Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stonechurch 2006 Dry Riesling

Found December 2009

In my New Year's write up I mentioned three wines that we had that were very good and a number (without names) that were not up to snuff or, most likely, not what most people wanted to drink ... but this one took the cake. I know I said I would protect the names of the innocent but this is not an innocent wine, this was just plain and simple sloppy wine making, a bad marketing decision, or both. This Dry Riesling from Stonechurch was a "pre-release" wine, in fact the label had been handwritten on with a silver Sharpie marker. Over time I had noticed a little sediment in the bottle, odd for a Riesling, when I asked at the winery about it they said that was because it was a pre-release and they may not have filtered it as finely as they normally would. This should have tipped me off that something was wrong with this wine, but I wanted to believe, and I know I liked the wine when I tasted it at the winery. Tonight, I opened it and the cork made a bigger pop than the Champagne I opened later in the evening. The wine, when poured into the glass, fizzed and bubbled more than a can of warm coke and the taste, ick. The wine had re-fermented in the bottle and had transformed into an undrinkable sparkling wine, where once a still wine should have been ... no wonder the next few wines didn't go over well, most were still remembering this Riesling disaster. Turns out I still have a bottle left, this will be good for clearing clogged drains and cleaning the toilet. Lost & Found Rating: Trash

Southbrook Winery 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon - Lailey Vineyard

Found December 2009

New Year's Eve 2009 ... as we move from 2009 to 2010 I decided to open quite a few wines (well actually 3), the others can be found here ... as for the Ontario component of my evening it was this well aged Cabernet Sauvignon from Southbrook. Those who read my entries to this blog know that Southbrook used to be my local winery and I seem to have quite a few bottles of theirs that go back a few years. This wine would have been made from fruit sourced at Lailey Vineyard down in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Southbrook at this time, did not own their own vines. I drank this one after a much younger, more alcoholly, richer fruited Malbec from Argentina, but it still held it's own. The smells were that of an older wine with cranberry, dried raspberries and blackberries with the mildest whiff of green pepper (an Ontario signature smell around this time period). The palate was smooth (though a tad gritty from the unfiltered floaties - but it is this element that has allowed the wine to age so gracefully so no use complaining), there was also a touch of white pepper and a bit of woodsiness to mix with the dried fruit base. Paired well with the New Year's Eve pizza. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vignoble Rancourt 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon

Found November 2009

Lionel Rancourt was one of those guys that made wine fun and made you feel welcome. The first time I happened upon his winery it was after 5 o'clock at night, I was leaving the Shaw festival, having just seen a play with my mother. Today I'm not sure what the play was but I sure remember Rancourt's winery. We were puttering along Hwy. 55 (Niagara Stone Road) and spied his sign, we made the right hand turn and then another to pull down the driveway, all the time wondering if the winery was still open. The door was locked and the sign on the door said they closed at 5. I was getting back into the car when I heard a voice, "wait ... I'm coming." I turned to see a little limping man hobbling down the stairs of a house across the drive. "You came all this way to see my winery," he said as he got closer, "the least I can do is give you a taste of what you came for." And with that we shook hands and he opened the winery door. That evening Lionel took me on a tour of his winery and of his wines - told me of his great plans for the future and his passion for the wine industry. Alas, many of Lionel's dreams never came to pass, he passed away suddenly a couple of Chirstmases ago, but I still remember that visit. Tonight, I was having dinner with mom and dad and found this bottle to Rancourt's 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon in my cellar; I brought it along to bring back the memories of that interesting evening, my mother still says "poor Mr. Rancourt" whenever she passes the winery or sees a bottle of his wine. We opened it to try. Yet again I must say alas when it come to Mr. Rancourt: the nose was pruney with celery and other veggie notes , and when given a little air the woodiness shone through. On the palate there was much of the same with woody and vegetal notes. Gone was the fruit. When decanted all that was left was wood: cedar planks and sawdust. This wine had crested the hill and was in its steady decline, but something tells me it happened within the last year, so this one is just barely trash, but trash none the less. Lost & Found Rating: Trash

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jackson-Triggs 2002 Proprietors' Grand Reserve Merlot

Found November 2009

It seems like it's been awhile since anybody had something nice to say about Jackson-Triggs, what with that Cellared in Canada issue blowing up in their face (not saying it was just them, but they did take the brunt of the blame). So I'm here to tell you is that when J-T puts their mind to it they can make some awesome VQA wines, like this Proprietors' Grand Reserve Merlot from 2002 ... after finding and tasting it Saturday night there's was little doubt in my mind as to why this bottle had a gold label adorning the outside.

