Saturday, December 29, 2012

13th Street 2004 Riesling

Found December 2012

Not sure how a bottle of 13th Street Riesling got lost in the cellar, let alone a bottle of 2004, but it did and now I find myself popping the cork on a snowy Saturday in late December.  Not exactly the wine you would associate with pizza for dinner - but as it turns out the wine was picked before dinner was fully established ... as it turned out we decided to make a pizza delivery guy work (and drive in the snow) than moving ourselves to the kitchen and doing some work ourselves.  As for the wine:  I have to admit I was a little leery of the bottle because it had a super-saturated cork (at least three-quarters of the way up and was leaking - or at least the foil capsule was tough to pry off the top of the bottle.  We deemed it okay to drink and then the fun started.  There were hints of petrol on the nose and the finish was quite dry - even though the bottle declared it to be a semi-dry wine.  The flavours were the most telling with citrus, in the form of lime, poached pears, honeyed peaches and apricots which all make an appearance on the mid-palate before the sweet and sour sensation of bruised green apple took over the finish.  This was a lovely wine and showed great longevity (8 years) - especially for a wine with a leaky cork.   Lost & Found Rating: Treasure

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jackson-Triggs 2002 Proprietors' Grand Reserve Meritage

Found November 2012

Every so often I come across a bottle that I am sure I have tasted before, but as I go through my website and notes I find that I have never put pen to paper about a specific bottle and I wonder what I did with the original notes.  Most wines that end up in my wine cellar (especially if they are of Canadian origin) I have tasted before and thought they would be good candidates to lie down for a spell.  But some do slip between the cracks ... This must have been one of those.  But in truth I'm glad I "lost" this one because it made for an interesting tasting.  This Meritage is from the hot 2002 vintage, which was a good one for reds here in Ontario.  The blend, according to the back label is Merlot dominant at 42% - with the Cabernets: Sauvignon and Franc clocking in at 38 and 20 respectively.  I also admit to aiding this one a little by using my VinOair aerator ... the result was a wine that exhibited cedar and earthy tones from the get go, but as one dove deeper into the wine we found that underneath its cedary-earthy exterior lay dried cherry and blackberry.  Now, with some time in glass (about 45 minutes) the fruit that started off as dry had now proven to come alive with some cassis and black cherry notes.  I also found some smoky bits that played on both the nose and palate, and then as more time passed cedar began to reassert itself back into the picture - but there was a certain sweet spot to this wine that came at about the one-hour mark and lasted for about an hour where everything was just right in the world with it ... by the end of the evening the wine showed its slow steady decline to the realm from whence it came: earthy and cedary ... but in the interim it had that period where it really showed its beauty.  Now I can't wait to break int the 2005 version of the same wine, which seems to have reared it's head in the same place as the 2002 - which is why I figure this bottle got lost, it thought it was a 2005 (it can't be my fault after all.    Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chateau des Charmes 2005 St. David’s Bench Cabernet Franc

Found August 2012

Not all of us are lucky enough to try decade old wines ... nor are we all lucky enough to have such a creature in our own cellars (if you have one at all).  I have been collecting wine now for over 15 years, and Ontario wine for just as long (if not longer), so I have some pretty interesting (and I'm sure expired) stuff down there.  Thankfully, this Chateau des Charmes decade old Cabernet Franc was far from the expired list, in fact it showed well from start to finish.  The nose kicked things off with dried cherry, dried blackberry and hints of vanilla-cedar.  The plate proved just as inviting with mocha, dried cherry and some cedary notes.  I was worried the cedar would start to take over but they seemed to be happy to linger in the background ... as the evening wore on things started to happen in the glass and especially on the palate:  a dry smoky finish began to dominate; and there was some dried tobacco leaf notes (like picking bits off your tongue while smoking an unfiltered cigarette) ... the final analysis on my last sip, some 2 hours after opening, was this: tobacco, dried blackberry and black currants with a nice, relatively smooth, finish.  This wine is showing exceptionally well for its age.  Lost & Found Rating:  Treasure

