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