Back when it was released this wine was a real beauty, one ripe for laying down and re-discovering in years to come; and why? The combination of a good growing season and plenty of barrel age (18 months in new French oak). So here we are, some 7 years from vintage date, and this wine is still going strong. Upon opening, I noticed the cork was in perfect condition, no seepage up the sides and the tip was as black as pitch. The initial smell was one of smokey green peppers and spice, while the taste was plenty spicy with black pepper on the palate and a hint of dried black currants lurking on the mid-palate ... but for the most part this wine was all smoky, spicy and peppery in the mouth.

Being the impatient sort that I am, I decided it was time to decant, so I pulled out my Vinturi (a great little by-the-glass decanting device perfect for when you're on the road and require the use of a decanter but have none available) and passed the wine through it. The sharp spice was toned down to a more manageable level on the tongue and the smoky aspect came through as extremely pleasant. The green pepper, that once lived on the nose, dissipated quietly into the background, while the acid and black pepper were pleasantly intensified ... now, with the wine more in tune with my palate's needs, it was time to sit and sip away the evening. As I did so, and about an hour later, there seemed to be some blackened fruit that showed up, more as an after thought than a main player - but it was welcomed to the party with open arms (or lips as the case may be).

This wine proves to me that when Jackson-Triggs focuses on 100% Ontario VQA wine there is no controversy, they make fantastic stuff. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

Monday, October 26, 2009

Southbrook Winery 1998 Riesling Icewine

Found October 2009

Tonight a bottle of 11 year old Southbrook Riesling Icewine was opened in my presence, and whenever an interesting bottle is opened in my presence I feel I must report on it. The cork glided out of the bottle with barely a whimper and a quick inspection of the cork showed a caking of tartaric crystals, I assured everyone that this was an okay thing. The smell was of burnt caramel nut clusters while the taste was sweet candied dried fruit with pecans in a caramel toffee sauce ... the aftertaste, following the swallowe, produced a rusty apple on the rather long finish. To put this wine into a context you might be able to understand, the wine was similar in consistency and colour of a Pedro Ximenez based cream sherry (thick and syrupy), and just as dark. An intersting piece of Ontario's, and Southbrook's, history. Lost & Found Rating: Tolerable, but in very small amounts.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Southbrook 1999 Triomphe Merlot - Lailey Vineyard

Found October 2009

To say I enjoyed this wine is an understatement. Heck, to say I really enjoyed this wine would also be an understatement ... this was a fantastic wine. I found this 10 year old Merlot in my wine cellar while doing some re-arranging (I do that every so often, it re-familiarizes me with what I have, let's me see bottles I never knew I had - and some I wish I didn't). Those who have followed my Lost and Found column know that when I first really got into wine Southbrook was my "local" winery; they started out in the Richmond Hill area (only 30 minutes north of Toronto - 20 if you drove quickly). So I seem to have a treasure trove of old Southbrook bottles in my collection. The reason for that is that both Bill Redelmeier (owner) and then winemaker, Derek Barnett, who were often found manning the wine store counter, would always talk about the age-ability of their wines. And they weren't just whistling Dixie with this one. There is so much going on in this wine at this age it really is hard to describe completely. There's still fruit, most of it dried, and hints of green pepper; one moment your tasting the dried fruit and the green pepper pokes in for a sip, then there's some oak influence that takes over, then a spicy character comes through with his friend herb, and near the end of the glass (some 2 hours later) I could have sworn I had chocolate, black cherry and butterscotch caramel in my mouth. Now granted there was some dustiness to those flavours, but they were there, dry and smooth as silk. Anybody who doubts the age-worthiness of Ontario wine should really check out what Southbrook was making in the late 90's, then come back to me and we'll talk. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure +

