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.