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lailey Vineyard 2005 Canadian Oak Cabernet Franc

Found August 2012

There aren't many using Canadian oak to age their wines, so seeing it on the label is fairly unique; but winemaker Derek Barnett of Lailey has been using it since his days making wine at Southbrook - when it was located in Richmond Hill - so he has a pretty good handle on it.  This wine, now some 7 years from vintage date, showed a little of its age, but also showed that it had some life left in it too.  The nose started out with dried raspberry, and the palate was oaky, cedary and tomato stem-ish ... not a great start, but as I like to tell people, "you get locked in a bottle for X-number of years and see how you feel the moment you get out" ... so this wine needed a little time to reset itself.  In so doing - about half and hour later - the nose showed signs of black currant and smoky-toasty oak.  The palate also seemed to turn itself around and had dried blackberry, hints of coffee with a woody finish - most remarkably is that it did show quite a bit of fruit on the mid-palate before doling out the mostly woody finish.  If you have some in the cellar, I think now is the time to drink it.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable +

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

EastDell Estates 2005 Cabernet Franc Reserve

Found August 2012

Here we go again, another wine that has been ruined by a producer's decision to cheap-out and use plastic to seal a bottle that has no business being under the worst closure known to man - heck I think you'd do better if you shoved a kerosene soaked rag in the top of the bottle, then at least I could use the wine for something other than drain cleaner.  The shame of it is this wine had such potential and you can mainly taste it rather than smell it.  The nose is laced with Madeira/Sherry notes and the taste is oxidative in nature and just getting worse the more air you swirl through the glass. - you can just make out the dark fruit and spice that would have be absolutely killer if it wasn't for the off-putting nature that already defines this wine.  I can't say it enough, if you are even thinking of closing your wines with a plastic cork, you aren't really thinking at all.  Now to find out the next bottle I opened and what this EastDell wine had the potential to be, read this review - from the same night. Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cattail Creek 2008 Chardonnay - No Oak

Found August 2012

Ever wonder what happens to an unoaked Chardonnay if left a little too long?  I wonder no more.  I know there are some out there who love age on their Chardonnays (and others that don't) - but I can tell you, at least from some limited experience, make sure they are oaked before you lie them down, or you'll end up like this Cattail number.  There was nothing horribly wrong with it, it was just tired, flabby, flat, uneventful and seemed almost slightly oxidized.  The fruit had dried out of this once lovely wine - it must have been lovely I had three bottles of it.  But now it isn't even good for the stew.  Oh well, you win some you lose some, this bottle and the two others I have, are definitely destined for the drain.  Lost & Found Rating: Trash

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Niagara College Teaching Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

Found July 2012

Mama done told me lots of things:  My momma told me there'd be days like these.  Momma told me not to chew with my mouth full.  Momma also said, "if you ain't got anything nice to say, don't say it at all" (she also said that 'ain't ain't in the dictionary'), so maybe I heard that one wrong ... but I ain't got much to say positive about this wine so I'll be brief, cause momma also told me not to lie.  The nose is highly unappealing, not corked but just all wood and not much else (and that's being kind).  Being the researcher that I am I had to also taste the wine: it was like licking cardboard though again it was not corked - just overtly like sandpaper on the tongue and in the throat, so much so that one did not want to swallow.  This is an absolutely awful wine seven years from vintage date - too bad because it had such good pedigree being from the 2005 vintage, but over manipulation and over oaking has killed it in its twilight years (which means it would be good for vampires if you added enough garlic).  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash +

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hillebrand 2007 Trius Dry Riesling