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Moutain Road Wine Company 2002 Reserves: Cabernet and Cabernet Franc

Found October 2009

Tonight it was a two-fer finding, two Mountain Road Reserves from the great 2002 vintage. It didn't start out to be a two-fer evening, granted I found both bottles at the same time, but I figured I'd try one tonight and one tomorrow. I opened the 2002 Cabernet Franc Reserve first, and good thing I did. There was a funny smell emanating from the glass, then it hit me, volatile (nail polish) mingled with green pepper. I tried to decant the wine, and then I waited a bit, hoping it would blow off, but it never did - even 4 hours later it still hung on in the glass that I left on the counter. And just because I am "that kind of guy" I tasted it and received a mouthful of green pepper shellacked in nail polish. Not as nice as it sounds, trust me.

Therefore, it was with a little trepidation that I opened the next bottle, the 2002 Cabernet Reserve. I can only assume this is a blend of Cabs, Sauvignon and Franc, because there is nothing written on the label as to the make up of the wine or the percentages. This one showed a touch of volatility, but the red berries, sweet vanilla oak and chocolate liqueur over took that. Decanting helped to rid the wine of its minor fault. Tasting proved it to be sweet in the mouth with cranberry cocktail flavours on the mid-palate. The wine still tasted fresh, had lively acidity and a long pleasant finish, which had a bit of raisiny sweetness to it. The colour was good too: red with the barest hint of browning. Delightful, and it got better as the night wore on. Lost & Found Rating: Cabernet Reserve - Treasure; Cabernet Franc Reserve - Trash

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pelee Island Winery 2003 Vinedressers Cabernet Sauvignon

Found August 2009

Pelee Island really doesn't get the credit they deserve. Yes they are one of the culprits in the Cellared in Canada fiasco gripping this province, but they also make plenty of VQA wines, and the ones that really should be getting a shout out are the Vinedressers (Reserve) series of wines that are only available at the winery. These are some pretty consistent wines year in and year out. Take this Cabernet Sauvignon as an example, from the mediocre 2003 vintage - the smells consist of white pepper and red fruit with hints of toasted licorice root. Palate-wise it took time to open, but when it did there was lots to appreciate: pepper, red fruit and dried blackberries, a bit of barrel toast and a pleasant thoroughly enjoyable mouth feel that slid smoothly across the tongue. This wine has definitely peaked - so I you have any, now's the time to drink up. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Legends Estates Winery 2002 Baco Noir

Found August 2009

My bother and sister-in-law love Baco, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to drag something out of the cellar that I might not have brought out at any other time. Truth is I had it on the taste list about six months ago, but it was for brunch and it just didn't seem right to subject folks to old Baco at 11 in the morning. The nose has become cassis-liqueur-like with smoky-black licorice notes. The palate pretty much follows what the nose is offering up with smoky, pruny, dried cassis like flavours ... hardly any tannins, so the wine is very smooth - but there is a sour-bitter-ish finish. My brother and sister-in-law polished off the bottle so I guess they liked it, I found the acid and bitter finish to much to handle over th course of an evening. Lost & Found Rating: Tolerable, for Baco fans.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cave Spring Cellars 1999 Indian Summer Riesling

Found August 2009

This bottle was given to Erica and I the night after our engagement, I think we were suppose to drink it with those that had come to celebrate this momentous occasion with us, but after 3 or four bottles (potentially more, I think I lost count here), food and much merriment the bottle was never opened, so we saved it for a rainy day, so to speak. Turns out on the day we drank it was a rainy day – and exactly three months to the day after our engagement. Tonight I was meeting members of her extended family (Uncle John and Aunt Diane) for dinner. This was the wine we served for dessert with a plum cake, turns out this was a highlight of the meal – except for my pulled pork, which was also a hit (and I can’t fail to mention Erica’s wonderful salads). The first thing everybody noticed was the golden colour of the wine, like apple juice-like but deeper. Those expecting fresh, fruity and lively would have been disappointed, though this wine still had quite a bit of spunk. The nose was rather simple with vanilla and cooked fruit notes, very similar to a compote of apples, pears and peaches. In the mouth is where you could really pick out the individual fruits like dried apple and pears; there were also notes of butterscotch-toffee and vanilla. The sweetness was still quite apparent, and it was balanced out by a nice seam of acidity. This wine has held up very well – not sure how much time it has left, or how much cooked/dried fruit you like in your wine but it is drinking very nicely now. Lost + Found Rating: Treasure.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Colio Estate 2006 Riesling

