Monday, August 29, 2011

Mountain Road Wine Company 2006 Reserve Chardonnay

Found August 2011

I had this bottle twice over a 4 day span ... not the same bottle mind you, two different bottles.  The first was last Saturday when we had some friends over for dinner and they brought not one but two bottles of this Mountain Road Reserve with them - I am never opposed to two bottles in a night but when we only went through the one I figured I would age the other a little, then it hit me "salmon".  I think I have lost you so let's backtrack to Saturday. 

Saturday night we were having a nice lemon, dill cod and I opened this heavy Chardonnay and although I liked the wine on its own, and it paired so-so with the fish I figured I hadn't given it its proper due.  After-all cod is a very light fish and this was a very heavy Chardonnay.  So on Tuesday night it was back to the drawing board.  I put the second bottle in the fridge and whipped up a dill salmon ... now let's see how the wine performs.  The nose (on both bottles) was one of the wines best features: buttery, vanilla, caramel; and as the wine sat in the glass things melded together giving up smells of buttered almonds and vanilla peaches - hot damn!  Next came taste and it was quite a treat too: hazelnut, butter, vanilla; nutty and buttery all at the same time, there was also a creamy sensation but with good mouth cleansing acidity so that it did not weigh heavily on the tongue.  Turns out it paired much better with the salmon than the cod and would even stand up to some fuller red meats without being sacrilegious.  Bottom line is the wine is well integrated and compelling enough to drink right now, I'm not sure further aging is going to help this one, so drink up and enjoy.    Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Ice House 2006 Northern Ice Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine

Found August 2011

I have a buddy who is not a wine drinker, how we remain friends I am not sure?  His passion for wine ends at the occasional rosé.  But then I learned there was hope for him yet.  He's a fan of Port and just this weekend I learned his passion for the sweeties extends past Oporto and into Ontario: Icewine.  So it was with great pride that I went into my icewine collection in search of something interesting to drink with him.  Now as every Canadian knows, we don't drink icewine, we hold on to it and give it as gifts, even the ones we get as gifts we re-gift somewhere down the line - it is the great Canadian re-gift ... I like to equate it to Christmas cake which seems to get passed along from generation to generation with nary a bite taken.  I was thrilled to locate this 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine from the Ice House, one of Canada's few Icewine only wineries.  At the time of its production few were making such a beast as a straight Cab Sauv sweetie, which makes this unique and, now 5 years later, really very tasty.  With regrets to Riedel and other glass manufacturers who insist Icewine needs its own vessel, I disagree (and you know my feeling on proper glassware) - Icewine is sweet enough that is cuts through whatever you are drinking it from and makes even a shot glass the right thing to drink it out of ... and tonight that is exactly what we did.  The wine has a beautiful strawberry sensation in the mouth with lovely acidity to balance it out and it's very good.   How did I know that, well first of all I tasted it, but secondly my buddy must have downed 6 shots of it in an hour - not bad for a guy that does not like wine.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Southbrook 2002 Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon

Found July 2011

What a treat this was, even if most in the room had no idea what they were trying.  It was the after affair of my wine tasting duties of my annual Pine Island visit.  We had just finished a 6 wine tasting of New Zealand (only 1) and Australia (5 wines) – of course, as expected, the reds were a big hit – Aussie’s big bold and recognizable flavours usually are.  But for dinner I had brought a special bottle that I was looking forward to tasting, and it was this Southbrook number that was 9 years old.  After the robustness of the Aussies this was a subtle experiment and most stayed with the knock-over-your-head with flavour of the Down Under Wines, which left more for me, and I could not be more thankful.  The wine is at its peak (or maybe just slightly off peak) still holding on to fruit like cassis and sour cherry with vanilla wood backing.  The palate is having a heyday with a touch of green pepper (so slight that it disappears with time - after 3 or 4 sips) giving way to a brilliant smoothness that is flavoured with cassis and vanilla-wooden notes.  Deliciously amazing, smooth and easy sipping.  If you have a bottle or two I suggest bringing some out, firing up the grill and matching it up with something medium-rare … I hope you too will be stunned.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cave Spring 1997 CSV Estate Bottled Chardonnay

Found June 2011

It's not often that you get a chance to talk with the winery owner a few days after trying a bottle of his wine, but that is just what happened here:  I tried this bottle on a Sunday and (by happenstance) was speaking with Tom Pennachetti about it the following Friday.  My findings on this wine were very poor, but there were a lot of unknown factors to me before I acquired this bottle.  It was given to me by a friend who `found` it their basement.  The friend in question did not have proper storage for the bottle and has moved a number of times in the interim.  Needless to say the bottle was questionable at best.  I opened this bottle up with a number of wine-loving friends and they were excited to sip on a bottle of 13 year old Ontario Chardonnay.  The cork was crumbly and ended up falling into the bottle, after filtering enough of it out to get a proper sample we found the smells and flavours to be off-putting, tertiary in nature with little sign of fruit; there was some butterscotch and vanilla notes but it all got lost in the heavy oxidative and maderized flavours of the wine.  When I told this to Tom he said he had tried a bottle not too long ago and his experience had been much better, but then again (he pointed out) his bottle had been kept under pristine cellaring conditions. A bottle this old will show signs of its adventure to your glass, and this one`s adventure was dodgy at best.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash (though possibly not the wines fault)


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reif Estate 2006 Cabernet Franc