Found July 2012

It's time for Hillebrand to redeem themselves in this column ... after finding a dreadful 2004 Riesling I thought I'd give them another chance with something from a much hotter vintage (a little unfair, especially when dealing with a Riesling).  This one fared much better.  The nose had developed a lot of petrol (usual in a hot year) with peach and lemon pith backing.  The taste had lime zest and pith, apple sauce and a little paraffin.  As the wine began to warm in the glass - as it is apt to do on a hot day - the wine gained more of an apple juice character.  Drinkable and fairly good, not great but good.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lailey Vineyard 2005 Cabernet Franc

Found July 2012

I find it surprising that in the 51 wine reviews I have done of Lailey wines over the years that I never got around to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) for this one.  One, because I love Cabernet Franc and am a proponent of it being Ontario;s red grape - and two, winemaker Derek Barnett seems to know how to handle the grape quite well, especially if you look back at some of his Southbrook wines from the later 90's and early 2000's.  But all that, as they say, is water under the bridge.  2005 was a good vintage in ONtario and the longevity of the reds should be quite substantial, this one is now 7 years form vintage date and is starting to show that age, most by what it lacks instead of what it has.  The nose is dried cherry and tobacco; while the palate has lots of dried red fruit, most notably cranberry, well spiced and a touch on the woody side .. then we get to the finish, here we find a lack of any fruit at all and instead get a sweet wooden sensation on the tongue ... not exactly what I was looking for but then again, not totally unwelcome.  Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hillebrand 2004 Vineyard Select Riesling

Found July 2012

Of all the Lost and Found wines I have tried over the past few days I am the most shocked about this one ... it was a hot summer day and we were sitting on the back deck that`s when I had the thought "why not open up an older Riesling" ... what I got instead was a disjointed mess of a wine that had prematurely oxidize into something undrinkable.  The colour was deep and dark, like a rancid apple juice, and the smell was not much better.  This wine had developed a sickeningly sweet character that permeated the entire wine, there was a hint of apricot and pear if you dove deep enough, but that got enveloped so quickly by that sweetness that it ruined the entire experience of drinking this wine.  Four sips and I was done ... the wife took three less - I guess I`m just a glutton for punishment.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

Friday, July 6, 2012

Colchester Ridge Estate Winery 2005 Cabernet Franc

Found July 2012

This was the tale of two wines ... the wine we opened and the wine we ended up drinking, let me explain.  When first we popped the cork it showed some dark fruit but there was also a waft of underlying volatile acidity (VA), and it kept rising the more aeration we gave the wine, this characteristic also found its way onto the palate.  The second problem we discovered was that although the wine had a mediocre 12.9% alcohol level you could actually smell and taste it - the wine was hot.  10 minutes later a transformation occurred and the wine that we initially took for undrinkable hooch turned into something rather pleasant.  The dark fruit started to rise above the VA and took over as the dominant smell and taste, spice joined it and the alcohol seemed to settle so that it was not a hot mess. We also found dried cherry and a nice bit of tobacco from the mid-palate to the finish.  In the end we sat and sipped on a glass because there was some nice spiced-dark fruit on this well-balanced wine.  I knew we`d find a good one today.   Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable+

Kacaba Vineyards 2003 Cabernet Franc

Found July 2012

As you can see it was a big tasting day at my house in July (see two previous posts - Caroline and Riverview) ... I actually had a former employee of Kacaba over for a small tasting and we opened a few bottles of older Ontario wines to see how they were aging.  He was very excited to break into this bottle because he was working for the company at the time and was "quite familiar" with this bottle.  Upon opening the wine was just loaded with VA (volatile acidity = nail polish remover), and this did not seem to blow off as we had hoped.  In the spirit of tasting every wine, even the ones that show poorly on the nose, we took a few sips.  We found the wine to be too heavy in the oak department and very heavily spiced but it also lacked any kind of fruit characteristics what-so-ever ... it was all barrel all the time.  I did a few experiments to see if it was just time in bottle that had closed it up but it never did seem to open up ... what I did find was that a quick sip of the wine followed by a quick swallow made the wine almost palatable, but if you held it in your mouth for any length of time, or tried to aerate it it just ruined any pleasure you would derive from the wine.  Over the course of half an hour the wine turned sour and nasty, especially on the finish. In the end the wine lacked depth beyond its dry and woody flavours.  Hate to say it, but if you have this wine sitting around the house it's a mess, with no hope of getting better.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