Found July 2009

Sometime it's not about what you find in your cellar, it's what you find in someone else's. Last night I discovered this '06 Colio Riesling in my fiancee's wine rack. Now truth is before she met me she did not have a "wine rack", she had a couple of bottle stashed away in her basement (one's a Chianti and one's a Merlot), which someone had given her and she put away to 'drink later' and never got around to it ... probably because red is not her thing (one day I'll brave the Chianti). Then when she met me, well her vineous life changed, which means she drank more wine (and that's a big change for a beer girl. She liked whites more than reds, Riesling was a favourite along with some Pinot Gris and Vidal - but nothing too sweet, and for sure she likes it dry; and that's what is now in her cellar, a lot of whites and a smattering of reds that I have collected here (in Michigan) for my consumption. She'll try the occasional red, but she really is a white-girl. Now enough about her, what have we discovered here in her cellar. This Colio Riesling is only 3 years old, so still a baby, the nose is very fruity with melon and green apple being the prominent smells, there's is also a lovely honeysuckle note that really ties the aromas together and keeps you sniffing with every sip. The palate proved just as inviting: mac apple, honeydew, lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness through the mid palate before finishing dry and lovely. The aftertaste linger for just the right amount of time, not too long, not too short, just enough time before your craving another sip. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Southbrook Winery 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Lailey Vineyard

Found July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day! To celebrate I looked at a lot of different wines to pour into my glass - I even looked at a couple of wine from Washington State, but that seemed sacrilegious; so I went deep into my cellar, back 10 years, and discovered a bottle of Southbrook 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - Lailey Vineyard. This is wine from back in the day when Lailey was still just growing grapes and Southbrook was still making wine in a barn in Richmond Hill.

You should have seen the thick paint like substance on the cork, surprising because I had this bottle standing up for at least three weeks before pulling the cork. I open it slowly but still manage to spray a few glasses and the counter with thick red (almost black) ooze. In the glass the colour is still very red, more blood red than crimson. Sediment is very fine and wispy in the glass, leaving patterns on the glass and when swirled they look like schools of fish swimming around near the bottom.

The nose still has hints of fruit and spice (black fruits and peppery spice) but there is other underlying smells: coffee grounds, black licorice, a touch of forest floor, dried tea leaves, and dried red fruit; there's also a spicy wood smell starting to develop (some 30 minutes in).

The palate also shows real signs of life here. Tannins have mellowed to a dull roar, though they are still there. The fruit is fading with flavours on the peppered and dried side. A touch of wood spice and dried leaves ... bit of tea leaf on the tongue, but there's a good replay of acidity and long finish that hints of vanilla-cinnamon wood with a bit of white pepper.

I could probably sit, sip and analyze this wine right up to the last drop. Suffice it to say that I am impressed with this wine; for a 10 year-old Cab it is very impressive and still has a few more years ahead of it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go enjoy what's left of Canada Day with this fantastic wine. Happy 142 Canada. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure ++

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mastronardi 2005 Brianje Riesling

Found May 2009

Considering that many of the 2005 Rieslings I have tried have been loaded with an over abundance of petrol (more than they should for a 4-5 year old wine) I approached this wine with a little trepidation as to how it had stood up. Before going on allow me to tell you how this bottle ends up lost, and found. My fiancee is a buyer of wine (not much, but enough) and less of a consumer - she refuses to open a bottle when she is by herself; which usually means I have wine to drink when I am visiting her place in Michigan. Until recently though, most of her wine has been stored in boxes, when she moved into her new place I made sure she had some wine racks and I organized her cellar (about 40 bottles). Much to my surprise I found lots of Ontario whites and a few oddball reds (a 2001 Chianti, a 2003 Cab and an 2004 Zinfandel) amongst them. I also got her a glass rack that holds four bottles for her kitchen - to remind her that 1) It's okay to drink alone; 2) You have wine at your disposal; and 3) I'm going to make it easy on you to fulfill 1 and 2 ... alas she still doesn't drink alone - so it must be me who's the alcoholic (wink). Anyway, I pulled this Riesling off the rack (and chilled it in the fridge) on a day where the Michigan sun was high in the sky and the temp had topped at a quite balmy (and breezy) 17 degrees (Celsius). The aromas on this wine were muted melon, mac apple, some orange rind and just a hint of petrol kicking around in the background. The tastes were perfect for the breezy-balmy day we found ourselves part of, more pronounce melon and apple, subtle notes of rindy-petrol and a sweet tangerine finish. Lovely, and so was the hour we found ourselves sipping it over. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Southbrook 1999 Triomphe Cabernet Franc