Found April 2011

As I sit at my desk to write this unfortunate review I can think of only one word to describe this wine: sinister.  I was at a get together with friends who appreciate Ontario wines and I thought this would be an interesting wine to try.  Here's why:  A few years back I held a Cabernet Franc Challenge and this wine was one of those wines that ended up in the bottom tier of the judging, I set it aside in the hopes that it would come around (after all it was one of the youngest Francs in the competition and the producer usually makes good product).  As it turned out my hope was for not.  This wine was nasty from the get go and now 5 years from Vintage date it has no redeeming qualities to it whatsoever.  Words around the room used to describe it were "bitter", "nasty", "cough syrup", "weird" and "not even good enough for salad".  I don't know what else I can say after that except if you happen to have any of this wine in your cellar (as I did) you might want to take the bottles directly to the sink, do not pass go because you will definitely not collect 200 dollars ... pour it down, my friends, pour it down.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reif Estate 2004 Merlot

Found February 2011

As a result of a misstep, this same night, with a Jackson Triggs 2004, I opened a same vintage Merlot from Reif ... first I was glad to see a real cork closure ... now let's see if it made a difference to this dismal year dated wine.  While not the most exciting or impactful nose the wine did show signs of being drinkable.  When left to stand the wine gave off rotted aromas that were kind of off-putting, but when aerated you could find dried raspberries, dried leaves and cedary notes.  The palate proved to be inviting and off-putting all at the same time.  A tad herbaceous, some cedar (especially on the finish), a very forest-floor, dried leaves character passing over the tongue ... for those who like those mature flavours in wine this was a very interesting specimen, although it tasted much older than it was.  All-in-all it was drinkable, but barely.  If you have any in the cellar this wine is past its prime and on a downward trajectory from its peak, but still I found it enjoyable in a purely academic way.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable

Jackson Triggs 2004 Proprietors' Reserve Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon

Found February 2011

Now I know 2004 was not a great year in Ontario, especially for reds, but I remember being a fan of this wine from J-T and thinking maybe in a few years time it'll show just as nicely if not better than on the day I first tried it.  Well now 6 years later I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, I was wrong ... the wine has aged piss-poorly to put it delicately.  Smells of rotting fruit, forest floor (read: rotten leaves / vegetation) and oxidation plague both the nose and palate ... the taste is bitter and nasty.  As I said before, I know 2004 was not a great year, but J-T could have given this wine a fighting chance by using a better closure, the plastic cork did this wine a real disservice.  If only producers would put that warning on the packaging ("sealed with synthetic cork") then I, and other wine lovers like me, who age their wines, wouldn't be so disappointed when we open a bottle sealed with this soul-sucking nastiness ... fact is, had I known I never would have laid it down in the first place.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Inniskillin 2004 Klose Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Found January 2011

I will be nothing if I am not totally honest with you here ... this is a wine I was completely scared of.  First, it was from the so-so 2004 vintage, a vintage not known for its great wines (negative), though the wine is produced by one of the older wineries in the Niagara region (positive).  The wine was delicious when I bought it a few years back (positive), but now, six years on (negative?), did I make a mistake to lie this one down?  I really didn't want to find out, so I let the bottle languish about in the box I was suppose to open and taste.  There were twelve bottles in the box and this was the last one to come out ... here goes nothing.  This was part of the single vineyard series, the wine was sourced from the Klose Vineyard, a 15 acre vineyard located on the Niagara Parkway and named for its owner Gerald Klose.  It seems that Mr. Klose knows how to grow Cab in a difficult vintage, because my worries about this wine turned out to be unfounded, in fact I was completely taken aback at how good this wine turned out to be.  The nose is blackberry and cassis with some herbal-mint notes as the wine started to open up.  The taste was just as impressive, sour raspberry and sour cherry take the lead, then turn it over to sweet cranberry, all balanced by some nice acidity and leading to a long spiced-raspberry finish.  With each sip the palate continued to shine and proved to be truly delicious ... I do believe this wine is peaking right now and not sure how long it has left, if you have a bottle or two in your cellar it might behoove you pull it out and drink it - you won't be disappointed.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hillebrand 1997 Trius Red

Found December 2010

It's a little bit of a misnomer to call this wine a "lost and found" wine, because a friend brought it over on New Year's Eve, hence it was never lost in my cellar - but on the other hand it was lost to me (I did not have it) so it is not too far a stretch ... in any case I hope you will indulge me.  For a wine that is 13 years old it was surprisingly youthful on the nose mixing in a blend of dried and fresh sour cherries, quite surprising indeed.  The palate showed a lot more complexity, the dried cherries were there along with dried leaves which turned into pipe tobacco on the finish.  One of those in attendance said they tasted bitter cocoa (powder-like) in the mouth ... and who can argue with something like that - I sure didn't, especially since I had already finished my ration.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cave Spring Cellars 2004 Estate Bottled Riesling

Found January 2011

It was a great New Year's weekend for wine.  First I tasted a 1997 Trius Red on New Year's Eve; then on New Year's Day I found myself face-to-face with a bottle of Cave Spring 2004 Estate Bottled Riesling.  Since the calendar had switched over we could "technically" call it a bottle of 7 year old wine.  The nose was petrol, green apple and peach pit with a touch of mineral stoniness.  On the palate mineral and limeade went hand-in-hand with some nice biting acidity on the finish and over ripe green apple notes. The acidity softened the longer it remained open and in the glass - good thing it was not in the glass too long.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure