Found – January 2008)

The lowly Vidal grape … the only good thing that has come to it is the invention of icewine, right? Not so fast folks. Someone once commented to me that they never see the Vidal grape outside of icewine. Vidal, believe it or not, shows up in quite a few wines, but they are mostly house blends or house wines and are more often than not off dry. I located a couple of bottles of this Willow Springs offering and wondered how it has fared over the past few years. Vidal is rarely if ever oaked so from vine to bottle there is probably a 6-month gap (if that) – so this wine would have been bottled in early 2004 … still that’s four years on. What I found in my glass was surprising – the colour had darkened and the smells were melon, lemon and a bit of sweet tangerine … the palate showed a decent amount of sweetness along with hits of cantaloup flesh and honeydew melon rind. In the mouth it felt rounded and still had a bit of acidity, while the finish lingered on the cheeks with some lemony-zing. Surprised? Maybe a little, though I had tried a 2004 Vidal a few months ago that was holding up pretty well too … good to see the lowly Vidal holding its own – this would be something nice to sip on come the summer. Lost and Found rating: MINOR TREASURE.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Creekside Estate Winery 2002 Cabernet

(Found – August 2007)

2002, being the year that its was, it was hard to make a wine that would not have life after a few years in bottle; but what about 5 years on. The winemaking team at Creekside shows that their current hit streak is no fluke – and started a long time ago, they have been making great wines all along. At first the wine showed leathery-dark fruit on the nose - the leathery then blew off and became cedary-dark fruit. The cedar continued into the mouth with some cassis, blackberries, a touch of vanilla, a little cinnamon and nutmeg also thrown in for good measure. Not bad at all especially for a wine that has been under plastic cork all this time, and I have had little luck with aged plastic. I still seem to have one bottle left, I’ll lay it down and we’ll assess it again in 2 years. Lost + Found rating: TREASURE.

Erie Shore Vineyard 2001 Cabernet Franc-Zweigelt

(Found – January 2008)

I will fully admit that I waited too long with this one … finding it on the shelf in late December I knew it was probably past its prime, but waiting another month to drink it … that I can’t explain. If there is any good news to take away from this bottle is that it was corked, and therefore I never would have gotten the true flavours of the wine even if I tasted it in its prime. Soaking for as long as it did in the faulty cork the flavours and smells were just enhanced … the wine was ripe with wet newspaper and stewed prunes; and the taste was not much better. Looking at the bottle, now with the level of the wine at its shoulders, you could see the glass had become murky and cloudy. The wine itself looked more like a rosee, being almost completely see through. I gave the wine 30 minutes, an hour, then two hours to sit open, just to see if it would develop anything or blow off its stink … it did neither. Too bad, this one had some great potential in its youth and Erie Shore makes some great Franc. Lost + Found Rating: PURE TRASH.

Kacaba Vineyard 2002 Oak-Aged Gamay

(Found – August 2007)

The grape of Beaujolais in oak you say … mais oui! And quite tastee. A nose of cassis, black cherry, mocha and cedar, with tastes that are just as impressive 5 years on. The cedar had integrated well with the fruit in this bottle and did not over-power or dominate, it settled in nicely with the sour cherry, strawberry, raspberry and a sprinkling of Fry’s powered cocoa. I can’t tell you how truly impressed I was with this one - WOW! Lost + Found Rating: REAL TREASURE.

Pillitteri Estates 2003 Late Harvest Vidal

(Found – January 2008)

In August of 2006 I popped the cork on a bottle of this wine and the cork slid out without any resistence (never a good sign) … the wine turned out to be flat in the mouth, but still had quite a prominent and inviting nose. Flash forward a year and a half and I located another bottle of this wine kicking around on my mother’s wine rack (we must have each bought a bottle during a visit to the winery). I had her put it in the fridge and on my next visit (a few days later) we opened it. Now believe it or not kiddies sometimes a wine can be too cold, this will mute the flavours and smells, and that’s exactly what happened here. But the good news is, you can always let it warm up – better that than to throw an ice cube in it (you know who I’m talking to out there). At first it was just apples that wafted up from the glass and the flavours were apples and lilac. 20 minutes later there was pineapple, wildflower honey and honeydew melon grabbing the olfactories … the flavours had also come around producing that wildflower honey and dried apricots sensation on the tongue, all with a sweet limeade finish. Lost + Found Rating: TREASURE.