Found April 2009

The more I try the Southbrook older vintage wines made by winemaker Derek Barnett, the more impressed I am with not only his abilities (at such an early stage of his career), but the philosophy of this young winery at the time. Those who have read my previous Lost & Found articles know about my history with Southbrook, my closest neighbourhood winery, and Bill Redelmeier's mantra about wanting his wines to have ageability ... he found a kindred spirit in winemaker Barnett, who makes his wines in the same vein even today (but now with Lailey). Ten years on this wine is spectacular; even more interesting is that you can pour it straight from the bottle or decant, and still get similar flavours and enjoyment. This wine is vibrant and alive with smells of cinnamon, cedar and big black cherries. Hard to believe this wine is ten years old, as it shows little signs of the dried fruit of age on the nose. Decanted: vanilla-cinnamon-cherry.

Tastes were similar to what you got on the nose, offering up blackberry, black cherry and cassis - good fruit and all black; while the finish was smooth with creme-brulee over and under tones. The only word I can use here is spectacular. Tannins have settles and there was also a slight white pepper note, but this wine has hit, not only its stride, but possibly its apex of life. Wine lives on an ageing curve and this one is right on top of the hill - how long it'll stay there is unknown, but its amazing when you find one of these and have a chance to drink it. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure ++

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Flat Rock Cellars 2004 Riesling

Found April 2009

Funny this wine should be considered part of my Lost and Found section - I do have a tasting note on it from July 2006, but I never published it. At that time I said: "A great citrus nose, but not overpowering - this wine has mellowed since it’s release and drinks quite well now; though it does have a little tartness to it and tastes like a sweet lemonade." That's when I decided to lay it down and see what happens to the high acidity. Well all that sweetness and acidity helped preserve this wine beautifully and of course there's the screwcap - help, hinder ... we'll never know cause the wine was not simultaneously bottled under cork; but I am never one to shy away from a bottle of wine no matter what it is closed with. With a click I was off with the tasting. The smell was of mild petrol tones and lemon rind, while the palate proved a little more complex. Lots of mineral and lemon drop, the petrol also appeared in the mouth, but in a very mild-mannered way. The acidity was still very good and the fruit was a mixture of mac sweet and Granny-Smith tart (not fresh but by no mean mealy and old either) giving it a nice crisp entry and smooth exit. Time has not hurt this wine in any way, in fact it was very kind to it; I think a little more time would help too. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Southbrook 1998 Lailey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Found April 2009

In a recent issue of Wine Access magazine (April/May 2009), my colleague David Lawrason, tasted through some back vintages of Southbrook wines. He gave his top score (93) to a 1998 Chardonnnay (I have to wonder if the current winemaker's ego is affected by that, knowing that a wine made 10 years ago outperformed your current output - I must remember to ask Ann Sperling that next time I see her) ... anyway, that got me thinking as to some of the older Southbrook wines I have in my cellar. Southbrook owner, Bill Redelmeier, is a huge proponent of ageing his wines, a philosophy and passion he shared with his then winemaker Derek Barnett - so the wines made before Barnett's departure in 2001 really have the will of the winemaker and owner on their side: heft and longevity as their backbone so to speak.

