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