Riverview Cellars 2004 Cabernet-Merlot

Found July 2012

After the horrible Caroline Cellars 2005 Franc debacle I had to open something else and this Riverview 2004 Cabernet-Merlot got the nod.  The nose is quite inviting with white pepper, dried cherries and some warming wood spice.  The palate is also holding up quite well, especially for a wine made in a less desirable year, with dried raspberries and strawberries taking charge on the mid-palate and flowing pleasantly across the tongue; the finish shows just a touch of wood spice.  It has become rather light in colour, but the fruit seems to be holding its own (if not a little on the drier side) and it drinks well now, but I would not wait too much long to enjoy it.     Lost & Found Rating:  Tolerable 

Caroline Cellars 2005 Cabernet Franc

Found July 2012

Sometimes when I "find" a bottle in my cellar I think to myself, "I really hope this one is good" - this was the case when I found this bottle of '05 Franc from Caroline Cellars, I wanted so much for this wine to be good.  The problem is that it was sealed with a plastic cork and thus did not stand a snowball's chance in hell of aging - how I wish producer would put a warning on the label when they use such a closure.  Back in its day it was a bronze medal winner at the Toronto Wine and Cheese Show; and looking back at the vintage 2005 was a great year for red, which means it had good pedigree; but this wine was oxidized all to hell and had a nasty smell and taste reminiscent of paint thinner.  The bottle showed great promise as it was stained purple on the inside, but the colour in the glass came closer to tawny port than it did red wine ... just wished it had tasted more like tawny than what it did taste like.  If you are unfortunate enough to have any of this in your cellar might I suggest another use for this wine, like as drain or toilet cleaner.  Sorry Caroline Cellars, you get my lowest rating in this column and all because you decided to use plastic instead of real cork.  Lost & Found Rating:  Trash

Monday, March 12, 2012

Konzelmann Estate Winery 2006 Red Moose

Found March 2012

I currently have two bottles of this wine in my cellar (well, one less now) and obviously I have tried it in the past, or it would`t be there, but it seems I have never written a single word about it ... and that surprises me - I guess the review got lost in the wash, or my dog ate it, or I left it in my other pants, or whatever other excuse I can give you as to why I have no record of trying this wine in the past (and writing about it).  But tonight I found a bottle in a box of aging wines and decided it was time to give it a try.  A few things scared me about trying this wine:  1) the silly label - critter labels are usually gimmicky and this one even more so.  2) the vintage date - 2006 was not the greatest of vintages in Ontario, in fact it might be one of our roughest, and a 6 year old wine from that vintage might be a little dodgy.  3) the grape variety - Zweigelt, barrel aged (as this was is) or not is an Austrian cross of Lemberger and St. Laurent that is Austria`s most famous red, but grown sparsely here in Ontario; and most versions I have tried have been meant to consume young ... so what was I thinking aging this wine???  Well it`s a good thing I did because this was one delicious wine.  The nose was of smoked-cranberry, white pepper and spiced-black cherry which continued to offer pure aromatic pleasure through its entire time in the glass.  The flavours yielded even more enjoyment: at first there were strawberry-cranberry notes with hints of vanilla and caramel.  But given some time it changed into something even better, there was more to find:  sweet dried fruit notes, like craisins (cranberry-raisins), vanilla smoke and then later the whole glass succumbed to black cherry.  A nice smoothness through the mouth led to a wonderful tasty smoky-black cherry finish with a sort of toasty-ash linger.  This one was a real find.  Lost & Found Rating:  True Treasure