I'm now going to tell you about the little journey this wine and I took together. When I first opened the bottle the green pepper smell was almost overwhelming; but in the mouth it seemed to be more than the one-trick-pepper-pony it gave off in the smell, offering up cedar and vanilla notes, to go along with the charred-roasted green pepper. But with each sniff and sip I thought there was something hiding in the background, so I decided to whip out the decanter and give it a go. Now I have had a little discussion with a certain wine agency owner over the validity of decanting - he believes its all in our heads - if you're out there I would recommend you listen up.

0:30 ... Wine now has a smoky, woodsy, earthy character with spiced-leaves and just hints of that once powerful green pepper in the background. On the palate, the green pepper has also softened, giving way to dried fruit, pencil shavings, smoked leaves and soft leather. This wine is amazingly still very much alive, and that was quite apparent as the hour mark tasting showed.

1:00 ... Smoky, leathery and a bit gamy - the palate is smooth with earthy notes and fine Carinthian leather that Ricardo Montalbahn would have been proud to have in his Buick. There were also hints of cedar on the palate and I was thrillled to find that even some tannins were starting to peak out, adding some muscle to this wine.

1:30 ... Lots of change happened in the past half hour. Coffee has become the dominant smell and there seems to be a coffee grounds-like taste.

2:00 ... Not dead yet, but not very much alive either - somewhere in the middle - she's dying slowly here as everything seems to be falling away, leaving just an alcohol and wood based drink behind.

Ten years old and still a wonderful wine to drink - had I not been experimenting I would have consumed the bottle within the first hour. If you are lucky enough to have a bottle, decant for half an hour then enjoy. Lost & Found rating: Treasure

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thomas & Vaughan 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon

Found March 2009

Doomed from the start ... that is the best way to describe this wine. Now don't get me wrong, this wine had such great potential, if not for the ladybugs that spoiled the party. Tonight, I decided to open a bottle of Thomas and Vaughan and see how the wine from this now-troubled winery have aged. At first I was not sure of the smell I was getting, then it became clear: pyrazine. That peanut smell that hit Ontario in 2001 from so many scared ladybugs with no where to go - some got it big time while others were spared. This one was only slightly buggy, but it made a difference both on the nose and on the palate. Let's push through it for a moment and see what else this wine could have been. There were signs of green pepper on the nose; the palate shed the bug and delved into the realm of cedar, cinnamon and blackberries. There was even hints of tannin still there. But in the end the bug took over with a bitter finish and as it opened it gained more of "those smells" - too bad, this wine was definitely going places. Lost & Found: Trash - but barely.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Southbrook 1998 Lailey Vineyard Cabernet Franc

Found March 2009

I have so many different experiments going on that sometimes I get lost in what I'm doing; I feel like the absent-minded professor. One of my on-going experiments, and what hopefully brings you to the Lost & Found (and Taste it Again) is my ongoing look at the ageability of Ontario wine. For those who have followed my saga of Southbrook I won't bore you with the details again. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, look back at some of the wines previously reviewed in this section. But here's a brief synopsis (just cause I appreciate your eyeballs on the page): Southbrook was the closest winery to my house in Toronto and a buddy and I travelled there often. The owner Bill Redelmeier was always on hand on the weekends and loved to tout the age-worthiness of his wine. Even before I was a wine writer I thought I would put him to the test. And here is yet another example of how Bill was right.

Two days before Cuvee weekend 2009, I pulled out a bottle of this wine so that the sediment sink to the bottom. Upon my return (Monday), and with dreams of aged wine in my head, I popped the cork of this bottle. Sediment flew everywhere, so before any tasting could be done I had to clean up the surrounding area. Next I poured some wine into a Spiegalau glass (Bordeaux red style). The smell was big on green pepper and so were the flavours. But there was something else, blackberries and cassis still hung around along with definite notes of cedar. But with all that sediment floating around I thought it best to decant ... so I did.

