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.