There is still the green pepper notes on the nose, but they are not so in your face; the cedar comes out a little more along with graphite and cinnamon. On the palate there are hints of dried black fruits, cedar, cinnamon and fresh green pepper. There's still some tannin structure here too, which suggest it will lie another few years comfortably. Billy R, it seems you were right about your wines. Next up a Cabernet Sauvignon from the same year. Lost & Found rating: Treasure+.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fielding Estate 2004 Cabernet Franc

Found February 2009

Hmm ... I think it's time to drink your 2004 wines, or at least look at them with a little more scrutiny. 2004 was not a great vintage here in Ontario, the wines were good but not great, and if you are holding onto anything maybe it's time you thought twice about what you have in your cellar. I have two bottles of this wine and tonight decided it was time to pull one off the rack and give it a go. The initial smell is vegetal (read subtle green pepper) and cedar (these follow thru on the taste) and they continue through for the next hour. Pleasantly, there is also a few other smells and flavours. Smell: you'll pick up a tiny bit of cherry, but it's of the sour variety. On the palate, cinnamon shows up briefly in the mouth; on the finish it's a mix of cranberry and sour cherry - and of course, wood. I'm happy to report that the wood is far from heavy handed, and currently it is something you can easily drink with little to no interference from big-wood tannins ... but drink now, this one doesn't have a lot of life left. Lost & Found: Tolerable

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thirty Bench 1999 Riesling Icewine

Found February 2009

I guess this is not fair to put this in the Lost & Found section – considering I never really bought this wine and cellared it myself – but I have to admit I am not sure where else to put it. You see Thirty Bench has just released a few older Icewines to show how Icewine ages, and I got a tasting of one of the earliest … so just come along with me for the ride and pretend. At first I thought this wine was a little oxidized, but a little more swirling and I found brandied-peaches on the nose … about 15 minutes later there was a tinny smell in the background. On the tongue, it was a touch syrupy and the taste was canned peaches in a light syrup. There was still a good bit of acidity here and the finish had great length. Does it shine like some of the more recent Riesling Ices I've tried? No, but it is a great piece of history to show where we have come from with this grape, when it comes to Icewine? Sure is … and you just gotta love sipping on history. Lost & Found: Tolerable +

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Creekside 2005 Butler's Grant Vineyard Riesling

Found January 2009

Shock of all shocks, I never once officially reviewed this wine. I’ve looked everywhere: past newsletters, On the Road articles, in the wine review section, you name it I’ve looked there – and not a peep (guess I was trying to keep this one to myself). I liked it though, enough so to buy 6 bottles in June of 2006, and I made notes every time I drank a bottle (5 in total). Here’s a sampling:

June/July 2006 - Spectacular fruit driven wine ... sugar is about a 2 and a crowd pleaser for sure. Nose of lemon and lime with peaches and apple - great taste of sweet white peach. Drinks well right now and will age for a few years to come. My favourite Riesling from the New Vintages festival held in Niagara for May 2006.

January 2008 - The petrol is beginning to develop but still has plenty of crisp acidity, citrus - apple - pear and lemon.

June 2008 - ... Delicious, great acidity and fruit, can’t believe I have gone through 5 bottles of this baby already, so much for really seeing what age can do ... was even better 3 days later.

With my last bottle, I took thorough notes … just 6 months after my previous bottle was opened the wine has developed even more, though it might finally be cresting the age-hill. There’s a light hint of petrol on the nose, mixed with smells of Welsh’s white grape juice and Vaseline. The palate, while still having that touch of petrol on it, has developed to a point where it now has a taste of cherry-tomato juice and a bit of lanolin. The finish still lingers, on the side of lime-juice, which to my taste is better than the tomato taste. The wine has finally seen its day, it’s not horrible by any stretch of the imagination, it’s most definitely still drinkable and enjoyable with enough pleasure in the mouth that a second glass is in order; but not what it used to be, when you easily could have finished the whole bottle and ordered up a second before lunch was even half over. Another point of interest, this one is now much dryer than expected. Lost & Found rating: Tolerable +.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Inniskillin 2004 Late Autumn Riesling

Found January 2009

A bottle originally slated for a get together on Christmas Eve, it was pushed aside in favour of Miller Lite and Smirnoff’s Ice (much to my dismay) and relegated to a New Year’s bottle with Chinese food. I was impressed with this semi-sweet wine with it’s nose that still had apricots, honeyed pear and mineral notes. The palate also showed interesting notes of apple, unripe peaches, minerally pears, slight tropical fruit with a pleasant refreshing finish - though medium to short in length and lacking zippy acidity. Lost and Found rating: A little Tired but still enough of a Treasure.